History of Mexican-Americans

History of Mexican-Americans

The history of Mexican-American people is wide-ranging, spanning more than four hundred years and varying from region to region within the United States. Mexican-Americans were once concentrated in the states that formerly belonged to Mexico, including California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Texas; they began creating communities in Los Angeles, Santa Ana, California, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago and other steel producing regions when they obtained employment there during World War I. More recently, Mexican immigrants have increasingly become a large part of the workforce in industries such as meat packing throughout the Midwest, in agriculture in the southeastern United States, and in the construction, landscaping, restaurant, hotel and other service industries throughout the country.

Mexican-American identity has also changed markedly throughout these years. the past hundred years Mexican-Americans have campaigned for voting rights, stood against educational, employment, ethnic discrimination and stood for economic and social advancement. At the same time many Mexican-Americans have struggled with defining and maintaining their community's identity. In the 1960s and 1970s, some Latino and Hispanic student groups flirted with nationalism and differences over the proper name for members of the community of Chicano/Chicana, Latino/Latina, Mexican-Americans, Hispanics or simply La Raza became tied up with deeper disagreements over whether to integrate into or remain separate from Anglo society, as well as divisions between those Mexican-Americans whose families had lived in the United States for two or more generations and more recent immigrants.

Defining "Mexican-Americans"

Mexican-Americans are a subset of the Hispanic, or Latino ethnic group. Mexican-Americans may be recent immigrants or the sons and daughters of immigrants, descendants of those who came to the United States decades ago or who settled there when the land was either an independent republic or under Spanish or Mexican rule. Mexican-Americans can either be bilingual or monolingual (or, indeed, multilingual), their primary languages being English and Spanish, harking back to the Spanish colonizing efforts starting in the 1570s.

Mexican American also means you identify with both your Mexican ancestry and American ancestry.

Before the founding of the United States

Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, California, parts of Colorado, and Wyoming were part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and later formed part of the newly independent Mexican Republic. The Spaniards first entered the region in the late 16th century, starting settlements in what is now New Mexico. Those communities lived alongside established Native American communities and, to some extent, integrated with them.

In California, Spanish colonization was founded by Franciscan friars who formed a string of missions along the coastal regions of California. These missions were economic as well as religious entities and served to reduce the Native American populations in those areas to a form of servitude. Along with the system of forts and land grants to favored associates of the king, they enabled widespread Spanish settlement of the western edge of California.

Missions were not as successful elsewhere in the region. Significant Spanish-speaking settlements established themselves in the areas now known as Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Texas.

Manifest Destiny and the incorporation of the Hispanic people

The new United States first came into conflict with Mexico in the 1830s, as the westward spread of Anglo settlements and of slavery brought significant numbers of new settlers into the region known as Tejas, then part of Mexico. The Mexican-American War, followed by the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848 and the Gadsden Purchase in 1853, extended U.S. control over a wide range of territory once held by Mexico, including the present day states of Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and California. The vast majority of Hispanic populations chose to stay and become full US citizens. By and large, the Hispanic populations of these areas supported the new government. The Mexican government had become despotic under the on and off again president General Santa Anna and the U.S. Government offered protection from Indian raids that Mexico had not prevented, it meant an end to civil wars of the sort that continuously wracked Mexico until 1920, and it promised much greater long-run prosperity.

Although the treaty promised that the landowners in this newly acquired territory would enjoy full enjoyment and protection of their property as if they were citizens of the United States, many former citizens of Mexico lost their land in lawsuits before state and federal courts or as a result of legislation passed after the treaty. Even those statutes intended to protect the owners of property at the time of the extension of the United States' borders, such as the 1851 California Land Act, had the effect of dispossessing Californio owners ruined by the cost of maintaining litigation over land titles for years.

The loss of property rights in New Mexico created a largely landless population that resented the powers that had taken their land. [ [http://www.commondreams.org/views/081200-104.htm Justice Delayed: Mexican-Americans Win Stolen Oil Rights ] ] After the Santa Fe Ring succeeded in dispossessing thousands of landholders in New Mexico, groups such as Las Gorras Blancas tore down fences or burned down interlopers' farm buildings. In western Texas the political struggle sparked an armed conflict in which the Tejano majority forced the surrender of the Texas Rangers, but in the end lost their influence, offices, and economic opportunities.

In other areas, particularly California, the Hispanic residents were simply overwhelmed by the number of Anglo settlers who rushed in, first in Northern California as a result of the California Gold Rush [ [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/goldrush/peopleevents/p_coronel.html American Experience | The Gold Rush | People & Events | PBS ] ] , then decades later by the boom in Southern California. Anglo miners drove Hispanic miners out of their camps, barred non-Anglos from testifying in court and imposed exclusionary standards similar to what was called Jim Crow in the case of African-Americans. [ [http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-111897839.html The lynching of persons of Mexican origin or descent in ] ] Some Hispanics, of whom Joaquín Murieta was a legendary example and Tiburcio Vásquez a real one, responded by resorting to banditry. During the Gold Rush, there was an immigration of Mexican miners to California.

About 20,000 Tejanos lived in South Texas in the 1850s. The social structure has been analyzed by historian Radolph Campbell ["Gone to Texas: A History of the Lone Star State" 2003 p 190-1]

South Texans of Hispanic descent lived in a three-tiered society during the antebellum years. At the top stood the landed elite, the owners of huge ranches, many of which originated as haciendas in the Spanish colonial period. The elite based their economic lives on cattle raising. They sold some cattle in Mexico and Louisiana and exported hides and tallow, but access to major urban markets outside the region was so limited that South Texas ranchers did not develop highly commercial operations during the antebellum years. This apparently suited most very well anyhow in that they viewed their ranches primarily as a way of life rather than a business investment and therefore focused on keeping their property intact as well as turning a profit....
Small landowners occupied the second rung of the South Texas economic and social ladder. These rancheros, as they were called, lived in one-room adobe houses and spent most of their time caring for their small herds of horses and cattle. Although a smaller part of the population, they can be compared, it seems, to the plain folk Anglos of East Texas. That is, they differed from the elite only in the extent of their property, not in their dependence on the land or the way they tried to live.
Finally, South Texas had a lower class composed primarily of peóns, vaqueros, and cartmen. Peóns had a status above that of the slaves in antebellum Texas but below that of genuinely free men. They owned no property, could not travel or call in a doctor without the permission of the estate owner (the patrón), and needed his approval for marriages. When a peón was accused of an offense, the patrón acted as judge and jury. On the other hand, peóns were not property and therefore could not be bought and sold or treated as personal chattels in any way. Somewhere in an ill-defined place between that of slaves and free men, they served as “faithful servants” to the upper class.
Peóns worked at the direction of the patróns—planting and harvesting crops, herding goats, digging wells, and doing any sort of manual labor necessary. In return they received wages or credits at the estate's store in amounts so small that they were constantly in debt. They lived in tiny one-room jacales, huts with walls of mud or any other material available and thatched roofs. The one room served for both living and sleeping; cooking and eating took place in a separate enclosure made of grass or corn stalks.
The poor, landless class also included vaqueros, the men who herded and took care of cattle. Ranch owners and mission priests generally considered it beneath their dignity to do such work and thought of these first Texas cowboys simply as laborers riding horses. No one involved could have imagined that millions of Americans would one day see working cattle as an ultimately romantic and heroic part of Texas's past. At least vaqueros, as befitted their future image, had more independence than peóns. They were not bound to the land and could even expect to acquire property of their own someday.
Cartmen lived in San Antonio or along the route from that city to Indianola and earned their living by transporting food and merchandise from the coast to the interior. Using oxcarts, they virtually monopolized this particular freight route by moving goods quickly and cheaply. Anglo competitors appeared by the 1850s but were unable to match the rates charged by the Tejanos. Carting appears to have been the most lucrative business open to poorer Tejanos during these years
In parts of south Texas and southern Arizona, Hispanic Americans were able to obtain positions within local government while in New Mexico Hispanic Americans remained an absolute majority of the population until the end of the nineteenth century. The federal government delayed granting statehood to New Mexico because of its Hispanic American political leadership. [ [http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/mexican_voices/voices_display.cfm?id=74 Digital History ] ]

Despite integration, Hispanic Americans managed to retain their Spanish language and culture. They were most successful in those areas where they had retained some measure of political or economic power, where Jim Crow laws imposed a forced isolation or where immigrants from Mexico made up a significant percentage of the community.

Anti-Mexican American violence (1840's to 1920's)

The lynching of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in the Southwest has long been overlooked in American history. This may be due to the fact that most historical records categorized Mexican, Chinese, and Native American lynching victims as white. [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2005/is_2_37/ai_111897839/pg_2 The lynching of persons of Mexican origin or descent in the United States, 1848 to 1928 | Journal of Social History | Find Articles at BNET.com ] ] It is estimated that at least 597 Mexican Americans were lynched between 1848 and 1928. Mexicans were lynched at a rate of 27.4 per 100,000 of population between 1880 and 1930. This statistic is second only to that of the African American community during that period, which suffered an average of 37.1 per 100,000 population. [ [http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-111897839.html The lynching of persons of Mexican origin or descent in ] ] Between 1848 to 1879, Mexicans were lynched at an unprecedented rate of 473 per 100,000 of population. Most of these lynchings were not instances of "frontier justice"--of the 597 total victims, only 64 were lynched in areas which lacked a formal judicial system. [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2005/is_2_37/ai_111897839/pg_9 The lynching of persons of Mexican origin or descent in the United States, 1848 to 1928 | Journal of Social History | Find Articles at BNET.com ] ] The majority of lynching victims were denied access to a trial while others were convicted in unfair trials.

During the California Gold Rush, as many as 25,000 Mexicans arrived in California. Many of these Mexicans were experienced miners and had great success mining gold in California. Some Anglos perceived their success as a threat and intimidated them with violence. Between 1848 and 1860, at least 163 Mexicans were lynched in California alone. [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2005/is_2_37/ai_111897839/pg_9 The lynching of persons of Mexican origin or descent in the United States, 1848 to 1928 | Journal of Social History | Find Articles at BNET.com ] ] One particularly infamous lynching occurred on July 5, 1851 when a Mexican woman named Josefa Segovia was lynched by a mob in Downieville, California. She was accused of killing a white man who had attempted to assault her after breaking into her home. [ [http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/awhhtml/awas12/latinas.html Latinas: Area Studies Collections ] ]

The Texas Rangers were also known to brutally repress the Mexican-American population in Texas. Historians estimate that hundreds, perhaps even thousands of Mexicans and Mexican Americans were killed by the Texas Rangers. [ [http://amath.colorado.edu/carnegie/lit/lynch/migrant.htm Lynching and Violence in America: Migrant Workers ] ]

Anti-Mexican mob violence and intimidation resulted in Mexicans being displaced from their lands, denied access to natural resources, and becoming politically disenfranchised.

Immigration and diffusion of Mexican-American communities throughout the U.S.

Hispanic Americans made up a significant number of workers in a number of industries, particularly the railroad and mining industries in the southwestern U.S., that led to the growth of communities throughout the region. The employment needs of the railroad industry in the late nineteenth century brought Mexican immigrants from more remote regions of Mexico, while the new systems integrated the border regions of the United States and Mexico. The railroad also led to the economic development of those parts of the US, drawing Mexican immigrants in large numbers into agriculture in the early twentieth century, establishing a pattern that continued thereafter.

These largely male Mexican immigrants also established "colonias" in the early twentieth century in places such as Chicago, Kansas City and Salt Lake City, Utah as railroad employment took them further within the United States. Mexican-Americans and Mexican immigrants also moved in large numbers to Denver, the San Francisco Bay area, and to a lesser extent to Detroit, Minneapolis and the Monongahela Valley, Pennsylvania, during World War I to work in the steel and automobile manufacturing industry. Others began migrating from South Texas to work in cotton fields elsewhere in Texas and Oklahoma, and from Southern California went to work in summer harvests of groves and orchards in Oregon and the Yakima Valley, Washington.

More recently, beginning in significant numbers in the 1970s, Mexican immigrants have moved in large numbers to the Midwest U.S., attracted by jobs in the packinghouse industry, and to the southeastern U.S., where they have displaced many African-Americans and contract workers from the Caribbean in agriculture and related industries. This large wave of Mexican immigration are attracted to low-paid labor jobs and an equally high number moved to low-income communities, such as industrial suburbs of Los Angeles in ethnic neighborhoods known as "barrios" and the agricultural sector of Imperial Valley, California.

The Mexican Revolution

The Mexican Revolution affected Mexican-Americans in a number of ways. The turmoil in Mexico caused hundreds of thousands of refugees to flee to the U.S. (1910-1917), while some demographers placed the figure at one million at the time period.Fact|date=February 2007 The revolution also fueled animosities between the United States and Mexican governments while threatening the interests of U.S. businesses operating in Mexico.Fact|date=February 2007 Mexican revolutionaries, from Venustiano Carranza to Ricardo Flores Magon, operated on both sides of the border during this era.

The Wilson administration actively intervened in Mexico in these years, sending troops to Veracruz, Veracruz. When Pancho Villa's troops killed seventeen U.S. mining engineers in Chihuahua, then crossed the border and killed a number of soldiers and civilians in a raid on Columbus, New Mexico, the federal government sent General John J. Pershing on a punitive expedition to capture or defeat Villa. A purported plan to liberate those regions formerly held by Mexico and to drive out all Anglo residents and persistent rumors that Mexico was receiving aid from Germany inflamed public sentiment in the United States even further.Fact|date=February 2007

Labor struggles

Mexican-American workers formed unions of their own and joined integrated unions throughout the twentieth century. The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was particularly active in organizing Mexican-American farm workers and hard rock miners the first three decades of that century, in Arizona and elsewhere. In 1917, many of them were expelled in the Bisbee Deportation.

From about 1902 to 1914, the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) attempted to organize coal miners in Colorado. In 1927, Mexican-American coal miners participated in a bloody coal strike in Colorado, walking out under the banner of the IWW. Mexican-Americans in the southeastern part of the state, particularly from the Walsenburg, Pueblo, and Trinidad areas, took leadership roles in the 1927 strike.

Numerous workers from Mexico were in the mines. As many as 60 percent of all these wage earners had come to Colorado after further labor troubles at Colorado Fuel and Iron (CF&I) properties in 1919 and 1921. As the IWW agitation increased in 1926-27, mine owners refused to hire Mexicans, blaming them for the labor unrest.Phil Goodstein, Slaughter in Serene: the Columbine Coal Strike Reader, 2005, page 110.

The UMWA returned to northern Colorado in 1928, just weeks after a machine-gun massacre of strikers, when Rocky Mountain Fuel Company invited the AFL-affiliated organization to take the place of the more radical IWW.

The Communist Party-affiliated [cite web
url = http://www.californiahistory.net/text_only/9_1_3.htm#TOT
title = The Great Depression: California in the Thirties - Total Engagement
publisher = California History Online
accessdate = 2007-02-22
] Cannery and Agricultural Workers Industrial Union led a massive strike of cotton pickers in California in 1933; that strike was defeated after mass arrests and the murder of several strikers. The movie "Salt of the Earth" depicts another strike, waged by the mostly Mexican-American members of the Mine Mill and Smelter Workers; the movie itself became an important document in the later Chicano movement.

The most significant union struggle involving Mexican-Americans was the United Farm Workers' long strike and boycott aimed at grape growers in the San Joaquin and Coachella Valleys in the late 1960s, followed by campaigns to organize lettuce workers in California and Arizona, farm workers in Texas, and orange grove workers in Florida. While the union suffered severe setbacks in California in 1973 and never established a strong union presence in other states, its struggle propelled César Chávez and Dolores Huerta into national prominence, while providing the foot soldiers who helped increase the visibility of Mexican-Americans within the Democratic Party in California and elect a number of Mexican-American candidates in the 1970s and 1980s.

More recently, the Service Employees International Union has led a number of successful "Justice for Janitors" campaigns throughout the United States among predominantly immigrant workers, many of whom have come from Mexico and Central America. Those campaigns do not stress cultural or ethnic identity in the way that the UFW did, but have linked immigrant workers' struggles with the political interests of Mexican-Americans in many communities, such as Los Angeles.

The IWW is also once again organizing, particularly among Troquero truck drivers and immigrant taxi drivers in the Los Angeles, California area.

The civil rights movement

Tejanos — Texans of Spanish and/or Mexican descent — formed several organizations in the early twentieth century to protect themselves from official and private discrimination, but made only partial progress in addressing the worst forms of official ethnic discrimination. One of those organizations, the League of United Latin American Citizens formed in 1929, remains active today.

The movement to overturn the many forms of state-sponsored discrimination directed at Hispanic Americans was strongest in Texas, where Tejanos formed organizations throughout the first fifty years of the twentieth century to advance their rights. The movement picked up steam after World War II, however, when groups such as the American G.I. Forum, formed by returning veterans, joined in the efforts of organizations such as LULAC to demand an end to segregated schools and denial of the right to vote. Hispanic Americans brought several legal cases against school segregation in San Antonio and Corpus Christi, Texas, in the 1940s and similar battles in San Diego and Orange County, California.

During The Great Depression, the United States government sponsored a Mexican Repatriation program which was intended to encourage people to voluntarily move to Mexico, but thousands were deported against their will. More than 500,000 individuals were deported, approximately 60 percent of which were actually United States citizens. [ [http://campusapps.fullerton.edu/news/2005/valenciana.html 1930s Mexican Deportation: Educator brings attention to historic period and its affect on her family ] ] [ [http://www.counselingkevin.com/the_economy/index.html Counseling Kevin: The Economy ] ] In the post-war McCarthy era, the Justice Department launched Operation Wetback. [ [http://www.counselingkevin.com/the_economy/index.html Counseling Kevin: The Economy ] ]

Mexican-Americans, mestizos especially, also faced heightened racism during World War II, most famously during the Zoot Suit Riots, when sailors in Los Angeles attacked Mexican-American youths in 1943, and in the Sleepy Lagoon Case, in which a number of young men were wrongly convicted in a case marked by sensationalized press coverage and overt racism from the prosecution and judge. That trial and verdict, overturned on appeal after a broad-based committee was created to support the defendants, is depicted in Luis Valdez' play and film "Zoot Suit". At the same time, the United States was importing thousands of Mexican farm workers under the Bracero program that used them as temporary labor, without employment rights.

According to the National World War II Museum, between 250,000 and 500,000 Hispanic Americans served in the Armed Forces during WWII. Thus, Hispanic Americans comprised 2.3% to 4.7% of the Army. The exact number, however is unknown as at the time Hispanics were classified as whites. Generally Mexican American World War II servicemen were integrated into regular military units. However, many Mexican American war veterans were discriminated against and even denied medical services by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs when they arrived home. [ [http://www.neta.com/~1stbooks/press3b.htm press3b ] ] In 1948, war veteran Dr Hector P. Garcia founded the American GI Forum to address the concerns of Mexican American veterans who were being discriminated against. The AGIF's first campaign was on the behalf of Felix Longoria, a Mexican American private who was killed in the Philippines in the line of duty. Upon the return of his body to his hometown of Three Rivers, Texas, he was denied funeral services because he was Mexican American.

Mexican American school children were subject to racial segregation in the public school system. They were forced to attend "Mexican schools" in California. In 1947, the Mendez v. Westminster ruling declared that segrating children of "Mexican and Latin descent" in Orange County and the state of California was unconstitutional. This ruling helped lay the foundation for the landmark Brown v Board of Education case which ended racial segregation in the public school system. [ [http://www.latinola.com/story.php?story=432 LatinoLA - Latino Hollywood - On Screen and Behind the Scenes ] ]

In many counties in the Southwestern United States, Mexican Americans were not selected as jurors in court cases which involved a Mexican American defendant. [ [http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/HH/jrh1.html Handbook of Texas Online - HERNANDEZ V. STATE OF TEXAS ] ] In 1954, Pete Hernandez, an agricultural worker, was indicted of murder by an all-Anglo jury in Jackson County, Texas. Hernandez believed that the jury could not be impartial unless members of other races were allowed on the jury-selecting committees, seeing that a Mexican American had not been on a jury for more than 25 years in that particular county. Hernandez and his lawyers decided to take the case to the Supreme Court. The Hernandez v. Texas Supreme Court ruling declared that Mexican Americans and other racial groups in the United States were entitled to equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. [hhttp://www.oyez.org/cases/1950-1959/1953/1953_406/]

The most prominent civil rights organization in the Mexican-American community is the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), founded in 1968. Although modeled after the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, MALDEF has also taken on many of the functions of other organizations, including political advocacy and training of local leaders.

The Chicano movement

The Chicano movement blossomed in the 1960s. The movement had roots in the civil rights struggles that had preceded it, adding to it the cultural and generational politics of the era.

The early proponents of the movement — Rodolfo Gonzales in Denver, Colorado and Reies Tijerina in New Mexico — adopted a historical account of the preceding hundred and twenty-five years that obscured much of Mexican-American history. Gonzales and Tijerina embraced a form of nationalism that was based on the failure of the United States government to live up to the promises that it had made in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. [ [http://www.lasculturas.com/lib/sd/blsd092200a.php A History of Mexican Americans in California ] ]

That version of the past did not, on the other hand, take into account the history of those Mexicans who had immigrated to the United States. It also gave little attention to the rights of illegal immigrants in the United States in the 1960s — not surprising, since immigration did not have the political significance it was to acquire in the years to come. It was only a decade later when activists embraced the rights of illegal immigrants and helped broaden the focus to include their rights.Fact|date=February 2007

Instead, when the movement dealt with practical problems most activists focused on the most immediate issues confronting Mexican-Americans: unequal educational and employment opportunities, political disenfranchisement, and police brutality. In the heady days of the late 1960s, when the student movement was active around the globe, the Chicano movement brought about more or less spontaneous actions, such as the mass walkouts by high school students in Denver and East Los Angeles in 1968 and the Chicano Moratorium in Los Angeles in 1970.

The movement was particularly strong at the college level, where activists formed MEChA, "el Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán", which promoted Chicano Studies programs and a generalized nationalist agenda. The student movement produced a generation of future political leaders, including Richard Alatorre and Cruz Bustamante in California.

Some women who worked within the Chicano movement felt that participants were more worried about other issues, such as immigration, than solving problems that affected women. This led Chicana women to form the Comisión Femenil Mexicana Nacional.

Mexican-Americans and electoral politics

In 1963, in Crystal City, Texas the mainly Mexican-American migrant community together with the support of the Teamsters Union and the Political Association of Spanish Speaking Organizations (PASSO), an outgrowth of the Viva Kennedy clubs of 1960, encouraged Mexican-American men and women to pay their poll tax and choose their own candidates. Led by Teamsters business agent and cannery employee, Juan Cornejo, five Mexican-Americans, despite harassment from the infamous Texas Rangers, won the support of their community young and old alike who thanks to the protection provided by the Teamsters and PASSO mobilized for electoral victory. This "revolt" was covered nationwide and reported in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. This election led Americans outside of the Southwest to take note of America's other minority community as a political force.

As a result of the Voting Rights Act, followed up by intensive political organizing, Mexican-Americans were able to achieve a new degree of political power and representation in Texas and elsewhere in the Southwest. The La Raza Unida Party, headed by Jose Angel Gutierrez of Crystal City, Texas made startling progress in the poorest regions in the Rio Grande Valley with its base of operations at Crystal City, Texas in the early 1970s, spreading for a while to Colorado, Wisconsin, California, Michigan, Oregon and several other states. The party faded in the mid 1970s and held on only in Crystal City, Texas before collapsing in the early 1980s. Veterans from the party, such as Willie Velasquez, became active in Democratic politics and in organizing projects such as the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project, which boosted the electoral fortunes of Mexican-American candidates throughout the Southwest.

Results came more slowly in California, on the other hand: although Los Angeles had a significant Mexican-American population, gerrymandering eliminated the seat held by Edward R. Roybal, the only Mexican-American member of the Los Angeles City Council, in 1959. La Raza Unida Party campaigns in the early 1970s had the practical effect of defeating Mexican-American Democratic candidates, embittering many activists against the party and the form of nationalism it represented.

It would be more than twenty years before another Mexican-American was elected to the Los Angeles City Council and it would take litigation to permit a Mexican-American to win election to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in the 1980s, the first Mexican-American to join that body in more than a century. In the 1990s, Mexican-American politicians held high offices throughout California. In 2005, Antonio Villaraigosa was elected mayor of Los Angeles, the first Latino in 130 years to hold the seat.

Voters have elected a number of governors of Mexican-American descent in the Southwest, including Jerry Apodaca and Bill Richardson in New Mexico and Raúl Castro in Arizona. Colorado voters recently elected Ken Salazar as the first Mexican-American Senator from that state. Cruz Bustamente was the first lieutenant governor of California in 130 years from his election in 1999 to 2007, but Bustamente lost the gubernatorial election to Austrian-born actor Arnold Schwarzenegger who went on to be state governor.

Mexican-Americans have also achieved some degree of political recognition in Chicago, where they make up roughly 75% of a Latino community that also includes significant numbers of Puerto Ricans and immigrants from other Spanish-speaking countries. That predominantly Mexican-American community has elected Luis Gutierrez, whose ancestry is Puerto Rican, to represent it in Congress and a number of Mexican-American politicians at the state and local level.

Mexican-Americans tend to vote Democratic (in 1960, the John F. Kennedy presidential campaign boosted the Mexican American vote to over 80% for Kennedy), although the Republican Party has made determined efforts in the years after 1980 to reverse that trend. Mexican-Americans in particular, despite being a large voting bloc, have a very poor voter turnout. This can be attributed to low income and education rates;Fact|date=November 2007 an engendered mistrust for government in general passed down from parents or grandparents having fled Mexico's government might also play a role.Fact|date=November 2007

ee also

*History of Mexico
*History of United States
*Mexican American
*Mexicans in Omaha, Nebraska

* [http://www.cah.utexas.edu/ssspot/ The Study of the Spanish-Speaking People of Texas] University of Texas at Austin collection of more than 900 images taken by Russell Lee between April and July 1949 in Corpus Christi, San Angelo, San Antonio, and El Paso.


* Erlinda Gonzales-Berry, David R. Maciel, editors, "The Contested Homeland: A Chicano History of New Mexico", 314 pages - University of New Mexico Press 2000, ISBN 0-8263-2199-2
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* Rosales, Francisco A., "Chicano!: The history of the Mexican American civil rights movement," Houston, Texas : Arte Público Press, 1997. ISBN 1-55885-201-8
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* John R. Chavez, "The Lost Land: The Chicano Image of the Southwest" (1983), Chavez is a New Mexico professor of Chicano studies wrote a historical review of Mexican American history from the 1600s colonial New Mexico to the 1980s situation of the Mexican American community.
* Cletus E. Daniel, "Bitter Harvest: A History of California Farmworkers, 1870-1941" 1981.
* Sarah Deutsch, "No Separate Refuge: Culture, Class, and Gender on the Anglo-Hispanic Frontier in the American Southwest, 1880-1940" 1987
* John C. Hammerback, Richard J. Jensen, and Jose Angel Gutierrez. "A War of Words: Chicano Protest in the 1960s and 1970s" 1985.
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* Rosa Linda Fregoso; "Mexicana Encounters: The Making of Social Identities on the Borderlands" (2003)
* Fregoso, Rosa Linda. "The Bronze Screen: Chicana and Chicano Film Culture." (1993)
* Manuel Gamio, "The Life Story of the Mexican Immigrant" (1931)
* Manuel Gamio, "Mexican Immigration to the United States" (1939)
* Richard A. García, "Rise of the Mexican American Middle Class: San Antonio, 1929-1941" 1991
* Lynne Marie Getz; "Schools of Their Own: The Education of Hispanos in New Mexico, 1850-1940" (1997)
* Juan Gómez-Quiñones, "Roots of Chicano Politics, 1600-1940" (1994)
* David G. Gutiérrez, "Walls and Mirrors: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the Politics of Ethnicity in the Southwest, 1910-1986" 1995.
* Carey McWilliams, "North from Mexico". (1949), farm workers
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* George I. Sánchez; "Forgotten People: A Study of New Mexicans" (1940; reprint 1996)
* George J. Sánchez; "Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945" (1993)
* Paul S. Taylor, "Mexican Labor in the United States". 2 vols. 1930-1932
* Zaragosa Vargas, "Proletarians of the North: A History of Mexican Industrial Workers in Detroit and the Midwest, 1917-1933" (1993)
* Armando C. Alonzo, Tejano Legacy: Rancheros and Settlers in South Texas, 1734-1900 (1998)
* [http://www.1st-hand-history.org/Hhb/HHBindex.htm Hubert Howe Bancroft. "The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft,"]
** [http://www.1st-hand-history.org/Hhb/15/album1.html v 15: "History of the North Mexican States and Texas, Volume 1: 1531 - 1800"]
** [http://www.1st-hand-history.org/Hhb/16/album1.html v 16 "History of the North Mexican States and Texas, Volume 2: 1801 - 1889"]
** [http://www.1st-hand-history.org/Hhb/17/album1.html Vol. 17 "History of Arizona and New Mexico 1530-1888)" (1889)]
** [http://www.1st-hand-history.org/Hhb/HHBindex.htm vol 18-24, "History of California" to 1890]
* Jane Dysart, "Mexican Women in San Antonio, 1830-1860: The Assimilation Process" "Western Historical Quarterly" 7 (October 1976): 365-375. in JSTOR
* Ramón A. Gutiérrez; "When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away: Marriage, Sexuality, and Power in New Mexico, 1500-1846" (1991)
* Paul L. Hain; F. Chris Garcia, Gilbert K. St. Clair; "New Mexico Government" 3rd ed. (1994)
*Paul Horgan, "Great River, The Rio Grande in North American History", 1038 pages, Wesleyan University Press 1991, 4th Reprint, ISBN 0-8195-6251-3 - Pulitzer Prize 1955
* Charles Hughes, "The Decline of the Californios: The Case of San Diego, 1846-1856" "The Journal of San Diego History" Summer 1975, Volume 21, Number 3 online at [http://www.sandiegohistory.org/journal/75summer/decline.htm]
* C. Alan Hutchinson, "Frontier Settlement in Mexican California: The Híjar-Padrés Colony, and Its Origins, 1769-1835" (Yale University Press, 1969),
* Howard R. Lamar; "The Far Southwest, 1846-1912: A Territorial History" (1966, repr 2000)
* Juan Francisco Martinez. "Sea La Luz: The Making of Mexican Protestantism in the American Southwest, 1829-1900" (2006)
* Timothy M. Matovina, "Tejano Religion and Ethnicity, San Antonio, 1821-1860" (1995)
* Leonard Pitt, "The Decline of the Californios: A Social History of the Spanish-Speaking Californians, 1846-1890" (ISBN 0-520-01637-8)
* Kenneth L. Stewart and Arnoldo De León. "Not Room Enough: Mexicans, Anglos, and Socioeconomic Change in Texas, 1850-1900" (1993)
* Jesús F. de la Teja, "San Antonio de Béxar: A Community on New Spain's Northern Frontier" (1995).
* Andrés Tijerina, "Tejanos and Texas under the Mexican Flag, 1821-1836" (1994),
* Andrés Tijerina, "Tejano Empire: Life on the South Texas Ranchos" (1998).
* W. H. Timmons, "El Paso: A Borderlands History" (1990).
* David J. Weber, "The Mexican Frontier, 1821-1846: The American Southwest under Mexico" (1982)
* Richard Ellis, ed. "New Mexico Past and Present: A Historical Reader." 1971. primary sources
* David J. Weber; "Foreigners in Their Native Land: Historical Roots of the Mexican Americans" (1973), primary sources to 1912 [http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/index.html Handbook of Texas History Online] [http://nwanews.com/story.php?paper=adg&section=News&storyid=147090 Hispanic Influx Causing Cultural Shift Across South]


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