Woo Secondary Source

Publication Year: 1990

Woo, Wesley S. "Presbyterian Mission: Christianizing and Civilizing the Chinese in Nineteenth Century California." American Presbyterians 68, no. 3 (1990): 167-78.

Source note

Wesley Woo grew up in San Francisco and worked for many years for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in Louisville, Kentucky. Much of his work for the church has been focused on racial justice and community organizing, and he has recently been active in the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People, a group committed to helping people empower themselves and bring about positive change in their communities.

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Reading questions

1.    Who is the author of this article, and who is their intended audience?

2.    Why did the Presbyterians see the arrival of Chinese immigrants as “providential” (page 167)?

3.    What are the “interlocking processes” essential to the work of Presbyterian missionaries (page 168)? What kinds of work facilitate these processes?

4.    Why, in 1853, did some Chinese Californians ask William Speer to be their “chief in this country” (page 170)?

5.    How were Chinese individuals and groups targeted during the “anti-Chinese agitation” of the 1880s (page 172)? Based on what you know of the historical context, why was anti-Chinese sentiment so strong at this time?

6.    Though Presbyterian leaders such as Ira Condit tried to defend the Chinese against racist attacks, they also blamed the Chinese for many of the problems they faced (page 172). What did they blame the Chinese for, and how do you think Chinese people at the time would have responded to their accusations?

7.    How did Chinese Presbyterians in Los Angeles advocate for themselves in the 1870s and successfully get their mission reopened in the 1880s (pages 174 and 175)?

8.    How does this document corroborate or refute document 1, the Chinese Presbyterian Mission’s 50th anniversary historical sketch?

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Source type
Scholarly article
History Topics
Chinese American History
Mission History
Presbyterian History
Time Period
Slavery, Sectionalism, and Social Reform (1815-1861)