Asian immigrant railroad worker

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He joined the gold rush. We're not sure where he worked They were running away from starvation

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Emily Feng. Chinese immigrants helped build America's first transcontinental railroad in the s, but their contribution has been largely forgotten. A group of their descendants is trying to change that.

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It was a seminal moment in American history: the inauguration of the first Transcontinental Railroad on May 10,in Promontory, Utah. The day marked a profound transformation. The leaders of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads came together to celebrate the joining of the tracks, and Leland Stanford, the business tycoon and political leader who founded Stanford University, drove a ceremonial golden spike into a tie to unite them.

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The advent of the railroad brought about many changes to the United States, including an early wave of Chinese immigration to America. During this period, they faced intense racial discrimination both socially and politically. This culminated in the Chinese Exclusion Act ofwhich placed new obstacles in the way of Chinese and other Asian immigrants looking to come to America. In particular, the act placed limits and exclusions on laborers, not wealthy businessmen from China looking to immigrate.

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They toiled through back-breaking labor during both frigid winters and blazing summers. Hundreds died from explosions, landslides, accidents and disease. And even though they made major contributions to the construction of the Transcontinental Railroadthese 15, to 20, Chinese immigrants have been largely ignored by history.

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The Chinese railroad workers were grading and digging tunnels across a stretch of the Sierras when they decided to lay down their tools. It was the end of June and snow still covered the mountain tops. So they put them to their employer, the Central Pacific Railroad, and a strike was on.

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Chinese immigrants contributed mightily to this feat, but the historical accounts that followed often marginalized their role. Between andas many as 20, Chinese workers helped build the treacherous western portion of the railroad, a winding ribbon of track known as the Central Pacific that began in Sacramento. When not enough white men signed up, the railroad began hiring Chinese men for the backbreaking labor.

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The following responses to these questions are based on the collective research of the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project, particularly the books and essays produced by members of the project: The Chinese and the Iron Road : Building the Transcontinental Railroad, eds. Gordon H. When did Chinese participate in the construction of the transcontinental railroad?

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The history of Chinese Americans or the history of ethnic Chinese in the United States includes three major waves of Chinese immigration to the United States, beginning in the 19th century. Chinese immigrants in the 19th century worked as laborers, particularly on transcontinental railroads such as the Central Pacific Railroad. They also worked as laborers in mining, and suffered racial discrimination at every level of society. Industrial employers were eager for this new and cheap labor, whites were stirred to anger by the " yellow peril.

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