Essay On Chinese Labor Movement

1225 Words5 Pages

During the 1850s, a steady flow of Chinese laborers entered the United States. These Chinese laborers were cheap and hard-working which threatened U.S. labor unions, leading the labor movement to latch onto society's deep-seated animosity toward the Chinese. Labor unions urged exclusion acts restricting the rights of the Chinese people into place while holding onto racism as their lifeline. The nascent U.S. labor movement used anger rooted in their fear of Chinese skills to promote themselves to a great extent during the early 1800s.
Chinese and American relations rapidly increased thanks to the momentous discovery of gold in California, also known as The Gold Rush (Lee, 1940-1956). With newfound wealth emerging in California, newspapers written …show more content…

Getting them off the ground and running was difficult because judicial systems usually sided with business owners rather than workers. Organized labor groups, such as the Knights of Labor, were failing to recruit enough workers in the early 1800s. But, with American aggression towards the Chinese, Organized labor groups had a new way to promote themselves (Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung). Using racism targeted toward the Chinese people, labor unions were able to gain many recruits. "Unemployed white workers and their middle-class allies used the potent combination of cultural prejudice, racism, and economic survival to thwart attempts by Washington's influential railroad and coal-mining companies to import a potentially unlimited supply of cheap and dependable Chinese labor" (Schwantes, 1997). This was one of the major ways that labor union members and leaders influenced the public by using racism to limit the number of Chinese workers. Another way was racial namecalling, an act where organized labor groups would print out posters or verbally call Chinese laborers out with racially degrading names (Schwantes, 1997). These racist names were considered small insults to Americans but were very detrimental to the morale of Chinese immigrants. A specific Labor union called the Knights of Labor had an official journal named Knights of Labor’s Official Journal of United Labor. In this journal, they published all sorts of racist propaganda to the public. In this journal, they called the Chinese men thieves by nature, and that all Chinese women were prostitutes (Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung). In the same journal, they wrote of their appearance. How the Chinese bore a resemblance to men, yet they lived like beasts, who ate

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