“this race of men who, as the legitimate proprietors of this land, lost it together with their lives and their hopes” (Navarro)

Mexican independence, germinated in the blood of these martyrs, was finally declared in September 1821.

But what ingratitude! Not one single murmur ever crossed the mountains of Anahuac [Mexico City] to console the broken remnant of those brave patriots. Such is the end for heroes! Perhaps their renown would be more complete if they were to receive the miserable compensation due from their fellow men. To complete the picture of misfortune, the few descendants who survive in San Antonio are disappearing, murdered in full view of a people [un pueblo] who boast of their justice and excellence.

Consolación Leal, heroine of those days, died a few months ago, killed by a Spaniard, and Antonio Delgado was riddled by bullets from the rifle of an American bastard.

May Divine Providence use these historical commentaries to stir generous hearts to treat with more respect this race of men [esa raza de hombres] who, as the legitimate proprietors of this land, lost it together with their lives and their hopes, to follow in the footsteps of those very ones who now enjoy the land in the midst of peace and plenty.

Jose Antonio Navarro, “Commentaries of Historical Interest,” in Defending Mexican Valor in Texas: Jose Antonio Navarro’s Historical Writings, 1853-1857. Edited and translated by David R. McDonald and Timothy M. Matovina. Austin, Tex.: State House Press. 76.

“The debate turned on both economic and racial convictions” (De Leon, Mexican Americans in Texas)

The debate turned on both economic and racial convictions. The antirestrictionists advanced the economic argument that U.S. agriculture [69] could not survive if government interrupted immigration. Growers maintained that immigrants worked hard and did not demand the high wages wanted by Anglos. Antirestrictionists also tried to assure those fearing social ruination that the “Mexican Problem” was manageable. They conceded that Mexicans were a degenerate people and posed some moral and political dangers to the country, but that Mexicans were, all in all, docile and law-abiding, and insisted that their presence could be controlled by restricting their employment opportunities to the fields, where they would not jeopardize the fabric of white society.[10]

Small-scale farmers and Anglo field hands, conversely, challenged the notion of free admittance into the country, for immigrants were willing to work for less, keeping American cotton pickers from making “honest” wages. Labor unions also sought to arrest easy entry into the country, fearing that Mexican immigrants might, once across the border, reject farm work and seek employment in industrial capacities. A cast of politicians, educators, concerned citizens, and racists further argued that racially backward Mexicans disrupted the American way of life and caused disease, crime, and other problems.[11]

By the end of the 1920s, the restrictionists triumphed over the antirestrictionists as the United States government directed consuls to exercise greater controls in granting passports to Mexicans. Though the number of entrance visas granted to Mexicans fell after 1929, by then the depression had begun to hamper immigration northward from Mexico.[12]

Arnoldo de Leon, Mexican Americans in Texas: A Brief History, 2nd ed. Wheeling, Illinois: Harlan Davidson, Inc., 1993/1999. 68-69.

  1. [10]Ibid. [Montejano], pp. 183, 188.
  2. [11]Ibid., pp. 183, 189, 179, 190; Neil Foley, The White Scourge […] pp. 52-55
  3. [12]Montejano, Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, pp. 182, 190; Corwin, Immigrants–and Immigrants, p. 146.

The specific historical sites where race was daily given shape (Johnson)

From Walter Johnson, Soul By Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market, 136.

Historians have riddled that relation into various shapes. Some have argued that slavery was built out of race, that culturally based bias against “blackness” and a religiously determined desire to dominate “heathen” Africans underwrote the economic exploitation of the Atlantic slave trade and American slavery. Others have argued that slavery was first and foremost an economic system, that exploitation preceded racialization, and that racism–presumed inferiority–became important only when a system of social relations faced novel assertions of human equality. As the historian Barbara Jeanne Fields puts it, race was a particularly toxic “byproduct” of the southern mode of production in the “Age of Revolution.” Recently, it has been suggested that both of these descriptions of the relations between economic exploitation and racial domination might be sharpened by attention to everyday life, to the specific historical sites where race was daily given shape.[3]


  1. [3] Winthrop D. Jordan, White Over Black: American Attitudes to the Negro, 1550-1812 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1968); Barbara Jeanne Fields, “Ideology and Race in American History,” in J. Morgan Kousser and James M. McPherson, eds., Region, Race, and Reconstruction: Essays in Honor of C. Vann Woodward (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), 143-177; Barbara Jeanne Fields, “Slavery, Race, and Ideology in the United States of America,” New Left Review, 181 (1990), 95-118, quotation on 109; Thomas C. Holt, “Marking Race: Race-making, and the Writing of History,” American Historical Review, 50 (1995), 1-20. My approach embarks from the premises outlined by Fields and Holt. I am also indebted to Henry Louis Gates, Jr., ed., Race, Writing, and “Difference” (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986); David Theo Goldberg, ed., Anatomy of Racism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990); Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, “African-American Women’s History and the Metalanguage of Race,” Signs, 17 (1992), 251-274; Michael O’Malley, “Specie and Species: Race and the Money Question in the Nineteenth Century,” Nell Irvin Painter, “Response to Michael O’Malley,” American Historical Review, 99 (1994), 369-408; Colette Guillaumin, Racism, Sexism, Power, and Ideology (London: Routledge, 1995); and Mia Bay, The White Image in the Black Mind: African-American Ideas about White People, 1835-1925 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).