Irish and Chinese Experience in America Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 2 January 2017

Irish and Chinese Experience in America

The end of the civil war and the beginning of the industrial revolution started an increase of immigration into the United States because of a need for low paid workers. Immigrants from around the world fled to America taking valuable jobs away from American citizens. Immigrants who came to the United States sought out every job known to man. Anything from sweeping floors to craftsman was available to the immigrants. From 1880-1920 the population of the United States ascended from 50,155,783 to 105,710,620. 1 An increase of approximately 55 million people marked the start of the industrial revolution.

The population of immigrants that came to the United States in the time period of 1880-1920 was about 15,000,000. 2 Fifteen million immigrants just in the period of forty years came to the United States and all in need of a job. Two groups in particular, the Irish and the Chinese. Both The irish and the chinese have many similarities and differences in their experience in america. Some of these are shared yet others are sole experiences of one group. The origins of Chinese migration started after Senator Thomas hart Benton of Missouri proclaimed movement towards Asia as America’s Manifest Destiny.

Manifest destiny was the notion that the “white” race was destined to expand and rule the earth. Manifest destiny contributed as the primary reason for the largest acquisition of U. S. territory. As americans started to search for new lands in Asia, Asians Immigrants set there eyes on America. After the Annexation of california, Aaron H. Palmer proposed chinese laborers to be imported to build transcontinental railroad and also to cultivate the lands of california. Around 1849, Chinese migrants began arriving in America.

The chinese migrated to the states for their own reasons which were getting away from the intense conflicts in china caused by british opium wars. Many migrants were also fleeing from the turmoil of peasant rebellions such as the Taiping Rebellion. Hard economical conditions were also a reason why chinese Migrants sleeked survival in America. Chinese immigrants migrated to america voluntarily as free labor. They wanted to earn money and go back to their native land. The Chinese were sojourners while the Irish were settlers.

Most of the chinese migrants were married with wives in china and were mostly illiterate. While the Irish immigrated to America with Families, as settlers. While the chinese fled to America for a better future, the Irish migrated to America due to “starvation”. Irish, came in massive numbers due to a struggling economy in result of the potato famine. in the mid 1800s the Irish people suffered a severe impact when the Potato famine struck. It left many Irish poor beyond poverty. With the drastic loss of their main source of economy the Irish people were left no other choice then to come to America.

The Irish described their migration to america in terms such as “exiles” or “homeless”. By Takaki’s accounts the Irish felt as if they were driven away from their homeland by “English Tyranny”. The english were seen as “savage tyrants” The Irish felt they had to go to America, and that it was a necessity for them. Another factor that contributed in the Irish migration was the idea of religious freedom. The Irish Immigrants were predominately catholic, this makes them the first major non-protestant group to enter the US, immediately causing Americans to perceive them as a threat.

The chinese mostly came to america with the intent of going back to their families, WHile the Irish immigrated with their families with the intent of staying in America. The background of why both groups parallel in aspects of better future and hard economies, and resentment of british rule. Both the chinese and Irish were Transnational, living in both countries at the same time. Both groups sent letter homes, the chinese used family and villager networks to send letters home. Irish sent letters home describing the country that had no tyranny, with no intentions of going back.

The chinese on the other hand ultimate goal was to save enough money to go back and build a better life for family back home. The flow direction of both groups were different. The chinese set out for the “Gold mountain” while the Irish fled english oppression to cross the atlantic to America. The chinese migrated far less in numbers compared to the Irish. The chinese migrated in hundreds of thousands while the Irish migrated in millions. Between 1815 and 1845 one million Irish came to America. By 1850, the Irish made up a quarter of the population in Boston, Massachusetts; New York City; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Baltimore, Maryland.

In addition, Irish populations were prevalent among American mining communities. By 1870, there were 63,000 chinese in the united states, 77 percent were living in california and elsewhere in the West,southwest, New England and the south. Both groups struggled effectively to get incorporated in the American Economy. The chinese worked hard in the californian mines, railroads and the fields. At first the Chinese were welcomed in california for their hard work and low wages. The chinese workers brought a lot profit to their employers. Due to their low wage, long hours, and no need to provided services such as lodging.

The owners profited and preferred the chinese labor over americans. The fear of chinese gaining power to vote and chinese boys going to the same schools as the whites, several legislation passed to prevent them from doing so. In 1852, the california legislature passed a law that would tax foreign miners, who did not desire to become a citizen. Even if they wanted to chinese could not have become citizens, because of the 1790 Naturalization Law that reserved naturalized citizenship for “whites. ” This Federal law limited naturalization to immigrants who were “free white persons” of “good moral character”.

It left out American Indians, indentured servants, slaves, free blacks, and Asians. The chinese miners were taxed 3 dollars monthly, the sate profited 5 millions from the chinese by the 1870. The early economic incorporation of the Irish started from the lowest step of the ladder. Irish immigrants did not usually posses any real skilled forms of labor, So the work which they received was very menial. They worked the jobs that American citizens left behind, like cleaning and excavating, mining, construction, roads, canals,railroads.

(Basically jobs that were surrounded by filth) The living and working conditions of both immigrants were extremely dangerous. Both groups worked on building Railroads. In 1865, fifty chinese workers were hired by the central pacific railroad to help lay tracks for the transcontinental line. The number of chinese workers increased to 12,000 within 2 years. The chinese labor were preferred due to low wages and no cost of board and lodging. The construction of the central pacific Railroad was a chinese achievement. The conditions were harsh and the work was long. The chinese were forced to work through the winter.

Many died in the snow slides,in the winter of 1866. Shortly after the chinese went on strike demanding higher wages, and 8 hour work days. The demands were not met and the strikers were starved, and forced back to work.. alike there chinese counterparts, the irish workers built thousands of miles of rail lines such as the western and Atlantic railroad from Atlanta to Chattanooga and the Union pacific segment of the transcontinental railroad. Chinese were central to the construction of the central pacific railroad while the Irish were central to the construction of union pacific railroad.

The Irish like the Chinese worked long hours. The Irish became Disposable workers. The Irish were assigned to jobs that were to dangerous for “american’s”. Irish workers had high accident rates. The Irish resist and sung songs for survival and morale. The Irish workers were treated poorly and treated as dogs. The Central Pacific railroad released thousands of chinese workers in 1869, after the completion of the railroad. These workers went to San francisco and were employed by boot, shoes,woolen,cigar and industries. Hundred of chinese also became tenant farmers and sharecroppers.

With the passage of Chinese exclusion Act in 1882,the chinese demanded higher wages. Chinese exclusion Act was one of the most significant restrictions on free immigration in U. S. history, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers. Chinese workers continued to be harassed and excluded the chinese from unions and industrial jobs, however the chinese fought against discrimination. Chinese six companies lobbied for civil rights of the chinese people. During the negations for the Burlingame Treaty the Six chinese companies successfully got the US Gov to recognize their right to immigrate to the US.

The Chinese had many hurdles in the socio-economical spec term of the united states. In 1900 only 5% of chinese were women. External and cultural factors contributed to low number of female immigration to the US. Chinese tradition and culture restricts movement of women. Women were expected to take care of the house/in laws and was expected to stay at home. It was also expensive to immigrate with wife. It was also a hostage theory so the husband keeps sending money home and eventually returns home. Although women who did migrate were mostly working as prostitutes.

By 1870, 61 % of chinese women were prostitutes. Although difficult, but some chinese were able to have families. The fire after the earthquake destroyed all records in San Francisco. People who were already here could now claim they were born here and become citizens. These led to paper son and daughters. Under fourteen amendment granting american citizenship to children of citizens born abroad. This paper method was an important way of entering the US in the 1906, and created a new wave of chinese immigrants to the United States. Gradually the chinese moved from sojourners to settlers.

Chinese were building communites, and held bussiness such as laundary’s and shops in china town. The chinese also started to create organizations and communites. For example Tongs were an organization to control contrymen, and their objective was to protect and work with better relationshipes with the Americans. The orginazation also controled opium trade and prostitution. Fongs was also an organizatoin that was created by family and villagers to maintain clubhouses and temples. The fongs also serviced letters home and sent bodies home of the dead.

Six chinese companies was also created for educational and health purposes, it also worked for equal rights. These organizatoins were a big part of the chinese community in America, they dictated, control and advocated for the chinese immigrants. The enviroment for The second generation was improved after world war II. Most chinese americans, expecially women were forced into their parents etnic enclave working for their familys or friends bussines. Early Irish Economic incorporation started at the bottom of dual labor market where they had to compete with nonwhite labor.

The chinese were hard workers and were hired to when there was shortage of white workers. Crocker hired chinese workers and when whites complained he threaten to fire them. The chinese worker made lots of profits for their employers. Crocker also explained that the chinese workers are elevating whiter workers. While the chinese worked as labores ther whites can be in managment/supervisory postions. The Irish were at the same woorking pool as the chinese and blacks. Irish workers in the Shoe factory created a organization to fight low wages. Knights of Crispin demanded higher wages.

An employer replaced his Irish workers with chinese and was praised by the press. The Irish were reffered to as unrully, and were imaged as race of savages. The Irish were also descriminated against and depicted as lacking puntuality. They were viewed the same as blacks. To gain higher status in the social and political areana the Irish used “white antagonism” to gain political and social status in the american society. The Irish also played the race card to their advantage. They used the white racism strategy in competting with the chinese in california and African Americans in the Northeast.

After being depicted as the same level as African americans, The Irish started to point out there supremacy by poining out that they were white. From being outsiders they wanted to be insiders. They did so by claiming they were americans. They claimed they were americans by attacking blacks and posing as insiders. The Irish slowly started to asimilate from forigners to americans. The Democratic party welcomed the Irish, due to their high numbers, as voters, party members, but not office holders before the civil war. By the 1830’s the cathlic Irish stongly identified as democrats.

The democratic party emphasised the “Irish whitness” to sommoth over divisions withing the party. They pointed out that the Irish were white, and thus deserved equal rights. More Irish Women started to migrage due to bad economical situtions. Women migrated to America in hopes of finding a job. Irish women entered domestic service because of room and board incentive because they were mostly single. Maids also got payied higher then a factory worker. Although they worked long hours,These domestic workers were expirencimg american cutlure first hand and was eaiser for them to adopt and settel in the american culture.

The second generation of Irish had more economical mobility, were educated. 19 percent of Irish women born in America worked as servants,or laudress compared to 61 percent of the immigent generation. Most of female immigrants were illiterate, but there daughters were educated and took white collar jobes such as teachers, nurses, and secreteries. The second generation Irish had wider acceptance in the society. Political invorment also helped in adoption to the new country. Irish’s democratic invoment gave them a higher edge in the society.

In NY, Boston, chicago, and SF Irish political machines fuctioned as Robin Hoods for the the Irish people. Irish amricans took white collar jobs and held important postions within the cities. The Irished used an ethnic strategy based on dominance, by using white supremacy in America. The Irish Dominated in the trade unions/ and held high skilled jobs which created “wages of Whiteness. ” Irish workers continued comapinn to make american labor equal “white labor”. They started to monopolis better jobs, and excluded African Americans, chinese and japanese.

The second generation made goals for their future while still remembered their culture through songs. Chinese and Irish Immirgrants struggled to make their place in the American society. Both Groups had to deal with Racism and discrimination. The settelment and economic socio- political adaption of both groups were drastically different from one another. The Irish were easily incorporated in the political areana because of their voting power. While the Chinese had a harder time because of the early legislation which did not grant chinese citizenships. I feel the Irish had some advantages over the Chinese migrants.

Knowledge of the English language being one advantage and Experience in political organization which The Irish had mobilized labor movements against British, this made the Irish more politically savvy. Another factor why the Irish moved up the labor ladder was because they looked like americans and they used that as an advantaged to become the insiders. The chinese chose to live in their own nehiobrhoods which hindered them in adapting to amercan culture. If the chinese were more adaptive then They might of been more accepted by the society. ? ? ? ? ?

Free Irish and Chinese Experience in America Essay Sample


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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 2 January 2017

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