Gold Rush the History of Term Paper

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Ah Toy is representative for the way in which immigrants and in her own case the Chinese were treated by the state authorities and the judicial system in particular. It was common practice the discriminatory attitude of the judicial system towards the Chinese immigrants given the fact that, on the one hand the legislature considered the immigrant population to be a threat to the well being of the Americans, and on the other hand, the Chinese' apparent lack of interest for the American judicial system would make them irrelevant in the face of the law. This is why the 19th century saw a number of legislative initiatives which legalized a discriminatory treatment of the Chinese immigrants and of miners in particular. Therefore, "in 1852, scarcely three years after the first Chinese arrived in California, the state legislature passed a discriminatory tax measure, aimed primarily at Chinese gold miners (an 1854 amendment made it applicable to the Chinese exclusively.)Moreover, additional measures were being taken in order to restrict the access of foreigners to the resources of the society that was emerging as a result of the Gold Rush, especially taking into consideration that the idea of competition was common among the Gold Rush generation: "It seemed to me (...) if one-tenth of these teams and these people got ahead of us, there would be nothing left for us in California worth picking up."

The situation changed in time as the immigration phenomenon lost the nature of novelty. Moreover, both the American society and the Chinese community in particular realized the mutual benefits that could arise from their cooperation. Thus, Chinese immigrants became worthy prospects as sources of labor and today they are considered to be the ones that built the railway system linking the two parts of the country in the 19th century. However, in order to coexist, a rather equal status had to be reached among the Americans and the Chinese. Therefore, the change in attitude came from the latter, as they reoriented their focus on the judicial system and appealed to it in order to achieve justice. Ah Toy's regular appearances in front of the judge to sue her clients for trying to deceive her show the way in which foreigners were discriminated by the society and the judicial system. At the same time it pointed out the tendency to entrust the judicial system with the resolution of legal matters, as she appealed to the court to do her justice in her relation with Norman as-sing. Indeed, Sucheng Chan points out that "from an early date the Chinese recognized the pivotal importance of courts and lawyers in the American system and saw how the courts could be used to frustrate the impulses of the Sinophobic white majority. They began to resort to the courts whenever their interests were threatened by hostile state or local legislation, and in this forum they accumulated a remarkable record. They succeeded, in fact, in voiding, over the course of time, many of the discriminatory measures that were enacted by California and its municipalities." Therefore the situation gradually improved and eventually evolved to the relatively peaceful conditions that exist to this day between the two distinct communities.

Prostitution was not uncommon, especially in the remote areas of the society and most often in "cultures where servitude had taken a toll (and) such women turned to prostitution at an early stage and entered the profession with few skills and only rudimentary education."at the same time, the opposite reality portrayed women as just illiterate housewives, taking care of the usual domestic activities with little regard for any additional interests. Levy's point-of-view differs from both images. On the one hand, she portrays Ah Toy as a powerful woman who, forced by the circumstances, adapts to the situation and manages to create a better and prosperous life for herself. On the other hand, she underlines the involvement of women through different means in the Gold Rush. In her attempt she draws the attention of the fact that the general image of the traditional miner " boots, red flannel shirt, slouch hat, a pick balanced on his shoulder, a gold pan dangling from his mule's pack" is not historically correct, as many women as well are representative for the period. Indeed, there are various accounts that place women in the center of efforts to reach California as they supported their husbands and even took the initiative to continue their struggle.

Overall, it can be concluded that Jo Ann Levy succeeded in creating a novel which makes use of both fictional and real events in the history of the Gold Rush in order to give an adequate account of the events that influenced the 19th century America. At the same time, due to her constant interest in underlining the important role women had in this part of history, she manages to draw the attention on the contribution of immigrant women and at the same time to destroy certain preconceptions related to prostitution and women in general that defined the era.

Bibliography

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Yong Chen. Chinese San Francisco, 1850-1943: A Trans-Pacific Community. (Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2000), 4.

Sucheng Chan. Entry Denied: Exclusion and the Chinese Community in America, 1882-1943. (Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 1991).

JoAnn Levy. "The Crucible Women on the Overland Journey." More tales from the mines. http://www.museumca.org/goldrush/ar09.html

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Anne Butler. Daughters of Joy, sisters of misery: prostitutes in the American West, 1865-90. (Illinois, University of Illinois Press, 1997), 157.

Claire Rudolf Murphy, and Jane G. Haigh. Gold Rush Women. (Portland, Alaska Northwest Books, 1997).

JoAnn Levy. "The Crucible Women on the Overland Journey." More tales from the mines. http://www.museumca.org/goldrush/ar09.html

Idem, Elizabeth Beckett, and Sarah Teel. Women in Alaska's history- Gold Rush. http://library.thinkquest.org/11313/Gold_Rush/index.html

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