San Francisco's Chinatown formed its first merchant association in the 1840's. The association welcomed new arrivals and helped them negotiate the new language and find housing and work. The original organization gradually grew into a network of six district associations, which collectively became known as the Chinese Six Companies.
Such networks of associations held together all the major Chinese communication in the United States. During the 1880's, a national group collected the state associations into a national organization called the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA). They would become a well-organized national defense against hate crimes, racist legislation, and bigotry.
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