Influence Of Chinese And Irish Essay examples

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The Influence of Chinese and Irish Laborers on the Transcontinental Railroad
     The Chinese and Irish laborers answered strongly when asked to help build the Transcontinental Railroad that connected the Pacific and the Atlantic Coasts. During the long process the immigrant workers encountered harsh weather and living and working conditions. Their work produced the Great Iron Trail in an incredibly short time with minimal resources and equipment. Their struggles are often overlooked and their overseers credited with the building of the railroad. The Chinese and Irish found what entertainment they could, often challenging each other to lay more track in one day than the other. Both found a hostile country in the
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The Irish had come from a hostile Boston in search of a place in the job market. They found an equality they had been unable to find in New England (Potter 670; Howard 225). Although they found jobs, few were very successful. A majority still lived in shantytowns and poverty even in California.
The Civil War played a major role in who was hired and how the employees were chosen. The Civil War began in 1861, two years before the groundbreaking to start the transcontinental railroad and one year before the Great Railroad Act of 1862. The construction on the transcontinental railroad was finished in 1869, four years after the end of the Civil War and six years after the groundbreaking (Howard 126-143; website). The western and eastern railroad companies had always depended on immigrant workers and with the start of the Civil War, this dependency was even greater (Johnson and Supple 191). There was a shortage of white Americans willing to work because they had either enlisted or been drafted into the war (Hogg 71; Howard 224). The Chinese were forced into a servant’s/slave’s life. In some cases, white men imported Chinese laborers in crowded ships, much like the African slaves, and “hired” at auctions (Hogg 72-73). The Chinese were also looking for a way out of poverty and slavery and saw the transcontinental railroad as a means of escape. During the Civil War, the wealthy were able to buy their way out of the draft, leaving the poor to fight. The Irish
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