top of page


Site of the Seattle Riot


Guarded by the militia, the remaining Chinese began walking toward their homes in what is now the Pioneer Square neighborhood.  They were immediately taunted by a rapidly growing mob, and within a few blocks they were confronted by more than a thousand men blocking their way.


Enraged that the Chinese were returning to their homes, the mob began to threaten both the Chinese and the militia men. When the deputies tried to arrest the most violent of the agitators, widespread fighting broke out. The Chinese could do nothing but stay behind the militia and hope they would remain protected.


When several of the mob tried to take guns away from some of the deputies, more vicious fighting erupted. During this melee shots were fired, either accidentally or intentionally, and five men from the mob fell to the ground. Upon hearing the gunshots, reinforcements appeared and strengthened the militia's numbers.


The mob realized it was now facing a strong and very resolute force, and soon after the shots were fired the crowd began to disperse. The casualties were taken to a hospital, where one of them later died. After order was restored, the Chinese were allowed to return to their homes.


Upon hearing of this incident, the Governor declared martial law and ordered a dusk-to-dawn curfew. Sentinels were placed throughout Chinatown and at key intersections in order to guard against any further disturbances. A few days later federal troops arrived, but by that time the situation had been defused.


On February 14th another 110 Chinese left the city on another steamer. This time they went to the dock without being escorted, but they did so with the clear awareness that if they did not leave their lives would be in constant danger.


Six men were later indicted on charges of unlawful conspiracy for their parts in the forced exclusion of the Chinese. After a trial that lasted four weeks, the jury returned verdicts of not guilty for all six men.

Sources: Chin, Hildebrand, Kinnear, Pfaelzer, Wilcox, Wynne, local newspapers


<Previous  |  1   |   2


About this site: Official reports say the clash of the militia and the anti-Chinese mob took place at the corner of Main and Commercial Streets (now Main and First Avenue South). This photo shows that intersection. The streets were reported as being "filled in every direction" in an effort to stop the return of the Chinese. For more details about the location, please see my Map of the Anti-Chinese Expulsion and Riot in Seattle.

bottom of page