Anti-Chinese violence in the American northwest : from community politics to international diplomacy, 1885-1888
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This dissertation examines two interrelated historical processes. First, it analyzes the reciprocal influences of politically-motivated representations of events and concrete action. Beginning with the expulsion of Chinese from Rock Springs, Wyoming Territory, local, national, and international commentators advanced their social and political agendas through their justifications and criticisms of the event. This original commentary directly influenced both the manner in which subsequent expulsions were carried out and how they were commented upon. Second, the dissertation analyzes the connections between local, national, and international conflict. The expulsions prompted nation-wide debate over the nature of American society and identity, and criticism and praise from outside the Northwest shaped the rhetoric and behavior both of community leaders advocating expulsion and the federal government. At the international level, Chinese diplomats pressured U. S. officials to suppress these outbreaks of violence against their fellow citizens, and they thereby affected the local dynamics of Chinese removal. At the same time, the expulsions led to diplomatic negotiations regarding indemnification for damages and changes in treaty relations to address the problems of anti-Chinese violence. These diplomatic actions in turn induced debates in Congress and in the press regarding the proper reaction to such demands. The dissertation further places the violence against Chinese in an international context, as it examines similar agitation against Chinese immigrants throughout the Pacific Rim.