“As time goes on we get closer to that American Dream of there being a pie cut up and shared. Usually greed and selfishness prevent that and there is always….
The America dream is the dream of a land in which life is better, richer, and fuller for everybody. It is a land full of opportunities for everyone according their ability or achievement. It does not mean motor cars or high pays, but a dream of social orderliness where every person is able to achieve their full status of which they are naturally capable, and be known by for their abilities, irrespective of unexpected conditions of birth or position (Chu, para. 1). American dream coupled with escape from maltreatment in other people’s home country has always been the main driving force for immigrants to move to America.
Throughout history, America has always been viewed by many as a place of numerous opportunities and easy life. By 20th century the American dream had started attracting a good number of immigrants from eastern and southern Europe. A substantial number of Italians, Poles, Greeks, Jews, Russians, and others moved to America to look for greener pastures (Adamson, p. 134). Chinese immigration to the US In many ways, the drive of the Chinese to move to the United States is quite the same as those of other immigrants.
Others came to the US to live while some came so as to look for better economic opportunity (Daniels, p. 156). There is the third group of the immigrants who left China as contract laborers or refugees. As they came to the US, they brought their language, culture, and social institutions and customs. For the years they stayed in the US, they made permanent contributions to their new country and strived to become integral part of the American population (Ashabranner, p. 80). Chinese immigration can be grouped into three periods.
The first group started moving to American in 1847 which was a short period after the California Gold Rush and stopped suddenly with the enactment of Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. During this time, most Chinese who were mainly young males left their homes in rural China to the west of America to become laborers. These young Chinese were hired to mine metals and minerals, construct railroads networks, salvage swamplands, build irrigation system, and operate highly competitive manufacturing industries and other jobs.
Towards the end of 1882, the number of Chinese immigrants in the US were totaling to about 110,000 (Thernstrom, para. 6). The second period of immigration began in 1882 to 1965. During this time, immigration to the US was restricted and only diplomats, merchants, and students together with their dependents were allowed to move to the US. This period was also characterized by exclusion of Chinese Americans to ghettos which were popularly known as Chinatowns. These seclusions were found in major cities as well as isolated areas in the rural areas all over America (Jaynes, p. 320).
Chinese in America during this period were not accorded democratic rights and this meant that they had to rely on courts and diplomatic channels to protect themselves. The Civil Rights Movement of 1965, more particularly the passage of Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Immigration and Nationality of 1965 opened a new chapter in the lives of Chinese American immigrants. As a result of these acts, Chinese were relieved from the vice of racial discrimination which they were experiencing before. The acts brought back the basic rights which the Chinese were denied there before (Ashabranner, p. 93).
Under these new laws, many Chinese moved to the US every year to get together with their families and young Chinese organized movements to demand for racial equity and social justice (Adamson, p. 150). The third period of Chinese immigration to the US started in 1970s to the present time. During this period there were two groups of Chinese who moved to the US. The first group consisted of highly selected and well educated Chinese while the second group consisted of those Chinese who left their country to seek asylum in the US as a result of political instability or repression which was happening in East and Southeast Asia.
There was also a third minor group which consisted of ethnic Chinese from Vietnam and Cambodia who left their country because of poverty and ethnic cleansing (Hoobler, para. 3). The type of settlement which was adopted by the Chinese was determined by racial segregation and economic development. Before the passage of Chinese Exclusion Act, the pattern of settlement was determined by economic development in western estates. Western economy was largely dependent on mining and railroad construction and as a result of this, majority of Chinese immigrants settled in California and states which were to the west of Rocky Mountains.
Decline in these industries coupled with increasing anti Chinese feelings, Chinese left and shifted to import-export businesses and service manufacturing industries in towns like San Francisco, new York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Seattle. By 20th century, about 80% of the people who inhabited Chinatown in big cities in the US were Chinese (Ashabranner, p. 100). The Chinese American was viewed by the whites as people who cannot get assimilated and were denied this chance through exclusion and denial of citizenship.
The Congress and the judiciary made decisions which made Chinese ineligible for naturalization and this made them politically disenfranchised in a country which was thought to be democratic. Chinese Americans developed their roots in Chinatowns, fought racism through forceful litigations, and took active roles in economic development projects and political movements to civilize China. Assimilation was perceived as something which could not be attained (Adamson, p. 370). In 19th century, most Chinese had given up and did not see the reason to continue staying in America.
Because of this new mentality, they adapted to hardship and racial discrimination and turned to their lifestyle (Chu, para. 5). The Chinese lifestyle meant living modestly, observing Chinese customs and festivals which included family associations, sending remittance to the people left at home such as parents, wives, and children. Parents tried to inculcate Chinese language and culture in their children by sending them to Chinese schools within the community or back in China.
They also encouraged them to excel in American education and the most important role they played in the lives of their children was to arrange for marriages between them (Daniels, p. 200). The Chinese also became members of social organizations and family associations that had a collective interest and protected the welfare of people who had the same family name. The organizations acted to mediate and solve conflicts, assist in securing jobs and housing, build schools and temples and fund social and cultural events.
These activities brought mixed blessing to the community and in some situations, they became so powerful and oppressive to an extent of blocking social and political progress (Wu, para. 9). There are many aspects of Chinese food and items which have been incorporated into the American society and are still being used. Chinese tea became a famous beverage during the 18th and the 19th century. From 1960s, Chinese cuisine was introduced into the American diet (Takaki, para. 7). Chinese restaurants are scattered all over America in large and small cities.
Main ingredients for preparing Chinese foods are now available in most supermarkets and lessons of Chinese cooking are common programs in televisions (Ashabranner, p. 130). The American dream which drove most Chinese to come to America was a mere fiction. The Chinese immigrants who migrated to America during the 19th century were faced with a lot of hardships which were contrary to the dream (Adamson, p. 500). They worked as laborers in the expanding American industries. Chinese laborers were very useful in California more so during the civil war.
They served in wool mills, cigar, shoe, and garment industries. Chinese businessmen started their factories which competed with the whites’ factories. Chinese constituted about a quarter of labor force in California. Their labor was also sought all over America because it was cheap the slaves had been freed and there was labor deficit. Chinese were the first people to claim California gold fields which encouraged most people to move to the west. The Chinese were the people who started the period of railroad building.
Several railroads they built in America facilitated opening of the valuable resources in most of the states. The lands where they lived on were transformed into farms which they cultivated, planted and harvested most of their food crops. They established vineyards, orchards, and ranches which were very important because they supplied fruits and vegetable to the major towns. The Chinese expertise was admired and imitated by other farms. Through the coming of the Chinese, the west of the country became independent and no longer relied on the east for products since they could was able to produce their own products.
Through the hardships that the Chinese passed through while in America, it is worth noting that it is not possible to move to another county and feel comfortable as if you are in your own country (Chu, para. 9). Works cited: Adamson, Lynda G. , Literature connections to American history, K-6: resources to enhance and entice. California: ABC-CLIO, 1998. 542 pages. Ashabranner, Brent, Still a Nation of Immigrants. New York: Cobblehill Books, 1993. 131. Chu, Daniel, Passage To The Golden Gate. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc. , 1967.
Daniels, Roger, Guarding the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy and Immigrants since 1882. New York: Hill & Wang: 2005. 344. Hoobler, Dorothy, The Chinese American Family Album. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Jaynes, Gerald David, Immigration and race: new challenges for American democracy. Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2000. 327 pages. Takaki, Ronald, Journey to Gold Mountain. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1989. Thernstrom, Stephen, Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980. Wu, Dana Ying-Hui, Coming to America. Brookfield: Millbrook Press, 1993.