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The Tacoma Riot of and Seattle Riot of drew national attention to the burgeoning coastal cities in Washington territory for their forced expulsion of their Chinese populations by angry—and largely white—mobs. The actions were part of a brutal wave of anti-Chinese violence that rocked the American West in the second half of the 19th century, displacing more than 20, Chinese people; between andthere were at least purges of Chinese residents in California alone. In response, the U. The first Chinese settlers in America came in the wake of the California Gold Rush ofwhich drew prospectors from across the globe. By the s, Chinese immigrants began settling in the Seattle area. They found work digging mines, canning salmon, logging in nearby forests and laying railroad tracks.


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In resisting discrimination, Asians found opportunities to build community—and opportunities to claim America as theirs. As agitation against the Chinese escalated on the West Coast, national lawmakers began to take notice. Asian immigrants filled an important need in the resource rich but labor poor Pacific Northwest, providing the muscle that helped to develop the region.

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These laws were modeled on similar legislation in California which remained the most popular destination for Chinese immigrants well into the late nineteenth century. These documents chronicle, in a small way, how some Asian immigrants became Asian Americans. Because of space restrictions, this project focuses on Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino Americans, the three largest and oldest groups in Washington.

The Exclusion Act became an instrument of violence against Chinese. Like immigrants from Europe during the nineteenth century, Asians were part of a global stream of people flowing into the United States. But work was also a source of group pride and political activism; labor was a catalyst for social and cultural change. Labor: Building Lives in New Lands.

It is hoped that students and teachers alike will use this project as a guide for building their own collections on other Asian Americans. Once in the United States, Asian immigrants often migrated to and from places of work; others, after living abroad for a time, returned to their native lands. Changing land tenure patterns following U. Moreover, Filipinos educated in American-run schools after the war considered themselves American and entitled to all the privileges that entailed.

Bythe ratio of men to women among Chinese Americans nationwide was approximately thirty to one; not until would the ratio drop to less than two to one.

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Japanese and Filipino immigrants became the next targets. The Meiji government, bent on industrializing the country as quickly as possible, adopted policies that forced Japanese farmers off of their lands, forcing many to work as migrant laborers on Hawai'ian sugar plantations. Labor is another theme that characterizes the Asian American experience in Washington state. Filipinos were recognized as U. As with the Chinese and Japanese, Filipino migrants were pushed out by economic hardship at home and pulled to migrate by economic opportunity abroad.

But these communities, like other immigrant groups in U. Applying for U. What follows is a brief overview, written to help teachers navigate through this material. Community is a broad theme that encompasses both the hostility Asians faced by white society as well as their ability to create new societies in the United States. The first wave of Chinese migrants, almost exclusively men, called themselves sojourners; they came to earn income, then return to China with their earnings.

The documents are organized by three general themes: migration, labor, and community.

After Hawai'i was annexed by the United States inand after the passage of the Organic Act in that created the Territory of Hawai'i, many Japanese living on the islands traveled to the mainland. The Asian American experience is part of this mosaic. Indeed, without Asian labor this region would have remained isolated, undeveloped, and poor well into the twentieth century.

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Mining was one of the first industries to employ the Chinese, who prospected for gold along the Columbia River in eastern Washington and hauled coal from pits in Black Diamond, Newcastle, and Renton in western Washington. The Taiping Rebellion nearly tore Chinese society apart, British warships devastated China's major ports during the Opium War, and periodic flooding and famine wrecked the countryside. Immigrants brought pieces of culture from their native lands to Washington state, where they melded them with pieces taken from American culture.

Filipinos, who arrived in the third wave of Asian immigration to Washington, were a comparatively unique case. Others, driven out by worsening economic and social conditions at home, attracted by high pay and a demand for labor in the Pacific Northwest, followed directly from Japan.

Labor refers to the act of working and the social associations that workers create through their shared experience. The Chinese Exclusion Act of set the tone for later laws deed to exclude further Asian immigration. Why people move away or are pushed out from where they lived, and why they are pulled to settle somewhere else, are the central questions behind migration.

Community stands for how Asians and Asian Americans struggled to define their social and cultural place in the larger American society.

Elsewhere, whites attacked Chinese in Walla Walla and Pasco. Most Asians came to Washington state to fill a need for workers in the rapidly developing Pacific Northwest. Inwhite Tacoma residents expelled Chinese some forcibly from that city and torched Chinese residences and businesses; the next year, Seattle residents hauled their Chinese neighbors by wagon to waiting steamers. Following the forcible opening to Western trade in the s, Japanese society underwent wrenching economic and cultural transformations. It also fundamentally altered the shape of Asian communities in the United States by banning women immigrants.

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Like the Chinese before them, Japanese migrants picked produce, cut and milled trees, built railro and butchered fish. Migration is one theme that unites the histories of Asian American peoples in the Pacific Northwest. The anti-Chinese movement that swept across the American West was especially extreme in Washington. The documents that accompany this essay demonstrate how Chinese, Japanese, and Filipinos came to Washington, struggled against discrimination, labored to earn their living, and created distinctive cultures and identities. Asians, like all immigrants, were a people in motion. Migration is the process of people moving from place to place.

Additional details for specific documents are provided in the concordance and index included here. It is the process by which Asians identified themselves as Americans.

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The Chinese were the first Asians to migrate in ificant s to Washington state. Immigration was illegal before the Burlingame Treaty, but labor contractors and immigrants conveniently ignored such restrictions. Eventually, Congress, bowing to public pressure and prevailing racial stereotypes, acted to limit the immigration of Chinese labor. By the mids, Hawai'i relied heavily on Japanese contract labor.

Initially drawn to work in California's gold fields or Hawai'i's sugar plantations, Chinese were also drawn to work in the Pacific Northwest.

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Community: From Segregation, Identity. The creation of community is not a simple process, however. Filipino women married American soldiers and returned with their husbands to the United States; other Filipinos came for jobs in agriculture and the salmon fisheries. Other groups, notably immigrants from Korea, the Pacific Islands, and Southeast Asia, receive limited attention here.

Singled out by white Americans because of their putative "racial" characteristics, Asians relied on their own institutions and initiative to advance their interests.

The chinese exclusion act and growing anti-chinese violence

M igration: Moving West to East. Those interested in learning more should consult the bibliography for appropriate books and resources. Chinese laborers also built rail lines that connected the territory to eastern markets; indeed, the Chinese were instrumental in building almost every major rail connection in Washington before Likewise, Japanese migrants worked on the railro, first in construction, later as porters and foremen. The pull of remaining in their new home often overwhelmed the tug of returning to their native country. By the s, news of a gold strike in eastern Washington brought Chinese immigrants here; by the s, Chinese were recruited to work on railroad construction as well as in logging camps and salmon canneries.

Instead, Washington is a mosaic made of different peoples coming together to create new lives in a new land.

Similar push and pull factors drew Japanese immigrants to Washington state. Generational tension, racism, and economic concerns all worked to pull Asian and Asian American communities apart. Limited by discrimination and economic factors, Asian immigrants often worked menial jobs in hazardous industries for little compensation. An economic depression in the mids, which left white workers competing for dwindling jobs, fueled animosity.

A timeline of ificant dates in Asian American history, with a focus on Washington state, also follows. Asian immigrants helped to create the transportation links, industries, and wealth that made the Pacific Northwest. Immigrants did not remain unchanged or melt into a common society, however.

Ironically, this process begins with discrimination.

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One story of Washington state is a story of immigration, but it is not the simple tale of assimilation or acculturation. And for nearly every immigrant who stayed, the opportunity to work in the United States was a major reason why they made their home here. Asian immigrants faced discrimination almost upon arrival in the Pacific Northwest. By the s, Filipinos were a major segment of Washington's Asian American population.

Inthe newly created Washington territorial legislature barred Chinese from voting; later legislation enacted poll taxes and restrictions on testifying in court cases against whites. Early Japanese and Filipino migration followed a similar pattern. For many Asian immigrants, working and living in Washington state was a temporary condition. Sincenonwhites from overseas could not become citizens; the question now swung on who could immigrate to the U.

The "Gentleman's Agreement" between Japan and the U. The category "aliens ineligible to citizenship," dating fromused race to restrict naturalization. While Asian immigration reached its high-water mark on the West Coast, it transformed America, adding diversity to an already multicultural society.

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South China, primarily the area around Guangzhou Cantonsuffered the most; and it was from here that the vast majority of immigrants came. In the mid-nineteenth century, China seemed on the verge of collapse. But economic hardship in the United States, together with restrictive labor contracts and new commitments in America, compelled many to stay.

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Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have a rich heritage thousands of years old and have both shaped the history of the United States and had their lives dramatically influenced by moments in its history.