Thursday, May 11, 2006

Print Satirizing Denis Kearney, the Leader of the Anti-Chinese Movement in San Francisco, c. 1877

Colored Print Satirizing the Leader of the Anti-Chinese Movement in San Francisco


[Chinese Immigration]:
[San Francisco]: Published by I.N. Choynski, Antiquarian, [ca. 1877]. Colored lithograph, 10 3/4 x 14 inches.

A rare print satirizing one of the leaders of the anti-Chinese movement in San Francisco. The image depicts Denis Kearney, president of the Workingmen's Party of California and a leading anti-Chinese agitator. The Working Man's Party resented Chinese workers' acceptance of lower wages, harsher conditions, and longer hours than most white workers. Kearney is shown in jail behind bars, with a ball and chain attached to his leg, wearing a striped uniform, and below a sign that reads: "House of Correction 181." He is taunted by six Chinese men who hold socks and a washboard, fish and crabs, and cigars, signifying some of the jobs being taken by Chinese laborers. The skewered fish carries the words "Black Friday." Kearney often capped his incendiary addresses with the slogan "The Chinese must go," and this print satirizes that phrase in its title, as well as giving a stereotyped "Chinese" pronunciation of Kearney's name. Kearney was arrested in late 1877 or early 1878 for violating a gag law, and was also implicated in fomenting a riot in July, 1877, which resulted in four deaths. Those events almost certainly occasioned this print.

This print most often appears in a tinted format, and occasionally uncolored. This copy is fully colored, and is the first such that we have seen. The print was published by I.N. Choynski, a San Francisco journalist and antiquarian bookseller. Choynski was the publisher of a muckraking journal called PUBLIC OPINION, which exposed anti-Semitism and political corruption. The Irish-born Kearney, an anti-immigrant rabble rouser, would have been a natural target for Choynski's barbs. From what we can find, this is the only such print published by Choynski. Not in Peters' CALIFORNIA ON STONE. We locate copies at the San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts, Stanford, UC Berkeley, the California Institute of Government Studies, the Library of Congress, the American Antiquarian Society, and the Newberry Library. OCLC 37123000. © William Reese Company. 5/23/2022

Colored Print Satirizing Denis Kearney, the Leader of the Anti-Chinese Movement in San Francisco

Courtesy of William Reese Company
Rare Books & Manuscripts
409 Temple Street
New Haven, CT 06511 USA
phone: 203-789-8081; fax: 203-865-7653