Transcontinental Railroad

Chinese Labor

By William Alvarado

on 1862 two companies , The union Pacific and Central Pacific companies are tasked with building the Transcontinental Railroad,thanks to the Pacific Railway act. This project hoped to have a link between the West and Eastern coast of the United states. In just a period of just six years one of the most impressive accomplishments of the 19th century was built by workers, who experienced strenuous labor in hazardous conditions.
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The chinese had been residing in America since 1849 due to the Gold rush

In just a period of just six years one of the most impressive accomplishments of the 19th century was built by workers, who experienced strenuous labor in hazardous conditions. Prior to this was the Gold rush that occurred in California which attracted people looking to gain fortune. it especially attracted Chinese immigrants from the Canton province , where the counties within it were poverty stricken and experienced civil unrest. They arrived in boats hoping to find work. This was a positive as it allowed The Chinese to have more opportunity and to have a better life.
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1865 is when the the first Chinese workers were hired by the Central Pacific company

During this time Charles Crocker was in charge of the Central Pacific company. While the Central Pacific needed 4,000 workers , they could only manage 800. The brutal labor along with poor management caused high attrition rates among the mostly Irish labor crew. Therefore he hired Chinese workers in hopes of causing jealousy among the Irish in hopes of increasing the pace of work. This however caused resentment towards the Chinese. While this gave employment to the Chinese , it also turned out negative as the jealousy and hostility towards the Chinese would be adopted nationwide
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Pay-rate for Chinese Laborers VS those of European descent

The initial pay-rate for laborers who were Chinese was from 24$ to 31$ per month. Variables that affected the rate were how skilled the workers were and how dangerous the task was. Ultimately it rose to 35$ a day. However, unlike their White coworkers the Chinese received no assistance from the company that employed them. It was reported by Alexander Saxton that the Chinese earned only two thirds of what white laborers earned. This was negative because even though the Chinese worked just as good if not better then the Irish they were not payed equally
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The Chinese workers work ethic was acknowledged by those around them

While the Chinese were seen as inferior, they proved that they could work at the same pace and if not faster then their fellow white laborers. One description says of how the companies eventually sought out more Chinese workers stating that they worked with great speed.By the year 1867 some 14,000 Chinese worked in the strenuous conditions of The Sierra Nevada. This is a positive for at least the Chinese could prove just hard they could work
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On May 10, 1869 The final Spike was planted for the First Transcontinental railroad

After six years of brutal work the railroad was completed. 1,776 miles of railroad spikes were laid down.The completion of the railroad was a huge triumph as it changed the western united states's economy and settlement.Not only was travel made easier but also the transportation of goods.
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while most were enjoying the benefits of the railroad, Chinese immigrants continued to face hardships

The Chinese Exclusion Act passed on May 6, 1882. The act prohibited immigration of all Chinese laborers and the ability to become citizens.This was extremely negative. Even after all the contributions Chinese immigrants made to the railroad , they were not acknowledged or treated as equals
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Even after risking their lives , Chinese only received hate not appreciation

hate crime towards Chinese was not uncommon during this time. The Chinese Exclusion Act drastically decreased immigration of Chinese Immigrants. The U,S would see any major migration from Chinese immigrants until almost a half a century later. How Negative to see the Chinese get treated in such a terrible way
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The contributions the Chinese made should not be forgotten

They helped build the transcontinental Railroad and that fact can not be denied. Without them the west would have not been as prosperous and without them we wouldn't one of the most amazing structures built in America. At least one positive thing that came from this was that the Chinese proved their heart and spirit
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