The Impact Of Chinese Immigrants In America

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During the 17th and 18th centuries, the British colonies were settled by a variety of European peoples who came to America to seek opportunity and escape political and religious persecution. Although immigration was encouraged in the colonial era, as the vast majority of immigrants were white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants, when foreigners of another sorts began entering the United States in the 1790s, immigrants were suddenly no longer welcome. Of these new immigrants, the Chinese became the first Asian people to immigrate to the United States in significant numbers. Their arrival was spurred by the job opportunities opened up by the Gold Rush of 1849 and the construction of the transcontinental railroad in the 1860s, as well as by a civil war tearing China apart during the 1850s. Of the Chinese who immigrated to the United States in the 19th century, more than 90 percent lived in the 10 westernmost states, and more than two-thirds were in California.
While the Chinese were initially welcomed as a source of low-wage labor, they experienced a severe backlash in the 1870s. By that time, the Gold Rush had ended and the transcontinental railroad was complete, leaving a large population of Chinese immigrants and American settlers in their wake. Job competition between these two groups became fierce, particularly after the Panic of 1873 that triggered a long economic depression. Chinese workers, who were often willing to work for less than their American counterparts, increasingly
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