December 23, 2009
Chinese Labor in California, 1850-1880 By Ping Chiu
The Central Pacific Railroad performed its groundbreaking ceremony in
Sacramento, California in 1863. The area over which the railroad was to be built
was covered with rough terrain, particularly Sierra Nevada. This created a production
set back in the tracks that needed to be laid for the railway. The railroad were in
need of five thousand employees who could work permanently.
Many of the Chinese who had worked the mines were
experiencing the hardship of the tough recession. They were seeking employment
in areas outside of their expertise of which they had become accustomed to performing.
Employment for many of the Chinese was scarce and unavailable. The Superintendent
of the railroad experimented with Asian employment by first hiring fifty Chinese workers
of which he granted the privilege of filling the dump carts.
The fifty Chinese workers were so efficient in completing their task that
superintendent Strobridge granted further duties of driving the carts and loading
them. As a result of this, railroad agents scouted for the Chinese throughout towns
in California. By the following year the railroad had employed three-thousand
Chinese workers on the payroll.
This book is an economical study of the Chinese migration to California during
the financial growth period between 1850 through 1880. The migration took
place two years following the construction of the railroad. Significantly the author Chiu
point out the chain of events that encouraged the migration of the Chinese when the
opportunity became available. The author states emigration was due to a series of failed
wars, rebellions, civil disorders,...