7/12/14

Chinese to the South 2. But Will The Chinese Come?

In 1869, interest in bringing cheap Chinese labor to many parts of the Deep South was growing rapidly. They were sought as cheap labor for work in cotton fields, farms, rice fields, and construction of railroads and canals.

But how likely would it be that the Chinese would come to a region where there were so few other Chinese?  If they were in California, would they be willing to leave Chinatowns to go to places where they would be among the very few Chinese?

Although the views of a Chinese merchant in New York, Choy Chew, were those of only one individual, he did raise some important factors that might affect the success of recruiting Chinese for the South that made him skeptical.

Charleston Daily News, 6.19.1869
In a more extensive 1869 report in the New York Herald, reprinted in the Georgia Weekly Telegraph, Choy Chew argued that Chinese would be reluctant to go South because "Chinamen like to die at home," alluding to the fact that San Francisco is much closer to their homeland in China. They "want to make all the money they can and then return" and therefore  "do not care to go very far away from San Francisco if they can help it"

Georgia Weekly Telegraph, 1869
Chew did concede that how well the first Chinese that went to the South were treated would be a big determinant of whether "millions will go there."


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