“spin-offs from racial attitudes developed and cultivated through repeated interaction with colored people on the western frontier were being bestowed upon another caste in a different setting”; “a race of ‘mongrels'” (de Leon)

De León positions Texas Mexicans as another people of color in the 19th century racial system, projected into coloredness through “spin-offs from racial attitudes developed and cultivated through repeated interaction with colored peoples on the western frontier,” and keyed to Anglo interpretation of mestizaje as forming a “mongrel” or “degraded” racial status. Emory, qtd. here, on “practical amalgamation of races of different color” and unions between the “cleaner race” or the “white” and “his darker partner.” In p. 112 n. 18 we have de León’s take on the 1845 constitutional convention debate (via Crisp), the first place I heard tell of it.

Manifestly, spin-offs from racial attitudes developed and cultivated through repeated interaction with colored peoples on the western frontier were being bestowed upon another caste in a different setting. As Olmsted reported in his notes on Texas society of the 1850s, Mexicans were regarded as “degenerate and degraded Spaniards” or, perhaps, “improved and Christianized Indians.” Generally, their tastes and social instincts were like those of Africans. “There are thousands in respectable social positions [in Mexico] whose color and physiognomy would subject them, in Texas, to be sold by the sheriff as negro-estrays who cannot be allowed at large without detriment to the commonwealth,” he concluded.[18]

In view of the Southern presumption that individuals with any noticeable trace of African blood were blacks and given the contempt whites had for Indian “half-breeds,” it is not surprising that “niggers,” “redskins,” and “greasers” intimately intermingled in the Anglo-Texan mind. Moreover, whites considered racial mixing a violation of austere moralistic codes. According to Joseph Eve, U.S. chargé d’affaires to the Republic, the Texans regarded Mexicans as a race of “mongrels” composed of Spanish, Indian, and African blood.[19] To Francis S. Latham, traveling in Texas in 1842, Mexicanos were nothing more than “the mongrel and illicit descendants of an Indian, Mexican and Spanish, pencilled with a growing feintline of the Anglo Saxon ancestry.”[20] Such feelings about “mongrels” stemmed from the extensive lore American culture had developed concerning [17] the undesirability and supposed peril of miscegenation, especially between whites and blacks. Certainly, the mixed-blood nature of Tejanos concerned Anglo-Americans because of their cultural aversion to interracial passion, a subject upon which whites expressed themselves adeptly, albeit with no scientific basis. According to white beliefs, Mexicans resembled the degenerates from whom they descended. Although they inherited both the faults and the good qualities of their ancestors, unfortunately, the darker traits predominated, so that Mexicans by nature were superstitious, cowardly, treacherous, idle, avaricious, and inveterate gamblers. William H. Emory, surveying the boundary between the United States and Mexico, related this idea in an incidental remark included as part of his report, finished during the Franklin Pierce administration. Attributing the decline and fall of Spanish domination in Texas and the borderlands to a “baneful” cohabitation between whites and Indians, he continued:

Where practical amaglamation of races of different color is carried [out] to any extent, it is from the absence of the women of the cleaner race. The white makes his alliance with his darker partner for no other purpose than to satisfy a law of nature, or to acquire property, and when that is accomplished all affection ceases. Faithless to his vows, he passes from object to object with no other impulse than the gratification arising from novelty, ending at last in emasculation and disease, leaving no progeny at all, or if any, a very inferior and syphilitic race. Such are the favors extended to the white man by the lower and darker colored races, that this must always be the course of events, and the process of absorption can never work any beneficial change. One of the inevitable results of intermarrying between races of different color is infidelity. The offspring have a constant tendency to go back to one or the other of the original stock; that in a large family of children, where the parents are of mixed race but yet the same color, the children will be of every color, from dusky cinnamon to chalky white. This phenomenon, so easily explained without involving the fidelity of either party, nevertheless produces suspicion followed by unhappiness, and ending in open adultery.[21]

This sort of pseudoscience dictated the status of mixed-blood Tejanos in a white state.

Arnoldo de León, They Called Them Greasers: Anglo Attitudes toward Mexicans in Texas, 1821-1900. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983., 17-18.

 

  1. [18]Olmsted, Journey Through Texas, p. 454.  In 1845, serious debate dealing with the Mexicans’ color arose at the state constitutional convention. Some of the delegates protested that limiting citizenship and franchise to free “white” males might exclude Tejanos (Crisp, “Anglo-Texan Attitudes toward the Mexican,” pp. 413-416). For another example in which whites questioned Mexicans’ right to citizenship because of their color, see Texas State Gazette, April 21, 1855, p. 4.
  2. [19]Joseph Eve, “A Letter Book of Joseph Eve, United States Chargé d’Affaires to Texas,” ed. Joseph Nance, Southwestern Historical Quarterly 43 (October 1939): 218, (April 1940), 494, 506, 510.
  3. [20]Francis S. Latham, Travels in Texas, 1840, or the Emigrant’s Guide to the New Republic, p. 227; Roemer, Texas, p. 11; [Wright and Wright?], Recollections of Western Texas, p. 32; McIntyre, Federals on the Frontier, p. 254. Miscegenation produced curious side effects in Mexicans, according to popular lore. According to border resident Jane Cazneau, “the stoic Mexican, true to his Indian nature, endures suffering himself in silent, passive fortitude, and has no tenderness or sympathy for suffering or anything else” (Eagle Pass: Or, Life on the Border, p. 68; see also pp. 53, 70), while the German Ferdinand Roemer believed the Mexicans had somehow inherited the same inclination and skill for stealing horses as their Indian ancestors (Texas, p. 150).
  4. [21]House Exec. Doc. No. 135, 34th Cong., 1st Sess. (Ser. 861), I: 68-70. For a similar discourse on ethnology, see Vielé, “Following the Drum,” p. 158.

“The contemptuous word greaser…” (de León)

From Arnoldo de León, on the history and possible significations of the anti-Mexican racial slur “greaser” / grisero.

The contemptuous word greaser which whites used to identify Mexicans may well have applied to Indians as well, since the Indians’ olive color was thought to be a result of their practice of anointing their skins with oils and greases.[10] John C. Reid, passing through Texas as a prospective settler in the 1850s, sought to ascertain the origin of the application of the word upon finding that male Mexicans from Texas to the Pacific coast were called “greasers” and the females “greaser women.” He failed to find a satisfactory explanation, learning only that it had something to do with the similarity between the Mexicans’ color and that of grease. Another transient, commenting upon the vocabulary used in the El Paso region, supported this explanation: “A ‘greaser’ was a Mexican–originating in the filthy, greasy appearance of the natives.”[11]

Arnoldo de León, They Called Them Greasers: Anglo Attitudes toward Mexicans in Texas, 1821-1900. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983., 16.

 

  1. [10]Winthrop D. Jordan, White Over Black: American Attitudes toward the Negro, p. 241.
  2. [11]John D. Reid, Reid’s Tramp: Or, A Journal of the Incidents of Ten Months’ Travel …, p. 38; Albert D. Richardson, Beyond the Mississippi: From the Great River to the Great Ocean … 1857-1867, p. 239. There are, of course, several explanations of the origin of the word greaser. See Lloyd Lewis, Captain Sam Grant, p. 142; Américo Paredes, “On ‘Gringo,’ ‘Greaser,’ and Other Neighborly Names,” in Singers and Storytellers, ed. Mody C. Boatright et al., pp. 285-290; Cecil Robinson, Mexico and the Hispanic Southwest in American Literature, pp. 38-39; Daily Cosmopolitan (Brownsville, Texas), July 23, 1884, p. 3. Whatever the origins, the word was used commonly in reference to Mexicans.

“Middle-class Mexican Americans … drew distinctions between themselves and lower-class Mexicans who they often regarded as ‘Indios’ or ‘Indian Mexicans’ and used terms like ‘mojados’ …” (Foley)

racial stratification within Tejanx community — “indios,” “mojados,” etc. / BB&W, 134

These middle-class Mexican Americans in El Paso sought to eliminate once and for all the ambiguity surrounding Mexican racial identity. First, they recognized that any attempt to define them as “nonwhite” could easily come to mean “noncitizen” as well, because many Anglos did not regard Mexicans, particularly of the lower class, as truly American or fit for American citizenship. Second, middle-class Mexican Americans themselves drew distinctions between themselves and lower-class Mexicans who they often regarded as “Indios,” or “Indian Mexicans” and used terms like “mojados” (“wetbacks”) and other terms of class and racial disparagement. Hamilton Price, the black El Pasoan, pointed out as much when he reminded El Pasoans about the close, even intimate, relations that existed between blacks and lower-class Mexicans in El Paso, from Mexican men shining the shoes of African American men to African American men marrying Mexican women.

Neil Foley, "Partly Colored or Other White: Mexican Americans and Their Problem with the Color Line," in Beyond Black and White: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the U.S. South and Southwest, ed. Stephanie Cole and Alison M. Parker, 123-144 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 204), 134.

 

“organizations for the protection of the frontier against Indian raids or Mexican marauders” (Gammel, Laws of Texas 1927)

PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT–AUTHORIZING LEGISLATURE TO GRANT CONFEDERATE PENSIONS REGARDLESS OF DATE PENSIONER CAME TO TEXAS OR WHEN WIDOW MARRIED PENSIONER OR WHEN SHE WAS BORN

H. J. R. No. 15.]

HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION

[…]

Be it resolved by the Legislature of the State of Texas:

Section 1. That Section 51, Article 3, of the Constitution of the State of Texas by amended so as to read as follows:

[465] “The Legislature shall have no power to make any grant or authorize the making of any grant of public moneys to any individual, association of individuals, municipal or other corporations whatsoever; provided, however, the Legislature may grant aid to indigent and disabled Confederate soldiers and sailors under such regulations and limitations as may be deemed by the Legislature as expedient, and to their widows in indigent circumstances under such regulations and limitations as may be deemed by the Legislature as expedient; to indigent and disabled soldiers, who, under special laws of the State of Texas during the war between the States, served in organizations for the protection of the frontier against Indian raids or Mexican marauders, and to indigent and disabled soldiers of the militia who were in active service during the war between the States, and to the widows of such soldiers who are indigent circumstances, and who are or may be eligible to receive aid under such regulations and limitations as may be deemed by the legislature as expedient; and also grant for the establishment and maintenance of a home for said soldiers and sailors, their wives and widows and women who aided in the Confederacy, under such regulations and limitations as may be provided for by law; provided the Legislature may provide for husband and wife to remain together in the home…”

[466] […] [Note.— H. J. R. No. 15 was amended and passed the House February 16, 1927, 103 yeas, 5 nays; finally passed in the Senate March 10, 1927, 25 yeas, 0 nays.]

Approved by the Governor, March 30, 1927.

H. P. N. Gammel, The Laws of Texas, 1927: Supplement Volume to the Original Ten Volumes, 1822-1897 (Austin, Texas: Gammel's Book Store, 1927), 465 (link).

“The conflict in Texas was over land” (Anderson)

I argue, however, that the situation in Texas fails to rise to the level of genocide, if genocide is defined as the intentional killing of nearly all of a racial, religious, or cultural group. I seek to draw an important distinction from it. […] Texans would have been pleased had the groups they wanted removed simply left without violence. But these groups did not. The conflict in Texas was over land; indiscriminate killing, while common during the fighting, never became a prolonged, strategic, state policy on either side. […] The ethnic conflict continued in Texas because Anglos wanted it to; ethnic cleansing, not genocide, became state policy.

Gary Clayton Anderson, The Conquest of Texas: Ethnic Cleansing in the Promised Land, 1820-1875 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2005), 7.

“Such a conflation created a two-race system–whites and ‘others.'” (Deutsch)

When Harjo and his fellow Snakes returned gunfire, two men, including the son of the sheriff, died in the battle. The white newspapers had a field day, vastly inflating the numbers killed and declaring “WAR WITH SNAKES.” Posses roamed the countryside arresting Indians and blacks. They burned Harjo’s house and looted others, under the guise of putting down a rebellion. White papers demanded “protection and Indian suppression”; the mayor of Henryetta declared, “The Snake Indians and the negroes affiliated with them are a menace to the country and should be captured.”[46] The local federal Indian agent maintained that Harjo would have to admit that “this was going to be a white man’s country.”[47]

The white posse and its allies had strategically conflated freedmen from everywhere, blacks of all sorts, and Creek resisters. Such a conflation created a two-race system–whites and “others.” In this case, “blacks” (unlike in the state’s constitution) became “Indians.” Engaging the script of the Anglo western conquest allowed these whites to pose the eradication of a black settlement as a final Indian engagement, a legitimized whitening of the West against a known external enemy.

Sarah Deutsch, "Being American in Boley, Oklahoma," in Beyond Black and White: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the U.S. South and Southwest, ed. Stephanie Cole and Alison M. Parker, 97-122 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 204) Deutsch, Sarah. “Being American in Boley, Oklahoma,” in Beyond Black and White: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the U.S. South and Southwest, edited by Stephanie Cole and Alison M. Parker, 97-122. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2004., 113.
  1. [46]Quoted in Littlefield and Underhill, “The ‘Crazy Snake Uprising,'” pp. 323-24.
  2. [47]Kelsey quoted in Kenneth Waldo McIntosh, “Chitto Harjo, The Crazy Snakes and the Birth of Indian Political Activism in the Twentieth Century” (Ph.D. dissertation, Texas Christian University, 1993), p. 136. The troops never found Harjo, who had sought refuge among the Choctaw Snakes and died in 1911.

“All Negroes and Indians … shall be incapable of being a witness in any case whatever, except for or against each other” (Oldham and White, 1859)

Art. 448 [65] from Oldham and White (1859), 120, also gives a standard for racial definition.

Witnesses, who are incompetent.

Art. 448. [65] All Negroes and Indians, and all persons of mixed blood, descended from negro ancestry, to the third generation inclusive, though one ancestor of each generation may have been a white person, shall be incapable of being a witness in any case whatever, except for or against each other.[b]

George W. White and Williamson S. Oldham, eds. A Digest of the General Statute Laws of the State of Texas (Austin, Tex.: Printed by J. Marshall & Co., 1859), 120 (link).

 

 

  1. [b]Negro testimony is inadmissible in all cases, except for and against each other. Rice v. Lemon, 16 Tex. Rep. 593.

“said land shall not be … within four miles of the residence or improvements of any white inhabitant of this State” (Alabama Indians Relief Act, 1854)

Section 1. Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Texas, that twelve hundred and eighty acres of vacant and unappropriated land, situated in either Polk or Tyler counties, or both, to be selected by the Chiefs of the Alabama Indians and the Commissioners hereinafter named, be, and the same is hereby set apart for the sole use and benefit of, and as a home for the said tribe of Indians….

Sec. 3. That said land shall not be selected or located within four miles of the residence or improvements of any white inhabitant of this State. And that said Indians shall not alien, lease, rent, let, give or otherwise dispose of said land or any part thereof to any person whatsoever. And should the State of Texas hereafter provide a home for said tribe of Indians, and settle them thereon, then the said twelve hundred and eighty acres of land, with its improvements, shall become the property of the State.

“An Act for the relief of the Alabama Indians,” February 3, 1854. H. P. N. Gammel, The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897, Vol. 4 (Austin, Texas: Gammel's Book Store, 1898), 68 (link).

 

“not to permit any Indian or Indians, to be absent from said Reservations … unless they are accompanied by some white man, or men, to be sent with them” (Laws of Texas, 1858)

Be it Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Texas, that the Governor be, and he is hereby requested to urge upon the authorities of the Federal Government at Washignton, the great necessity of the immediate establishment of a permanent military post as near the junction of the larger Wichita and Red River as practicable, and the Indian Agents in charge of the Indians on the Texas Indian Reserve, be instructed to require every male Indian over the age of twelve years, to be upon the Reserve under his control every day, unless such Indian or Indians have his special written permission to be absent; and that such Agents be instructed not to permit any Indian or Indians, to be absent from said Reservations by special permission more than three days at any one time, unless they are accompanied by some white man, or men, to be sent with them by him, to prevent them from committing depredations on the citizens of the country, or communicating with other Indians not known to be at peace with Texas, or sent with white men [276/1148] as guides, hunters, &c., or sent by said Agents as spies, of express bearers; and that the Agents be required to enforce these instructions, and that the Government furnish and keep constantly at each Reserve, a sufficient military force to enable Agents to carry out such instructions. And that our Senators and Representatives in Congress be requested to co-operate with the Governor in accomplishing the objects of this Resolution, and that the Governor be requested to furnish each of them and the President and Secretary of War, and Secretary of the Interior of the United States, with a copy of the same.

Approved, January 29th, 1858.

Joint Resolution of January 29, 1858. H. P. N. Gammel, The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897, Vol. 4 (Austin, Texas: Gammel's Book Store, 1898), 275-276 (link).