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Rise of Industrial America
Chinese Immigration to the United States
William c. Pond's Ministry Among Chinese Immigrants in San Francisco

William C. Pond sailed around Cape Horn in 1853 as a "home missionary." Pond's Gospel Pioneering (1921), from California As I Saw It, 1849-1900, provided the following excerpt. What were Pond's experiences in ministering to Chinese immigrants in San Francisco? What point did he make about Chinese immigration in the period just after the enactment of the Chinese Exclusion Act?

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Not long after I had returned, Jee Gam laid before me a scheme for a headquarters in San Francisco, close by the Chinese Quarter, which would afford a refuge for our brethren, a school in the English language, a place for Sunday services and a "Theological Seminary." This last seemed to me rather premature, but the rest expressed our immediate and pressing necessity, for our few Chinese brethren were indeed, as one of them said, "like orphans without a home." I promised to write about it to the office in New York, and if the plan was approved there, we would undertake to carry it out.

The reply was a hearty approval. I think that I remember the words in which it was expressed: "This is just what we have always wished to see done." While I was waiting for this reply, my own appreciation of the project had so grown upon me that I was eager to enter upon it. So a building was soon found, admirably located, which with some alterations would answer our purpose, and I rented it at $75 per month. At that time Congress had just passed the Exclusion Law, to take effect six months after it received the President's signature. During these six months, the immigration of Chinese was almost precisely equal to the whole number in the United States when the bill became a law. The consequence was that our rooms were packed by the newcomers eager to learn the English language. Teachers could hardly move about in the crowd. As many as 130 were reported in attendance for several months. This called for a large number of teachers, so that the expense became very great. Nothing had been said to me, either in my commission or in any other way, about a definite and limited appropriation for this work. In my inexperience in such matters, I had assumed that whatever expense was unavoidable in carrying out what the home office had approved, would be supplied. I have never in my life been more startled than I was when after all this was moving well, I received a letter stating that the appropriation for this work was $5,000 per annum, that it was nearly exhausted and that it could not be increased. What could I do? It was evident that appeals to the A. M. A. would be in vain. On the other hand, retreat meant such disappointment and disaster as would wreck our whole work. I had not expected to have anything to do with raising funds. My part was to be simply to use as carefully and usefully as possible funds supplied from the East. And I was already overloaded with tasks of that sort in connection with the Seminary and our infant Bethany Church.
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Read more about Pond's ministry among Chinese immigrants. View Gospel Pioneering from California As I Saw It, 1849-1900. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.