Ng Poon Chew
Chew and his new daily paper quickly attracted opposition from official representatives of the Ching Dynasty in America and from the tongs who controlled most of the illegal activities in Chinatown. He persevered and eventually won the respect of his community as a consistent champion of Chinatown against any attack - no matter the source. The paper did its best to cover all sides of every issue in America and in China and gained great respect for itself and for Chew. In April 1904 the revolutionary, Sun Yat Sen, arrived in San Francisco and was detained by immigration officials. Sun requested Chew's assistance in freeing him from detention and Chew obliged even though Sun's revolutionary position was at odds with the reformers that Chew supported
In 1905, in the wake of the Chinese boycott of American goods, Chew went on a cross country speaking tour to explain to American audiences the relationship of the boycott to the way in which Chinese were treated in America. During this tour he addressed the House of Representatives and met with President Theodore Roosevelt. Everywhere he was well received but public opinion did not change. America remained opposed to the "yellow peril" and restrictive immigration practices were not modified. Chew decided to write a book outlining the history of the Chinese in America and the contribution that they had made to the building of the country. By April 18, 1906 the manuscript was approaching completion when San Francisco was rocked by a terrifying earthquake followed by an all-consuming fire that destroyed Chinatown and Chew's manuscript. The book was never published.
Following the fire Chew reestablished his offices in Chinatown, but moved his family to Oakland where they purchased a home and successfully integrated themselves into the community. The Ching Dynasty offered Chew a position as advisor to the Chinese Consul in San Francisco and he accepted in order to be in a better position to assist his community in its efforts to rebuild after the fire even though he continued to support the reform movement. During 1906 he continued to speak out in favor of a relaxation of the exclusionary legislation and was dubbed the "Chinese Mark Twain" because of his mastery of the use of humor in the English language.
In 1908 The Empress Dowager and Kuang Hsu, the heir apparent, both died. With the suspicious death of Kuang Hsu, the reform party lost something of its rational and public opinion within the Chinese overseas community began to shift toward Sun Yat Sen's call for revolution. Chew's own feelings appear to have started swinging that way as well, but he worked hard to keep his paper neutral. In November 1909 Sun once again travelled to San Francisco in search of funds and Chew greeted him warmly. Chew's paper gave extensive coverage of Sun's speeches but did not openly support him in its editorial content.
In 1910 Chew visited China as part of a delegation from the Associated Chambers of Commerce of the Pacific Coast. He left San Francisco in September 1910 and returned in May 1911 after traveling widely in China. On his return to San Francisco Chew's editorials began reflecting wholehearted support for Sun's revolutionary policies. On October 10, 1911, Sun Yat Sen's supporters commenced the revolution by occupying Wuchang City in Hupei Province. In addition to supporting Sun in the editorials of his paper Chew began raising money for him and continued his support through the difficulties of the revolution in the following years. In 1913 Chew was named China's Vice Consul in San Francisco and in June of that year he was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters by the University of Pittsburgh.
Following Sun's revolution Chew was in great demand on the Chautauqua speaker circuit throughout America. He did his best to explain events in China and to continue his fight against intolerance toward Chinese in America. As World War I drew nearer and Japan began pressuring China he began to worry that Sun was not strong enough to deal with the situation. When America entered the war in 1917 Chew's oldest son, Edward, joined the army and was commissioned a first lieutenant - the first Chinese American to receive a commission. Chew supported the war effort in his newspaper and worked hard on the Liberty Loan drive. Following the war Chew continued his very active participation in the Chautauqua program and visited all of the forty eight states, but racial prejudice against the Chinese still pervaded American society.
Sun died in 1925 and Chiang Kai-shek emerged to replace him at the head of the Kuomintang political party. Chew supported Chiang hoping that he would have the strength to unify the country. On the home front Chew's efforts to moderate the exclusionary laws won a small victory when in 1930 Congress agreed to permit the entry of some wives of Chinese living in the United States. Early in 1931 Chew was ordered by his doctor to slow down and to rest. His strenuous speaking tour had fatigued him and he was having some trouble with his heart. On March 13, 1931 Chew died peacefully in his Oakland home surrounded by his family. Leaders of the Anglo and Chinese communities eulogized him.