Chinese rounded up, shipped out of Crescent City area

April 26, 2007 12:00 am
This bill was posted in Crescent City during January 1885, for a meeting in which white settlers decided to force all Chinese to leave Del Norte County. (Photo courtesy of Del Norte Historical Society).
This bill was posted in Crescent City during January 1885, for a meeting in which white settlers decided to force all Chinese to leave Del Norte County. (Photo courtesy of Del Norte Historical Society).

By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

The Chinese population of Del Norte County built a number of projects for Horace Gasquet during the late s.

Once the projects were completed, however, the tide of popularity turned away from the Asian workers.

By the late 1870s a well-established Chinatown stretched along Second Street between G and H streets, and along H Street from Second to Third Streets. More buildings were planned for Third Street.

But many residents of Crescent City were beginning to voice disapproval of the Chinese.

After a member of the Eureka City Council was accidentally shot and killed during a Tong war in 1885, all the Chinese in Crescent City were rounded up the next day and told they must leave.

They were put aboard ships bound for San Francisco.

Their Chinatown in Crescent City was torn down and the evidence of many of their contributions to the county's growth destroyed.

Only their roads remained.

Several prejudiced actions against the Chinese occurred in California during the 1800s, leading up to the forced departure from Crescent City:

•1852 – California's Foreign Miner's Tax imposed a $3 monthly tax for non-native born citizens of the United States (the Chinese), and those becoming citizens under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (the Mexicans). The tax was enforced by tax collectors who kept part of the fee themselves, and were allowed to take property of those who failed to pay, often using extreme violence in their collection methods.

•1862 – The California Legislature passed "An Act to Protect Free White Labor Against Competition with Coolie Labor and to Discourage the Immigration of Chinese to the State of California." It required a tax on laborers who were not working in agriculture.

•1875 – The federal government passed a second act limiting who became naturalized citizens based on race. The first was passed in 1790.

•1876 – A California Senate committee investigates the "social, moral, and political effect of Chinese immigration."

•1877 – Congress investigates the criminal influence of Chinese immigrants.

•1878 – The California Legislature barred all Chinese people from owning real estate.

•1879 – Chinese citizens in Eureka are loaded onto two steamers bound for San Francisco. The ships sailed Feb. 14.

•1885 – Arcata adopted an anti-Chinese resolution. A few days later, Ferndale took a similar action. Not much later, Crescent City decided to "remove all Mongolians from our midst."