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Chinese-American Time Line

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Food in History

Summer Volume: 2018 Issue: 25(2) pages: 12 to 14

Here are some Chinese times in California and elsewhere in the US, some in Canada, some south of the border. Only a few are food related such as a few Spanish records of the 1600s documenting settlements in Acapulco and Mexico when in the first half of that century some Chinese did come on Manila galleons In 1763 there were a few settlements of Chinese bound for the Philippines who jumped ship in New Orleans. They did flee into Louisiana bayou country and settled there. In 1785 three Chinese seamen get stranded in Baltimore by the captain of their ship, the Palleo. They needed a year to arrange their return to China.

Before the 1860s

1818-1825: Five Chinese students come to study in Cornwall CT Foreign Mission school

1820s: US government reports 325 Chinese immigrants get to California

1830s: Chinese sugar masters are working in Hawaii; at the same time, some sailors and peddlers get to and stay in NY

1846: A Chinese junk, the Kee Ying, sails into New York harbor with its crew of thirty-five; and reports say some fifty thousand do visit this Chinese ship while docked there

1840s: Lured by news of the California gold rush, men from Canton (now known as Guangzhou) and elsewhere in the Guangdong and Fujian Provinces come to build the transcontinental railroad, dig its tunnels, and do needed nearby farm work

1844: US and China sign the first treaty between these two nations

1847: Three Chinese college students arrive in New York for schooling

1848: British author, John Davis, publishes a book in English, of Chinese recipes; Many Chinese men come to California during gold rush times

1849: The first Chinese restaurant in US, called Canton, opens December 10th in San Francisco; it is on Jackson Street

1850: Statute prohibits testimony by Chinese against Americans in San Francisco; Just eighteen more than four thousand Chinese men and seven women now live in the US, twenty thousand others arrive in this decade, most come to mine gold

1851-1860: More than double than number of Chinese arrive in CA during Gold Rush times; almost two hundred Chinese contract laborers go to Hawaii, not yet part of US. A Reverend William Speer opens a Chinese Presbyterian Mission in San Francisco

1854: Yung Wing gets his B.A. from Yale University as is the first Chinese college graduate in US; In a People vs Hall case, the, Chinese are forbidden to testify against Caucasions

1857: San Francisco opens a school for Chinese children

1858: California passes a law barring entry of Chinese and Mongolian peoples

1859: No Chinese are allowed to attend San Francisco public schools

1860: Some 40,400 Chinese are in the US by this date


1863-1869: Chinese workers help build US trans-continental railroad, Some open eateries to feed them and other folk; more men are recruited to build the Central Pacific Railroad while others are recruited to work in the silver mines

1868: US and China sign the Burlingame-Seward treaty; it allows citizens of both countries to emigrate; and at this time, a Sunday School for Chinese opens in Hawaii 1870s: Significant numbers of Chinese arrive in New York region, 36.9% are minors; 20.4% as non-specified laborers, 11.7 are domestic servants, 7.9% come to open their own laundries or work in them

1872: Chinese are barred from giving court testimony

1875: Chinese farmer Ah Bing grows cherries and later names them ‘Bing cherries;’ The Page Law bars entry of Chinese, Japanese, and Mongolian prostitutes, felons, and contract laborers

1878: Chinese now are not eligible for naturalized citizenship in the US

1879: A Boston Chinese restaurant named Hon Far Low and another in New York called the Broken Restaurant open; a Law in CA prevents municipalities and corporations from employing the Chinese

1881: Father Sit Moon becomes pastor of first Hawaiian Chinese Christian church

1882: Chinese Exclusion Act forbids Chinese laborers from coming to the US for ten years; this helps xenophobia become rampant in US

1883: Chinese food café opens at the Chicago World’s Fair; Chinese Consolidated Benefits Association (CCBA) is established in NY; Wong Chin Foo begins a Chinese- Ameircan bilingual weekly newspaper

1884: John Dudgeon, a Brit, writes that the Chinese diet may be healthful than that with heavy meat eaten in the US 1886: Many places in the west of the US expel many Chinese 1887: American servicemen frequent Chinese restaurants and bars in Hawaii

1888: The US says only five categories of Chinese can enter its country including teachers, students, officials, merchants, and/or visitors

1892: The Geary Act extends Chinese immigration prohibitions for ten more years

1896: Ambassador Li Hung does arrive in NY; Papers say he invents Chop Suey to meet his food preferences, an untrue statement

1898: Supreme Court rules children of Chinese descent born in US American citizens; the Scott Act forbids re-entry of twenty thousand Chinese farm and other workers who temporarily left US

1900 - 1999

EARLY 1900s: Five Chinese restaurants listed in the 1903 Los Angeles phone directory, ; there are twenty- eight in 1923, seventy-three in 1941, and more than forty thousand in the late 1900s; thus Chinese restaurants are proliferating

1902: Chinese Exclusion Act is extended for ten more years

1906: A major earthquake and fire in San Francisco destroys local records making way for Chinese ‘paper sons’ to immigrate to the US

1910: US Supreme Court extends the 1870 Naturalization Act to other Asians making them all ineligible for citizenship

1911: Chinese men in US cut off their queues after a revolt in China

1916: In Los Angeles, David Jung opens a noodle shop selling ‘message cookies’ we now know as ‘fortune cookies’

1918: Servicemen of Asian ancestry who served in World War get the right of naturalization

1920s: Anna May Wong is first Chinese-American Hollywood film actress

1922: La Choy Food Products is founded in Detroit ; it sells many Chinese canned and packaged staples

1924: All Asian immigrants excluded from US by law are now denied citizenship and prevented from marrying Caucasians and/or owning land in US

1925: Warring tongs in many Chinatown regions in US declare a truce

1933: Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance organized in NY responds to discriminatory regulations imposed on their industry

1938: One hundred fifty Chinese women garment workers strike against the National Dollar stores, almost all of which are owned by the Chinese

1940: Angel Island Immigration Station closed by the US government

1943: Congress repeals all Chinese exclusion laws, and ssys that only one hundred and five Chinese can immigrate to US each year 1945: Publication of How to Cook and Eat in Chinese by Buwei Yang Chao is the first English-language Chinese cookbook to use the term: stir-fry

1947: Amendment to 1945 War Brides Act does allow Chinese veterans in US military to bring their brides to US; Jeno F. Paulucci, an Italian-American, starts Chun King in Grand Rapids MN and in weeks sells three hundred cases of chow mein daily

1957: Cecilia Chiang opens the first Authentic Mandarin restaurant in San Francisco

1959: Hiram Fong is the first Chinese-American senator elected to represent Hawaii

1965: US government abolishes restrictive quotas based on race or nationality so the Chinese-American population nearly doubles between 1960 and 1970

1967: Shun Lee Palace opens in New York as the first Sichuan and Yang Chow restaurant in the US

1971: Roots is the first textbook published for Asian-American studies classes

1972: President Nixon visits China; and opens way for Chinese-Americans to visit their homeland for the first time in twenty-two years

1982: Yan Can Cook, a Chinese celebrity cooking TV program debuts in the US

1978: Yale University student, Maya Lin, designs the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC

1979: President Carter declares one week in May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Week; eleven years Later, president Bush extends it to a one month-long celebration

1992: Chinese Restaurant News estimates there are thirty thousand purveyors of Chinese food in the US

1993: Amy Tan’s novel, The Joy Luck Club is developed into a major Hollywood movie

1999: US Census says more than three million Chinese now live in US and are about one percent of its total population.

2012: Donation initiated of English-language Chinese cookbooks to Stony Brook University; by 2020 there are more than five thousand there each with a complete citation, an annotation, too, all with computer access from anywhere in the world, and available to be seen there by appointment.

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