During the early to mid-eighteenth century

During the early to mid-eighteenth century, Chinese migrants started appearing in America due to intense conflicts happening in China at the time, like the British Opium Wars. Most migrants came to America in search for a better life due to harsh economic conditions back home. There was a drastic influx of Chinese migrants due to the first couple of migration waves at the time. Many of them found work as miners in the California mines, they represented a high percentage of the workforce. Soon enough mining profits started to decline and the Chinese workers started leaving the goldfields. They, soon after, found work in the railroad industry. In the chapter, “Searching for Gold Mountain”, Tatum describes how these immigrant laborers were praised by company presidents as diligent and hard-working men, ready to learn more about the different kinds of work within the railroad industry. This is where things tale a huge turn, although these company presidents were somewhat complementing the Chinese laborers they compared them to white men. They stated that they were just as equal to white men, in reference to how much work they were able to complete. Chinese laborers represented ninety percent of the entire workforce due to the fact that white men weren’t being hired as often as Chinese laborers were. White men started to take into account that they were not being hired as often as Chinese laborers and started to protest against companies and those who employed Chinese laborers instead of hiring white men. This soon became violent and many Chinese laborers were either beaten or shot by these white workers. During this time, views that the Chinese were a part of the submissive or inferior race came into light. Those same company presidents that praised Chinese immigrants a while back stated that the only reason they hired many Chinese laborers was because they would work for cheap labor. To add, cheap labor to them meant that production costs would reduce, which would mean higher wages for white workers. Basically, this meant that they were exploiting Chinese labor workers to, at the end of the day, benefit white men and workers. Tatum gives a great reason as to why this was done when she states, “what enabled businessman like Crocker to degrade the Chinese into a subservient laboring caste was the dominant ideology that defined America as a racially homogenous society and Americans as white” (Tatum 188). At the time the Chinese were compared to blacks, and any other non-white race, because they were seen as threats to their “white racial purity” (Tatum 188).
With this in mind, the Chinese were associated to blacks and sometimes Indians due to the fact that they were seen as threats to the white society. This perspective was seen clearly in the 1854 California Supreme Court decision of People v. Hall. George W. Hall was convicted of killing Ling Sing at a Chinese mining camp. In the course of the trial, three Chinese witnesses testified for the prosecution. The jury concluded a guilty verdict and Hall was sentenced to be hanged. Hall’s lawyer petitioned against the verdict, claiming that the Chinese should not have been allowed to testify against Hall. A California statute, at the time, stated that “no black or mulatto person, or Indian, shall be allowed to give evidence in favor of, or against any white person”. This statute did not include the Chinese, but the Supreme Court stated that they were generic terms and claimed that it meant that other people who were considered non-white could not testify against those of white descent. The California Supreme Court reversed their conviction, due to the fact that testimony given by the Chinese witnesses were inadmissible, because of the statute previously stated.