From Harper's Weekly Illustrated Magazine
New York: 1867-1870

5 January 1867

The immigration of Chinese into California has attracted the attention of Congress. It appears that the Chinese immigrants, on settling there, persist in maintaining their allegiance to China; and under these circumstances the Senate voted a resolution, December 19, making inquiry into the propriety of discouraging such emigration.

14 August 1869

A Coolie is a Chinese slave, bound for a longer or shorter time, and in February, 1862, Congress very properly forbade the importation of coolies from China. This was done because the coolie trade was already large and increasing; and one firm in California is understood to have imported more than 30,000 during the last eight years. This fact alone would go far to prove their value as laborers, which is, however, otherwise fully attested, the most interesting article upon the subject being one by Mr. Pumpelly in the Galaxy for July. The Chinese laborer, it appears by conclusive testimony, is industrious, docile, faithful, efficient, and works for small wages, as is to be expected of those who can live at home upon two dollars a year. In the Flowery Kingdom of more than 200,000,000 inhabitants, which it is supposed might be conquered by an army of 50,000 trained European soldiers skillfully led, there is, of course, an exhaustless supply of such laborers; and, as Mr. Adams well says, when we break down the Chinese wall to let ourselves in we let them out.

A person named Koopmanschaap, a Hollander by birth and a coolie contractor, was recently the lion of a day in New York, having previously been the hero of the Memphis Convention which assembled to devise means of supplying the Southern States with labor. The sentiment of the Convention seems to have been expressed by Mr. J. W. Clapp, who remarked that "the South" did not wish European laborers, as they wanted to own land, while, in his opinion, "the South" preferred labor that could be managed "as of old." In other words, he thought that "the South" wanted an ignorant, brutish, servile population of laborers, instead of intelligent, industrious, self-respecting workmen. Mr. Koopmanschaap was evidently the right man to gratify such a desire. In reply to the question of a reporter in New York, the coolie contractor said that in the Southern States "nothing but coerced labor will bring about prosperity." Mr. Koopmanschaap had apparently overlooked the law of which we spoke, and which forbids any citizen or foreign resident in this country to prepare any kind of vessel for the purpose of bringing coolies "to be disposed of, or sold, or transferred, for any term of years or for any time whatever, as servants or apprentices, or to be held to service or labor." Of course the law does not forbid free and voluntary emigration.

The inducements for honest emigration to this country are so palpable and persuasive, the flood is always sure to be so large, and the difficulties incident to a rapid increase of the resident foreign population in the present circumstances of the country are so evident, that nothing is more imperative than the prevention of this illicit emigration. America has an endless welcome for the industrious laborer who comes hither to secure larger opportunities for himself and his children, but no country welcomes an inundation of foreign barbarism. Nothing, indeed, can be more absurd or more characteristic than the resolutions of the Democratic Convention in California virtually denouncing the Chinese laborers who have been brought here; for they are innocent, and the resolutions merely stimulate a local hostility already enough inflamed. Besides, the Chinese movement has begun, and will not be stayed. The wise course is to restrain it within its natural limits by rigidly preventing the opening of a new slave-trade under the name of encouraging emigration. Meanwhile any artificial and immense increase of a population in the Southern States which, as Mr. Koopmanschaap remarks, must supplant the colored laborers, with the probable annexation of Cuba and a million and a half of Spanish creoles and slaves, opens a prospect which need dismay no one, but which is not necessarily delightful. It is not the number of the population but its quality that makes a great nation; nor do abundant labor and cheap wages announce an imminent millennium. The power of assimilation of a nation like ours is indeed immense; and all that can be asked is that it be reasonably treated.

23 October 1869

During the eight months from January 1, 1869, out of 21,624 immigrants to San Francisco 11,000 were Chinese. The number of Chinese immigrants to California from 1848 to 1868, inclusive, was 108,000.

22 January 1870

1870 ILLUSTRATION THE Mongolian invasion has begun at last in good earnest, and the advance-guard of the peaceful army has already crossed the Missouri River. On the 26th of December the first detachment of Chinese laborers engaged to work on a railroad now building in Texas, numbering 250 men, arrived opposite Council Bluffs, Iowa. The river was covered with a pack of broken ice sufficiently strong to prevent the passage of boats. A plank walk was laid across the uneven surface, on which the Celestials passed over to the eastern side of the river, as shown in our illustration, carrying their baggage on poles balanced over the shoulder, in true Oriental fashion. Most of these men were employed in the construction of the Pacific Railroad. They are under the charge of General J. A. WALKER, who expects to return in the spring, should this experiment prove a success, for a still larger detachment.

16 July 1870

The Chinese question renews itself from time to time, and upon the Pacific coast it is discussed with much feeling. Senator Wilson, of Massachusetts, also says that it seems as if capital had conspired to degrade labor in this country by inundating it with foreign ignorance. Mr. Fitch and other gentlemen in the House were anxious to forbid the Chinese to become citizens. In New York some representatives of the trades unions speak of opposing by force of arms the employment of the Chinese. Meanwhile certain facts may be wisely remembered. The country needs labor- ers. It can wisely and profitably employ a great multitude more than it has. The population is very largely made up of immigrants, and, if we go back a little, we are all foreigners. Neither the principle nor the traditions of the government, nor the feelings of the people, would authorize the forcible exclusion of any foreigner honestly seeking to improve his condition by accepting the invitation of this country, which exhorts all mankind to come here and be happy.

It may be assumed, therefore, that the Chinese movement will continue. The trades unions may perplex the easy solution of the question, but they can not prohibit the immigration. If this be true, two things are evident. First, that the "cooly trade" -- the enterprises of gentlemen like Mr. Koopmanschoop -- should be absolutely prohibited. The voluntary movement can not be stayed; but the forced movement -- the immigration by contract, which, as we have heretofore shown, is the revival of the slave trade -- should be strictly forbidden. Then the treatment of those who do come should be as honorable and generous as that which is accorded to the people of all other countries. Any attempt to outlaw the Chinese, to draw upon them a peculiar contumely, to treat them harshly and with personal abuse, would certainly be resented by the conscience and good sense of the country. The Government will do its duty if it rigorously interferes with the wholesale importation of these laborers. And if the whole subject is left to the operation of natural laws, freed from all forcing, we doubt if any honest American laborer need fear the result.

27 August 1870

Conspicuous politicians of both parties are every where expressing themselves upon the Chinese question, and it is very evident what they believe to be the general public opinion upon the subject. Mr. Casserly, the Democratic Senator from California, did not spare "the pagans" on the 4th of July at Tammany Hall. General Butler, the most radical of Republicans, delivered himself against them on the same day in Connecticut, in the presence of the President. Senator Wilson, in the Senate, spoke very strongly against them. Mr. Horatio Seymour wrote a much more pointed letter than usual against the dregs of Asiatic civilization. General Banks pronounced against them in Boston. And Mr. Wendell Phillips has declared against the forced importation of coolies, while he is not opposed to honest immigration.

Mr. Phillips and Mr. Seymour agree upon one point, and that is, that the country does not want cheap labor, but well-paid labor. That is true; and when we are told of the material development which every where languishes for the want of labor, it seems to be forgotten that moral and spiritual development is still more essential to a nation. If five millions of laborers could be brought into the country to-morrow; because there is work enough for five million more hands, it would by no means follow that it would be an advantage to the country. The problem of civilization is not quite so easy as that. The considerations are many and complex. Thus the difficulty with the free-trade argument is that the mutual control and dependence of social and political laws are apparently forgotten. If the advantage of buying in the cheapest and selling in the dearest market were all that needed to be urged upon a country, free trade would soon be universal. The question to be answered is whether a country may not sometimes buy a greater advantage of another kind by buying goods in the dearer market.

Yet, in the discussion of the Chinese question, it must not be forgotten that one of the most progressive steps in civilization is the perception of the essential identity of men and races. The tendency of all modern scholarship is to reveal the unity of man, and unquestionably the true tendency of civilization is toward "the federation of the world." Merely to denounce Asiatics, therefore, as if to be an Asiatic were to be a kind of monster, or to disparage the Chinese as "pagans," as if an epithet were an argument, is at once to perplex truth in the minds of all who know any thing of the actual civilization and moral code of China. Certainly we do not wish to repeat the follies of that country, nor to suppose that, in this time and in this land, any Chinese wall of exclusion can be built. We may trust American sagacity to defend American civilization from obliteration by that of Asia, without supposing it necessary to preach hatred and horror of one of the chief human races, as if every individual of it were a nameless sinner. It is very evident, from the position already taken by leading men of all parties, that no vast Chinese current will be suffered to pour itself upon this continent. We shall not wreck ourselves upon a bald theory. Indeed, our Constitution already discriminates among the native inhabitants. It excludes Indians not taxed from the numerical basis of representation. To effect what is easily attainable under the circumstances, let us not have recourse to a crusade of sentiment against Asia.

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