In 1869, the dream was made a reality at Promontory Point, Utah with the connection of two railway lines. Building the Transcontinental Railroad: How 20,000 Chinese Immigrants Made It Happen. The exhibition features a century-old pair of chopsticks, as well as canisters for tea and soy sauce. Image credit: Alfred A. Although it focuses on the period of the transcontinental railroad’s greatest activity, 1862 to 1869, it also examines the history of indigenous peoples on the plains before the railroad, the evolution of legal thought regarding corporations in the antebellum era, the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, and mobilization for the Spanish–American War. The completion of the transcontinental railroad in May 1869 is usually told as a story of national triumph and a key moment for American Manifest Destiny. More than 40,000 Chinese immigrants arrived in California during the 1850s. Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube. Chinese Transcontinental Railroad Workers. W hen one thinks of the transcontinental railroad, rarely do Chinese migrants come to mind. The Chinese workers were educated and organized; 3,000 laborers went on strike in 1867 to demand equal wages, as the white workers were paid double. A Murder Changed That, 10 Ways the Transcontinental Railroad Changed America. âThe artifacts on view are meant to help visitors understand how forgotten workers had to endure hazardous, unfair conditions, in addition to backbreaking labor,â said Leibhold. As you celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Golden Spike ceremony that made the transcontinental railroad a reality, you can also explore the stories of your Chinese immigrant ancestors. âOn the west, there were Chinese workers, out east were Irish and Mormon workers were in the center. In a new exhibition, the overlooked contribution of Chinese workers is being brought to the light for the 150th anniversary of the railroadâs completion, Last modified on Thu 18 Jul 2019 02.03 EDT. One telling photo on view is a shot of the Union Pacific board members sitting in a business class train car from 1869. Courtesy of Library of Congress. By paying laborers a low wage, they were able to skim millions from the construction and get rich. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was signed by Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882. Without them,” he said, “it would be impossible to complete the western portion of this great national enterprise, within the time required by the Acts of Congress.”. Nonetheless, Central Pacific Railroad was desperate, says Gordon Chang, Stanford professor of American history and author of the book, Ghosts of Gold Mountain. They had to face dangerous work conditions â accidental explosions, snow and rock avalanches, which killed hundreds of workers, not to mention frigid weather. "The Chinese in America: Transcontinental Railroad," by Iris Chang, 2003. Chinese, Native Americans and the Transcontinental Railroad Transcontinental Railroad and Stanford University Railroads and American Culture in the 19th Century They protested these and the long hours and they used their collective strength to challenge the company.”. … What is more, written history has marginalized the Chinese, as with all other minorities.”, READ MORE: 10 Ways the Transcontinental Railroad Changed America. Forgotten Workers: Chinese Migrants and the Building of the Transcontinental Railroad. De (First) Transcontinental Railroad is de transcontinentale spoorlijn tussen de oost- en westkust van de Verenigde Staten en werd geopend in 1869.Het was de eerste transcontinentale spoorweg ter wereld, de Panamaspoorweg uit 1855 niet meegerekend omdat deze slechts 76 kilometer lang is. chinese labor / transcontinental railroad In 1865, Central Pacific Railroad Co. recruits Chinese workers. There is one photo from 1869 that shows how the company commemorated the last hammered spike to complete the railroad, however, only one Chinese worker is in the photo. But in a new exhibition at the National Museum of American History in … Protectionism. “But Crocker’s plan hit opposition amid anti-Chinese sentiment, stemming from the California Gold Rush, that gripped the state,” Obenzinger told NBC, noting that construction superintendent James Strobridge didn’t think the immigrants were strong enough to do the job. âThe railroad stopped them from getting food. In the mid-nineteenth century, large numbers of Chinese men immigrated to the United States in search of better futures for themselves and the families they left behind. Chinese laborers made up a majority of the Central Pacific workforce that built out the transcontinental railroad east from California. All these groups are outside the classical American mainstream.â. There is also evidence they faced physical abuse at times from some supervisors. hen one thinks of the transcontinental railroad, rarely do Chinese migrants come to mind. The Transcontinental Railroad changed the course of American history when it was completed in 1869. The strike ended without pay parity after Central Pacific cut off food, transportation and supplies to the Chinese living in camps, but, Chang says, the strike was not held in vain. But in a new exhibition at the National Museum of American History in Washington, a vital revision is presented. This story could still be one which resonates with todayâs America. Accessed online September 25, 2017. “In January 1865, convinced that Chinese workers were capable, the railroad hired 50 Chinese workers and then 50 more,” the Project notes. A Murder Changed That. Many people didnât think it was possible.â. UNION PACIFIC - History and photos of the Union Pacific. More Chinese immigrants began arriving in California, and two years later, about 90 percent of the workers were Chinese. Other uses for snowsheds over Donner. Strong students will also explain that the completion of the transcontinental railroad prompted Chinese workers previously employed on the railroad to compete for more desirable jobs, which contributed to anti-Chinese sentiment. During the 19th century, more than 2.5 million Chinese citizens left their country and were hired in 1864 after a labor shortage threatened the railroadâs completion. 150 years after the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad, a local Chicago Museum highlights Chinese workers' contributions. Chinese laborers at work on construction for the railroad built across the Sierra Nevada Mountains, circa 1870s. TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD BACKCOUNTRY BYWAY - 90-mile section of the Central Pacific Railroad grade administered by the Bureau of Land Management. Of course the large number of immigrants working for Central Pacific and their hard work didn’t mean they were well-treated or well-compensated for their efforts. According to the Project, Chinese workers hired in 1864 were paid $26 a month, working six days a week. Working conditions improved following the strike. HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate. But this exhibition takes a different tack, tracing the forgotten Chinese workers who built the western leg of the railroad across the Sierra Nevada mountains, connecting the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroad in 1869. âHistorians have always known and written about the Chinese workers, but itâs forgotten by society,â said Peter Liebhold, who co-curated the exhibit with Sam Vong. A Chinese laborer works at a tunnel heading above Donner Lake on the western summit of the Transcontinental Railroad. Some say without the help of Chinese, the Transcontinental Railroad would not exist. “They scared the pants off the company leaders,” he says. After completion of the railroad, Chinese exclusion formalized racial violence and labor control on a continental scale, evacuating models of relationship governing the movement of people across Indigenous lands and waters. Looking back, historians say, the Chinese, who began arriving in the United States in significant numbers during the California Gold Rush of 1848-1855, were deemed too weak for the dangerous, strenuous job of building the railroad east from California. Students will analyze primary source photographs and political cartoons and work with data to color code sources of immig. Thatâs one way it failed.â. When one thinks of the transcontinental railroad, rarely do Chinese migrants come to mind. by J.P. Marden. There are also minerâs picks and shovels, conical hats, as well as photos of the camp sites where the workers lived in Nevada in 1869. “White workers, whom the company wanted, did not sign on in numbers anything close to what was needed,” he says. âThe 150th anniversary is not just about completing a railroad, but the workers involved.â. FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. A transcontinental railroad in the United States is any continuous rail line connecting a location on the U.S. Pacific coast with one or more of the railroads of the nation's eastern trunk line rail systems operating between the Missouri or Mississippi Rivers and the U.S. Atlantic coast. © 2020 A&E Television Networks, LLC. Labor on the Transcontinental Railroad The majority of the Union Pacific track heading westward was built by Irish laborers, by Mormons who constructed much of the track in Utah, and after the war by veterans of the Union and Confederate armies. Until spring 2020, Forgotten Workers: Chinese Migrants and the Building of the Transcontinental Railroad peels back the layers to see who else should be commemorated during the recent 150th anniversary of the transcontinental railroadâs completion â an achievement which has typically been celebrated with photos of old locomotives, successful-looking men in suits and anonymous workers hammering away. At first railroad companies were reluctant to hire Chinese workers, but the immigrants soon proved to be vital. Twice a week we compile our most fascinating features and deliver them straight to you. did not come out to California in large numbers until after the completion of the Transcontinental.”. Learn 5 facts about the Transcontinental Railroad. The Chinese made the ultimate backbreaking contribution of blood, sweat, and lives lost to create the largest railroad in the world. When they failed to achieve this dream a… On May 10, 1869, during an elaborate ceremony at Promontory Summit in Utah, the “Golden Spike” was driven in and the nation’s first Transcontinental Railroad was completed. There are photos, as well, of the Native Americans, many of whom protested against the building of the railway in 1869, which displaced the Lakota, Shoshone, Cheyenne and other communities. 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