On the eve of the Civil War, conflicts over immigration and race were powerful tensions in America. This cartoon depicts highly racialized stereotypes of a Chinese immigrant and Irish immigrant "swallowing" the United States - in the form of Uncle Sam.
It’s viewed from north - looking south. Like the transcontinental railroad that they built - the Chinese man is heading west to east and Irish man heading east to west.
The rough outline of the US is visible - networks of railroads and the promise of American expansion can be seen in the background.
Note that the Chinese man eventually devours both Uncle Sam and the Irishman - he puts on weight and gets a new hat.
Background: In the early 19th century, the United States was in dire need of farmers and laborers to develop the land. Open immigration policies were implemented to encourage people from different parts of the world to move to the US and take advantage of the available opportunities. Southern labor needs were met my forced enslaved Africans and westward expansion brought about the destruction and displacement of Native American communities.
Between 1848 and 1860, Chinese immigration to the United States increased significantly, with the majority of the immigrants being men who came in search of economic opportunities. They were initially welcomed for their labor and work ethic, particularly in the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. However, as the number of Chinese immigrants grew, they began to face increasing discrimination and hostility, with laws being passed to limit their employment opportunities and restrict their rights.
Irish immigration to the United States increased significantly in the mid-19th century, as a result of the Great Famine, which left many Irish people without food, shelter, or employment. They were an important source of cheap labor and found work building canals and later railroads. Irish immigrants settled faced discrimination and prejudice due to their religion, poverty, and lack of education.
Title: The great fear of the period. That Uncle Sam may be swallowed by foreigners : The problem solved.
Date Created: between 1860 and 1869
Published: San Francisco | White & Bauer
Library of Congress: LC-DIG-pga-03047
Trouble is, you eat America and an hour later you're hungry again.
Yup. And tastes like chicken.