From An Overland Journey,
from New York to San Francisco, in the Summer of 1859
By Horace Greeley
New York: C. M. Saxton, Barker and Co., 1860

From Letter 26: California Mines and Mining

The Chinese are hardly used here. In the first place, they are taxed four dollars each per month for the naked privilege of mining at all. Next, they are not allowed to mine anywhere but in diggings which white men have worked out and abandoned, or which no white man considers worth working. Thirdly, if these rejected diggings happen, in Chinese hands, to prove better than their reputation, and to begin yielding liberally, a mob of white sovereigns soon drive the Chinese out of them, neck and heels. "John" [Chinaman] does not seem to be a very bad fellow, but he is treated worse than though he were. He is not malignant nor sanguinary, and seldom harms any but his own tribe. But he is thoroughly sensual, and intent on the fullest gratification of his carnal appetites, and on nothing else. He eats and drinks the best he can get, and as much as he can hold; but he is never so devoid of self-respect as to be seen drunk in a public place; even for an opium debauch, he secludes himself where none but a friendly eye can reach him. His "particular wanity" in the eating line is rice, whereof he will have the best only, if the best is to be had; he likes a fat chicken also, and will pay his last dollar for one, rather than go without. Lacking the dollar, it is charged that he will rob hen roosts; at all events, hen roosts are sometimes robbed, and "John" has to bear the blame. He is popularly held to spend nothing, but carry all his gains out of the country and home to his native land--a charge disproved by the fact that he is an inveterate gambler, an opium smoker, a habitual rum drinker,and a devotee of every sensual vice. But he is weak in body, and not allowed to vote, so it is safe to trample on him; he does not write English, and so cannot tell the story of his wrongs; he has no family here (the few Chinese women brought to this country being utterly shameless and abandoned), so that he forms no domestic ties, and enjoys no social standing. Even the wretched Indians of California repel with scorn the suggestion that there is any kinship between their race and the Chinese. "John" has traits which I can neither praise nor justify; yet I suspect that, if other men's faults were punished as severely as his, a good many Californians would be less comfortable than they are.

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