Public Service Message frofn the American Income Life Insurance CompanyExecutive offices, Waco, TexasBernard Rapoport, Pres. Spanish Surnamed American Employment One of a series of excerpts from SPANISH SURNAMED AMERICAN EMPLOYMENT IN THE SOUTHWEST by Fred H. Schmidt, Institute of Industrial Relations, University of California at Los Angeles. Prepared for the Colorado Civil Rights Commission under the auspices of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Printed by U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. $2.00. Mention has already been made of a significant difference between English, later United States, and Spanish colonial policies. The Spanish often mingled their blood with that of native populations. Intermarriage between Spanish and Indian became sanctioned by royal decree in 1514. This contributed to the fact that the predominant population of Mexico became mestizos, mixed bloods, with only minorities of the original Indian and Spanish stocks. In contrast to the English, the extent of Spanish penetration on the continent was not to be measured by a simple head count, of the number of settlers who came from the home country. The Canary Islanders who were brought in to found San Antonio were few in number. However, they laid out a city not just for themselves but also for the native Indian populations. They intended to convert what Indians they could and to include them in their society. True, their manner of accomplishing this was not always gentle, and the place accorded Indians within Spanish colonial settlements was not always to their liking. Nonetheless, the Spanish had a more relaxed view than the English on questions of racial and ethnic integration. For instance, in the group of 22 adults who first settled Los Angeles, 20 were nonwhite of which 10 were Negro. One searches in vain for an English parallel to this colonial policy on our east coast. The peoples who faced each other across the new international boundary had this important difference. It set the stage for differences that persist today. In the 1820’s the Mexican Government permitted immigration into Texas and gave large grants of land to colonizers. Immigrants were required to accept Mexican rule and the Roman Catholic faith and to forego the practice of slavery, an institution it had made unlawful in 1829. None of these conditions were met with universal good faith. By 1836 the number of Anglo settlers who ranked under Mexican rule was sufficient to challenge that rule. They saw it as despotic, declared their independence, and successfully defended it. Mexico did not concede the loss, but 9 years later, in 1845, this did not stay the United States from annexing the newly born Republic of Texas. The gauntlet was then down. Mexico promptly broke off diplomatic relations with the United States. The situation was aggravated by the fact that there was no agreement as to the extent of Texas’ boundaries. Texans of that time held that their borders encompassed most of the present State of New Mexico, plus parts of the present States of Oklahoma, Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming. The area actually annexed by the United States was very much less than that and did not extend much past the center of the present State or south beyond the Nueces River. Even so, Texans for their part asserted a claim to all the land to the south between the Nueces and the Rio Grande Rivers. in the Southwest President Polk eventually moved to recognize the Texans’ claim and sent an army first to the Nueces and later to the Rio Grande. He alerted a Pacific naval squadron to seize California ports, should a war develop. When Mexican troops crossed the Rio Grande and attacked a unit of American soldiers in the disputed Nueces strip, Polk asked for and got a declaration of war from Congress on May 13, 1846. But military victories for the United States came more readily than did Mexican acceptance of peace. When Congress lifted the injunction of secrecy from the messages and documents pertaining to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which was the treaty of peace that was made following a change in the Mexican Government, the reasons for Mexico’s stubborn concern became generally known. Mexico had resisted accepting the inevitable out of concern for the fate of its own nationals who were to be absorbed by the United States. It acknowledged and accepted the pledge of the United States to recognize the right of its nationals to remain where they were and to preserve their property and nationality, but it . was fearful, it said, rest “they remain strangers in their own country.” It told the U.S. commissioner, “it is not the Government of Mexico that will place a price upon the adhesion of its citizens to the soil upon which they were born.” It was a new, more suppliant Mexican Government that came to power 5 months, after this exchange and assented to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The treaty secured for the United States the land it had gone to war to get. It was approved by the Senate. The Southwest had become part of the United States. It should be said that the country was not of one mind about this seizure. The Congress was divided on it. One freshman Congressman, Lincoln from Illinois, was outspoken against the war. He said of the President, I more than suspect that he is deeply conscious of being in the wrong that he feels the blood of this war, like the blood of Abel, is crying to Heaven against him. * * * His mind tasked beyond its power, is running hither and thither, like some tortured creature, on a burning surface, finding no position, on which it can settle down and be at peace. * * * He knows not where he is. He is a bewildered, confounded and miserably perplexed man. But President Polk’s chief perplexity was whether the United States was seizing all the land that he felt the situation warranted. When he submitted the treaty to the Senate for ratification, he confided to his diary, “If the treaty was now to be made, I should demand more territory.” He felt pressed by those who wanted to take all of Mexico and who saw in this act something more than a mere transfer of acreage. U.S. Senator Sam Houston, the former President of the Republic of Texas, was one who argued, The Anglo-Saxon race [must] pervade the whole southern extremity of this vast continent. * * * [The] Mexicans are no better than the Indians, and I see no reason why we should not take their land. * * * We are now in the war * * * giving peace, security and happiness to those oppressed people. Abolitionist Congressman Thaddeus Stevens later spoke of them as “hybrid” people, degraded and priest ridden. Clearly, the United States wanted their land, not them.
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