Tinkham Chapter XVII

Chapter XVII

THE CHINESE VS. KEARNEYISM.

In the Legislature of 1913 an event took place without a precedent in American history. William Jennings Bryan, the Secretary of State (April 28th), sat with the presiding officer in the Senate. During the session he spoke upon the Japanese question. He came direct from President Wilson at Washington to prevent, if possible, the enactment of an anti-alien land law (1).

It was the old, old question which has appeared in every party platform and been threshed out in many Legislatures since that time when Governor Bigler sounded the alarm against Mongolian immigration. At first the pioneers not only encouraged, but they petted the "little brown man," as they called him. In the Admission day celebration of 1850 they took part, and the "China boys" were one of the features of the procession.

In 1846 the Chinaman first made his appearance (2). In 1852 they began arriving in large numbers. Thousands of them went to the mines to dig gold. It was feared that they would get all of the nuggets. Then the Legislature began taxing the Chinese (3), but they continued mining. In San Francisco they opened restaurants and stores containing fine Chinese goods. The merchant was a novelty, his goods were also a navelty and the miners, investing thousands of dollars in China toys, silks, satins and various fancy articles, sent them by Adams Express to children, wives and sweethearts in the east. Two years later the cry went up against the Chinese and for a few years the immigration practically ceased (4).

From the organization of the state the mercantile interests had been desirous of opening up a trade with the Orient. They believed with John C. Calhoun that "a vast market will be created and a mighty impulse will be given to commerce" (5). Every Legislature had petitioned Congress to subsidize a line of steamers from San Francisco to China. Senator Cole introduced a bill into Congress which was passed, and the Oriental Steamship Company was organized. The steamer Colorado was especially fitted up for the initial voyage. She was advertised to sail January 1, 1866 (6). On the morning of her departure the hills were black with people and an immense crowd surged upon the wharf. Amid the cheers of thousands and salutes from Alcatraz and Yerba Buena islands the Colorado passed out the Golden Gate.

While the merchants and the capitalists were congratulating each other upon the great benefits to be derived from this enterprise, the middle and the poor class saw only misery and starvation for them. This enterprise would cause a large immigration of Chinese. This meant cheap labor and gloomy were the prospects. At this time a contractor was engaged in filling up the low lands now occupied by the railroad offices, Fourth and Townsend streets. Before the return of the Colorado he discharged his Irish laborers and he employed Chinese, paying them sixty-two and one-half cents a day, only one-half the former rate. This aroused bad blood and a party of nearly three hundred hoodlums attacked the Chinese with stones, bricks and clubs. The foreman of the gang was knocked senseless. The fifteen yellow men were beaten and badly bruised, the crowd shouting, "Kill them! kill them!" One Chinaman was killed. The Mongolians then fled and the toughs then set on fire the Chinese shanties, destroying them. "Now clean out the rope walks," they yelled, and running to Hunter's point, where another gang of Chinamen were employed, they fired the buildings. The Chinamen fled to the hills. Twelve of the rioters were imprisoned by Judge Rix.

The increasing hatred of the Chinese by the working men led to the organization of anti-coolie clubs. Their first meeting was held in San Francisco, February 20, 1867. It was addressed by Zachariah Montgomery. During this meeting the boycott movement was started. They resolved "that we will not patronize any person who will in any manner encourage or employ Chinese labor." A similar meeting was held in Sacramento February 26th and among the speakers was ex-Governor Bigler, father of the anti-Chinese movement. In the metropolis a second large meeting was held March 7th, which was very exciting. An effort was made to break it p, as the President, J. J. Ayers, introduced resolutions denouncing the Central Pacific. The company employed Chinese. He might have denounced with greater propriety the Oriental Steamship Company. They were the first corporation to hire Chinese labor (7).

The policy of the steamship company in hiring cheap Chinese labor was adopted by the capitalist and middle class. They began to employ them as cooks and house servants, and before the condition of affairs was generally known the Chinamen had crowded out of employment hundreds of white men and girls.

The manufacturers of San Francisco, finding "John" a good imitator and keen to learn a trade, thought it a bright idea to teach him to make cigars, clothing, boots and shoes, etc. As soon as he had mastered the trade he began business on his own account. He could sell the same class of goods much cheaper than his former employer, and the white merchant lost trade. The poor crowded from work by the Chinese now began purchasing Chinese-made goods. Then capital and labor adopted the same slogan. "The Chinese must go," and both demanded legislative and congressional action.

Anti-coolie clubs were now organized to stop, if possible, the sale of Chinese-made goods. Each member was pledged to neither patronize a Chinaman nor buy of those merchants who sold Chinese-made goods. Then the union adopted a stamp, "white man goods," and all white manufactured clothing was supposed to bear the union stamp. The stamped goods were higher in price. Many dealers refused to handle union stock. Then the unions adopted the boycott system. Men paraded in front of the stubborn merchant's door bearing a placard "all honorable men boycott this man." The merchant, protesting, had the parader arrested. The Supreme Court declared it contrary to all civil law in a free government to compel any merchant to deal with certain parties only.

At least seven-eighths of the Chinese population of the state lived in San Francisco and as they encroached rapidly upon the trades, efforts were made to drive them out by prohibitory ordinances (8). The Supreme Court, however, declared them unconstitutional. One plan would have been effective, to refuse them all work and patronize none but white men. But it was then learned that it was almost impossible to get along without them. They had displaced unskilled white labor and now the white labor refused to perform the menial work of the Chinese. They had created new industries, laundry work and vegetable peddling from door to door. They worked cheaply and sold at small profits. The whites would not undertake the work.

The Chinese, notwithstanding their industrious habits, peaceful dispositions and frugal manners, have been a moral leper upon the body politic. They introduced the habit of opium smoking, to which thousands of whites became slaves and human wrecks. They brought filth and disease. They crowded out the young man and woman from the unskilled work of the manufactory and home, and finally the young became impressed with the idea that such work was degrading. A common expression was, when asked to do certain menial work, "Do you take me for a Chinaman?" As a result, hundreds of young men became what was then known as "hoodlums."

The year 1877 was a hard year. Money was scarce and all kinds of business slow and lifeless. There was much suffering in San Francisco, and the labor agitators attributed the cause to the presence of the Chinese, corporations and monopolies. The twenty-one labor unions then in existence in the bay city began a crusade. Among other demands, they demanded the expulsion of the Mongolian, the reduction of labor to eight hours a day, the increase of wges, and the limitation of apprentices in foundry and shop. They imported from the east a noted labor agitator named James de Arcy, and July 23rd nearly 6,000 men assembled upon the "sand lot" (9) to listen to De Arcy upon the labor question. At the close of his speech resolutions were passed denouncing in fiery language the "granting of subsidies and the grabbing of public lands." They regretted also "the use of force and riotous incendiary action but * * * all other resources failing, physical force and resolutions are not only justifiable but patriotic and commendable."

Much to their surprise, perhaps, the band of hoodlums immediately put the agitator's resolutions into practice. Running down the street they cried, "On to Chinatown." They stoned Chinamen as they ran, smashed the doors and windows of Chinese wash houses, and setting fire to one building, it was destroyed, as the toughs cut the fire hose as fast as laid.

The following day, as a few hundred hoodlums had threatened to bury the city, the people of San Francisco were very much excited. The mayor issued a proclamation against riotous conduct and Archbishop Alemany published a caution (10). No disturbance occurred on that day. On the evening of the 25th, however, an immense mob gathered at the corner of Fifth and Mission streets; a large extra police force had been swarn in, but they were unable to disperse the crowd. Finally, 200 rioters breaking away started for the woolen mills, where Chinese were employed, threatening to burn it. They set fire to several wash houses. The mill, however, was protected by a strong guard. While these acts were in progress another laundry far distant was attacked by fifteen rioters. They fired several shots into the building. The inmates fled. The hoodlums then robbed and set fire to the house, burning to death a Chinaman.

Finally the citizens awoke from their slumber. A committee of "public safety" was organized. Their leader was Wm. T. Coleman, who was the leader of the vigilance committee of 1856. In his short and pointed speech to his men he said, "Use your clubs on the heads of your opponents." That evening while they were organizing into companies, word came in from Chief of Police Ellis for one hundred men. Immediately one hundred men under the command of H. A. Cobb, and armed with short clubs and pick handles, hurried to Beale street. A fire was there raging, started by the rioters. They expected it would spread across the street and destroy the dock of the Pacific Mail Company. In every manner possible the rioters had been obstructing the work of the firemen.

They cut the hose and from the high bluff threw stones at the fire workers. The Cobb brigade charged up the bluff and using freely their clubs routed the hoodlums. Again rallying, they shouted, "Charge the cops." During the skirmish several shots were fired. A police volunteer was shot and died the following day. Several of the rioters were arrested. Near Lotta's fountain their companions tried to release them. Again the pick handles and clubs were freely used. In their haste to excape the fugitives ran into saloons, and broke in doors and windows of private houses. For over an hour the fight was one; the rioters then had enough.

Any further disturbances would have been serious, as the authorities had concluded to have no more boys' play. The mob would have been saluted with ball and cartridge. On the third day (July 27th) in all of the newspapers the mayor warned all parents to keep their boys under age off the streets, "as more vigorous means will be employed to suppress riotous proceedings." All the armories were strongly guarded. Sentinels paced the streets, and no traveling along the street was permitted after 10 o'clock. The Pensacola and the Lancaster steamed from Mare island and anchored near the city front. Their sailors and marines could be landed at short notice. For the use of the committee 4,000 stand of arms had been brought from Benicia, and 6,000 men well armed would have met the rioters. The Chinese, the innocent cause of all the trouble, dared not venture on the streets. Their doors and windows were heavily barred and they had purchased large quantitied of arms and ammunition, ready to fight to the death if attacked. The preparations for war completely subdued the hoodlum class.

The hoodlums had had their day. There arose, however, in the fall of 1877 another apparently dangerous class. They shouted for social reforms and "Drive out the Chinese." Meetings were held upon the sand lot Sunday afternoons. The laboring class was then at leisure and at times from 5,000 to 10,000 persons would assemble and listen to and applaud the speeches of the incendiary agitators. The meetings wer first started by Dr. C. C. O'Donnell (11). He was, however, soon superceded in popular favor by the Irish teamster, Dennis Kearney (12). His speeches at times were infamous and calculated to incite anarchy (13). November 3rd, under the Gibbs act, passed by the supervisors to meet his case, he was arrested for using incendiary language. The political influence and power of the laboring men was strong; in a few days Kearney was given his liberty. In honor of Kearney's freedom, the working men Thanksgiving day held a monster parade. Every trade in San Francisco was represented. Over 7,000 mechanics, bearing emblems, banners, mottoes and hundreds of American flags, marched the streets. They broke rank at the sand lot and the demonstration ended with music, a poem and an oration.

Kearney continued his tirade against the city and county officials, not forgetting the Chinese. In the meeting of January 16, 1878, Kearney shouted, "Are you ready to march down to the wharf and stop the leperous Chinese from landing?" With a yell his auditors shouted, "Yes." The next day Kearney was arrested. At this time several of the clubs had been engaged in military drills. One company of eighty men was well armed. The authorities, anticipating trouble over Kearney's imprisonment, called out the National Guard. Two warships about the same time anchored off the water front. Kearney had threatened to blow up the Pacific Mail steamers' dock if any more Chinese were landed.

The Legislature was then in session at Sacramento and the San Francisco supervisors, in secret sessions, appointed a committee to visit the capital and seek protection. As a result the Legislature, under a suspension of rules, immediately passed the "Murphy riot act," which prohibited the gathering of doubtful assemblies or the delivering of incendiary speeches. Kearney was tried by jury and acquitted. Then he invited the Legislature to come to San Francisco and hear him speak. A joint committee was appointed from both houses and they visited San Francisco. They attended the meeting of February 2nd. The assembly was as quiet and orderly as at church service and Kearney's speech was as free from slander as a minister's sermon. That committee, with political aspirations in view, reported to the Legislature that the working men had not committed any overt act, the passage of the riot act was ill timed and should be repealed, and that the police had used unwarranted roughness in dispersing meetings.

The flip-flop of the San Francisco Chronicle (14) at this time was quite amusing. Charles de Young, the managing editor of the Chronicle seemed to have been impressed with the idea that it was his mission to give the state a new constitution. As the Republicans failed to enthuse over his idea, he deserted the party and tried to enter the Democratic fold. They had no use for him or his "harlot newspaper," as one delegate called it, and De Young then turned to the working men. They accepted his services, but they refused to desert their leader, Kearney, or permit the Chronicle to dictate their policy. This angered De Young. Again changing his colors, he began his abuse of Kearney.

At this time a San Francisco Baptist minister named Isaac C. Kalloch began attracting considerable attention, not only by reason of his ability as a speaker, but because of his views regarding the working men (15). From his preludes the working men soon learned that in the Baptist divine they had an able friend and advocate, one who would not decline a seat in the United States Senate. There he would champion the cause of the poor. Learning that as a stepping stone to that high office Kalloch would accept the nomination of mayor of San Francisco, June 7, 1879, the working men unanimously nominated him for mayor. The Chronicle now began firing its vitriolic poison upon Kalloch. They endeavored by persuasion, intimidation and threats to compel him to decline the nomination. Finally De Young sent an agent to demand the pastor's non-acceptance. Kalloch refused to surrender. The agent then informed the pastor that De Young "had the ammunition in the pigeon hole of the Chronicle office to destroy him, both as a politician and as a preacher" (16). Kalloch sent his compliments to Mr. De Young and told him "to go to hell." The following day the Chronicle began a series of the most abusive tirades ever seen in print. Kalloch paid no attention to them until an editorial appeared reflecting upon the honor of his deceased father. It was a cowardly calumny, written for the express purpose of arousing kalloch. De Young had finally succeeded in his object. It aroused the lion-like wrath of the pastor and in his memorable speech August 23, 1879, he most unmercifully scored the Chronicle proprietors (17).

Smarting under the minister's rebuke, Charles de Young resolved to kill Kalloch. The day of duelling was passed, so he resorted to a more cowardly method of disposing of his antagonist. Armed with a large sized Colt's revolver, De Young rapidly rode to the temple in a closed coupe, a messenger boy by his side. Upon his arrival at the temple, side entrance, Kalloch was just leaving his study. De Young said to the boy, "Do you see that gentleman with a duster on? Tell him that a lady wishes to see him." The messenger obeyed. As Kalloch attempted to open the door of the coupe, De Young fired. The ball struck the pastor two inches below the heart. Kalloch staggered backward and the murderer, springing from his seat to the ground, again fired, shooting Kalloch through the thigh. De Young then attempted to enter the coupe and escape, but he was quickly seized by citizens. In the struggle the coupe was overturned. The newspaper proprietor was kicked and trampled by the angry crowd and finally rescued by a policeman and taken to jail (18). Kalloch, although pronounced mortally wounded, recovered and acceptably filled the office of mayor, to which he was elected while recovering from his wounds. Charles de Young remained in jail until September 1st, awaiting Kalloch's recovery. This ended that affair. The tragedy came later.

Charles de Young failing to kill Kalloch, still continued his newspaper tirades, until the beast and most conservative class began to think that patience might cease to be a virtue. Kalloch's son, then a young man of perhaps thirty years of age, silently stood the abuse heaped upon his father until he saw in circulation the sixty-page pamphlet, "The Life and History of Isaac M. Kalloch" (19). The mother of young Kalloch was also suffering under the terrible hounding of the Chronicle. Arming himself with a Colt's revolver about dark April 23, 1880, young Kalloch in passing the Chronicle building observed his victim in the office. Pushing back the swinging door, Kalloch entered and quickly fired three shots at De Young. He missed him every shot. De Young then ran behind the counter and stood over as if to get a weapon. Kalloch, then reaching across the counter, again fired. The ball entered De Young's mouth and brain, killing him instantly. Kalloch was at once arrested and taken to jail.

There now occurred one of the most disgraceful scenes ever witnessed in San Francisco, the brutish acts of a howling mob. A large crowd gathered and they began laughing loudly, talking and even hooting. And the policemen were even compelled to beat them back with their clubs in order to clear the way for the morgue wagon. As the body was placed in the wagon, the mob began to hoot, yell and cheer, and following on to the morgue they continued these disgraceful actions. So bitter was their hatred for the dead the crowd lost control of all decent nature. It caused the better class of citizens to blush with shame, for although De Young had his faults, he also had his virtues (20).

Kalloch, tried for the murder of Charles de Young, was defended by the pioneer criminal attorney, Henry E. Highton. The plea was self-defense. After considerable delay, a witness was found with "X-ray" sight. While passing the Chronicle office at the moment of the shooting, looking through French plate glass figured windows, he saw De Young fire the first shot. Kalloch was aquitted. But the witness Clemshaw was sent to state's prison for perjury.


  1. This law declared in effect that aliens ineligible to citizenship shall not hold land nor leases longer than one year. Bryan succeeded only in causing the Legislature to change the wording of the law. And they enacted and passed the law (May 3rd), which was signed by Governor Johnson, in effect that aliens ineligible to citizenship may not hold land.

  2. In that year they came as cooks on board merchant vessels. In 1848 on board the Bark Eagle two Chinamen and a Chinawoman arrived from Hongkong. In 1850, 787 Chinese arrived, this including two women, and in 1852, 4,000 immigrants landed at San Francisco. The pioneers believed that the entire population, 400,000,000 were coming. The agitation at that time, however, decreased the immigration until 1870.

  3. The counties in which the tax was collected received quite a revenue from that source. In fact, it saved them several times from bankruptcy. After a time they learned that the Chinese miner was a benefit. He was content with small earning. Working the ground considered worthless by the white men, he obtained gold which never would have been put in circulation.

  4. The Chinese immigration during these troublesome times was somewhat alarming, as it comprised men only. Very few Chinese women have ever come to California. Hence I compare the Chinese immigration with the voting or male population of 1860: Voters 119,868, Chinese 44,000; 1870, 120,101 - 49,310; 1880, 164,397 - 75,025.

  5. Speech in 1845 on the Oregon question.

  6. In honor of the occasion the merchants enjoyed a banquet New Year's eve in the Lick house. Governor Low presided, and in his speech he asked, "Who can foretell all the intimate results of commercial relations between these two countries (China and Japan) during the next ten, twenty or fifty years?"

  7. In January, 1867, discharging the white firemen on the Great Republic, they hired Chinese. Then the white sailors were "fired" and at lower wages John Chinaman became a sailor boy to plow the deep blue sea.

  8. One of the ordinances prohibited the Chinese laundrymen from carrying on business in wood structures. Another ordinance prohibited the Chinese laundrymen from continuing business after 10 o'clock at night. To save expense they worked day and night with two shifts of men. Another law compelled the laundrymen and begetable peddlers to pay an unreasonable license. Street rag pickers and Chinese vegetable peddlers were prohibited from walking upon the sidewalks with their baskets. Then they passed the "cubic air ordinance." Then followed an ordinance prohibiting the shipment of the bones of deceased Chinamen to China. As I have stated, all of these ordinances and many more not enumerated were declared unconstitutional. The prohibition of gambling and opium smoking stood the test of the Supreme Court.

  9. This now historic spot was a large open space near the corner of Market and McAllister streets.

  10. Mayor Bryant published a proclamation declaring "any attempt to incite a riot will be crushed, as the law is supreme and must be maintained at all hazards." Archbishop Alemany published a caution to the faithful, say to all persons, Catholics in particular, "injuries are often hard to bear, but to seek redress by joining the wild fury of the rioters is most criminal, for the remedy lies not in the wild track of anarchy."

  11. Dr. C. C. O'Donnell was one of the disreputable physicians of San Francisco. Seeking notoriety and office, he shouted "the Chinese must go." Running on an independent ticket for Mayor, he declared that if elected he would run the Chinese out of San Francisco within twenty-four hours.

  12. Dennis Kearney was born in Ireland in 1847. He followed the sea as sailor boy and officer, and in 1867 he landed at San Francisco as first officer of the clipper ship Shooting Star. In 1870 he married. Two years later he engaged in the draying business and made big money. The merchants boycotted him after he became a sand lot orator and he was obliged to sell his business at a heavy loss. After the Chinese crusade he engaged in stock mining and became wealthy. In the '90's his uncle died and Dennis was left a fortune in Fresno property. Kearney's entrance into stock deals made a complete change in the man. Wells Drury said in 1899, describing him, "The canvas overalls and jumper had disappeared. Gone was the drayman's leather apron, fastened by copper rivets. Before me was the Dennis Kearney of today, the prosperous speculator in wheat, sugar and oil. His powerful hands are no longer knotted and clenched, but white and soft. The chin no longer protrudes, and the jaw has less of the appearance of aggressive prominence." "Watching the wheat game is harder work than excluding the Chinese," said Kearney. He died in Alameda April 29, 1907. His beautiful home was destroyed in the San Francisco fire.

  13. In one of his speeches Kearney declared San Francisco would meet with the fate of Moscow if the condition of the laboring classes was not changed. In his December speech he denounced the rich and declared that "Judge Lynch is the judge wanted by the working man. I advise you all to own a musket and a hundred rounds of ammunition." On one occasion in his tirade against the Legislature he shouted, "If the members ever step over the line of decency, then I say hemp, hemp, hemp, that is the battle cry of freedom."

  14. The De Young brothers, Charles, Michael H. and Gustavus, were born in San Francisco. they were newsboys and January 16, 1865, Charles de Young started a little four-page paper called the Dramatic Chronicle. In September, 1866, Mike de Young became a partner in the Chronicle. They soon had a large circulation, and in September, 1868, they began selling their newspaper by subscription at twelve and one-half cents a week. In 1890 the Chronicle proprietors erected the first steel building in California, at their present location in San Francisco, corner of Market and Kearney streets.

  15. The reverend gentleman arrived in San Francisco from Kansas early in the '70's to take charge of the Second and Fourth Baptist Consolidated churches. A circular structure known as the Metropolitan temple was erected for him, and he drew each Sunday an immense audience, averaging an attendance of 5,000. He was a man of medium size, heavy built, florid complexion, sandy hair and whiskers. He had a loud, clear, pleasing tone of voice, and was eloquent and convincing in his remarks. It was his custom each Sunday evening in a prelude before his sermon to discuss the political questions of the day, both state and local. He swayed his audience at his will and ofttimes referred to events in very plain language.

  16. Charles de Young sent a special agent east to learn of Kalloch's licentious record in his younger days.

  17. During his speech he declared, "It is not necessary tonight * * * to discuss the defiled organ, the bawdy house breeding, the gutter snipe training of social pariahs who vainly struggle for the recognition which decent societies deny them, and who by a persistent and damnable system of blackmailing have built up a newspaper, which in its every issue is a moral volcano * * * to fill the surrounding atmosphere with poison. If the devil in hell has an organ on earth, it is the San Francisco Chronicle." Closing his speech, he left the hall and addressed another large crowd outside. He there referred to the slanderous attacks by "miscreants" upon his deceased father. He then described the lives of the two men and asserted that they were the sons "of a harlot." The words created a wild sensation. The crowd expected to see Kalloch killed by De Young, for he had so threatened.

  18. That afternoon the Kearneyites held a very excited meeting. One of the speakers declared, "It is not the Chinese now, we are after De Young's blood." Said another speaker, "The Chinese must go, and we demand that the De Youngs must go." "Hang them, hang them," cried the mob.

  19. This pamphlet claimed to give the life history of I. M. Kalloch, and it brought out in detail the adulterous acts of the pastor in his former homes in Massachusetts and Kansas. As it was known that De Young had sent an agent east to look up the minister's record, the sone believed him responsible for the publication of the book.

  20. Charles de Young was the head and brains of the Chronicle, and he placed it in the front rank of journalism. At heart he was a man generous and genial; and strong in his likes and dislikes, he was both feared and loved. A full sized marble statue erected by his brother now marks his grave in the I. O. O. F. cemetery.


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