Foreign-Born Groups in California,Sucheng Chan, “A People of Exceptional Character”
Governor Bigler, 1852 • [I]n order to enhance the prosperity and to preserve the tranquility of the State, measures must be adopted to check this tide of Asiatic immigration, and prevent the exportation by them of the precious metals which they dig up from our soil without charge, and without assuming any of the obligations imposed upon citizens.
Governor Bigler, 1852 • I am sensible that a proposition to restrict international intercourse, or to check the immigration of even Asiatics, would appear to conflict with the long cherished benevolent policy of our Government. That Government has opened its paternal arms to the “oppressed of all nations,” and it has offered them an asylum and a shelter from the iron rigor of despotism. The exile pilgrim and the weary immigrant, have been recipients of its noble hospitalities. In this generous policy, so far as it effects Europeans, or others capable of becoming citizens under our laws, I desire to see no change; nor do I desire to see any diminution of that spirit of liberality which pervades the naturalisation laws of the United States.
Governor Bigler • Let us consider the vile coolies, who like craven beasts work the goldmines only to return to their native land and bring no profit to our state.
Norman Asing 1852 • I am not much acquainted with your logic, that by excluding population from this State you enhance its wealth. I have always considered that was wealth; particularly a population of producers, of men who by the labor of their hands or intellect, enrich the warehouses or the granaries of the country with the products of nature and art.
Norman Asing 1852 • But your further logic is more reprehensible. You argue that this is a republic of a particular race that the Constitution of the United States admits of no asylum to any other than the pale face. This proposition is false in the extreme, and you know it. The declaration of your independence, and all the acts of your government, your people, and your history are all against you.
Declaration of Independence (1776) • We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Norman Asing 1852 • But we would beg to remind you that when your nation was a wilderness, and the nation from which you sprung barbarous, we exercised most of the arts and virtues of civilized life; that we are possessed of a language and a literature, and that men skilled in science and the arts are numerous among us; that the productions of our manufactories, our sail, and workshops, form no small share of the commerce of the world; and that for centuries, colleges, schools, charitable institutions, asylums, and hospitals, have been as common as in your own land. . . .
Norman Asing 1852 • As far as regards the color and complexion of our race, we are perfectly aware that our population have been a little more tan than yours. • Your Excellency will discover, however, that we are as much allied to the African race and the red man as you are yourself, and that as far as the aristocracy of skin is concerned, ours might compare with many of the European races; nor do we consider that your Excellency, as a Democrat, will make us believe that the framers of your declaration of rights ever suggested the propriety of establishing an aristocracy of skin.
Norman Asing 1852 • You say that “gold, with its talismanic power, has overcome those natural habits of non-intercourse we have exhibited.” I ask you, has not gold had the same effect upon your people, and the people of other countries, who have migrated hither? Why, it was gold that filled your country (formerly a desert) with people, filled your harbours with ships and opened our much-coveted trade to the enterprise of your merchants.
Foreign Miner’s Tax • In 1850, California state legislature passed the first Foreign Miners' Tax Law, levying a $20-per-month tax on each foreigner engaged in mining. • Many foreign miners refused to pay the tax and left the country. • The tax was repealed in 1851 • A $4 tax was passed in 1852
Foreign Miner’s Tax (1853) • Section 1. That from and after the passage of this Act, no person, not being a citizen of the United States (California Indians excepted) shall be allowed to take gold from the mines of this State, unless he shall have a license therefor, as hereafter provided. . . .
Foreign Miner’s Tax (1853) • Section 6. The amount to be paid for each license shall be at the rate of four dollars per month, and said license shall in no case be transferable.
What is $4 in 1853 worth now? • In 2003, $4.00 from 1853 is worth: • $94.65 (using the Consumer Price Index) • $1,234.33 (using the GDP per capita) • $14,355.75 (using the relative share of GDP)
Foreign Miner’s Tax (1853) • Section 10. The collector may seize the property of any person liable to, and refusing to pay such tax, and sell at public auction, on one hour’s notice, by proclamation, and transfer the title thereof to the person paying the highest price therefor, and after deducting the tax and necessary expenses incurred by reason of such refusal and sale of property, the collector shall return the surplus of the proceeds of the sale, if any, to the person or persons whose property was sold. . . .
Foreign Miner’s Tax (1853) • All foreigners residing in the mining districts of this State shall be considered miners under the provisions of this Act, unless they are directly engaged in some other lawful business avocation.
Tax Collecting:Diary of Charles De Young, Oct. 23, 1855 • Started with Dick Wade and Bob Moulthrop collecting: supper at Hesse’s Crossing went down the river in the night collected all the way had a great time, Chinamen tails cut off.
California Tax CollectorsQuoted in Chang, The Chinese in America • “I had no money to keep Christmas with, so sold the chinks nine dollars worth of bogus receipts.” • “I was sorry to have to stab the poor fellow but the law makes it necessary to collect tax, and that’s where I get my profit.”
Ex Parte Ah Pong19 Cal. 106 (1861) • The mere fact that the petitioner was a Chinaman residing in a mining district, does not subject him to the foreign miners' tax. If the act is to be construed as imposing this tax, it cannot be supported, any more than could a law be sustained which imposed upon every man residing in a given section of the State a license as a merchant, whatever his occupation.
An Act to Discourage Immigration of Persons who Cannot Become Citizens (1855) • Section 1. The master, owner, or consignee of any vessel, arriving in any of the ports of this State from any foreign State, country, or territory, having on board any persons who are incompetent by the laws of the United States or the laws and constitution of this State to become citizens thereof are hereby required to pay a tax, for each such person, of fifty dollars.
How much is fifty dollars in 1855 worth now? • Based on 2003 USD: • $1,058.00 (using the Consumer Price Index) • $13,365.94 (using the GDP per capita) • $149,491.00 (using the relative share of GDP)
An Act to Discourage Immigration of Persons who Cannot Become Citizens (1855) • In the event of the nonpayment of said tax within three days after the arrival of said vessel, or within three days after demand for said tax, said Commissioner, Mayor, or chief officer of any city, town, or village, shall commence suit in the name of the State against the master, owner, or consignee, or all of them for said tax before any court of competent jurisdiction in said town or city; and the commencing of said suit shall constitute a lien upon such vessel for the amount of said tax, and it shall be forever liable for the same.
People v. Downer,7 Cal. 169 (1857) • State sued the owners of the ship “Stephen Baldwin,” to recover the sum of twelve thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars, passenger tax on two hundred and fifty Chinese passengers, brought on that ship from Hong Kong, under the provisions of the Act of April 28, 1855. • Defendants demurred, and the trial court sustained the demurrer.
People v. Downer,7 Cal. 169 (1857) • The question arising in this case was fully considered and settled in “the Passengers Cases,” 7 Howard, by the Supreme Court of the United States. . . . Where a question can only be argued upon refined distinctions, when once settled, it ought to remain settled. • We, therefore, decide that the Act of this State, laying a tax of fifty dollars each on Chinese passengers, is invalid and void.
An Act to Prevent the Further Immigration of Chinese or Mongolians (1858) • [A]ny person, or persons, of the Chinese or Mongolian races, shall not be permitted to enter this State, … and it shall be unlawful for any man …to knowingly allow …, any Chinese or Mongolian, … to enter any … place, …within the border of this State, and any person … violating any of the provisions of this Act, shall be held and deemed guilty of a misdemeanor,
An Act to Prevent the Further Immigration of Chinese or Mongolians (1858) • … and upon conviction thereof shall be subject to a fine in any sum not less than four hundred dollars, nor more than six hundred dollars, for each and every offense, or imprisonment in the County Jail of the County in which the said offense was committed, for a period of not less than three months, nor more than one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
The Fate of the 1858 Act • “The bill was duly enacted into law but was struck down by the California Supreme Court in an unpublished opinion when the first attempt to enforce it was made. • McClain, “California’s First Anti-Chinese Laws”
An Act to Protect Free White Labor (1862) • Sec 1. There is hereby levied on each person, male and female, of the Mongolian race, of the age of eighteen years and upwards, residing in this State, except such as shall, under laws now existing, or which may hereafter be enacted, take out licenses to work in the mines, or to prosecute some kind of business, a monthly capitation tax of two dollars and fifty cents, which tax shall be known as the Chinese Police Tax; provided, That all Mongolians exclusively engaged in the production and manufacture of the following articles shall be exempt from the provisions of this Act, viz: sugar, rice, coffee, tea.
An Act to Protect Free White Labor (1862) • Sec. 4 The Collector shall collect the Chinese police tax, … from all persons liable to pay the same, and may seize the personal property of any such person refusing to pay such tax, and sell the same at public auction, by giving notice by proclamation one hour previous to such sale; and shall deliver the property, together with a bill of sale thereof, to the person agreeing to pay, and paying, the highest thereof, which delivery and bill of sale shall transfer to such person a good and sufficient title to the property.
An Act to Protect Free White Labor (1862) • And after deducing the tax and necessary expenses incurred by reason of such refusal, seizure, and sale of property, the Collector shall return the surplus of the proceeds of the sale, if any, . . .
An Act to Protect Free White Labor (1862) • Sec. 7. Any person or company who shall hire persons liable to pay the Chinese police tax shall be held responsible for the payment of the tax due from each person so hired; and no employer shall be released from this liability on the ground that the employee in indebted to him (the employer), and the Collector may proceed against any such employer in the same manner as he might against the original party owing the taxes.
Lin Sing v. Washburn, 20 Cal. 534 (1862) • It must be admitted that the act before us is a measure of special and extreme hostility to the Chinese, and that the power asserted in its passage is the right of the State to prescribe the terms upon which they shall be permitted to reside in it. This right, if carried to the extent to which it may be carried if the power exists, may be so used as to cut off all intercourse between them and the people of the State, and obstruct and block up the channels of commerce, laying an embargo upon trade, and defeating the commercial policy of the nation. The act is sought to be maintained as a police regulation; but this branch of the police power has been surrendered to the government as a part of the power to regulate commerce, and its exercise by a State is incompatible with the authority of the government.
Lin Sing v. Washburn, 20 Cal. 534 (1862) • We may dismiss from the case the question of the power of the States to exclude obnoxious persons, such as paupers and fugitives from justice, for it nowhere appears that the Chinese as a class are of that description; nor does the act pretend to deal with them as such. . . . That they may be taxed as other residents is not disputed, but that they may be set apart as special subjects of taxation, and be compelled to contribute to the revenue of the State in their character of foreigners, is a proposition which cannot be maintained. If this may be done, there is no restriction upon the power that does it, and a tax may be imposed which no human industry can pay, precluding all intercourse, and making it as impossible as if it were positively prohibited.
An Act to Prevent the Importation of Chinese Criminals and to Prevent the Establishment of Coolie Slavery (1870) • Whereas, Criminals and malefactors are being constantly imported from Chinese seaports, whose depredations upon property entail burdensome expense upon the administration of criminal justice in this State; and whereas, by the importation of such persons a species of slavery is established and maintained which is degrading to the laborer and at war with the spirit of the age; now, therefore, in the exercise of the police powers appertaining to this State, ...
An Act to Prevent the Importation of Chinese Criminals and to Prevent the Establishment of Coolie Slavery (1870) • Section 1. [It’s unlawful] to bring or to land from any ship, boat or vessel, into this State, any Chinese or Mongolian, born either in the Empire of China or Japan, or in any of the islands adjacent to the Empire of China, without first presenting to the Commissioner of Immigration evidence satisfactory to him that such Chinaman or Mongolian desires voluntarily to come into this State, and is a person of correct habits and good character, and thereupon obtaining from such Commissioner of Immigration a license or permit, …
An Act to Prevent the Importation of Chinese Criminals and to Prevent the Establishment of Coolie Slavery (1870) • Sec. 2. Any master, officer, owner or part owner of any steamship, sailing or other vessel, or any other person, violating any of the provisions of this Act, or assisting in such violation, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be punished by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars nor more than five thousand dollars, or by imprisonment for a term of not less than two nor more than twelve months, or by both such fine and imprisonment
An Act to Prevent the Importation of Mongolian, Chinese, and Japanese Females (1870) • Whereas, The business of importing into this State Chinese women for criminal and demoralizing purposes has been carried on extensively during the past year, to the scandal and injury of the people of this State, and in defiance of public decency; and whereas, many of the class referred to are kidnapped in China, and deported at a tender age, without their consent and against their will; therefore, in exercise of the police power appertaining to every State of the Union, for the purpose of remedying the evils above referred to and preventing further wrongs of the same character . . .
An Act to Prevent the Importation of Mongolian, Chinese, and Japanese Females (1870) • Section 1. It shall not be lawful, from and after the time when this Act takes effect, to bring, or land from any ship, boat, or vessel, into this State, any Mongolian, Chinese, or Japanese females, born either in the Empire of China or Japan, or in any of the islands adjacent to the Empire of China, without first presenting to the Commissioner of Immigration evidence satisfactory to him that such female desires voluntarily to come into this State, and is a person of correct habits and good character …
An Act to Prevent the Importation of Mongolian, Chinese, and Japanese Females (1870) • Sec. 2. Any master, officer, owner or part owner of any steamship, sailing or other vessel, or any other person violating any of the provisions of this Act, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be punished by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars nor more than five thousand dollars, or imprisonment for a term not less than two nor more than twelve months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
How much is $1000 in 1870 worth now? • $14,016 (using the Consumer Price Index) • $177,739 (using the GDP per capita) • $1,423,209 (using the relative share of GDP)
An Act to Prevent the Importation of Mongolian, Chinese, and Japanese Females (1870) • Sec. 3. Every individual person of the class hereinbefore referred to, transported into this State contrary to the provisions of this Act, shall render the person so transporting liable to a separate prosecution and penalty, and the transportation of each one as aforesaid shall create a separate and distinct offense, and render the person offending liable to the pains and penalties herein provided.
California Constitution, Art. XIX, Sec. 1 (1879) • Section 1. The Legislature shall prescribe all necessary regulations for the protection of the State, and the counties, cities, and towns thereof, from the burdens and evils arising from the presence of aliens who are or may become vagrants, paupers, mendicants, criminals, or invalids afflicted with contagious or infectious diseases, and from aliens otherwise dangerous or detrimental to the well-being or peace of the State, and to impose conditions upon which persons may reside in the State,
California Constitution, Art. XIX, Sec. 2 (1879) • No corporation now existing or hereafter formed under the laws of this State, shall, after the adoption of this Constitution, employ directly or indirectly, in any capacity, any Chinese or Mongolian.
California Constitution, Art. XIX, Sec. 3 (1879) • No Chinese shall be employed on any State, county, municipal, or other public work, except in punishment for crime.