Chinese Immigration to North America
This essay will show how and why the first Chinese immigrants came
to North America, the events that occured in those times, and the
contrast between how the first Chinese Canadians and the Chinese
of today have been treated.
The first immigrants that came from China to Canada began to come
soon after the American Revolutionary War. There were immigrants
before them, but very, very few. Around 1790, students, merchants, and
sailors began to come to America and Hawaii. However, between 1790 and
1850, only a few hundred Chinese came to America!
The few immigrants that returned to China around 1848 brought
news of "The Land Of The Golden Mountains" to their friends and family.
This was the time that gold was discovered in California and the Yukon.
Between 1849 (the year of the Gold Rush) and 1882, 300,000 Chinese had
come to the United States seeking a fortune in gold.
They immediatley discovered that it really wasn't what they had
expected. The "Chinese Exculsion Act" of 1882 was formed from hatred
for the Chinese immigrants. Called "coolies" and "strikebreakers", the
Chinese would work for almost nothing because they had no money. They
were despised and treated as slaves.
The Chinese immigrants were forced to live by themselves in slums
called "Chinatowns" (some of which survive today in large cities including
Vancouver.) The Chinatowns often resembles the alleys in China's cities,
because the Chinese often set up small shops and built their dwellings
with Chinese architecture in mind.
In the 1930's, Franklin Roosevelt passed the "Major Minorities
Labor Coalition" which made things far easier for the Chinese Americans.
Things remained this way until 1949. A war had been raging in China for
37 years before this, and alot of the Chinese who had come to America to
make money for their families (back in China) wanted to go home. In
1949, The People's Republic Of China was formed under Chinese
After these changes had been made, things began to come together
for the Chinese-Americans who had worked so hard in a new land with a
foreign language. In 1962, John F. Kennedy welcomed 15,000 new
immigrants to the United States, because things weren't so good in China
with the Communists. But the Chinese in Canada and the United Sates had
it much better. They were accepted by the general population and had
good jobs, because they were willing to work very hard.
Today, Chinese are a part of the ethnic heritage of Canada and the
United States and are credited with helping build the situation that we
appreciate today. We have a great standard of living today, that without
all the help from not only Chinese immigrants, but all the hard-working
people that built our country, might not have been possible.
In conclusion, the Chinese who first immigrated to Canada and the
States endured many hardships and faced prejudism and hate, but
prevailed, and thrive in Canada today.