Mexicans after the U.S.-Mexican War

Beginning in spring 1846, after various diplomatic, informal economic, and unofficial militaristic attempts to take and occupy part of Mexico’s northern frontier, the U.S. declared war on its southern neighbor.  A decade after their politically unresolved dispute over Tejas, this war lasted for about one and a half years and resulted in the transfer of almost half of Mexico’s territory to the United States.

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed on February 2, 1848 and ratified by both nations the subsequent spring, agreed to a payment of $15 million for the lost territory; settled the dispute over Texas in the favor of the United States; made stipulations about the land transfer; and detailed responsibilities and obligations regarding the actions of the Native Americans living on much of that land (many of whom never recognized a “foreign” power sovereignty over them and, accordingly, were hostile to Mexico and the United States).  The Treaty also detailed what was to become of the Mexicans living in the newly conquered territories.

Mexicans in the now occupied lands were to be protected under the laws of the United States and the Treaty.  They retained the right to their language, religion, and culture.  Their property and land was protected by the law.  As for citizenship, they were offered one of three options: 1) declare their intent to retain Mexican citizenship; 2) leave to Mexico; or 3) become U.S. citizens by declaration or by doing nothing.

This was the first time in U.S. history that citizenship was extended to a population that was not formally recognized as “white” by the federal government.

Two generations later, most Mexicans living in the U.S. no longer held title to their lands and found their cultural way of life increasingly under attack as U.S. white supremacy came to predominate.  In California, as land transferred from Mexican to Euro-American hands, a very racially-motivated Workingman’s Party dominated the call for a Constitutional Convention.  In 1879, that new Constitution not only made Chinese immigration illegal (the primary cause of the Party), but it also destroyed the legal protections Mexicans once enjoyed, rights promised to them in the 1848 Treaty.  California once required Spanish and English as the languages of it official business.  Now the new Constitution followed the already common practice of an English language state.

The “nation of laws” violated international and domestic laws in order to secure a democracy for some (white, European, male) at the expense of others (Mexican and nonwhite).

For more information, see:
Racial Fault Lines: The Historical Origins of White Supremacy in California (Almaguer);
Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican American Race (Gomez); and
Border Citizens: The Making of Indians, Mexicans, and Anglos in Arizona (Meeks)

For more details on life for Mexicans in California after the war, see the classic Decline of the Californios: A Social History of the Spanish-Speaking Californias, 1846-1890 (Pitts).  The newer Negotiating Conquest: Gender and Power in California, 1770s to 1880s (Chavez-Garcia), which pays particular attention to issues of gender and sexuality, is also an excellent source.

Read more LATINO LIKE ME.

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9 thoughts on “Mexicans after the U.S.-Mexican War

  1. Pingback: Ethnic Studies Banned for Telling Truth « The American Perpetrator

  2. Hopefully, some history and justice oriented United States Congressperson or Senator will ask for restititution for every agrieved family whose rights were violated under this ruse to empower some greedy, ignorant, low-down person.

    Also, all the decendants of the legislators who sponsored the 1879, California Constitution should help with the financial aspects if they are billionaires whose fortunes were made on the backs of the deprived and whose rights were guaranteed by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hilldalgo (and the United States) and International Justice.

    Great article base on thruth and justice.
    My best,
    Charles “Chuck” Pineda, Jr. Retired Parole Board Judge,California
    Former Democratic candidate for Governor of California (1986-2010).

  3. Can you please refer me to information about the three-fifths clause and Mexican-Americans after the Mexican-American War. A scholar a couple decades ago told me Mexican-American women and children were not counted as people and men were counted as three-fifths of a person like African-American slaves.

  4. Misspelled truth and didn’t see the error until too late. Anyways here why Mexico lost the war. Spain never recognized Mexican Independence in 1821, as she felt New Spain was to rich to give her up. So, she invaded Mexico three times, and about several years apart. With new cannons from Germany, France, etc. they could hit Mexican army positions and artillery as the new cannons could shoot almost a mile while the old Mexican cannons could only shoot half a mile or less. Even though the Mexicans beat the Spaniards three times leaving several Spanish regiments in Vera Cruz for almost eighteen months before they departed. Casualties of Mexican soldiers was very high. Almost 475 thousand Mexican soldiers were killed, wounded and died, during those three Spanish invasions( Mexican sources).

    With almost a half millions men of military age killed during the Spanish invasions Mexico did not have the manpower to defend Tejas/Cuahuila from American or Europeans now American military forces.
    Then Santa Ana wrote president Polk a letter indicating if Polk let him enter Mexico he would guarantee that the Mexican Army would not win a single battle. AT THE TIME OF THE WRITTEN NOTE THE UNITED STATES NAVY WAS AFTER SANTA ANA, AND ANY SHIP HEADED TO MEXICO WAS BOARDED AND SEARCHED FOR SANTA ANA, FOR HE WAS TO BE PLACED UNDER ARREST AND TAKEN TO WASHINGTON.

    President Polk allowed Santa Ana to enter Mexico and within a few weeks took over the government as he was a very popular figure, and quite handsome! What Santa Ana stated to President Polk came true. The Mexican Army other than the initial battle that started the war lost every battle it fought with American forces. The only battle where the Mexican Army had flanked the American Army was at Buena Vista and was beating the army of Winfield Scott when Santa Ana told his victorious generals to stop the fighting and prepare to march to Vera Cruz as a new American force had landed.
    His generals protested violently stating they had the American army on the run, and in a few hours could route them leaving central Mexico in Mexican hands. I believe one general stated it would take three weeks for that new army to unload, organize, and march to support Scott’s army, and, therefore, now was the time for one great victory for the Mexico! Santa Ana overruled them all, and in the morning Scotts army waiting to be attacked and finished off saw no movement for the Mexican Army was gone.

    So, with no man power to replenish the Mexican army ranks due to the three Spanish invasions and one traitor president, Santa Ana, there was no way that Mexico could hold it’s territory, and the U.S. knew that Mexico didn’t have the manpower, artillery, navy, etc. to stop an American (English calling themselves Americans along with other northern Europeans who wanted free land and slavery) invasion or war machine.
    One thing that few historians like to mention is that the Mexican Constitution of 1821, DID NOT ALLOW SLAVERY IN ANY PART OF MEXICO, AND THAT IS WHY THE SOUTHERNERS WHO ENTERED MEXICO FOR FREE LAND CAME BY THE HUNDREDS, TOOK THE OATH OF LOYALTY TO MEXICO, GOT THEIR LAND BY STEVEN AUSTIN (EMPRESARIO), AND THEN LATER BROUGHT THEIR SLAVES WHICH, OF COURSE, ANGERED THE MEXICAN POPULATION, WHICH WAS NOW OUTNUMBERED. OUTNUMBERED DUE TO THOUSANDS OF RUFFIANS WHO DIDN’T TAKE ANY OATH, AND CAME TO TAKE TEXAS FOR THE U.S. THAT INCLUDED DAVY CROCKETT, SAM HOUSTON,WILLIAM TRAVIS A SUPPORTER OF SLAVERY. THE MEXICAN GOVERNMENT AND THE MEXICAN PEOPLE DID NOT LIKE TO SEE AFRICANS IN BONDAGE, AND SAW MANY TREATED LIKE CATTLE. AND THAT IS WHY WITHOUT MANPOWER, OLD CANNONS AND RIFLES, LACK OF UNIFORMS, AND FOOD THE MEXICAN PEOPLE STOOD AND FOUGHT TOE TO TOE WITH THE BIGGEST MOST POWERFUL ARMY IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE- THE UNITED STATES ARMY.

    CHARLES ‘CHUCK’ PINEDA, JR.OF CALIFORNIA
    Please excuse any typographical errors.

  5. If one doesn’t understand the above just think what we American’s did to the North American natives. We made 300 treaties with them an broke 299! The Seminoes were the only ones who we never conquered, however, they lived in the swamps of Florida. Read about how they were never beaten into submission by our army on the Internet.
    Republics, and that is what we are. Are not suppose to TAKE LAND THAT BELONGS TO OTHER REPUBLICS, ESPECIALLY YOUNG REPUBLICS LIKE THE MEXICAN REPUBLIC KNOWN TODAY AS LOS ESTADOS UNIDOS MEXICANOS OR THE UNITED STATES OF MEXICO. HOWEVER, WE DID.

    WE, AMERICANS ARE QUITE AWARE THAT IF MEXICO HAD KEPT ITS LAND WE WOULD BE THE POVERTY NATION, AND MEXICO WOULD BE THE WORLD POWER.

    MY BEST,
    CHARLES PINEDA, JR.
    8TH ARMY IN THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA (1959),

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