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Background on Chinese Americans


There were many reasons why the Chinese immigrated to the United States. In China, the people were very poor. There was also a famine in China, so there wasn’t enough food for the people to eat. There were also a lot of problems with the government. More than 20 million people died during the Taiping Rebellion. This was a time when the poor people in the country fought against the rich people in charge.

Between 1820 and 1847, about 1,000 Chinese came to the United States. Many Chinese came to the United States because they heard about the California Gold Rush. The Chinese thought that they could find gold and then go back to China with lots of money. Most of the immigrants were men who wanted to work for a few years and then go back to China. The men that were married left their wives in China to care for their families.

At first, the Chinese were welcomed in America. The Chinese worked long hours for only a little money. Many of the Chinese men worked on building a railroad that went across the country. After the railroad was finished in 1869, the Chinese didn’t have jobs to make money anymore. The people in the United States became angry with the Chinese for trying to take all of their jobs. In 1882, the government passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which stopped the Chinese from coming to the United States to find jobs.

Not until 1943, did the United States stopped the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Adapted from Immigration by Sarah J. Glasscock