Harper’s Weekly, October 18, 1879, page 822 (Editorial)
A correspondent in California reminds us that the English views upon the Chinese Australian immigration, to which we lately alluded, are very familiar to intelligent Californians, and have been cited in Congress during the debates upon the question. It is a subject upon which an expression will be undoubtedly sought from each of the National Conventions next year, and the electoral vote of California will be probably determined more by the attitude of parties upon this question than upon any other. The form in which it was brought before Congress did not permit a full debate upon the merits, and it is unfortunate always that many of the best and most instructive speeches upon every subject are so little known except to those whose business and duty it is to read them. One of the most forcible and simple statements in Congress of the California view of the Chinese questions was of Mr. Horace Davis, the Representative of the San Francisco district. He made a speech in June of last year, and another short one in January during the final discussion, and they are both marked with the same sincerity and directness. They are not political pleas, except in the large view of the policy which is best for the country. Mr. Davis has a hereditary right not only to be heard, but to be trusted, because, although one of the "old settlers" in California, he is a son of "honest John Davis," of Massachusetts.
Mr. Davis recognizes that the traditional policy of the country has been to encourage unrestricted immigration. But he thinks that the problem and the conditions of the Chinese movement demand a new policy. The European easily blends with the American, but the Asiatic remains an absolute alien. This is a radical difference, and as we have an undoubted right to regulate the coming of strangers, the question is, first, whether the Chinese are a desirable accession; and second, if not, are they likely to come in dangerous numbers. In answering these questions, he says that the movement is not an immigration, it is an invasion of adult males only, without families, shipped under labor contracts, consigned to companies, upon whose books they are enrolled, and who hold them in complete subjection. They do not assimilate with us, and after twenty-five years of intercourse they have made no progress whatever toward association with us. They are practically a state within a state, having a government of their own "inside of ours," and such a mass held in semi-servitude restores in other forms the old and dangerous castes and classes which the war overthrew. Mr. Davis points out that the burden falls upon the poorer classes. The new-comers are trained by centuries of want to live in a poverty and to be satisfied with wages which would barbarize our own laboring class. He holds that it is no wiser to leave the question to be settled by competition than for the farmer to leave the grain and the weeds to fight it out in the field, and that the California laborer is entitled to protection as much as the sugar-planter of Louisiana, or the iron-worker of Pennsylvania, or the cotton-spinner of Massachusetts. The objects of republican government are not cheap labor and the accumulation of wealth, but the creation of a prosperous, happy, and united people. Mr. Davis contends that if the invasion be not checked, American labor will be driven from the Pacific coast, and Chinese capital will intrench itself in new forms of business, as in Singapore, where it has expelled the English from many branches of trade and manufactures. The demand for the suffrage can not be long resisted, and there will be a Mongolian State occupied and ruled by absolute aliens, and California will degenerate into a province of China.
Mr. Davis holds that the immigration is plainly of a kind not to be encouraged, and shows from the records that the immigrants are likely to come in swarms. They are already here a hundred and fifty thousand strong, and, as he says, they now constitute two-fifths of the adult male population of California. During the decade for ’67 to ’77 twenty-four per cent of all immigration by sea and land to California was from Asia. He cites the warning of Count Schouvaloff at the Congress of Berlin, and from acknowledged authorities upon the subject, Sir John Bowring, Sir Stamford Ruffles, and more recent writers, showing the perils of unrestricted immigration. He urges that the Chinese authorities at home and the Chinese Companies here would willingly acquiesce in some kind of restriction, and he warns Congress against suffering a foreign army to be inextricably intrenched upon our soil. Mr. Davis’s plea is very strong and earnest, and he plainly feels that upon a question of such vital importance to his State, and so wholly foreign in its present form to the rest of the country, the voice of California should have immense weight. There is no doubt of the gravity of the question, and Mr. Davis may certainly trust a country which has decided wisely upon other questions as important to consider well before it decides upon this.
Harper’s Weekly, October 18, 1879, page 822 (Editorial)

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