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Latin American and French Miners Protest the Foreign Miner's Tax

French- and Spanish-speaking miners posted this notice around Sonora County, California in May, 1850. The month before, the California legislature had passed a Foreign Miners’ Tax that required immigrant miners to pay $20 every month for the privilege of mining in the state. In reality, the tax was only collected from non-white miners, while English, Irish, German and Scandinavian miners were not forced to pay it. In protest, Sonora miners raised their nations’ flags over their camps and advertised a meeting to decide what to do. After a mob of alarmed Americans marched into Sonora, the foreign miners drafted a statement to the governor, saying they would accept a lower tax of $4 or $5.

It is time to unite: Frenchmen, Chileans, Peruvians, Mexicans, there is the biggest necessity of putting an end to the vexation of the Americans in California. If you do not intend to allow yourself to be fleeced by a band of miserable fellows who are repudiated by their own country, then unite and go to the camp of Sonora next Sunday: there will we try to guarantee security for us all, and put a bridle in the mouths of that horde who call themselves citizens of the United States, thereby profaning that country.

Source | Unknown author, public notice, circa May 1850; quoted in Sucheng Chan, “A People of Exceptional Character: Ethnic Diversity, Nativism, and Racism in the California Gold Rush,” California History, Vol. 79, No. 2, Rooted in Barbarous Soil: People, Culture, and Community in Gold Rush California (Summer 2000), 44—85.
Creator | Unknown
Item Type | Pamphlet/Petition
Cite This document | Unknown, “Latin American and French Miners Protest the Foreign Miner's Tax,” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed November 22, 2019, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1811.

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