Chinese-American miners pose for a photograph near Idaho Springs, Colorado.

Chinese-American miners pose for a photograph near Idaho Springs, Colorado.

Laborers work on the first transcontinental railroad in Nevada on May 10, 1868. Chinese-American laborers spaced and spiked the rails to the ties. (Library of Congress)

Laborers work on the first transcontinental railroad in Nevada on May 10, 1868. Chinese-American laborers spaced and spiked the rails to the ties. (Library of Congress)

A sketch of the Central Pacific Railroad in the Sierra Nevada Mountains by Joseph Becker

A sketch of the Central Pacific Railroad in the Sierra Nevada Mountains by Joseph Becker

Chinese miners in California

Chinese miners in California

Jesse Wang, 7, and Sammy Wang, 5, whose grandparents are originally from Hong Kong, hold hands with a street performer dressed as the Statue of Liberty during an immigration rally in New York’s Chinatown on April 10, 2006. (AP/Mary Altaffer)

Jesse Wang, 7, and Sammy Wang, 5, whose grandparents are originally from Hong Kong, hold hands with a street performer dressed as the Statue of Liberty during an immigration rally in New York’s Chinatown on April 10, 2006. (AP/Mary Altaffer)

E Pluribus Unum?

Posted: January 1, 2022

Shops. Restaurants. Hotels. Giant sequoia forests. Breathtaking views. Chinese immigrants helped make the Yosemite we know and love today. But for a long time, their hard work was erased from memory. Why? In 1882, the U.S. Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act. The law declared: No more Chinese people can come to the United States looking for work. Chinese immigrants didn’t enter the United States again for 60 years.

Why would the U.S. Congress pass such a law? Sadly, the reasons are unjust. Sometimes, people who act or look differently are treated with suspicion or even hatred. That happened to the Chinese. In 1882, jobs were scarce. Some laborers on the West Coast blamed Chinese workers for low wages. Some of them wanted “racial purity.” Government officials listened to their demands and outlawed Chinese immigration. (God made all peoples in His image. All are descended from the same ancestors. Because of this, people from every race and nation on Earth have dignity. God hates it when one people group assumes it is superior to another. In Jesus, all are made equal. See Galatians 3:28.)

Do you know your ancestry? The majority of Americans come from families that immigrated from another part of the world. Every people group brings unique gifts to America. Chinese immigrants brought incredible diligence. They worked hard. They even helped build the Transcontinental Railroad!

“E pluribus unum” is the traditional motto of the United States. The Latin words mean, “Out of many, one.” Many people groups have come together to make a strong nation. But the story of Chinese workers in the United States reminds us that this process—and the people involved in it—have been far from perfect.