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A California Businessman Contracts for Chinese Immigrant Labor

This labor contract between a Chinese worker, "Affon," and California businessman Jacob P. Leese, was made in Hong Kong on July 28, 1849, and witnessed by A. Shue, C. H. Brinley, and Henry Anthon, Jr., acting U.S. Vice Consul in Hong Kong. The discovery of gold in California in 1848 drew miners from around the world and filling other kinds of jobs became difficult in the midst of gold fever. On this same day in Hong Kong, Leese also made contracts with "Awye," a tailor, and "Atu," a "coolie," or laborer. As compensation for his services as a cook, Affon would receive a wage of $15.00 per month, as well as lodging, provisions, and food.

Transcription of Labor Contract

[Words rendered in italics here were handwritten in the original]

Articles of Agreement made, entered into and concluded this 28th day of July, in the Year of Our Lord, One thousand Eight hundred and forty nine Between Jacob P. Leese Esq. of Monterey of the one part and Affon (Chinaman) of the other part, Witness that for the consideration hereinafter contained on the part of the said Jacob P Leese Esq. he the said Affon doth herby covenant, promise and agree with, and to the said Jacob P. Leese Esq. that he the said Affon will proceed in and on board of a certain Brig or Vessel called the Eveline whereof Cooper is Master now lying in the Harbour of Hongkong, and about to proceed on a voyage to San Francisco a Port or Ports , on the West Coast of America, and that he will any where in that Country, for the space or period of (3) three Years from the date of his arrival at the Port of destination, work as a Cook or otherwise to the best of his knowledge and ability, under the orders and directions, of the said Jacob P. Leese Esq. or by another person holding this Contract. And that he the said Affon will keep and provide himself with all the necessary, and proper tools of his trade, and will also find and provide his own clothing. And that he will not do or assist to do or direct or aid in any manner whatsoever any work or business, other than, that ordered or directed by the said Jacob P. Leese Esq. or any other persons to whom this contract may be transferred. And these presents further witness that in consideration of the covenants herein before contained on the part of the said Affon he the said Jacob P. Leese Esq. doth hereby for himself his Heirs Executors and Administrators covenant promise, and agree with, and to the said Affon that he and his Survivors or Substitutes shall and will afford to him a passage in the above mentioned Vessel, to the West Coast of America, and shall, and will as soon as he shall have entered upon such work or trade of a cook as aforesaid furnish and provide him with lodgings, and suitable provisions, and food for, and during the said space or period of (3) three Years, and that the said Affon is to be paid for his work at the rate of ($15) fifteen Dollars per month payable monthly in the due, and proper fulfillment, and completion of their said agreement, and covenants herein before contained, the said wages to be computed for the period of (3) three Years from the date the said Affon shall arrive at the Port of destination.  And it is hereby agreed by and between the said parties hereto that the said Affon shall not receive any wages until, and after the Sum of ($30) thirty Dollars advanced to the said Affon shall have been paid off, and satisfied, and the said Affon doth herby acknowledge the receipt of the said advance so made to him by the said Jacob P. Leese Esq or his substitute not requiring the services of the said Affon at any time during the said period of (3) three Years he the said Jacob P. Leese Esq or his substitute shall be at liberty to cancell this Contract on giving  to said Affon One Month’s notice, and from and after the expiration of such one Month’s notice, this contract shall be null and void.

In Witness whereof the said parties to the presents have hereunto set their Hands and affixed their Seals at Victoria, Hongkong aforesaid the Day and Year first before written.

Signed Sealed and delivered after being first duly explained in the presence of

 

HANDWRITTEN ADDENDUM ALONG SIDE OF CONTRACT:

It is understood that in case the said Affon wishes to return to China upon the cancelling of this contract that all due and proper assistance shall be afforded him by the holder of the same. It is [further] understood that a bonus of ($15) fifteen dollars shall be allowed to the said Affon upon the cancelling of this contract payable by the holder of the same and in case the said Affon wishes to renew this contract upon the expiration of the first he should be at liberty to do so.

Source | Jacob P. Leese and Affon, "Articles of Agreement," "California as we saw it": Exploring the California Gold Rush, The California State Library, http://www.library.ca.gov/goldrush/sec07b.html.
Creator | Jacob P. Leese and Affon
Item Type | Government Document
Cite This document | Jacob P. Leese and Affon, “A California Businessman Contracts for Chinese Immigrant Labor,” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed July 20, 2019, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/789.

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