Questions: 1. Taking your information from Katherine Benton-Cohen’s book, Borderline Americans, write an essay on how the term “American” became synonymous with “white” in Cochise County during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Start by discussing the nature of relations between Mexicans and whites in the different sections of the county during the 19th century. How did relations change over time and what factors led to those changes?
In answering these questions, you should pay some attention to changing demographics but focus on how mining companies’ interest in exploiting its labor force, the Bisbee Deportations, and the aftermath of the deportations led to the creation of “one county, two races. ” Borderline Americans covers distinct situations that occurred in Cochise county where the definition of being American was pursued based on what benefited the Anglos in the area. IN areas such as in Tres Alamos, there were situations of intermarriage.
In Bisbee, there was the dual-wage system the separated Mexicans from Americans, and in Tombstone, Anglos and Mexicans would come together to combat native Indians. Yet, when Mexicans wanted to put their American civil rights to action, Anglos would counter act them by saying how they were not American enough. a. In Cochise County, “corporations and governments exerted enormous influence over the creation of racial categories” (pg. 14). Everyone fought over what defined race and who could benefit from the term (pg. 14). b. In Tres Alamos, Anglos and Mexicans were friendly towards one another for political reasons. In theory. New Spain’s elite was Spanish, but in a sparsely settled frontier area, people who were Spanish-speaking, wealthy, or landed qualified as being Spanish, and thus—in the context of American racial codes—white (pg 28). c. In other areas in Arizona such as in Tucson, Anglo cowboys and Mexicans joined forces to combat the native Indians (pg. 63). d. In Bisbee, there still existed a dual-wage system. Here, Mexicans were paid less than the Anglo men despite their skills. Corporations ruled the community, so they set the define line of who was worthy to be American and who was not based on pay (pg. 07). Dual wage system. I. Spanish American Identity: a. “The Spanish American identity in New Mexico was conceived in myth and is sustained by memory” (pg. 212). i. The Spanish American identity was an illusion that Nuevomexicanos created and lived up to during the late years of the 19th and early 20th century. b. It originates from its diverse “struggles against political and social marginalization, and was nurtured by a burgeoning tourist industry, a Hispanophilic cultural movement, and locally authored histories and scholarship” (pg. 2). i.
The Spanish identity came out of years of political and social suppression. Nuevomexicanos wanted to define their racial identity, and by identifying with their Spanish origins they could argue their “purity of blood” and distinguish themselves from being “Indian” or “Anglo”, claiming identity to their European roots which was racially white, and moving away from their ‘mixed-blood Mexican immigrant identity, yet identify with their attachment to the land (by way of conquest) (pg. 16-17). ii. In summary, there was no such thing as a Spanish American identity.
This was a mythical race that Nuevomexicanos created for their benefit. Nuevomexicanos hung to their Spanish roots because it gave them the power to identitify with their European roots, disassociate themselves from their Indian and Mexican immigrant roots, and still gain the privilege of enjoying social and civic equality with Anglo Americans (pg. 16). II. The White perception of Nuevomexicanos during the immediate years following the Mexican-American War. a. Anlgo’s questioned as to whether or not the Mexican-American people of New Mexico were ‘fit’ enough to be granted full U.
S. -citizenship. i. The media of the time was a great example of how Anlgo’s viewed Neuvomexicanos. They mentioned how Mexicans “still “professed a deep hostility to American ideas and American policies. ” Rather than assimilating into the nation cultural and political mainstream, the newspaper noted, these Mexicans stubbornly clung to their habits, political affiliations, and semipagan religious practices; they abhorred all things “American” and had little resolve to show their patriotism during the war . . (pg. 1). ” 1. Anglo’s felt that Mexican’s would never be able to be loyal to the American government, and therefore they should not be granted U. S. citizenship. The media only added to this notion. b. Mexicans, because they were a mixed race, were also viewed as rebels and ‘political subversives’, and many U. S. officials such as Senator John C. Calhoun felt that they had “inherited the worst characteristics of both races, and to be “unfit” for U. S. citizenship or for self-government” (pg. 53). i.
To many US Anglos, Mexicans were biologically predisposed to be savages and incapable of being loyal citizens to the United States. III. White’s views of Nuevomexicanos, New Mexico and statehood, and white migration and tourism to New Mexico. a. When Nuevomexicanos began to take claim to their “Spanish” European race, and attempt to move away from their Indian or Mexican identity, Anglo’s began to be more accepting of the state and its people. i. “The statehood debate illustrates how racial perceptions and relations played a major role in the formation of the Spanish American consciousness” (pg. 3). 1. Representative Joseph M. Root lobbied for New Mexico to gain statehood and he said how “Their race or “blood mixture” was of little consequence to their ability to govern” (pg. 56). ii. New York Representative William H. Seward was a vocal supporter for New Mexico, and he said a speech referencing Nuevomexicanos to their Spanish roots. 1. “By praising the Spanish colonial past, Seward implied that New Mexico’s Indians and Nuevomexicanos heralded from a genteel, colonial society characterized by Christianity and racial order” (pg. 7). b. Nuevomexicanos began to redefine themselves as “Spanish” in ethnic origin and “American” in nationality (pg. 92). i. Other Anglos who were collaborating with Nuevomexicanos for their acceptance into statehood emphasized their Spanish American identity and “transformed New Mexico into the tourist capital of the Southwest, a Mecca for “American” immigrants and visitors who delighted in Spanish and Indian cultures” (pg. 2). 1.
By Nuevomexicanos adopting a Spanish American identity, they not only gained support from other Anglo leaders, but they were also socially accepted and their ethnic background became a new tourist attraction for other Americans to come and see. IV. Romanticization of the Spanish past by Hispanophilia. a. “Hispanophilia was born of a desire to return to a simpler way of life that, in fact, had never been all that simple . . . It was an ideology (pg. 147). i. This was a way for the Spanish Americans to be proud of their racial background, yet at the same grounds have the acceptance they desired from the Anglos. . Many US Anglos from other states still feared the rumors about Mexicans and their violent characteristics. In an effort to move away from such misconceptions, Nuevomexicanos with the help of boosters, promoted their Spanish American identity, which then gave birth to Hispanophilia. This notion allowed them to create a “fantasy heritage” that was acceptable for Anglos and yet gave them the ‘acceptable means of defining their historical identity’ (pg. 148) V. Nuevomexicanos and their Spanish American Identity a.
Nuevomexicanos used their new Spanish American identity to their advantage, for it was their only way of regaining control over their ‘declining political fortunes, land base, and language’ (pg. 148). i. From Hispanophilia came the birth of Hispanidad. 1. “Hispanidad entailed claiming ownership, most notably, of Hispanic heritage, language, values, beliefs, and culture” (pg. 171). ii. They also came to use this to their advantage by demonstrating how Spanish Americans were equal to Anglos in racial hierarchy, yet they kept their Spanish distinction from that of the Anglo’s.