Declining Social Acceptance of Anglo-Mexican intermarriage in 1850s Texas

From Martha Menchaca, “The Anti-Miscegenation History of the American Southwest, 1837 to 1970: Transforming Racial Ideology into Law,” Cultural Dynamics 20, no. 3 (2008), 287.

As the Mexicans’ social status declined so did intermarriage. Mexican women were no longer sought after as marriage partners by Anglo American men, a practice that had been common in San Antonio and Laredo, two cities with a majority Mexican population. In 1855, Texan land investor John Donelson Coffee noted in a letter to his cousin that Mexicans were no longer accepted in Anglo American social circles (Boom, 1966: 283). According to Donelson, in San Antonio Anglo Americans socialized with four or five Mexican families and only considered the single women of these families acceptable marriage partners. These women were described as light complexioned, unlike the rest of the Mexican women who Donelson derogatorily called “greaser” and characterized them to be dark like mulattas (Boom, 1966: 283). Corroborating Donelson’s observations are the marriage records from San Antonio. By the late 1840s, only a handful of Mexican women married Anglo American men and, in 1850, out of 60 Anglo American marriages only 4 involved Mexican brides, a pattern that continued into the 1860s (Bean and Bradshaw, 1970: 394; Dysart, 1976: 369).

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