Page images
PDF
EPUB

the Chinese to our State has been affected by hostile legislation. The rapid increase in immigration during the first two quarters of the present year is owing to the demand for laborers upon the Pacific railroad, and the development of the mineral resources of Montana, Idaho, and Nevada.

A brief review of the legislation of this State in relation to the Chinese may not be uninteresting. The Chinese have been principally wronged and discriminated against in three ways: first, by imposing upon them a mining tax not collected of others; second, by the prohibition of their testimony against white persons; third, by imposing an immigration tax not collected of others. There have been many other acts and classes of hostility in legislation, by which they have been injured, and attempts have been made to drive them from the State, but I must necessarily confine myself to these mentioned.

At the first session of our legislature, in 1850, a law was passed imposing a tax of $20 per month on all “foreign miners." This was not intended to acť specially upon the Chinese, whose numbers here were then inconsiderable, and had not yet excited apprehension. The legislation against the Chinese dates from the 23d of April, 1852, when Governor Bigler sent a special message to the legislature upon the subject of Chinese immigration to this State. He said, “I am deeply impressed with the conviction that in order to preserve the tranquillity of the State, measures must be adopted to check the tide of Asiatic immigration, and prevent the exportation by them of the precious metals, which they dig up from our soil without charge, and without assuming any of the obligations imposed upon our citizens. I allude particularly to the class of Asiatics known as 'coolies,' who are sent here, as I am informed, and as is generally believed, upon contract to work in our mines for a term, and who at the expiration of the term return to their native country.

"I therefore respectfully submit for your consideration two distinct propositions: 1st. Such an exercise of the taxing power by the State as will check the present system of indiscriminate and unlimited immigration. 2. A demand by the State of California for the prompt interposition of Congress by the passage of an act prohibiting .coolies' shipped to California under contracts, from laboring in the mines of this State. With the consent of the States, Congress has a clear right to interpose such safeguards as in their wisdom might be deemed necessary. The power to tax, as well as to entirely exclude this class of Asiatic immigrants, it is believed can be constitutionally exercised by the State.”

It is not necessary to say anything about the ignorance and misunderstanding of the Chinese, upon which this message was based. It created a profound sensation in the legislature, and throughout the State. Meetings of the people were held in all the mining counties, and resolutions passed prohibiting the Chinese from working in the mines. They were subjected to many outrages-driven from their claims, robbed, and murdered. The message was referred by the legislature to a committee, who divided, making two reports, both against the Chinese, but differing in the measures proposedone recommending their heavy taxation, and the other their expulsion from the State. The excitement somewhat abated, and no law affecting the Chinese was passed.

Every session of the legislature devoted considerable time to the discussion of the Chinese question, but the first legislative enactment specially directed against them was in 1855, when a law was passed raising their miners' tax from four to six dollars per month, and providing for its increase by two dollars every succeeding year. The consequences of this law and its impolicy were soon manifested. Many of the Chinese miners, unwilling, and others unable, to pay what they regarded as an unjust tax, stopped work. The revenues of the mining counties, which had been largely made up of the miner's license tax, dwindled down to less than one-half. Merchants and mechanics who had relied upon the Chinese for much of their business, suffered serious loss. The Chinese merchants in San Francisco wrote to their correspondents in China not to forward any more goods, and to detain the cargoes in ships about to sail. Many of the Chinese, despairing of justice, returned to their own land, and others were preparing to do so. The people were suddenly undeceived, much of their delusion was dispelled, and they discovered that the despised Chinaman was really an important element in the population. The country press denounced the obnoxious law and demanded its repeal. Their efforts were seconded by public meetings in all parts of the State, and resolutions and memorials calling upon the legislature to repeal the law. It was done at the next session, 1856, and many of the threatened evils averted.

The legislature, at the session of 1855, also passed "an act to discourage the immigration to this State of persons who cannot becoine citizens thereof." It imposed a tax of $50 on every Chinese passenger who entered this State. The collection of this tax was resisted, and the law was declared unconstitutional by the supreme court of this State, in the case of the People vs. Downer, 7th California, p. 169. Thus by her judiciary was this State saved from the consequences of the folly of her legislature. Had the constitutionality of this law been sustained, Chinese immigration to this State would have been arrested and stopped, those already here would have been driven away, and the large China trade, upon the continuance and growth of which the prosperity of San Francisco so greatly depends, could have been annihilated and driven from us, doubtless to our wiser and more liberal British neighbors at Victoria.

But the legislature would not take warning or learn wisdom from the past. Powerful political combinations were formed to compel the expulsion of the Chinese from this State. Candidates for the legislature were elected upon their pledges of hostility to tho Chinese. Some were honest in their efforts to legislate them out of the State; others were pledged to aid such legislation; some did not dare to oppose it; a few were honest enough to request justice for the Chinese, and make futile efforts to obtain it. The Chinese were prohibited from giving testimony in any case where white persons are parties.

The consequences of this law have been the unpunished robbery and murder of the Chinese. Up to the beginning of 1862, 88 Chinese were murdered by white men, 11 by collectors of the foreign miner's tax, and but two of the murderers have been conyicted and hung. This fact, which is a matter of record, is not creditable to our legislature or courts. The Chinese miners have been robbed of over $1,000,000, almost without any attempt to protect them.

In 1858, the legislature of this State passed "an act to prevent the further immigration of Chinese or Mongolians to this State." It made the bringing or landing of any Chinese within this State a misdemeanor, punishable with a fine of from $400 to $600, or imprisonment for not less than three months; or both such fine and imprisonment. Section 2 provides that “the landing of each and every Chinese or Mongolian person or persons shall be deemed a distinct and separate offense, and punished accordingly." This law has been declared unconstitutional, and never enforced.

The legislature of 1860 passed “an act for the protection of fisheries,” which requires all Chinese fishermen in this State to pay a monthly license tax of $4.' As the constitutionality of this law has not been tested, it is still in force. It is clearly unconstitutional.

The legislature of 1862 passed "an act to protect free white labor against the competition of Chinese labor, and to discourage the immigration of Chinese into the State of California.” It imposed a tax upon all Chinese, male and female, except miners, and those engaged exclusively in the cultivation of tea, coffee, sugar, and cotton, of $2 50 per month. This law has also been declared unconstitutional by the supreme court of this State, in the case of Sin Sing rs. Washburn, 20 California, p. 534.

All of these laws, including those declared unconstitutional, still remain upon our statute books, and a stranger, unacquainted with the decisions of our courts, but looking only to our laws, might well wonder at the injustice and folly of this portion of our legislation. The legislation of our State against the Chinese presents a strange and mortifying contrast to that of the English colonial government of Victoria, on our coast, where they possess rights, and are awarded a protection that is denied them here. In no other civilized nation would the Chinese bo debarred from the right of testifying against those who had wronged them in person or property; nowhere else would a large and peaceable industrial population, greatly needed, be persecuted and wronged to drive them away. By no other people would violent and persistent efforts be made to destroy the large and valuable commerce of Asia with its ports, by insulting and injuring, almost beyond endurance, those by whom it has been built up and is maintained.

Having shown the hostility of the legislature of this State towards the Chinese, I think it proper to say a few words about the hostility of the people. If the people had been kindly disposed towards the Chinese, our statute books would not be disgraced by unwise, unjust, and unconstitutional enactments against them. Ever since the message of Governor Bigler, in 1852, there has been a strong feeling of antipathy to the Chinese in this city, and throughout the mining counties of this State. Organizations and societies, many of which still exist, have been formed to force their expulsion from the State. I am informed that there are now nearly a dozen such in this city, and from one to six in every mining settlement in the State. As already stated, they have required candidates for public office to pledge themselves to use their efforts to oppose the Chinese. In this way they have exerted a powerful influence upon the legislature and upon public opinion. Miners have repeatedly passed resolutions and notified to Chinese in their neighborhood that they would not be permitted to work in the mines, and have enforced their commands by violence. They have only been allowed to work mines which white men have abandoned as worthless. When they have been fortunate enough to obtain a good claim, it has often been taken from them by white miners without compensation, and if they have resisted they have been robbed and murdered Bands of white desperadoes have been organized for the express purpose of robbing and killing the Chinese. Over 100 unpunished murders, and over $1,000,000 worth of unrecorered stolen gold dust attest the extent of their depredations and the injustice of our courts. In nearly every large city and settlement in this State, where the Chinese live in considerable numbers, they have been the objects of mob violence, their houses sacked and burned, and their persons subjected to violence. In Sacramento and San Francisco these outrages have been repeated and sometimes rapidly recurring. Gangs of white laborers, who would not work for the wages offered them, have collected and attacked the Chinese laborers, whose only crime was that they worked cheap rather than 'starve, and, by supplying the labor market to some extent, prevented the perfect success of combinations to control it, and have driven them from their labor, assanlted them with stones and clubs, wounded and killed them, and have for a time set the officers of the law at defiance in their efforts to preserve the public peace.

We need a healthier state of public opinion, which shall require and obtain just and constitutional legislation for the protection of the Chinese in the rights that pertain to them as human beings, as well as those which they can claim as a part of our population. All laws discriminating against the Chinese should be repealed, and they should be protected in their persons and property. This cannot be done so long as the miner's license tax and immigration tax are collected solely of them, and they are not permitted to testify in our courts.

There is a large and influential class of our citizens, composed of merchants, manufacturers, capitalists, and educated men, who appreciate the importance of Chinese labor and trade to this State, and are in favor of treating them fairly, repealing the unjust laws that oppress and wrong them, allowing them to testify in our courts, and effectually protecting them in their persons and property. They have been represented to some extent in every session of our legislature, and at the last nearly succeeded in the enactment of a law allowing the Chinese to testify. It is but justice to our own people to say that the great body of the party hostile to the Chinese is made up of laborers, who choose to consider them as competitors, and of foreigners, whom a sense of consistency and justice ought to restrain from a persecution of other foreigners. The mob which have attacked the Chinese have consisted in great part of the nations of Europe. If the result depended solely on the action of native-born Americans, the Chinese would speedily have had justice done them.

* In connection with this subject, I would call your attention to the treaty made by our government with China in 1858, with the provisions of which you are doubtless familiar. It provides (Article I) that the two peoples “shall not insult or oppress each other for any trifling cause, so as to produce an estrangement between them;" that (Article XI) "all subjects shall be protected from all insult or injury of any sort ; that if citizens of the United States shall commit any improper act in China, they shall be punished only by the consul, according to the laws of the United States;" that (Article XXX) “should the Chinese nation grant to any nation, or the merchants or citizens of any nation, any right, privilege, or favor, connected either with navigation, commerce, or political or other intercourse, which is not conferred by this treaty, such right, privilege, and favor shall at once freely inure to the benefit of the United States, its public officers, merchants, and citizens."

This treaty is the law of the United States as well as of China. While it contains no positive provision for the extension to the Chinese of the rights and privileges granted to us, yet we are bound in justice and honor, under it, to give to the Chinese resident among us such of them as may not be inconsistent with our federal Constitution. No one who has ever read that Constitution will contend that it would be in violation of its letter or spirit to extend to their persons and property the same protection given to natives of Europe. It is in violation of its spirit to withhold it. For the honor of our nation, the interests of our country and the maintenance and growth of our rapidly increasing commerce with Asia, it is our duty to make the residence of the Chinese among us safe and respectable. We are too great a nation, our institutions are too democratic, our laws generally too liberal and just, our position too commanding, our influence too great, to afford to allow semi-civilized China to outdo us in humanity, public spirit, liberality, and justice. And yet, if the laws of California, and the position of the Chinese in this State, be the basis of our judgment, we must make the humilating confession. The government of China has just reason to complain that we have not observed our treaty stipulations, and to call upon us, as we would upon them, for protection to her citizens in our territory.

It would be considered presumptuous for me to suggest, further than I have already done, the remedy for the wrongs and injustice herein before recited. I think that if the matter was brought to the attention of the Executive and Congress, their wisdom would enable them to suggest proper measures for obtaining the desirable result proposed. I will state in this connection, that within a few days the. telegraph has brought us the news that a new and more liberal treaty between the United States and China, with reciprocal rights and obligations, is likely to be ratified. The prospect of receiving greater protection than they have done, by virtue of its provisions, has given our Chinese residents much satisfaction, and greatly excited their hopes.

There is no data, other than that furnished by the custom-house, upon which I can now base my estimate of the number of Chinese upon this coast. The number of immigrants, according to the table given on page 4, is 108,471. This number is much too small. Judging by partial statements furnished to me by the Chinese companies of their members, at least 10,000 should be added, making a total of 118,471. Shipmasters have in numerous instances made false passage returns, in order to save themselves from the payment to the State of five dollars per head for all their passengers. As one evidence of the incorrectness of these returns, I will state that the whole number of female passengers from China for the first two quarters of this year, according to the custom-house record, is 16, when in fact 25 came on one vessel.

The following table exhibits, as accurately as I can now determine it, the Chinese population on the Pacific:

Total immigration to July 1, 1868 ...
Total emigration for the same time....
Add for errors....................................
Estimated deaths..................

....................... 118, 471

45, 887
2,000
6,000

53, 887
64,584

Total number now on this coast ..........

These are scattered about through our States and Territories somewhat as follows: In California, about ..

43,584 In Oregon, about ......

2,000 In British Columbia, about...

2.000 In Nevada, Idaho, and Montana, about.

17,000

[ocr errors]

....

We may divide the Chinese in this State into city and rural population. As nearly as I can ascertain, they are distributed as follows: In San Francisco ....

10,000 In Sacramento ......

1,000 In Marysville and Stockton ..

1,000 In other towns in the State ...

5,000

17,000 Residing in the country in small settlements, on farms and on the railroad,

and in the mines ....

26,584 43,584

The occupations of the Chinese in this State may be classified as follows:
Whole number in the State
Number of women.....

HO DUO

......

43,584

4,000 39,584

Number of males.
Merchants and traders ......
Engaged in manufacturing for themselves .......
In other occupations.........................
Wash-houses ..
Laborers in factories and in other capacities in cities and tow
Mechanics ........
House servants..
Laborers on the Pacific railroad ........
Miners ......
Farm laborers............
Fishermen ....

2,000 2,000 1,000 1,800 3,500 1,000 3, 000 10,000 13, 084 2,000

200

[ocr errors]

The following table exhibits the licensed occupations of the Chinese in San Francisco for the years 1867 and 1868:

[graphic]

1867. 1868. Decrease. Increase.

000

The following table exhibits an estimate of the amount of business done by the Chinese merchants and manufacturers of San Francisco during the year 1867 : Amount of sales by merchants.....

$20,000,000 Value of 19,000,000 cigars made, at 25 cents per thousand.. Value of slippers made........

000 Value of clothing manufactured..

25, 000

........................ Value of jewelry manufactured...

8,000 Value of blacking manufactured...

2,000 Value of other manufactures.......

10,000 2,595, 000

.................................

[graphic]

.................

The tax paid to the United States government by the Chinese, on manufactures alone, amounted to nearly $100,000.

The amount of business done by the Chinese in manufacturing can perhaps be better estimated by returns made to the assessor of United States internal revenue by the principal merchants and manufacturers.

Returns of cigar makers, 1867. Bing Fon.....

$1,196, 300 Sing Chong Shing....................

953, 400 Sing Ur

920, 350 Sang Yu.........

890, 300 Soong Sing & Co........

1,555, 800 Total returned by five manufacturers.

5,517, 150 Returns of slipper makers, 1867.

$9.737 Sun Yat ........

22,982 Sen Sam Lee ....

6,534 Value of slippers made by three manufacturers............

39, 253 Amount of jewelry returns by Tin Tuen manufacturer, 1867, $2,071 50. Return by Teck Chung for March, 1868, of blacking manufactured, $138. Returns of sales by four Chinese merchants for the first quarter, 1868: Augh Kee & Co...................

$24,000 Sun Chong Kee & Co.........

20,000 Hop Kee & Co..........

17,000 Wing wo Sang & Co...

12, 000 73,000

[ocr errors]

........................................................

.....................................

...............................

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »