(from Jewishdictionary.com (1905) The first Jew who arrived there was Elias David Sassoon, who, about the year 1850, opened a branch in connection with his father’s Bombay house. Since that period Jews have gradually migrated from India to Shanghai, most of them being engaged from Bombay as clerks by the firm of David Sassoon & Co. The community is composed mainly of Asiatic, German, and Russian Jews, though there are a few of Austrian, French, and Italian origin among them. Jews have undoubtedly taken a considerable part in developing trade in China, and several have served on the municipal councils, among them being S. A. Hardoon, partner in the firm of E. D. Sassoon & Co., who had served on the French and English councils at the same time. During the early days of Jewish settlement in Shanghai the trade in opium and Bombay cotton yarn was mainly in Jewish hands.

Opium was smuggled by merchants from British India into China in defiance of Chinese prohibition laws. Open warfare between Britain and China broke out in 1839. Further disputes over the treatment of British merchants in Chinese ports resulted in the Second Opium War. China was defeated in both wars leaving its government having to tolerate the opium trade. Britain forced the Chinese government into signing the Treaty of Nanking and the Treaty of Tianjin, also known as the Unequal Treaties, which included provisions for the opening of additional ports to unrestricted foreign trade, for fixed tariffs; for the recognition of both countries as equal in correspondence; and for the cession of Hong Kong to Britain


Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s fortune was inherited from his maternal grandfather Warren Delano. In 1830 he was a senior partner of Russell & Company. It was their merchant fleet which carried Sassoon’s opium to China and returned with tea. Warren Delano moved to Newburgh, N.Y. In 1851 his daughter Sara Married a well-born neighbor, James Roosevelt – the father of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He always knew the origin of the family fortune but refused to discuss it.

Jews commenced to settle in Singapore in 1840. For a number of years their services were held in a rented house near the business quarter, in a street since known as Synagogue street. About 1877 the community purchased ground in a more convenient situation and built on it the synagogue Maghain Aboth, which was consecrated April 4, 1878. It is attended by both Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews. The most prominent Jewish firms deal largely in opium, rice, and gunny-bags, and the business of most of the Ashkenazim consists chiefly in liquor-dealing, hotel-keeping, and the selling of furniture. The total population of Singapore is 160,000; this includes about 700 Jews, mostly Sephardic and Ashkenazic, the former having come from Bagdad and India, and the latter from Germany. J. N. E Read more: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=821&letter=S&search=opium#ixzz0j2nN1zvs

1839 Start of the Opium War between China and Great Britain.
1842 Treaty of Nanking, first “Unequal Treaty” after China met defeat in Opium War. Opened ports of Canton, Foochow, Amoy, Ningpo, and Shanghai to trade. China ceded Hong Kong to the British.
1848 James Marshall discovered gold at John Sutter’s sawmill on the American River at Coloma. This discovery triggered the California Gold Rush.
1850 Some 500 immigrants out of 57,787 arriving in California were Chinese.
California state legislature passed the first Foreign Miners’ Tax Law, levying a $20-per-month tax on each foreigner engaged in mining.
1851-1864 The T’aip’ing Rebellion. Insurgents seized control of the middle and lower Yangtze Basin. Millions of lives lost.
1852 Of the 11,794 Chinese living in California, only 7 were women.
Chinese immigration increased to 20,000 this year with most individuals proceeding to mining regions. This number decreased to under 8,000 annually during the next two decades.
Re-enactment of the Foreign Miners’ Tax Law aimed at controlling the Chinese and other immigrant populations in California.
1854 People v. Hall. California Supreme Court ruled that a white man charged with murder could not be convicted on the testimony of a Chinese witness.
Weaverville War of 1854 in California between the people of Sze Yup and Heung Shan. Also fighting at Chinese Camp between the Hakkas and Sam Yup People.
1860s The Six Chinese Companies called Tongs formed to represent and organize Chinese interests in San Francisco and California.
1862 Pacific Railroad Bill provided government aid to build transcontinental railroad.
1863 On January 3, the Central Pacific Railroad broke ground.
1865 Crocker hired first 50 Chinese men in response to white workers’ threatening a strike; within two years, 90 percent of the work force on the Central Pacific Railroad was Chinese.
1867 June 25, railroad strike: the Chinese laborers, without support of other workers, won concession over wages.
Workingmen’s Party of California founded in San Francisco. Denis Kearney acted as its president.
Four hundred men (associated with Workingmen’s Party) attacked Chinese in San Francisco.
1868 The Burlingame Treaty recognized the right of free immigration on the part of citizens of the United States and China.
Governor John Bigley delivered anti-Chinese speech; Lai Chun Chuen, Chinese merchants in San Francisco, issued pamphlet in response.
Twelve thousand Chinese working in construction of the railroad. Union Pacific joined the Central Pacific at Promontory Point, Utah, on May 10.
1870 By this time, 3,536 Chinese women had emigrated to California, 61 percent (2,157) listed as prostitutes.
Foreign Miners’ Tax represented 25 to 50 percent of all state revenue. Chinese constituted the largest racial group in the mines, 9,087 out of 36,339.
1870s Diversification of crops developed after railroad was completed. Chinese aided in cultivation techniques as well as harvest of these crops.
Record unemployment hit California.
Chinese involved in commercial fishing along the West Coast. In 1888, there were more than 2,000 Chinese in thirty camps, mostly along the San Francisco Bay and in the Monterey and San Diego areas.
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