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  • Kalyn McCall

Too American: Sam "Cussed"

Anti-Asian sentiment gripped the nation in the 19th and 20th centuries, Orange County included. Many Orange Countians, including prominent citizens like Victor Montgomery, supported Chinese Exclusion Laws, restrictions on Japanese immigration and land ownership, and the like. From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the Alien Land Law of 1913 and beyond, these laws signaled and established that people of Asian descent were ineligible for citizenship - forever "aliens" and unassimilable in the United States of America.

In 1898, Chinese American Ong Q. Tow (born in California to Chinese parents) was initially denied the right to enlist in the military given his Asian heritage. Though respected in the Orange County community and well-regarded for his Americanisms, even he had hurdles to go through to serve as an American.

Yet in 1901, Sam Lung, a Chinese resident in Santa Ana, was fined for mirroring certain Americanisms too well. According to the Los Angeles Times, one day Sam let out a few too many American "cuss" words in public, particularly in the presence of a white woman. His outburst was enough to earn him a hearing in front of Justice Wilson, where he was charged with disturbing the peace and fined $10 dollars.

Sam paid his fine and went about his business. But during a time in which Asian people were deemed un-American, he had found a way to be charged for being a little too American.

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