The Union Pacific, by contrast, had no Chinese laborers during the construction of the first transcontinental railroad. The Chinese had earlier worked on other California railroads as well as the Central Pacific in small numbers, according to the project. Previous scholars and historians believed that there were no Chinese workers in this photo, but Stanford researchers identified two of them in the crowd. But the plan hit opposition amid anti-Chinese sentiment that stemmed from the California Gold Rush. A ceremony commemorating the anniversary drew a crowd of around 20,000. “But there’s also lots of evidence to show that the Stanfords had an affection for many of the Chinese, especially in their employ. “Who else but Americans could drill 10 tunnels in mountains 30 feet deep in snow?” then-Transportation Secretary John A. Volpe said in his speech, according to a May 12, 1969, San Francisco Chronicle article. Eventually, they headed to the Nevada silver mines for better wages and the prospect of striking it rich, Hilton Obenzinger, the project’s associate director, said. Among those initially against it was the Central Pacific construction supervisor, James H. Strobridge. Less than two years later, almost 90 percent of the Central Pacific workforce was Chinese; the rest were of European-American descent, mostly Irish. “We want to make sure that this doesn’t end on May 10th,” Kwan, the descendants association president, said. Leland Stanford, president of the Central Pacific, drove a ceremonial golden spike, but a selected crew of Chinese workers laid the last rail. It wasn’t repealed until 1943. A camp of Chinese workers near Brown's Station of the Central Pacific Railroad. Later ancestors settled in the eastern Mohawk Valley of central New York about 1720. The Hoover Project on China’s Global Sharp Power held an event on How Racist Rhetoric Increases Chinese Overseas Students' Support for Authoritarian Rule with Jennifer Pan, Assistant Professor of Communication and Yiqing Xu, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Stanford University on Friday, November 13, 2020 at 10:00 AM PT. Owing to white hostility, tens of thousands of Chinese were forced to leave the U.S. by 1882, according to “The Chinese and the Iron Road.” That same year, Congress responded by passing the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first and only major federal law to explicitly suspend immigration for a specific nationality. They instead relied on Civil War veterans and East Coast immigrants, among others, according to Chang. Produce and natural resources were among the things that could now be moved more quickly and cheaply from coast to coast. Among his siblings were New York State Senator Charles Stanford (1819–1885) and Australian businessman and spiritualist Thomas Welton Stanford (1832–1918). That's not to say he wasnt anti-immigration or disagreed with the platform but I mean, come on, the guy hired Chinese laborers for his company and it worked out well for him so it's hard to believe he personally considered it at the top of his list of concerns. This came amid rising anti-Chinese sentiment and violence in the U.S., as whites blamed the Chinese for squeezing them out of jobs by accepting work at lower wages. Honolulu, 1905. Alfred A. Hart Photographs, 1862-1869 / Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries. Almost a quarter of a century later, in 1969, amid the backdrop of the civil rights movement, Choy and Chinn found themselves at Promontory Point, Utah, waiting for a moment that never came. In this lesson, students will explore the social and economic factors that led to this restriction. Who else but Americans could have laid 10 miles of track in 12 hours?”. | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use. May 10, 1969, marked 100 years since the golden spike was hammered in at Promontory, Utah, signifying the completion of America’s first transcontinental railroad — a monumental engineering feat that linked together the nation's coasts. The Transcontinental Railroad was a dream of a country set on the concept of Manifest Destiny. It is the best opportunity I will have in my lifetime to have this story shared, to have it understood and appreciated by people outside our community. However, the wage increase was unsuccessful in placating the Chinese workers, and on June 25, 1867 a group of Chinese working the eastern Sierra slope walked off their jobs. Ultimately, the strike only lasted one week. Historical Essay. “And particularly for sons who were not the first sons in the families, it often made more sense to try to seek your fortune abroad,” Fishkin added. His immigrant ancestor, Thomas Stanford, settled in Charlestown, Massachusetts, in the 17th century. They were among the 50,000 to 60,000 Chinese living in California who arrived in the early 1850s to work in mining and other sectors of the American West, according to the project. The first transcontinental railroad became a boon to the economy of a nation recovering from a civil war, shaving significant travel time across the continent from several months to about a week. Eventually, he yielded and in 1865 the Central Pacific tested out 50 Chinese laborers. When Leland Stanford was elected governor of California in 1862, he promised in his inaugural address to protect the state from "the dregs of Asia." Stanford, as governor, ostensibly supported the prevailing mood in the state, which lobbied for the restriction of Chinese immigration. Workers blast a 60-foot-deep cut above Alta, California. This May, for the 150th anniversary, descendants of the Chinese railroad laborers and other advocates have been working hard to ensure history does not repeat itself. Stanford also served as president of the Central Pacific and later established the university that bears his name. The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University (“Stanford”) appeals from orders of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) in three interference proceedings between Stanford and the Chinese University of Hong Kong (“CUHK”). Centennial officials had agreed to set aside five minutes of the ceremony for the society to pay homage to the Chinese workers who had helped build the railroad, but whose contributions had been largely glossed over in history. However, if they refused, Crocker threatened that they would not receive their paycheck for June. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 restricted the wave of Chinese immigration that had begun earlier in the century and was the first U.S. law to restrict immigration based on national origin. In 1869, the dream was made a reality at Promontory Point, Utah with the connection of two railway lines. Citing public discourse of the period on the presence of the Chinese in America, along with Stanford’s varied views on it, the essay describes how Stanford’s own awareness of the significant contributions of Chinese labor was at odds with the politically expedient anti-Chinese rhetoric he often espoused. The Union Pacific Railroad pushed west from Council Bluffs, Iowa (bordering Omaha), where their rails joined existing eastern lines. Leland Stanford would soon become embroiled in scandals, including one of the greatest in American history. 501(c)(3) Federal Tax ID#94-6122446. Anti-Chinese Sentiment and the 1867 Chinese Workers Strike, 5. The silver plated spike maul was also given to Leland Stanford and became part of the Stanford University Museum. Biography of Leland Stanford, U.S. senator from California and, as the president of the Central Pacific Railroad, one of the builders of the first U.S. transcontinental railroad. At the time, it was a region enmeshed in political and social turmoil, but residents there often had contact with foreigners and were less fearful of taking long ocean voyages, making them good recruits, according to Fishkin. He is one of the 19th-century entrepreneurial tycoons called robber barons. “The Chinese and the Iron Road: Building the Transcontinental Railroad” and Chang’s separate book “Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad,” which is scheduled to be released in May, both describe the Chinese taking on some of the most dangerous, most exhausting assignments for less pay (and worse treatment) than their Euro-American counterparts. “It is the best opportunity I will have in my lifetime to have this story shared, to have it understood and appreciated by people outside our community,” said Michael Kwan, the association’s president, whose great-great grandfather worked for the Central Pacific. Leland Stanford, president of Central Pacific, former California governor and founder of Stanford University, told Congress in 1865, that the majority of the railroad labor force were Chinese. An Anti-Coolie Labor Association was launched in San Francisco while the Chinese were battling the snows on Donner’s summit. Date of experience: November 2019. 17 in Port Washington, Wisconsin. Work of Giants: The Chinese and the Building of the First Transcontinental Railroad, Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window), Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window), Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window), 3. And a commemorative postage stamp in their honor has been proposed as well. Anti-Chinese Sentiment and the 1867 Chinese Workers Strike “I will not boss Chinese!” Superintendent Strobridge instinctively responded to chief contractor Charles Crocker, when he asked him to recruit Chinese workers. But at times Stanford, who was later elected to the U.S. Senate, still resurrected certain anti-Chinese rhetoric when running for or in office, Chang noted. The Act of the Legislature of California. Despite this, the Chinese Railroad Workers Project has been able to glean insight into aspects of the laborers’ lives through their research. Crocker’s solution for ending the strike, though cruel, proved to be extremely effective. Stanford was an odious character whose theft of public resources and victimization of the public was widely recognized for many years. The adverse weather, coupled with the abusive treatment from their overseers, as well as the low wages and long hours led to the Chinese becoming increasingly unsettled with their poor work conditions. He became famous in 1862 when he used an herbal remedy to save Governor Leland Stanford's wife while practicing medicine in Sacramento. Even artists, photographers, journalists and academics from China, as well as scholars from Taiwan and those with Stanford’s Chinese Railroad Workers Project, have immersed themselves in the topic. San Francisco, CA 94108 In the summer of 1867 Chinese railroad workers in the Sierras found themselves confronted with deep snow drifts and threats of avalanches. Uncovering the lives of Chinese workers who built Stanford. “我將不會僱傭中國人!” 當首席承包商查爾斯•克羅克提議讓總監管人斯特羅布裡奇僱傭華工的時候,他本能的迴應道。即使是利蘭•斯坦福,鐵路“四巨頭”的總裁也稱中國人為”亞洲的‘敗類’“和“低等人“。然而華工的勤勉卻創造了一種競爭的氣氛,使得白人工人也不得不努力工作,這讓他們感到不滿。另外,由於中央太平洋鐵路公司使用炸藥來加速開鑿速度,無數工人在意外爆炸中喪生。當華工還在唐納峰和大雪奮戰的時候,一個反苦力勞工協會在三藩市正式成立。當時,不僅僅是白人工人虐待華工;華工也經常因為工資低廉,被公會聯盟老闆和鐵路官員當做替罪羊。所有這些在1867年達到一個高潮。, 1867年夏天,在內華達山脈修建鐵路的華工發現他們正面臨著很深的雪堆和雪崩的威脅。不利的天氣,被監工以侮辱性的方式對待,再加上低工資和長工時,使得華工對工作條件產生強烈不滿。正是在這個時候,中太平洋鐵路也正在經歷嚴重的勞工短缺問題,還要面臨周邊採礦公司把工人從鐵路上招走的風險。因此,爲了吸引更多的華工,鐵路建設總督查爾斯•克羅克把工資從每月31美元提高到每月35美元。然而,提高工資並沒有安撫華工的情緒。1867年6月25日,一群在內華達山脈東部工作的華工開始罷工。兩天之後,沿內華達山脈兩千名華工如法炮製,加入罷工,要求提高工資並縮短工作時間。, 最終,罷工只持續了一個星期。克羅克解決罷工的方法雖然殘酷,但是卻非常有效:他切斷工人的供給,讓代理商停止向華工們運送食物和生活用品。一個星期之後,克羅克來到工人們中間,堅決表示工資和工作時間沒有商量的餘地,如果工人們立刻回去工作,他們只會受到罰款。但是如果他們拒絕工作,將收不到整個6月份的工資。面對飢餓的困境,以及對工作環境的改善幾乎不抱希望,華工們只好重新開始在內華達山脈修建鐵路。, 965 Clay Street The Grant of Endowment. So the company arranged with labor contractors to bring workers directly from China, mostly from Guangdong province in the south. After completing the first transcontinental railroad in 1869, Chinese laborers fanned out across the United States to work on at least 71 other rail lines, according to Fishkin. In an attempt to attract more Chinese workers, construction supervisor Charles Crocker raised the monthly wages from $31 to $35. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor inducted Chinese railroad workers into its Hall of Honor. “He didn’t think they were strong enough,” Obenzinger told NBC News in a 2017 interview. He was one of eight children of Josiah and Elizabeth Phillips Stanford. They became experts in drayage, masonry, carpentry and track laying. Chinese workers near an opening of the Summit Tunnel of the Central Pacific Road. Living Style of Chinese Railroad Workers, 7. Often toiling in extreme weather, they cleared obstructions, moved earth, bored tunnels and built retaining walls — work done virtually all by hand. I found the references to anti-Chinese sentiments by the politicians to be interesting. By then, Central Pacific had been reorganized into Southern Pacific, and the tie was taken to the railroad’s San Francisco offices in the Flood Building. One investor, Leland Stanford, a one-time candidate for governor who actively denounced Chinese immigration during his campaign, openly advocated for the immigration of 500,000 more laborers from China. The Central Pacific began in Sacramento, California working toward the East. Among the attendees were Philip P. Choy, president of the San Francisco-based Chinese Historical Society of America, and Thomas W. Chinn, one of its founders. They even staged a strike in June 1867 demanding pay equal to whites, shorter workdays, and better working conditions, an action that helped counter the image that the Chinese were docile and wouldn’t fight for their rights. IMO Stanford was not really as passionate about anti-Chinese politics as he seemed, he just knew it was what worked politically. At its highest point, between 10,000 and 15,000 Chinese were working on the Central Pacific, with perhaps as many as 20,000 in total over time. All of this reached a boiling point in 1867. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders elected to Congress in record numbers are among supporters of a House resolution to recognize the workers and their contributions. Jane Stanford, widow of Central Pacific Railroad Company President Leland Stanford and mother of the deceased University namesake, died on February 28, 1905 in her room at the Moana Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii Territory. INTRODUCTION. by Nathan Weiser, 2015. Stanford was born in 1824 in what was then Watervliet, New York (now the Town of Colonie). About the Author: The "Anti-Coolie" Act of 1862 was passed by the state legislature of California and signed by Governor Leland Stanford. Restaurants near Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park: (0.18 mi) G Street Cafe (0.40 mi) Grange Restaurant & Bar Not only did the white workers mistreat them; the Chinese were used as scapegoats by union bosses and the railroad administration alike due to their low wages. How American is that?) The Central Pacific Railroad, the company that built the western portion of the railroad, employed more than 10,000 Chinese laborers. They also know the men set up camps along the worksites, didn’t imbibe too much alcohol, worked well together, and sent money back to their families in China. The First Transcontinental Railroad, completed May 10, 1869, linked the nation and significantly reduced cross-country travel time from months to less than a week. (415) 391-1188 x101 But the ceremony featured nothing more than a “passing mention of the Chinese.” The five minutes promised to the society never happened. Leland Stanford, a wealthy former California governor who ran under an anti-Chinese immigrant platform, was also president of the Central Pacific. Stanford's wife was dying from a pulmonary disorder, and Doctor Yee Fung Chueng was sought out by one of Stanford's … Leland’s real first name was Amasa, after a troublesome Old Testament figure who joined a failed rebellion against his own uncle, the duplicitous warrior king, David. His articles have appeared in Foreign Policy and the Taipei Times and in Chinese on ETToday.net, a popular Taiwanese news website. Choy, Chinn and the others gathered at Promontory that day had hoped this would be the moment when the more than 10,000 Chinese who labored for the Central Pacific Railroad finally got their due. ... Leland Stanford was an active freemason from 1850 to 1855, joining the Prometheus Lodge No. “Who else but Americans could chisel through miles of solid granite? Moana Hotel, Honolulu, c. 1908. Many whites who took the jobs did so for only a time, reluctant to shoulder the demanding and hazardous work expected of them. Volpe’s remarks referenced some of the backbreaking and deadly work done on the Central Pacific by a labor force that was almost 90 percent Chinese, many of them migrants from China, ineligible to become U.S. naturalized citizens under federal law. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. They know, for instance, that the Chinese boiled water for tea, which helped stave off dysentery and other waterborne illnesses. So it wasn’t just an exploitative relationship.”. By the end of July 1865, boatloads of Chinese were arriving in San Francisco. I was beside myself,” Choy, who passed away in 2017, recalled during a 2013 interview. It also generated tremendous wealth for railroad tycoons such as Leland Stanford, a former California governor who ran under an anti-Chinese immigrant platform. The success of the experiment led the Central Pacific to hire additional Chinese workers, but the Chinese labor pool in California soon ran out. Strobridge also worried that the whites wouldn’t labor alongside the Chinese, who he thought lacked the brainpower to perform the work as well. according to a May 12, 1969, San Francisco Chronicle article, “The Chinese and the Iron Road: Building the Transcontinental Railroad,”, Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad, 150 years ago, Chinese railroad workers staged the era's largest labor strike, Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial Project, 150 years ago, Chinese railroad workers risked their lives in pursuit of the American dream, Scholar's search for Chinese railroad workers' history leads to East Coast railways, These artists want to draw the Chinese railroad workers back into history. Stanford Historical Photograph Collection / Stanford University Libraries. “There were occasions when avalanches buried workers in snow and they weren’t found until the snow melted the following spring,” Fishkin said. He cut off the workers’ supplies and stopped agents from delivering food and provisions to their camps. Among the events planned around the sesquicentennial is the 2019 Golden Spike Conference, organized by the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association, which will feature workshops, lectures, tours and a musical by Jason Ma entitled “Gold Mountain.”. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! There’s also the Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial Project, which has raised at least a quarter of a million dollars for a monument, and the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association, whose members visit Utah schools to teach kids about the Chinese laborers. Anti-Chinese sentiment quickly became a talking point for Leland Stanford, who served as the first Republican Governor of California from 1862 to 1863. Ask Bryan H about Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park. They hailed from Sacramento, San Francisco and the gold-mining towns of the Sierra Nevada. San Francisco and the Connection to the Big Four. Date of experience: December 2018. California was the site for the largest concentration of Chinese immigrants to the United States from the early 1850s through the end of the info@chsa.org, © 2020 Chinese Historical Society of America. ... built by the railroad baron and public figure Leland Stanford. Stanford was initially acclaimed for his frank statements, but later lost support when it was revealed that his Stanford's Central Pacific Railroad was also importing Chinese workers to construct the railroad. It also generated tremendous wealth for railroad tycoons such as Leland Stanford, a former California governor who ran under an anti-Chinese immigrant platform. In a new spring course, students are excavating the location of the former living quarters of Chinese workers who helped build Stanford. Faced with hunger and little hope for improved conditions, the Chinese resumed work on the Sierras. I found the references to anti-Chinese sentiments by the politicians to be interesting ... What restaurants are near Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park? Acts of Congress provided both companies with land grants and financing. He and his wife founded Stanford University. Two days later, two thousand Chinese workers along the Sierras followed suit and joined the strike to demand higher wages and decreased work hours. The eastern end of the transcontinental railroad—a scandalous enterprise in itself—met the Stanford group’s western end at Promontory Summit, Utah, in 1869. In the first of 5 articles about the Transcontinental Railroad anniversary, descendants of Chinese railroad workers share their hope for the recognition of their ancestors' labor. ^ Elmer Clarence Sandmeyer, The Anti-Chinese Movement in California, University of Illinois Press, ISBN 978-0252062261, 1991, p. 43-44 ^ Asbury, Herbert, The Barbary Coast, Basic Books, 2008, p. 145 ^ The Leland Stanford, Junior, University. But it wasn’t just the blasting that was dangerous. Anti-Chinese sentiment became an official political issue over time. More from NBC Asian America's series on the Chinese railroad workers: Chris Fuchs is a freelance journalist based in New York. Though they have discovered evidence that many workers were able to read and write in Chinese, Stanford researchers have found no letters or journals from them, perhaps because they were destroyed or not preserved during the ensuing social upheaval in China. Since records of worker deaths weren’t kept, Stanford scholars don’t know precisely how many Chinese died building the railroad. ... Stanford University was established with much of the wealth that Leland Stanford earned helping to oversee construction of the western half of the First Transcontinental Railroad. The Central Pacific broke ground on the first transcontinental railroad Jan. 8, 1863, and built east from Sacramento. Follow NBC Asian America on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. In speaking as governor Stanford said: “The presence of numbers of that degraded…people [Chinese-Americans] would exercise a deleterious effect upon the superior [white] race….To my mind it is clear that [Asian-American] settlement among us is to be discouraged by every legitimate means. Leland Stanford, the railroad’s president, had advocated for keeping Asians out of the state in his 1862 inaugural address as governor of California. Facing a labor shortage, the railroad may have turned to recruiting Chinese at the suggestion of Central Pacific construction contractor Charles Crocker’s brother, E.B., a California Supreme Court justice and an attorney for the company. The Union Pacific began construction of their rail in Omaha, Nebraska working toward the west. To grow its workforce, the Central Pacific took out an advertisement in January 1865 seeking 5,000 railroad laborers, but only a few hundred whites responded, according to “The Chinese and the Iron Road: Building the Transcontinental Railroad,” a book scheduled for release in April and edited by Gordon H. Chang and Shelley Fisher Fishkin, co-directors of the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford University. Sometimes they were lowered off cliffs to plant explosive charges when blasting was necessary, knowing that once the fuse was lit the difference between life and death hinged on how fast they were brought back up. 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