At America's Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943

At America's Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943

At America's Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943

At America's Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943

Excerpt

Among the thousands of gold seekers who flocked to California in the mid-nineteenth century was Moy Dong Kee, my maternal great-great-greatgrandfather. A twenty-year-old farmer from Sun Jock Mee village in the Pearl River delta of southern China, he arrived in California in 1854 with big dreams of Gum Saan, or Gold Mountain, as the Chinese called the United States. Like many other immigrants, he came as a sojourner intending to work in America for a short time and then return home to his family and village. Instead, his initial trip to San Francisco stretched into a fifty-two-year stay that took him all across the United States. The opportunities in America were plentiful, and Moy found that he could provide much more for his wife and three children by staying in the United States. Eventually, he earned enough money to move to New York City and he opened Kwong Wah Tai & Co., a small Chinese goods store in the heart of Chinatown. He was also able to make at least three trips to visit his wife and children, who remained in China. This was not unusual. Chinese—and other immigrants—were customarily "transnational," maintaining families and socioeconomic, political, and cultural ties across international borders. Moy's son, my great-great-grandfather Moy Shai Quong, eventually . . .

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