Ying li no middle way

Franklin Einspruch is an artist, writer and curator whose creative practice includes both traditional and digital media. Einspruch is the author of over a hundred published essays and art reviews which have appeared in publications such as Art in America and the New Criterion. He has run the site Artblog. His artwork has appeared in fifteen solo exhibitions and over two dozen group exhibitions.

Ying li no middle way

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? 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 Ying li no middle way 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.

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When the Idaho reappears, it is searched rigorously. Only pounds of opium are found, hidden in a washstand. What has happened to the rest? 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.

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.

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He is further accused of entering into a conspiracy with other customs inspectors. 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.

Ying li no middle way

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. It was banned in British Columbia a year earlier, in Harbor as secretly and mysteriously as when she sailed from that place six weeks ago, heavily laden with opium and Chinese. Her officers and crew will give no information regarding the cruise, but the United States Secret Service detectives who are in Victoria watching her movements learned through one of he seamen that the vessel had touched on the California Coast and at the Hawaiian Islands since leaving Victoria.

The case turned on events that had occurred two months earlier, in October of the same year, when a pound shipment of opium was loaded aboard the steamer Wilmington in Victoria, British Columbia. Suspicious of the shipment, a Victoria customs agent telegraphed ahead to the Astoria, Oregon customs house, located at the mouth of the Columbia River—the main waterway into the city of Portland.

Working on a tip, the owners of the Wilmington headed downriver to retrieve the ship and dump its illicit contents. But customs agents had already apprehended the shipment.

Then began one of the largest nineteenth-century opium and immigrant smuggling cases on the West Coast. As stated above, throughout the 19th century the use of opium was quite legal, though somewhat stigmatized, in both Canada and the U.

When the drug finally became illegal in the latter country inthe criminal penalties involved were aimed almost entirely at opium for smoking, considered to be a vice of the Chinese.

Opium for drinking in the form of alcohol solutions, abused mainly by Caucasians rather than Chinese, was not criminalized in the U. Laudanum, every bit as addicting as opium, stayed legal as a prescription drug. Paregoric a camphorated opium extract continued to be classified as an over-the-counter drug until Yin & Yáng and the I Ching.

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Bios and Acknowledgements | Ying Li: No Middle Way