Seattle riot of 1886

Seattle riot of 1886

The Seattle riot of 1886 resulted from anti-Chinese sentiment, which was prevalent in the Western United States during the 19th century. The events culminated in March 1886 but the build up to the violence began in late summer 1885 as a result of a concerted effort by regional Knights of Labor leaders.

Build up

It was the Knights of Labor that led the organized movement against Chinese workers in Seattle." [ Lesson Fifteen: Industrialization, Class, and Race: Chinese and the Anti-Chinese Movement in the Late 19th-Century Northwest] ," History of Washington State & the Pacific Northwest, Center for Study of the Pacific Northwest, University of Washington. Retrieved 20 March 2007.] The Knights, in Washington Territory, were only loosely affiliated with the national organization. The chapter's organizer was Daniel Cronin, a 38-year-old carpenter who came to the Puget Sound area via California during the summer of 1885. Under Cronin's leadership the Washington Knights of Labor went from a loose-knit band of workers to an organized and militant "brotherhood." In September 1885 Cronin warned Seattle's workers that riot and bloodshed would follow during the winter if the Chinese were not removed. It was Cronin and the leadership of the Knights of Labor that planned for the systematic expulsion of Seattle's Chinese; the group organized a territorial anti-Chinese congress and declared that all Chinese must leave Seattle by November 1, 1885.Schwantes, Carlos A. " [ Protest in a Promised Land: Unemployment, Disinheritance, and the Origin of Labor Militancy in the Pacific Northwest, 1885-1886] ," (JSTOR), "The Western Historical Quarterly", Vol. 13, No. 4. (Oct., 1982), pp. 373-390. Retrieved 20 March, 2007.] After the formation of local coordinating committees Cronin stepped away from his post as Knights leader and left the Chinese expulsion, largely, to other individuals.


In March 1886, a mob rounded up Seattle's Chinese and took them to where ships were waiting to transport them away.Crowley, Walt. " [ Anti-Chinese Activism - Seattle] ," "The Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History", May 2, 1999. Retrieved 12 March, 2007.] The police made a futile attempt to protect the Chinese but the mob was insatiable and continued to riot accordingly. The governor of Washington, Watson Squire, ordered that the ship not be allowed to leave the dock. The next morning more than 350 Chinese gathered at the shore to await the next ship for San Francisco, due in six days. 200 of the Chinese embarked for San Francisco on the first ship, leaving some 150 others on shore, stranded.

When the Home Guards tried to get the throng of Chinese workers to return to their homes the crowd rioted and the deputies fired into the crowd, one person was killed and four others wounded. As a result of the riot, U.S. President Grover Cleveland and Squire declared martial law in the city."Tate, Cassandra. [ Voters elect Peoples Party candidate William H. Shoudy as mayor of the City of Seattle on July 12, 1886] ," "The Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History", 9 september, 2004. Retrieved 20 March 2007.] Ward, Andrew. " [ Seattle] ," "American Heritage Magazine," April 1994, Vol. 45, Issue 2. Retrieved 20 March, 2007.] Troops were ordered into the Puget Sound area from Fort Vancouver, a contingent stayed in Tacoma, where rioting had also occurred, and 350 moved on to Seattle to prevent further expulsion of the Chinese. The state militia and the federal troops eventually assisted in quelling the riot." [ The Seattle Mob] ", (PDF, "New York Times" (1857-Current file); February 9, 1886; pg. 4, ProQuest Historical Newspapers The "New York Times" (1851 - 2003). Retrieved 12 March 2007.] Eventually passions in Seattle cooled, as they did elsewhere, as most of the Chinese immigrants ended up departing by March 1886.

Congress paid $276,619.15 to the Chinese government in compensation for the rioting, but the actual victims never saw any such compensation.

ee also

*Anti-Chinese violence in Oregon
*Anti-Chinese violence in Washington
*Chinese Massacre Cove
*Rock Springs Massacre
*Issaquah riot of 1885
*Tacoma riot of 1885
*History of Seattle before 1900


External links

* [ Anti-Chinese Riot at Seattle] , "Harper’s Weekly", March 6, 1886, p. 155, including illustrations.
*George Kinnear "Anti-Chinese Riots At Seattle, Wn., February 8th, 1876", originally published in the "Seattle Post-Intelligencer", January 1, 1911. .

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