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Chinese Immigrants and the California Gold Rush



Chinese Immigrants and the California Gold Rush
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    discriminatory, low-paying, gold-seekers, society, immigration, federal, mines, mining, violent, ethnic, camps, racial, industrial, southeastern, economy, despite
     content words:    United States, Many Chinese, San Francisco, Pacific Railway Acts, Chinese Exclusion Act


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Chinese Immigrants and the California Gold Rush
By Cindy Grigg
  

1     On January 24, 1848, gold was discovered in California at Sutter's Mill. By 1849, people were coming to California from all over the world to look for gold. The California gold rush caused a huge increase in California's population. That year about 80,000 gold-seekers came to California, hoping to strike it rich. These migrants were known as "forty-niners." Nearly eighty percent of these were Americans from the east. The others came from all over the world. Many of them came from countries that had had few people move to the United States in the past.
 
2     At that time, war, famine, and a poor economy in southeastern China caused many Chinese men to come to America. Most of them hoped to find great wealth and return to China. Between 1849 and 1853, about 24,000 young Chinese men immigrated to California.
 
3     Chinese immigrants soon found that many Americans did not welcome them. In 1852, California placed a high monthly tax on all foreign miners. Chinese miners had no choice but to pay this tax if they wanted to mine for gold in California. Chinese workers were also the targets of violent attacks in the mining camps. The legal system offered little protection. It often favored Americans over Chinese and other immigrants.

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