Push/Pull Factors

1880-1914 Chinese Immigrants

The Chinese supplied labor for America's growing industry, which is a major pull factor. Chinese factory workers were important in California, especially during the Civil War. They worked in wool mills, and cigar, shoe, and garment industries; twenty-five occupations in all. Chinese were also the first to stake claims in California gold fields prompting many to relocate to the west. With the gold rush, the Chinese were prompted to exploit other western state resources, providing products of use to the American society. The Chinese began the era of railroad building. The Central Pacific Railroad Company employed about 15,000 Chinese to construct the Transcontinental Railroad.

First of all, they arrived in America looking to strike it rich with hopes of being to send money back to their poor families, or of returning to China after a few years with newly acquired wealth. Another reason is America served as a symbol of something higher than monetary prosperity. It represented the hope of freedom from intolerance based upon one's particular views. However, the most important reason for Chinese immigration was economic hardship due to the growing British dominance over China after Britain defeated China in the Opium War of 1839-1842.