Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Old Los Angeles Chinatown Revisited

Sonoratown, Little Italy, China City, Chinatown, Los Angeles, Ca.

from  Elisabeth L. Uyeda's Blogg    Los Angeles Revisited

Memories of visiting Chinatown during my youth conjure up not curio shops, nor restaurants with names like Forbidden Palace, nor of walking through Gin Ling Way, Chung King Road, or Bamboo Lane.  Rather, the places remembered from the 1960s were plain with storefronts nondescript compared to the central plaza.  Our family's weekly destination to shop and eat meant heading to the outskirt around New High, Ord and Spring Streets.

Image courtesy Seaver Center for Western History Research
Above shows the Mandarin Restaurant at 643 North Spring Street.  At the far right of the picture was Sing Lee Theatre (established about 1963) at 649 North Spring Street.  (Not that my family ever dined at the Mandarin - we only ate Cantonese cuisine - I didn't experience Mandarin-style food until the 1980s in Monterey Park.)

Image courtesy Seaver Center for Western History Research
Further up on the same street was a meat market, Sam Sing Company at 680 North Spring Street.

Despite the lack of exoticism along these parts, the area's colorful history more than makes up.

Losing "Old" Chinatown (1933)

The obliteration of Old Chinatown, near Alameda and Aliso Streets, began on a Friday morning, December 22nd of 1933.  Legal challenges against the destruction only postponed the inevitable.  The Union Passenger Terminal or Union Station was eventually built on the cleared land, and the first train arrived in May of 1939.  By 1942 the streets and alleyways erased included Apablasa, Cayetano, Juan, Marchessault and Napier Streets.

Early Chinese residents settled in Los Angeles after the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. Men found new work and eked out their living in such occupations as vegetable peddler. The Chinese community was victim to the most violent event in the young city's history during the Chinese Massacre on October 24, 1871.

New High, Ord and Spring Streets

A study of Dakin's fire insurance atlas for the year 1888 discloses that Chinese businesses and rooming houses existed outside of Chinatown proper, namely by New High Street (Calle Alta was the earlier name).  See further below for a discussion on early Chinese areas outside of Old Chinatown.  Later in this blog post two other nearby streets will be covered:  Ord Street (formerly Alta, then Walters Street), and North Spring Street (originally called Street of the Maids, then changed to Upper Main in the 19th century, then was known as San Fernando by 1897.)  From the 19th century into the early 20th, these three streets were known as a part of Sonoratown for its Mexican residents.  Italians also settled in this neighborhood.

New Chinatown  (est. 1938)

The Chinese American community found a new core location when its leaders managed to strike a deal and acquired vacant land owned by the Santa Fe Railroad.  New Chinatown opened June 26, 1938, and it was anchored by a central pedestrian plaza on Broadway north of College Street.  The architectural layout and facades have basically not changed all these years.

Also in 1938 two Chinese businesses appeared in that year's city directory listed at 700 and 701 North Spring Street near Ord.  This location was several blocks away from the central plaza. These businesses did not cater to the tourist.  These stores were situated adjacent to China City (to be discussed below.)

Wai Sang Meat Company (700 Spring) and Kwong Dack Wo Company (702 Spring) were meat and grocery markets respectively.  (My parents regularly frequented these markets in the 1960s.  Both stores were listed as recent as in the 1973 city directory.)   Today, both units house the CBS Seafood Restaurant.

Notice on the picture's right side at the rear of CBS that the lit Philippe's sign is visible (Click to zoom in)

CBS Seafood Restaurant opened in 1999.  Their parking lot next to the restaurant has been watched by congenial Security Officer E. Reed since the restaurant opened.  Mr. Reed said he has only missed three work days when he tried a stint at the new Disney Concert Hall but decided he preferred the Chinatown beat.  He is amazingly warm and welcoming to CBS patrons.

E. Reed and restaurant manager D. Ho shootin' the breeze in the parking lot

The CBS site history includes a three-story handsome brick building constructed by the summer of 1888 and named the Tononi Block, for its owner, an Italian, Giacomo Tononi.  The businesses at these locations were a saloon/billiard parlor (700 Upper Main) and wine & liquor store (702 Upper Main.)  Later his widow, Isabel Pelanconi Tononi, lived in one of the upstairs lodging quarters briefly (704 1/2 San Fernando - this address was sometimes listed as the San Fernando Hotel, as recent as 1956.)  She was the great-granddaughter of a Spanish soldier Cornelio Avila who built one of the early adobes bounded near today's North Broadway, College, Spring and Alpine Streets.

Lower 'pink' areas show the brick buildings of the Sunset Hotel and the Tononi Block across the street (Courtesy Seaver Center) (Click on image to zoom in)

The very corner unit (700 San Fernando) also served for many years as grocer Casimiro Michelini's store, as listed in the 1897, 1901 and 1909 city directories.

The Tononi Block is partially blocked by the tree in right foreground.  Across the street was an even taller building, the Sunset Hotel at 703 Upper Main Street (Image courtesy Seaver Center)

It does not appear likely that today's CBS is on the original floor of the Tononi Block, however, the County Assessor's record still lists this site as built in 1887.  A big question -- when was the building razed?  One clue comes from directory listings that place the Tononi building still possibly standing in 1956.

Across the street from the Tononi was the Sunset Hotel at 703 Upper Main.  (This hotel would have been only a short distance from the "San Fernando Street" depot stop of the railroad.)

Another unknown is year that the imposing Sunset Hotel went away.  The County Assessor lists the building where the hotel should have sat as 207 Ord (built 1880).  Today's single story building does not seem to be derived from the hotel. 207 Ord is a long single story building (maybe like the footprint of the old hotel), and Hoy King Restaurant operates here.

This space was the Chung Mee Cafe in the 1942 and 1956 directories.  I know it was still Chung Mee in the 1960s when my grandfather was a "waiter" there.  Actually he ran the gambling operation in the back of the restaurant.
The 207 Ord building continues lengthwise eastward:

The 207 Ord Street building (built 1880; renovated 1935) is showing its age

Across the street southward from the former Tononi Block was an adobe structure at the southeast pictured below with street signs of Ord and San Fernando.  Adobe homes were prevalent on these streets - settled by the early Spanish and Mexican soldiers and other persons of means in the early to mid-19th century.

Look closely at the left side for a downhill descent of Ord Street (today a walk downhill would lead to Philippe's) (Courtesy Seaver Center)
The address site of the adobe would have been about 686 North Spring.  If one walks southerly on Spring before reaching the cross street of Cesar Chavez, contemporary street life is very diversified, as shown below:

Directly across the street is the spot first introduced at the beginning image of this blog posting.  There is still a theater, though now called King Hing Theater:

The Dakin 1888 insurance atlas surprisingly reveals that in this 600 block there was a significant concentration of Chinese quarters, labeled in the atlas "Chinese" Chin. Rest." "Chinese Wash" "Chin. Board'g" "Chin. Tea" and "Chin Rooms."  These notations provide indication that Chinese resided outside of the "Old" Chinatown community.

(Click to Zoom) (Courtesy Seaver Center)
Philippe's Sandwiches

Today's best-known landmark in the area is Philippe's French-Dipped Sandwiches at 1001 Alameda Street, along Ord Street.  Back in 1888 this famous corner was a vacant lot.  Displaced from their location on Aliso Street by new freeway consruction, Philippe's moved here in 1951.

China City (est. 1938)

Across the street from Philippe's, Ord Street was the north boundary for "China City" the Chinese tourist compound created by the "mother of Olvera Street" Christine Sterling.  It opened in June of 1938, a few weeks earlier than New Chinatown's opening.  China City was partly Sterling's solution for the displaced Chinese community.  Less than a year later, a suspicious fire burned in the main section.  After being rebuilt, China City operated for about ten years before another fire brought its demise.  China City extended to Spring Street on the west, Main Street on its east side, and reaching south to Macy Street (today's Cesar E. Chavez Avenue.)

There might be a historical remnant -- at Philippe's parking lot across the street from the restaurant hangs a neon sign which reads "Shanghai Street."  Shanghai Street existed in China City so this might have been an authentic, salvaged sign.


In the 19th century, the city blocks considered today's New Chinatown was home to a different ethnic group: Hispanics.  The barrio developed and resulted from demographic changes following the American period of the city after 1850. Whereas Mexican and Hispanic residents once comprised more than half the population, new Anglo settlers changed the equation. A segregated area north of the Los Angeles Plaza became inhabited by Mexicans and referred disparagingly as Sonoratown by Anglos. A study (The Los Angeles Barrio, 1850-1890 by Richard Griswold Del Castillo) delineated that the most concentrated ethnic enclave between 1872 through 1888 was the large area bounded by Main, College, Yale and Short (formerly Corta Street, about where Sunset Boulevard is today.)  Two of the main thoroughfares in Sonoratown were Castelar (today's North Hill Street) and Buena Vista (originally Calle de la Eternidad and today's North Broadway.)

Early Real Estate Subdivision Nearby

Prudent Beaudry, who served as City Mayor and who was also the developer of Bunker Hill, subdivided the hill to the west of Sonoratown about 1884.

Courtesy of the Seaver Center for Western History Research

More on New High, Ord and Spring Streets

New High, Ord and Spring may have been the fringe of Sonoratown. There was also a concentration of homes and businesses to Italians as part of L.A.'s Little Italy in the 19th century.  In 1897 and 1901, Soon Wo laundry was listed at 688 San Fernando.  In 1901, Yik Wo had a tailor business at 674 San Fernando.  In the 1909 city directory, the businesses and residents appear ethnically integrated by whites and Hispanics, without Chinese names listed. At 751 San Fernando Street was the Church of St. Peter. By 1938, New High Street (600-700 block) was mostly Hispanic, but in light of the new Chinese settlements (New Chinatown and China City) subsequent city directories showed increasing Chinese business and residential listings.

The 1943 city directory indicates these city blocks a mix of Italian, Chinese and Hispanic residents and businesses.  By 1956, the following line of businesses on Ord Street reflected the diversity:  120 Ord - Flora's; 122 Ord - F. Suie One Co. Chinese Goods; 124 Ord - Jun Quon Hin; 207 Ord - Chung Mee Cafe; 301 Ord - Juarez Cafe; 302 Ord - Lake Sun; 304 Ord - El Capricho Cafe.

At 708 New High, the corner lot sits ABC Seafood Restaurant.  Prior to their venture, the Limehouse was here.  One of their predecessors was the J.G. Medina Grocery operating in an old adobe after vacated by the El Adobe Cafe.  Click here to see a photo from the LAPL archive.

Across the street the Phoenix Inn Restaurant opened at the corner of 301 Ord Street in the year 1967, and it is still in business.

This corner has had its share of restaurant operations, including Kong Woo in 1942; Juarez Cafe in 1956.  The facade of this 1906 building has hardly change in its century-long existence.  Click here for an LAPL archival photo when it was the site of the Peluffo grocery and liquor store.

Houses of Ill Fame

Behind the brick building was another building, labeled in Dakin's 1888 insurance atlas as ILL Fame (a house of ill fame, or a brothel).  Such establishments were notorious over by Alameda and Aliso, but along these several city blocks it was commonplace, too.

(Click to zoom in) (Courtesy Seaver Center)

On New High, below Walters (Ord Street) there are at least six buildings of ill fame.  They were probably "cribs" made of small rooms.  On this street there were also two buildings for "Negro Rooms" and "Negro."

(Click to zoom in) (Courtesy Seaver Center)
The Los Angeles Times printed a "community" notice on July 1, 1889.  Various property owners supported the idea of containing prostitution houses to a single street:  along New High between Bellevue (today's Cesar Chavez Avenue) on the south and Alpine on north.  The supporters reasoned that there weren't families with children or private houses along those two blocks.

The newspaper reported on October 26, 1889 that a city order was under way to pave New High between Walters and Bellevue.  By mid-November, the paper reported a protest against paving the street.

The following year in October, a single-track railroad right-of-way was awarded; the route would travel down Buena Vista, then east onto Walters, then south onto New High.

Upper Main also had a house of ill fame, a short walk northward from the Tononi Block.

(Click to zoom in) (Courtesy Seaver Center)
From today's perspective the site of the row of prostitution houses would have been just beyond the apropos American Apparel girls billboard:

View north on the 700 block of North Spring Street

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

To Shine in the West

On a summer day in 1922, as the strains of opera music and applause from the commencement audience faded away, President James Blaisdell presented a doctor of laws to Fong Foo Sec, the College’s first Chinese immigrant student. It was only the third LL.D awarded since the College’s founding 35 years earlier, and the story of a peasant laborer turned goodwill ambassador receiving an honorary degree attracted coverage from as far afield as the New York Times.
 Fong had become the chief English editor of the Commercial Press, China’s first modern publisher. At Commencement, he was praised as an “heir by birth to the wisdom of an ancient and wonderful people; scholar as well of Western learning; holding all these combined riches in the services of a great heart; internationalist, educator, modest Christian gentleman.”
The pomp could not have been more different than Fong’s arrival four decades earlier, when his improbable journey to Pomona began under the cover of twilight. After his steamship docked in San Francisco in 1882, the scrawny 13-year-old boy hid in a baggage cart, while his fellow passengers banded together to fend off attackers along the waterfront, in case the immigrants were discovered before reaching the sanctuary of Chinatown.
 “I was received with bricks and kicks,” Fong said, describing his reception in a magazine interview and in his memoirs decades later. “Some rude Americans, seeing Chinese laborers flock in and finding no way to stop them, threw street litter at us to vent their fury.”
 Fong’s immigrant tale is both emblematic and exceptional: emblematic in the peasant roots, the struggles and dream of prosperity he shared with Chinese laborers of that era. Exceptional in the fact that Fong, though he came as a laborer, was able to get a college education in the U.S. and seize the opportunities it brought. He arrived at a time when formal immigration restrictions were scant, but also to a land gripped by anti-Chinese hysteria, just before a new law that, in the words of historian Erika Lee, “forever changed America’s relationship to immigration.”
 IF FONG, IN HIS TINY VILLAGE in Guangdong province in southern China, had heard of such threats against his countrymen, he remained undeterred in his quest to go to Gold Mountain, a name California had picked up during the Gold Rush era. Fong’s childhood nicknames, Kuang Yaoxi, “to shine in the West” and Kuang Jingxi “to respect the West” are revealing. “He was expected, or perhaps destined, to become associated with the Western world and Western culture,” says Leung Yuen Sang, chairman of the History Department at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who has conducted research on Fong.
 Born in 1869, Fong tended his family’s water buffalo and planted rice, taro and sweet potatoes, but did not begin school until he was 8. Often hungry, he went barefoot and wore patched clothes, reserving his shoes for festival days, Fong wrote in his memoirs. But his father saw a way out for Fong. From the start of the 19th century, his clansmen, driven by bandits, floods, war and rebellion, went abroad to seek their fortunes. After seeing villagers travel to America and return with “their pockets full,” his father asked Fong if he’d like to go too.
  To pay for his ticket, the family borrowed money from relatives and friends, a common practice for would-be travelers. In January 1882, accompanied by his neighbor, Fong left for Hong Kong where he stayed before sailing for San Francisco on the S.S. China. In the crowded hold, amid stormy weather and high waves, he learned his first words of English and picked up advice. Fong’s steamship was one of scores jammed with thousands of his compatriots who began rushing over while the U.S. Congress debated a moratorium on most immigration from China.
 According to his memoirs, Fong arrived sometime after the passage, on May 6, 1882, of what became known as the Exclusion Act, but before it took effect 90 days later. The San Francisco Chronicle published the arrivals and passenger load of steamships from the Orient, noting in March of that year, “It is a matter of some interest to know just how many Chinese are likely to be pressed upon our shores.”
 The Chronicle also wrote of crowded, unclean conditions aboard steamers, which were anchored on quarantine grounds and fumigated to prevent the spread of smallpox. In headline after headline, the newspaper created the sense of a city besieged: “More Chinese: Another Thousand Arrive in This Port,” “And Still They Come … Two Thousand Others on the Way,” “Another Chinese Cargo: Eighty Thousand Heathen Awaiting Shipment to This City.”
 ANTI-CHINESE SENTIMENT had been building for decades on the West Coast. During economic downturns, the immigrants, with their cheap labor, became scapegoats. Mob violence flared against them, and in San Francisco, in 1877, thousands of rioters attacked Chinese laundries and the wharves of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, the chief transpacific carriers of the laborers.
 California had already passed its own anti-Chinese measures, and after years of pressure, particularly from the West Coast, Congress took unprecedented federal action in the form of 1882’s Exclusion Act. The 10-year ban on Chinese laborers would be the first federal moratorium barring immigration based upon race and class. Only merchants, teachers, students and their servants would be permitted to enter thereafter.
 At first, confusion reigned. When the Exclusion Act took effect, a Chronicle headline proclaimed that the arrival of the “last cargo” of Chinese in San Francisco was “A Scene that Will Become Historical.” Still, the Chinese continued arriving as enforcement in the beginning remained haphazard. The act represented the U.S. government’s first attempts to process immigrants, and officials at the ports weren’t sure how to handle Chinese laborers under the new regulations, says Erika Lee, director of the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Minnesota. But in time the law succeeded in reducing Chinese immigration, which plummeted from 39,579 in 1882 to only 10 people, five years later. The Chinese population in the West shrank, as immigrants moved east to work and open small businesses. In the months and years to come, restrictions would tighten, with Chinese required to carry certificates of registration verifying legal entry. Later on, the right to re-enter the U.S. would be rescinded, and the act would be renewed.
 “Beginning in 1882, the United States stopped being a nation of immigrants that welcomed foreigners without restrictions,” Lee argues in her book, At America’s Gates. “For the first time in its history, the United States began to exert federal control over immigrants at its gates and within its borders, thereby setting standards, by race, class, and gender for who was to be welcomed into this country.”
 AFTER ARRIVING IN SAN FRANCISCO, Fong was forced to hide in a basement his first few days in Chinatown, a neighborhood of narrow alleys and cramped tenements, but also of temples and gaily-painted balconies. Laws targeting Chinese—their tight living quarters and their use of poles to carry loads on sidewalks— reflected the simmering resentment. “The city authorities, because they had not been able to prevent their coming, tried to make it difficult for [the Chinese] to settle down here,” Fong wrote.
 Like many immigrants, Fong turned to kinsmen for help. He left for Sacramento to live with an uncle, a vegetable dealer, who found him a job as a cook to a wealthy family. He earned $1 a week, along with the occasional gift of a dime, which he treasured “as gold.” He—like many Chinese immigrants—sent money back to cover the debt incurred to cover his passage to America and pay for family expenses.
 At his uncle’s urging, Fong studied English at a night school set up by the Congregational Church in Sacramento’s Chinatown, but he started gambling and stopped going to class. Scolded by his uncle, he returned to school and a new teacher, Rev. Chin Toy, became his mentor.
 Fong found himself debating whether to convert to Christianity. Among his parents, relatives, and friends, not a single one was Christian, and he hesitated giving up the idols his ancestors had worshipped for generations. “If Christianity turns out to be unreliable, I will lose heavily,” he wrote in his memoirs.
 After a fire gutted the heart of Sacramento’s Chinatown and destroyed his few possessions, Fong had to move into a dark basement room, thick with his uncle’s opium smoke. Fong then asked if he could stay in the mission church, and Rev. Chin consented to the unprecedented request. From age 15 to 17, Fong lived in the mission, where he learned Chinese, the Bible, English, elementary science, and read books such as Pilgrim’s Progress and Travels in Africa. Six months later, he was baptized, but it took the Salvation Army to stoke his religious passion.
 Drawn by the sound of the bugle one night, coming home from his cook’s job, Fong watched the preachers in the street, fervent despite a jeering crowd. Their zeal led him to question his faith and whether his sins had been forgiven. Struck by a vision of Christ’s breast streaming with blood, he knelt during a church service and repented.
 His conversion was unusual—missionaries in those days did not make deep inroads among Chinese immigrants, who “did not seem to see the efficacy of a god who sacrificed his son on a cross,” says Madeline Hsu, director of the Center for Asian American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. “Until there was a better sense of community and utility in attending church, missionaries seemed largely ineffectual.”
 The Salvation Army, unable to proselytize among the Chinese until Fong joined up, sent him to their San Francisco headquarters in 1889 for six months of training. As a preacher, Fong became the object of “laughter, bullying, and insults. As a Chinese, I suffered more than any Westerner,” he wrote. Still, for more than a year, Fong evangelized in California, Oregon and Washington.
 One night, a brawny man in the street started beating Fong, who could not defend himself, and the teenager escaped after a woman intervened. Another time, while Fong passed a football field, boys swarmed around him, spitting and assaulting him until he found refuge in a nearby house.
 After a labor meeting to discuss measures against the Chinese, boys began following Fong, who brandished a paper knife to ward them off. He might have found his greatest peril in Tacoma, Wash., where mobs in November 1885 drove out every Chinese, part of a wave of xenophobic violence sweeping the West. During an evening meeting sometime after the anti-Chinese riots, Fong’s friends heard voices outside and urged him to change out of his Salvation Army uniform, hide in a friend’s house and then aboard a ship anchored in the harbor where he spent the night. “Later, it came to light several hundred people had gathered outside the door of the meeting place, ready to seize me,” he wrote in his memoirs.
 Fong endured. After taking typing and shorthand in night school, he became a clerk at the Salvation Army, and then was promoted to secretary to a major, the organization’s ranking leader on the Pacific Coast. The next few years had “significant bearing” on his future, he wrote, because he associated with people of “superior class” who spoke fluent English. On his own, he studied history, archeology and literature, and honed his public speaking and debate skills.
 BUT FONG HAD AMBITIONS that would lead him to Pomona—and, eventually, back to China. “If I could obtain higher learning, I could go back and be of service to society,” he wrote in his memoirs.“To spend my whole life in a foreign country did not seem to me the most ideal solution.”
 In 1897, Fong met Pasadena businessman Samuel Hahn, whose son, Edwin, attended Pomona. Fong shared his dreams with them. Edwin Hahn, in turn, told Cyrus Baldwin, Pomona’s first president. Not long after, President Baldwin called upon Fong in San Francisco at the Salvation Army headquarters, urging him to come at once. Fong’s $300 savings, and his pledge to work part-time, would cover his tuition, the president assured him. Years later, Fong would name his first-born son Baldwin in gratitude.
 Fong entered Pomona’s prep school, cleaning houses, waiting on tables, typewriting, picking apples and cooking to cover his expenses. Like some students, Fong built a wood shack to save on rent and prepared his own meals, harvesting vegetables from a friend’s garden, according to classmate Charles L. Boynton, who contributed to a memorial volume after Fong’s death. Rev. Boynton would become a missionary in Shanghai. (With the College’s Congregationalist roots, a good number of Pomona students went on to become missionaries in the early days.)
 As a student, Fong helped bridge the gulf between cultures and countries, a role that would become his life’s work. He was seen as an expert on his homeland. Under the headline “The Views of a Bright Chinese Student,” the Los Angeles Times printed the transcript of a lengthy address Fong had given in Los Angeles regarding current events in China. And Boynton asked Fong—known as “Sec” or “Mr. Sec”—to speak with students planning to become missionaries in China, to share what he knew of the country and to make a personal appeal for evangelization. Fong also began his decades-long involvement with the YMCA during this time, after hearing about a fellow student’s account of young people surrendering their lives to Christ at a gathering on the hillside overlooking the ocean at sunset in Pacific Grove.
 He interrupted his studies at Pomona twice: first, shortly after enrolling to accompany General William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, on a tour of the United States, and for a second time, in 1899, after he contracted tuberculosis and a physician ordered him to recuperate in a mountain camp for a year. “I was under the impression there was no cure for the disease and that it was a matter of a few months before my life, with its hopes crushed and work undone, would come to an end,” Fong later wrote in a letter.
 A friend reasoned with him, helping restore his enthusiasm, and he looked fondly upon his time at Pomona. “Five years in college and all the assistance from friends—these I cannot forget.” After four years in Pomona’s prep school followed by a year of regular collegiate enrollment, he transferred to the University of California at Berkeley, where he graduated with honors with a bachelor of letters in 1905. He then headed east to Columbia, where he earned dual master’s degrees in English literature and education—fulfilling a prophecy. A generation ago, a fortune teller told Fong’s grandfather that an offspring would be awarded high academic honors.
 FONG RETURNED TO CHINA in 1906 after a quarter-century absence. “The people are my people, and it doesn’t take long for me to forget that I had seen life—lived, struggled—in the West, and I was one of them once more,” he wrote.
 He taught English and landed an appointment at the Ministry of Communications before taking his post at the Commercial Press in Shanghai, which published textbooks and translations. Such work contributed much to the educational development of China, which he considered vital to ensuring the country’s survival. Fong believed Chinese students also had to understand sciences, art, history, law and the government of Western countries.
 In the decades ahead, Fong would become a prominent volunteer leader in Rotary International and the YMCA, and travel to Europe, Australia and the United States. And yet, despite his degrees, despite his accolades, under the Exclusion Act, he was not unlike the lowliest Chinese laborer who returned to his village after spending years in Gold Mountain.
 America, it seemed, wasn’t ready for them. Permanent settlement in the U.S. was not an attractive option, because Chinese were prohibited from becoming naturalized citizens and faced a limited set of economic and social options. Many Chinese Americans were barred from certain professions, such as practicing law, even if they were college graduates. “It is notable that he ‘made his mark’ in China, not the U.S,” says Lee. During this time, the U.S. system for dealing with immigrants was becoming more and more formalized. Only a few years after Fong returned to China, an immigration station for detaining new and some returning Chinese immigrants opened on Angel Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. By then, the Exclusion Act had set into motion new modes of immigration regulation that would give rise to U.S. passports, green cards, a trained force of government officials and interpreters, and a bureaucracy to enforce the law.
 When Fong died in 1938, the Exclusion Act was still in effect. It wasn’t until five years later, when China and the United States became allies during World War II, that Congress repealed it. Large-scale Chinese immigration wasn’t allowed until the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act two decades after the war’s end.
 But throughout his life, Fong had remained optimistic about the power of education to alter American attitudes toward the Chinese, even if the laws hadn’t caught up to reflect that change. He exuded that spirit in an interview with a YMCA magazine, Association Men, in 1922, the same year he returned to the U.S. to receive his honorary degree from Pomona.
 “The presence of several thousand Chinese students in your colleges and universities has given you a truer conception of us, than you get from the Chinese laundrymen,” Fong said. “The change which has come over the American is truly remarkable … you receive me with cordiality and friendliness. I am hailed as an equal.”

Monday, July 16, 2012

Forbidden Citizens Chinese Exclusion and the U.S. Congress A Legislative History

By Martin B. Gold
Described as "one of the most vulgar forms of barbarism," by Rep. John Kasson (R-IA) in 1882, a series of laws passed by the United States Congress between 1879 and 1943 resulted in prohibiting the Chinese as a people from becoming U.S. citizens. Forbidden Citizens recounts this long and shameful legislative history.
H. Res. 683 Acknowledges Injustice of anti-Chinese Discrimination, June 18, 2012
"In other cases, we admit the people and exclude the individual. In the Chinese case, we admit the individuals and exclude the people."
--Representative Henry Naphen (D-MA) (1899-1903), 35 Cong. Rec. 3695 (1902) (§ 9.30)
Forbidden Citizens: Chinese Exclusion and the U.S. Congress- A Legislative History

Cover Images

Claims of China, by J.A. WalesMain cover image (bottom-left of the cover) is from the cover of Puck magazine, March 17, 1886, one month after Secretary of State Thomas F. Bayard wrote to China's Washington legation that "the violence against Chinese immigrants was precipitated by their resistance to cultural assimilation, and that racism against Chinese was typically found among other immigrants rather than the majority of the populace."
The cartoonist was J.A. (James Albert) Wales.
The cartoon shows the Chinese Minister to the United States Cheng Tsao-ju handing "claims of China" to Secretary of State Thomas F. Bayard. The sign above Bayard reads, "The Chinese have no votes and no rights which this government is bound to respect, 1886."
To Secretary Bayard's right, previous Secretaries of State James G. Blaine and William M. Evarts sit below identically worded signs dated 1881 and 1877.
Cheng Tsao-ju's left hand holds another scroll that says, "The Government of China paid over to that of the United States the sum of [500,000 taels] $735,258.97 in full liquidation of all claims of American citizens in 1858." [Note 1]
On the night of December 14, 1856, the foreign factories at Canton were burned and foreigners were compelled to flee the city; and on the 13th of the next month [January 13, 1857] all foreigners were forced to abandon Whampoa, the port of Canton's Hostilities between China and Great Britain growing out of the controversy concerning the lorcha Arrow -- a controversy which served to inflame the feelings of the Chinese against all foreign residents. "The destruction of the foreign settlements at Canton, although apparently the act of incendiaries," was "known to have been arranged by the authorities of Canton, who made no distinction between enemies and neutrals; and the subsequent proceedings of the Canton government in offering rewards for the heads of all foreigners indiscriminately." [Note 2]
 The caption below the illustration reads:
Chinese Minister: "Therefore, all things whatsover ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."
Secretary Bayard: "That's some nonsense of that old Confucius of yours, I suppose?"
The image is from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Online Catalog, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b49114.

The ultimate cause, by Frank A. Nankivell

The Ultimate Cause 
is from the cover of Puck magazine, December 19, 1900. In the spring of 1900, during the Boxer Rebellion in China, several Christian churches were burned and Chinese Christians were killed. Hundreds of soldiers from eight foreign countries were then dispatched to protect the foreign legations in Beijing. (§ 9.12)
The cartoonist was Frank Arthur Nankivell.
The cartoon shows shows a Chinese woman with two children talking to an American missionary on a street in front of a market.

The caption below the illustration reads:
The Ultimate Cause
"But why is it," asked the thoughtful Chinese, "that I may go to your heaven, while I may not go to your country?"

The American missionary shrugged his shoulders. "There is no Labor vote in heaven!" said he.
The image is from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Online Catalog, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2010651356.