A Quick History of Asians in the U.S.

By Jerome Yuan
1999

16th -18th century- Driven by competition and the industrial revolution, European nations begin to colonize Asia. Searching for a cheap labor force and raw materials, Europe (and later the US) proceeds to brutalize and strip Asia of its natural resources.

1820- American missionaries arrive in Hawai'i, setting the stage for US annexation and domination of Hawai'i in the future.

1839-1842 "Second" opium war between China and Britain. Treaty of Nanjing signed and China is forced to open up for future foreign penetration.

1848-53 Beginning of California Gold rush, Chinese migrants arrive from China's southern region, mainly from the Canton province. At first welcomed by the California government, later anti-Chinese legislation comes forth, such as the Foreign Miner's tax in 1850.

1852- Chinese laborers arrive in Hawai'i to work on sugar plantations since they are seen as a cheap labor source and could be used as strike breakers for native Hawai'ian laborers

1853-American Commodore Perry forces Japan to open its ports for foreign trade by stationing ships in its harbors

1854- People vs. Hall A white man, George W. Hall, accused in the killing of a Chinese man, is acquitted, despite the testimony of 3 Chinese witnesses. The California Supreme Court rules that Chinese should be added to the list of races that can not testify against whites in a court of law.

1858-France invades Vietnam and continues to colonize other areas of Asia later to include Laos and Cambodia.

1862- Construction of the transcontinental railroad begins during the Civil War. Chinese laborers are brought in to do much of the construction and are sent to do the most dangerous jobs, such as dynamite blasting. Many Chinese are buried alive in the explosions. Many of the Chinese organize strikes demanding better working conditions. All Chinese workers were laid off upon completion of the railroad in 1869, and were not allowed to attend the ceremony at Promontory Point.

1868- Japanese laborers begin to arrive in Hawai'i to work on sugar plantations and are implemented by the plantation owners as strike breakers against Chinese laborers.

1870- Naturalization Act gives African American people citizenship rights, but not Chinese.

1870-1885 Anti-Chinese movement mounts to a fervor. Multiple laws are passed aimed directly at Chinese people. 1875- Page law bars Chinese and Japanese prostitutes and ie laborers from entering the US. 1880-California passes an anti-miscegenation law, stating that no white person can marry a person of "Mongolian" descent

1882- Chinese Exclusion Act passed. Chinese laborers are denied entry into the US for the next 10 years. Only officials, students, teachers and US citizens by birth are allowed in. Chinese in America are not allowed to become naturalized citizens. This virtually stops Chinese immigration to the US, and the Chinese population decreases steadily for years to come. As a result, Japanese laborers replace Chinese as a cheap labor source. The act is renewed in 1892 and 1902 and is finally extended indefinitely.

1885- Rock Springs, Wyoming massacre takes place (22-50 Chinese killed) in one of the more publicized attacks on Chinese. Lynchings of Chinese by whites take place in many states.

1888- Scott Act denies reentry of Chinese who are overseas who have reentry certificates to return to the US.

1898- Spanish American War ends with the Treaty of Paris. The Filipino people attempted to oust Spanish rule, and so sided with the US for aid, with the promise of independence. At the signing of the Treaty, instead of gaining independence, the Philippines is handed over to the US as a protectorate, as well as Cuba and Puerto Rico. Guerilla fighting ensues throughout the country in attempts to throw out the US. Filipinos are declared wards, and can travel freely to the US, despite a set quota.

1898- Hawai'i annexed by the US. All white government put in place and autonomous Hawai'ian government is not recognized and the US ousts Hawai'ian queen, Liliuokalani.

1902-1905- Koreans recruited to Hawai'i as laborers

1904- first organized strike by Japanese laborers in Hawai'i

1906- San Francisco Earthquake happens. Thousands of records of Chinese immigrants are lost as well as proof of residency. As a result, "paper sons", Chinese who faked their residency and documentation, appear. With no way to keep track, thousands of "legal" Chinese residents appear in California.

1907- Gentlemen's Agreement between Japan and US limits Japanese and Korean (since Japan invaded and declared Korea a protectorate 1905) immigration to the US. Only family members and picture brides are exempt.

1910- Angel Island opened as an immigration and holding center for non-laboring Asian immigrants. Many are incarcerated for up to 2 years and must endure grueling interrogations in order to enter the US.

1913- Alien Land Act is passed, denying aliens (namely Asian) from owning land. Similar laws are passed in other states throughout the country. (repealed in 1948)

1913- Gadar Party (Party of Rebellion) founded by Indian political activists and immigrants and publishes weekly newspaper

1917- Immigration Act is passed, barring laborers from virtually all of Asia from immigrating to the US.

1920- First major interethnic workers strike takes place in Hawai'i, with Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese and Spanish all taking part and demanding better conditions for work.

1922- Ozawa vs. US rules Japanese ineligible for citizenship by naturalization

1922- Cable Act passed and declares that US women citizens will lose citizenship right if they marry an alien ineligible for citizenship. (repealed in 1931)

1923- United States vs. Thind rules that Asian Indians are ineligible for citizenship, stating that although Asian Indians and whites share a common ethnic ancestor, the skin color was so different between the two that the assimilation of Asian Indians into the US would prove impossible

1924- Immigration Quota Act excludes all aliens ineligible for citizenship, therefore halting almost all Asian immigration, save Hawai'i and Philippines.

1934- Morrison vs. California states Filipinos ineligible for citizenship, despite that 3 years earlier, US Congress stated that Filipinos who had served in the US armed forces were eligible for citizenship. California passes this legislation in light of anti-Filipino race riots in 1929.

1934- Tydings-Mcduffie Act is signed and guarantees the Philippines independence in 10 years and sets quota for 50 Filipino immigrants.

1938- Chinese women garment workers strike against the National Dollar Store chain, and form the Chinese chapter of the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union. CIO cannery unions have Japanese women join.

1941- After the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, the US joins World War II. The Chinese Exclusion Act is repealed in 1943 as a show of "good will" to allied China and Chinese are allowed to become Naturalized citizens. During the war, Chinese Americans are the most drafted ethnicity in proportion to their population in the US.

1942- Executive Order 9066 signed into commission by President Roosevelt, calling it a military necessity. Approximately 112,000 Japanese Americans were evacuated and incarcerated in 10 relocation camps across the country. If a person had 1/16th Japanese ancestry or "blood", they were considered for internment. 3 major court cases challenged the constitutionality of the internment. Minoru Yasui, Fred Korematsu and Gordon Hirabayashi refused to go with the curfew and were brought up on charges. They fought and lost in court and were each sentenced to prison for defying the curfew.

1943- All eligible for the US draft in the internment camps are forced to answer a loyalty questionnaire in which the last two questions asked whether or not they would fight in the US army and whether they would renounce their ties with Japan. Those who answered no to both were sent to Tule Lake, the harshest of all the internment camps. During this time, the all Japanese American 100th battalion had been formed and would merge with the all Japanese 442nd regiment combat team to fight in the European theatre of the war. The regiment suffered one of the highest casualty rates while earning among the most military honors for their fighting effort.

1945- The US drops the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Among those killed were Japanese American citizens who went back to Japan to study. Japan surrenders unconditionally, and internment camps are in process of being closed. Korea gains independence from Japan.

1946-1947- Philippines are declared independent in 1946 and Filipinos are allowed naturalization. India and Pakistan gain independence from the British, and Indians are able to naturalize.

1949- People's Republic of China is formed under Chinese Communist Party. Nationalist government under Chiang Kai-shek flees to and overtakes Taiwan.

1950-1953 Korean War and McCarthy era follows. Anti-communist feelings in the US leads to blacklisting and many Chinese are harassed and interrogated by the FBI under suspicion of being "Red China" sympathizers.

1952- McCarran-Walter Immigration Nationality Act passed, abolishing the Barred Zones of Asia, but limiting Asian immigration to 105 per country. Koreans and Japanese are now allowed to become naturalized citizens.

1954-French-Vietnamese War ends and Geneva Accords are signed, splitting Vietnam into North and South. Laos and Cambodia gain freedom from France. The US attempts to back South Vietnam president Ngo Dinh Diem in the hope of defeating North Vietnam and its communist government led by Ho Chi Minh.

1962- US sends 8,000 troops to Vietnam to back South Vietnamese government and proceeds to send hundreds of thousands of troops in an attempt to fight the North Vietnamese.

1964- North Vietnamese bomb 2 intruding US intelligence ships and President Lyndon B. Johnson orders bombing of Hanoi in 1966. The Anti war movement begins to mount to national proportion, along with civil rights protests.

1964- Civil Rights Acts of 1964-65 are passed to fight racial discrimination.

1965- Immigration and Naturalization Act abolishes national origin quotas and sets hemisphere quota of 170,000, limiting 20,000 per country. First wave of major Asian immigration arrives soon after, many being educated professionals, attributing to the "brain drain" from Asia.

1966- Urban rebellions (dubbed "riots" by white media) take place across the nation. US News/World Report prints the first Model Minority article highlighting mainly Japanese students. Following articles in Time and Newsweek highlight other Asian groups.

1968-1969- Third World Student strikes take place at San Francisco State University and UC Berkeley, demanding Third world student campus. As a result, ethnic studies, including Asian American Studies, is started.

1968- North Vietnam launches Tet offensive forcing US to begin peace talks. During the war US troops commit several massacres of the native peoples of Vietnam. President Nixon promises an end to the war, despite his secret orders to bomb Cambodia and Laos who also started communist movements.

1969- the Red Guard Party is formed, a leftist Asian American group modeled after the Black Panthers and other influences forms to improve the social and economic conditions in San Francisco's Chinatown. Soon after, other militant Asian groups across the country are founded such as the I-Wor-Kuen (named after the Boxer Rebellion movement in China).

1973- Vietnam peace agreement is reached and US begin to pull troops out of Vietnam.

1974- Lau vs. Nichols rules that schools must give special English language programs to students who do not speak English with proficiency

1975- The Cambodian ultra left military group, the Khmer Rouge, (which was secretly supported by the US at times) attacks Phnom Penh and the regime under Pol Pot begins. The atrocious killing fields take place from 1975-80

1975- First wave of Southeast Asian immigration occurs as a result of mass exodus of refugees fleeing communist regimes. US enacts the Indochinese Refugee Assistance Program, resettling 120-130,000 Southeast Asian refugees in the US

1977- Elderly Chinese and Filipino residents forcibly evicted from I-hotel (International Hotel) in San Francisco. Movement mounts behind it with support from multiple Asian American groups. Thousands turn out to protest eviction night and living conditions. Police come in to shut it down as it (I-hotel) is seen as an Asian American movement and community stronghold

1979- KCIA of South Korea assassinates South Korean president in order to enact a military coup

1980- second wave of Southeast Asian refugees and immigrants arrive in US, consisting of ethnic Chinese from Vietnam, and Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian refugees from Thailand

1980- Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians formed to investigate the justifications behind the WWII internment camps.

1982- 10,000 Asian garment workers go on strike in New York in order to receive a better union contract

1982- Vincent Chin is clubbed to death by 2 white men, mistaking him for a Japanese. Both of the accused men are acquitted of the crime, both only having to pay 3,270$ in damages. A legal fund is started, and one of the accused (Ronald Ebens) is brought up on charges in a civil suit and convicted, but cannot not pay the demanded fees as he is unemployed

1983-The National Committee for Japanese American Redress files for federal lawsuit asking for monetary redress for surviving internees as a result of loss in property after the war. Convictions of Korematsu, Hirabayashi, and Yasui are overturned after federal petition is made

1985- 3rd wave of Southeast Asian Refugees arrive in US. By 1990, Southeast Asian population in the US has quickly grown to 1 million.

1988- US Congress publicly apologizes for the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII and pay 20,000$ to each eligible surviving internee.

1992- The LA rebellion (dubbed LA riots by the media) happen in response to the Rodney King hearings. LA's Koreatown heavily targeted due to its high amount of shops.