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Opium and the American West

In the mid-1800s, the moral system of American’s genteel classes revolved around Victorian ideology. Many Chinese moved to California in search of gold, bringing smoking opium with them. Soon the Victorians clashed with the Chinese, demanding opium dens be closed to protect the ladies and even the prostitutes who frequented the establishments. Demands to abolish the dens led to laws against the narcotic and the Chinese in attempts to save the nation from certain destruction.

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