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General Area where the expulsion was stopped


On February 9th, 1886, one day after an anti-Chinese protester in Seattle was killed by militia who were protecting local Chinese citizens, agitators in Olympia tried to force all of the Chinese in their city to leave. Newspaper reports said that a crowd of twenty of more men entered the Chinese homes and businesses in the city and notified the residents they must leave town immediately.


When Olympia Sheriff William Billings realized what was happening he challenged the organizers of the expulsion attempt at the corner of Fourth and Main Streets. When the crowd continued on its business the Sherriff deputized many prominent citizens of the town, and together they succeeded in stopping the crowd from removing any of the Chinese.


After the Sheriff's intervention the crowd backed down and dispersed. Later the leaders of the riot were arrested, tried and convicted of conspiracy. Although shaken by this event, the Chinese in Olympia kept their homes and businesses, and for many years a small Chinatown flourished in their city.


In 1997, Washington Governor Gary Locke, the first Chinese-American governor in the U.S., referred to this incident in his inaugural address, recalling that his grandfather lived in Olympia at the time of the riot. He said that the fact that important citizens stood up for the Chinese in Olympia helped his family establish a deep faith in American values.

Sources: Chin, Dougher, Hildebrand, Wynne


About this site: Although the Sheriff reported he met the crowd at the corner of Fourth and Main (now Capitol Way), a newspaper reported that the group started to continue on its way. The Sheriff then deputized more than 100 men to assist him, and it is reasonable to conclude that a crowd of this size would have stretched at least until the next block. This photo is of the intersection at Fifth and Capitol Way Streets. I chose this intersection to represent the events in Olympia since the large white building shown above was built in 1882 and was present at the time of the attempted expulsion

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