Jerome Hart was publisher of the "Argonaut," the famed San Francisco weekly newspaper founded by Frank Pixley and Fred M. Somers. Pixley edited the newspaper until 1891 when Hart took over editorial responsibilities. Hart was about 23-years-old when the Workingman's Party of California was formed in 1877, and he began to chronicle the growth of the anti-Chinese movement in San Francisco.
by Jerome A. Hart
The result of the elections in 1879 was a triumph for three men Charles De Young, Denis Kearney, Isaac S. Kalloch here placed in the order of their importance. Both De Young and Kalloch had utilized Kearney, although probably both secretly regarded him with contempt. Both were far superior to him intellectually. But his unquestioned power over the masses made them follow him. Kalloch had to execute a flip- flap to follow Kearney, but he did not hesitate to do so. He was rewarded by Kearney with the Workingmen's nomination for mayor of San Francisco.
Charles De Young was not so docile. When the New Constitution was made the supreme law by the voters of California, De Young looked upon the victory as his work. If he once considered Kearney as a comrade, he had ceased to do so. There had been differences between them throughout the long struggle. So De Young declared open war on Kearney. And he soon extended his hostilities to Kearney's candidate, Kalloch.
Before the break between De Young and Kearney the "Chronicle's" star reporters had been detailed to report the Kearney meetings. After the break these meetings were ignored by the "Chronicle." Edward F. Cahill, a well-known newspaper writer of the period, was then employed on the "Chronicle." Later, in his "Candid Friend" papers, published in the "Call," he wrote that Charles De Young was so bitter against his whilom friend that he forbade the "Chronicle" reporters to attend the Kearney meetings, even in their off hours, under penalty of discharge.
The "Chronicle" was the only San Francisco daily that supported the New Constitution, which was also supported by the Workingmen's Party, although bitter dissensions had arisen. The "Chronicle" called its ticket the " New Constitution Party Ticket." Kearney in his speeches dubbed De Young and his associates "The Honorable Bilks." The election took place May 7, 1879. The New Constitution was carried by 10,820 majority in a total throughout California of 145,088 votes. It repealed all laws inconsistent with it on January 1, 1880, on which date it may be said to have gone fully into effect. However, it has always been called "The Constitution of 1879."
In San Francisco the new Constitution was defeated by 1592 votes out of a total of 38,034. It is, however, only fair to say that the "Chronicle" and the Workingmen's Party nearly carried it in San Francisco and did carry it in the State.
Kearney by this time had extended his influence beyond the confines of San Francisco. He had made speaking tours throughout the State, where he attracted large audiences. He seemed more influential in the cities and towns than in the rural districts, but even there he had a large following, particularly among the members of the National Grange. His quarrel with De Young, editor of a powerful daily, fixed the eyes of the people upon him. Interest began to be taken in the story of his rapid rise to power. It may be retold here.
Kearney in 1877 was thirty years old. He was born in Ireland and had been to sea in boyhood, reaching San Francisco as mate of a sailing vessel. Here he went into the draying business, and being sober and steady, married, and a father, he did well. But when he became a leader of the Workingmen's forces, and began his violent speeches, the business community grew cold toward him, and his draying business dwindled and decayed. Thereafter he probably was supported by the collections taken up at the meetings where he spoke. His oratorical career began rather oddly. Sunday meetings were then held in San Francisco at a so-called "lyceum," where all sorts of topics were discussed by aspiring orators. About that time much interest was taken, in the United States and England, in rifle-shooting. Creedmoor, the name of a rifle-range, was on every tongue. Kearney made his first hit by denouncing bitterly the volunteer riflemen who were, he said, "shooting at a painted board," in order to acquire facility to shoot down striking workmen. At that time there was fierce rivalry between the San Francisco "Call" and the San Francisco "Chronicle" for circulation and advertising. The "Call" led the other dailies in "small ads" classified advertising. The "Chronicle" wanted the lead. Both saw or thought they saw a chance to propitiate the working classes and win circulation and "small ads" by booming the Lyceum orators. There were several besides Denis Kearney, but he was soon seen to be the most successful orator. Both dailies sought his favor and printed his speeches prominently and in full. Kearney became the Rienzi of the working classes, with the rival dailies playing chorus to him. He soon concentrated on one issue, and concocted the slogan, "The Chinese Must Go!" With this he began and ended his speeches.
Kearney had great facility of speech; he was vigorous, declamatory, even epigrammatic. He excelled in denunciation; he talked much of lynching millionaires, burning rich men's palaces, of swimming in rivers of blood. He possessed great power over his audiences that is, those who agreed with him. He was not logical, and his arguments, so-called, were shallow, and probably would not impress cold, indifferent, or hostile hearers.
I not only heard him at his meetings on the Sand Lot and elsewhere, but on occasions had what might be called exclusive hearings. Stepping into [Frank] Pixley's office [at the "Argonaut"] one morning, I found him and Kearney engaged in what seemed to be a friendly chat. Like Mr. Pickwick, when he heard his counsel Sergeant Snubbin address familiarly Sergeant Buzfuz, Mrs. Bardell's counsel, at first I was filled with horror. However, I got used to it, for Kearney called on Pixley not infrequently, and they talked in what usually began as good-humored chaff, and frequently ended in semi-hostility. Both were extremely fluent; Kearney had a pronounced brogue; Pixley spoke pure American. When excited, they raised their voices, and it became a bellowing match. At this point Pixley always prevailed, for he could out-shout Kearney.
When these dialogues became loud I usually hastened in on some pretext, and greatly enjoyed them.
I think Kearney looked on Pixley as the chief defender of what Kearney dubbed "the thieving, scoundrelly rich," and therefore came to Pixley to get what reporters call "the inside dope" on how his speeches were affecting the terrified millionaires. Correspondingly, Pixley obtained from Kearney much more accurate information about the Workingmen's movements than could be secured by reading the daily newspapers.
Kalloch was not at first allied with Kearney. He was a sensational pulpiteer who arrived in San Francisco shortly before Kearney became popular. He seemed to have modeled his course largely on that of Henry Ward Beecher, with a tinge of De Witt Talmage, another pulpit orator of that day. Like Beecher, Kalloch devoted much attention to politics.
When Kalloch came to San Francisco there were vague stories of his having been mixed up in some woman scandal in an Eastern city. But he made a hit as an orator; the California Baptists were extremely proud of him, and the stories died down. He attracted such large audiences that no Baptist church could hold them all. Kalloch made a trip to Los Angeles, where he so interested a non-Baptist one Isaac Lankershim that the Los Angeles man erected for him on Fifth Street (near Market Street) in San Francisco, a building which was called Metropolitan Temple. It was quite an addition to the city's few auditoriums at that time. Although built of wood, it was commodious and handsome; it had what in theatres is called an orchestra; over this was a horse-shoe balcony; the hall was comfortable, and all could see and hear. Here Kalloch lectured or preached to audiences filling the auditorium. Instead of taking up a collection, a dime was charged for entrance. Sunday evening was the most crowded time, although Kalloch used this hall to reach his public on any occasion that suited him.
The Sunday evening addresses were supposed to be sermons on religious topics, but Kalloch always began with a "prelude" devoted to non- religious topics. These preludes became more and more political as Kalloch grew to realize his power. His audiences listened to them with bated breath. There was a distinct let-up when the prelude ended, and the pulpit orator turned preacher. The audiences then lost something of their tenseness.
I have said that Kalloch was not at first allied with Kearney. When Kalloch began his political preludes he was at first critical of Kearney. I remember distinctly that during the year 1876 he printed articles in his organ, the Baptist "Evangel," denouncing Kearney. At that time I was acquainted with Kalloch, and familiar with his journal. He often in his paper spoke highly of the Chinese as house-servants and laborers. He often denounced the Kearneyite leaders as "demagogues," and their followers as "anarchists." He once went so far as to advocate suppressing the anti- Chinese movement with "bayonets and Gatling guns."
The Workingmen split into two wings before the election of 1879, the Kearney wing being the more powerful. Then when Kearney made overtures to him to run for Mayor of San Francisco, Kalloch saw a great light, like Saul of Tarsus. In his Sunday evening "preludes" he ceased to denounce Kearney, and began supporting him. He ceased to praise the Chinese, and lifted up his voice in the Kearney slogan, "The Chinese Must Go."
Even before the New Constitution had been carried, the "Chronicle" had split off from the Kearneyites, who had become a kind of communistic wing of the Workingmen's Party. After the New Constitution election the breach became wider. Charles De Young, in the bitter editorials which followed, attacked, in his journal, Kalloch, who had been chosen by the Kearney party as their candidate for Mayor. One day, toward the end of the municipal campaign, De Young printed in the "Chronicle" several pages of scandalous matter concerning Kalloch's private life in the Eastern city whence the clergyman had come. On August 22, 1879, Kalloch announced that he would reply that evening at the Metropolitan Temple, and the city buzzed with excitement. I heard Kalloch's speech; it was a bitter denunciation of Charles De Young and his family. It was inexcusable unjustifiable; but so was Charles De Young's attack. The following day (August 23, 1879) De Young drove in a carriage to the Metropolitan Temple, where Kalloch had his "study," and sent in a messenger to Kalloch, telling him that someone outside wanted to see him. It was rumored at the time that the messages was "a lady wanted to see him." This was likely true, for Kalloch would probably not have come out into the street to see an unnamed man in a carriage during that bitter campaign; the "lady" message probably lulled his suspicions. When Kalloch neared the carriage De Young fired, wounding Kalloch severely. A mob gathered, from which De Young was rescued with some difficulty, and taken to jail. For several days the authorities feared trouble, and the police were on special duty awaiting a possible riot call.
Kalloch was at once shut up by his political managers in his "study" at Metropolitan Temple, declared incommunicado, and the only information given out was that his wound was very serious. The Kalloch managers declared that there was danger of further attack upon him by assassins. Therefore they did not remove him to his home, but kept him bed in his "study" at the Metropolitan Temple. They disclosed that there were two bullets in his body, and that his condition was alarming. They erected barricades around the Temple, and covered the streets at Fifth and Market with tanbark. A guard of irregular militia patrolled the neighborhood with fixed bayonets. A similar guard was allowed within the precincts of the City Hall prison, where De Young was confined, on the pretext that "the assassin might be rescued."
All of these usurpations of power were permitted by the city authorities. They had their effect politically. Sympathy and excitement convulsed the city. A fortnight passed, with only gloomy news continuing to come from Kalloch's chamber. The election took place September 3, 1879. Many voted for Kalloch out of sympathy. When the ballots were counted it was found that Kalloch was elected; he had received 20,069 votes, as against 19,550 votes for the Republican nominee, B. P. Flint.
When the result of the election was declared, Kalloch speedily recovered.
After Kalloch had been elected Mayor the "Chronicle" continued its assaults upon him. As a result, the quarrel was taken up by the new mayor's son. On April 3, 1880, Isaac M. Kalloch obtained admission to Charles De Young's office, then at the corner of Bush and Kearny Streets, where he shot him, inflicting a fatal wound.
On that night it so happened that I was on the Bay with a large party of friends. My sister, Mrs. Joseph Austin (then drama critic of the "Argonaut"), had just returned from a trip to Japan. When her steamer, the City of Peking, entered the harbor, a case of small-pox was discovered among the Chinese crew. The Peking was placed in quarantine, and anchored far out in the harbor. As the passengers found their confinement irksome, a party of us, led by her husband, secured a steamer, and paid them a visit. We had with us an orchestra, and the chorus of the Bohemian Club, to which most of the party belonged.
We took some fireworks and a number of cases of champagne. We did not, of course, board the Peking, but serenaded the imprisoned ship's company, and asked them to "throw out a line." By this we got our champagne cases aboard without violating the quarantine regulations. Songs were sung from both sides, and toasts were pledged by the imprisoned and the free.
Suddenly out of the dark appeared a boat from shore; its solitary occupant had rowed all the way out about two miles to tell us "Charles De Young had been killed by young Kalloch." This exciting news broke up the party, and we returned to the shore. Charles Warren Stoddard was one of our party, and he at the time was a writer for the "Chronicle" and a friend of Charles De Young. Most of the Peking passengers were booked through to the East or to Europe, and were not San Franciscans. The names of De Young and Kalloch were unknown to them. They were surprised that we should break up our party and leave them for so trivial a matter as a murder, when they seemed to think was an every-day matter in San Francisco. Therefore the boatman's news did not excite them. I have never been able to understand the man's mental make-up. That he should pull a heavy boat several miles in order to give his gloomy news to a group of merry-makers has always seemed to me remarkable.
The proceedings against Charles De Young for the shooting of Isaac S. Kalloch, of course, ended with De Young's death.
Isaac M. Kalloch was indicted for the murder of Charles De Young. On the trial a witness testified that he had heard seven shot there being six chambers in Kalloch's pistol. H. E. Highton, Kalloch's attorney, dwelt on this, insisting that De Young had fired one shot at Kalloch. The jury found Kalloch not guilty.
Thereafter the witness who heard the seven shots was indicted for perjury, tried, and found guilty.
The sudden irruption of Kearney into California politics impressed Eastern editors and politicians with the belief that opposition to Chinese immigration originated with him. There was much sapient editorializing on the volatile nature of Californians; that they had been suddenly aroused by this Irish drayman to a belief in non-existent wrongs. So with the Eastern pulpiteers denunciation of California became a stock topic. These jeremiads were based on ignorance, for California had for many years been opposed to Chinese immigration. Kearney discovered no new issue; all he did was to capitalize an old issue in order to win over the discontented workingmen. In this he certainly succeeded.
A summary of the legislative measures concerning the Chinese will show
the early opposition in California to Chinese immigration, and the
indifference of Congress and the Eastern States to the Chinese problem of
the Pacific Coast:
The East did not understand the Pacific Coast attitude, which was not against the Chinese as a race, but against unrestricted Chinese immigration. It was the instinctive alarm of the white race against the swarming millions of Asia. When the danger of being overwhelmed by these laborers was removed, opposition to them on the Pacific Coast disappeared. The masses of the people had however sympathized with the outrageous attacks on the persons and property of the Chinese already here. These attacks had come from a very small minority of lawless persons. Even they soon ceased their hostility.
The complete change of attitude in California toward the Chinese is shown by the conditions following definite exclusion. All attempts at harassing the Chinese ceased. Their persons and property were respected.
The Chinese denizens in California in 1929 were prosperous and contented. They were well-housed, well-fed, well-clad. The American populace had ceased to regard the Chinese with dislike, hatred, contempt, or whatever their mental attitude was in the old Sand Lot days. The changed attitude of the populace was of course mainly due to the stoppage of Chinese immigration. But a part of the change was due to the fact that the populace was no longer fed on anti-Chinese propaganda. We all know how effective that weapon is; witness the long-drawn- out War of the Revolution, lacking proper propaganda, at times fizzled to a standstill; witness the indifference of the masses to the War of 1812, toward which war New England was practically hostile; witness also the failure to "fire the people's heart" in the Spanish War of 1898. Compare this with the speedy way in which the populace was worked up to wild hysteria when sedulously fed with elaborate propaganda during the [first] World War.
In 1929, the Chinese colony in San Francisco occupied a very different position from that of 1878. The native-born Chinese were voters. There was a group of Chinese " Sons of the Golden West." There was a large troop of Chinese Boy Scouts. The Community Chest was glad to accept the colony's contributions. The richer Chinese occupied modern apartments in their colony precincts. The flag of the Chinese Republic floated over their buildings beside the Stars and Stripes.
With the advent of the Chinese Republic even the older Chinese discarded the pigtail or cue, and other distinctly Chinese fashions, which long before had been tabooed by the Chinese youth. The young men wore clothes of the latest fashion made by the great advertising tailoring establishments of the United States. In 1929, the young Chinese girls wore square necks, knee- length skirts, and flesh-colored hose exactly like those worn by the Caucasian flappers; like them also, the Chinese maidens bobbed their hair, and used rouge and lip-stick.
At this same period the Y.M.C.A. had created a large building in San Francisco devoted to Chinese men. In the heart of the quarter, it presented the appearance of a handsome club-house. Through the wide windows one might see well-dressed Chinese youths reading, writing, playing the piano, playing pool, or conversing in groups seated in luxurious leather chairs. Around the corner was another building where the Y.W.C.A. provided for Chinese girls and women. The Catholic Church had a mission and school in a handsome corner building surmounted by a cross in electric lights.
On Washington Street in San Francisco a fine public school building called "The Oriental School" was devoted entirely to pupils of Asiatic parentage. It had fully equipped playgrounds in no respect inferior to those of the schools attended by the American children.
In addition to the day school, public night schools were maintained for Chinese employed in the playground. At St. Mary's, the Roman Catholic School, over 250 children attended daily. Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian missions also maintained schools attended by from 100 to 150 children each.
There was a large playground in the centre of the Chinese quarter, near the various schools and missions. This was frequented by all Chinese children who desired to use it, many being below the school age, and accompanied by their mothers the only adults admitted. In 1929, some 2000 children were served by this playground, about 500 at a time being its capacity. The children seem to prefer American games, such as baseball, basket- ball, and tennis, to Oriental games; for example, they are never seen playing shuttlecock, although on the streets in the Chinese quarter one often sees dignified elders keeping the shuttle-cock in the air with heels, knees, elbows, and hands. The boys in the playground in 1929 were directed by Oliver Chang, a Native Son, a graduate of the University of California, and an all-round athlete. His mother, Mrs. Chang, also a native Californian, had for years been associated with the Chinese department of the Y.W.C.A.
At the Chinese telephone exchange a mother and several daughters, all born in California, had for years served the quarter. At night there were male attendants. When the manager of this Exchange, Lew Sing, died, in 1926, his funeral pageant was an impressive one; it was a mixture of old and new customs; hired mourners, weeping and wailing, preceded handsome limousines carrying the afflicted family. Busy attendants cast into the air paper prayers to propitiate devils. At the head of the cortege marched a large band, made up of young Chinese, wearing gorgeous uniforms, and playing on brass instruments the Chopin Funeral March.
At the end of the procession came a great Chinese dragon, some fifty feet long, attended by another brand of band with gongs and drums, giving forth a barbaric clamor. Fire-crackers exploded along the route, to drive away devils. Thus, with a mixture of old and new funeral fashions, Lew Sing made his last journey through an American city where in 1877 such a display would have caused a riot.
In 1927, a Chinese widow erected in San Francisco a handsome steel- frame apartment house for Chinese tenants at Washington and Powell Streets, a quarter once inhabited by the American upper ten. It was the fruit of her savings, amassed in conducting a general store for eighteen years. The daily journals printed pictures of its interior and exterior. From these, one saw that the widow and her family inhabited the eighth or topmost floor, which was fitted up with the conveniences and luxuries found in modern apartment houses.
When the draft law for the World War went into effect, in 1917, long lines of Chinese might have been seen all over California waiting to register. Thus the great republic showed that it considered them as cannon fodder equal to its white sons, when it permitted them to die to make the world safe for democracy.
In Wyoming there are many Chinese employed as coal-miners. In that State then a territory there was an attack made on the Chinese by labor-union miners some fifty years ago. In this assault a number of Chinese were killed and many wounded. As a result, the United States paid an indemnity to China. Note the difference forty years later. In 1928, and for a number of years preceding, the Union Pacific Coal Company made it a custom to retire those of its Chinese miners who had reached the age of sixty-five, paying their transportation expenses to China, and settling on them an annuity which enabled them to live in comfort for the rest of their lives.
A San Francisco family had grown up, married, and settled in homes of their own. In the old house on San Jose Avenue the cook, Yuen Hong, remained as a sort of caretaker. He had been with the family for forty- four years; he had seen the children grow up, marry, and leave; he had still been there when the parents died. The estate came to be divided, and the family mansion, with other pieces of realty, was sold at auction. It was suddenly discovered that old Yuen Hong, nearing seventy, was about to lose his home. An amicable controversy ensued as to who should take him, and at last the eldest son assumed the charge. At his own request, Yuen Hong was sent back to his former home in China, with provision made for his maintenance in comfort.
A ten-year-old Chinese boy May Wok Him, called " Teddy" for short officiated as shoe-shiner in the detective department of the San Francisco Hall of Justice. Just before Christmas Teddy fell ill. The detective bureau was gravely concerned. Fortunately, Teddy recovered, and was brought from his home in an official motor car to the Hall of Justice. There he found the detective squad awaiting him with a large heap of his delayed Christmas presents. He was installed on a platform and told to make a speech. "I've shined all of your shoes," said Teddy, " and I know all of you. I like you all. I hope you all like me. I wish you a happy New Year." Which was not a bad speech, as speeches go. The delighted detectives escorted Teddy back to his home in the Chinese quarter, with his heap of Christmas presents, in the official motor car.
Fifty years after the Centennial year September, 1927 a convention of Chinese citizens was held in Fresno, California, the eleventh national biennial Convention of the "United Parlors of Native Sons of the Golden State and Chinese American Citizens' Alliance." The delegates numbered one hundred and fifty, and came from all over the United States, although mainly from the Pacific Coast, one-half from California. An official reception was given in their honor by the city officials of Fresno, headed by Mayor A. E. Sunderland. These affiliated organizations included 10,000 members, all native-born American citizens. Their national president, W. U. Lum, replying to the speeches of the Fresno officials, declared that their ideals were "fraternalism, loyalty to the United States, and education." The largest Eastern chapters of the order are in Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, and Detroit.
In 1927 James Rolph was making a vigorous campaign for re- election as mayor of San Francisco. Seated in an open motor car, beside Toy Kaye Lowe, President of the Chinese Improvement Association, Rolph headed a procession of twenty cars through the streets of the Chinese quarter. According to the "Chronicle," "Rolph, standing up, bare- headed, was kept busy in acknowledgment to the plaudits of hundreds lined along the sidewalks. The candidate addressed 1500 persons in the Great China theater on Jackson street. It was by far the biggest political meeting ever staged in Chinatown, and its enthusiasm matched its size."
On the same platform leaders of the Chinese colony appeared and in their own tongue lauded the Mayor and asked for his re-election.
"During my administration I have not forgotten that Chinatown is one of the important sections of our city," Mayor Rolph declared in his talk. He told of the part Chinese leaders had played in the life of San Francisco, and of his desire to see Chinatown "better lighted, with better streets and with ample playgrounds for the children."
"Young and old in the Chinese community were on hand to hear the Mayor and give him a hearty reception. Preceding the speech-making, a parade headed by the Cathay band, an organization made up largely of young American-born Chinese, traversed the streets of the Chinese district. Toy Kaye Lowe, Chan Jung, John Henry Wong, and others participated in arranging the mass-meeting and in the speech- making." Thus the "Chronicle."
Could the old labor leaders of fifty years before revisit the glimpses of the moon, and see a San Francisco mayor bare-headed, bowing low, soliciting the support of Chinese, they would fly back to their abode limbo, purgatory, Hades' heaven, or what you will disgusted with the planet Earth.