As I took the time to read and reflect upon Chapter 9 entitled: Mesilla, New Mexico, CA. 1850 – 77 from the book entitled: “EL NORTE.” (Gibson, 2019). Once again the author is commended for such in-depth cross-disciplinary research.
Within this chapter we learn of the redistribution of territories, land grants, claims and legislations that were created as the United States began to grapple with its identity. One such example is the area known as Mesilla. I did find it humorous and actually on-point as the author quotes: “‘We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us'” (2019, p. 222). The irony is in-fact that the U.S. territory was drawn upon Mexican lands that were build upon the Spanish precedent. As Mesilla was purchased by the U.S., and the control of the territory was ceded to the U.S.
Land / Grants / Legislation – “California at the time of 1848 treaty had more than ten million acres under Spanish or Mexican land grants” (p. 227). Under the 1851 California land Grant Act all unclaimed territories would be claimed by the state, unless valid documentations of land grants from Mexico or Spain were produced. Similar processes were utilized in Louisiana and Florida. Land Grant legislation was complicated, especially within Texas as Mexico did not recognize Texas’ independence at the time.
Slavery / Race / Ethnicity – Issues of slavery were revisited with the transformation of California, such as which states would allow slavery or not, as well as the runaway slaves as mentioned in previous chapters. The Compromise of 1850, the Fugitive Slave Acts were drawn up instead of the crucial legislation that would prohibit slavery (p.226). Francis P. Ramirez , a Mexican who became an American writer / publisher, struggled with pro-slavery democratic notions, and the treatment of Hispanic Americans (p. 229). Issues of slavery intersected with race, ethnicity and also began to determine who had the right to vote. For instance: If you had white skin, you had the right to vote (p. 233). This left various races, ethnicities at odds. The Mestizo began to claim their Spanish heritage to affirm whiteness in-order to be allowed to vote (p. 234).
As people began to migrate and settle within states, states had to make a decision to allow slavery or not. This created splits between the Democratic and what was known as the Whig Party. With the 1854 bill the Democratic Party voted in favour of slavery. The Whig party became tattered, thus the formation of the new Republican Party (p. 238).
Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte III – Napoleon III Emperor of France saw opportunity to spread its influence in the Americas and desired to put a puppet Monarch in-charge of Mexico, the Austrian Maximilan I. France viewed Latin languages as a common unifying element between France, Spain, Portugal as well as the religion of Catholicism (p. 245). However Jùarez the President of Mexico was not going to allow this to happen. This is where the battle of Cinco de Mayo is commemorated and celebrated. The Mexicans won this key victory (p. 245). Although there were times where the Austrian did become the Emperor of Mexico, Maximilian I was viewed as the Austrian interloper, who knew nothing about a country that he was placed to govern. Napoleon III pulled his troops from Mexico, Maximilian was executed on the basis of treason (p. 245).
Abraham Lincoln – Within this time frame Abraham Lincoln was now President of the United States. Included in his Presidency legislation was created, for the constructions of railroad networks, such as the Pacific Railroad Act, the Union Pacific Railroad Company, Maxwell Land Grant, Desert Land Act 1877, and a manifesto to protect the poor (p. 252). With the development of land legislations created for the purposes of social innovation and progress, there also arrived the re-emerging desires for the re-creation of the past especially in California (p. 253). Californians and Indians were especially at odds with the “Spanish past. Mexican rule. and subsequent U.S. Conquest” (p. 253). A literary era emerged with publications and tourism that mirrored the emotion of the time.
Arts / Publications / Preservations – Notable names include Charles Lummis, The Spanish Pioneers and the California Missions. Hubert Howe Bancroft which also created the Bancroft library. Bancroft was interested to collect stories and personal narratives. Maria Ruiz de Burton was an early winter famed also for her love story with the U.S. Captain Henry S. Burton. Maria a Catholic and Burton a Protestant, in-love and married. Helen Hunt Jackson was an early writer who took interest and advocated for the Native American. The literary community held the Spanish era with great regards and persons of a noble lineage. Italian born artist Constantino Brumidi began to preserve early American history with the Frieze of American history. It was also through writing and preservations that parts of history were left out. Fredrick Jackson Turner presented the Turner papers, Whilst these papers were accepted, his publications were criticized especially as they left-out critical parts of American Hispanic History.
Cuba – Cuba was known as the sugar island and at the time was not independent from Spanish Rule, Spain recognized the value of Cuban sugar and did not want to forego this territory (p. 239)..
Filibuster – The word filibuster comes from the word filibusteros in Spanish. Adaptation of the Dutch word Vrijubiter, not to be confused with how the term is utilized in the politics of the day (p. 239).
Reflection: As with previous chapters I found some difficulty to understand the complexities of land formations, legislations and the developments that came with the victories of wars. I think that it is genuinely ok to say this simply as I am not a historian but rather intrigued and interested upon this huge chunk of history of America that is really a cry-out to be known, be preserved and does not deserve to be wiped out. I absolutely loved to discover the early emerging writers who took an interest to preserve the Spanish past.
Within the reading of this chapter we may also take the time to reflect upon the great work that has been done with former revolutions, protests, including voting rights. We can also note the many advocacies that were done to abolish slavery even before the time of of President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamations.
Whilst this reading and the creation of these blog posts is part of my independent research I would like to offer a quote from Rice University that is reflective of the importance of Historical research as follows: “scholars and students passionate about studying the past in order to help us understand our contemporary world.” (Rice University, Department of History, n.d.)
Gibson, C. (2019). EL NORTE The Epic and Forgotten History of Hispanic North America. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.
Rice University. (n.d). Rice University, Department of History. https://history.rice.edu
Related Blog Posts:
- BOOK READING NOTES!
- “EL NORTE”
- EMERGING VOICES!
- ST. AUGUSTINE
- SUMMARY | CHAPTER 3!
- CHAPTER 4 | SUMMARY!
- CHAPTER 5 | SUMMARY!
- CHAPTER 6 | SUMMARY!
- CHAPTER 7 | SUMMARY!
- CHAPTER 8 | CONNECTIONS!
- CHAPTER 9 | SUMMARY!
- ARCHITECT OF THE CAPITOL | Frieze of American History
- History of American Women | MARIA RUIZ DE BURTON
Notes: These thoughts were originally hand-written on July 19th 2021. Please note that these are my thoughts and views upon my reading to gain an understanding of American history of what interested me within this chapter, there are many more points that have not been discussed within my writing. Whilst I have included historical Democratic and Republican views these are not reflective of a personal political opinion. Thank You!
My Thoughts To Share With Love & Kindness! 🙂