纽约时报文摘 | 150年后,铁路华工在美终获认可


It was a seminal moment in American history: the inauguration of the first Transcontinental Railroad on May 10, 1869, in Promontory, Utah.
那是美国历史的一个重要时刻:1869年5月10日,第一条横贯大陆铁路(Transcontinental Railroad)在犹他州普瑞蒙特瑞(Promontory)竣工。

The day marked a profound transformation. A dangerous journey that once took months could now be completed in a week, revolutionizing the fractured country’s economy.

The leaders of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads came together to celebrate the joining of the tracks, and Leland Stanford, the business tycoon and political leader who founded Stanford University, drove a ceremonial golden spike into a tie to unite them.
中央太平洋铁路公司(Central Pacific)和联合太平洋铁路公司(Union Pacific Railroads)的领导人齐聚一堂,庆祝铁路轨道的接通。创办了斯坦福大学的商业大鳄、政治领袖利兰·斯坦福(Leland Stanford)把一根仪式性的金道钉敲入枕木,将铁轨连接了起来。

But many of the workers who had built the railroad were all but invisible at the ceremony, and in its retelling for many years afterward. They included about 15,000 Chinese immigrants — up to 90 percent of the work force on the Central Pacific line — who were openly discriminated against, vilified and forgotten.
但在仪式上,以及此后数年的叙述中,却看不到修建铁路的众多工人的身影。他们包括占中央太平洋线(Central Pacific line)九成劳动力的约1.5万名华人移民——他们受到了公然的歧视、贬低和遗忘。

Now those workers are being written back into the history of the railroad, thanks to the dogged efforts of their descendants and of scholars. At the 150th anniversary of the golden spike ceremony on Friday, and at associated events held last week in Utah, thousands gathered to recognize a more complete picture of the monumental feat.

“I felt such elation,” said Connie Young Yu, a San Francisco-based author and historian with the Chinese Historical Society of America. In her speech at the ceremony on Friday, Ms. Yu paid tribute to the Chinese laborers’ courage and sacrifice.
“我不胜欣喜,”旧金山作家、美国华人历史学会(Chinese Historical Society of America)历史学家虞容仪芳(Connie Young Yu)说。她在周五的仪式上发表讲话,向华工的勇气和牺牲精神致以敬意。

Ms. Yu’s great-grandfather helped build the railroad, and her mother was the only descendant of the Chinese workers at the 100th celebration of the golden spike ceremony in 1969. The centennial was a bitter disappointment for the descendants of the Chinese railroad workers, she said. The president of the Chinese Historical Society was nudged off the list of speakers, and the transportation secretary, John A. Volpe, failed to mention the Chinese workers.
虞容仪芳的曾祖父曾参与铁路的修筑,母亲是1969年金道钉100周年庆祝仪式举办之时唯一在世的华工后裔。她说一百周年纪念令铁路华工后裔大失所望。华人历史学会主席被从讲话人名单上抹去,时任运输部长约翰·A·沃尔普(John A. Volpe)对华工则是只字未提。

“Who else but Americans could have laid 10 miles of track in 12 hours?” he famously asked.

In fact, it was Chinese and Irish workers who achieved that feat. In the years that followed, the Chinese workers would face rising anti-immigrant sentiment and violence, and would be barred from citizenship by the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act.

At a ceremony on Friday, Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao, the first person of Chinese descent to hold the position, paid tribute to the diverse work force. In addition to Chinese workers, there were many Irish immigrants, Civil War veterans, Mormons, African-Americans and Native Americans, Ms. Chao said.
在周五的仪式上,交通部长赵小兰(Elaine L. Chao)向多个族群的劳工表达了敬意,她是首个担任该职位的华裔。赵小兰表示,除华工外,当时有许多爱尔兰移民、内战老兵、摩门教徒、非裔美国人和印第安人。

Native American communities, of course, were also forcibly displaced by the railroad and the westward expansion it enabled. An exhibit on the Chinese workers, on view at the Smithsonian through next year, also highlights the experiences of Native Americans.

Ms. Chao said that the achievements of the Chinese workers were poignant because many did not have the opportunity to become citizens, and so little record of their existence survived.

Yet the engineering feat they undertook was “every bit as consequential as the digital revolution that binds the world” today, she said.

The renewed focus on the contributions of the Chinese workers is due in large part to Gordon H. Chang, a historian at Stanford University, who has spent decades researching the workers’ history and co-directs the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project.
对华工贡献的重新关注主要归功于斯坦福大学历史学家张少书(Gordon H. Chang),他曾花几十年时间研究华工历史,并担任北美铁路华工研究项目(Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project)联席主任。

Dr. Chang noted that for many descendants of railroad workers, the 150th anniversary events marked the culmination of a lifelong effort to recover the history of their families and communities. But for him, it’s also a beginning.

“I’m quite enthusiastic that because of the attention to this history, more people are going to come forward to contribute bits and pieces and documentation,” he said.

The Chinese workers took on some of the most dangerous and difficult work, including cutting across the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Dr. Chang has written. Hundreds are believed to have died. But their experiences were largely unrecorded.
张少书写道,华工承担了其中一些最危险、最艰巨的任务,包括打通内华达山脉(Sierra Nevada)。据信有数百人因此丧命。但他们的经历却几乎没有被记录下来。

Mr. Chang and Shelley Fisher Fishkin, a professor of English and the humanities at Stanford, carried out painstaking research to fill that gap, drawing on historical photographs and material objects, interviews with descendants of the workers, newspaper accounts and business records.
张少书同斯坦福大学英语和人文学科教授谢莉·费希尔·菲什金(Shelley Fisher Fishkin)开展了艰巨的研究工作,以填补这一空白,他们参考了历史照片和实物,对工人后裔的采访,以及新闻报道和业务记录。

That the research center is at Stanford is notable. Mr. Stanford — a key investor in the Central Pacific line — had disparaged Chinese immigrants, calling them “an inferior race,” years before he employed thousands of them.

They were paid lower wages than white workers, even as they worked longer hours, took on the most treacherous stretches of track and became renowned for their work. Mr. Stanford would come to greatly admire them, Dr. Chang has written.

“I am painfully aware that Leland Stanford became one of the world’s richest men by using Chinese labor,” Dr. Chang wrote in an opinion piece published Friday in The Los Angeles Times.
“我痛心却又清楚地知道,利兰·斯坦福通过对华工的使用成为了世界上最富有的人之一,”张少书在周五发表在《洛杉矶时报》(Los Angeles Times)上的一则观点文章中写道。

“But I also try to remember that Stanford University exists because of those Chinese workers.”