Lawsuit for Second-Class Cruise with Asians

Want to cruise with second-class denizens called Asian people? In 1900, 142 Caucasian ship passengers sued for $20,000 because they paid for first-class accommodations, but instead got second-class with the “Asiatics.”

Their lawyer Mr. Reardon attested their horror:

These … American citizens … nearly all [of them were] residents of this State, were treated worse than cattle while on the Rio de Janeiro …

Those Caucasian passengers boarded at Nagasaki, Japan, en route from Hong Kong to the United States–Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast.

… the men discovered that they had been assigned to the Asiatic steerage and were herded in with Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos and other denizens of the unsavory quarter. …

The Chinese and Japanese are not noted for their observation of sanitation and the condition of the Americans who were forced for a long ocean voyage to heard with the Asiatics became pitiful. Some of the men were made very ill from the fumes of … the opium smokers and the foul air of the close quarters; and not a man escaped severe attacks of dysentery, caused by the polluted drinking water, while three of them contracted typhoid fever.”

Read more about it in “Forced to Stay in the Steerage.”

“Forced to Stay in the Steerage: White Passengers Herded with Asiatics on the Rio de Janeiro”
Independent, Dec. 26, 1900, Image 2


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