Posted on January 6, by Scott Alexander [Epistemic status: Content warning for discussion of suicide, murder, and race] I.
Many writers still treat opium smoking by Chinese as a moral and even ethnic issue, as if Chinese were somehow more guilty than other people of addiction to opiate drugs. Chinese-American historians have tended to shy away from the subject entirely.
Do they feel that it somehow reflects badly on their culture or themselves? Must one keep quiet about one's predecessors' vices, in spite of the horrifying damage that was sometimes caused, in order to validate one's cultural inheritance?
We don't think so. Opium use among Chinese immigrants was very widespread, economically important, and -- until -- perfectly legal in most parts of the United States and Canada.
The smugglers of opium, most of whom were European-Americans, were criminals, though tolerated and even respected in the Pacific Northwest. Smokers of opium, the majority of whom in those days were Chinese, may have been addicts but were neither criminals nor outcasts.
Opium made hard lives more bearable and, perhaps due to easy availability and modest prices, seems not to have caused nearly as much violent crime as alcohol did then or as opioid drugs like heroin and oxycontin do nowadays. So we propose to discuss opium use among North American Chinese frankly and straightforwardly.
We feel that there is no shame in what happened a hundred years ago and that there are lessons in it for the modern world. While many American and Canadian Chinese of the late s may have been addicts, their cultural systems kept the drug under control in spite of that. We in the early s should learn to do the same.
Beecher, the newly appointed and unusually bribe-resistant Collector of the U. Customs office at Port Townsend, pulls off a coup. Learning that steamers on the Washington-Alaska route often loaded illicit opium at Victoria on the way north and then brought it back south labeled as a staple commodity, he posts a pair of trusted men as spies in Victoria.
In November they send word to Beecher that the steamship Idaho has loaded fourteen suspicious barrels marked "Ships Stores" at Victoria and proceeded north. When the Idaho reappears, it is searched rigorously. Only pounds of opium are found, hidden in a washstand.
What has happened to the rest? Luckily, Beecher's informants learn that most of it has been offloaded at Kassan Bay Fish Saltery at the south end of Alaska. There he discovers the fourteen barrels, labeled "Salted Fish" but filled with smoking opium of the best quality.
This provided the same kind of incentive and potential for abuse as modern rules allowing police departments to keep vehicles used for transporting illegal narcotics.
In Beecher's case, he may have been exaggerating the amount he got from reselling the half-pounds of opium. Customs office in Ogdensburg, NY. Gardner apparently gets out of this by claiming that it was part of his official duties but is then arrested again, for arranging the smuggling of another pounds of opium from Canada to Tacoma on the steamer George Starr.
At his trial on June 29, he is accused of trying to cover his tracks by sending the opium to Wallula in Eastern Washington by train, then to Portland, then to Seattle. He is further accused of entering into a conspiracy with other customs inspectors.
Beecher, Gardner's superior, is not named as a member of the conspiracy but agrees to be a witness for the defense. On O October 6, Gardner's lawyer, J. Charles Haines of Chicago, is arrested in Seattle for having removed the original pounds from Ogdensburg; he presumably has brought it to Washington State and passed it to Gardner.
No Chinese are mentioned in the relevant newspaper articles.
It is then either sold to Chinese of shipped to Portland and San Francisco for transportation East in trunks, valises, etc. It found an undeclared quantity of opium and seized it and the vessel.
The sale and use of opium did not become illegal in the U.This raises a curious observation: it should really only be kosher to round off >1 digit at a time. If you only know something to the accuracy of , you can’t round to 45, only to 40, because the is already “rounded” within your understanding of its accuracy — it could be a , and therefore the rounding to 45 isn’t appropriate.
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[The Customs Service office responsible for a seizure was allowed to auction the opium off to local merchants and to keep the proceeds. This provided the same kind of incentive (and potential for abuse) as modern rules allowing police departments to keep vehicles used for transporting illegal narcotics.
As a follow-up to Tuesday’s post about the majority-minority public schools in Oslo, the following brief account reports the latest statistics on the cultural enrichment of schools in Austria.
Vienna is the most fully enriched location, and seems to be in roughly the same situation as Oslo. Many thanks to Hermes for the translation from ashio-midori.com