On this dayFeb 25, 1886

White Idaho Residents Organize Anti-Chinese Convention

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During the second half of the 19th century, an increase in mining activity and railroad construction led to a massive influx of Chinese immigrants into Washington Territory, which later became the State of Idaho. By 1870, Idaho was home to more than 4,000 Chinese residents, and they comprised nearly 30% of the population. “Chinatowns” existed in many Idaho cities, and the new immigrants formed thriving communities.

Chinese immigrants in Idaho faced severe hostility, which manifested in discriminatory statutes, disparate treatment in courts, and even violence. In 1866, the Idaho Territorial Legislature levied a tax of $5 per month on all Chinese residents. Chinese residents were not permitted to testify against white people in court, and acts of violence committed against the Chinese were rarely investigated or punished. Idaho public sentiment against the Chinese culminated in an anti-Chinese convention organized in Boise on February 25, 1886. At the convention, white residents of Idaho voted to expel Chinese citizens.

In the decades following, white Idaho residents undertook a campaign of violent removal of Idaho’s Chinese population. Mobs frequently destroyed Chinese homes and businesses, and in 1887, a white mob murdered 31 Chinese miners in the Hell’s Canyon Massacre.

During the 1890s and 1900s, a number of towns including Bonners Ferry, Clark Fork, Hoodoo, Moscow, and Twin Falls forcibly expelled their Chinese residents. By 1910, Idaho’s once-thriving Chinese population had nearly disappeared.

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