Between 1849, when gold was discovered in California, and 1882, about 300,000 Chinese emigrated to America. For many of them, America represented the golden land of opportunity. One of them was a man with the name of Xu. He said: "Talk about going to the land of the Flowery Flag made my face fill with happiness. With hard work pieces of gold were gathered together. Words of farewell were said to the parents, and my throat choked up. Parting from the wife, many tears flowed face to face."
In 1882, there were just over fifty million people in the United States, so 300,000 was a small part of the total. But that didn't matter to the haters. Angered that the Chinese were willing to work hard for very low wages, mobs attacked and killed Chinese people. And fearful of the Chinese for their dark skins and different customs, hoodlums burned Chinese homes and laundries . Even children participated in the violence. Novelist Bret Harte wrote an obituary for a Chinese man named Wan Lee: "Dead, my revered friends, dead. Stoned to death in the streets of San Francisco, in the year of grace 1869, by a mob of half grown boys and Christian school children ."
In the 1870s the Workingmen's Party demanded a law to end Chinese immigration. Congressmen in the East, needing political support from Californians, helped pass that law. In 1882, American racists got the Chinese Exclusion Act passed . It stopped most Chinese immigration into the United States. Hardly anyone cared that the Chinese had built railroads, dug mines, and labored on farms, and even brought an opera on tour.