Large immigrants

Chinese Immigration in the American West

  • Gold Rush

    Gold Rush
    The first major waves of Chinese immigrants came to the U.S. after hearing of the “Golden Mountain” when California’s Gold Rush began in 1848. Civil war and famine back home in southern China, where most of the first immigrants were from, propelled them on as well, so that they could work in the U.S. and send money to families back home. In steamships, they arrived in San Francisco’s harbor, where the first Chinatown was founded.
  • Central Pacific Railroad

    Central Pacific Railroad
    Chinese immigrants, almost 95% male, worked on the Central Pacific Railroad. By agreeing to lower-paying wages than other workers, and by enduring the rough and dangerous working conditions, they were largely responsible for laying down the tracks for the western railways, in one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century. It was completed in 1868, at a breakneck pace.
  • Page Act of 1875

    Page Act of 1875
    The Page Act of 1875 was the first federal immigration law and prohibited the entry of immigrants considered "undesirable." The law classified as "undesirable" any individual from Asia who was coming to America to be a forced laborer, any Asian woman who would engage in prostitution, and all people considered to be convicts in their own country.
  • Chinese Exclusion Act

    Chinese Exclusion Act
    The U.S. Congress passed The Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, riding the popular anti-Chinese fervor and fear of overpopulation by the Chinese. This is a major turning point for America, which had previously welcomed all immigrants, but was closing the door to Chinese laborers. This act froze the Chinese community in place and prevented it from growing and assimilating into U.S. society as European immigrant groups did.
  • Rock Springs Massacre

    Rock Springs Massacre
    The riot, between Chinese immigrant miners and white immigrant miners, was the result of racial tensions and an ongoing labor dispute over the Union Pacific Coal Department's policy of paying Chinese miners lower wages than white miners. This policy caused the Chinese to be hired over the white miners, which further angered the white miners and contributed to the riot.
  • Geary Act

    Geary Act
    The Geary Act prevented further immigration from China and required established Chinese residents of the United States to carry certificates of residence. The act grew out of an assumption that low-wage Chinese laborers were responsible for the economic downturn in the last quarter of the nineteenth century.
  • Yellow Peril

    Yellow Peril
    The Yellow Peril was a color metaphor for race that originated in the late nineteenth century with Chinese immigrants as coolie slaves or laborers to the U.S.The term refers to the skin color of East Asians, and the fear that the mass immigration of Asians threatened white wages and standards of living and that they would eventually take over and destroy western civilization, their ways of life and values.
  • Angel Island Immigration Center

    Angel Island Immigration Center
    Chinese immigrants were detained and interrogated at Angel Island immigration station in San Francisco Bay. They were detained for months in a purgatory of isolation and suspense, and for some the fruitless wait ended with a return journey back across the Pacific. The facility, primarily a detention center, was designed to control the flow of Chinese into the country, since they were officially not welcomed with the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.