Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

Before states come to be in the

Before 1845, some present states that we know today as part of the United States of America didn’t belong to us at all. Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona, and parts of Colorado were Mexican territory (Schroeder, 24), and going back further to before 1821, Florida was a Spanish colony (Kachur, 9). So how did these states come to be in the ownership of the United States? The conflict began when Anglo-American settlers? also known as white european settlers? began to migrate to western states in search of land to grow cotton and to expand the United States. Anglo-American settlers had a concept in their minds which was known as “Manifest Destiny.” Manifest Destiny heavily influenced the settlement of western states. Tied into this belief was the idea that God favored light-skinned, caucasian men, over other races such as Mexicans, Native Americans, and African-Americans who were deemed inferior (Schroeder, 26). So when Anglo-American settlers were expanding the U.S., they did not care about how it would affect these other races. They believed that God wanted Anglo-Americans to expand to the west and claim as much territory for the U.S. as possible (Hernández, 6). Furthermore, Anglo settlers believed that this belief could always be justified and pursuing it was unavoidable. And so, with this belief, they pushed into Texas, one of Mexico’s territories, and began to grow cotton. Anglos were drawn to Texas not only by their beliefs, but because of fraudulent land sales that fell between 1 to 10 cents per acre (Gonzalez, 29). Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821 (Kachur, 14), and in that same year, Texas became part of Coahuila y Tejas, a Mexican state. Under Mexican rule, Texas became a cattle raising providence (Kachur, 21). The Mexicans living in Texas were known as Tejanos, and as Anglo immigrants pushed west, they were faced with many challenges. Mexico saw these new settlers as potential threats, so they took precautionary measures to keep their country safe. One of these things was strengthening their borders. Mexico attempted to strengthen their borders by increasing the population. Because Anglos wanted land, Mexico offered land to the United States almost for free in exchange for 200 families and becoming Mexican citizens (Kachur, 24). By 1835, approximately 35,000 people from the United States ? including 2,000 slaves ? lived in Texas (Kachur, 24).However, there were issues around there being 2,000 slaves brought by Anglo settlers, because slavery was made illegal by Mexico in 1829 (Foster, 124). This law was made as an attempt to dissuade Anglo settlers from crossing the border and setting up cotton plots in Texas. Whites living in Texas argued with Mexicans and owned slaves nonetheless, paying no mind to the laws (Kachur, 25). Eventually, the Anglo settlers living in Texas, joined by a few Latinos, initiated a revolt against the Mexican government in 1835 (Kachur, 25). This revolt was lead by Stephen Austin, the founder of the first anglo colony in Texas (Hernández, 7), persuaded Texans to arm themselves against Mexico (Foster, 124).Stephen Austin, joined by 500 Texans, attacked and conquered San Antonio and the Alamo (Kachur, 25). The Alamo was a presidio, an old military installment. The rebel Texans barricaded themselves inside the Alamo (Foster, 125). In order to crush the rebellion, Mexican general Antonio López de Santa Anna led 6,000 men to the Alamo. By the time they reached it, on February 23rd,1836, only 200 Texans held it (Kachur, 25). Remarkably, the Texans were able to hold off Santa Anna’s men for two weeks before his army captured the Alamo on March 6th (Kachur, 125). Soon following this event, Anglo settlers in Texas “declared independence” and founded Texas as an independent republic nicknamed “The Lone Star Republic” (Schroeder, 26). Most Tejanos tried to be neutral during these times, but a select few supported Anglo Texans in their idea of independence (Kachur, 26). In 1844, James Polk became the president of the United States, and lay claim to Texas. This led directly to the Mexican American war (Kachur, 28). The Mexican American war took place from 1846 to 1848, and ended with the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. This treaty ceded Mexico’s northern territory ? Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Colorado ? to the United States (Gall & Hobby, ed. 1). It set Texas’s boundary to the Rio Grande as well.This led directly to Mexicans immigrating to the United States. Except, so to speak, they had not really immigrated at all. Mexicans found that they were suddenly living in the United States, even though they were still living on land their families had owned for generations. “We never crossed the border, the border crossed us” is an old Mexican-American saying (Schroeder, 24), which is exactly what happened. Most Mexican-Americans were given the choice of either becoming U.S. citizens, or relocating. Around 80,000 Mexicans became U.S. citizens (Gall & Hobby, ed. 1).Issues around Mexican-American rights arose quickly, especially regarding the land of Mexicans living in California, also known as Californios. When California was Mexico’s territory, all that was needed to own land was proof of Mexican citizenship, a map showing the approximate boundary of the property, and a willingness to live on the property (Kachur, 15). Wealthy hispanics could trace land ownership back to colonial Spain, but Anglo settlers challenged the legitimacy of their ownership nonetheless. The wealthy hispanics could afford to have lawyers while the poor could not, and were forced to sell their land (Hernández, 18). Land that could not be taken by the law was taken by violence instead. Anglo mobs shot and lynched hispanics, and “squatted on” or “illegally occupied” Mexican-Americans’ land. Some Anglo squatters violently seized land from Mexican-Americans ? killing cattle, burning crops, and chasing them from their homes. (Kachur, 36).When the California gold rush began, it was devastating for Californios. The population of Spanish-speaking peoples dropped from 70% to 15%, to the point where Anglo settlers considered them “foreigners” (Kachur, 34). In 1850, a law was passed in California that required “foreign” miners to pay $20 a month if they wanted to search for gold. This not only applied to foreign immigrants, but to California-born Mexicans (Kachur, 36).The racism didn’t end there, however. Segregated restaurants, stores, schools, saloons, and cemeteries for Mexican-Americans was common in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona (Kachur, 41). European settlers classified Mexican-Americans as second-class, and declared English as the official language of the United States. Some towns outlawed Fiestas, Mexican celebrations (Gall & Hobby, ed. 1). Mexican-Americans were forced to leave jobs they were skilled at to become laborers or servants (Hernández, 7).

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