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Denis Kearney

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Denis Kearney (1847–1907) was a California labor leader from Ireland who was active in the late 19th century and was known for his racist views about Chinese immigrants. Called “a demagogue of extraordinary power,” he frequently gave long and caustic speeches that focused on four general topics: contempt for the press, for capitalists, for politicians, and for Chinese immigrants. He is known for ending all of his speeches with the sentence “And whatever happens, the Chinese must go” (a conscious inspiration from Roman senator Cato the Elder’s fame for ending all speeches with ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam).Kearney was part of a short-lived movement to increase the power of the working class, but after a few years his increasingly vitriolic language and his repeated arrests for inciting violence alienated many of those whom he was trying to influence. When the economy grew stronger in the early 1880s, Kearney faded from public notice. He started an employment agency where he worked until his health began to fail around 1900. He died in Alameda, California, in 1907.