Lem Chan – Chicken Oath

photo of Rooster
Chicken Oath
Lem Chan application
Lem Chan, Application for Duplicate of Certificate of Residence, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lem Chan, Portland Box 44 , Case 1016/38.














Lem Chan was 19 years old when he first arrived in the United States at San Francisco in 1871. Since then he was working as a cook in a restaurant in Astoria, Oregon. He was living at Me Gin John’s place when he lost his Certificate of Residence on Christmas day 1902. In 1904 he took a chicken oath to swear that his certificate was lost and destroyed by fire in Lum Lop Wy’s store.

[The rationale behind the Chicken Oath was that the Chinese were not Christians and therefore could not be believed when they swore on the Bible. Many courts in the United Sates and Canada had them swear over a freshly killed chicken.]

Gold, Martin. ”Chinese Oath Swearing,” Forbidden Citizens: Chinese Exclusion and the U.S. Congress : a Legislative History, (Alexandria, VA: TheCapitolNet, 2012), 60; digital images, (https://https://books.google.com : accessed 15 September 2015).

2 thoughts on “Lem Chan – Chicken Oath

  1. Hi Trish…This is completely new for me……I did know that a rooster was used for marriages where the groom was not available.  thanks….Loretta 


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