Intermarriage, Mexicanization of Anglo Elites, and Tenuous Legitimacy in the Lower Valley (Montejano)

From David Montejano, Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, 1836-1986, pp. 36-37.

As in San Antonio and Laredo, the acommodation between the old and incoming elites in the Lower Valley manifested itself in tactical marriages. It was customary among the Mexican elite, as Jovita González has noted, that daughters were married at an early age, and not for love, but for family connections and considerations.[42] [37] On the other hand, for the Anglo settler, marrying a Mexican with property interests made it possible to amass a good-sized stock ranch without considerable expense. The Americans and the European immigrants, most of whom were single men, married the daughters of the leading Spanish-Mexican families and made Rio Grande City a cosmopolitan little town. Among those who claimed the Spanish language was their own were families with such surnames as Lacaze, Laborde, Lafargue, Decker, Marx, Block, Monroe, Nix, Stuart, and Ellert. As one Texas Mexican from this upper class recalled: There were neither racial nor social distinctions between Americans and Mexicans, we were just one family. That was due to the fact that so many of us of that generation had a Mexican mother and an American or European father.[43]

[…] For the Anglo settlers, some degree of Mexicanization was necessary for the most basic communication in this region, given the overwhelming number of Mexicans. But such acculturation meant far more than the learning of a language and proper etiquette; it represented a way of acquiring influence and even a tenuous legitimacy in the annexed Mexican settlements. From participation in religious ritualis and other communal activities to becoming family through godparenthood or marriage–such a range of ties servedto create an effective everyday authority, a type that Ranger or army guns alone could not secure.

  1. [42] Jovita González, “Social Life in Cameron, Starr, and Zapata Counties” [M.A. thesis], pp. 27, 58; for intermarriages in Laredo, see R. O. García, Dolores, p. 39.
  2. [43] González, “Social Life,” p. 27.

The earliest Angloamericans to come to Texas came to trade with Indians and join a guerrilla war in Mexico.

The earliest Angloamericans to come to Texas came to trade with Indians and join a guerrilla war in Mexico. Later generations came to get land, buy slaves, and grow cotton.

They were Upper Southerners who wanted to join the Deep South cotton boom, followed by Lower Southerners who spread it into a new territory.

Dreams of Empire in Texas

Some newcomers to Texas dreamed of an Indian empire, unified against the white man.

Some newcomers dreamed of an Anglo-Saxon empire; but they argued about its metropole.

Tejanx settlement was from the dream of Spain’s empire in the New World, then a Mexican empire in the North.

Some dreamed of a commercial empire to the South — a Cotton Empire, and, hence, an empire for slavery.

Alabama and the Texas Revolution (1947)

Claude Elliott – Southwestern Historical Quarterly 50, no. 3 (Jan. 1947)

  • “numerous public meetings held in Alabama” Oct ’35 – May ’36
  • Oct 1 – Gonzales cannon fight
  • Oct 17 – meeting in Mobile for Texas sympathizers
    • gathering volunteers, $1,500 subscribed
  • Oct 20 – Mobile courthouse meeting
    • comparisons to 1776, aid committee, news sent to Consultation
  • Late Oct – appeals for aid in Southern Advocate (Huntsville), Mobile Register and PatriotMercantile Advertiser and Transcript.
  • “An Appeal to the People of the States to help their Brothers in Texas” (Mercantile Advertiser, quoted in Southern Advocate, Nov. 3, 1835)
    • “Rise then, good men and true, and march to the aid of your brothers in Texas.”
  • Oct 31 – Huntsville meeting
  • Nov. 2 – Huntsville volunteers to set out west
  • Nov. 30 – Montgomery. “to emancipate that fertile portion of the globe from the arbitrary thraldom under which it groans” / “man will not be a slave” (Houston Telegraph and Texas Register, Jan. 30, 1836)
  • Dec. 1835 – Huntsville Volunteers reach Nacogdoches, relieve garisson at Goliad
    • Alabama units tend to concetrate at Goliad garrison
  • April 5, 1836 – Daily Commercial Register and Patriot, “the unnatural and savage massacre of the garrison at San Antonio”

On the face of it, Mexican is a national category

On the face of it, Mexican is a national category, not a racial one or even an ethnic one. But in Texas it took on aspects of racial or ethnic logic. For starters, it became a heritable category. The children of Texas Mexicans were still Mexicans, even if they had no political connection to the Mexican government, and no family connection to Mexican territory.