Chinese Americana San Francisco California/pigtail Law Book/china Rare 1st 1879
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Chinese Americana San Francisco California/pigtail Law Book/china Rare 1st 1879:
EXCEEDINGLY SCARCE, ORIGINAL 1879 EDITION OF "THE INVALIDITY OF THE 'QUEUE ORDINANCE' OF THE CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO." This important 19th century work was printed by J. L. Rice & Co., San Francisco. Historically significanttract chronicles discriminatory practices whichtargeted Chinese immigrants and featuresthe landmark case concerning an immigrant who sued the city and county of San Fransisco, California for unlawful discrimination. Precedent-setting case involved the "Queue Ordinance" [aka "Pigtail Ordinance"] requiring all Chinese who were arrested, for even minor offenses, to have their pigtail ["queue"] cut off. This caustic ordinance, capping a long-standing pattern of discriminatory practicesagainst Chinese immigrants, was overturned by a federal court and declared invalid. We could not locate another obtainable copy and toour knowledge all other known copies are institutionally held. "Among these regulatory measures was an ordinance, adopted in 1870, which prohibited the carrying of baskets suspended from or attached to poles borne across or upon the shoulders. It was in this manner that the Chinese laundrymen transported the soiled linen of all San Francisco. Several were arrested for violating this curious statute...Another law forbade the disinterment of bodies and was intended to prevent the Chinese from following their immemorial custom of shipping their dead to China for permanent burial. A third ordinance...levied a special tax of fifteen dollars a quarter upon every person employed in a Chinese laundry. Still another imposed a fine of from ten to fifty dollars upon 'any person found sleeping in a room containing less than five hundred cubic feet of space for each person.' This law made the slumbers of practically every Chinaman in San Francisco illegal. The final ordinance of this persecutory series, adopted by the Board of Supervisors on June 14, 1876, was aimed at the Chinaman's most cherished adornment - his pigtail. It provided that the hair of every male imprisoned in the county jail be 'cut or clipped to a uniform length of one inch from the scalp.' Soon after the passage of this statute the police arrested one Ho Ah Kow for violating the sleeping-ordinance, and Matthew Noonan, a keeper at the jail, immediately cut off his queue. Ah Kow promptly brought suit against Noonan and the Supervisors for the thousand dollars damages, alleging that the loss of his queue had exposed him to public contempt and ridicule and had irreparably injured him in the eyes of his countrymen. In 1879 the United States Circuit Court held that the queue ordinance was invalid, in that its provisions exceeded the powers of the Board of Supervisors. The claims of the victorious Ho Ah Kow were settled by the payment of a few hundred dollars, and the authorities molested no more pigtales, either in or out of prison. The Chinese retained their queues until the success of the revolt against the Manchu dynasty filled them with zeal for modernity and progress and impelled them to apply their own shears" [See: "The Barbary Coast: An Informal History of the San Francisco Underworld" by Herbert Asbury (1993), pp. 149-150]. "How Ah Kow had been convicted of violating the cubic-air law and sentenced to the city jail, where, pursuant to the city ordinance, the staff cut off his queue. Availing himself of a federal statute that allowed private persons to bring suit against state or local officials who had deprived them of rights secured by federal law, Ho Ah Kow filed an action against the sheriff in charge of the city jail, alleging that cutting off his queue violated violated rights guaranteed him by federal law and by treaty. He claimed it had caused him great mental anguish and asked for ten thousand dollars in compensation for his loss. Briefs were filed in the case by both sides and preliminary argument was heard, but the court, perhaps recognizing the explosiveness of the issues (this was a period of intense anti-Chinese agitation in San Francisco), was not too swift in rendering judgement. Indeed, it was not until the following June that an opinion was issued; it gave a resounding victory to the Chinese claimant. The opinion was authored by Justice Stephen Field (an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, but sitting here in his capacity as a circuit court judge). Field was no great friend to the Chinese - indeed, throughout his career he went out of his way to stress his belief in the inability of the Chinese to be assimilated and his hostility to their continued immigration - but he was offended by the pettiness and mean-spiritedness of much of the local legislation directed against them" [See: "Chinese Immigrants and American Law" edited by Charles McClain (1994), pp. 10-11]. Condition: Rare book remains in good condition [see images]. Volume bound in pamphlet format bearing original printed publisher's wraps; cover a bit fragile some some edge tearing and spine partly perished with tips fraying; outer swath of back cover lacking as shown, some mild toning, generally clean internally. Monograph numbers 43 pages and measures approx 9.25" tall x 6" wide x .25" thick. Quite a find and a very worthy acquisition indeed. Payment and Shipping: Please see our response and offer with confidence. Never a reserve and very low opening offer as always. 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