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date: 26 September 2017

Asian American Literature, U.S. Empire, and the Eaton Sisters

Summary and Keywords

The Eaton sisters, Edith Maude (b. 1865–d. 1914) and Winnifred (b. 1875–d. 1954), were biracial authors who wrote under their respective pseudonyms, Sui Sin Far and Onoto Watanna. Raised in Montreal, Canada, by an English father and a Chinese mother, the sisters produced works that many scholars have recognized as among the first published by Asian American writers. Edith embraced her Chinese ancestry by composing newspaper articles and short stories that addressed the plight of Chinese immigrants in North America. Winnifred, on the other hand, posed as a Japanese woman and eclipsed her older sibling in popularity by writing interracial romances set in Japan.

The significance of the Eaton sisters emerges from a distinct moment in American history. At the turn of the 20th century, the United States began asserting an imperial presence in Asia and the Caribbean, while waves of immigrants entered the nation as valued industrial labor. This dual movement of overseas expansion and incoming foreign populations gave rise to a sense of superiority and anxiety within the white American mainstream. Even as U.S. statesmen and missionaries sought to extend democracy, Christianity, and trade relations abroad, they also doubted that people who came to America could assimilate themselves according to the tenets of a liberal white Protestantism. This concern became evident with the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) and the Gentleman’s Agreement (1907), legislation that thwarted Chinese and Japanese immigration efforts. The lives and writings of the Eaton sisters intersected with these broader developments. As mixed-race authors, they catered to a growing U.S. consumer interest in things Asian, acting as cultural interpreters between East and West. In doing so, however, they complicated and challenged American beliefs and attitudes about race relations, gender roles, and empire building.

Keywords: Edith Maude Eaton, Winnifred Eaton, Sui Sin Far, Onoto Watanna, Asian American literature, U.S. imperialism, Asian immigration, Chinese Exclusion Act, Gentlemen’s Agreement, orientalism, Madame Butterfly

The Eaton sisters, Edith Maude (b. 1865–d. 1914) and Winnifred (b. 1875–d. 1954), were biracial authors who wrote under their respective pseudonyms, Sui Sin Far and Onoto Watanna. Their father, Edward Eaton, was an English merchant. While visiting Shanghai, China, for business, he met and married Grace Trefusis, a Chinese woman adopted by an English missionary family. The couple then returned to Edward’s family home in Macclesfield, England, where Edith was born. In the early 1870s, they moved to the United States, and Edward established a wholesale drug company in New York City. He lost much of his capital investing on Wall Street, however, and the family faced ongoing hardships. To make matters worse, Edward pursued an earlier desire to become an artist and failed to establish stability. The Eatons again relocated, first to Hudson, New York, and then to Montreal, Canada, Winnifred’s birthplace. The offspring eventually numbered fourteen (twelve surviving past infancy), and each sought employment at an early age to help keep the family solvent. Growing up in Montreal presented other difficulties. Labeled as “half-caste,” the children often encountered racial prejudice and responded with varying degrees of shame, anger, and defiance. Despite these hardships, the Eaton household was filled with music, reading, play acting, dancing, and other creative interests that sparked Edith’s and Winnifred’s imaginations.1

As young adults, the Eaton sisters began producing works that many scholars have recognized as among the first published by Asian American writers. Critics have also evaluated their foundational texts as contributing to the field of hapa, or mixed-race, studies. Edith embraced her Chinese background, composing newspaper articles and short stories that addressed the plight of Chinese immigrants in North America. Much of this ancestral interest came from hearing her mother’s songs and stories about China. Edith’s most well-known work is a collection of tales released under the title Mrs. Spring Fragrance (1912)

Asian American Literature, U.S. Empire, and the Eaton SistersClick to view larger

Fig. 1: Edith Eaton, or Sui Sin Far.

Image courtesy of Diana Birchall.

. Many of these stories are set in urban areas where she lived throughout her career, such as San Francisco, Seattle, and Boston. She also worked as a correspondent in Kingston, Jamaica. Winnifred, on the other hand, posed as a Japanese aristocrat and eclipsed her older sibling in popularity by writing interracial romances set in Japan, even though she never traveled there. Like Edith, however, Winnifred lived and labored in various places: also in Kingston, Jamaica, and then in Chicago, New York City, and Alberta, Canada. Some of her bestselling novels include Miss Numè of Japan (1899), A Japanese Nightingale (1901), The Heart of Hyacinth (1903), The Love of Azalea (1904), Daughters of Nijo (1904), and Tama (1910). She also produced a memoir, Me: A Book of Remembrance (1915), as well as screenplays for Hollywood studios during the 1920s.2

Asian American Literature, U.S. Empire, and the Eaton SistersClick to view larger

Fig. 2: Winnifred Eaton, or Onoto Watanna.

Image courtesy of Diana Birchall.

The significance of the Eaton sisters emerges from a distinct moment in American history. The United States at the turn of the 20th century began asserting an imperial presence in the Caribbean, the Philippines, and several Pacific islands, while waves of immigrants from around the world entered the nation as valued industrial labor. This dual movement of overseas expansion and incoming foreign populations gave rise to a sense of superiority and anxiety within the white American mainstream. Even as U.S. statesmen and missionaries sought to extend democracy, Christianity, and trade relations abroad, they also doubted that people who came to America could assimilate themselves according to the tenets of a liberal white Protestantism.3 This concern became evident in the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882), which restricted further Chinese from coming to the United States, and in the Gentlemen’s Agreement (1907), which thwarted Japanese immigration efforts.

The origins of Asian American literature overlapped with these broader transnational developments. Historians and other scholars since the late 20th century have explored how global migrations, U.S. imperial actions, and the cultural expressions created within these contexts were interconnected processes. Sui Sin Far and Onoto Watanna were products of the geographic mobility, market transactions, and interracial relationships that resulted from the British Empire’s reach in Asia and North America. The sisters crafted their works for American readers from this viewpoint, attuned to the artistic possibilities in portraying the clashing and merging of different peoples, ideas, and customs. That white Americans professed beliefs and enacted laws adversely affecting the Chinese and Japanese likewise influenced how the sisters positioned themselves as authors of Anglo-Asian ancestry. In this way, they catered to a growing U.S. consumer interest in things Asian, acting as cultural interpreters between East and West. But Sui Sin Far and Onoto Watanna also offered important social commentary that complicated and challenged mainstream American beliefs and attitudes about race relations, gender roles, and empire building.

Manifest Destiny and U.S. Empire

By the late 19th century, the United States reached a historical crossroads: Manifest Destiny became problematic as a defining concept and experience for the nation. The historian Frederick Jackson Turner, citing the federal census of 1890, declared that the western frontier was closed. All continental lands to the Pacific Ocean, he noted in his 1893 essay, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” had been claimed or settled by various individuals and institutions. From this perspective, Turner evaluated the importance of the frontier in developing an exceptional American character that differed from European traits, practices, and principles. Turner suggested that since colonial times the steady advance of “white civilization” across the western terrain shaped American values such as mobility, democracy, and self-sufficiency. Yet, with the frontier’s apparent demise, Turner and others wondered how the United States could still be an exceptional nation.4

One answer was to proceed farther west to Asia. John Hay, the secretary of state under Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, encouraged this view. In 1904, he appeared at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, an event that celebrated the centennial anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s acquirement of the Louisiana Territory in 1803. To mark the occasion, Hay explained how this earlier feat, and the ensuing westward migrations it allowed, contributed to understanding the nation’s later overseas expansion efforts. The secretary drew on the language and ideals of Manifest Destiny, observing that “Providence … watched over our infancy as a people” and still guided Americans to ensure national distinction in its imperial endeavors. Here, as with Manifest Destiny, the religious rhetoric coincided with assuming white racial superiority over peoples of color. The United States, Hay continued, simply extended its influence to “where the Far West becomes the Far East.”5 Asia thus presented a new frontier for American market and missionary opportunities to flourish.

This new version of expanding westward did not necessarily entail territorial gains or conquering native peoples. European powers such as Great Britain, France, Russia, and Germany, as well as Japan, already established themselves in China and Southeast Asia. In revising Manifest Destiny, U.S. officials sought to develop overseas markets in Asia for American manufactured goods. Fears of overproduction in the United States drove efforts to seek these new trading opportunities. Severe economic downturns beginning in the 1870s and continuing into the 1890s further encouraged such objectives. In this light, Hay’s “Open Door” policy of 1900 meant to expose China not only to European but also to U.S. markets.6

Despite disavowals of mimicking European practices, U.S. designs on Asia did involve military engagements and controlling territories. The Spanish-American War of 1898 marked the nation’s emergence on the world stage as an imperial power. By defeating Spain, the United States gained colonies in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. These additions stirred domestic debates about the problems and possibilities of empire building. Anti-imperialists such as Mark Twain and Jane Addams argued that managing colonies contradicted the nation’s democratic and Christian ideals. Other anti-imperialists worried that ruling territories with nonwhite populations would mean having to integrate them into a white republic. But a number of U.S. statesmen downplayed racial concerns when working to annex territories, including Hawaii and other Pacific islands, to better serve commercial interests.7 Several intellectuals and politicians, on the other hand, asserted that acquiring these lands provided a way to liberate oppressed and backward native peoples.

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Fig. 3: “How Some Apprehensive People Picture Uncle Sam after the War,” Detroit News, 1898.

Cuba, the Philippines, and other places, however, were not ready for independence because they lacked the maturity to handle the responsibilities of a self-governing democratic society. It was up to the United States to guide them in the right direction.8

These late-19th-century views were akin to those professed against Native Americans, Hispanics, and other ethnic minorities during the prior westward movement. American statesmen and the popular press justified the U.S.-Mexican War (1846–1848) by declaring that the Mexicans would welcome the overthrow of their corrupt leaders and institutions. Even so, many Americans thought the Mexicans too inherently inferior to appreciate their new freedom.9 This opinion applied in different ways to the overseas territories. Cuba eventually gained its independence in 1902, but American sugar and railroad trusts acquired monopoly status there, and U.S. troops returned a few years later to ensure stability. The Filipinos resisted American supervision on a broader scale. Uprisings began in 1899, when Emilio Aguinaldo led armed forces in attempts to win political independence. This movement failed when U.S. Marines suppressed the insurgents by 1902, inflicting more than 250,000 casualties. Skirmishes, however, persisted for years afterward. American generals even likened the fight against Filipino guerrillas to pacifying Indians on the Great Plains.10 The Asian mainland came under martial scrutiny as well. In 1900, the U.S. government sent combat personnel to China to help the European and Japanese occupiers quell the Boxer Rebellion when it threatened Western economic interests and Christian missionaries in Beijing and surrounding areas.11 Yet, newer scholarship reminds us that relations among American leaders, collaborating native elites, and defiant local factions were more often multidimensional than one sided. These interactions constantly forced each group to alter their objectives as well as their racial attitudes toward one another.12

American interventions abroad occurred alongside Japan’s aspirations for imperial influence. While the United States engaged in the Spanish-American War, Japan asserted its military might in the Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905). Japan became the first modernized Asian state when the Meiji Restoration occurred in 1868, and a more centralized government gained control over disparate samurai factions. The nation then began fulfilling its imperial desires by defeating China and Russia and by acquiring Korea and Taiwan as colonies. American responses to Japan’s show of strength in Asia were both fearful and admiring of its accomplishments. Some U.S. politicians respected Japan because its modern development and military triumphs reinforced their own sense of Western superiority when an Asian nation improved its standing through industry and technology. But others saw Japan’s rising power as a threat to U.S. interests in the Pacific, especially in China.13 These American perceptions of China as exploitable resource and Japan as esteemed yet rival empire builder coincided with shaping U.S. immigration policies with regard to Asia.

Immigration and Asian Exclusion

As American diplomats, missionaries, and the U.S. military ventured overseas, vast numbers of immigrants entered the United States. Most came from southern and eastern Europe, were Catholic or Jewish, and differed from the earlier waves of migrants, who were mainly Protestants from western or northern Europe. Ellis Island in New York City became the site where more than twelve million people arrived between 1890 and 1924. Many settled in urban enclaves in the Northeast and the Midwest and were an important labor source for American industrial development. Indeed, the nation was quickly trending away from its frontier and rural past toward an urban-industrial system. In 1870, over 50 percent of labor in the United States was farm related. By the first decade into the 20th century, two-thirds of the nation’s work occurred in factories. American businesses and civic institutions promoted the entry of low-wage, unskilled labor to fill the production lines. Meanwhile, U.S. crop surpluses sent to Europe stimulated population growth and diminished employment opportunities there. So the migrants continued to come, looking for a better life than the abject poverty offered by their ancestral homelands.14

Race and religion played an important role, as they did with Manifest Destiny and American imperial exploits, in shaping U.S. perceptions of the newcomers from Europe, Latin America, and Asia. The immigrants’ apparent foreignness and inability to assimilate into mainstream society reinforced nativist arguments about limiting their presence in the United States. Sociologists, historians, and others have interpreted “race” as a fluid, socially constructed category that changes over time. In this approach, we see how the dominant political, economic, cultural, and scientific institutions establish hierarchies of “superior” and “inferior” races, posing them as natural phenomena, to maintain white supremacy.15 At multiple points in American history, the white mainstream considered race mixing or even the proximity of different races and genders as unnatural. Thus emerged the desires for segregation and immigration restrictions as well as for further laws prohibiting miscegenation in the late 19th century.16

The European arrivals were not immune from such concerns about race mixing and its potential effects on the nation’s political, social, and economic welfare. Before the Hungarians, Romanians, Poles, Italians, Greeks, Slavs, and others were considered “white,” they attracted the scorn of native-born Anglo-Protestants. Worries about “inferior races” diluting the purity of “Anglo-Saxon stock,” distress over labor competition and reduced wages associated with these newer populations, pressure from nativist groups, and racially prejudiced U.S. congressmen were powerful forces pushing for immigration limits. The Immigration Act of 1924 (or the Johnson-Reed Act) ensued, moderating the flow of southern and eastern European migrants through restrictive quotas.17

Like the incoming Europeans, Asian migrants met with similar, and often harsher, reactions stemming from white Americans’ concerns about racial and ethnic mixing. But these fears clashed with the nation’s continuing reliance on abundant low-wage labor. In 1865, the Central Pacific Railroad began hiring Chinese immigrants as a low-cost workforce to help build the Transcontinental Railroad. By 1867, roughly 12,000 Chinese, or 90 percent of the company’s laborers, were shoveling earth, hammering through mountains, and laying iron rails. With the project completed in 1869, many of these men established themselves in businesses and mining camps in the West, despite the violence they faced from whites.18 Trade unions such as the American Federation of Labor warned that the Chinese earned lower wages than white American workers and competed unfairly for available jobs. Nativists declared as well that the Chinese were backward and subhuman, too exotic to assimilate into the nation’s white mainstream. In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which reduced the number of migrants to allow the entry of only diplomats, scholars, and students. Not until 1943, when China became an American ally during World War II, did the United States selectively reopen its doors to the Chinese.19

American attitudes about Asian immigration affected the Japanese too when they were considered “perpetually foreign.” Japanese immigration to the United States increased in the 1880s to offset labor shortages once the availability of Chinese workers declined. Many landed in Hawaii to work on sugar plantations, while a lesser number went to the U.S. mainland for other agricultural jobs. But white nativists continued their protests against allowing any Asians from entering the country. The Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907 followed, preventing further immigration of Japanese laborers to the mainland. Workers could still immigrate to Hawaii, along with “picture brides” from Japan, which allowed for the development of family life on the islands. Unlike the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Gentlemen’s Agreement was an informal understanding between U.S. and Japanese officials. Japan voluntarily limited its emigrants, while the United States promised not to segregate Japanese children from white students in its schools. This less insulting treatment from the United States stemmed partly from Theodore Roosevelt’s qualified respect for Japan as a fellow imperial nation-state.20

An agreement among gentlemen, however, failed to diminish the racial prejudice of mainstream Americans. Many saw the Chinese and Japanese as a “yellow peril” that could overrun white civilization if Americans did not regulate migrants coming to U.S. shores or those already within its borders. This view applied to other Asians, prompting further restrictions. The Immigration Act of 1917 included an “Asiatic Barred Zone” that limited migration from the Middle East, central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and Southeast Asia. Only Filipinos could enter the United States without excessive constraints, since they were already U.S. nationals. Yet, when Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1924, it set additional quotas to inhibit the entry of East Asians, South and Southeast Asians, as well as Filipinos and the newer European immigrants. The United States thus developed a complex and contradictory relationship with Asia and its peoples. The nation relied on Asian workers while prohibiting them from becoming part of the citizenry. The tension between this desire for, and loathing of, immigrant labor informs much of Asian American history and, indeed, of U.S. history.21

Asian migrants who arrived before the onslaught of restrictions and who remained in the United States encountered other legal and social obstacles. “Exclusion” in this sense applied not only to U.S. immigration policies regarding Asians, but also to their enforced segregation within the nation. Numerous laws limited their access to employment, education, housing, and citizenship opportunities. The Page Act of 1875 banned the importation of Asian prostitutes to the United States, although it served to exclude most Asian women in general. The law then ensured that few if any Asian families would develop with children born in the United States as naturalized citizens. Asian men also could not legally marry white women. Bachelor societies consequently emerged in ethnic ghettoes such as Chinatown and Little Tokyo.

Asian American Literature, U.S. Empire, and the Eaton SistersClick to view larger

Fig. 4: Arnold Genthe, “Street of the Gamblers,” Chinatown, San Francisco, 1898 (Library of Congress, cph 3a42225).

California enacted the Alien Land Law in 1913, which forbade property ownership or leasing land for more than three years by anyone deemed ineligible for U.S. citizenship. At first, the Naturalization Act of 1790 limited citizenship to “free white persons.” The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution extended this right in 1868 to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” including formerly enslaved African Americans. Not until 1952, with the McCarran-Walter Act, were small quotas of Asian immigrants permitted to enter the nation and to apply for citizenship.22

But just as the Cubans and Filipinos contested the U.S. presence on their lands, Asian immigrants in the United States challenged their working conditions and the legislative restrictions. Chinese laborers struck for better pay while forging the Transcontinental Railroad. Chinese, Japanese, and other ethnic minority workers in Hawaii also went on strike throughout the 1890s and early 1900s. In 1905, Chinese shopkeepers, intellectuals, students, and newspaper editors on both sides of the Pacific boycotted U.S. products to protest racial discrimination against Chinese Americans. Other Asian groups resorted to lawsuits in U.S. courts to question the definition of “white,” exposing the arbitrary distinctions made regarding access to citizenship. In U.S. v. Balsara (1910) and U.S. v. Ajkoy Kumar Mazumdar (1913), the courts classified South Asians as “white” and therefore eligible for U.S. citizenship. Later, U.S. v. Takeo Ozawa (1922) and U.S. v. Bhagat Singh Thind (1923) respectively denied that the Japanese and South Asians were white. As a whole, however, these strikes, boycotts, court cases, and other actions disputed the category of whiteness and the privileges it conferred in the United States.23 Historical work since the late 20th century also emphasizes how Chinese and Japanese immigrants negotiated between their ancestral homelands and the United States when forming transnational communities. Immigrants on the West Coast and elsewhere adapted to overseas expectations and to racially hostile environments by organizing associations, building new kinship networks, and corresponding with family members in East Asia.24

Madame Butterfly and Orientalism

Addressing the social changes occurring at home and abroad, cultural producers in the United States framed American interactions with Asia through race and gender relations. Silent films, novels, plays, musicals, and other artifacts represented the United States as a dominant, white, masculine power that influenced a weak, effeminate, exotic Asia. Scholars describe this idea as “orientalism,” developed from Edward Said’s landmark study, Orientalism (1979). Focusing on French and British perceptions of the Middle East in the late 19th century, Said suggested that European statesmen and intellectuals displaced their own fears and desires onto a racial “Other.” This relationship between East and West functioned in binary opposition. So whereas the European (always a male figure) was masculine, rational, scientific, orderly, and clean, the Asian Other (both male and female) was feminine, mysterious, emotional, superstitious, and polluted. These categories revealed themselves in government legislation, academic studies, and cultural venues regarding the Middle East and its peoples.25 Historians have developed and complicated Said’s thesis, tracing how orientalism applied to American contexts and how Asian subjects modified or challenged racial assumptions that predominated in U.S. popular culture.26

One of the most famous orientalist narratives on U.S.-Asia relations was John Luther Long’s novel Madame Butterfly (1898). Orientalism and imperial encounters often went hand in hand, and the text gained prominence when it appeared in the same year that the United States defeated Spain and acquired its colonies. These simultaneous events have inspired historians and literary critics to evaluate the work as a larger metaphor for U.S.-Asia relations at the turn of the 20th century. The tale presents a tragic romantic relationship between an American naval officer, Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, and his Japanese lover, Cho-Cho San, or Madame Butterfly. Lieutenant Pinkerton is a carefree man who desires a temporary female companion while stationed in Japan. He develops an acquaintance with Cho-Cho San and proceeds to dictate the confines of her life. She must speak English at all times, renounce contact with her family, and gratify his every whim. He then leaves Japan but promises to return in the spring. Cho-Cho San meanwhile gives birth to their son. As time passes, she patiently waits for Pinkerton’s return, believing that he will take her and their child to the United States. The lieutenant eventually reappears after an absence of three years, but with his new white American wife. The couple then takes Cho-Cho San’s son and departs for America. Thus betrayed, Madame Butterfly commits suicide to salvage the remnants of her honor.27

John Luther Long adapted his story from prior works, highlighting how this interest in U.S.-Asia relations had strong cultural roots by the turn of the 20th century. Among these influential texts was Pierre Loti’s Madame Chrysanthème (1887), an interracial romance between a French officer and a Japanese woman. Lafcadio Hearn, who wrote stories based on Japanese folktales, and Ernest Fenellosa, an art historian and philosopher specializing in Japanese art, also contributed to this appetite for Far Eastern topics. Long’s novel in turn prompted other renditions of the white male–Asian female romance, perpetuating his narrative’s popularity in Western metropolitan culture. David Belasco produced a one-act play, Madame Butterfly: A Tragedy of Japan (1900), shown in New York and London. The Italian librettist Giacomo Puccini also transformed the story into his most famous opera, Madama Butterfly, which first appeared in Milan in 1904. Performances also occurred in London in 1905 and at New York’s Metropolitan Opera in 1907.28

Another consequence of U.S. overseas expansion was a rising domestic consumerism for material objects produced about Asia. Elite and middle-class white Americans valued Japan’s ancient traditions, especially the crafting of woodblock prints, silk garments, furniture, and lacquerware. Leading cultural figures in the United States shared this interest. The architect Frank Lloyd Wright revealed Japanese influences in his building designs. The painter James Whistler relied on Japanese art techniques and styles in his work. White American women particularly consumed these items as orientalism to reinforce or enhance their social status. Historians have merged gender, consumerism, and imperialism as fields of inquiry to suggest that these women extended their influence in the home environment, one affected in turn by U.S. interventions abroad. These exchanges served not only to blur the boundaries between public and private spheres, but also to complicate how orientalism involved more than white male–Asian female relationships.29 White American women helped to perpetuate orientalist tastes and desires by purchasing screens, ceramics, furniture, and other household objects that displayed an Asian-inspired theme. They read romances set in Asia and written by white authors such as John Luther Long. They dressed up as Madame Butterfly, utilizing wigs, kimonos, body posture, ornaments, and makeup to accentuate Asian features.

Asian American Literature, U.S. Empire, and the Eaton SistersClick to view larger

Fig. 5: Geraldine Farrar as Madame Butterfly, 1908 (Library of Congress, ggbain 33723).

Geraldine Farrar, a soprano with the New York Metropolitan Opera, presents one example of this mimicry, gaining fame for her signature performance of Cho-Cho San in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.30 Much of this mass interest in orientalism provided a ready-made audience for Sui Sin Far and Onoto Watanna.

The Eaton Sisters and Madame Butterfly

American racial attitudes toward China and Japan affected how the Eaton sisters presented themselves and their subject matter to U.S. audiences. Writing about the Chinese, Edith as Sui Sin Far was well aware of how mainstream readers viewed them as a weak, barbaric, non-Christian people. She contested such beliefs by offering nuanced portraits of this population in its aspirations, triumphs, and shortcomings. Winnifred took another route by inventing the public persona, Onoto Watanna, a noblewoman of Japanese and English ancestry who composed romance novels. Because of the heightened and complex U.S. interest in Japan, she calculated that audiences would more likely favor a Japanese over a Chinese author. From this fabricated identity, she gained a widespread popularity that her sister Edith could only imagine. But as several literary critics contend, Onoto Watanna in less obvious ways also challenged the derogatory views of Asians and Asian Americans.31

At the same time, the Eaton sisters catered to American consumer tastes in orientalism. Although cognizant of the racism against Asians, Sui Sin Far and Onoto Watanna maintained their artistic and financial viability by relying on audiences that invested in those very prejudices. On the other hand, the sisters critiqued not only these discriminatory beliefs but also the broader domestic and overseas developments occurring at the turn of the 20th century. Thus, both writers functioned within specific historical contexts that influenced them and that they sought to influence in kind. One way in which the Eaton sisters accommodated and challenged readers’ expectations was through the Madame Butterfly figure and, more generally, through interracial relationships.

In 1909, Sui Sin Far published “Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of an Eurasian,” an autobiographical essay. At one point, she records an encounter with an American naval officer while working as a journalist in the West Indies. Thinking that the “big, blond, handsome fellow” has some news to report, Sui Sin Far instead receives a proposition from him. “I had an idea that you might like to know me. I would like to know you,” he declares.32 This exchange recalls how U.S. military personnel stationed overseas sought casual sexual relations and how this expectation gained cultural prominence through Madame Butterfly. Unlike the willing and innocent Cho-Cho San, however, Sui Sin Far interrogates the officer’s intentions and rejects his advances. But afterward, this meeting leaves her exhausted and troubled. That the officer dismisses the author’s professional credentials and views her as a sexual object exacts a physical and emotional toll on her. These interactions between white men and women of color serve as a broader commentary on the imperial relationships the United States developed with Asia and the Caribbean.

Although Sui Sin Far was a North American writer of part Asian ancestry, she identified with all peoples of color. Earlier in her essay, she describes another encounter in the West Indies, this time with a British gentleman. Like the U.S. naval officer, he represents an imperial presence in the Caribbean, condescending to warn Sui Sin Far, whom he mistakes for a white person, about “the ‘brown boys’ of the island.” The Englishman’s comment discloses a fear of West Indian males having sexual access to white women, a supposed privilege that only white men should experience. The author responds to this man’s unawareness of her mixed background by notifying her readers “that I too am of the ‘brown people’ of the earth.”33 Sui Sin Far turns these relationships of imperial power and sexual desire into a statement of political affiliation with those who suffer from racial prejudice throughout the world.

Onoto Watanna’s novel A Japanese Nightingale (1901) offers another version of Madame Butterfly. But more so than Sui Sin Far, Onoto Watanna played to orientalist stereotypes even as she undermined them. Both Madame Butterfly and A Japanese Nightingale incorporate orientalism in similar ways by using dialect for the Asian characters’ speech patterns to denote inferiority. In Madame Butterfly, Cho-Cho San speaks in awe of Lieutenant Pinkerton: “[T]ha’ ‘s one thing aeverybody got recomleck—account it is his house, his wife, his bebby, his maiden, his moaney—oh,—aeverything is his!”34 Rendering Asian characters’ dialogue in “broken English” provided a sense of quaintness and authenticity with regard to how they purportedly talked, complete with misspellings to approximate accents. Visualizing language in this manner reinforced the Asian subject’s subordination to white characters. Cho-Cho San’s exclamation “aeverything is his!” reveals this concession to Pinkerton’s power.35

But when Onoto Watanna adopts this strategy in A Japanese Nightingale, she also presents a strong Asian female character that refuses to submit to the white male protagonist. Readers first meet Yuki, a “half-caste” Japanese woman with blue eyes, performing in a teahouse. We learn that her father was an English merchant, like Winnifred Eaton’s. Yuki captures the attention of a wealthy young American, Jack Bigelow. Unlike Lieutenant Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly, Jack is not a naval officer searching for temporary sexual relations, but a tourist interested in Japan’s wonders. Onoto Watanna also reverses the situations of the main characters in A Japanese Nightingale from those in John Luther Long’s novel. Yuki constantly disappears from Jack, even after they marry. Readers know about her character mainly through Jack’s wonderings as to her intentions and whereabouts. Yuki, then, is unlike Cho-Cho San in leading an independent life from her male benefactor.

A Japanese Nightingale is also unique for its time because Yuki does not commit suicide or die in some other way. By agreeing to marry Jack, she establishes the worthiness of their relationship on her terms. Yuki teases Jack when he tries to assert his authority in the household. As she remarks, “Nod so bad master, making such grade big noises … Besides, servant must sit long way off from thad same noisy master.”36 Yuki mockingly resists Jack’s pronouncements, promising to withhold affection by keeping away from him. She then momentarily vanishes without his knowledge or consent to visit her extended family. Yet, as the novel and its female protagonist disrupt audience expectations regarding race and gender roles, they also cater to those same expectations. That this interracial pairing occurs in Japan and not in the United States makes the text nonthreatening to American readers.37 As in Madame Butterfly, Japan is where racial and sexual fantasies are permitted free rein, especially for white men romancing Asian women. The imperial relationships between the United States and Asia are then metaphorically replayed in, though complicated by, the orientalist relationships among Onoto Watanna’s fictional characters.

The Eaton Sisters and Orientalism

The Eaton sisters confronted other consequences of discrimination and interracial relationships, which defined their family background. Most U.S. states during this period legally prohibited interracial marriages, with many Americans viewing them as unnatural acts of miscegenation. As developed previously, U.S. overseas interventions heightened fears of interracial mixing as white Americans interacted with the “darker races,” and as these latter populations immigrated to the United States. At the same time, the popularity of romances with white male–Asian female relationships revealed the attraction of forbidden love as well as the repulsion for race mixing. The Eaton sisters addressed these ambivalent feelings in their works, hoping to steer readers toward a better understanding of human dignity across different cultures, even as they accommodated the prevailing racial attitudes toward Asians and Asian Americans.

Sui Sin Far’s autobiographical essay discloses this dual strategy, which changes over her lifetime. In one moment, the author describes the childhood fights she and her siblings had with their white tormenters when growing up in Montreal: “[T]he white blood in our veins fights valiantly for the Chinese half of us.”38 She suggests that her English side, one racially or biologically superior in courage and combat skills, had to defend her weaker, inferior Chinese side. This viewpoint only reinforces her readers’ prejudices about the Chinese requiring white influence to improve them. Yet, Sui Sin Far recounts an incident from her teenaged years when she reads about China’s ancient civilization, which uplifts her battered self-regard. In contrast to her prior observation about white preeminence, she asserts: “[W]hat troubles me is not that I am what I am, but that others are ignorant of my superiority. I am small, but my feelings are big—and great is my vanity.”39 Her sense of superiority over these white “Others” comes from valuing her Chinese ancestry and from her desire to write on behalf of Chinese immigrants. By adulthood, Sui Sin Far embraces the complexities of her hybrid parentage, hopeful for the future: “I believe that some day a great part of the world will be Eurasian. I cheer myself with the thought that I am but a pioneer.” Her exploring of interracial frontiers suggests a different kind of manifest destiny, from which she refuses to accept a particular group’s dominance over another. “I give my right hand to the Occidentals and my left to the Orientals,” she concludes, offering herself as a “connecting link” between these equally cherished populations.40

Like her sister, Onoto Watanna challenged orientalist assumptions in her nonfiction essays, just as she presented inconsistent positions regarding her mixed family history. In 1907, she wrote “The Japanese in America,” a response to U.S. fears of Japan’s imperial ambitions and to the Japanese presence on the West Coast. Answering an American correspondent who lambasted the Japanese as a conceited yet inferior race, Onoto Watanna admitted, “[C]rowned with her new war laurels, Japan’s vanity is more apparent at the present time.” But she then asked her readers, “How was America after the war with Spain?”41 Comparing the empire building of the United States and Japan, she claimed the two nations as equals. Her pride in Japan, however, moderated her ability to question imperial endeavors in Asia as a whole, from which both empires sought to exploit her mother’s ancestral homeland, China. Readers were unaware of this point because of the author’s posing as a Japanese woman to gain wider attention. Instead, Onoto Watanna prodded white Americans to rethink their own sense of superiority, which sprung from similar actions as Japan’s. Also addressing worries about the “yellow peril” and the ensuing Gentlemen’s Agreement, she noted: “How foolish is the supposition that the Japanese immigrants will over-run [sic] this country, and in competition with the native crush him to the wall.”42 She chided Americans for their racially motivated alarm at being overtaken by a smaller and less populous nation such as Japan.

The fictional characters created by Sui Sin Far and Onoto Watanna offered a more indirect venue to critique American racial attitudes. Many of Sui Sin Far’s tales and essays present relationships between Chinese immigrants and white native-born Americans in the United States. Consider Sui Sin Far’s main character from her short-story collection, Mrs. Spring Fragrance (1912). In the opening story with the same title, Mrs. Spring Fragrance bears the admonishments of her husband and of her white women friends when she tries to resolve other people’s affairs in their middle-class Seattle neighborhood. In this case, Sui Sin Far extends her critique of white patriarchy and applies it to how both Asian men and white women try to exert influence over Asian and Asian American women.43 The story contains no dialogue in “broken English,” but the author describes Mrs. Spring Fragrance in somewhat stereotypical fashion as a submissive and gentle woman. Due to Mrs. Spring Fragrance’s cheerful and conciliating manners, however, she always gets her way when the other characters realize the rightness of her motives and actions. Sui Sin Far thus conveys the sense that her main character is deeper, stronger, and more independent than she first appears to her husband, to her white friends, and to readers.

Sui Sin Far also utilized Mrs. Spring Fragrance to turn other stereotypes on their head. This protagonist reappears in the story “An Inferior Woman.” Mrs. Spring Fragrance plans on writing a book about white Americans for her Chinese friends, reasoning that if American women could publish, then so could she. In this manner, she asserts her presence in the public sphere through writing. As Sui Sin Far observes, “The American people were so interesting and mysterious” to Mrs. Spring Fragrance. At another point, this character exclaims, “These mysterious, inscrutable, incomprehensible Americans!”44 Sui Sin Far’s choice of words is similar to that of white protagonists describing Asian subjects. Yet, the author reverses this conventional perspective by putting her white characters under the interpretive control of an Asian Other, personified and complicated by Mrs. Spring Fragrance.

Onoto Watanna’s 1903 short story, “The Loves of Sakura Jiro and the Three Headed Maiden,” presents another potentially unsettling relationship to readers. In this tale, a Japanese immigrant in New York City woos a white, blond-haired woman. This interracial romance is distinct because it occurs in the United States, and it involves an Asian male and a white female. But the author frames the narrative in a benign way since these characters perform in a circus freak show. Jiro is a magician and Marva appears as a three-headed lady. That the two protagonists are “exotics” makes this interracial romance lighthearted and acceptable because of its strange pairing. As social outcasts, Jiro and Marva are meant for each other.

Similar to Sui Sin Far’s short stories and essays, Onoto Watanna’s offered subtle critiques of orientalism that undermined and reinforced their readers’ racial and gender expectations. But while doing so, these writers examined the nation’s imperial undertakings and challenged their audiences to envision Asians and Asian Americans as equally human and deserving as white Americans. Such is the allure of the Eaton sisters’ accomplishments.

Discussion of the Literature

The Eaton sisters began attracting scholarly notice in the early 1980s. By then, the literary critics Amy Ling and S. E. Solberg had shed light on the achievements of Sui Sin Far and Onoto Watanna as Asian American writers and activists.45 Much of this and later academic interest developed from the civil rights movement of the 1960s and beyond. Demands for social justice regarding women and ethnic minorities, as well as for ending the Vietnam War, prompted scholars to pay closer attention to women’s history and literature, the history of U.S. imperial actions in Asia, Asian immigration and community formation, and Asian American arts and literature.

Initial considerations of the Eaton sisters sought to place them within a developing canon of Asian American literature and, in the process, to define the field itself. But the question of what comprised “Asian American literature” was strongly debated. In 1974, Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian-American Writers did not include any selections from Sui Sin Far or Onoto Watanna. The editors explained that Sui Sin Far in particular “presents ‘John Chinaman’ as little more than a comic caricature, giving a sensibility that was her own.”46 Elaine H. Kim’s pioneering survey, Asian American Literature: An Introduction to the Writings and Their Social Context (1982), also overlooked the Eaton sisters. S. E. Solberg, however, noted that Sui Sin Far “was not a great writer … but her attempts deserve recognition.”47 Even then, critical attention appreciated Sui Sin Far’s works more than Onoto Watanna’s. In The Big Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Chinese American and Japanese American Literature (1991), the editors followed their previous collection by including three selections from Sui Sin Far, but none from her sister.48 Some critics observed that Sui Sin Far was more politically aware, and thus a more appealing writer, when resisting orientalist assumptions through her Chinese and Chinese American protagonists. Onoto Watanna, on the other hand, was disparaged or ignored because she denied her Chinese ancestry by posing as a Japanese woman, and gained popularity by catering to the prevalent white racial attitudes toward Asians.49

More recently, Dominika Ferens, Jean Lee Cole, and others have shown how the sisters undermined aspects of orientalism even as they incorporated them in their works. Viet Thanh Nguyen in Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America (2002) provides another take on Onoto Watanna. He suggests that, like other Asian American writers, she was more concerned with adapting to, and surviving in, mainstream society than with political resistance to structural inequalities. As exemplified by these works, the early 21st century experienced a dramatic growth of scholarship, both in depth and approach, on the Eaton sisters. Since then, biographies, literary criticism, and cultural studies now appear with regularity and examine the sisters’ lives and writings from a variety of literary, cultural, and historical perspectives.50

Indeed, the issues first explored by Sui Sin Far and Onoto Watanna still resonate with later Asian American novelists and memoirists. Many of these writers also address the difficulties of accepting white mainstream norms while resisting the view that they are perpetual foreigners within the nation’s citizenry. Examples include Younghill Kang’s East Goes West: The Making of an Oriental Yankee (1937), Carlos Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart (1946), John Okada’s No-No Boy (1957), Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts (1975), Le Ly Hayslip’s When Heaven and Earth Changed Places (1989), and May-lee Chai’s Hapa Girl: A Memoir (2008). Like the Eaton sisters beforehand, many of these works evaluate the sense of being caught among divergent customs, expectations, and histories. Critics have explored a variety of writers with Asian ancestries—from Korean and Filipino to Hmong, Pacific Islander, and mixed race—expanding on what constitutes Asian American literature. Many of these authors focus on global migrations and on how Western and Japanese imperialism in Asia affected these population movements.51

The influence of the civil rights movement also affected historical studies that complicated the idea of the United States as a “nation of immigrants” when looking at race and ethnicity. Earlier monographs by Elmer Clarence Sandmeyer and John Higham laid the groundwork for critiquing anti-immigrant sentiments.52 By the 1960s and 1970s, Gunther Barth, Stuart Creighton Miller, Roger Daniels, and Alexander Saxton expanded on the development of legal and social restrictions placed on Asian migrants, as well as on how mainstream white Americans thought about these populations.53 In the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century, bilingual historians such as Sucheng Chan, Erika Lee, and Huping Ling focused on the lives of Chinese Americans themselves during the exclusion era, showing how they developed communities and other methods of survival despite the constraints placed on them in the United States.54

Historians have also analyzed the ways in which family kinship networks, business associations, and political activists maintained lines of communication across the Pacific during the exclusion period and beyond. Madeline Yuan-yin Hsu’s Dreaming of Gold, Dreaming of Home: Transnationalism and Migration between the United States and South China, 1882–1943 (2000) traces the transformations of these broader links through migration patterns between, and community formations in, the United States and China. Rumi Yasutake’s Transnational Women’s Activism: The United States, Japan, and Japanese Immigrant Communities in California, 1859–1920 (2004) and Eiichiro Azuma’s Between Two Empires: Race, History, and Transnationalism in Japanese America (2005) look at the interactions among Americans, Japanese, and Japanese immigrants with regard to each side’s views on race, nationalism, and imperialism in Japan and the United States. Elliot Young’s Alien Nation: Chinese Migration in the Americas from the Coolie Era through World War II (2014) considers migrations throughout the broader Western Hemisphere, as laborers formed new communities in the face of new bureaucracies that sought to define and restrict them.55

Although immigration and U.S. imperialism at the turn of the 20th century have garnered a large amount of separate critical attention, historians have begun to think more about the connections between these subjects. Matthew Frye Jacobson’s Barbarian Virtues: The United States Encounters Foreign Peoples at Home and Abroad, 1876–1917 (2001) is among the most notable here. Early-21st-century studies on global migrations and imperialism also emphasize the give and take of political decision making and of forming transnational communities among different populations. Since the publication of Walter LaFeber’s classic, The New Empire: An Interpretation of American Expansion, 1860–1898 (1963), others have complicated his economic focus by including social, political, and cultural factors in empire building. Paul A. Kramer’s The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States, and the Philippines (2006) examines how the United States and Filipino elites worked to divide and conquer the rest of the Philippines. In the process (what Kramer calls “interimperial” relations), each side’s ideas about racial and national identity changed over the course of their interactions with one another. Jason M. Colby’s The Business of Empire: United Fruit, Race, and U.S. Expansion in Central America (2011) looks at race, labor, and capital, also through a transnational lens. This work evaluates how private companies participated in U.S. imperialism and affected the lives of Central American natives and West Indian migrant workers, and how these laborers responded in kind.56

Edward Said’s 1979 study of orientalism and his later work, Culture and Imperialism (1993), have offered multiple ways for scholars to analyze U.S. cultural history.57 One approach illustrated by Kristin L. Hoganson and Mari Yoshihara centers on gender, consumerism, and imperialism as interdisciplinary fields of study to examine orientalist desires and tastes in the United States. Others focusing on the intersections of race, gender, nation, and empire at the turn of the 20th century include Gail Bederman, Amy Kaplan, Gretchen Murphy, and John Carlos Rowe.58 These scholars’ works coincide well with the newer studies on Sui Sin Far and Onoto Watanna. Many of the early-21st-century analyses do not specifically mention the Eaton sisters, but they contribute much to understanding the origins and development of Asian American literature within the contexts of immigration and U.S. imperialism.

Primary Sources

Most of the writings by Sui Sin Far and Onoto Watanna are in print or are online. Various older editions of Onoto Watanna’s novels can still be found on university library shelves. Print editions of Sui Sin Far’s Mrs. Spring Fragrance and some of Onoto Watanna’s novels and short fiction that have been released since the late 20th century include Mrs. Spring Fragrance and Other Writings, edited by Amy Ling and Annette White-Parks (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995); Madame Butterfly and A Japanese Nightingale: Two Orientalist Texts, edited by Maureen Honey and Jean Lee Cole (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002); and “A Half Caste” and Other Writings / Onoto Watanna, edited by Linda Trinh Moser and Elizabeth Rooney (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003). Twelve of Onoto Watanna’s novels can be found at the Online Books Page, supported by the University of Pennsylvania.

Several archives hold the Eaton sisters’ papers. The University of Calgary Library’s Special Collections in Alberta, Canada, maintains some of Winnifred Eaton’s papers (located under her and her second husband’s name, Winnifred Eaton Reeve). Other papers of Winnifred Eaton’s are in the Department of Special Collections at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York (solely under her first husband’s name, Frank Babcock). The letters of Edith Maude Eaton are scattered throughout a range of sites, including Dartmouth College Library’s Special Collections in Hanover, New Hampshire; the Huntington Library in San Marino, California; the New York Public Library (Century Company Records, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division); and the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles.

A few of the turn-of-the-20th-century newspapers and magazines that published the Eaton sisters’ essays, short stories, or reviews of their works include the Boston Globe, Century Magazine, Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly, Harper’s Monthly, Ladies’ Home Journal, Lippincott’s Monthly, Los Angeles Express, Montreal Daily Star, Montreal Daily Witness, Montreal Gazette, San Francisco Call, Saturday Evening Post, and Woman’s Home Companion. Many of them are on microfilm at various university libraries. Interested researchers may refer to Diana Birchall’s Onoto Watanna: The Story of Winnifred Eaton (2001) and Annette White-Parks’s Sui Sin Far / Edith Maude Eaton (1995) for more-specific citations and source locations.

Links to Digital Materials

Further Reading

Azuma, Eiichiro. Between Two Empires: Race, History, and Transnationalism in Japanese America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.Find this resource:

Bederman, Gail. Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880–1917. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.Find this resource:

Birchall, Diana. Onoto Watanna: The Story of Winnifred Eaton. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001.Find this resource:

Chan, Sucheng, ed. Entry Denied: Exclusion and the Chinese Community in America, 1882–1943. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991.Find this resource:

Cole, Jean Lee. The Literary Voices of Winnifred Eaton: Redefining Ethnicity and Authenticity. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002.Find this resource:

Daniels, Roger. The Politics of Prejudice: The Anti-Japanese Movement in California and the Struggle for Japanese Exclusion. 2d ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.Find this resource:

Ferens, Dominika. Edith and Winnifred Eaton: Chinatown Missions and Japanese Romances. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002.Find this resource:

Hoganson, Kristin L.Consumers’ Imperium: The Global Production of American Domesticity, 1865–1920. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007.Find this resource:

Hsu, Madeline Yuan-yin. Dreaming of Gold, Dreaming of Home: Transnationalism and Migration between the United States and South China, 1882–1943. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000.Find this resource:

Jacobson, Matthew Frye. Barbarian Virtues: The United States Encounters Foreign Peoples at Home and Abroad, 1876–1917. New York: Hill and Wang, 2001.Find this resource:

Kaplan, Amy. The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002.Find this resource:

Koshy, Susan. Sexual Naturalization: Asian Americans and Miscegenation. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004.Find this resource:

Lee, Erika. At America’s Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882–1943. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.Find this resource:

McCoy, Alfred W., and Francisco A. Scarano, eds. Colonial Crucible: Empire in the Making of the Modern American State. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2009.Find this resource:

Murphy, Gretchen. “New Women in the New Pacific: Japanese–American Romances in the Context of U.S. Empire.” Prospects: An Annual of American Cultural Studies 29 (2005): 395–418.Find this resource:

Rowe, John Carlos. Literary Culture and U.S. Imperialism: From the Revolution to World War II. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.Find this resource:

White-Parks, Annette. Sui Sin Far / Edith Maude Eaton: A Literary Biography. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995.Find this resource:

Yoshihara, Mari. Embracing the East: White Women and American Orientalism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Notes:

(1.) Annette White-Parks, Sui Sin Far / Edith Eaton: A Literary Biography (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995), 9–52; and Diana Birchall, Onoto Watanna: The Story of Winnifred Eaton (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001), 3–26.

(2.) Ibid.

(3.) Matthew Frye Jacobson, Barbarian Virtues: The United States Encounters Foreign Populations at Home and Abroad, 1876–1917 (New York: Hill and Wang, 2001), 3–9.

(4.) Anders Stephanson, Manifest Destiny: American Expansionism and the Empire of Right (New York: Hill and Wang, 1995), 74–75; and Gregory H. Nobles, American Frontiers: Cultural Encounters and Continental Conquest (New York: Hill and Wang, 1997), 241–242.

(5.) John Hay, quoted in Richard Drinnon, Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian-Hating and Empire Building (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1980), 278.

(6.) Jacobson, Barbarian Virtues, 32–33; Emily S. Rosenberg, Spreading the American Dream: American Economic and Cultural Expansion, 1890–1945 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1981), 14–62; and Walter LaFeber, The New Empire: An Interpretation of American Expansion, 1860–1898 (1963; Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1987), 150–241.

(7.) Eric T. L. Love, Race over Empire: Racism and U.S. Imperialism, 1865–1900 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), 115–195.

(8.) Stephanson, Manifest Destiny, 106–108; and Drinnon, Facing West, 307–313.

(9.) Reginald Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981), 232–233.

(10.) Paul A. Kramer, The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States, & the Philippines (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006), 155–158; and Stephanson, Manifest Destiny, 78.

(11.) David J. Silbey, The Boxer Rebellion and the Great Game in China (New York: Hill and Wang, 2013); and Anthony E. Clark, Heaven in Conflict: Franciscans and the Boxer Uprising in Shanxi (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014).

(12.) Kramer, The Blood of Government; Jason M. Colby, The Business of Empire: United Fruit, Race, and U.S. Expansion in Central America (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011).

(13.) Takashi Fujitani, Splendid Monarchy: Power and Pageantry in Modern Japan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998); Donald Keene, Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852–1912 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005); and Gail Bederman, Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880–1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 198–200.

(14.) Jacobson, Barbarian Virtues, 64–65; and Rosenberg, Spreading the American Dream, 18–19.

(15.) Michael Omi and Howard Winant, Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s, 2d ed. (New York: Routledge, 1994), 53–76.

(16.) Grace Elizabeth Hale, Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890–1940 (New York: Pantheon, 1998); Mae M. Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004); and Peggy Pascoe, What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).

(17.) Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998), 39–90; and John Higham, Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism, 1860–1925, 2d ed. (1955; New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1988), 131–193.

(18.) Ronald Takaki, Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans, rev. ed. (1989; New York: Little, Brown, 1998), 84–86; and Jean Pfaelzer, Driven Out: The Forgotten War against Chinese Americans (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008), 121–290.

(19.) Sucheng Chan, ed., Entry Denied: Exclusion and the Chinese Community in America, 1882–1943 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991); and Erika Lee, At America’s Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882–1943 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003).

(20.) Gary Y. Okihiro, Cane Fires: The Anti-Japanese Movement in Hawaii, 1865–1945 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991), 3–61.

(21.) Lisa Lowe, Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996), 4–10; and Ngai, Impossible Subjects, 37–50.

(22.) Takaki, Strangers from a Different Shore, 40–41, 203–208, 417–418.

(23.) Okihiro, Cane Fires, 41–61; Takaki, Strangers from a Different Shore, 297–300; and Yong Chen, Chinese San Francisco, 1850–1943: A Trans-Pacific Community (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000), 148–161.

(24.) Madeline Yuan-yin Hsu, Dreaming of Gold, Dreaming of Home: Transnationalism and Migration between the United States and South China, 1882–1943 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000); Rumi Yasutake, Transnational Women’s Activism: The United States, Japan, and Japanese Immigrant Communities in California, 1859–1920 (New York: New York University Press, 2004); Eiichiro Azuma, Between Two Empires: Race, History, and Transnationalism in Japanese America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); and Elliot Young, Alien Nation: Chinese Migration in the Americas from the Coolie Era through World War II (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014).

(25.) Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage, 1979).

(26.) John Kuo Wei Tchen, New York before Chinatown: Orientalism and the Shaping of American Culture, 1776–1882 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999); Krystyn R. Moon, Yellowface: Creating the Chinese in American Popular Music and Performance, 1850s–1920s (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2005); David Brody, Visualizing American Empire: Orientalism and Imperialism in the Philippines (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010); David Weir, American Orient: Imagining the East from the Colonial Era through the Twentieth Century (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2011); and Joseph Andrew Orser, The Lives of Chang and Eng: Siam’s Twins in Nineteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014).

(27.) Maureen Honey and Jean Lee Cole, eds., Madame Butterfly and A Japanese Nightingale: Two Orientalist Texts (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002), 25–79; and Susan Koshy, Sexual Naturalization: Asian Americans and Miscegenation (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004), 29–49.

(28.) Honey and Cole, “Introduction,” in Madame Butterfly and A Japanese Nightingale, 8–9, 19.

(29.) Kristin L. Hoganson, Consumers’ Imperium: The Global Production of American Domesticity, 1865–1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007); and Mona Domosh, American Commodities in an Age of Empire (New York: Routledge, 2006).

(30.) Mari Yoshihara, Embracing the East: White Women and American Orientalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003).

(31.) Jean Lee Cole, The Literary Voices of Winnifred Eaton: Redefining Ethnicity and Authenticity (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002), 16–41; Viet Thanh Nguyen, Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 33–59; and Gretchen Murphy, “New Women in the New Pacific: Japanese–American Romances in the Context of U.S. Empire,” Prospects: An Annual of American Cultural Studies 29 (2005): 408–414.

(32.) Amy Ling and Annette White-Parks, eds., Mrs. Spring Fragrance and Other Writings (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995), 226.

(33.) Ibid., 225.

(34.) Honey and Cole, Madame Butterfly and A Japanese Nightingale, 38.

(35.) Moon, Yellowface, 30–56; and Robert G. Lee, Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1999), 27–43.

(36.) Honey and Cole, Madame Butterfly and A Japanese Nightingale, 110.

(37.) Pat Shea, “Winnifred Eaton and the Politics of Miscegenation in Popular Fiction,” Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States 22, no. 2 (1997): 19–32.

(38.) Ling and White-Parks, Mrs. Spring Fragrance, 219.

(39.) Ibid., 222.

(40.) Ibid., 224, 230.

(41.) Linda Trinh Moser and Elizabeth Rooney, eds., “A Half Caste” and Other Writings / Onoto Watanna (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003), 175.

(42.) Ibid., 176.

(43.) Elizabeth Ammons, Conflicting Stories: American Women Writers at the Turn into the Twentieth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 110–112.

(44.) Ling and White-Parks, Mrs. Spring Fragrance, 28, 33.

(45.) Amy Ling, “Winnifred Eaton: Ethnic Chameleon and Popular Success,” Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States 11, no. 3 (1984): 5–15; and S. E. Solberg, “Sui Sin Far / Edith Eaton: First Chinese-American Fictionalist,” Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States 8, no. 1 (1981): 27–39.

(46.) Frank Chin, Jeffrey Paul Chan, Lawson Fusao Inada, and Shawn Wong, Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian-American Writers (Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1974), xxi–xxii.

(47.) Solberg, “Sui Sin Far / Edith Eaton,” 27.

(48.) Elaine H. Kim, Asian American Literature: An Introduction to the Writings and Their Social Context (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1982); and Jeffrey Paul Chan, Frank Chin, Lawson Fusao Inada, and Shawn Wong, The Big Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Chinese American and Japanese American Literature (New York: Plume, 1991).

(49.) Ferens, Edith and Winnifred Eaton, 3–4.

(50.) Ferens, Edith and Winnifred Eaton, 19–45; Cole, The Literary Voices of Winnifred Eaton, 16–41; and Nguyen, Race and Resistance, 33–59.

(51.) Younghill Kang, East Goes West: The Making of an Oriental Yankee (1937; Los Angeles: Kaya, 1997); Carlos Bulosan, America Is in the Heart: A Personal History (1946; Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1973); John Okada, No-No Boy (1957; Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1978); Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts (1975; New York: Vintage, 1989); Le Ly Hayslip, When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman’s Journey from War to Peace (1989; New York: Plume, 1993); and May-lee Chai, Hapa Girl: A Memoir (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008).

(52.) Elmer Clarence Sandmeyer, The Anti-Chinese Movement in California (1939; Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991); and Higham, Strangers in the Land.

(53.) Gunther Barth, Bitter Strength: A History of the Chinese in the United States, 1850–1870 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1964); Stuart Creighton Miller, The Unwelcome Immigrant: The American Image of the Chinese, 1785–1882 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969); Roger Daniels, The Politics of Prejudice: The Anti-Japanese Movement in California and the Struggle for Japanese Exclusion, 2d ed. (1962; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999); and Alexander Saxton, The Indispensable Enemy: Labor and the Anti-Chinese Movement in California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975).

(54.) Chan, Entry Denied; Lee, At America’s Gates; and Huping Ling, Surviving on the Gold Mountain: A History of Chinese American Women and Their Lives (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998), 17–109.

(55.) Hsu, Dreaming of Gold, Dreaming of Home; Yasutake, Transnational Women’s Activism; Azuma, Between Two Empires; and Young, Alien Nation.

(56.) Jacobson, Barbarian Virtues; LaFeber, The New Empire; Kramer, The Blood of Government; and Colby, The Business of Empire.

(57.) Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Vintage, 1993).

(58.) Hoganson, Consumers’ Imperium; Yoshihara, Embracing the East; Bederman, Manliness and Civilization; Murphy, “New Women in the New Pacific”; Amy Kaplan, The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002); and John Carlos Rowe, Literary Culture and U.S. Imperialism: From the Revolution to World War II (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000).