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tong war

any of several feuds carried on in U.S. cities (e.g., San Francisco and Los Angeles) between gangs of Chinese immigrants or their descendants. These gang wars spanned a 70-year period beginning in the 1850s and continuing until the 1920s. The term tong, meaning a hall, or meeting place, came to be used by the white population in the 1880s, usually to refer to the secret societies or fraternal organizations that were involved in illegal activities, such as opium trade or gambling.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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