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Fong See: Paved The Way For Chinese Americans

2493 words - 10 pages

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries Chinese men began to flock to America. Following stories of the untold wealth and riches that awaited them on the “Gold Mountain” and escaping the stagnant economic position they experienced in China, these sojourners made their way to the United States by any means possible. Often taking money from supportive family members promising them that upon their homecoming they would repay their debts and more with their newly acquired fortunes was the only way to realize their oversea dreams. These men would make the arduous journey by boat to an unfamiliar new land. Upon arriving to their new home it was not riches that they found but a welcome of hostility and conflict consisting of “prejudice, economic discrimination, political disenfranchisement, physical violence, immigration exclusion, social segregation, and incarceration.” Once in the cities where they were to live, these Chinese men were segregated to enclave communities, often known as “Chinatowns”. Despite the hostilities of the Caucasian majority population many people in these enclaves flourished, opening their own businesses and eventually bringing their families to live with them, or simply making new families. This is very similar to the life of Fong See in “On Gold Mountain”. When he came to find his father, he ended up finding an environment in which his natural entrepreneurial ability would let him realize the life of success many men came to find. Fong See’s experience on “Gold Mountain”, however, was different from the daily toil of the “coolie” labour class, as well as the Chinese merchant class of the time as he strived to live by Chinese custom in an untraditional setting. Fong See started and maintained a “city family”, he worked hard to realize the potential wealth of his new home and experienced the deep-seeded resentment, ignorance and racism of the native population just as all of his countrymen had.
However, his way was always slightly different and less traditional than his fellow Chinese Immigrants.
Fong See’s family life started off as a typical man in rural China before his journey to the “Gold Mountain”. He married a young Chinese wife directly before leaving to set ties in his hometown which would keep him coming back and supporting the village throughout his life. However, upon establishing his business he married a native-born white woman, Letticie. To the bulk of Chinese immigrants the “establishment of a family in America was impossible” due to stringent immigration laws concerning women. As a way to further distinguish Fong See from the greater immigrant masses, this time period saw very few intermarried couples due to anti-miscegenation laws in the United States. Parental roles in the See family were also slightly deviant from the Chinese norm used by many other immigrants. Fong See was of course the patriarchal leader of the family and was strict in the raising of his children, especially his...

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