The Time of The Stranger
Large-scale immigration of the Chinese to the US began with the California Gold Rush in the mid-1800s. The first immigrants, being successful merchants and skilled artisans, were widely received in America and known for their work ethic and dependability. This, however, was destined to change.
After larger groups of unskilled laborers, usually working for very little pay, started to arrive in America attitudes quickly turned negative and they started to face open hostility. Many Southern whites brought their own prejudice from the antebellum south and the Blacks and Chinese suffered for them.
During this time the Chinese not only mined for gold, but also took jobs such as cooks, peddlers and storekeepers. In the decade after the Gold Rush they took many of the jobs that were considered beneath the white workforce. After the Gold Rush, however, a lack of well-paying jobs for non-Asians drove further prejudice against the “rice-eaters” and violence increased. In 1862 alone 88 Chinese were reported
It was into this world that The Stranger was cast.