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 Hawaii Travel Guide by Kathie Fry

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Chinese Immigration to Hawaii

Information about the first Chinese immigrants in Hawaii including where they came from and why they moved to Hawaii.

1700's - Chinese Sailors Arrive
Two fur trading ships, the Iphegenia and the North West America, stopped in Hawaii in 1788 on their way from China to the northwest coast of the United States. The ship's 50 Chinese sailors and tradesmen remained in Hawaii for several months while their ship was refueling and waiting for the rough winter seas to calm. Another 45 Chinese sailors made a stop in Hawaii in 1789, and more Chinese sailors visited Hawaii on other ships, but throughout the 1700's there were few Chinese permanently living in Hawaii.

Mid 1800's - Chinese Plantation Workers Arrive
Hawaii's Chinese population increased significantly in the 1800's, when many contract workers from China arrived to work on Hawaii's sugar plantations. Two hundred Cantonese contract laborers from Amoy, Fukien, China arrive on January 3, 1852 on a ship called the Thetis and several ships followed bringing more labor from Chinese for Hawaii's sugar plantations, mostly from China's more impoverished southern provinces.

Late 1800's - Chinese Population in Hawaii
By the 1880's more then 25,000 Chinese immigrants (more then 20% of Hawaii's population) were working on Hawaii's sugar plantations. Most of them left the plantations when their five-year labor contracts expired to work as clerks or domestic servants or to form their own businesses. There were a growing anti-Chinese immigration movements in both California and Hawaii, the two U.S. areas with them most immigrant workers from China.

Hawaii and U.S. Chinese Exclusion Acts
By the late 1800's the Kingdom of Hawaii was growing concerned about Hawaii's declining Pacific Islander population. In 1883 they limited the number of Chinese immigrants to 600 in any consecutive 3 month period. Hawaii became a territory of the United States in July of 1898 and by the early 1900's the United States Chinese Exclusion Act, prohibiting immigration from China to the United States, had been extended to cover the new U.S. Territories of Hawaii and the Philippines and Chinese immigration to Hawaii came to a halt.

1943 Repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act
The exclusion acts remained in place until the 1940's when the United States could not risk continuing to offend the Chinese people because they needed China as an ally during World War II. Congress repealed the United States Chinese exclusion laws in 1943 and they established a quota of about 105 U.S. visas issued to Chinese citizens per year.

Chinese Culture in Hawaii Today
Where to find Chinese historic sites, tours, and Chinese cultural associations and events in Hawaii today plus information about Chinese restaurants, churches, markets, and merchant societies in Hawaii.

See also:
- Immigration to Hawaii by Ethnic Group
- Ethnic Groups in Hawaii

Related Links
About Hawaii
Islands of Hawaii
Hawaii for Visitors

Elsewhere on the Web
Pau Hana: Plantation Life and Labor in Hawaii
Chinese Immigration and U.S. Chinese Exclusion Acts
Repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act
Wikipedia Chinese Immigration to Hawaii Article

A NOTE FROM KATHIE: If you have any corrections or updates to the information on this page or if you would like us to add any information or links, please send a message to the email address on our contacts page.

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