December 10, 2020 in Analysis

Jewish and Chinese Immigration


The United States is widely recognized as a nation of immigrants. Historically, immigration has become a major tool for the formation of the American nation. From ancient times, America has become a symbol of political and religious freedom, as well as the country of boundless economic opportunities. Until the first half of the XIX century, immigration was encouraged, as it met the main tasks of the state colonization of vast territories and the development of industry and agriculture. However, in the second half of the XIX century, the growth of social tension forced authorities to make a number of limitations in the field of immigration policy and infringement of the rights of immigrants. Nowadays, Jews and Chinese minorities constitute a great part of the US population with their culture and traditions combining with the culture of the USA. The paper is devoted to the study of the role and place of the Chinese and Jews ethnic minorities in the United States, revealing the characteristics of Jews and Chinese immigration to the United States throughout its history.

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Jews in New York

Nowadays New York is a city with the largest number of Jewish residents. The beginning of Jewish New York laid in 1654. In September 1654, twenty-three Jewish refugees from Brazil stepped ashore in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. The following year, another group of Jewish immigrants came to New York from Holland. The governor of the city did not like this fact. Nevertheless, the West India Company came to the defense of the Jews, and they stayed. In the first years of their stay in the city, Jews were greatly limited in their rights. For example, Jews were forbidden to engage in peddling (a petty trade from the tray), have land plots in their possession or join the military service. It was replaced by a tax. It was also forbidden to build the synagogues, although Jews were allowed to perform ceremonies at home.

In 1657, many restrictions were abolished, when local Jews received basic civil rights, and the ability to own land and engage in petty trade. In 1664, New Amsterdam was taken by the British and was soon renamed in New York. At that time, the city had a resident population of about a thousand people. In 1686, the Jews of New York acquired the right to conduct worship services in public. No later than 1695, in the city, there was the first synagogue. Since 1700, the townspeople-Jews began to use the voting rights. At that time, there were about one hundred Jews from 17 families Most of the Jewish population of New York was Sephardim. After the War of Independence, the New York Jews received even more opportunities. They were able to engage in the legal profession. The Jews were among the founders of the New York Stock Exchange.

The first half of the XIX century was marked by wars and revolutions in Europe. It caused the increase of Jewish immigrants arriving in New York. In 1847, the Jewish population of the city reached 15 thousand people. In 1860, there were almost 40 thousand people about 4% of the population of New York. In the first half of the XIX century, in the city, there were various institutions of Jewry. Many of which exist to this day. The Jews of New York were mainly involved in trade and crafts. Some of them owned small shops and stores. Moreover, among the Jews, prominent businessmen and financiers appeared.

In 1878, in the city, 60 thousand Jews lived. In the 80 years of the XIX century, the mass immigration of Jews from Eastern Europe began. It had a strong influence on demographics, culture and the way of life of the Jews in New York and throughout North America. In 1920, the Jewish population reached nearly one-third of the population of New York. At that time, the Jews of New York were the largest ethnic group of the urban population, as well as 45% of the total Jewish population of the United States. The Jewish population of New York continued to increase until the early 50-s of XX century. However, gradually, it began to decline, as the post-war economic growth allowed many Jewish families to leave the crowded areas of New York to the suburbs or to other states.

Nowadays, the Jews constitute the largest ethnic group in New York and play a decisive role in the citys political and social life. The most of Orthodox Jews are among the inhabitants of the district of Brooklyn. New York is a major center of American and world Hasidism.

Nevertheless, some sociologists affirm that the level of life of the Jewish population in New York in not extremely high. In 2012, a quarter of New York Jews lived below the poverty line. The problem of poverty is most prevalent among the ultra-Orthodox Jews because of the large number of children in families. Some people believe that as long as some families will not focus on the financial well-being but religious education, the poverty situation will only get worse. Anti-Semitism is also a big problem for the Jewish people. In 2010, anti-Semitism increased in the city, especially among Muslim and African-American population. After the terrorist attack in Toulouse in 2012, the city administration of New York allocated additional 100 patrols to protect synagogues and Jewish clubs. Jewish youth organized for self-defense.

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Chinese in California 

The United States is widely recognized as a nation of immigrants while China is the largest center of emigration. The Chinese community is considered the largest in the world, in spite of the difficulties faced in the process of assimilation of Huaqiao in the new society. In contrast to the Jews ethical minority, Chinese people were the only ethnic minority that experienced the effect of the Exceptional Law completely banning them from entering the territory of America. Whereas, the Jews population constantly increased, the number of Chinese Diaspora almost reduced by half reaching its historic minimum for a half-century of the Exceptional Law. However, after its cancelation, half a century later, it managed to become the most numerous Asian minority of the Unites States.

At present, there are no reliable data on exactly when the first Chinese immigrants came to the land of the North American continent. At the beginning of the XIX century, representatives of the higher strata of the population of China could afford to study abroad. However, it is assumed that the gold rush in California became the cause of the first wave of mass emigration from China to the United States. It falls at the end of 1840 – the beginning of the 1850s. Since that time, immigration of Chinese people began. One of the Chinese immigrants located in California wrote to a friend in Guangdong that gold was discovered there. The news of Californias wealth spread internationally and Chinese settlers began to establish fishing camps along the Pacific coast as early as 1853.

Transportation of immigrants was a very profitable business for the US Navy. For the transportation of people, it received more than all export supplies of the United States. However, already at that time, the racist sentiments within American society forced the authorities to restrict the number of Chinese immigration to the United States.

At the beginning of the 1950s, arrangement of Chinese settlements in the territory of the ore zone began. These villages are the prototypes of modern Chinatowns. With the development of the mining industry in California, the number of Chinese origin working in the field of production increased. Gradually, the Chinese population in California increased. In addition to work on the railroads and mines, they gradually penetrated into the manufactory industry and agriculture. In 1880, about 70% of seasonal agricultural workers in California were Chinese immigrants. They often worked as household servants distinguished by their submission and terse. By the beginning of XX century, in California, the Chinese bourgeoisie was already formed. For example, the founders of the Bank of California, whose assets by 1920 amounted to $ 5 million, were the Chinese born in the United States.

Chinese people in California, as well as Jews in New York, experienced the hostility of white Americans. According to American scientists, a hidden motive of the racial hostility was the clash of economic interests. Racial hostility was caused by increased competition, which was created by the Chinese in the labor market and declining wages of white workers. In addition, the Americans were irritated not only by the unique working capacity of the Chinese, but also their incomprehensible language, clothing and excessive desire for isolation. From the American government, there were various initiatives actually directed against the American Chinese. In California, rights of the Chinese population were extremely suppressed. Nowadays, the situation has changed. Chinese people do not experience Anti-Semitism manifestations. Today, the Chinese Diaspora has a membership of more than 4 million people. It plays an important role in the economic and political life of the United States.

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The US population has always been distinguished by the diversity of its members combining different ethnic groups. They are the main source of population growth and cultural change in the United States. There are a great number of the Jews and Chinese ethical minorities, which migrated to America in search of a better life.

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