First Advisor

David Johnson

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Exclusion, Chinese merchants, Chinese immigrant community, Chinese Americans -- Oregon -- Astoria -- Social conditions, Immigrants -- Cultural assimilation -- Oregon -- Astoria, Social integration -- Oregon -- Astoria, Merchants -- Oregon -- Astoria, Oregon -- Race relations



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 117 p.)


A large wave of Chinese immigrants came to the United States in the second half of the nineteenth century. Employment, mainly in the salmon-canning industry, drew thousands of them to coastal Astoria, Oregon. Taking the period between the first Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 and the Immigration Act of 1924, this thesis focuses on the Chinese merchants in Astoria and their importance for our understanding of race relations in the town during these years. Specifically, the merchants help to make sense of how the Chinese related to the local white population, as different sources suggest different trends of amiability and hostility. Newspapers testify that local Chinese gained acceptance during the period, going generally from vilified outcasts to respected members of the community. Immigration case files, however, show that officials displayed little resistance to Chinese in the early exclusion years, but worked harder to deny Chinese applications toward the end of this period. So, from one body of records it seems that white Astorians grew more tolerant of Chinese during these years, while the other document set shows a rise in conflict with the immigrants. This apparent contradiction can be reconciled by considering the demographic changes in the Chinese immigrant community during this period, along with class biases and the role of merchants in immigration and social interactions.


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Portland State University. Dept. of History

Persistent Identifier