California’s Chinese during the Gold Rush: Part 2 of 2

November 25, 2015

Guest post by John Putnam

In the mines the Chinese were often forced to work sites that others had abandoned as no longer productive and, by hard work, made these claims pay.

As more men arrived in the gold fields and the amount of surface gold dwindled, tensions increased. Thirty-five Chinese showed up at Camp Salvado in 1849 where men from El Salvador had worked and here they found rich placer deposits.

White miners soon arrived and pushed the Chinese out, but they were taken in at another nearby site called Camp Washington where still more gold was found

Chinese flocked to a place where they were accepted and Tuolumne County’s Chinese Camp survives to this day.

But by 1850, a $20 per month tax on each foreign miner was imposed.

By 1852 Chinese were forced from Mormon Island and Horseshoe Bar along the American River, then from Colombia in the southern mines and Yuba City in the northern.

In 1856 Chinese paid $70,000 for the right to mine in Mokelumne Hill.

By 1868 almost all Chinese had left the mines to work on the transcontinental railroad or in Chinese operated businesses.

Return to or start with  Part 1

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Reprinted by permission.
First published May 23, 2011 in My gold rush tales.
John Rose Putnam is the author of four novels.

The River of Corn

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California’s Chinese during the Gold Rush: Part 1 of 2

November 24, 2015

Guest post by John Putnam

Of all the diverse peoples that poured into California after the discovery of gold, none stood out more than the Chinese. Radically different in dress, language and culture these new men were first welcomed because of their willingness to work hard for low wages at any task presented them.

John McDougall, the 2nd Governor of California, described them as “one of the most worthy of our newly adopted citizens.”

At the start of 1849 only 54 Chinese were in California. By1852 there were nearly 12,000 living here and only seven of them women. Because of turmoil in Canton another 20,000 would arrive that same year.

A community of Chinese Americans quickly grew in San Francisco. They marched in Fourth of July parades and rejoiced at California’s statehood, but celebrated their lunar new year in their traditional way.

In 1852 a Cantonese opera was performed at the American Theater and in 1854 a Chinese language newspaper began publishing.

The Kong Chow Association formed to help the new arrivals adapt to their new home. Then another, the Chew Yick, elected Norman As-sing, an English speaking owner of the Macao and Woosung Restaurant as their leader. Soon there were six associations called tongs that combined to form the Six Companies to better represent Chinese interest.

Continued on November 25, 2015 in Part 2

____________________

Reprinted by permission.
First published May 23, 2011 in My gold rush tales.
John Rose Putnam is the author of four novels.

 

The River of Corn

Where to Buy

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

 

 


Diving Deep into China with Isham Cook “At The Teahouse Café”

September 8, 2015

At The Teahouse Cafe, 15 essays by Isham Cook, delves into East Asian Culture and a number of related issues and topics.

Isham Cook has been based in China since 1994, more than twenty years. Writing with the perspective of an American expatriate who has lived in East Asia that long offers readers a view from someone on the ground, and I think that Cook does not disappoint.

The topics of his 15 essay range, for instance, from China’s Great Firewall, the complexity and meaning of Chinese “face”, music, China’s education system to the aversive racism of the term “yellow fever”—something that I’ve also been accused of. Cook goes into detail of why men are attracted to specific women of any race, and I think he is right.

And for his essay on The Chinese University, I Hi-Lited: “The problem with the Chinese university is not the people, it is the system in control, which paralyzes, demotivates and demoralizes.”

The reason why I Hi-Lited that one phrase while reading the book was because it described what is happening in the United States. Since 2001 and President G. W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, and then President Obama’s attempt to seize control of America’s public schools with the so-called Common Core State Standards and the high stakes test meant to rank teachers, fire them and close public schools, that quote describes what is happening in the U.S.

Isham Cook At The Teahouse Cafe

You have been gone too long, Isham. The U.S is under attack by a flock of oligarchs and autocrats that might even shock or impress the Chinese Communist Party because of their tactics to mislead and fool as many people as possible in the U.S. In fact, while China is struggling to lift as many of its people out of poverty as possible, what’s going on in the U.S. is increasing poverty at a frightening pace, especially among children.

Anyway, Isham Cook delves deep into many topics about China, it’s culture and people based on his own experiences living there and interacting with the Chinese. He discusses the bad and the good and doesn’t spare the United States either, and I think that is a good thing because far too many ignorant Americans think the U.S. can do no wrong.

My own interaction with the Chinese pales in comparison. My wife is Chinese, her family is Chinese—mostly born and raised in China during the Mao era—and I’ve been to China nine or 10 times but never lived or worked there, and my last trip was in 2008 when the air pollution in Shanghai contributed to a sinus and respiratory infection that sent me flying home several weeks earlier than planned to recover.

I recommend At The Teahouse Cafe for anyone who wants to get a serious, intellectual dose of the real China from an American who has lived and worked there as long as Isham Cook has. This book should open your eyes as long as your thinking isn’t a closed, dead-end street.

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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The Return of China’s Concubines or should we call them Independent Escorts?

August 19, 2015

A friend of mine sent me a link to an interesting post of China’s Second Wives (concubines). “A 2008 estimate says that Second Wives account for a third of the country’s consumption of luxury products.”

The area Director of JWT North Asia, Tom Doctoroff, answered questions for the piece. He said, “When I ask people how much it costs to maintain a second wife – a trophy concubine – the average I’m told is 50,000RMB (about $7,600US). This isn’t just a girlfriend, this is someone who is kept. And she is displayed as somebody that’s a result of this guy’s power and influence, and access to funds.

However, it wasn’t like that for several decades.

When the Communist Party won China’s Civil War (1927 – 1949 with a break during WWII) and drove Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists from China, Mao announced that women held up half the sky; the practice of bound feet ended and women were considered equal to men for the first time in China’s history.

For thousands of years, the wealthy and powerful in China often had more than one wife and several concubines. The emperor had thousands of concubines.

Between 1949 and 1976, Mao’s goal was to change China by ending the old ways and building a new China that would be stronger and more capable of defending itself from invasions. Mao denounced Confucianism and literally waged a war against Buddhism (and all religions) in China. Mao ended the practice of having concubines too.

The goal to lead China away from its ancient cultural heritage ended after Mao’s death and recently the party had a statue of Confucius erected in Tiananmen Square in an effort to bring back some of the old ways.

Now that China is a hybrid capitalist nation, powerful and wealthy men are collecting concubines (those second wives) again. In fact, “A survey in the 2000s revealed that 60 percent of respondents said they had an affair at some point during their marriage, compared to 15 percent in the 1980s. Many sociologists believe the number is increasing all the time as rising standards of living make it more feasible economically to have affairs.” – Facts and Details.com

However, there is a difference. The legal system in China sees women as equals so women cannot be legally bought and sold. This time, women have a choice to be a concubine or wife.

In the embedded YouTube video of the Young Turks, it is mentioned that some wealthy and powerful men in America have concubines too, but in the US, those women are called swingers or escorts. To learn more, read this post at The Honest Courtesan-frank commentary from an unretired call girl in the U.S.

In fact, if a Chinese wife doesn’t approve of her husband having concubines, she now has the freedom to divorce him, and divorce is on the rise in China.

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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How love is changing China one couple at a time

June 23, 2015

Five years ago Kellie Schmitt wrote,Love & Other Catastrophes: Conquering China’s young-love taboo, and she blew up the Western stereotype of the Chinese.

In fact, at the time Schmitt was a Shanghai-based writer whose work had appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The Economist’s Business China, Marie Claire, World Hum, Afar Magazine, and Backpacker. I haven’t read all of her work, but this piece was worth sharing.

If you want to learn about China, you would have to travel to China often or live there as an expatriate as Schmitt did. Marrying into a Chinese family like I did also works.

While living in China, Schmitt moonlighted as a restaurant reviewer for City Weekend Shanghai. She went falcon hunting in Yunnan, drank fermented mare’s milk in a Mongolian yurt, and attended a mail-order bride’s wedding and donned qipaos with Shanghai’s senior citizens.

 
Another example of being young in urban China. The world this generation knows is not the world their parents grew up in.

Instead of playing it safe and staying primarily in modern China around other foreigners and expatriates as many do, Schmitt “tasted” what being Chinese really means, and she wrote often of China from Shanghai’s lesbian sub-culture to debates held at the 15th century Sera Monastery by Lhasa monks.

As for young love, Kellie Schmitt writes, “In Shanghai, teachers and parents widely prohibit dating in high school, urging students to study instead.”

But for Enid and Michael—the Chinese couple Schmitt writes about—their love was “worth a little sneaking around” when they were sixteen.

When they turned 22, they were still together and got married. When Schmitt wrote the post for CNN Go Asia, Enid and Michael were 26. Today, they would be in their thirties. As in all marriages, Enid and Michael have had challenges but it appears that love kept them together. I recommend Schmitt’s story to learn more about how China is changing.

Kellie Schmitt now lives in California’s Central Valley.

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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China’s Changing One-Child Policy

May 12, 2015

In 2008, France 24 International News provided an example of how the Chinese families could get around the one-child policy and reported how one Chinese couple wanted to have more than one child and how the couple used loopholes to have three.

The mother’s first child was a boy, and she was desperate to have a girl.

Since fines are less for a second child if delivered in a remote province, the couple moved south from Shanghai.

However, the mother discovered she was pregnant again soon after the birth of the second child, a girl.

The doctor told her that because of her health she couldn’t have an abortion.

Due to where the children were born, she was told her children would not be allowed to attend school in Shanghai. The mother was upset because she said rural schools were not as good as urban schools.

At the time, she also resented the fact that wealthy Chinese businessmen, television and movie stars often avoided the one-child policy because they have money to pay the fines. Ten percent of rich Chinese have three children and this practice is spreading among the upper-middle class.

Explaining how wealthy Chinese got away with it, Peng Xizhe, dean of social development and public policy at Fudan University, said, “In the Maoist era everyone was controlled by his work unit. It’s over now. Many workers are independent.”

Then in late 2013, China declared it was relaxing its one-child policy. The Guardian.com reported, “Experts say this only underlines a looming demographic crisis in China: low fertility rates, a rapidly ageing population and a shrinking labour force.”

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

2015 Promotion Image for My Splendid Concubine

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Yuan Shikai, China’s second president and its last emperor

May 6, 2015

For thousands of years, the history of China has been defined by wars, rebellion, power struggles and famine, which explains why today’s central government worries about famine and allowing dissidents a voice.

Between 1911 and 1976, three Chinese men were responsible for much of the devastation and death that swept over China causing tens of millions of deaths (not counting what the Japanese did during World War II). Those Chinese leaders were: Yuan Shikai, Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Tse-tung.

In 1911 when the Qing Dynasty fell, Yuan Shikai was a general and commander of the most modern military force in Imperial China. He kept his position by supporting the revolutionaries that brought down the Qing Dynasty.

After the Qing Dynasty fell, rebellion spread through the Yangtze River Valley before revolutionaries from fourteen provinces elected Sun Yat-sen president of a provisional (temporary) government and in January 1912, Sun announced the establishment of the Republic of China.

However, generals controlled China’s provinces and refused to give up power. China’s young republic was essentially the capital city of Nanjing.

On March 20, 1913, Yuan Shikai’s agents assassinated Sung Chiao-jen, who helped Sun Yat-sen become the first president. Sun demanded that those responsible be brought to justice.

Yuan Shikai resisted, sparking a “so-called” second revolution and on September 15, 1913, he ordered Sun Yat-sen’s arrest. To survive, Sun fled to Japan as a political refugee. He wouldn’t return to China until a few months after Yuan Shikai’s death.

Yuan Shikai, supported financially by the British Empire, became China’s second president, but after 1914, World War I caused a reduction in Britain’s financial support.

Weakened, Yuan Shaikai was forced to accept twenty-one demands made by Japan, which included giving up Chinese territory. He agreed on May 7, 1916, which is now considered National Humiliation Day.

Yuan Shaikai was unable to establish control beyond Nanking so he declared himself emperor. His attempt to replace the republic with a monarchy and him as emperor touched off revolts in southwestern China followed by uprisings of Sun Yat-sen’s followers in several other provinces.

This resulted in twelve years of warfare between the warlord generals of China’s provinces and the weak Republic of China.

Yuan Shikai died in 1916, then Sun Yat-sen returned to lead the republic. Sun Yat-sen died in 1925, which led to the Civil War between the Chinese Communist Party and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists.

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

2015 Promotion Image for My Splendid Concubine

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