Mexican Americans


Fifure 1.--This is prosperous Mexican-American family in the 1950s. They were probably descendenys of Mexican families that lived in the northern areas annexed by the United states after the Mexican-American War. The snapshot looks to have been taken uin the 1950s. This was when the large-scale illegal immigration to the United States began.

Spain's colonial regime discouraged the growth of commerce and industry. Spanish colonies were to ship raw materials to the mother country and not develop industries thast might compete with the mother country. The Inquisition also stifeled not only divergent religious ideas, but also freethinking in general, including political, scientific, and social ideas as well. As a result, the Spoanish colonies languashed behind the English colonies to the north. The Spanish Government restricted political power to native-born Spainards. As Criollos grew in numbers, they resented exclusion from political power. Unlike the English colonies, there were no colonial legislatures. The great bulk of the population, the Mexicans of Native American or Mestizo origins were denined not only political power, but who suffered from an uneven distribution of land and wealth. As in the rest of the Spanish Empire, the criollos revolted against Spain. Mexico achieced its independence (1821). This put the criolls in power, but did little to provide economic opportunity to Native Americans and the increasinly large mestizo poplation. Regional differences resulted in the loss of Texas (1836). Mexico fell increasingly behind its northern neigbor which at the time of the Mexican American War (1846-48) had begun to industrialize. The better armed and led forces, defeated the Mexican forces and Mexico was forced to cede the northern part of the country. Mexicans living in the area became American citizens unless they moved south. The Mexican population in what became the American Southwest was relatively small and the Mexican-American population was highly regional and relatively small. Wealthy Mexicans lost their land when American courts refused to recognize Spanish land grants. Porfirio Diaz and the Cientificos msade some progress in modernizing Mexico's infrastructure, but did not address to growing inequities in Mexican life. This led to the Mexican Revolution (1910-20). The turmoil in Mexico led some Mexicans to flee across the border. The Partidio Revolucionsarion Institutional (PRI) established an authoritarian regime with rigged elections. PRI leaders attempted to both moderize Mexico and address the social inequities. The PRI mixture of crony capitalism, socialism, naionalism, and popularism proved to be a poor substitute free market capitalism. And Mexico fell increasingly behind the United States and Canada. After World War II, the growing wage disparities between Mexico and America resulted in a steady flow of largely illegal imigration north across the virtually wide open border.

Colonial Mexico

Spain's colonial regime discouraged the growth of commerce and industry. Spanish colonies were to ship raw materials to the mother country and not develop industries thast might compete with the mother country. The Inquisition also stifeled not only divergent religious ideas, but also freethinking in general, including political, scientific, and social ideas as well. As a result, the Spoanish colonies languashed behind the English colonies to the north. The Spanish Government restricted political power to native-born Spainards. As Criollos grew in numbers, they resented exclusion from political power. Unlike the English colonies, there were no colonial legislatures. The great bulk of the population, the Mexicans of Native American or Mestizo origins were denined not only political power, but who suffered from an uneven distribution of land and wealth. As in the rest of the Spanish Empire, the criollos revolted against Spain.

Independence

Mexico achieced its independence (1821). This put the criolls in power, but did little to provide economic opportunity to Native Americans and the increasinly large mestizo poplation. Regional differences resulted in the loss of Texas (1836).

Mexican American War (1846-48)

The Mexican War was a conflict between the United States and Mexico. It is one of the most important wars fought by the United States because of the vast area of land annexed, about one-third of Mexio. It has, however, been given relatively little attention by American historians, possibly because it does not fit well into America's self image. Assessments of the War vary among both Mexican and American historians and among American historians. And these assessments have varied over time. The War began when Mexican units attacked U.S. troops in dispured territory between Mexico and Texas (April 25, 1846). Ther initial fighting took plasce in northern Mexico when General Zacrarry Taylor attacked across the Rio Grande. A small American force took New Mexico and California. When Mexico refused to make peace the United States invaded Mexico at Vera Cruz. The forced commanded by Gen. Winfield Scott moved inland and occupied Mexico City (September 14, 1847). A peace treaty was signed a few months later at Guadalupe Hidalgo (February 2, 1848). Mecico recognized the U.S. annexation of Texas and ceded California and New Mexico to the United States. Mexican historians have always seen the Mexican War as naked agression by the United States. Some American historians in recent years have also come to this conclusion. This is considerable truth in this, but a strong jigoist element in Mexico desiring to retake Texas has to be considered. One often ignored question is why so few Mexicans moved into the northern territories. One reason the United States prevailed in the War was that so few Mexicans lived in California and New Mexico. The War is also notable because of the roles played by key figures in the coming American Civil War.

Mexicans in the Southwest

exicans living in the Southwest became American citizens unless they moved south. The Mexican population in what became the American Southwest was relatively small and the Mexican-American population was highly regional and relatively small. Wealthy Mexicans lost their land when American courts refused to recognize Spanish land grants.

Porfiriato (1876-1911)

Porfirio Diaz and the Cientificos msade some progress in modernizing Mexico's infrastructure, but did not address to growing inequities in Nexican life.

Mexican Revolution (1910-20)

Diaz' unwillingness to address social inequities led to the Mexican Revolution (1910-20). The turmoil in Mexico led some Mexicans to flee across the border.

Partidio Revolucionario Institucional (PRI)

The Partidio Revolucionsarion Institutional (PRI) established an authoritarian regime with rigged elections. PRI leaders attempted to both moderize Mexico and address the social inequities. The PRI mixture of crony capitalism, socialism, naionalism, and popularism proved to be a poor substitute free market capitalism. And Mexico fell increasingly behind the United States and Canada. THe PRI both failed to create a modern econmy and refused to relingish control of the Mexican Government to the country's growing middle class through democratic elections.

Inter-war Era

We do not know much about Mexican-Americans during the inter-War era. The photographic record during erarly periods seems rther limited. A factor here was probably economics. We do note a Mexican American boy, Roldolfo Cordero in 1922.

Illegal Immigration

After World War II, the growing wage disparities between Mexico and America resulted in a steady flow of largely illegal imigration north across the virtually wide open border.

Mexican Americans

A California reader writes, "I have plenty of opportunity to observe Mexicans here in California. A society without Mexican soccer clubs, restaurants and parks without Mexican food would be unthinkable. However, in spite of the large numbers of Mexicans, they only play a mediocre role in our societies. Have you ever noticed that you seldom see Mexican actors in our movies or commercials? The typical Mexican with the wide sombrero is absent, so are normal Mexican-Americans students, cops, shopkeepers, etc. Unless it is a criada working for an Anglo family. There is not a single advertisement or movie without black actors, Orientals and Indians from India also are plentiful, but there are seldom Mexicans (Latinos) to be seen. Don't tell me that they have no talent. There must be another problem. The Mexicans themselves might be to blame, When you see an old Mexican movie of the 30s, in Spanish, it could have been made in Spain. All the girls and women have long legs, white skin and blond hair. The only "Mexican" person is somebody ridiculous, a maid, a farmer or a clown." The question our reader raises is an interesting one, not so much about Mexican families, but Mexicans in general. Hispanics are present in sports, at least baseball. As to entertainment, you are correct the black presence is much more prevalent. But both blacks and Hispanics are not present in other areas of our society. As to why is a good question. Surely education is part of it. My own opinion is that the Protestant ethnic is not present. Both groups see the Government as their salvation. They want the Government to guarantee them a prosperous life. They are less interested in taking advantage of the opportunities that Americ offers them. Compare this to success achieved by another group of Hispanic immigrants--Cubans. Here a major difference was that the Cubans were mostly middle-class Cubans fleeing Castro and Communism. Mexican migrant are primarily working-clss people, many with the sanme social attitudes that have left Mexico a poor country, unble to provide decent jobs for its people.

Folk Costumes

We do not know a great deal about Mexican folk cosumes and their popularity among Meican Americans. We don not have much of an archive about Mexican American. This suggests that they did not commonly have portraits taken in the late-19th and early-20th century. Economic factors y be involved here. But we do ee portraits from other low-income groups. We begin to see Mexican Americans dessing up in folk costumes after Word War II, especially by the 1960s and 70s. This was a time when Americans generally were beginning to explore their ethnic origins. At the time, the Meican-American population was still primarily concentrated in the Southwest. The Mexican Americans ans other Hispanic Americans have since spredout thrioughout the country and you see Mexican Americans wearing folk costues on a variety of special events. The mot important, of couse is Cinco de Mayo which is incresingly becoming a popular celebration on the wider American culture. This seems especially popular with the girls who wear brighly colored dresses with flareing skirts. We see fewer boys dressing up in costumes, although the broad sombrero hats are popular. The black deorated jackets are very expensive. The boys often wear white campesiono outfits with neckrhiefs which are more afordable. The children often put on dances in these costumes.







HBC






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Created: 12:47 AM 2/22/2010
Last updated: 9:30 PM 10/30/2012