Driven out: roundups and resistance of the Chinese in rural California.

Author:Pfaelzer, Jean
Position:1D Paper

Early Friday evening, February 2, 1885, David Kendall, a city councilman, was caught in the cross fire as two Chinese men shot at each other in Eureka, California, a small fishing and lumber town on the foggy north coast. Kendall died instantly, and a crowd quickly gathered, chanting "Burn Chinatown." In less than twenty minutes, some six hundred white men met in Centennial Hall, a few blocks from Chinatown, and determined that all Chinese had to leave Eureka. A committee of six men was chosen to go to Chinatown and tell the Chinese they had twenty-four hours to leave. That night an effigy of a Chinese man hung from a gallows on the edge of Chinatown. Pinned to the gallows was a sign announcing "Any Chinese seen on the street after three o'clock today will be hung." Two Chinese men fled into the redwoods and were caught; the rest complied. By Saturday morning, twenty-three loads of Chinese people and their clothing and household goods were gathered on the docks. Small skiffs carried the Chinese to two steam ships that happened to be in Humboldt Bay; 135 people were loaded onto the Humboldt, 175 were loaded onto the City of Chester. By nightfall, the tide was out, and the laden ships could not set sail until early Sunday morning. With a strong wind from the north, the ships reached San Francisco early Monday. The Customs House was still closed from the weekend, and the Chinese people disembarked quickly and disappeared into the safety of Chinatown. Meanwhile, in Eureka, the citizens immediately regathered and announced that all remaining Chinese people in Humboldt County would be expelled, that no Chinese could ever again settle in Eureka, and that no one in the county could ever again rent to or hire a Chinese person. In two days the Chinese community in Eureka was erased. But on Monday afternoon, the Chinese who had been expelled from Eureka regathered in San Francisco and announced that they were going to sue Eureka for being the objects of mob violence, for the loss of their property, and for being driven out.

"Driven Out: Roundups and Resistance of the Chinese in Rural California," stems from my forthcoming book Driven Out: Roundups and Resistance of Chinese People in the Pacific North West, 1850-1906 (Random House 2006) and describes the expulsions of Chinese people from over one hundred rural towns, from Southern California to including Washington Territory--in Eureka, Truckee, Red Bluff, Crescent City, and Fresno. Opening with the...

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