12/27/15

Chinese to the South 5. Smuggled in.

       Among the earliest Chinese in the Deep South were men recruited to build the Augusta Canal in Georgia in the 1840s. Chinese were recruited by plantation owners to come South as cheap labor in the cotton fields after slavery was abolished by the 13th Amendment in 1865 but Chinese did not find such work to their liking and in Mississippi they become grocery store merchants.  Other Chinese who moved to the region came to work on regional railroads such as in Alabama after the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869.  Some of them may have stayed in the region and found other work after railroad work ended.  Remigration led some Chinese who settled first in other parts of the country to come to the South to join relatives or other Chinese from their villages in Guangdong.
        A less well known source of Chinese in the South were those smuggled in from places in the West Indies such as Jamaica. The Mississippi Daily Herald reported on January 6, 1911 that 20 or more Chinese laborers were being smuggled into Mississippi, but that immigration officials knew and would be waiting for them when they arrived from Kingston, Jamaica at Pascagoula and Scranton on the gulf coast of Mississippi.



      Thus, there was no single source of Chinese who immigrated to the American South. Even less is known about the extent to which Chinese in the South remigrated to other parts of the United States or returned to China. but it is reasonable to assume relocation occurred either to join relatives or to find better ways to earn a living.


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