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The First Chinese American: The Remarkable Life of Wong Chin Foo

Scott D. Seligman

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Paper, 336 pages, 40 b&w
ISBN: 978-988-8139-90-3
$25.00 / £17.50

April, 2013
Cloth, 336 pages, 40 b&w
ISBN: 978-988-8139-89-7
Hong Kong University Press
$50.00 / £34.50

Chinese in America endured abuse and discrimination in the late nineteenth century, but they had a leader and a fighter in Wong Chin Foo (1847–1898), whose story is a forgotten chapter in the struggle for equal rights in America. The first to use the term “Chinese American,” Wong defended his compatriots against malicious scapegoating and urged them to become Americanized to win their rights. A trailblazer and a born showman who proclaimed himself China’s first Confucian missionary to the United States, he founded America’s first association of Chinese voters and testified before Congress to get laws that denied them citizenship repealed. Wong challenged Americans to live up to the principles they freely espoused but failed to apply to the Chinese in their midst. This evocative biography is the first book-length account of the life and times of one of America’s most famous Chinese—and one of its earliest campaigners for racial equality.

About the Author

Scott D. Seligman is a writer, a historian, a genealogist, a retired corporate executive and a career “China hand.” He holds an undergraduate degree in history from Princeton University with distinction in American civilization and a master’s degree from Harvard University. Fluent in Mandarin and conversant in Cantonese, he lived in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China for eight years and reads and writes Chinese. He has worked as a legislative assistant to a member of the U.S. Congress, lobbied the Chinese government on behalf of American business, managed a multinational public relations agency in China, served as spokesperson and communications director for a Fortune 50 company and taught English in Taiwan. He is the author of Three Tough Chinamen, Chinese Business Etiquette, and Dealing with the Chinese, and co-author of the best-selling The Cultural Revolution Cookbook, Chinese at a Glance, and Now You’re Talking Mandarin Chinese. He lives in Washington, DC.

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