Skip to main content

tv   Chinese Native Americans and the Transcontinental Railroad  CSPAN  April 28, 2019 1:44pm-3:18pm EDT

1:44 pm
and it's difficult to build a railroad there. he said we are just going to put .t on steamships he realizes quickly that's a mistake. everybody else realizes their mistakes. the route of the southern pacific is simple. you go through desert in arizona and texas. all that is true, but it is pretty flat. to terminate in new orleans where it competes with the steamship traffic. the southern pacific is going to take a while to be built. is a california monopoly before it becomes a full transcontinental. this is going to be the best way to get around the sierra.
1:45 pm
>> i would like to have another round of applause. >> 150 years ago, a symbolic final golden spike was driven into a rail linking the central pacific railroad from the west and the union pacific railroad from the east. the transcontinental railroad was complete. next, a stanford university sociality professor and the associate director of the chinese railroad workers in north america project at innford discuss how natives the region were affected by the seminole affect -- seminal event. this is part of the symposium hosted by the stanford historical society.
1:46 pm
of the united states expansion in the u.s. is well documented and less attention has been given to the stories of those cultures forever impacted by the railroad . today we are going to have two perspectives, one on the chinese railroad workers, and other on native americans. are going to have our two speakers on this topic give their presentations. then we are going to have a little chat. then we will have the opportunity for audience to raise questions. we are going to talk about the chinese railroad workers. hilton has been a lecturer at stanford university and american studies in english.
1:47 pm
he received his doctorate from -- moderate he is a critic, poet, novelist and historian, and recipient of the american book award. he is the author of american , and the lost histories of san francisco, new york on fire. his recent autobiographical novel, is he dying, and other books, as well as many other articles and scholarly journals. the associate director of the chinese railroad workers of americans, north american projects here at stanford university. he has assisted in the developing of the projects website and digitalization's, along with writing about the chinese railroad workers themselves. he is one of the editors of the soon-to-be released, and there is information on the front table about this that in the
1:48 pm
next few weeks they will be aleasing from this project book called the chinese and the iron road. welcome hilton. >> hello. thank you very much, i'm glad to be here. thank you to the organizers of this and thank you for getting up so early in the morning. i welcome you on behalf of the chinese workers and north america project, which is a
1:49 pm
transpacific partnership for scholars. i welcome you on behalf of gordon chang and shelby. this is a very busy time for us with our books coming out. also the commemorations, there is a lot of interest in the railroad. shelly is at another conference. we are traveling everywhere to try to speak about this. wrong one. here he go. this is one of the pictures that is iconic of this time, east meets west.
1:50 pm
as you can see, there are no chinese. bitill talk about that in a this issee them here that blumer cut, which is exactly what you see there, and set of going over they go through. we believe some chinese started to work on this in to 1864 in 1865. this is the kind of work they .id here a major exhibition.
1:51 pm
nevada, working in the snow. this was supposed to be a snow plow, clearing the track didn't work. shovels would -- , if youe some chinese can see in this picture, laying the last tracks. notice how they are dressed, and shabby clothes or loosefitting. three of them laying the last track. now we are back to this picture. we believe studying this there may be two or three chinese in this picture.
1:52 pm
if you notice the man with the wearingned to you, shabby clothes, that may your chinese worker. and the man holding his hat in front of someone's face. you have to hold a pose for a long time. we think it could be there was a chinese man there. and he didn't want his face in the picture. ok. there were no chinese or very few chinese and that photo. were very fewere chinese at that ceremony, and are wearingpeople
1:53 pm
fairly well-to-do clothes for the time. there are very few workers there at all. none of those workers were there. i was workers were on the union pacific. they weren't paid. the ceremony was supposed to be may 8. thomas to rent from the union pacific was stopped by a barricade, and they held him hostage, so they got their money. good reasons they were afraid they weren't going to get paid. many of the workers were released, but many of the chinese went back to rebuilding the shoddy construction. began, they needed
1:54 pm
workers and there was a scarcity in california. put out this flyer in january of 1865 for 5000 workers. testified there were no more than 800 that ever showed up. they simply did not want to work difficult work, and the pay was very low. in theuld get jobs minds, other places, and get better pay and a better life. those white workers were not interested. let's hireaid chinese. idea and saide they built the great wall, didn't they?
1:55 pm
the construction manager did not think that they were strong enough. here is stanford reporting to congress in 1865. said, i will not boss the chinese. from what i've seen of them, they are not fit laborers anyway." they worked them, some of those things such as loading up cards. then they hired 50 more. then another 50. that seemed to work well. the volt of the labor force -- bulk of the labor force became chinese.
1:56 pm
this is the kind of initial work , another cut. they went to chinatown in san francisco, sacramento. in march you sent out labor contractors. the work force chinese was 4000 by 1865. by 1867, approximately eight thousand chinese were working in constructing titles -- titles -- they'll came from one area, four counties. they were familiar with california.
1:57 pm
why from there and not beijing? access to hong kong and macau, they got the news. this is the way it looks today. one of the more prosperous areas of china today. some of our colleagues in china have been doing some research in the villages. finding important artifact. linking them to the railroad. they would arrange with the to take the ship.
1:58 pm
soon it would be the pacific mail steamship company that the big four owned parts of. then they would arrive in san francisco. this is a great painting by jake , owned by the chinese historical society of america. they would be taken to the six companies, which we call a grouping of kinship and regional benevolent societies and businesses. they would arrange to be shipped to the end of the line. they would pay a small amount for medical insurance. there would be chinese actor punk jurists available. they paid for their bones to be shipped back to china.
1:59 pm
this is at the golden spike visitor center. imaginenting, trying to the white workers, mainly irish chinese, happily working there are a few payroll records left, incomplete and inexact.
2:00 pm
very hard to find out who and how many. most of the names, as you can almost like nicknames. not the full chinese name. in some places you would get john china men one, 2, 3. they named who they were. they would pay the labor contractor or the subcontractor, and he would do the -- he would divy up the money between the foreman. it'd percent of the workforce and the laborers employed are them, it would be impossible to complete this national enterprise was then --
2:01 pm
within the time required by the act of congress. as richard white pointed out, this may not have been a big running making deal initially as a railroad as a scheme, maybe. .t was highly political the routeed where would be before the civil war and there was a debate between the north and the south. the southern pacific rare road would have been the easiest with meantoute, but that allowing the south to expand slavery and so they went with the middle route. very difficult terrain. they needed these workers. workers -- the way it
2:02 pm
to look at this is that they could have had a lot of white workers and irish workers if they had decided to pay them well. lastsanted to pay chinese . it is important to keep that in mind. this is the root named after the southern part of south america and they had to go around in a big loop. here is a picture of it which is on our website. majors one of the first engineering feats they had to go through. debate,s been a lot of especially amongst historian that and railroad buffs
2:03 pm
this one article says they were suspended by ropes above because -- they wantedrp to cut in to make the roadbed. became some notion that they were hanging in basket and this was jake lee making a characterization and building the railroad and they are in basket. evidence thatrect they were in baskets at cape horn, but we believe after a lot of research that they did hanging baskets but further to the east. the cape horn area is not enough .f a slants we have an opinion about that
2:04 pm
working with scholars. they built tunnels to the sierra , and this is a graph showing some of them. this was the most difficult that they dug out. no power tools. all by hand and mallet and banging to get spots through granite and putting in explosives and then getting out as fast as you could. there were a lot of accidents. and when they did do tunnel, they used nitroglycerin, newly invented, and it looked a block in san francisco and the band shipping medical saran -- ban ned shipping nitroglycerin. so they shipped it on site to
2:05 pm
make nitroglycerin. very dangerous. they stopped using it. they realized they would have to pay patent fees for using nitroglycerin and they were too cheap for that. one of the things that they did that was different was built in vertical shaft to be able to , in going outides in tot going into me -- meet. they raised but that's too clear the rubble and that was the only machine of that sort that they usedi. n-- used. you can see these tunnels today
2:06 pm
they still exist. they did this amazing job. when they were first hired, they were paid $26 a day, and those with skilled work paying more and they had to arrange for their own food, and they also had cooks. it was an interesting arrangement that they had. eventually, the pay went up, but it was never the same as the white or irish workers who initially were paid $35, and that went up in the company paid for their food. became another source of income for the big four, and it would attach a --lcar pr as it movedoducts
2:07 pm
railcar as it moved. they were able to get a wide variety of foods from china grown in california and a very big distribution network developed. tea and whennk they drink water it was boiled water. this prevented -- it wasn't necessarily intended this way -- intestinal diseases, where the white people thought this was drink water coming down the mountains and they had more problems with intestinal diseases. certain point, the inequality between the white workers in the chinese workers
2:08 pm
became unbearable. there was a big explosion at one in june 1867, and by theiggered a strike chinese railroad workers. it was a very long area from the tunnels to grading etc.. all the work that was being done, there must've been a lot of organizing done and there was a report that a flyer was going around. they chose the day of chinese belief of earth and heaven's. 1867.aunched it in june they said, one of the demands in
2:09 pm
one of the newspapers, the right of the workmen for the company to with them or restrain them when they desire to seek other employment, and they protested the right of them to do it. labor was so scarce. toy already had wages raised $35 an hour and he wanted parity. this is only one report in one newspaper, and as you heard, there were a lot of anti-railroad people. so we are not sure this was actually a demand, but they were reported to be bullying people on the line. horser would ride on a and they would with people and beat people -- hurry up and work . this may have been a demand. it does not seem unthinkable.
2:10 pm
noticed, they said it will be impossible to do this while we have a strike. if we get over this without yielding it will be all right thereafter. as charles crocker's brother said, they are getting smart. they are realizing that there is a labor scarcity. they could leave and work in the mines in nevada not too far away. the strike lasted a week. in their panic, they suggested -- let's go to the friedman bureau and get some free slaves and have them come in -- get 10,000 of them. at one point, they said, look, we need thousands of more
2:11 pm
chinese, japanese, mexican, anyone we can get. that way the cost of labor would go even lower. the strike was over in eight days. -- cut alld them out food supplies and crocker said, if you want to quit and go back to sacramento, you can't write on the train. -- ride on the train. that chineseerted labor was not slavery, it was free labor, just as free as yours and mind -- mine. republicans,were abolitionists, pro-lincoln and to say that they were using slave labor would be very difficult for them. they said no, they are paid, they are free, they are not endangered and they are not indentured in forced to work,
2:12 pm
but there were lots of arguments about that. being the route they were going. you can see the whole extent from sacramento in this illustration. one of the other things they accomplished is building 10 miles in one day, and this is standing there in the back -- strowbridge. james is his aey went ahead and military-type fashion and there was a military person impressed about how they brought things and loaded and unloaded them. there were eight irish track layers and thousands of chinese
2:13 pm
laborers. the track layers that names listed and were paraded in celebration in sacramento. the chinese workers did not get their names listed. i always imagine the 10 miles was a straight line, but it kind of curves around and they had to to make thels curves while trying to do this feet. it is still alive. is thef people say this most that anyone has built a railroad and it certainly was. it was the largest labor action in the country, 3000 workers at least when out on strike. these are kind of amazing things . at the end, and the golden
2:14 pm
spike, strowbridge saluted the and presented them as the chosen representatives of the race which greatly helped to build the road and give them pleasure.r -- the chinese went on to work and they worked at the bottom of the canadian pacific and in monterey. counted 70 railroads all the way to the east coast. awayw up in long island from the far rockaway line and learn that was a very shoddy raa deathtrap going over sand. crew of 300 in a chinese workers, 1875 come 1876, to rebuild that part of the railroad. i did not realize at that time.
2:15 pm
.mazing work afterwards in the immediate years afterwards, chinese and chinese labor was highly praised before the onset of the full-blown anti-chinese movement. of course, there was a price to be paid. attack --anes was the the extermination war led by sherman in the central pacific construction of many of the native societies had proceeded before the railroad. and crocker came up with the ina of giving, a nevada, -- givingah, -- nevada, them free tickets on the railroad. wasevada at one point, it
2:16 pm
reported there were 800 chinese, 1000 irish workers, and 1000 native american workers. with the chinese and the indians, they could not tell them apart. the white -- the supervisors. so payday would come, they would come with the bags of money, pour it into the performance had who would divvy it up. because they could know who worked and did not work. for the native people and for the chinese. part of this was the rise of the anti-chinese movement. if you can study this picture a little bit, the man with the ponytail is chinese. the stereotypical irish hat on the other side. they are both 18 uncle sam -- eating uncle sam. they are progressing quite a bit
2:17 pm
in the bottom left panel. at the very end, you see the chinese man with an irish hat on his head, eating the irishman. this was the fear of immigration at the time. for both. they were anti-irish, but irish could be white. irish could vote. irish could own property. the chinese could not at all, could not testify in court, was extremely limited and subject to attacks all the time which is what happened leading up to the 1882 exclusion act. in 1919, they had the 50th anniversary. were three gentlemen veterans of the building the railroad. they attended. we think they may be the three people who were laying that tracks at the end.
2:18 pm
but we are not sure. , in 1969, the 100th anniversary, they had a ceremony at promontory summit, reenactment, a lot of speakers. they pushed -- there was supposed to be a chinese seat -- speaker, they had a plaque to present. and they said sorry, you can't speak. we have a special guest to take that slot. the special guest ended up being john wayne. cowboy, the the image of the western white man supplanted the reality of the chinese. then secretary -- the transportation secretary under the nixon administration gave a a rousing speech about how only americans could dig these tunnels.
2:19 pm
only americans could work in the hot desert. he went on this whole litany and talked about the irish and the germans, you know, on to all different european nationalities. never mentioning the chinese. this is one of the things that spurred on the asian american movement. of such blatant forced invisibility. you know, this is chinese working near watsonville, building the pot rogue river railroad. checke built railroad to -- to santa cruz. there was a horrible accident after the transcontinental, about 50 chinese died in an explosion in a tunnel. i do not know what happened to that railroad. but it would have been good if they kept it. so, that is all i have to say with this.
2:20 pm
do you want to hold off questions, right? thank you. [applause] hilton: want me to come down? about aer perspective culture that was greatly impacted by the railroad is of course the native americans. today, we have professor snape thatlp us understand perspective a little bit more. matthew is the burnett and mildred finley wilford proposal of humanity and science in the
2:21 pm
department of sociology at stanford university. he is also the director for the anditute for research social science secure datacenter and formally directed stanford center for the comparative study of race and ethnicity. before moving to stanford in 1996, he was a professor of sociology at the university of wisconsin, madison. been a research fellow at the u.s. bureau of the senses and a fellow at the center for advanced study in the behavioral sciences. he has published three books in over -- and over 70 articles and books, chapters on demography, economic development, poverty, and unemployment. his current research in writing deals with the methodology of racial management, changes in this -- social and economic well-being of american ethnic minorities and american indian education. for nearly 10 years coming he served as an appointed member of bureau racial and
2:22 pm
ethnic advisory committee. as a contributor to major publications, he has provided the americanews on indian populations and written about what sociology can learn from the american indians. . please join us -- please join us. [applause] prof. snip: thank you. i'm pleased to be here. i want to express my appreciation for this invitation. what i am going to tell you today, i am a sociologist, that i am someone who spent years and years of reading american and historymerican indian because he cannot understand the present and particularly the standing of american indians without knowing something about the history. that is how i come to this.
2:23 pm
let's see if i can make this thing work. laura jones invited me to do this and asked me to talk about the impact of the transcontinental railroad on native americans. i thought, what do people think its impact was? heid what everyone did -- did these days, i went and googled it. what was the impact of the transcontinental railroad on native americans? there is generally, if you do this exercise, you would see there is generally a consensus out. these two bank statements that came from the digital public library of america, these two statements summarize the conventional wisdom. and that is the railroad was completed thousands and thousands of white americans came streaming across the western frontier, it uprooted in a massyed people
2:24 pm
extermination, and it was just terrible. while, -- well, yeah. what happened on the frontier was terrible. but the railroads had little to do about it. i want to offer a somewhat different perspective. and that is the transcontinental railroad really represented -- was a consequence, not a cause of this. it was really an outcome of long-term historical processes, and the golden spike was just merrily a punctuation mark in a round -- in a long-running narrative. what this is about, the story of natives in the railroad is oflly about the coalescence colonial project that had been years.y for many, many but to put this into context, you have to remember that at the beginning of the 19th century, there years.
2:25 pm
were essentially five parties struggling for the possession of north america. there were the spanish to the south and southwest in mexico and what is now the american southwest, there were the french in the interior of the u.s., the drainage of the mississippi river, missouri, ohio and arkansas rivers, there was also the british who claimed -- who had freshly been kicked out of the colonies but still felt they would repossess them at some point. and then there was the new american nation. and then there were a variety of different groups of american on united,stly dis-unified in their opposition to european expansion. yearsat happened over the first half of the 19th century was that first, the french pulled out, napoleon decided he needed to spend his time and money conquering europe.
2:26 pm
this led to the louisiana thereafter, shortly the exploration of that territory by lewis and clark. of 1812, basically consolidated american possession of the colonies, especially the eastern seaboard and pushed the british up into what is now canada. finally, in the mexican-american war, extinguished fan -- spanish and later mexican claims on the american southwest. what this became was basically a project that was fueled by continental imperialism, represented in the doctrine of manifest destiny, and the free soil movement. so, at the beginning of the 19th century, the united states went about nationbuilding in earnest. and reached a crescendo midcentury. but there is a couple of
2:27 pm
observations and these are so see about the nationbuilding project. important one is if you are going to claim a territory and make it as part of your nation, you need to have your citizens on it. the citizens need to be loyal to the state and one way of making them loyal to the state is that you give people land. you give them some place to live. this even today. there are parts of the world where the strategy is underway. nationbuilding really became the catalyst for european population growth and a construction throughout the 19th century. were then centers driver of a railroad expansion because the railroads went out to people and not vice versa. so, what was the original source of this population growth and this expansion to the west and how did it take place? i want to suggest to you that it
2:28 pm
was really not the railroads. first of all, it was immigration from europe and people fleeing wars, famine, and religious persecution. was the expansion and spread of people was made possible through the establishment of an expansive set of trail networks. the two main trails where the oregon trail and the santa fe trail. the santa fe trail was established in 1921 -- 1821. but there were lots of other trails. important, less significant, less used trails. but there were trails to the gold fields in montana and colorado, and there were offshoots of these oregon to santa fe trails that made possible american expansionism. you can see here on this map, this shows the oregon trail.
2:29 pm
in 1836. established it started off in independence, missouri, outside of kansas city, and traversed the northern plains and finally ended up in the pacific northwest. the santa fe trail was established in 1836. actually fe trail was followed a path that had been established by native americans from time immemorial. that itcan see here starts here in independence, the same place as the oregon trail. and it went out through the southwest and terminated in santa fe, but is today santa fe, new mexico. what was important about this
2:30 pm
trail was that it linked to another trail that went from santa fe all the way down to mexico city. ad was essentially sort of path of trade goods between the north and south. something else that is unique about santa fe is that this was a place where native people from came to trade and sometimes intermarry with the pueblos that were established in this area. is other thing that i think useful to note about this map is seefor people wanting to santa fe or the oregon trail's, they came from the east, they could come on a series of canal networks that have been built in this part, but then the main vehicle was that they could then traversed down the ohio river, down to st. louis or down and up the mississippi river.
2:31 pm
that became the jumping off point overland into independence where there were companies that have been established to take settlers out across one of these two trails. there were a mountain men, traders, trappers, who were familiar with these trails who made a good living doing this. probably the most famous was a man named jim rager. why would people out here? why did they make this journey out to independents? mm is even longer, more dangerous journey to the west? -- and then this even longer, more dangerous journey to the west? basically it was for land. that were a number of acts were passed in the mid-19th century that allocated land to anybody who wanted to go out and settle on it. this is part of the nationbuilding project. andof the most -- the first one of the most important once was the thing called the preemption act which allowed
2:32 pm
squatters, people who had simply gone out and living on public title, allowed them to purchase 160 acres at $1.25 per acre. this is how the kansas and nebraska territories were settled. oregon was a special concern in the 1840's because there was a territorial dispute between british candidate to the north thethe united states, and british claimed a large chunk of what was then considered the oregon territory. it was especially important to get as many people out there living on that land who worried loyal to you as possible. to spur of the settlement of the oregon territory, anybody could go out there in the beginning of 18 50 and claim up to 640 acres of land scot-free.
2:33 pm
they began toer, charge for it once there was a large number of people living on the land. the free soil movement as some of -- probably many of you know, the free soil movement was basically the idea that anybody who went out on an undeveloped piece of land, labored on it, turned it into a working farm, should be allowed to possess it and own it, free and clear. pre-soil party was later folded into the republican party in 1854. elected theirlly first president, abraham lincoln, and one of lincoln's acts was to sign into law the homestead act which basically was the touchstone of the free soil party. basically anyone could work the land and gain ownership to it. the timber culture act was established from the cultivation
2:34 pm
of commercial forests, pre-land, anybody who wanted to plant forests. act was tort land encourage irrigation, agriculture in the deserts. this is a bead of -- deed of the sort people received when they completed their homesteading experience and wanted to make a claim for the land. 1869, as professor whyte noted, the transcontinental railroad did not amount to much. and you can see that what was really significant was out here to the west, and particularly in this industrial part of america, this is where the railroad activity was greatest. tribe that's, that
2:35 pm
had occupied this territory had been either fully removed either out to the indian territory to the west, or simply exterminated. out -- by the get time you get out to roughly 1865, the blue land on this map is the land that was still claimed by american indians. 1865, thee that by land claimed by american indians was really only about one third of what is today the 48 states. project ofl expropriating land from native people was well underway at the time of the transcontinental railroad. case that there was a large chunk of land right here that the railroad had to traverse. the army got busy about the business of clearing it. this is 5 years later,
2:36 pm
the land that was still -- this land became settled, established by the army. but these areas appear, these are important to pay attention to. these areas become the military theaters of the indian wars from 1870-1890. this was -- those indian wars from 1870-1890, needed the american colonial project in the west. a sense, the resolution is not very good, but these x's are places where conflicts between indians and the military took place. in the southwest with mostly the apache. wyoming,n montana, between the army and various
2:37 pm
groups of northern plains tribes like the cheyenne and the s ioux. so, what was the impact? things -- thehe conventional wisdom was the transcontinental railroad did result in the extermination of the buffalo. is strewn.e, that some of the hunters came out in trains out to the herds. it is also important for transporting bones, hide, and meet act to the east -- meat back to the east. threat of the the distraction of the buffalo more than anything else was that there were innovations in bide preservation and tanning that made leather, industrial leather for the growing numbers of factories in the east. that's a leather became a chief source of material for machine building. ,onveyor belts, machine belts
2:38 pm
all were made from buffalo hide. it was relatively inexpensive. it was one of the things that helped fuel the industrialization of the united states in the late 19th century. the u.s. army for its part also had a very significant role in this process. the impact of the army was that they were -- especially after the civil war, the army was deployed to the plains, basically to keep peace along the oregon trail and its tributaries and also through the santa fe trail. was a network of forts that were built along both trails. particularly in the north as these trails become -- became well-traveled and as these army forts were built for the protection of those travelers, the tribes saw what was coming. they saw what was happening. they were watching the destruction of the buffalo herds. and increasingly, the relations
2:39 pm
between settlers and the tribes became ever more hostile. and there were a series of very bloody wars that took place through the 1870's and 1880's. the two people who lead this military campaign in the north were to civil war generals. one was philip sheridan, the other was william comes a sherman. both of these generals were skilled and knowledgeable about scorched earth military tactics. while sherman had led his march through the sea plundering cattle, torching fields and burning down houses, it was a simpler task for him because what he understood and what sheridan understood as well was that what it meant was you did not have to burn down farms. all you needed to do was destroy the buffalo herds. and that is what they did. here is a couple of quotes.
2:40 pm
the first one was from sherman and his memoirs about the outcome, the destruction of the buffalo herds. the second quote is by sheridan. i think it is unambiguous but they saw the extermination of buffalo as essential for the pacification of the plains tribes. so, my larger argument here is that the growth of industrial capitalism in the late 19th century in the east, not the west, but the east, was the thing that was the far more destructive development. and not so much the railroad. industrialization was a by railroad growth, hides, and agricultural products were moved from the west to the east.
2:41 pm
but american industrialization did not depend on the transcontinental railroad. but they did depend very much on the railroads in the east. to the point here is that these material requirements of industrial production really did mandate the distraction of native people out in the west. of food to feed the workers in the east was a central, and as i just said, buffalo hides for industrial leather was widely used. what this slide shows is that a networks that existed in 1890. as you can see, up at the very corner, this is what we think of today as the old rust belt. you have chicago here, and you had basically -- these were -- this is where grain and beef was basically in kansas city. these networks carried the grain and beef to the railroad hub.
2:42 pm
that went out to the various points in the east. at one point, there were 14 different railroad lines that all terminated at the kansas city livestock yards. let me conclude here in the time that i have left and say that the transcontinental railroad was not the thing that destroyed native people. wells a project that was underway even before the railroad was invented. did serve asroads is that they were an important tool that served as an engine of mass destruction, and that engine of mass destruction was industrial capitalism and the rise of the gilded age millionaires you have already heard about. railroad istinental actually less of a cause than a consequence of the distraction of people in the distraction of buffalo.
2:43 pm
ultimately, i think what is really consequential here is that eastern industrial development that urbanized same timet the marginalized native people in a way that excluded them from the prosperity of the 20th century and today. with that, i will quit and i think we are supposed to take questions. [applause] jennifer: have a seat. prof. snipp: ok. i will put my timer away. thank you. prof. snipp: this is working -- jennifer: this is working. thank you. that was an interesting perspective. now we wanted to maybe do a
2:44 pm
little bit of comparing the two cultures. ultimately,really as professor snipp talked about, affected them as they moved on into the 19th and mid-20th centuries and today. i have two or three questions here. then we will open it up to the audience for questions before we take our break. gentlemen, after the building of the railroad, the chinese immigrants faced tremendous constraints with the chinese exclusion act of 1882, as he mentioned earlier, hilton. and it was not repealed, for those of you do not know, the chinese exclusion act which restricted property ownership, quite a fewabor,
2:45 pm
things, do not get repealed until 1943. -- did not get repealed until 1943. native americans suffered with the -- with another act. how would the two of you compare the challenges faced by these two groups? as we are going into the 19th and 20th century? >> as i said, the gold spike ceremony was the first mass media event. n stanford swung the amount -- by the way, it reports that there were huge celebrations all over. it may not have been a money make eating venture in some respects, but it was definitely
2:46 pm
highly important politically. is when lincoln signed the railroad act also. as the homestead act. ok. since last several years, they have had -- reenactments have and hugeevery may 10 numbers of chinese americans and chinese have been coming. to these events. this year should really be huge because there is a conference being held in salt lake city by descendents, organized by descendents of railroad workers, headed up by a judge in salt lake city. all kinds of events. finally, that their labor mattered in doing this. now, right after the railroad, as i said, there was a growing anti-chinese movement, mainly a
2:47 pm
labor movement, unfortunately. huge amount of a tax on chinese -- of attacks on chinese. you could easily get killed if you were chinese and murder would not get prosecuted. parentless -- parentless. we do not know how many chinese stayed in the u.s. and how many left. someone back to china. life was very difficult. still, more chinese came after the exclusion act. paperwas a whole thing of sons, people posing as sons of already living in the u.s. you will meet chinese today butng, i am so-and-so wong we are actually lee, because
2:48 pm
they had to pose to be part of a family. one of the projects we did was an oral history project which you will soon be able to refer to. the families that we have talked theywho are descendents, know something about their ancestor. but the story of their families and their tenacity and their success in the u.s. is very amazing. so, it was not easy to be chinese or in fact any asian, filipino even, in the u.s. the chineseecided were fighting against the japanese, maybe we should get rid of this. still, there was restricted immigration. only by 1965 with the reform of immigration, which i am sure the current administration would moreto get rid of, that
2:49 pm
sizable chinese community could reemerge in the u.s. life was very difficult. there were wholesale massacres. in different parts of the country. driven outcome is the name of a book -- driven out, is the name of the book of chinese being driven out of california. and here was a national railroad strike. the railroads lowered wages across the country. there was a huge strike in san francisco. it took the shape of the anti-chinese riot. they gathered where city hall is today. hill,ey climbed up to nob to the houses of those magnates, the robber barons, and they demonstrated shaking their fists . in particular, crocker had a
2:50 pm
where the curate cathedral is today, he wanted the whole block to build this huge house. one family held out. or what he to south did is he built a 60 foot wall on three sides. so that he would not get any light. people marched their to the spiked -- marched their to the spiked fence and raised their fists, then went down california street heading to chinatown. it was a good thing they do not go into chinatown because the chinese were armed and hired andce, off-duty police others. they would have been shot down if they started attacking chinese. then they went all the way to iers where they attacked chinese getting off of both spear the government in san
2:51 pm
francisco became the working man's party which meant white working man's party. you bought something that had a labellabel it said white only. deeply ingrained racialized structure of u.s. society that is a legacy of all of this. for american indians, it was a different story in the sense, you mentioned indian removal. i was a process that took place in the 1830's and 1840's. it was complete by the time there was any amount of railroad construction because what happened is they ran out of places to remove the indians to in the indian territory, what is now oklahoma. what happened was with the establishment of the reservation those places became places of starvation, malnutrition, severe hardship
2:52 pm
and deprivation. by the late 19th century, by the in0's, various reform groups the east felt like there was a humanitarian crisis taking place out in the west. it was in the late 1870's, early 1880's. into theinated creation of two majors to basically force the assimilation of american indian people. one was the establishment of a boarding school system where indian children were taken away from their parents, put into boarding schools, war military uniforms, had a regimented daily schedule. most significantly, they were not allowed to practice their traditional religion, speak or tonative language, engage in any behavior that was anything but culturally white by the boarding schools recognition -- or reckoning.
2:53 pm
the passageece was of the general allotment act in 1887 which was sponsored by a senator from massachusetts named henry dodd. the point behind the general allotment act was basically to break up the reservation in to simple title to land, provide indians with a land allotment, not unlike the homestead allotments, and once they had the land, then the thinking was that they would become farmers. like their white neighbors. and eventually, they would blend and disappear from history. that has not quite happened that way. jennifer: yesterday, hilton's theeague had an article in allied tech -- in the l.a. times saying chinese immigrants helped build california but they have written out of its history.
2:54 pm
with the exception of a fourth grade teacher we have in the we know western history has ignored much of the first hand histories of the chinese railroad workers and the american indians, thus the misperception as professor snipp everybodyut, in that assumes this happened with the railroad and assumes this is what happened with native populations. and with the chinese railroad workers, so little information remain or is even accessible. today's scholarship is actually rectifying this lapse in first-hand stories and the perspective of the chinese railroad workers and/or the american indians themselves? i think it is a start. i will point to my friend and colleague, richard white, who
2:55 pm
has made huge contributions in that area. we have native historians who are coming up now, where we are beginning to reflect and think about the larger context of these histories. i think it is underway. what more can be done. the 1969 said that commemoration of the golden toke was an utter insult chinese, chinese americans. that was the spark for the asian american movement, along with the other civil rights movements , it was sparked then, the scholarship of the field. there has been no serious scholarship about the chinese. there have been many books written about holding the railroad and they talk about the chinese, but the authors don't know anything about the chinese except what they can glean from
2:56 pm
newspaper articles. of course there are no first-hand things written by chinese, who worked on the railroad, and we think -- and there was a myth, people assumed they were illiterate -- most of writinge illiterate in and reading chinese cap they had not taken the exams which is a level in china to be truly literate. those letters, whatever they going on flyer for strike that was passed, we do not have them. they were destroyed in the various burning set -- burning down of san jose, chinatown, driving people out of rock springs, whatever it might be, trekkie, for example. it is very difficult to write in this history. later on in the century there are documents.
2:57 pm
in the southern pacific, there was someone who wrote a dire reading in english and chinese. we have to piece it together. is still veryrt evident for a lot of people. when they started to reach out people in the chinese-american community who were descendents, ony have pride, they worked this national project, their ancestors. but they were not recognized truly. when we began the project seven years ago, we began uncovering anddeveloping more research interacting with not only other historians but with government agencies so that a few years -- i thinkk .14
2:58 pm
2014, there was an induction into the labor hall of honor as the department of labor. they brought descendents of the railroad workers to this. this was like the beginning of recognition. they had a ceremony there, talks. visitxi jinping comes to barack obama. and both of them in their speeches talk about the contribution of the chinese railroad workers to building america. this was -- the chinese were -- the chinese also ignored it because they were ashamed that people had to leave the country in order to work. at a certain point, you don't want to be associated with the u.s. at all, especially during the cultural revolution. this was a big transformation. we had an event in 2015 and for
2:59 pm
, stanfordtime university acknowledged the contribution of the chinese to the existence of this university. so, it has taken 150 years for this to begin, this understanding and a different conception of history. as well, we have worked with irish and irish-american scholars. and there is now an irish railroad workers project to find out what their lived experience was, and we think may be they wrote letters home but people still have about working with these strange people from china, end ofk baths at the each workday. they found that very strange. they cooked heated up water in barrels and went and took baths, for example. jennifer: i would like to open it up to questions. i think we have a few people
3:00 pm
that are mosing up to the microphones. we will be doing it from both sides. >> thank you. i'm struggling with the notion that the transcontinental railroad was really just a consequence and not a cause. that sounds like it falls distinction to me, an advocacy campaign written by pacific railroad. there were many causes, which you mentioned. one you didn't mention was the discovery of gold and precious metals on land that were owned by indian tribes. i was part of the railroad as an enabler and accelerator. there was a desire to build railroad on lands that had been given to tribes by treaty. one of those reasons was the need to build a railroad. the railroad would sometimes be attacked by tribes that were not
3:01 pm
happy with the presence of the railroad, then the army had to be brought in to protect the railroad and protect the station. want to blamen't the transcontinental railroad for all the destruction you mentioned. --hink, seeking it as a net as an enabler and accelerator is a more accurate way. >> i think richard made the point, there's not much freight and not much traffic on that railroad. facilitate it did the expansion. it also did facilitate -- and exporting hides from the western plains to the east. remember, this project is a project in terms of the creation of the united states, was well underway before railroads were ever established.
3:02 pm
the indian removal is something that happened before railroads came along. processrt of bequest to -- to possess territory. -- territory that began from the arrival of columnists in jamestown, later plymouth, that began a long history of conflict and a struggle for the possession of the land in north america. the railroads may have accelerated a bit. facilitated, i wouldn't argue that it did. they were part and parcel of this longer process and struggle that would have taken place whether or not the railroads were ever built. . if youck follow-up look at your map in 1870 and 1890, there were still large tracts of land owned by plain
3:03 pm
indians and others, and there is they hope that they may be of the large parts of those lands. the railroads are then bisecting those plans. i think it was an important factor. >> there were a series of treaties, and particularly the that she read was he of fort laramie treaty 1851 -- the treaty of fort laramie in 1851. as you had more people settling on that land, that is what brought the forts initially. forts were there to protect the a thatents, prevent them prevent them from being attacked by the tribes. then the railroad came through those areas, they began the business of protecting the railroads. important to understand that a number of
3:04 pm
, theytribes, the navajo worked on the railroad. tribes thats, the had once attacked the railroads, particularly the sioux, ended up becoming railroad workers themselves. ok?an you hear me now i can hear myself. the question i have is kind of railways inhe particular. i'm wondering between the two of you, do you know the instances where the native americans and chinese actually cooperated? i ask this because i had the pleasure of spending some time on the other rather -- other reservations in that area. is af the things i noticed number of the native americans had very chinese features.
3:05 pm
i asked them about that, and -- oneld me that particular young woman told me her ancestors were chinese, they .arried in with the blackfeet she said the reason that happened is her family, down the line, told her that instead of theg paid a were killing chinese. so the chinese were escaping, native americans were providing shelter and giving respite from this awful fate. i know of other situations where that happened with native americans. for example, slaves, in particular, the mardi gras festival, most people don't know the this but the origins of the festival is the blacks celebrating the native americans that saved them when they escape from slavery.
3:06 pm
>> the essays in the book coming out, the chinese of the iron relationshipes the with documents and oral histories with some of the tribes. also there has been research, like what you said. there was intermarriage in nevada, for example. some tribe's married native people. it's kind of an uncomfortable thing to talk about, partly because of the whole blood , whoum business of the bia is really native american, how much blood do you have? want -- they don't want to talk about it that much.
3:07 pm
there was this kind of interaction that did happen somewhat. historiesf the oral is that there was a young man working on the railroad. i'm not sure if it was the central pacific or it may have been the northern pacific, some other railroads. they had an encounter with the native tribe. , or the chief, thought this man looked like his recently deceased son. they adopted him. willingly, in a for two years, learns the language and was able to return to china. these kinds of narratives, this kind of image is part of the
3:08 pm
story. i wouldn't say it's major. a thousand native people were working alongside chinese and irish. >> you could say it is some , but not something that could be documented. a >> in some cases it can. they are not necessarily talking but theyermarriage, did have a lot of contact at certain points. is this working ok? can you hear me now? >> somewhat. >> wickedest leaned it over for you.
3:09 pm
>> a man comes to the rescue. the me hold it. having listened to these talks there hashours, almost been not one mention of women. there were a few. richard white mentioned the wives of the big four. a number of them had married -- remarried interior decorators. that was interesting. i don't just want to get up here and say we have all this stuff, but what about women? i want to know, on the chinese question, did any chinese women come along with this as they stayed and worked on the railroads? were any of them involved in repairing the schools?
3:10 pm
you mention something about intermarriage on the indians. you know certainly that the indians were parts of families in which women were very important. they may not have been the ones ,ho went out and shot the bison but they clearly played a central role. i wonder if this kind of story of the west doesn't really need to account for half the people who are here. example, that this university was tremendously affected by james stanford. -- jane stanford. there's no question that jane was significant for this university.
3:11 pm's if it is specific women by name, at least the role of women in this enormous effort, we cannot ignore that women had a lot to do with the development of the western part of the united states. >> the labor force was all men. there was a series, hell on wheels, and another one about the canadian railroad. womanse a device, a young making believe she was a man. that might have happened. or not very many. was a bachelor society.
3:12 pm
san francisco was overwhelmingly male. took only to the 20th century that it became balanced anyway. chinese women, there were some women that were brought over, wealthy merchants to marry, as part of the story of the descendents of railroad workers. the other women were brought over to be prostitutes. of some women wear the missionaries, who tried to get women out of the prostitution. women who tried to aid and .onvert chinese workers more the societies become realistic in the sense of balance, sadly there were no chinese.
3:13 pm
no legale no regal -- restrictions. they didn't want chinese american families. that was not their goal. chineseid mention the men or so many men on their own would go into san francisco and would need their sexual services. important role development of the west. that should not be hidden in the history of the west. just are not hiding it, it can't be a major factor for building the railroad. on the union pacific side, the notion of hell on wheels, it's easier to get people from the east, there were times set up,
3:14 pm
temporary town set up with saloons and gambling and prostitution. when the railroad got further, they moved them. that's why they called them hell on wheels. that was definitely a factor. been some research on chinese women and chinese prostitutes, but it is very that,ult to get data on unfortunately. as it is with the railroad workers. >> i think you raise a good point. large ay and patriarchal a society that patriarchal society. they went to war with entire villages. women basically produced the
3:15 pm
food, produced the goods they used. they obtained rifles, firearms by treating those goods. role, but the chiefs who led those tribes, the chiefs who played the military campaigns and carried out the attacks on the trains and the settlers, were men. i would agree wholeheartedly goinghose men could never to battle without the women provisioning them. it was the women who tanned the hides, it was women who basically held the village out.her while the men were >> it would be great if one could get some kind of historical evidence of some of those women and >> there is some
3:16 pm
evidence. you have to remember lewis and made ituld never have to the pacific northwest without sacagawea. >> i want to thank our two presenters once again for their presentation. [applause] >> you are watching american history tv, all weekend every weekend on c-span3. >> caroline jenny is editor of warbook -- the end of the in virginia." she talks about how the union army developed a parole system for confederate general robert e lee's troops after their surrender following the battle of appomattox courthouse. she details the stories of confederate soldiers across the
3:17 pm
south who surrendered in the wake of appomattox. talk was part of a daylong seminar cohosted by a university in farmville virginia . >> are for speaker of the afternoon is dr. caroline channing. sees the press are of civil war won'trector of the -- i get it right, center for civil war history in virginia. she's a graduate from uva, worked for the national park service as a historian at purdue university. winner of a number of different teaching awards. she is coeditor of the university of north carolina series, past president of the society of historians.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on