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Rise of Industrial America
Chinese Immigration to the United States
Mary Cone Describes the Chinaman in California

Mary Cone, a resident of Marietta, Ohio, spent two years in California. In 1876, she published Two Years in California, a book she wrote to describe her experiences. One of the topics she develops is that of Chinese immigrants in California. An excerpt from her book appears below. What was Cone's view on Chinese immigration? What were her major arguments concerning the Chinese?

View more of Cone's observations of Chinese immigrants from California As I Saw It, 1849-1900. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.


JOHN CHINAMAN is too important an institution in California to be dismissed with a mere passing notice. There is no question connected with the development and present condition of the State to which the writer gave more patient and unprejudiced attention than to this. What has been the result of the immense emigration from "Central Flowery Kingdom" upon the material interests of the Pacific coast? Have these almond-eyed laborers been a help or a hinderance? Truthful answers to these questions were sought for with diligence, and every means of gaining accurate information called into requisition. Personal observation and competent testimony were arranged side by side and compared. Among intelligent men there seemed to be no great difference of opinion as to the beneficial results of their labors as railroad builders, as miners, as gardeners, as agriculturists, and as assistants in manufacturing establishments.

As to their employment in any of these capacities, the verdict was almost always in their favor. That without their help in these directions the natural wealth of California could not have reached its present development in a quarter of a century to come, was generally admitted. . . .

R. W. Raymond, United States commissioner on mining statistics, etc., in an official report says: "The Chinese put but little faith in the promises of employers, and are apt to stop if not promptly paid. They are the most reasonable in the matter of wages, and the most unreasonably exact, in the matter of payment, of all our laborers. Chinese skilled miners are quite equal to those of any other race. In some instances they surpass white men employed in the same mines. The greatest superiority of good Chinese miners over European miners is their fidelity. It is certainly true that they are far more earnest and faithful than any other miners. In every department they enjoy the universal reputation of conscientious fidelity. Apart from every other advantage or disadvantage attendant upon their employment, apart from the discrepancy of wages even, this one attribute of fidelity to the interests of the employer will certainly carry the day for the almond-eyed laborers, if our white workmen do not recognize the danger in which they stand, and avert it by more sensible means than they have yet used."
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View more of Cone's observations of Chinese immigrants. View the Book Navigator for Two Years in California from California As I Saw It, 1849-1900. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.