Program One - Segment One: Unsung Sailors

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.

The sailor was played by actor Jason Wong.

Produced by Sara Caswell Kolbet


See a slideshow of the Lady Washington and her crew.


Shasta Taiko - Flight - Track 1 off their album "Spirit Drum"

Further Internet Resources:


Cheng, Lucie and Edna Bonacich, eds.  Labor Immigration Under Capitalism: Asian Workers in the US Before World War II.  Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984.

Chinn, Thomas W., ed., H. Mark Lai and Philip P. Choy, asst. eds. A History of the Chinese in California. San Francisco, California: Chinese Historical Society of America, 1969.

James, Preston E. All Possible Worlds: A History of Geographical Ideas. New York: The Odyssey Press, 1972.

Levathes, Louise. When China Ruled the Seas: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne 1405-1433. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Nokes, J. Richard. Almost a Hero: The Voyages of John Meares, R.N., to China, Hawaii and the Northwest Coast. Pullman, Washington: Washington State University Press, 1998.

Schodt, Frederik L. Native American in the Land of the Shogun: Ranald MacDonald and the Opening of Japan. Berkeley, California: Stone Ridge Press, 2003.

Steiner, Stan. Fusang: The Chinese Who Built America. San Francisco: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1979.

Tchen, John Kuo Wei. New York Before Chinatown. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Temple, Robert.  The Genius of China: 2000 Years of Science, Discovery, and Invention. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986.

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. Japanese Castaways pamphlet. National Park Service, 2000


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