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Story of Successful Chinese-American Man, First China-American businessman?
RheeSan21
post Feb 22 2012, 04:11 PM
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So, to try and make happier topic after my last one (about Mongol Nazis) I decide to bring my friends here a story of one of earliest successful Chinese man in America, which I am read about in some of my spare time.

This man was named Wah Lee. During famous Gold Rush in California (which begin in 1849) many thousand of Chinese man was coming to America to look for wealthy life. Unfortunately, many racist law and anger from locals make it dificult for many of them. However, one man, Mr. Lee, was meet success very early on in history.

Quote from a history website:
"In 1851, Wah Lee opened the first Chinese hand laundry in the United States. His small, leased storefront in San Francisco had a simple sign: “Wash’ng and Iron’ng.” Within a few weeks, the business had expanded to twenty washermen working three shifts daily. A laundry was an ideal business for Chinese immigrants, since it required no special skills or venture capital, and Euro-American men considered it undesirable work. Typically, laundry work required long days of exhausting manual labor over kettles of boiling water and hand irons heated on stoves. By the 1870’s, Chinese laundries were operating in all towns with Chinese populations."

According to book I read about American west:
"There were few laundresses in the gold camps, and the wealthiest San Franciscans were said to be sending their best shirts all the way to Hong Kong and Honolulu to have them washed and ironed for rates that ran as high as twelve dollars a dozen. Wah Lee charged just five - and made himself a rich man."

So, apparently this Wah Lee was able to build massive successful business in gold camps near San Francisco, which was give work to dozens of his fellow immigrant. Not only this, but he end up like 1850s millionaire, and start huge fashion of Chinese immigrant trying to open laundry business all across America, some of which was probably also very successful.

I don't know if anyone else is interest, but I was just finding this story to be very fascinating. Is yet another great example of how smart businessman can make himself lucky even in middle of culture which hates him and view him as inferior.
Anyone else know any story like this?

This post has been edited by RheeSan21: Feb 22 2012, 04:12 PM
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Boron
post Feb 22 2012, 05:16 PM
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Americans have some ideas about what is high class and low class. But Chinese showed them you can bring your heart to "low class work" and make profit and honor.
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Hugham
post Feb 22 2012, 08:34 PM
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From all I know the good democratic US of A is a racist discrimination country.

More likely the fear of hardworking Chinese immigrant to became successful in US, like Wah Lee.

Lead into the passed a discrimination law to forbid Chinese immigrant to do business in US in and opportunity to pursue higher education.

QUOTE
Anti-Chinese USA—Racism & Discrimination from the Onset
© Zak Keith, 2009
The negative focus of this article

While the slavery of Africans and the genocide of Native Americans is a familiar topic to many, what the Chinese in America endured remains an unfamiliar subject to most. Severe acts of discrimination and racism—pogroms, massacres, mass expulsions and near-genocidal policies—were perpetrated against the Chinese, but the facts surrounding this “Chinese Chapter” in American history are all too often neglected or buried, and certainly not taught in standard school text books. Official mentions of the topic, if any, are anemic at best, and tend to emphasize the concessions granted the Chinese or the few reparative steps that the USA took, which as a rule came as too-little-too-late for many Chinese Americans.

..............................................

http://www.zakkeith.com/articles,blogs,for...ry-timeline.htm


This post has been edited by Hugham: Feb 22 2012, 08:36 PM
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CRYPT
post Feb 22 2012, 09:16 PM
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QUOTE (Hugham @ Feb 22 2012, 08:34 PM) *
From all I know the good democratic US of A is a racist discrimination country.

More likely the fear of hardworking Chinese immigrant to became successful in US, like Wah Lee.

Lead into the passed a discrimination law to forbid Chinese immigrant to do business in US in and opportunity to pursue higher education.


They fear potential of Chinese race. Look at Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, China. Even Chinese immigrants still succeed despite limited english skills.
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Boron
post Feb 24 2012, 03:12 PM
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QUOTE (Hugham @ Feb 22 2012, 09:34 PM) *
From all I know the good democratic US of A is a racist discrimination country.

More likely the fear of hardworking Chinese immigrant to became successful in US, like Wah Lee.

Lead into the passed a discrimination law to forbid Chinese immigrant to do business in US in and opportunity to pursue higher education.

They also don't mention the role of the Qing government to address this treatment. The guy that led the 洋务运动,李鸿章came to visit US in 1880's. At the time his Beiyang fleet was still sailing strong, and Li make some good impressions with US media.
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planxty
post May 31 2012, 11:13 AM
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QUOTE (RheeSan21 @ Feb 22 2012, 11:11 PM) *
...I decide to bring my friends here a story of one of earliest successful Chinese man in America, which I am read about in some of my spare time....
Anyone else know any story like this?

Here's another one.
Anna May Wong was an American actress of Chinese ethnicity, born to a laundryman and his wife in 1905 in Los Angeles California, USA. She went on to arguably become the first Asian film actress to gain worldwide fame. I admire her because she managed to carve out a successful film career in the USA, despite the discriminatory laws in force in the USA in the early 1900s. Strangely enough she doesn't appear to be that well known amongst Chinese people nowadays and is better known amongst Westerners.
From humble beginnings she rose to some considerable fame during her career as a silent (and later talkie) movie star in Hollywood and Europe. In a forty-year film career she appeared in almost 60 movies.
Her film career however, was marked by a constant battle for decent roles. Hollywood gave her work, but invariably the Asian characters she portrayed were negative stereotypes. This was most probably in part a reflection of discriminatory laws in force in the USA at the time. Firstly, anti-miscegenation laws actually prevented mixed-race couples from cohabiting and marrying, which might seem hard to believe in today's more enlightened times. California repealed this law in 1948, with several other states only following suit 20 years later or so at the end of the 1960s.
Secondly, there was the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act to consider, preventing further immigration of Chinese to America, which was not effectively repealed in America until 1965.
Nowadays Anna May Wong enjoys somewhat of a cult following, but is not as widely remembered as she perhaps deserves.
Here's a short photo-slideshow Youtube video of her:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gn5kbKoVqGk
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GarlicJr
post Jun 17 2012, 08:55 PM
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Wah Lee isn't an American. In order for one to be an American you have to be born in this country. This just goes to show you that American born Asians lack the drive, ambition, and spirit that foreign born Chinese and others Asians have.


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