“Go, Going, Gone”: Anti-Chinese Sentiment in Washington Territory, 1885-1886

Naomi Eide, Providence College


Unwilling to conform to the pressure set forth by the national government, the citizens of Washington Territory, during 1885 and 1886, united to purge the region of the Chinese through a systematic ethnic cleansing of two major territorial cities. Motivated by the desire to become active members of the federal government, Territorial leaders ignored the negative effects of population exclusion and led an active movement rallying around the cry that “the Chinese must go.” Not until the lawlessness of the rioters shut down the territorial government, did the political agitators acknowledge how outsiders perceived their drastic actions, realizing that the anti-Chinese agitation negatively affected Washington’s government and further postponed their bid to become a state in the union.