The first recorded Chinese in North America arrived as sailors. They came as ‘men before the mast’ on Spanish galleons, as sailors to East Coast ports, and as shipbuilders to the Northwest Coast. China has a strong seafaring tradition, and in the 1700s, long before the California Gold Rush drew opportunists from all over the world, it was the sailors from China who made their way to the new country of America.
Thanks to interviewees Professor Jack Tchen of New York University and Bob Kennedy & the crew of the Lady Washington. Also thanks to Larry Wong for research information.