Transcontinental Railroad A Push Chapter 16 Homework
© 2014 CPRR.org. Use of this Web site constitutes acceptance of the User Agreement which permits personal use web viewing only; no copying; arbitration; no warranty.
HON. JOHN T. DOOLITTLE of California inthe
U.S. House of Representatives, Thursday, April29, 1999.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Mr. Speaker, today I riseto honor the Chinese-American community and pay tribute to its ancestors'contribution to the building of the American transcontinental railroad.
On May 8th, the ColfaxArea Historical Society in my Congressional District will place a monumentalong Highway 174 at Cape Horn, near Colfax, California to recognize theeffortsof the Chinese in laying the tracks that linked the east and westcoasts for the first time. With the CaliforniaGold Rush andthe opening of the West came an increased interest in building a transcontinentalrailroad. To this end, the Central Pacific Railroad Company was established,and construction of the route East from Sacramento began in 1863. Althoughthe beginning of the effort took place on relatively flat land, labor andfinancial problems were persistent, resulting in only 50 miles of trackbeing laid in the first two years. Although the company needed over 5,000workers, it only had 600 on the payroll by 1864.
Chineselabor was suggested, as they had already helped build the CaliforniaCentral Railroad, the railroad from Sacramento to Marysville and the SanJose Railway. Originally thought to be too small to complete such a momentoustask, Charles Crocker of Central Pacific pointed out, "the Chinese madethe Great Wall, didn't they?"
The first Chinese were hiredin 1865[sic] at approximately $28 per month to do the very dangerous work of blastingand laying ties over the treacherous terrain of the high Sierras. Theylived in simply dwellings and cooked their own meals, often consistingof fish, dried oysters and fruit, mushrooms and seaweed.
Work in the beginning was slow and difficult.After the first 23 miles, CentralPacific faced the daunting task of laying tracks over terrain that rose 7,000feet in 100 miles. To conquer the manysheer embankments, the Chinese workers used techniques they had learnedin China to complete similar tasks. They were lowered by ropes from thetop of cliffs in baskets [sic], and while suspended, theychipped away at the granite and planted explosives that were used to blasttunnels. Many workers risked their lives and perishedin the harsh winters and dangerous conditions.
By the summer of 1868, 4,000 workers, twothirds of which were Chinese,had built the transcontinental railroad over the Sierras and into the interiorplains. On May 10, 1869, the two railroads were to meet at Promontory,Utah in front of a cheering crowd and a band. A Chinese [and Irish] crewwaschosento lay the final ten miles of track, andit was completed in only twelvehours.
Without the efforts of the Chinese workersin the building of America's railroads, our development and progress asa nation would have been delayed by years. Their toil in severe weather,cruel working conditions and for meager wages cannot be under appreciated.My sentiments and thanks go out to the entire Chinese-Americancommunity for its ancestors' contribution to the building of this greatNation.
Image of Chinese Worker at CPRR Tunnel No. 8, above,is a detail of Hart stereoview #204, from the SteveHeselton Collection.
Archive-Name: gov/us/fed/congress/record/1999/apr/29/1999CRE822A[Congressional Record: April 29, 1999 (Extensions); Page E822]
From the Congressional RecordOnline via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov] [DOCID:cr29ap99-49]
Courtesy Go2Net and DejaNews.
The cars now (1867) run nearly to the summit of the Sierras. ... four thousand laborers were at work—one-tenth Irish, the rest Chinese. They were a great army laying siege to Nature in her strongest citadel. The rugged mountains looked like stupendous ant-hills. They swarmed with Celestials, shoveling, wheeling, carting, drilling and blasting rocks and earth, while their dull, moony eyes stared out from under immense basket-hats, like umbrellas. At several dining camps we saw hundreds sitting on the ground, eating soft boiled rice with chopsticks as fast as terrestrials could with soup-ladles. Irish laborers received thirty dollars per month (gold) and board; Chinese, thirty-one dollars, boarding themselves. After alittle experience the latter were quite as efficient and far less troublesome.—Beyondthe Mississippi by Albert D. Richardson
"Make Masons out of Chinamen? Did they not build the Chinese wall, the biggest piece of masonry in the world?"—Charles Crocker, Congressional Testimony
"Wherever we put them, we found them good, and they worked themselves into our favor to such an extent that if we found we were in a hurry for a job of work, it was better to put Chinese on at once." —Charles Crocker
"Chinese are faithful and industrious and, under proper supervision, some become skillful in the performance of their duty. Many of them are becoming very expert in drilling, blasting and other departments of rock work" – S. S. Montague, Chief Engineer, CPRR annual report, 1865
A large majority of the white laboring class on the Pacific Coast find more profitable and congenial employment in mining and agricultural pursuits, than in railroad work. The greater portion of the laborers employed by us are Chinese, who constitute a large element in the population of California. Without them it would be impossible to complete the western portion of this great national enterprrise, within the time required by the Acts of Congress.
As a class they are quiet, peaceable, patient, industrious and economical—ready and apt to learn all the different kinds of work required in railroad building, they soon become as efficient as white laborers. More prudent and economical, they are contented with less wages. We find them organized into societies for mutual aid and assistance. These societies, that count their numbers by thousands, are conducted by shrewd, intelligent business men, who promptly advise theirsubordinates where employment can be found on the most favorable terms.
No system similar to slavery, serfdom or peonage prevails among these laborers. Their wages, which are always paid in coin, at the end of each month, are divided among them by their agents, who attend to their business, in proportion to the labor done by each person. These agents are generally American or Chinese merchants, who furnish them their supplies of food, the value of which they deduct from their monthly pay. We have assurances from leading Chinese merchants, that under the just and liberal policy pursued by the Company, it will be able to procure during the next year, not less than 15,000 laborers. With this large force, the Company will be able to push on the work so as not only to complete it far within the time required by the Acts of Congress, but so as to meet the public impatience.
Pres't C. P. R. R. Co.
Central Pacific Railroad Statement Made to the President of the United States, and Secretary of the Interior, on the Progress of the Work. October 10th, 1865.H.S. Crocker & Co., Printers, 92 J Street, Sacramento.
"John Chinaman on the RailRoad." Union Pacific Rail Road.
Published by E. & H. T. Anthony & Co.
"The United States of America and the Emperor of China cordially recognize the inherent and inalienable right of man to change his home and allegiance, and also the mutual advantage of the free migration and emigration of their citizens and subjects respecctively, from one country to the other, for the purposes of curiosity, of trade, or as permanent residents."
—Treaty with China, proclaimed July 28, 1868
Chief Engineer Montague cites the Chinese in the work force in his message to the Board of the CPRR for 1865:
"It became apparent early in the season, that the amount of labor likely to be required during the summer could only be supplied by the employment of the Chinese element, of our population. Some distrust was at first felt regarding the capacity af this class for the service required, but the experiment has proved eminently successful. They are faithful and industrions, and under proper supervision, soon become skillful in the performance of their duties. Many of them are becoming very expert in drilling, blasting, and other departmentsof rock work."
From: "Report of the Chief Engineer upon Recent Surveys and Progress of Construction of the Central Pacific Railroad of California." December,1865.Courtesy of Lynn D. Farrar.
Watch Bill George video Chinese Builders of Gold Mountain.
"Systematic workers these Chinese – competent and wonderfully effective because tireless and unremitting in their industry. Order and industry then, as now, made for accomplishment. Divided into gangs of about 30 men each, they work under the direction of an American foreman. The Chinese board themselves. One of their number is selected in each gang to receive all wages and buy all provisions. They usually pay an American clerk – $1 a month apiece is usual – to see that each gets all he earned and is charged no more than his share of the living expenses. They are paid from $30 to $35 in gold a month, out of which they board themselves. They are credited with having saved about $20 a month. Their workday is from sunrise to sunset, six days in the week. They spend Sunday washing and mending, gambling and smoking, and frequently,old timers will testify, in shrill-toned quarreling. ... "
—AltaCalifornia,San Francisco, November 9, 1868.
Without them it would be impossible to go on with the work. I can assure you the Chinese are moving the earth and rock rapidly. They prove nearly equal to white men in the amount of labor they perform, and are far more reliable.
—E. B. Crocker, 1867.
"When the railroad was completed on May 10, 1869, an eight man Chinese crew was selected to place the last section of rail – a symbol to honor the dedication and hard work of these laborers. A few of the speakers mentioned the invaluable contributions of the Chinese ... "—National Park Service
A. J. Russell Stereoview #539. "Chinese at Laying Last Rail UPRR," on O.C. Smith's yellow mount. ... may be the only photographic record of the Chinese role in the Last Rail ceremony; The view clearly shows at least one Chinese worker and a partner with rail-laying tools appearing to adjust the last rail laid (from the CPRR side), with a wooden track gauge stick still in place while 2 others look on; ... showing the moment the last rails were actually laid. ... It really does confirm the eyewitness accounts ... A crowd stands behind and fans away on both sides. UPRR Locomotive "119" is prominent in the background. A couple of ladies are on shoulders to get a better lookat the scene. ... Notice the textures in the clothing, a gentleman in the crowd wearing quite stylish sunglasses (the only one), and some tools, shovels and fishplates laying on the ground. Stereoview and Caption Courtesy of the PhilAnderson Collection.
The more famous A.J. Russell photograph could not include the Chinese workers photographed earlier participating in the joining of the rails ceremony because at the moment the famous photo was being taken it was after the conclusion of the ceremony and the Chinese workers were away from the two locomotives to dine at J.H. Strobridge's boarding car, being honored and cheered by the CPRR management.
Ging Cui, Wong Fook, and Lee Shao, three of the eight Chinese CPRR workers who brought upthe last rail at Promontory Summit on May 10th, 1869 also participated in the Ogden 191950th Anniversary Celebration.
CPRR foreman, Amos L. Bowsher, who wired the telegraphic connection at Promontory which sent the word out over the wires that the last spike had been driven later recalled: "It was certainly a cosmopolitan gathering. Irish and Chinese laborers who had set records in track laying that have never since been equalled joined with the cowboys, Mormons, miners and Indians in celebrating completion ofthe railroad."
A reporter for the San Francisco Newsletter, May 15th, 1869, described the final moments of the celebration at Promontory:
"J.H. Strobridge, when the work was all over, invited the Chinese who had been brought over from Victory for that purpose, to dine at his boarding car. When they entered, all the guests and officers present cheered them as the chosen representatives of the race which have greatly helped to build the road ... a tribute they well deserved and which evidently gave them much pleasure."
While in Sacramento, CPRR Director, Judge Edwin Bryant Crocker in his speech also paid tribute to theChinese:
"I wish to call to your minds that the early completion of this railroad we have built has been in large measure due to that poor, despised class of laborers called the Chinese, to the fidelity and industry they have shown."
"Long lines of horses,mules and wagons were standing in the open desert nearthe camp train. The stock was getting its breakfast of hay and barley. Trainswere shunting in from the west with supplies and materials for the day's work. Foremenwere galloping here and there on horseback giving or receiving orders. Swarmsof laborers, Chinese, Europeans and Americans were hurrying to their work. Onone side of the track stood the moveable blacksmith shop where a score of smithswere repairing tools and shoeing horses and mules. Close by was the fully equippedharness shop where a large force was repairing collars, traces and other leatherequipment. To the west were the rails and line of telegraph poles stretchingback as far as the eye could reach. The telegraph wire from the last pole wasstrung into the car that served as a telegraph office. To the eastward stretchedthe grade marked by a line of newly distributed earth. By the side of the gradesmoked the camp fires of the blue clad laborers who could be seen in groups waitingfor the signal to start work. These were the Chinese, and the job of this particularcontingent was to clear a level roadbed for the track. They were the vanguardof the construction forces. Miles back was the camp of the rear guard–theChinese who followed the track gang, ballasting and finishing the road bed. Systematicworkers these Chinese–competent and wonderfully effective because tirelessand unremitting in their industry ... The rails, ties and other material werethrown off the train as near to end of the track was as feasible, and then theempty train was drawn back out of the way. At this point the rails were loadedon low flat cars, and hauled by horses to end oftrack. The ties were handled in the same way. Behind came the rail gang, whotook the rails from the flat cars and laid themon the ties. While they were doing this a man on each side distributed spikes,two to each tie; another distributed splice bars; and a third the bolts and nutsby which the rails were spliced together. Two more men followed to adjust andsent back for another load ... Back of the track builders followed a gang withthe seven more ties necessary to complete the foundationfor each rail. These were put into position and spiked by another gang, whichalso leveled up the track and left it ready for the ballasters. ..." Fromthe reportfrom End of Track, November 9, 1868, quoted in theSouthern Pacific Bulletin, August, 1927, page 10. CourtesyG.J. "Chris" Graves.
"Never tire to study – And to teach others." —Confucius
"Chinese Laborers and the Constructionof the Central Pacific." Utah Historical Quarterly, 1969. "The Central Pacific Railroad andthe Legend of Cape Horn." Book Review "A History of the Chinese in California: The Railroads." "Historyof Chinese Americans in California." "The Chinese at Promontory,Utah, April 30 - May 10, 1869." "Chinese Workers Strike, 1867" "The Chinese Workers' Strike" "Report of the Joint Special CommitteeInvestigate Chinese Immigration." U.S. Senate, 1877. "California: A Book for Travellers andSettlers." by Charles Nordhoff, 1873. "Chinese Laborers In The West." "Chinese-American Trade Tokens" "Fusang: The Chinese Who Built America: The Chinese Railroad Men." "Cathay in Eldorado: The Chinese in California." Keepsake Series, 1972. [CPRR] Courtesy The Book Club Of California. Stanford University Chinese Railroad Workers of North America Project New! Chinese Railroad Workers Project Introduction Video New! 150 Years Ago, Chinese Railroad Workers Staged the Era’s Largest Labor Strike by Chris Fuchs "The Chinese in Winnemucca, Nevada." by J.P. Marden. "The Chinese in America: Transcontinental Railroad," by Iris Chang, 2003. Chinese Newspapers in 19th Century California. "Chinese by the Numbers," Chapter 4, from Nameless Builders of the Transcontinental Railroad by William F. Chew, © 2004, Courtesy of the author. "Another Theory or Myth on Cape Horn." April 19, 2004. Chinese objects from California, c. 1890. "Chinese Labor." From Central Pacific Railroad. Statement made to the President of the United States, and Secretary of the Interior of the Progress of the Work. Leland Stanford, Pres't C. P. R. R. Co. October 10th, 1865. "Chinese Workers and the First Transcontinental Railroad of the United States of America" by Yen, Tzu-Kuei, St. John's University (New York), 1977, 208 pages; Ph.D. Dissertation, ProQuest #7714436, pdf $38 Discussions about Chinese railroad workers on the Central Pacific Railroad Fudging the facts doesn't promote tolerance: The Chinese at Promontory How much were the Chinese workers paid? "The First Railway in China." Engineering News and American Railway Journal.1896.
The background image for this page is a portion of a labor contractbetween hopeful Chineselaborers and an American shipping company in 1850. The company agreesto give them passage from Shanghai to America (otherwise known as Gum Shan— "Gold Mountain" — and in return the workers are to pay a part of theirwages in America each month until the costs are paid back.
Courtesy P.Steve Neeley, Shap Luk Kon Tseung Kwan, a software game relating to theChinese railroad workers.
CelebrateAsian Pacific American Heritage Month with California Senator Barbara Boxer.
ColfaxArea Historical Society, Inc. : Special Events
SESQUICENTENNIALCHINESE CELEBRATION/FESTIVAL, May 7-8, 1999.
[Clickto see photographs of the event.]
Madeline Hsu. "Contribution of Chinese in the 19th Century"
Sue Fawn Chung. "Railroad Construction Workers"
Bill Chew. "Locating descendants of the Central PacificRailroad"
Ken Yeo. "Railroads of Placer County, then and now"
Dedication Ceremony for HistoricMarker:
"Dedicated to the memory of thousands of Chinese who worked forCharles Crocker on the Central Pacific Railroad. They were loweredover the face of Cape Horn Promontory in wicker bosun's chairs, 1,332 feetabove the canyon floor. The ledge created for this railbed was completedMay, 1866. They are honored for their work ethic, and timely completionof the transcontinental rails ending in Promontory, Utah, May, 1869. "
[Chris Graves advises that the first reference to the use of bosun's chairs isinthe SouthernPacific Bulletin c.1927.]
Chinese Railroad Worker Camp, Dugout with Tent Frame
From the Exhibit: "Along the CPRR Old Grade in Nevada, August, 2005" by G.J. Graves
Williams, John Hoyt. AGreat and Shining Road: The Epic Story of the Transcontinental Railroad.Times Books, 1988. pp. 93-118:
"In early September , Strobridge turned his Celestials loose on Cape Horn with their picks, drills, shovels, tiny wheelbarrows, and blasting powder. The "crumping" of explosives reverberated through the valley below as the Chinese — who either were not susceptible to acrophobia or possessed a singular wealth of fatalism — began to sculpt the mountain, great chunks of which were blasted or pried loose to tumble earthshakingly into the American River so far below. Hundreds of barrels of black powder were ignited daily to shear away the obdurate granite and form a ledge on which a roadbed could be laid; but no matter the volume of explosives, progress was too slow to suit Stro[bridge] and his boss. While as many as half that work crew was engaged in building two massive retaining walls just above the emerging ledge (one a hundred feet long, the other two hundred feet), Montague suggested to Strobridge a new tactic, to which the Chinese headmen agreed. Beginning amidst the chill winds of late October, as snow swirled over the higher peaks in the distance, scores of Chinese were lowered by ropes from Cape Horn's summit to the almost vertical cliff face. There, nestled in flimsy-looking but strong woven baskets, the workers, sometimes swaying and swinging in the wind like ornaments on some bizarre outdoor Christmas tree, bored holes in the cold rock with their small hand drills. Dangling, they tamped in explosives that had been lowered to them, set and lit the fuses, signaled the men above by jerking a rope, and, wrote Thomas W. Chinn [ed., A History of the Chinese in California: A Syllabus (San Francisco, 1969), p. 45.], "then scrambled up the lines while gunpowder exploded underneath." [James McCague. Moguls and Iron Men: The Story of the First Transcontinental Railroad (New York, 1964), p. 18.] This was a hazardous business at best, and some of the Celestial acrophiles were not agile enough to escape the blasts or were hit by flying rock and followed the chunks of granite into the valley below. Notwithstanding the casualties there was no lack of volunteers, and to the surprise and relief of all, the basic work on Cape Horn was completed before winter's rather tardy fury forced a four-month halt to outside work. Track would be laid around Cape Horn the following May, well ahead of schedule. Most Cape Horn Chinese were shipped back to Sacramento for the winter, with a few score experienced rock men sent up the line to the tunnel facings." [Williams, p. 114]Professor Williams also cites the following: "Documents andcensuses relating to the Chinese in California," University of California,Berkeley, Bancroft Library, C-B 761, box 1.
Immigrantand Ethnic Americans at Harpweek.com:Chinn, Thomas W., et. al. (Ed.). AHistory of the Chinese in California: A Syllabus. San Francisco,ChineseHistorical Society of America, 1969. pp. 43-46. (Theserailroad pages are on the CPRR websitewith the permission of the Chinese Historical Society.)
Kraus, George. "ChineseLaborers and the Construction of the Central Pacific." NationalGolden Spike Centennial Commission Official Publication "TheLast Spike is Driven" (Utah Historical Quarterly, winter 1969,Volume 37, Number 1, 1969). (Thisarticle is on the CPRR website with the permissionof the Utah State Historical Society.)
Gillis, John R. Tunnelsof the Pacific Railroad. Van Nostrand's Eclectic EngineeringMagazine, Vol. II, 1870 pp. 418-423.
New! Examples of Pottery Used in 19th century CPRR Chinese Worker Camps
**"Nameless Builders of the Transcontinental Railroad" by William F. Chew, 2004. Mr. Chew's book likely will be of verygreatinterest, as he has for the first time extracted much detailedinformation about theChinese workers from the recently available primary source CPRRpayroll records at theCaliforniaState Railroad Museum. For example, he found that "Central PacificPayrollSheetsNo.26 and No. 34 dated January and February 1864, are the documents that recordthe first Chinese railroad workers, Hung Wah and Ah Toy, who supervised a crewof 23 unnamed workers." An extensive appendix lists by name all of the ChineseCPRR workers identified in the payroll records. Mr. Chew is to be congratulatedfor this important contribution. Unfortunately,however,the book also, for some of the analysis, relies upon problematic secondarysourcesand attempts calculations of the estimated total Chinese workforce and number killed that appearnot to be as precise as implied.[Contraryto the book's conclusion, the engineers' and contemporary newspaper reports were (with one exception) of only few casualties. The book attempts to calculate the size of the workforce despite presenting reseach showing names of only the many headmen listed but almost none ofthe "nameless" Chinese laborers that were left unrecorded and finding that more than half of the monthlypayrolldocumentswere missing. Supt. Strobridge's 19th century testimonywas that "our maximum strength ... verynearlyapproached 10,000men on the work" while Mr. Chew instead is attempting to calculatethattotalnumberof Chinese who worked for the CPRR over time.]
See William Chew's Rebuttal
The followinggraphwaspreparedfromWilliamF.Chew's data found in his Table 1, p.45 (maximum is 6,190 Chineseworkers,with 160,958 man-days paidinApril, 1866):
MenWho Moved Mountains
Spangenburg, Ray and Moser, Diane K. The Story of American'sRailroads. New York, Facts On File, 1991, p. 37, states that"in 1855 the Oriental [was] one of two Chinese bilingual newspapers inCalifornia."
[The Oriental is available at the Huntington Libraryand was published until c. 1857.]
Steiner, Stan. Fusang: The ChineseWho Built America. New York, Harper & Row, Publishers, 1979. pp. 128-140. (These railroad pages are reproduced infull on the CPRR website with the permission of Vera John-Steiner, Ph.D.)
Taylor, B. H. A World on Wheels. S. C. Griggs,1874.
"Across the Continent." Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, February 9, 1878, p. 389.
Young, Alida E. Land of the Iron Dragon - A novelabout the Chinese who labored to build the first transcontinental railroadin America. Doubleday 1978. [hardcover - 213 pp; children's]
Chinese workers and the first transcontinental railroad of the United States of America. Tzu-Kuei Yen, Ph.D., St. John's University. Dissertation, 1977.
ChineseImmigration to the United States, 1851-1900. Library of Congress.
The Library of Congress states that: "No first-person memoirs of the Chinese experience in nineteenth-century California are known to survive. There is always hope that further research in the United States and the People's Republic of China will produce such a narrative, but for the time being, readers must content themselves with studies such as Robert McClellan's The Heathen Chinee: A Study of American Attitudes toward China, 1890-1905 (Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 1971) or Betty Lee Sung's Mountain of Gold: The Story of the Chinese in America (New York: Macmillan, 1967)."
The lack of even a single first-person memoir of the Chinese experience is quite surprising, if Mark Twain was correct when he observed in Roughing It (1872) that "All Chinamen can read, write and cipher with easyfacility".
"Asian Pacific American Labor Organizing: An Annotated Bibliography, Part I: Historical Struggles, 1840s – 1960s" By Glenn Omatsu
TheChinese and the Transcontinental Railroad. By Robert Chugg. The Brown Quarterly, Volume 1, No. 3, Spring 1997.
Dr. YeeFung Cheung’s Fiddletown, California Chinese Herbal Medicine Shop (A Museumon the National Register of Historic Places):
"Among the Chinese who came in the year 1850was a twenty-five year old man from Toisan, China named Yee Fung Cheung.... Like his father, Yee Fung Cheung was an herbal doctor ... Yee Fung Cheung attended to the medical needs of the Chinese miners, andlater to those of the Chinese laborers working on the transcontinentalrailroad. ... While practicing in Sacramento, Yee Fung Cheungproduced “a famous cure.” In 1862, Governor Leland Stanford’s wifelay dying from a severe pulmonary disorder. After conventional medicaltreatments failed to restore her health, the Stanford’s Chinese cook wentto the Chinese section of Sacramento searching for the famous herbalistand found Yee Fung Cheung playing a game of mahjong at the Wah Hing grocerystore. Hearing about Mrs. Stanford’s illness, Yee ran to his shopand brewed an elixir that ultimately saved her. The primary herbin the concoction was later identified as “majaung,” a natural source ofephedrine commonly prescribed for pulmonary diseases. Not knowinghis real name, the governor’s staff called Yee Fung Cheung, Dr. Wah Hingafter the store he was found in. It was the name that non-Chinesewere to call Yee Fung Cheung for the rest of his life."
KQED Center for Education & Lifelong Learning: Chinese Historical & Cultural Project Curriculum, Golden Legacy - Railroad Building
Working on the Railroad the Chinese Way
"A Story from the Chinese Diaspora: The Chung Family" by Michelle Chung, The Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles:
"My paternal great, great, great- grandfather Man Lung departed from the 19th century colonial port city of Hong Kong ... Kwangtung Province ... bound for America as a laborer for the construction of the Sierra Nevada segment of the Transcontinental Railroad."
TheChinese in Utah (Utah History Encyclopedia)
Posed photograph of Chinese Laborers on a Handcar, stated to have been taken duringconstruction between Bakersfield and Los Angeles, 1876
The Indispensable Enemy: Labor and the Anti-Chinese Movement in California by Alexander Saxton
Library of Congress' Chinese in California Timeline
Ancestorsin the Americas - Crossingthe Continent - Anti-ChineseLaws - Timeline- Asian StudiesLinks
ChineseExclusion Act, 1882; Repealed1943
Whyhistorians disbelieve UPRR Chief Engineer Grenville M. Dodge's tale aboutCPRR Chinese and UPRR Irish railroad workers trying to blow up one another.
U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY), in prepared remarksduring Senate debate on September 5, 2000 on granting permanent normaltrade relations to China, summarizes the history of Chinese immigrationto the United States as follows:
"It is not a pleasant history and it is painful to recount it. But it is necessary. It begins in California, as is logical, where the movement to put an end to Chinese immigration began in the 1850's.TucsonArizona's Chinese Heritage: Buildingthe Southern Pacific Railroad
By way of background, the Immigration and NaturalizationService reports that only 46 Chinese emigrated to the United States inthe three decades between 1820 and 1850. Chinese immigration exploded inthe 1850's, fueled by the California gold rush and the construction ofthe Transcontinental Railroad. From 1851 to 1880, 228,899 Chinese emigratedto the United States. By 1880, Chinese immigrants in California alone numbered75,000 ? about 9 percent of the state's total population.
Such was the demand for Chinese labor that the UnitedStates reinforced its "open door" policy by treaty: the Burlingame Treatyof 1868 guaranteed to the Chinese Government the unrestricted immigrationof its citizens to the United States. The State of California applaudedthe arrangement at the time.
But there was an almost immediate backlash from workersin California, who had organized themselves into so-called "anti-coolie"associations beginning in the mid-1850's.
In the 1870's, the anti-Chinese movement gained momentumin the face of an economic downturn and the near-completion of the TranscontinentalRailroad. In 1876, a special committee of the California State Senate examinedthe problem and issued a report to the United States Congress entitled"An Address to the People of the United States upon the Evils of ChineseImmigration."
And in July 1876, the United States Congress establishedthe Joint Special Committee to Investigate Chinese Immigration, chairedby Senator Oliver Morton of Indiana. The Joint Committee held 18 days ofhearings in San Francisco in October and November 1876, and issued itsfinal report in February 1877. A statement presented to the Joint Committeeon October 26, 1876 on behalf of the "Labor Union of San José, California,"was typical:
Do they [the Chinese] prevent white immigration? Weknow that most assuredly they do, as of our personal knowledge we knownumbers of laboring-men during the past year that have come to the coast,and have had to leave the coast for lack of employment, in consequenceof their inability to compete with Mongolians, and thus sustain a loss,through their influence, when they return to their old homes, not yet cursedby the presence of the Chinese. [Report of the Joint Special Committeeto Investigate Chinese Immigration, S. Rep. No. 689, 44th Cong., 2d Sess.at p. 1172 (1877)] ...
The Joint Committee's final report[*] makes painfulreading:
To any one reading the testimony which we lay beforethe two houses it will become painfully evident that the Pacific coastmust in time become either American or Mongolian. There is a vast hivefrom which Chinese immigrants may swarm, and circumstances may send themin enormous numbers to this country. These two forces, Mongolian and American,are already in active opposition. . . The American race is progressiveand in favor of a responsible representative government. The Mongolianrace seems to have no desire for progress, and to have no conception ofrepresentative and free institutions. . . .
It further appears from the evidence that the Chinesedo not desire to become citizens of this country, and have no knowledgeof or appreciation for our institutions. Very few of them learn to speakour language... To admit these vast numbers of aliens to citizenship andthe ballot would practically destroy republican institutions on the Pacificcoast, for the Chinese have no comprehension of any form of governmentbut despotism, and have not the words in their own language to describeintelligibly the principles of our representative system. [Report of theJoint Special Committee to Investigate Chinese Immigration, S. Rep. No.689, 44th Cong., 2d Sess. at pp. v and vii (1877)]
The Joint Committee's report paved the way for theChinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which suspended immigration by Chinese laborersfor 10 years. The scope of the Act was expanded in 1888, and renewed foranother 10 years in 1892. In 1902, Congress indefinitely renewed the ChineseExclusion Acts."
*Chinese ImmigrationReport, 1876 (portions of the voluminous testimony):
Gov. Frederick F. Low pp.76-77 and 78-79;and Charles Crocker pp.666-667 and 668-669. [Click to see full pages.]
Chinese-Americans& the U.S. - Lincoln High School: RailroadBuilding
The Chinese Historical Society of America
Chinese Historical and Cultural Project- Links
California Geographical Survey - Chinese Population Map of the San Francisco Bay Area, 1990
How many actually died building the railroad? – likely no more than 150 were killed by construction accidents and smallpox.
Kyle K. Wyatt, Curator of History & Technology, California State Railroad Museum reviewed their available early Central Pacific Railroad payrolls, and found the following:
1. The collection at CSRM is incomplete, with gaps. It appears to start in Jan 1864, with multiple payroll sheets per month (the number varying according to how many were people were employed, and at how many locations). Earliest sheet I looked at was Payroll #22, Jan 1864. Some sheets specify general duties, such as "Tracklaying", or "Filling Front Street", but others have no such designation. Most list the division and the Sections (generally on the title block on the back).
2. Chinese appear in the following 1864 payrolls:
No. 26, Jan 1864, Division 2, Section 30 & 31, (general duties not specified).
Hung Wa, Chinese laborer; Ah Toy, Chinese Foreman
No. 34, Feb 1864, Division 2, Section 30 & 31, (general duties not specified).
Hung Wa, Chinese laborer; Ah Toy, Chinese Foreman
I also noted a Westerner listed as Chinese foreman
[A number of March sheets are missing, including the one I'd expect the Chinese to appear on.]
No. 43, April 1864, Division 4, Section 34, (general duties not specified).
Hung Wa & Co., Chinese laborer – at different pay rate than before (probably because more than one person).
Subsequent 1864 sheets show a progressive decline in employment. No Chinese were noted.
Large-scale employment resumes in Jan 1865. It is unclear whether or not CSRM has a complete set of Jan 1865 sheets (we do have a large number of Jan sheets). There are no Feb 1865 sheets. The series resumes in March 1865 - again unclear if CSRM might be missing any March sheets.
No. 103, March 1865 - a whole sheet of Chinese – recorded in a different way than earlier sheets – actual duties not listed. Includes entry for Hung Wah (maybe same person?), and also Ah Tong (less clear if same person). ... Payroll No. 103 of March 1865 was the first one with large numbers of Chinese that I saw (in fact the entire sheet is of Chinese). However, all of February 1865 and possibly some of January 1865 payrolls are not in the collection, so we have no idea whether or not Chinese were employed in large numbers before March. There were also some individual Chinese employed in January-April 1864, as shown on earlier payrolls.
No. 106, March 1865 - includes a group of Westerners listedas "China Foremen."
( ... Ah Toy was listed as a Chinese Foreman in the Jan and Feb 1864 CP payroll sheets ... If it is the same person [who 12 years earlier worked for James H. Strobridge on his farm, and who is recorded in the Calfornia Special Census of 1852], he would be [about] 43 years old in 1864.)
Vivian Chan of San Marino, California, has grand uncles who worked on the railroad in the 19th century and remembers hearing stories about how her relatives had to cut their braided queues and wear the same work clothes every day. Her grand uncles did manage to make a lot of money laying track. They enriched their villages in the Guangdong province when they came back.
From newspaper article, "Chinese Scions Take Root" Los Angeles Times, January 21, 2006.
G.J. "Chris" Graves implores authors writing aboutthe Chinese railroad workers to please avoid the commonmyths and:
"just GET THE HISTORY RIGHT!!!!!!! ... No Chinese in baskets at Cape Horn; fewer than 100 worker related deaths on the CPRR; ... powder barrels were wooden, and weighted 25 lbs." ...
One of the earliest employers of Chinese was James Harvey Strobridge, later to become the Construction Superintendent on the Central Pacific Rail Road. Mr. Strobridge had 18 Chinese employees in 1852, working on his hay ranch in Sacramento County. One and one half years after ground breaking, on June 6, 1864, scheduled trains were running between NewCastle and Sacramento (31 miles from Sacramento) and on May 15, 1865 (28 months from ground breaking) rails reached Auburn, 35 miles from Sacramento. On May 31, 1865, Mark Hopkins wrote, in a letter to C P Huntington "There are today not above 1,600 men on the work. Two thirds of them are Chinamen...." A thorough searching of the payroll records of the CPRR, now located at the Library of the California State Railroad Museum, reflects at most 9,000 Chinese workers. As the work progressed, and the difficulty increased in supplying these workers with food and materials, Leland Stanford contracted with Brigham Young to bring in Mormon workers. Letters between Hopkins, Stanford and Crocker describe a "pulling back" of at least 5,000 Chinese workers at "Mormon Hill," now known as Toano, Nev., Mile Post 562, in the Spring of 1869. So, fewer than 5,000 Chinese workers were employed by the CPRR when Promontory Summit was reached, on May 10, 1869. When writing of Cape Horn, "The Great Trans-Continental Railroad Guide", published by Geo. Crofutt and Co. in 1869 says in part:" the men who broke the first standing ground were held by ropes." William Minturn in 1877, writing "Travels West", says "...hardy industrious Chinese were held and steadied by the aid of rope securely tied around their bodies." The "Pacific Tourist", again in 1877 "...the narrow ledge was gained by men who were let down by ropes from the summit." Cape Horn is not granite, it is shale — soft, easily broken, shale. The Official Report of the Engineer, dated December 1865, which when writing of Cape Horn, says in part "...The work at Cape Horn has proved less difficult and expensive than was first anticipated." So, who invented the baskets? In 1919, Edwin L. Sabin wrote "Building the Pacific Railway" in which he wrote "...laborers, yellow and white, were suspended by ropes while they hacked, drilled and blasted." But, in 1962. Wesley Griswold got carried away in "Work of Giants: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad" and wrote "...lower Chinese from the top of the cliff in wicker baskets ..."
Chris Graves also reports that following a recent fire in the Pequots that cleared away the brush he has observed black powder cans, bottles, and a number of holes in the ground about 3-5 feet across that the Chinese workers slept in curled up to protect themselves from the elements. In one of these depressions in the ground there was a pile of rocks in the center still holding a vertical stick in place which he believes was used to support a tarp covering the hole. "Mark Zwonitzer wrote, that he too, saw the holes: 'Along the grade, there is evidence of dozens of little dugouts — maybe three feet deep and five feet in diameter — where the Chinese workers took some measure of shelter from the winds. To this day the ground yields artifacts the Chinese workers left behind more than a century before.' "
Graves further explains that the reason few Chinese were at the Promontory Summit ceremony is that the CPRR's Stanford contracted with Brigham Young for Mormon workers in place of the Chinese to complete the construction of the rail line and consequently the Chinese were pulled back once the construction reached "Mormon Hill" at Toano, Nevada, where the Mormon crews took over.
See William Chew's Rebuttal
Madeline Hsu wrote:
> You can find information about Chinese American newspapers in Chinese
> Newspapers Published in North America, 1854-1975 by Karl Loand Him Mark
> Lai. It was published by the Center of Chinese Research Materials. Job
> opportunities on the railroad were well publicized by newspapersin Hong
> Kong and Guangzhou during the 1860s so it is probable that U.S. based
> Chinese-language newspapers also covered the Central Pacific.
Can you assist with the following inquiries?
Mel Brown wrote on July 2, 2002:
> Greetings from Texas.
> I'm writing a book which will detail the history of the Chinese
> community in San Antonio, Tx which is a great story, rich in history.
> Chapter 1 naturally describes the first Celestials to be brought into
> the state for post Civil War RR construction in East Texas, then thru
> El Paso for the EsPee half of the southern transcontinental. I am
> pleased to see your discussion of the actual number of fatalities
> involved on the various rr projects and have questions relating to this
> I'm currently trying to authenticate an incident which is
> occasionally cited here wherein 11 Chinese surveyors were massacred
> by an Apache band of raiders near Eagle Pass, Tx. in Dec. of 1881. This
> account contradicts the record in a couple of significant ways, so I
> would appreciate your comments in regard to it. First, we know from the
> available histories that the Chinese were not normally tasked with
> surveying or any other of the "professional" jobs necessary on the
> projects. Secondly, the Army provided protection for surveyors and
> others when necessary. Where were they?
> I should add that I've spent hours going thru San Antonio newspaper
> microfilms from the period with no luck. There's no mention of this
> event, even though there were regular stories coming out of Eagle Pass
> that time on a weekly basis.
> Another equally apocryphal anecdote from the same timeand place
> is that concerning Judge Roy Bean. He supposedly made a finding of
> "innocence" for an Irish railroader in the murder of a Chinaman there
> at his Vinagaroon saloon and court house. The story goes that the
> "Judge" consulted his one and only law book and declared that there was
> "no law against killing a chink" in the state of Texas. Author/ rancher
> Jack Skiles tells us in his neat little book Judge Roy Bean Country,
> that this incident may or may not have happened, even though it is
> regularly mentioned in the literature.
> Any thoughts you might share on these subjects in most welcome as
> I'm committed to setting it right. There are at least two documented
> incidents of Chinese workers killed in the RR projects of the
> trans-Pecos which I am using in my book. Three if you count an apparent
> lynching in El Paso of a Chinese in 1882.
> Lastly, why are there apparently no photos extant of Chinese
> workers anywhere on the southern transcontinental line from LA to
> Langtry? I've looked just about everywhere I can think of with no luck.
> Please advise and thank you for the opportunity to ask questions.
> Cordially, Mel Brown, Austin, Tx.
Phil Hoose wrote:
> What a fabulous website! I'm an author, working on a book aboutyoung
> people — children and teens — in US history. I have read in surveys that
> some of the Chinese workers on the [Central Pacific] were quite young — in their
> teens, but I don't have any names or stories. Can you helpme find any
> account of a young Chinese railroad worker of the time? Also, any
> photos of Chinese railroad workers that might have depicted youthful
> workers among the crews? All help greatly appreciated!
> ... A question: Who really knows the most about the constructionof the Central
> Pacific Spur. I found a section in Maxine Hong Kingston's book,ChinaMen,
> describing her grandfather's work as a "basket man" suspended byropes over
> sheer cliff faces, planting explosives, lighting fuses and then scramblingup
> the rope before the explosion. He says that many of these workerswere 15
> year old boys, chosen because they were light enough to be held bythe wicker
> baskets, and because they were agile. How to document this? Where would
> names, ages, of workers, other accounts of these dramatic scenesbe? One
> special place they worked was at Cape Horn Passage, in the fall of1865.
> ... Incidentally, the best account of the "basketmen" that I've
> read is in Maxine Hong Kingston's "China Men" in the chapter abouther
> grandfather entitled, "The Grandfather of the Sierra Nevada Mountains."The
> event itself — people in wicker baskets being raisedand lowered along a cliff
> face — is so dramatic that it's hard to believe someonedidn't photograph it.
> If you ever hear of such a photo, I'd be very interested.
> Can you help me?
[The children's book by Phil Hoose about young peoplein American History, will be titled WE WERE THERE, TOO!]
Rev. Dr. Alvin Louie wrote:
> Greetings! Greatwebsite! I just came back from the 150th anniversary of
> the Gold Rush and Celebration of the Chinese Laborers of the CPRRwith a
> dedication of a plaque at the Cape Horn area. The railroadfestivities
> took place in Colfax on May 7-8.
> I also attended withthree friends, the 130th anniversary of the Golden
> Spike in Promontory, Utah on May 10. There were 55Chinese represented,
> the largest gathering at any Golden Spike anniversary celebration. After
> that, we return to Emeryville from Salt Lake City, taking the California
> Zephyr which was its 50th anniversary. Great trip!
> Another interesting noteis that a friend from our church and I were able
> to walk all the way through Summit Tunnel (No. 6) some 1,600plus feet.
> It was an awesome experience. Union Pacific no longer usesthis route and
> the tracks have been taken out and the public is welcome to walkthrough it
> near Donner Summit. I believe it is located on an elevationof close to
> 7,000 feet. You can also walk to 'Bloomer's Cut' in Auburn. We were also
> able to visit the exact site in Dutch Flat were Theodore Judah andDr.
> Strong had their conversation about the best route over the Sierrawhich came
> to be the 'Dutch Flat' route. There is a small railroad museumin Dutch
> I pastor at the ChineseIndependent Baptist Church in Oakland, CA.,
> about two or three blocks from the old terminus of the First
> Transcontinental RR that connected from Sacramento to Oakland viaferry
> to San Francisco.
> I have a question,in fact, several in which you may help me or direct me!
> I hope to write a book on the 10,000 Chinese laborers that helpbuilt the
Presentation on theme: "The Conquest of the Far West Chapter 16. The Conquest of the Far West Native American tribes had felt a land shortage among themselves beginning as."— Presentation transcript:
1 The Conquest of the Far West Chapter 16
2 The Conquest of the Far West Native American tribes had felt a land shortage among themselves beginning as early as 1831 Some tribes were sedentary and docile. Mexican landowners in Mexico had enslaved tribes such as Navajo, or subdued tribes such as the Pueblo (both of these are Southwest tribes) Warrior tribes rose to the top of a tribal class system after about 1831
3 The Conquest of the Far West Following the War with Mexico (1846) those tribes were not troublesome to the USA Plains tribes strongly resisted further attempts to limit their ancestral hunting access to lands of the plains These tribes: Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and in some cases Apache, were the most feared by white settlers
4 The Conquest of the Far West White understanding of Indian nations was limited All were assumed to be the same All were assumed to be hostile In reality, they were hunters rather than warriors; tribes resorted to warfare against whites to protect their livelihood
5 The Conquest of the Far West Indians were very diverse groups There are an estimated 6,800 distinct languages spoken in the world today About half are no longer spoken by children; many more are extinct Over 2,000 have writing systems There were at least 300 distinct languages spoken in the Americas in 1491
6 The Conquest of the Far West Had the tribes united against white take over of their lands, they could not have been defeated. As with South American indigenous peoples in the 16 th century, all North American tribes suffered heavy death toll from European diseases such as measles and smallpox
7 The Conquest of the Far West “Conquering the West” not just a matter of fighting Indians; subduing the land itself was a formidable task. Travel into the new lands of the USA was difficult Prairie grass was difficult to plow The Plains areas thus among the last to be settled
8 The Conquest of the Far West What the Mexicans called “California” was actually the modern-day states of Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, and California. Large numbers of non-Spanish speakers had begun to migrate there in the early 1800s. Mexicans differentiated between themselves – the true “Californios” – and these settlers.
9 The Conquest of the Far West The Californios were outnumbered by the 1830s, a fact that contributed heavily to Mexico’s loss of California in the war between Mexico and the United States in 1846-1847.
10 The Conquest of the Far West Manifest Destiny had been responsible for the English-speaking migration into California The Manifest Destiny movement also dictated that the Native American tribes that inhabited California were not entitled to these lands either
11 The Conquest of the Far West California was the first new state formed from the lands won from Mexico in 1847, by the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo It was quickly admitted to the Union after gold was discovered in 1848
12 The Conquest of the Far West The “gold rush” resulted in a rapid increase in population of the new state It also led to a need for cheap labor, both for mining tasks and for railroad building Indians were unsuited for this work, and many white settlers were more interested in “get rich quick” opportunities than in the dreary labor of construction
13 The Conquest of the Far West California was a “draw” to settlers from the time of the Gold Rush The lands near the west coast settled before the Plains Travel to California sometimes overland via covered wagon; more often, by ship
14 The Conquest of the Far West Asians Began settling in California in early 1820s Their numbers grew after the 1840s Gold Rush White mine owners needed cheap labor Many Chinese also worked on building transcontinental railroad in 1860s Resistance to Chinese immigrants grew as their numbers increased and prospered
15 The Conquest of the Far West Anti-Chinese racism in California was similar to anti-black racism in East In 1852, California levied a tax on non- white mine owners, to discourage Chinese entrepreneurship Chinese workers on transcontinental railroad were treated badly, often cruelly, to discourage them from remaining in the US after completion of the railroad
16 The Conquest of the Far West In 1869, the final spike placed on transcontinental track at Promontory Point, Utah, joining Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroad company tracks Once the railroad was completed, Chinese workers were expected to return to China Instead, they flocked to West Coast cities, establishing many “Chinatowns”
17 The Conquest of the Far West Chinese contract labor was often the solution to these worker shortages Mining companies and railroad companies advertised heavily in China (most of which was at that time under colonial control by Britain) Working prospects in China were poor, so many workers came to the US in search of the high wages advertised
18 The Conquest of the Far West The advertisements were often false The Chinese were welcome, but with the understanding that once the work was completed they would take their wages and return to China However, many men brought their families and settled permanently
19 The Conquest of the Far West By the late 1850s the permanent Chinese population of California was growing White resistance grew with it
20 The Conquest of the Far West Chinese immigrants were successful in many ways In San Francisco, Chinese businessmen formed the “Six Families” of “six Companies” organization They worked out favorable trade arrangements among each other and kept Chinese trade in Chinese hands as much as possible They also kept Chinese ethnic traditions alive
21 The Conquest of the Far West Generally similar to a business corporation Provided jobs, insurance, business contacts for Chinese people Other Chinese organizations were more secretive, such as the gang-like “tongs” formed for protection Not all of the tongs were criminal gangs
22 The Conquest of the Far West However, so many tongs were engaged in criminal activity that the very existence of a Chinese tong in a community set local law enforcement on edge Some of the benevolent tongs were harassed by police as much as those who ran opium dens or committed other crimes.
23 The Conquest of the Far West By an 1852 law, Chinese men were not allowed to purchase mines without paying an exorbitant “foreign miner’s tax.” Working conditions for Chinese men were harsh, often deadly The fact that Chinese immigration continued regardless of the poor conditions in America shows how desperate Chinese were in China, under British rule.
24 The Conquest of the Far West All Chinese workers were called “coolies” in the slang of the day – a highly derogatory term Evidence of strong “anti-coolie” sentiment: Anti-Coolie clubs formed; boycott of Chinese- made products; ban on hiring Chinese workers All were organized by white businessmen and citizens
25 The Conquest of the Far West Anti-immigrant feeling towards the Chinese grew as strong in California as anti Irish feeling had in the northeast, and anti-Black feeling had in the South Newspapers began to speak of the “Yellow Peril” – the large population of Chinese in California’s bigger cities. Often erupted into outright violence against Chinese
26 The Conquest of the Far West In 1882 Congress accepted this race fear and passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned any Chinese immigration from 1882 until 1892 It also kept any non-naturalized Chinese person already in the US from applying for citizenship Congress extended the Act for another ten years in 1892, and made it permanent in 1902.
27 The Conquest of the Far West White immigration from poor areas in the eastern United States continued during these years also. This immigration was encouraged by the US government, in part to counter the rise of Asian populations and in part to “fill up” the new territories Some thought this would reduce the (negligible) risk of any attempted takeover from a foreign country
28 The Conquest of the Far West The invention of a new type of plow in the 1850s made prairie farming possible Prairie soil was discovered to be exceptionally rich, ideal for corn, wheat, oats European immigration increased strongly from Eastern European farming countries: Poland, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Scandinavian countries of similar climate
29 The Conquest of the Far West This increasing population would bring about conflict between these new populations and the many Native American tribes who had called California home for many centuries. Settlers were innovative in adapting to harsh prairie conditions
30 The Conquest of the Far West Settlers made bricks of thatched prairie sod removed for tilling soil (“soddies.”) Gave new nickname for Eastern European immigrants: “sod-busters” Homestead Act of 1862 promised 160 acres to any who would live on and cultivate land
31 The Conquest of the Far West USA thus settled its new lands from the edges into the center By 1890 only Oklahoma (once called merely “Indian Territory in the early 19 th century) was the only unorganized territory from the original Louisiana Purchase
32 The Conquest of the Far West The Homestead Act of 1862 gave 160 acres of land very cheaply (usually, 4 acres for $1) to any person who would live and farm there for at least 5 years. Some land in California was not suitable for farming, and many homesteads were abandoned – more were abandoned than were settled.
33 The Conquest of the Far West The Homestead Act made the west by far the most culturally diverse section of the United States or its territories, and it was for a long time the most socially integrated. But the social equality was most obvious among the poor and landless than among land owners Between these two classes, the differences resembled life in the East.
34 The Conquest of the Far West The gold rushes brought a mining boom to western territories. The 1848 California gold rush was followed by an 1858 gold rush in Colorado, by a Nevada silver rush in the 1870s, and by an Alaska gold rush in the 1880s. Each rush saw the overnight rise of “boom towns,” places where miners took care of the necessities (social and legal) of their lives and businesses.
35 The Conquest of the Far West Prairie land was also excellent for grazing cattle New industry sprang up, aided by the transcontinental railroad: cattle ranching Ranchers established large spreads on remote prairie areas, herded cattle to nearest rail connection (“railhead”) in late summer each year to sell for beef markets and shipment East
36 The Conquest of the Far West Aside from gold, the next-biggest factor in the economy of the New West was cattle farming The plains (formerly called “The Great American Desert) were found to be very well-suited for cattle ranching. Farmers did not develop suitable plows for the tough grass of the prairies until the 1880s, and ranchers’ cattle roamed free and grew fat on the rich prairie grass.
37 The Conquest of the Far West Once yearly, ranch hands known as “cowboys” would round up their owners’ cattle – distinguished from each other by distinctive brands burned into the cows’ flesh, and herd them to the nearest railroad outpost (or “railhead.”) Herders known as “cowboys” led the cattle to these railhead towns. These were known as the “long drives.”
38 The Conquest of the Far West Boom towns also sprang up at these railroad outposts. Rail towns became boom towns because of the cattle markets Dodge City, Kansas and Omaha, Nebraska are only two examples
39 The Conquest of the Far West Life in the “cattle country” was more relaxed, much less formal than in the east Women were vastly outnumbered by men, and gained social acceptance in traditionally male roles that was not available to them elsewhere. Western states generally granted suffrage to females long before eastern states did.
40 The Conquest of the Far West “The West” was highly romanticized in the East Novels, songs, “Wild West Shows” attracted a wide audience Popular novels such as Owen Wister’s The Virginian (1902) served to heighten public interest in the west; a popular perception was that people were somehow truer, and more natural living close to the land as westerners did.
41 The Conquest of the Far West American painters idealized the “savage wilderness” Painters such as Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, and Frederick Remington romanticized the heroes of the “Wild West.”
42 The Conquest of the Far West A romantic aura grew around life in the West Tales of cowboys, Indians, gold strikers were popular with Americans who never hoped to actually see the territory Often, these stories were written by people who had never seen the territory either, based on second-hand reports and pure invention
43 The Conquest of the Far West “Wild West” shows in the east featured sharp shooters, cowboys and cowgirls doing stunts on horseback Usually included a token Indian or two.
44 The Conquest of the Far West The West figured in American social history as well Several important theories were advanced by various historians to explain both the romantic lure of the west, and the necessity of a place for the country to expand.
45 The Conquest of the Far West American historian Frederick Jackson Turner wrote an essay “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” He advanced what has become known as the “Turner Hypothesis.” Turner believed that the constant existence of a western frontier actually drove American expansion politically, and in turn shaped Americans’ view of themselves as a civilization
46 The Conquest of the Far West Turner saw the frontier also as a safety valve, where the country could trust that the rowdier elements of society could be kept away from more citified folk These adventurers could put their talents to use in a way that benefited the country; America got to use the talents of these people, without having to endure the problems they would have made in cities.
47 The Conquest of the Far West The Gold Rush in the late 1840s (and later “rushes” as silver and copper were discovered through the 1870s and 1880s) also brought many “boom towns” into existence, almost overnight Discovery of the Comstock Lode of silver and copper in the early 1860s brought a huge influx of new miners
48 The Conquest of the Far West Boom towns were often wild and lawless places They attracted many who had not been able to make it economically in the East They also attracted some who were escaping from the police in the East
49 The Conquest of the Far West This “safety valve” belief filled some politicians with alarm By the late 1800s, expansion toward the Pacific was almost complete What would happen to the country once there was no more frontier? Where would these rowdy elements of society find a positive outlet for their energies?