“to classify these people here as ‘colored’ is to jumble them in as Negroes” (Maury Maverick, qtd. in Foley)

The real issue over racial classification was clearly as much about Mexican racial pride as it was about fear over discrimination. In Texas, Mexicans endured the injuries of discrimination daily. Middle-class Mexican Americans needed to believe that segregation stemmed from Anglo ignorance of Mexico’s history and the fact that many middle-class Mexicans, like their Anglo counterparts, actually believed that whites were superior to both Indians and Africans. Mexican Americans did not necessarily acquire a belief in white racial supremacy in the United States, although it was certainly reinforced there whenever one encountered blacks and Indians in the United States.[23]

These mostly middle-class Mexicans were not simply content to deny any “negro ancestry.” For many Mexicans and Mexican Americans, “colored” meant racial inferiority, social disgrace, and the total absence of political rights–in short, the racial equivalent of Indian and Negro.[24] In their injunction against the El Paso city registrar, for example, they cited an Oklahoma law that made it libelous to call a white person “colored.”[25] Mexican Americans in San Antonio, who joined the campaign to change the classification scheme, sent a resolution adopted by various LULAC councils to U.S. Representative Maury Maverick, a liberal Texas Democrat, to register their “most vigorous protest against the insult thus cast upon our race.”[26] Maverick wrote to the director of the Census Bureau in Washington, D.C., that “to classify these people here as ‘colored’ is to jumble them in as Negroes, wich [sic] they are not and which naturally causes the most violent feelings.” He urged the director to include another category called “other white,” and argued that the classification of Mexicans as “colored” was simply inaccurate, because “people who are of Mexican or Spanish descent are certainly not of African descent.”[27] An irate Mexican American evangelist wrote that if Mexicans were colored, then [133] Senator Dennis Chavez of New Mexico, who was the first U.S. senator of Mexican descent, “will have his children classified as Negroes. Then Uncle Sam can hang his face in shame before the civilized nations of the world.”[28]

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), 132-133.
  1. [23]García, “Mexican Americans and the Politics of Citizenship,” p. 189.
  2. [24]El Continental, Oct. 6 and 25, 1936, CCC.
  3. [25]Collins v. State, 7. A. L. R., 895 (Okla.) in petition presented to the District Court of El Paso, M. A. Gomez et al., v. T. J. McCamant and Alex Powell, Oct., 1936, CCC.
  4. [26]LULAC Resolution, San Antonio Council no. 16 and Council no. 2, Oct. 14, 1936, CCC.
  5. [27]Maury Maverick to William L. Austin, Oct. 15, 1936, CCC; see also Calleros to Mohler, Oct. 9, 1936, CCC.
  6. [28]Herald-Post, Oct. 8, 1936, CCC.

“we are not and never have been a civil rights organization. Personally I hate that word” (Hector Garcia, qtd. in Foley)

1949: Felix Longoria and American GI Forum

A few years after World War II ended, another Mexican American civil rights organization was founded, the American GI Forum. Significantly, the name of the organization did not include any reference to its being an organization for Mexican American war veterans. Hector García, a medical doctor who founded the American GI Forum, achieved a degree of national attention in 1949 when he challenged the Anglo owner of a funeral home near San Antonio for refusing the use of the chapel to the Mexican American family of a deceased veteran, Private Felix Longoria. Dr. García organized a statewide protest that attracted the attention of U.S. Senator Lyndon [136] Baines Johnson who offered to have Private Longoria buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., with full military honors, which the family graciously accepted. The incident established the American GI Forum as an effective civil rights advocate for Mexican Americans, even though Dr. García himself insisted, years after the Longoria incident, that the American GI Forum was not a civil rights organization but rather a “charitable organization.” As late as 1954 Dr. García claimed, “we are not and have never been a civil rights organization. Personally I hate the word.” What did Dr. García have against the phrase “civil rights”?[33]

Here it is worth noting that the phrase “civil rights” was so firmly linked in the post-World War II imaginary to the civil rights struggle of African Americans that Dr. García perhaps thought it best not to acknowledge too forcefully the American GI Forum’s own civil rights agenda. […] Robert Kennedy, like Dr. García, did not wish to alienate whites in Texas–or anywhere else–by appearing to join the struggle of black people for civil rights.[35]

By the early 1950s the American GI Forum, while still denying that it was a civil rights organization, sought to end discrimination in Texas schools, in employment, and in the use of public spaces. The core strategy depended on educating Anglos that “Americans of Spanish-speaking descent” or Latin Americans were Caucasians and that to identify them as anything but white, whether on birth certificates or traffic citations, was illegal. Making any distinction between Latin Americans and whites, he wrote, was a “slur,” an insult to all Latin Americans of Spanish descent.[36]

A decade later, Vice President Hubert Humphrey made the mistake of writing the American GI Forum to announce the government’s new program to offer summer jobs to teenagers, especially, he wrote, for “the non-white teenagers.” The AGIF Auxiliary chairwoman, Mrs. Dominga Coronado, rebuked the vice president: “If everyone in the government takes the position emphasized in your letter ([that Mexicans are] nonwhite), then it is understandable why the Mexican American is getting ‘the leftovers’ of the Federal programs in employment, housing and education.”[37] White people, she seemed to imply, do not eat leftovers.

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), 135-136.

 

  1. [33]Hector García to Gerald Saldana, Mar. 13, 1954, box 141, folder 3, Hector P. García Papers, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, hereafter cited as HPG.
  2. [35]While not promoting the American GI Forum as a civil rights organization in 1949, García nevertheless wrote to the Texas governor that “Texas is in immediate need of a Civil Rights Program.” Hector P. García to Allan Shivers, Dec. 4, 1949, HPG.
  3. [36]Hector P. García to Editor, Lubbock Morning Avalanche, July 18, 1956, HPG.
  4. [37]Hubert Humphrey to Dominga Coronado, June 12, 1967; Dominga Coronado to Hubret Humphrey, June 26, 1967, HPG.

“five or six other Mexicans joined me … some Americans were murdering Curbier” (Seguín)

accused of treason; extralegal violence; refers to self, compas as “Mexicans” vs. “Americans”

Having observed that Vásquez gained ground on us, we fell back [94] on the Nueces River. When we came back to San Antonio, reports about my implausible treason were spreading widely. Captain Manuel Flores, Lieutenant Ambrosio Rodriguez, Matías Curbier and five or six other Mexicans joined me to find out the origin of the false rumors. I went out with several friends, leaving Curbier in my house. I had reached the Main Plaza when several persons came running to inform me that some Americans were murdering Curbier. We ran back to the house where we found poor Curbier covered with blood. On being asked who assaulted him he answered that the gunsmith Goodman, in company with several Americans, had struck him with a rifle.

Juan N. Seguín, A Revolution Remembered: The Memoirs and Selected Correspondence of Juan N. Seguín, edited by Jesús F. de la Teja (Austin, Texas: State House Press, 1991), 94-95.

“the straggling American adventurers… their dark intrigues against the native families” (Seguín)

The tokens of esteem and evidences of trust and confidence repeatedly bestowed upon me by the supreme magistrate, General Rusk, and other dignitaries of the Republic, could not fail to arouse a great deal of invidious and malignant feeling against me. The jealousy evinced against me by several officers of the companies recently arrived at San Antonio from the United States soon spread among the straggling American adventurers, who were already beginning to work their dark intrigues against the native families, whose only crime was that they owned large tracts of land and desirable property.

Juan N. Seguín, A Revolution Remembered: The Memoirs and Selected Correspondence of Juan N. Seguín, edited by Jesús F. de la Teja (Austin, Texas: State House Press, 1991), 89.

“exposed to the assaults of foreigners who, on the pretext that they were Mexicans, treated them worse than brutes?” (Seguín)

I will also point out the origin of another enmity which, on several occasions, endangered my life. In those evil days, San Antonio swarmed with adventurers from every quarter of the globe. Many a noble heart grasped the sword in the defense of the liberty of Texas, cheerfully pouring out their blood for our cause, and to them everlasting public gratitude is due. But there were also many bad men, fugitives from their own country who found in this land an opportunity for their criminal designs.

San Antonio claimed then, as it claims now, to be the first city of Texas. It was also the receptacle of the scum of society. My political and social situation brought me into continual contact with that class of people. At every hour of the day and night my countrymen ran to me for protection against the assaults or exactions of those adventurers. Sometimes, by persuasion, I prevailed on them to desist; sometimes, also, force had to be resorted to. How could I have done otherwise? Were not the victims my own countrymen, friends and associates? Could I leave them defenseless, exposed to the assaults of foreigners who, on the pretext that they were Mexicans, treated them worse than brutes? Sound reason and the dictates of humanity precluded any different conduct on my part.

Juan N. Seguín, A Revolution Remembered: The Memoirs and Selected Correspondence of Juan N. Seguín, edited by Jesús F. de la Teja (Austin, Texas: State House Press, 1991), 90.

“free white inhabitants,” etc. in mid-1850s city incorporation acts (Gammel’s Laws of Texas)

Galveston, August 1856.

Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Texas, That all free white inhabitants of the city of Galveston shall continue to be a body politic and corporate by the name of the Mayor, Aldermen and inhabitants of the city of Galveston, and by that name they and their successors shall have exercise and enjoy all the rights immunities, powers privileges and franchises and shall be subject to all the duties and obligations now appertaining and incumbent on said city as a corporate, or incumbent upon the inhabitants or officers thereof, and may ordain and establish such acts, laws, ordinances and regulations, not inconsistent with the constitution or laws of this State as shall be needful to the good order of said body politic, and under the shall be known in law …

“An Act to consolidate in one act and to amend the several acts incorporating the city of Galveston” (August 27, 1856), in Laws of Texas 1822-1897, 142/688 (link).

Sec. 33. That every free white male inhabitant of said city who shall have attained the age of twenty-one years, and who shall have rented at least twelve months previous to the day of election, within the limits of the city of Galveston, and who shall have paid all taxes which shall have been assessed against him by or under the authority of the city council, shall have and possess the right to vote at the election of Mayor and Aldermen, and other elective officers of said city.

“An Act to consolidate in one act and to amend the several acts incorporating the city of Galveston” (August 27, 1856), in Laws of Texas 1822-1897, 154/700 (link).

San Antonio, July 1856.

Section 1. Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Texas, That the inhabitants of the city of San Antonio, as the same is hereby and hereafter laid out, and their successors, are hereby constituted a corporation and body politic in fact and in law, by the name and title of the city of San Antonio …

Sec. 3. The city of San Antonio shall be divided into four wards, the boundaries thereof shall be fixed by the City Council hereinafter created, and may be by said Council changed from time to time, as they shall see fit, having regard to the number of free white male inhabitants, so that each ward shall contain, as near as may be, the same number of qualified electors for city elections, and the Mayor and board of Aldermen may establish new wards when they may deem it necessary or expedient.

“An Act to incorporate the City of San Antonio” (July 17, 1856), Article 1, in Laws of Texas 1822-1897, 4-5/550-551 (link).

Section 1. The Mayor and City Council shall have power by ordinance, and for municipal purposes:

1st. To levy and collect taxes upon all property made taxable by law for State purposes; … also a poll tax of one dollar each on all free white male inhabitants, over the age of twenty-one years, who do not pay a tax to at least that amount on property ….

27th. To regulate the conduct of slaves and free persons of color.

“An Act to incorporate the City of San Antonio” (July 17, 1856), Article 3, in Laws of Texas 1822-1897, 9/556 (link). and ibid. 11/557.

Sec. 6. Every free male white person, over the age of 21 years, who shall have resided six months within the city limits, and one month within the ward where he offers to vote, shall be entitled to vote at all city elections.

“An Act to incorporate the City of San Antonio” (July 17, 1856), Article 5, in Laws of Texas 1822-1897, 19/565 (link).

Sec. 7. The present Mayor and City Council shall exercise all the powers and functions vested in the Mayor and Council by this act, until superseded by the officers elected under the same, and they shall, also, as soon as practicable, after this act goes into effect, proceed to take an enumeration of the free, white, male inhabitants of the city, and to divide said city into wards as herein before prescribed, so that the next city election, to be holden, on the fourth Monday in December next, may be held according to the provisions of this charter.

“An Act to incorporate the City of San Antonio” (July 17, 1856), Article 7, in Laws of Texas 1822-1897, 21/567 (link).

Indianola (September 1, 1856)

Section 1. Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Texas, That the following described limits, to wit: beginning at the mouth of Powder Horn Bayou in Matagorda Bay, … thence with said Bayou to the place of beginning, be and the same, with the inhabitants therein, is hereby created a body politic and corporate, under the name and style of the town of Indianola …

Sec. 3. … No person shall be eligible to any town office unless he be a free white male citizen, over twenty-one years of age, and who shall be a free holder or householder within the corporate limits, and resident therein for at least six months preceding the election. No person shall be allowed to vote for town officers unless he be a free white male resident, over twenty one years of age, and shall have resided at least three months within the corporate limits, and shall have paid a town tax on real estate, or a town poll tax of fifty cents; …

Sec. 4. The Mayor and Alderman shall constitute the Town Council … the council shall have the power to pass all ordinances necessary for the government and well-being of the town … they may also collect an annual poll tax on every white male resident of the town over twenty-one years of age, who shall have resided three months within the corporation, provided, that such person shall not have paid a tax on real estate, and provided further, that no such person shall be compelled to pay said poll tax, unless he desires to vote in the town election.

“An Act to incorporate the Town of Indianola” (September 1, 1856), in in Laws of Texas 1822-1897, 303/849 (link).

Ibid. 304/850.

Ibid. 305/851.

Belleville (February 1856)

Section 1. Be it enacted by the Legislature of (the State of) Texas, That the citizens of the town of Belleville, in Austin county, be and they are hereby declared a body politic and corporate under the name and style of the town of Belleville. … (396)

Sec. 6. All free white males of and over the age of twenty years, who have been resident citizens within the limits of the corporation one month next preceding any election, and who are otherwise legal voters of the State of Texas, shall be entitled to vote for officers of said corporation. … (397)

Sec. 9. The council shall have power to enact such rules, ordinances and regulations as they may deem sufficient for the proper government and improvement of the town and preservation of good order within the corporate limits … They may compel all free white male citizens between eighteen and forty-five years of age, and all male slaves and other persons of color over sixteen and under sixty years of age, residents of said corporation, to work on the squares, roads and streets, provided such persons shall not be compelled to work more than six days in one year. … (398)

“An Act to incorporate the Town of Belleville” (February 7, 1856) in Laws of Texas 1822-1897, 303/849 (link).

Austin (February 9, 1857)

Sec. 2. That the inhabitants of the City of Austin, as the same extends and is laid out above, be, and they and their successors are, hereby constituted a corporation and body politic, in fact, and in law, by the name and style of the City of Austin… (401)

Sec. 3. That the City of Austin shall be divided into eight wards, the boundaries thereof shall be fixed by the city council, and be by the council changed from time to time as they shall see fit, having regard  to the number of free white male inhabitants, so that each ward shall contain as near as may be, the same number of free white male inhabitants. (401)

Sec. 7. That the Mayor and City council shall have power within the City by ordinance. … 30th. To provide for the taking of an enumeration of the inhabitants of the City. … 37th. To lay and collect a poll tax not exceeding fifty cents upon every free white male person over 21 years of age, who shall have resided six months within the City. (403, 405)

… The present city Council shall exercise all of the powers and functions vested in the Council under this Act until superseded under the same, and they shall as soon as practicable after the passage of this Act, proceed to take an enumeration of the free white male inhabitants of the City, and to divide the City into wards as prescribed by the same, and provide for elections conformably to the same. (413)

“An Act to incorporate the City of Austin” (February 9, 1857), in Laws of Texas 1822-1897, 102/400 (link).

Woodville (August 18, 1856)

Sec. 6. All free white males of, and over the age of twenty years, who may have been resident citizens within the limits of said corporation for one month next preceding any election, and who may in other respects be legal voters of the State of Texas, shall be entitled to vote for all officers of said corporation. (635)

Sec. 9. The common Council shall have power to enact such rules, ordinances and regulations as they may deem sufficient for the proper government and improvement of the town and preservation of good order within the corporate limits thereof … they may compel all free white male citizens between the age of sixteen and forty-five years, and all male slaves and free negroes over fifteen and under sixty years of age, who are residents of said corporation, to work on the public streets, squares and alleys of the same; provided, such persons shall not be compelled to work on any road beyond the limits of said corporation. (635, 636)

“An Act to incorporate the town of Woodville” (August 18, 1856) in Laws of Texas 1822-1897, 88/634 (link).

LaGrange (February 13, 1854)

Section 1. Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Texas, That the people of the town of LaGrange, in the county of Fayette be, and they are hereby declared a body politic and corporate, under the name and style of the Town of LaGrange …. (146)

Sec. 7. Every free white male of twenty-one years of age, being a citizen of the United States, who may have resided for six months next preceding an election within the limits of said corporation, shall be deemed a qualified elector under this charter. (147, 148)

“An Act to Incorporate the Town of LaGrange in the County of Fayette” (February 13, 1854) in Laws of Texas 1822-1897, 146 (link).

“Residential segregation, therefore, did not occur in a single pattern in the cities of south, central, and west Texas during the nineteenth century” (de León and Stewart)

1900: residential segregation numbers for San Antonio, Brownsville, Corpus, El Paso, Laredo.

Table 5.8 reports the indices of segregation for five cities [87] in 1900.[14] The index of segregation is expressed as the percentage of Tejanos or Anglos that would have to residentially relocate from one of the city’s wards to another if both Tejanos and Anglos were represented in each ward in proportion to their presence in the total citywide population. Generally, a small index of segregation indicates residential diffusion of an ethnic group across the wards of a city, while a larger index results when an ethnic population is disproportionately clustered into only some of the wards.

Table 5.8
Indices of Segregation for Five South, Central, and West Texas Cities, 1900
City Tejanos Anglos
Brownsville 3.33% 20.06%
Corpus Christi 26.58% 34.39%
El Paso 25.64% 22.10%
Laredo 5.16% 34.38%
San Antonio 42.82% 10.59%

Overall, the indices in Table 5.8 demonstrate three different patterns of residential segregation among Tejanos and Anglos in the cities of south, central, and west Texas. The first is illustrated by the southern-most cities–Brownsville and Laredo–where the majority of the population were Tejanos. In these cities, the low index of segregation for Tejanos shows that Mexican Americans were quite generally distributed across the city wards, while the higher index for Anglos indicates more residential clustering. In San Antonio, where whites were a majority of the city’s population, the opposite patterns developed where Anglos were more generally distributed across the city and Tejanos clustered into a few wards. The third situation is illustrated by Corpus Christi and El Paso, cities where neither Tejanos nor Anglo Americans dominated the citywide population. In these [88] cities, the indices of segregation were relatively large for both groups, indicating that each group was residentially clustered into separate areas.

Residential segregation, therefore, did not occur in a single pattern in the cities of south, central, and west Texas during the nineteenth century….

Arnoldo de León and Kenneth L. Stewart, Tejanos and the Numbers Game: A Socio-Historical Interpretation from the Federal Censuses, 1850-1900 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1989), 86-88.

  1. [14]For detailed discussion of the index of segregation, see Otis Dudley Duncan and Beverly Duncan, “Residential Distribution and Occupational Stratification,”American Journal of Sociology, 60 (1955), 493-503. Also see, Karl E. Taeuber and Alma F. Taeuber, Negroes in Cities: Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Change (Chicago: Atheneum, 1965), pp. 195-245.

“families from the Canary Islands,” “mestizo and Indian populations,” “an atmosphere of racial diversity” (Buitron)

Such was the case in 1719, when a fort, a series of missions, and a small town arose on the banks of the San Antonio River. The city, known as San Antonio De Bexar, was augmented in 1731 by families from the Canary Islands. The original mestizo and Indian population, along with the new arrivals, created an atmosphere of racial diversity within a context of what [10] Timothy M. Matovina described as the “Mexican Catholic tradition.”[33] That tradition was the result of the two hundred years of cultural contact between the Indian and Spanish cultures mentioned earlier.

The new city also become a picture of Mexican social hierarchy in miniature. Surveying the early history of San Antonio, Jesus de la Teja discovered that because of their European ancestry, “immigrants from the Canary Islands held a special social status that they retained for two centuries.”[34] In return for populating the frontier, the King of Spain granted noble title to former sheep and goat herders.[35]

The newcomers, known as Isleños, took control of the town government and demanded privileges regarding water rights and the dispersal of farm and ranch land. However, this class hierarchy was mitigated by the obstacles of desert, mountain, and sheer distance that conspired to create what Matovina believed was an independent Tejano identity.[36] San Antonio’s physical isolation from central Mexico was only slightly less distant than the separation of the thirteen English Colonies from Great Britain, and the impact in creating a separate regional identity was almost the same. Second, as the centuries progressed, a common difficulties, a shared culture and intermarriage “slowly fastened a joint identity on the town’s population” according to de la Teja.[37] By 1800, a distinct character was formed among the people of San Antonio, which was unique to its environment, but was also distinctly Mexican.

Buitron, 9-10.
  1. [33]Matovina, Texas Religion and Ethnicity, 227.
  2. [34]de la Teja, San Antonio De Bexar, 24-25.
  3. [35]Buck, Yanaguana’s Successors.
  4. [36]Matovina, Tejano Religion and Ethnicity, 25.
  5. [37]de la Teja, 152.

Revolutionaries and Mutualistas (De Leon, “Corridors North, 1900-1930”)

From “Corridors North, 1900-1930.”

LOYALTY AND THE LAND OF BIRTH

[…] The most prominent case of revolutionary activity in Texas against Diáz involved the aforementioned Ricardo Flores Magón and his PLM, which intrigued to remove the Mexican dictator in the hope of implementing significant changes that would, among other things, bring relief to the lower classes through land reform and prolabor polices.[37] PLM newspapers in the years before the Mexican Revolution were located in San Antonio, Del Rio, and El Paso,[38] and through Regeneración, the PLM’s primary journalistic organ, Magón appealed to Tejano workers who identified with their comrades in the homeland or were dissatisfied with job conditions in the state. Though it is difficult to measure the ideological impact of the PLM, the party had followers as deep as Central Texas. The PLM local “Tierra y Libertad” of Austin, for instance, organized an impressive rally in Uhland, Texas, on Labor Day of 1912, which roughly one thousand people from other PLM chapters in Central Texas attended. After inspirational speeches that urged societal changes in Mexico and the United States, delegates dispersed to campaign in their own communities for the goals of the PLM.[39] In actuality, most immigrants in the early twentieth century stayed out of movements that appeared to be radical for fear of jeopardizing their work or risking extradition, though some did participate in the labor struggles of the era.[40]

The PLM also exhorted women to join its ranks and fight on behalf of workers and women’s emancipation. Indeed, women members of the PLM participated as speakers and fundraisers in forums and rallies held in El Paso, Brownsville, and Zapata and Frio Counties on the eve of the Mexican Revolution. Among the PLM’s several women activists was Sara Estela Ramírez, mentioned in the previous chapter.[41]

[…]

SELF-HELP SOCIETIES

Mutual aid societies first appeared among Texas Mexicans in the 1870s, but they proliferated with the coming of the Immigrant Generation and by the 1920s could be found in most regions of the state including the Big Bend and North Texas. Such organizations grew out, in part, in reaction to the afflictions many Tejanos experienced at the hands of [76] white society: public humiliation, violence, and poverty, to list only the most salient. Despite their root cause, mutualist societies tended to be nonconfrontational, concentrating instead on improving conditions for their members and other working-class people, assisting members in financial distress, especially after the death of a loved one, and job placement. They also attempted to uplift their compatriots through intellectual and spiritual stimulation, social camaraderie, and through the creation and maintenance of a congenial and familiar environment in an adopted world.[43]

Several characteristics marked these societies as a product of the immigrants temperament, though membership usually included U.S. Mexicans. First, they promoted a Mexicanist identity and cultivated what historian Emilio Zamora, a student of Texas-Mexican labor in the early twentieth century, calls an “ethic of mutuality,” committed as they were to such ideals as fellowship, humanitarianism, and reciprocity.[44] Generally, the societies carried the name of a national hero from Mexico such as Benito Juárez. Members preferred to use Spanish when conducting business. Organizers emphasized Mexican ideals and values and held reservations about assimilation and integration into a racist society, though they were not opposed to joining the American mainstream on an equal basis.[45]

Because of similar concerns, obreros (laborers) founded labor mutualistas (mutual aid societies). Shunned by the American Federation of Labor–which had, as mentioned, made some gestures towards incorporating Mexicans, though it began to look upon them as strike-breakers–and Mexican consuls who feared alienating the United States government, immigrant laborers looked to the customs of Mexico, where craftsmen were organized into mutualistas. In San Antonio, for instance, bakers founded the Sociedad Morelos Mutua de Panaderos which struck for decent wages and working conditions in 1917.[46]

Women participated in mutualistas as officers and committee heads and even founders. For example, María L. Hernández and her husband Pedro of San Antonio, Texas, organized the Orden Caballeros de América in 1929 to help solve educational problems for Tejanos and to promote civic and political activism beneficial to Mexicans, whether native or foreign born.[47] Still, scholars today disagree on the roles women played in these mutualistas. Like men, some joined for self-protection and probably did not advocate a feminist agenda. However, some of the middle-class [77] participants did assail the double standard and urged women in general to take stands against the consumption of alcohol, war, and the subordination of women.[48]

Arnoldo de Leon, Mexican Americans in Texas, 74-76

  1. [37]Zamora, “Mexican Labor Activity,” pp. 76-77; Zamora, World of the Mexican Worker in Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1993), p. 140; Juan Gómez-Quiñones, Sembradores: Ricardo Flores Magón and the Partido Liberal Mexicano (Los Angeles: Chicano Studies Research Center, 1976), p. 29.
  2. [38]Gómez-Quiñones, Sembradores, pp. 29, 35-36.
  3. [39]Zamora, World of the Mexican Worker in Texas, p. 147.
  4. [40]García, Mexican Americans, p. 175.
  5. [41]Marta Cotera, Diosa y Hembra (Austin: Information Systems Development, 1976), pp. 65-66; Gómez-Quiñones, Sembradores, p. 36; Rodolfo F. Acuña, Occupied America: A History of Chicanos (3rd ed.; New York: Harper and Row, 1988), p. 151.
  6. [43]Lowrey, “Night School in Little Mexico,” pp. 39-40; John Ernest Gregg, “The History of Presidio County” (M.A. Thesis, University of Texas, 1933), pp. 201-202; De León, Ethnicity in the Sunbelt, p. 33; Zamora, World of the Mexican Worker in Texas, p. 93; Calderón, “Mexican Politics in the American Era,” Chapter 10.
  7. [44]Zamora, World of the Mexican Worker in Texas, pp. 99-100.
  8. [45]García, Mexican Americans, p. 28
  9. [46]Pycior, “La Raza Organizes,” pp. 126-127, 128, 130, 132, 134, 136; Acuña, Occupied America, p. 170.
  10. [47]Cotera, Diosa y Hembra, p. 73; Pycior, “La Raza Organizes,” pp. 76-81.
  11. [48]Pycior, “La Raza Organizes,” p. 76.

“Mixed Bloods” (De Leon, Mexican Americans in Texas)

[p. 17 previous also has some discussion of fluidity of categories based on money and prestige]

Mixed Bloods. […] While the news of Indian attacks in the province continued to discourage immigration from New Spain’s interior, demographic expansion still resulted principally from in-migration.[36]

Most Tejano pioneers during the colonial era were the product of mestizaje, or miscegenation among the native Indian populations, European Spaniards, and African slaves. By the seventeenth century, much of New Spain’s people were termed mestizos, a label applied to the product of unions between Spanish males and Indian women. Though this element composed the majority population in Texas, various other racial categories existed, including Christianized Indians, mulattoes, and Spaniards. All participated in further racial amalgamation in the province.[37]

Census taken in the 1780s actually enumerate more Spaniards than any other classification, but such figures distort actual ancestry. Demographers know that the term “Spanish” did not necessarily identify European, white-skinned Spaniards; instead it represented a social categorization. In fact, racial makeup could be upgraded on the frontier, as one’s racial constitution did not bar upward mobility. Realistically, the term “Spaniard” identified those worthy of a certain status because of accumulated wealth, family connections, military standing, or even distinguished service to the community. European Spaniards, therefore, included but a few government or church appointees. The rest of those labeled Spaniards by census enumerators were undoubtedly mixed-bloods who “passed” as Spaniards. As noted, the Canary Islanders of San Antonio themselves intermixed with the New Spain-born population, so within two generations following their arrival, no “islander” could claim undiluted blood.[38]

Arnoldo de Leon, Mexican Americans in Texas: A Brief History, 2nd ed. Wheeling, Illinois: Harlan Davidson Inc., 1993/1999. 18.

  1. [36]Jones, Los Paisanos, p. 60; Poyo, “Immigrants and Integration in Eighteenth-Century Bexar,” pp. 85-86; Cruz, Let There Be Towns, p. 129.
  2. [37]de la Teja, San Antonio de Bexar, pp. 25-26; Gerald F. Poyo, “The Canary Islands Immigrants of San Antonio: From Ethnic Exclusivity to Community in Eighteenth-Century Bexar,” in Poyo and Hinojosa, Tejano Origins in Eighteenth Century San Antonio, p. 47; de la Teja, “Forgotten Founders,” in ibid., pp. 32-33; Poyo, “Immigrants and Integration in Late Eighteenth Century Bexar,” in ibid., pp. 96-97; Gilberto M. Hinojosa and Anne E. Fox, “Indians and Their Culture in San Fernando de Bexar,” in ibid., pp. 106-107; and Alicia V. Tjarks, “Comparative Demographic Analysis of Texas, 1777-1793,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly LXXVII (January 1974), 322-338.
  3. [38]Tjarks, “Comparative Demographic Analaysis,” p. 294; de la Teja, San Antonio de Bexar, pp. 24-26, 28-29; Poyo, “Immigrants and Integration in Late Eighteenth-Century Bexar,” pp. 86-87.