News & Tall Tales. 1800s.

San Francisco Gold Rush 1849.

Chinese Merchants, 1855

° Chinese in San Francisco ° Chinese Interpreters ° Anti-Coolie Tax  ° Chinese Merchants  ° Buddhist Temple 1856 ° Little Pete ° Opium (China, Europe, North America)

September 10, 1855, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

To the American Citizens

AMERICANS: We the undersigned, Chinese merchants, come before you to plead our cause and that of all our countrymen, residents of San Francisco, or diffused throughout California.

We ask for the moral and industrious of our race liberty to remain in this State, and to continue peaceably and without molestation in our various labors and pursuits.

We have no wish to recriminate -- nevertheless, there is no person in this State, or even in the entire world, who does not know with what lack of favor we have been treated in California. Neither injustice nor severity has been spared us. We came to this country expecting to meet with a liberal and hospitable reception, worthy in every particular the generous character which report has given to Americans.

Many among us have been attracted here by promises and the offer of a free passage, made for the purpose of inducing a larger emigration. And when, after leaving our country, we arrive here with our fortunes and our industry what do we encounter? Instead of the equality and protection which seemed to he promised by the laws of a great nation to those who seek a shelter under its flag, an asylum upon its territory, me find only inequality and oppression.

Chinese in California.Chinese Miners. California. 1853.

Frequently before the Courts of Justice, where our evidence is not even listened to -- where, if it obtain a hearing, by favor, but rarely is any account made of it. Inequally before public opinion -- which is so far, apparently, from considering us as men, that many of your countrymen feel no scruple in making our lives their sport, and in using us as the object of their most cruel amusement. Oppression by the law, which subjects us to exorbitant taxes imposed upon us exclusively oppression without the pale of the law, which refuses us its protection, and leaves us a prey to vexations and humilities, which it seems to invoke upon our heads by placing us in an exceptional position.

Believe us, we have exaggerated nothing in this picture; we have related the facts as they are and as you well know that they are. We do not speak with bitterness or rancor; we do not speak to repine over what has passed, nor over what exists, but to ameliorate our condition in the future.

We see well that you appear to desire our departure from a country to which we have been in a manner invited. But, in good faith, how can this be accomplished immediately, at any rate? Our number is great in California perhaps over 50,000. How, then, can such a multitude of persons (brought to California at a time' when the fever for emigration immeasurably enhanced the means of transport, and who have since successfully arrived here through a number of of years) -- how can they, at a given moment, provide themselves with the means of quitting this country in a body, in order to seek elsewhere some less inhospitable land?

We leave it to yourselves to say if this thing is possible. We ask you, however, what you would say if to-morrow, by the operation of iniquitous and vexatious lawn, all the Americans doing business in China should be compelled to leave the ports which are now opened to them under treaty arrangements? All your journals, the organs of public opinion, would demand the dispatch of an armed force powerful enough to obtain reparation for the wrongs which those Americans had suffered. Will you then do that to us which you would not allow us to do to you?

Chinese Miners Washing Sands for Gold.

Chinese in California.Chinese in America.

You reproach us with the name of idolators, you shame us for not practising the religion of Christ; but if we mistake not, Christ commanded his disciples to consider all men as brethren, to treat all men as brethren. Is it a faithful following of the Christian religion, that religion of love and meekness, to place under the ban of humanity an entire race of men, to treat then as an inferior species, as if unworthy of any pity? We, even we, would not this thing for one great philosopher, Confucius, whose teachings we respect and practice, has included humanity, charity and even politeness.

We are not ignorant that many among us are addicted to professions and modes of life which are degrading, and that therein is one cause of the reprobation which you pronounce upon us all -- But is this just? Should you render a whole race responsible for the reprehensible acts of a portion of it? Those whose conduct is m conflict with public morality, those who violate your laws, deserve punishment, and the same laws ought to furnish you with the means of attaining them. without recurrence to exceptional measured, unworthy of a free people, and involving the serious objection of crushing the innocent with the guilty, the good citizen with the malefactor.

Chinese in California.Staking a Claim. A Chinese Miner, California, 1852. Lawrence Yep, author.

No. Americans, we cannot believe that such an idea is harbored in your minds. You are too generous, too enlightened, not to revolt from an act so odious; not to perceive the impolitic of excluding a race of active industrious men, content with small recompense for their work, at the very time that California is in need of all the laborers that can be brought to bear in the development of her agricultural and other branches of industry. It is superfluous to mention the serious effect on your market which must inevitably be produced by the simultaneous departure of sixty thousand persons.

Americans! We appeal to our generosity, to your good sense; we trust that you will appreciate these observations, and that they may aid you in forming another opinion, less exaggerated than that you now entertain respecting us. We think that, after reading them, instead of considering us as detrimental or inimical, you will look upon us as useful laborers, desirous of contributing to the general wellbeing of the society of which we are members, and as such entitled to justice and good will.


Kwong Cheong,
Sing Kee,
Hee Hee & Cie,
Hong Sing & Cie,
Kung Wo,
Yu Seong & Cie,
Yu Fung & Cie
Hop Hing & Cie,
San Wo & Cie,
Chung Sung & Cie,
Seong Kee,
Kwang Wo,
Cheong Wo & Cie.
San Wo & Cie,
Hop Kee & Cie,
Who Yan She,
Kean Ven Tay,
Lee Zy Yun,
Chen Yiu Kay,
Chiu Say Tian,
Tha Ye Pay,
Liu Yue Nu,
Tau Zien Dea,
Pan Ya,
Chiu Keen Yen,
Fun Cheau Yun 

Males arrived to January 1st, 1852 8,121
China women 8
Left for Chincha Islands 300
Died in California, to date 250
Of men returned to China 58
Of women returned to China 1
In California January 1st, 1852 7,520
Arrived since January 1st, 1852 4,434
In California, May 7, 1852, inclusive
Returned since January 1st, 1852 17
Died since January 1st, 1852, about 150

Chinatown, San Francisco.

Nanking Fook Woh Company

Chinatown, San Francisco.

Chinese Americans.
Chinatown.Making an American Festival: Chinese New Year in San Francisco's ChinatownChinatown, San Francisco.
University of California Press
Chiou-ling Yeh, Assistant Professor, Department of History, San Diego State University.
“Yeh’s study will aid in helping us comprehend such crucial issues as ethnic identity, racial negotiation, and cultural infusion in our multicultural America.” - Journal of American History

Chinatown.Chinatown, San Francisco.
Songs of Gold Mountain: 
Cantonese Rhymes from San 
Francisco ChinatownChinatown and Gold Mountain. 
Marlon K. Hom
Hom, a scholar of Asian-American studies collected these Cantonese poems originally printed in early Chinese-language newspapers from San Francisco at a time when the Chinese called the city Gold Mountain. Hom translated them into English, and annoted them with historical and cultural information. Where the written Cantonese differs from standard (Mandarin) written Chinese, he also provides Chinese footnotes translating the expression into Mandarin. Excellent both for historians studying Chinese Americans and for advanced-level students learning Cantonese.

The Naval Order of the United States has a history dating from 1890. Membership includes a wide range of individuals, many with highly distinguished career paths.

The San Francisco Commandery meets the first Monday of each month at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club in San Francisco, California and holds two formal dinners each year.

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.




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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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