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California Workingmen Feel Threatened by Chinese Laborers

California held a series of anti-Chinese conventions in the 1860s, 1870s and 1880s. After Chinese immigration was forbidden by federal law in 1882, white laborers organized boycotts of Chinese-owned businesses and won pledges from state leaders not to hire or purchase from any Chinese residents. They also organized boycotts of businesses that hired Chinese workers or bought from Chinese suppliers. The organization of anti-Chinese actions helped form the solidarity and political structures that propelled the unionization of white workers on the West Coast. This resolution was passed at a convention sponsored by the Sacramento Mechanics and Laborers Anti-Chinese League.

...[The Chinese laborer] underbids all white labor and ruthlessly takes its place and will go on doing so until the white laborer comes down to the scanty food and half-civilized habits of the Chinaman, while the net result of his earnings are sent regularly out of the country and lost to the community where it was created.

And while this depleting process is going on, the laboring white injured in his comfort, reduced in his scale and standard of life, necessarily carrying down with it his moral and physical stamina.

But what is even more immediately damaging to the state is the fact that [the white workingman] is kept in a perpetual state of anger, exasperation, and discontent, always bordering on sedition, thus jeopardizing the general peace and creating a state of chronic uneasiness, distrust and apprehension throughout the entire community... We assure our fellow countrymen East that the dominance, if not the existence, of the European race in this part of the world is in jeopardy...  Our common ancestors came to the American continent to found a state.  The greatness of a nation does not lie in its money, but in its men and women, and not in their number, but in their quality, in their virtue, honor, integrity, truth, and above all things, in their courage and manhood.  

Source | Sacramento Mechanics and Laborers Anti-Chinese League, 10 March 1882, in Winfield J. Davis, ed., History of Political Conventions in California, 1849-1892 No. 1 (Sacramento, CA: California State Library, 1893).
Creator | Sacramento Mechanics and Laborers Anti-Chinese League
Item Type | Government Document
Cite This document | Sacramento Mechanics and Laborers Anti-Chinese League, “California Workingmen Feel Threatened by Chinese Laborers,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed April 23, 2024,

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