1850’s: Chinese, First Asian Immigrants to U.S.
The very first Chinese immigrants were wealthy merchants, skilled artisans and hotel and restaurant owners. However, starting in the mid 1800’s, large groups of unskilled “coolie” laborers immigrated to California, primarily to the “Gold Rush” areas and San Francisco. Others worked on the Central Pacific Railroad. In Hawaii, Chinese immigrated as Contract Laborers in the 1850’s to provide workers for the booming sugar industry. For more information, see the ThinkQuest Library.
1870’s and 80’s: Growing Resentment toward the Chinese—“Yellow Peril”
Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prohibited family members of Chinese workers from coming to the U.S. Due to this and other acts, the already imbalanced gender ratio of 19:1 (male : female) widened. Thus the Chinese immigrants in the early 1900’s were essentially “bachelor societies” of predominantly old men. These Chinese clustered in groups forming ethnic enclaves of “Chinatowns”, where people still live, work and socialize. For more information, see the ThinkQuest Library.
Post WWII Immigration
With the Repeal of Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943, wives and unmarried children were allowed to enter the U.S. The War Bride Act of 1945 further increased the number of Chinese women. The Immigration and Nationality Act amendments of 1965 (Hart-Celler Act, INS Act of 1965) abolished the national-origin quotas that had been in place in t