Who built the levees in Sacramento?

A question from Yahoo! Answers:

What labor force was used to build the levees by Sacramento?

Was it Chinese immigrants forced into labor? Isn’t it true that to accomplish some big engineering feat, some source of cheap labor is ALWAYS required?

Was it Chinese immigrants? Largely. Forced into labor? Not exactly, but close. Chinese workers were paid wages far exceeding what a daily laborer could earn in China at the time (but still below what an immigrant from Europe could hope to earn in the U.S.), but only single men were hired, and they were forbidden to marry. In addition, in 1863 the Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which made naturalization very difficult, and in many cases impossible, for the Chinese workers. Quite a few actually ended up settling in Mexico and assimilating there.

Is it true that to accomplish some big engineering feat, some source of cheap labor is ALWAYS required? Used to be, but not anymore. Heavy machinery and concrete paving work miracles when it comes to labor requirements…

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