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The tax was not uniformly collected and Chinese miners were frequently forced to pay more than they owed.
In 1855, the legislature passed another law titled “An Act to Discourage the Immigration to this State of Persons Who Cannot Become Citizens Thereof” levying a tax on the owner of a ship “for each passenger ineligible for naturalized citizenship.” As with the miner’s tax, the law, though not explicit, was drafted to curb Chinese immigration.
Management countered by threatening to hire Chinese worker to prevent the strike, yet hired Chinese workers anyway.
Despite initial misgivings over the Chinese being too delicate for the work, the initial crews of Chinese workers proved to be as hard working as whites and accepted less pay.
Chinese competed with whites for the limited gold and jobs, often willing to work for less than white workers.In addition, they were the only workers who were willing to assume the danger of handling explosives.On Cape Horn, a particularly notorious rock outcrop in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Colfax, California, workers were lowered down the cliff face in a wicker basket to drill holes in a solid granite wall and then stuff them with dynamite.As a result, the first immigrants were almost entirely men, the majority with wives in China, hoping to get rich within a few years and then return to their families.Contrary to popular belief at the time, the Chinese in America were not “coolies,” kidnapped men forced into slavery.
From that point on, the Central Pacific actively recruited Chinese workers, even printing handbills in Chinese and sending recruiters to China. Within two years, 12,000 Chinese worked for the Central Pacific Railroad, a number accounting for 90 percent of its workforce. Notwithstanding the demand for Chinese labor, they were mistreated.