Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Chinese in American History

The third book in the Halsey Homecoming trilogy is coming along nicely. The story is working out much as I'd anticipated thinking about the plot the last couple of months before actually writing it.

The best part about any book for me is the research on the history of an area and, at times, people.  This books is set in the underground tunnels of Pendleton, Oregon in 1900. The research I've done on the Chinese at that time in Pendleton gives a different number of how may Chinese were actually living there. Some say around 100 others say more. In my book, I don't give any numbers, I'm mostly showing how they were treated, how they survived, and how they were resilient.
From Wikipedia

Most of the Chinese who came to the U.S. in the 1800's came to find a better life for their families or to make money to send back home to the families they left behind. They were hard workers and yet were paid less than the white workers. But they didn't complain. They were frugal, lived communally, and sent most of the money back to their families so they could live a good life.

Few women came from China. Fro the most part Chinese merchants brought their wives and families. The other men who came over left their wives behind to take care of the children and in-laws with the money the husband sent home. The men who came to the U.S. to find gold and work on the transcontinental railroad were not allowed to marry white European partners and could not become U.S. citizens.

From Wikipedia
They were treated far worse than any other ethnic group in the U.S. They were mostly from rural areas of China. They didn't speak the language and didn't understand the western customs.

The Exclusion Act of 1882 signed by President Chester A. Author prohibited any Chinese laborer from entering the U.S. Only a person who wasn't a laborer could enter the country and then they were scrutinized before being allowed in.

Because the government had feared them taking over jobs and the western people didn't understand their culture, the Chinese took to moving about cities in underground tunnels and sleeping in dorms under the Josh Houses in the towns. They feared for their lives to be seen on streets in the daylight. But people were still willing to have them do the menial tasks of cooking, laundry, and running bath houses.

More on how they lived in the tunnels along with the Josh houses and opium dens to come in later posts.

No comments: