Portrait of A Chinese Man ca 1853 – Daguerreotype, taken by Isaac Wallace Baker. Until the Xinhai Revolution in 1911 Chinese living abroad were forced to wear a queue, as an expression of their loyalty to the Manchu Qing emperor.
“When people talk about the Gold Rush, they have a certain image in mind of white forty-niners. But in fact, the Gold Rush was a major, international event that drew people from all over the world.”
— Ming-Yeung Lu
Asian Cultural Program Coordinator
“A lot of the white miners at first willingly sold the Chinese abandoned claims, thinking the Chinese were just simple-minded people, stupid enough to take over these mines they considered worthless,” he added. “But the Chinese worked these mines very thoroughly and it turned out they were hardly worthless, that they could still, in fact, mine a lot of gold from them, at which point the white miners became envious and antagonistic.”
By 1870 there were 63,000 Chinese in U.S., 77% of whom were in California. That year, Chinese miners contributed more than $5 million to state’s coffers through the Foreign Miners Tax, almost one quarter of state’s revenue.
In 1882, Congress enacted the Chinese Exclusion Act, the only American law to specifically bar one group from immigrating to the United States.
Photo Source: Oakland Museum of California