Author Archives: Scott D. Seligman

Scott D. Seligman

About Scott D. Seligman

Scott D. Seligman, a writer, historian, retired corporate executive and career “China hand,” holds an undergraduate degree in history from Princeton University and a master’s degree from Harvard University. Fluent in Mandarin and conversant in Cantonese, he lived in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China for eight years and reads and writes Chinese. He is the author of The First Chinese American: The Remarkable Life of Wong Chin Foo, Three Tough Chinamen and Chinese Business Etiquette and co-author of the best-selling Cultural Revolution Cookbook and Now You're Talking Mandarin Chinese.

Joseph Thoms: Defending America’s Chinese


By on

7 Comments

Old Fulton NY Post Cards   By Tom TryniskiThe first Western-trained Chinese physician to practice in the U.S. lived most of his life in Brooklyn, where he established America’s first modern hospital for Chinese patients. A strong civil rights advocate at a time when his community could boast few of them, he spoke out frequently and forcefully against the injustices to which Chinese in America were subjected.

China-born Joseph Chak Thoms (1862-1929), known in his native Cantonese dialect as Tom Ah Jo, arrived in California as a teenager in the mid-1870s. He had a gift for language and soon mastered English with hardly an accent. After being baptized by a Presbyterian missionary – which earned him a beating from his uncle – he took a job as a cabin boy and sailed around the world on a steamer, visiting Japan and India before returning to America. Continue reading