Sunday, March 20, 2011

Leland Stanford/Chinese Workers - Fact check

What is correct and what is incorrect in this social studies matching question?:

Leland Stanford –

Part owner of the Central Pacific Railroad praised Chinese worker and paid them less than white workers
Had them work the most dangerous tasks and longer hours
Established Stanford University

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Chinese and caucasian workers appear to have received about equal pay.

3/20/2011 12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Chinese workers on the Central Pacific Railroad were employed and paid by Charles Crocker, not by Leland Stanford.

3/20/2011 1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Had them work the most dangerous tasks" is grossly misleading, and not due to racisim. Laborers dealing with explosives probably were in more danger, but that job was equally open to Chinese and caucasian workers. The railroad's problem was in getting enough workers to take the jobs and stay on the job. In 1860's California, Chinese were willing in much larger numbers to take such jobs.

In one of the few documented accidents, the injured were not Chinese, and CPRR Superintendent James H. Strobridge [name misspelled in the following newspaper article] lost an eye:

Bloomer Cut accident – Placer Herald, April 16, 1864:
"Horrible accident – Yesterday on the deep cut of the of the Pacific Railroad, near town, some of the workmen under the superintendence of Mr. Trowbridge [sic] attempted to set off a blast containing about 50 pounds of powder. From some cause it failed, when Mr. T. [sic], and two of the hands, – a Portugese and a Frenchman – commenced using a crowbar or drill upon the hole, when the blast went off suddenly, mutilating them in a horrible manner, especially the Portugese who is not expected to recover; but Mr. Trobridge [sic] will, with probably the loss of his left eye. The Frenchman was cut in the chin and his lip slit; he was less hurt than the other two."

Also, the statement may be based on the likely mistaken notion that thousands were killed building the railroad, which appears to be incorrect.

3/20/2011 1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The statement about "longer hours" for Chinese does not seem to be correct either:

"With the exception of a few white men at the west end of tunnel No. 6, the laboring force was entirely composed of Chinamen, with white foremen-the laborers working usually in 3 shifts of 8 hours each, and the foremen in 2 shifts of 12 hours each."

3/20/2011 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leland Stanford did establish Leland Stanford Jr. University in memory of his son.

3/20/2011 2:14 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: kylewyatt@aol.com

Mostly surface truths taken out of context.

Leland Stanford was part owner of the Central Pacific Ry.

Stanford did praise the Chinese on many occasions – but also made statements against them at times (mostly in later years when he was a Senator) – all in the context of his times.

As was all so typical in numerous US examples, immigrant workers (in this case Chinese) were paid less cumulatively than non-immigrant workers. While dollar wages were roughly the same for comparable work, white workers received board, while Chinese workers had to provide purchase their own – consisting of typical Chinese food that was in fact much healthier than what the white workers received. At the same time, the Central Pacific claimed they hired all white workers willing and interested in working on the railroad – at the higher rate – and they probably did.

The Chinese started with plain laborer jobs, worked their way up to things like blasting. Based on accounts of blasting accidents, white foremen suffered as many or more deaths and injuries than their Chinese workers.

By all accounts, Chinese workers worked the same hours as white workers on the Central Pacific.

—Kyle Wyatt

3/21/2011 3:49 AM  

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