leland stanford anti chinese

Leland Stanford, president of the Central Pacific, drove a ceremonial golden spike, but a selected crew of Chinese workers laid the last rail. “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. Stanford also served as president of the Central Pacific and later established the university that bears his name. 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. Strobridge also worried that the whites wouldn’t labor alongside the Chinese, who he thought lacked the brainpower to perform the work as well. “He didn’t think they were strong enough,” Obenzinger told NBC News in a 2017 interview. 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. 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. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor inducted Chinese railroad workers into its Hall of Honor. So the company arranged with labor contractors to bring workers directly from China, mostly from Guangdong province in the south. “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. 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. 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. Living Style of Chinese Railroad Workers, 7. 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. Stanford’s people moved west to what is now Albany, New York and ran a bar called the Bull’s Head tavern, where he was born in 1824. A ceremony commemorating the anniversary drew a crowd of around 20,000. But the plan hit opposition amid anti-Chinese sentiment that stemmed from the California Gold Rush. They became experts in drayage, masonry, carpentry and track laying. 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. 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. “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. Faced with hunger and little hope for improved conditions, the Chinese resumed work on the Sierras. 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. 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. Ultimately, the strike only lasted one week. Stanford was an odious character whose theft of public resources and victimization of the public was widely recognized for many years. Date of experience: November 2019. 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. In addition, countless workers died in accidental blasts without record as the Central Pacific used nitroglycerin to speed up the construction. It wasn’t repealed until 1943. | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use. 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. 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." 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. Ask Bryan H about Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park. The Central Pacific broke ground on the first transcontinental railroad Jan. 8, 1863, and built east from Sacramento. 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. 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. The Central Pacific began in Sacramento, California working toward the East. Alfred A. Hart Photographs, 1862-1869 / Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries. 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. I was beside myself,” Choy, who passed away in 2017, recalled during a 2013 interview. Anti-Chinese sentiment quickly became a talking point for Leland Stanford, who served as the first Republican Governor of California from 1862 to 1863. Even Leland Stanford, president of the Big Four called the Chinese “’dregs’ of Asia,” and “a ‘degraded’ people.” 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 Union Pacific began construction of their rail in Omaha, Nebraska working toward the west. Honolulu, 1905. 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. Stanford's wife was dying from a pulmonary disorder, and Doctor Yee Fung Chueng was sought out by one of Stanford's … Stanford, as governor, ostensibly supported the prevailing mood in the state, which lobbied for the restriction of Chinese immigration. By the end of July 1865, boatloads of Chinese were arriving in San Francisco. 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. Less than two years later, almost 90 percent of the Central Pacific workforce was Chinese; the rest were of European-American descent, mostly Irish. After a week, Crocker visited the workers and firmly informed them that the wages and hours were non-negotiable, and that if they went back to work immediately, they would only be fined. They established flourishing Chinatowns throughout the region until many were forced to flee again by anti-Chinese violence and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Crocker’s solution for ending the strike, though cruel, proved to be extremely effective. His immigrant ancestor, Thomas Stanford, settled in Charlestown, Massachusetts, in the 17th century. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. ... Leland Stanford was an active freemason from 1850 to 1855, joining the Prometheus Lodge No. And a commemorative postage stamp in their honor has been proposed as well. All of this reached a boiling point in 1867. “We want to make sure that this doesn’t end on May 10th,” Kwan, the descendants association president, said. But the ceremony featured nothing more than a “passing mention of the Chinese.” The five minutes promised to the society never happened. Produce and natural resources were among the things that could now be moved more quickly and cheaply from coast to coast. Acts of Congress provided both companies with land grants and financing. The Chinese had earlier worked on other California railroads as well as the Central Pacific in small numbers, according to the project. California was the site for the largest concentration of Chinese immigrants to the United States from the early 1850s through the end of the 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 Union Pacific Railroad pushed west from Council Bluffs, Iowa (bordering Omaha), where their rails joined existing eastern lines. IMO Stanford was not really as passionate about anti-Chinese politics as he seemed, he just knew it was what worked politically. From tunneling through solid granite to laying down 10 miles of track in a day, the Chinese workers proved their mettle time and again. It was during this time that the Central Pacific Railroad was also struggling with a severe labor shortage and fear of competition from nearby mining fields which threatened to draw Chinese workers away from the railroad. “He comes to have open respect for the abilities, the work ethic, the talents and the hard work, the industriousness of the Chinese,” Chang said. He is one of the 19th-century entrepreneurial tycoons called robber barons. In all of these proceedings, the Board found that Stanford’s claims were unpatentable for Workers blast a 60-foot-deep cut above Alta, California. Moana Hotel, Honolulu, c. 1908. He was one of eight children of Josiah and Elizabeth Phillips Stanford. Among his siblings were New York State Senator Charles Stanford (1819–1885) and Australian businessman and spiritualist Thomas Welton Stanford (1832–1918). He and his wife founded Stanford University. 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.”. 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. Since records of worker deaths weren’t kept, Stanford scholars don’t know precisely how many Chinese died building the railroad. Stanford Historical Photograph Collection / Stanford University Libraries. 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