News from 1885: Detention of Chinese passengers on Oceanic I


Mark Baber

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Dec 29, 2000
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MAB note: This series of articles---which starts off so innocuously---will
later become representative of the "welcome" Chinese immigrants received in
the Alta around this time.


Daily Alta California, San Francisco, 7 January 1885
Retrieved from the California Digital Newspaper Collection web site,
California Digital Newspaper Collection


Arrival of the China Steamer

---
The steamer Oceanic arrived yesterday afternoon, 23 days and 22 hours from
Hongkong and 14 days 22 hours from Yokahama, bringing 17 cabin, 11 European
and 193 Chinese steerage passengers; also 1,676 tons cargo, $82,352 in
treasure, and 27 packages United States mail matter. The following is a list
of the cabin passengers: Frank Cass, A. H. H. de Lorme, J. H. Hospar, D. W.
Reeves and wife, J. Knox Wright, Viscount Garmoyle, Lord D'Arcy Osborne,
Baron Von Zedwitz, J. C. F. Randolph, F. B. Washington, F. M. Fish and wife,
John A. Crawford, Carl Jones, Dan Farrell and J. C. Sullivan.

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Daily Alta California, San Francisco, 9 January 1885
Retrieved from the California Digital Newspaper Collection web site,
California Digital Newspaper Collection


He was Caught
---
A Mongolian named Chung Ah Man, who lately arrived on the steamship Oceanic,
was before Judge Hoffman yesterday on a writ of habeas corpus issued under
the Restriction Act. He was admitted to bail in the sum of $1,500 pending
his examination this morning.

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Daily Alta California, San Francisco, 10 January 1885
Retrieved from the California Digital Newspaper Collection web site,
California Digital Newspaper Collection


SCENES AT THE MAIL DOCK
----
Efforts of the Mongolians to Land a Cargo of Chinese Females

---
Any one who chooses to visit the steamship Oceanic, now lying in dock, can
witness a very curious sight. The Oceanic arrived a few days ago with
fifty-three Chinese women and twenty-two children on board. The women have
been brought for immoral purposes, and the children are for the most part
slave children. Only fifteen women have been allowed to land, and now every
nerve is being strained to land the rest. The Custom House officers keep
strict guard. No women are allowed to come on shore, and the greatest care
is taken in permitting Chinamen on board. All day yesterday one might see
Chinamen driving up to the steamship, some of them pretending to come and
look for baggage, others making vain excuses and endeavors to get an
opportunity of speaking to the women. There can be very little doubt that
there is an organized committee of Chinamen in this city who are resorting
to every device to land these women, who have no particle of a right to be
landed here, as they started from China with tickets for Victoria. Plans
have already been taken to land them, as seventeen petitions have been made
for a writ of habeas corpus in the District Court of the United States, and
excited men are seen coming down to the ship every hour of the day, and the
women participate in the excitement. The greatest regard for decency has
been observed on board, the men having been carefully separated from the
women. An interpreter remains on board all the time, and the women are
continually haggling with him. One woman who has a certificate wishes to
know whether she cannot land two children who have accompanied her. The ship
contains the greatest number of Chinese women ever brought at one time to
this city.

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Daily Alta California, San Francisco, 11 January 1885
Retrieved from the California Digital Newspaper Collection web site,
California Digital Newspaper Collection


THE CHINESE WOMEN LAND
---
The Steamer "Oceanic" Cleared of Its Female Load

---
A crowd of Chinamen, Customs officers and spectators stood wet and anxious
on the Pacific Mail Wharf yesterday in the drizzling rain. The occasion was
the departure of the City of Peking and the disposition of the Mongolian
females aboard the Oceanic. Along during the morning hours the scenes of the
previous day were repeated--hurried conferences between Surveyor's deputies,
O. and O. Company's officials and the Chinese Consular authorities, would-be
Chinese women visitors interested in the little game, hackmen and expressmen
itching for a finger in the transportation pie, and last, but not least,
shyster lawyers, whose harvest only pans out big when a good paying load of
coolies steam [sic] into port.

Jabbering, monkey-like Asiatics, in all their fantastical shaped and colored
clothes, strained every nerve and invented every known excuse to get aboard
the Oceanic, where the women were detained. The parties were not destined,
however, to be separated long, for at noon, through the shyster efforts, the
denouement came, and the entire batch of women and children sang another
version of "Victoria!'' as they passed down the gang-plank and off to the
Federal Court, all on the same old dodge---habeas corpus. It was a short and
of course expected cut to a roundabout entrance via Puget Sound, for Deputy
Surveyor Brown and his confreres have no idea that any of them will ever be
returned to the vessel. Some fifty or more were thus released, and in an
hour quiet was restored on that side of the wharf.

Per contra, in the opposite berth the Peking was preparing to leave. She had
aboard upward of 250 certified pigtails, but they made a small show on the
big steamer. The diminished exodus is accounted for by the Customs men to
the fact that, as many of the returning Chinese live inland from Hongkong,
they will not have time to reach their destinations, with the slow
facilities for traveling in the Empire, until too late for their New Year.

The Peking was off at 2 P. M., with many salutes to fair saloon passengers
and minus the doctor, who arrived after the vessel had cast off and had to
be sent aboard by the tug.

A visit to the Oceanic in the afternoon disclosed that only three Chinese
women and three children remained aboard, and those were in transit for
Panama. It was as complete a clearance as the celebrated wharf has seen in
many a day.

In the small room off the main saloon, Inspector Ciprico and Interpreter
McLean engaged in re-examining the Chinese crew, stewards and firemen, among
whom changes are made every trip, to see if all are entitled to land.

"I'm all worn out," exclaimed Ciprico. "What with the Peking and Oceanic in
port together, we have had about the biggest job in some time."

"Yes," chimed McLean, between his guttural questions in Chinese to the crew,
"my hand is tired enough making out descriptions. We don't want such a load
every day."

"The public cannot realize,'' resumed Ciprico, " how difficult and intricate
is all this matter of papers and landings that we have to pass upon. It's
only by long experience and keeping a library of points in one's head, that
we can make progress at all.

"One of the possible "little games'' was attempted late in the afternoon,
just as the above pair were finishing with the crew. One of the men, who had
been sick, applied to Ciprico for a pass to go up town to see a Chinese
doctor. As the ship's surgeon was his attendant on the voyage, the chief
officer interposed to prevent his excursion; but he was finally allowed to
go for a few hours, the Chinese boatswain being made responsible for him.

Nothing of consequence---contraband---was found aboard the Peking this trip
in port, strangely enough. New hiding-places for opium and silk have
probably been invented, as it is a violent presumption that the China ships
are ever [sic; should probably be "never"]entirely innocent. The women in
transit for Panama will be kept aboard the City of Sydney until the San Blas
departs.

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Mark Baber

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Dec 29, 2000
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MAB note: This ends this series of articles.

Daily Alta California, 13 January 1885
Retrieved from the California Digital Newspaper Collection web site,
California Digital Newspaper Collection


The "Oceanic" Chinese

---
All the Mongolians have been removed from the steamship Oceanic. Thirteen
men and nine women have left for Victoria, and thirty-eight have bean
transferred to the steamship Sydney, under guard, some of these going to
Panama, some to Honolulu. The rest of the men, numbering eighty-three, and
the women, numbering twenty-six, are out on writs of habeas corpus. In the
Circuit Court yesterday morning five cases were dismissed and one held under
advisement. The Custom House officers state that for the first time no
seizure has been made of any goods brought by the Chinese.

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