The Chinese Demand Justice 1885

During a wave of anti-Chinese violence in 1885 and 1886, white residents of the Territory of Washington became determined to clear the town of Tacoma of Chinese. On November 3, 1885, a mob led by the mayor of Tacoma and reinforced by the Tacoma Police cleared Chinese shops and residences and marched their inhabitants to the railroad station.

Numerous similar events took place across the American West. Fueled by an economic crisis, hostility against the Chinese mounted. But the victims of these purges fought back, demanding the 14th Amendment rights that had been extended to Chinese immigrants through an 1868 treaty. They collectively filed 17 civil lawsuits against the United States Government, claiming $103,365 in damages. Their demands were ultimately met through congressional action.