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The Chinese Came in Response to the Gold Rush, But Were Quickly Mistreated

Updated: Dec 27, 2020

Timeline of Chinese History in California by San Luis Obispo Weekly Tribune (Image courtesy of History Center of San Luis Obispo County)

1848: Gold is discovered at Sutter's Mill

1850 - 1864: Taiping Rebellion rages in China

1852: Approximately 10 percent of California's population was Chinese. An estimated 25,000 Chinese lived in the state at the time.

1876: Railroad completed from Avila to San Luis Obispo. Chinese laborers helped build this and other railroad lines in the county.

1879: In a statewide special election on Chinese immigration, all but five San Luis Obispo County voters opposed the continued immigration of Chinese to California.

Dec. 1879: Chin Kee, a Chinese immigrant living in San Miguel was taken from his home late at night; shot and killed. According to the Dec. 13 edition of the San Luis Obispo Tribune, local resident Frank Kemp, suspected of killing the man, was found not guilty of the shooting due to "no sufficient cause". All Chinese immigrants in San Miguel left the town following the incident.

Jan. 1, 1880: San Luis Obispo enacted a law that sought to force Chinese laundries out of city limits.

1882: U.S. Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, the country's earliest immigration law. It was designed to reduce the influx of Chinese immigrants to America.

April 1886: Chinese laborers working on a railroad project near Nipomo were confronted by a group, possibly from arroyo Grande, and "told to leave, never to return, under pain of hanging".

1888: U.S. Congress passed the Scott Act, which effectively barred Chinese laborers from returning to the U.S. by voiding previously issued immigration permits.

1892: U.S. Congress passed the Geary Act, which further restricted Chinese immigration.

1924: U.S. Congress passed the Oriental Exclusive Act, which stopped Asian immigration to the U.S.

Works Cited

"San Luis Obispo Weekly Tribune" 17 September 1997

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