Mexican American Mistreatment

896 Words 4 Pages
The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the short-lived Mexican-American War and awarded the United States more than half of Mexico’s territory. As the border moved south to the Rio Grande, between 75,000 and 100,000 Mexican citizens suddenly found themselves living in American territory. They were unfamiliar with their new country’s laws, language, and customs, and although the Treaty had awarded these new Mexican-Americans the full protections and rights of United States citizenship, it did not lessen the tensions caused by the recently ended war. In fact, for most Americans, the war had solidified their stereotypes of Mexicans—they were an inferior, cowardly, lazy, and immoral people. As a result, Mexicans became the frequent victims …show more content…
Some wealthier Mexican-Americans, however, chose to reject their Mexican heritage, proclaiming instead that they were from Spain, and were therefore white. This essay hopes to identify the connection between these various events and asks the question: How did the United States’ oppressive treatment of Mexican-Americans affect the formation of the their identity in the Southwestern United States from 1848-1900?
In order to answer this question, it is important to examine the subject’s historiography. The scholars’ work that most helps me with my research can be divided into three main themes—the mistreatment of Mexican-Americans in the Southwest, the establishment of a Mexican ethnic awareness, and the development of alternative Mexican-American identities. The abuse directed towards Mexican-Americans is widely documented by several authors and took two main forms. There was the physical violence, such as the lynching of Mexican-Americans, described by Carrigan and Webb and Juan Gonzalez , and the robbery of Mexican-American cattle and beatings delivered by the Rangers, described by McWilliams . There was also the structural, social, political, and economic abuse described by many of the authors I read, including
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To discuss the abuse of Mexican-Americans, I found several New York Times articles from the late 19th century that cover various incidents of Mexican-American lynching. I also found a book from the late 19th century that demonstrates how Mexican-Americans had their land stolen by squatters. To analyze the development of mexicanidad, I found the corrido of Gregorio Cortez. The corrido as a style of folkloric-expression is important because of its theme—the Mexican-American hero from the border, defending his rights and fighting injustice from the United States with a gun in his hand. The corrido of Gregorio Cortez presents the Mexican-American as a crafty, humble man who is doing nothing more than protecting himself from the corrupt sense of justice in the United States. The popularity of the corrido that was so oppositional to the United States, therefore, demonstrated a growing unity in the community and the solidification of the Mexican-American identity with a “them versus us” mentality. Finally, I have several other newspaper articles from the New York Times that make explicit mention of a division between Mexican-Americans and Spanish-Americans, even stating that Spanish-Americans are not from the same

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