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America's History in the Making

Resource Archive: Search Results

What Shall We Do with John Chinaman?

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Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, WHAT SHALL WE DO WITH JOHN CHINAMAN? (1869). Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Creator An unknown artist from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
Context Chinese immigrants were willing to work for lower wages than most other laborers, a fact that alarmed some people in the U.S. and encouraged others.
Audience The general U.S. public
Purpose Entertainment and to advocate a viewpoint

Historical Significance

The pair of cartoons shown here appeared in Frank Leslie's Illustrated in 1869, some twenty years after Chinese began immigrating in large numbers to the United States. By the late 1860s, many white members of the working class worried that Chinese immigrants were taking jobs away from them—or at least causing wages to fall. In the first picture, an Irish immigrant is shown above the caption: "What Pat Would Do with Him." In the second depiction a white Southerner is shown leading the Chinese man South above the caption: "What Will Be Done with Him." One cartoon emphasizes the dangers of cheap labor; the other the possibilities of it. In fact, few Chinese people settled in the South during the nineteenth century.

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