Life of a Chinese Man During the Gilded Age
Between 1849 and 1882, a vast group of Chinese migrated to the United States of America. Much of the Chinese who traveled to the United States were men. These men were mostly on the dream to go onboard during the gold rush in San Francisco. Though, most Chinese men found work building the transcontinental railroad. As another non-white immigrant new to the United States, challenges were brought upon to the Chinese. These group of immigrants were challenged with job security, discrimination, and harsh living conditions from the Americans and other immigrants as well.
After seeing the productiveness of Chinese men during the Gold Rush and the building of the transcontinental railway, they were abundantly sought after at first. Described as quiet, manageable, productive, industrious, offers no complaints unlike the white man. The Chinese man’s advantage was a convenience for everybody. With the growth of Chinese laborers’ success in the United States, they became successful with other jobs where no other immigrant wanted to partake in.
The main employments were laundry cleaning, house servants, cooks, in metropolitan areas. They were prosperous in laundry cleaning because the price they asked for the labor was a lot lower than other establishments. Chinese men made outstanding house servants because of their obedient, adept, inexhaustible attitudes.
The rise of popularity from the Chinese men’s work performance soon harbored a grudge against other ethnicities. The working class of white, black, and other European immigrants were unemployed because the Chinese were the favorable workforce. Depicted in a cartoon, workers who were Irishmen, African American, war veterans, Italians, Frenchmen, and Jews build a wall upon the Chinese.
This led to legislation called the Chinese Exclusion Act, aimed to inhibit future immigration of the Chinese. Hesitant to make the bill, Republican President Rutherford B. Hayes refused the bill at first in 1879. Stating the bill breached U.S. treaty agreements with China. Democrats and advocates from the west persisted on an absolute boycott on Chinese immigrants. An arrangement to appease the western states without offending China was pursued.
In 1880, the Hayes Administration began to handle a new treaty with China. With the new treaty at hand, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. This act resulted in more anti-Chinese riots and hatred towards them. Racial hate towards the Chinese was prevalent but, they still seldom thought of begrudging even the most appalling insults and injuries. An example of sought were when boys from San Francisco stoned an innocuous Chinese man to death, and even with a large amount of witnesses saw the act, none intervened.
Not only were the Chinese racially profiled, they were excluded to live in apprehensible conditions far below the average person. The Chinese were confined into small area’s away from the rest of the city or town. They did not object to this as they are a group of people who like to flock together. They made use of everything they had at disposal. Considered irrelevant junk to others, a Chinese man made use of it in some way.
The streets were narrow and the sewage horrible. Kitchens were next to urinals. The only outlet was the urinal for waste-water and sewage to go. In a building in San Francisco where 400 people lived, there were only four toilets in the courtyard of each floor. The toilets all ran below in one pit, with no trap and all in the open creating a smell indescribable to those who were not used to it. A building in Dupont street, San Francisco had a maximum number of 97 occupants. The Chinese tenants in the building were 276, overcrowding was usual in Chinese settlements surrounded in filth. This resulted in various public health and safety codes that were violated even for that time.
At the hopes of a better life and riches, the Chinese received the latter. Through all the hardships felt throughout their fellow kin, they still persevered racial injustice and discrimination. With the denial of even naturalization, a restriction to visit their homeland and the struggles of everyday life. This lasted for many more years to come.