3/27/13

Were "Chinese Abused" in Rosedale, Mississpipi, in 1900?


Jean Pfaelzer's Driven Out: The Forgotten War Against Chinese Americans amply documents the violent expulsion of Chinese from many communities on the west coast during the late 19th and early 20th century.  Fears that Chinese were taking away jobs from whites and sending money back to China rather than spending it here were major motivators.  

However, such hostile and aggressive actions were not limited to that region of the country as reports of anti-Chinese violence came from places where the Chinese were so few in number that they could hardly have posed an economic threat. On Aug. 16, 1900, the Pawtucket Times in Rhode Island published an report, CHINESE ABUSED, originating from New Orleans that violent attacks against Chinese had occurred in Rosedale, Mississippi and that the beating of one "Chinaman" at Mellowdale had led to the arrest of several white men. 

These attacks prompted a delegation of Chinese merchants to seek a meeting with Mississippi Govenor Longino requesting protection as all Chinese in Bolivar County had been ordered to leave the country within 5 days, notwithstanding the fact that they would have to abandon their property.  The Governor wrote leaders of Bolivar calling their attention to the problems and urging them "to take hold of it."*

No subsequent reports seem to exist about the aftermath of the 1900 incidents. Given that Chinese merchants operated grocery stores in the following years in Rosedale and other parts of the Delta, calmer heads must have prevailed. Although the efforts to expel the Chinese failed, they were not exactly welcomed either.  Rosedale was the same town where Gong Lum, a Chinese grocer, tried without success in the mid 1920s to enroll his daughters in the segregated white school in a case that went all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court, Gong Lum v. Rice, 1927 that was denied.

*However, the New Orleans Times Picayune newspaper, the alleged source of the Aug. 16, 1900 article about problems faced by Rosedale Chinese, published the article below on Aug. 17, 1900 in which it stated the earlier article was in error and that the three Chinese merchants in Rosedale "enjoy all the privileges, and have the same potection as any other law-abiding citizen."



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