Racial identities could be stratified by class, conditioned by loyalty or flattened for all Mexicans.

Racial identities could be stratified by class — which tended strongly to favor elite Tejanxs — or conditioned by loyalty — which did not necessarily do so, depended on local history and often provided a shield or an angle of attack on the community as a whole; or it could be flattened for all Mexicans.


Lorenzo de Zavala’s second wife, who he married before he came to Texas, was an American widow, Emily West de Zavala. (Henson)

HOP # 5, n. 40. “… There are some prominent exceptions to the generalization that mixed marriages primarily joined Anglo men and Tejana women; Lorenzo de Zavala’s second wife, who he married before he came to Texas, was an American widow, Emily West de Zavala. Henson, Lorenzo de Zavala, 53-55.”

Meanwhile, Zavala was unconcerned about colonists. He had fallen in love during the autumn. Estranged from his wife for a number of years, Zavala doubtless had entered into amorous affairs during his time in Mexico City. Apparently he was an admirer of beautiful women. In his Viage a los Estados-Unidos, published in 1834, he said that Mexican travelers wer always surprised by the beauty of Anglo American women. With their “good color, large bright eyes, well-shaped hands and feet …” they were unusually attractive although they lacked the voluptuous walk of Mexican women. Now at age forty-two, he met a beautiful, tall, dark-eyed New York native half his age.

During his early morning walks in Battery Park near his boardinghouse, Zavala regularly noticed the attractive young woman with two small children. After discreet inquiry, he learned that her name was Mrs. Miranda West Cresswell. After a proper introduction, the young widow enjoyed the attention from the cosmopolitan gentleman. Like Pygmalion and Galatea, Zavala began educating her to suit his more sophisticated taste by giving “her an accomplished education,” according to gossips. He even changed her first name to Emily, according to a note in his journal.

On December 22, the pair sailed for France where Zavala was to recruit colonists for the Galveston Bay Company. Upon reaching Paris in February, Zavala bought “Madame [54] Zavala” new clothes, subscribed to English and French newspapers, and contracted to print 5,000 copies of his Ensayo Histórico de las Revoluciones de Megico desde 1808 hasta 1830. He had worked on this first volume of his history for the past several years.


When Zavala’s enemies in Mexico City learned about his companion, one publicly labeled him a vagabond and a libertine. From Mexico City, Mexía warned his friend that rumors about him were spreading around the capital. Zavala’s wife had died in Yucatán in April 1831, and he should have received the news in Paris in May or June. Whether her death triggered the gossip is unknown.


[55] Personal busienss required Zavala’s attention on Saturday, November 12, his second day in New York. Early in the morning he visited Father Félix Varela, the pastor of the Catholic church on Ann Street, about performing a marriage ceremony for himself and Emily, who was seven months pregnant. The couple returned to the church at eight that evening and the priest gave them his “nuptial benedictions.” Zavala dutifully noted these details in his journal.

Margaret Swett Henson, Lorenzo de Zavala: The Pragmatic Idealist (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1996), 53-55.

One way to break down the bipolar model is to note how Anglos and Tejanos, especially elite Tejanos, often collaborated together in the other racial projects of Texas. They quarreled over questions of loyalty to the alliance, but there was an alliance nevertheless. Mexicans brought Angloamericans into Texas largely in order to expel or blockade Indians in order to control the North and insulate the interior from the expanding Comanche empire. The cost of their arrival was Tejano support for a more rigidly racialized and expansive form of plantation slavery. Some elite Tejanos independently aspired to join Mexican Texas to the great Deep South cotton boom. The dynamic system they forged raised anxieties about defection, especially from racially ambiguous lower-class Mexicans. But the development of another, clearly Anglo dominant racial polarity to capture Texas Mexicans is a later product, beginning in the racial troubles of the 1850s-60s, and developing for real in the segregation era of the 1870s-90s as institutions created for other racial projects — Texas Rangers and violent reprisal for alleged rustling/depredations, Jim Crow racial codes, etc. — came to be turned against Texas Mexicans as well as African Americans and Indians.