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Culture and Society of Mexican Americans After Mexican-American War

Introduction

In a particular social and temporal area, a minority group is a sociological community, the weight of which is not dominating among the main population. A sociological minority does not have to be a numerical minority since it might represent a group discriminated against in terms of ethnicity, social status, education, employment, healthcare, and participation in governmental activities.. Mexican Americans are believed to be the United States of America’s subordinate community that has to overcome many obstacles and endure poor living conditions in order to ensure a full lifestyle. Public opinion on the origins of the Mexican-American war, which is an important aspect of both nations’ histories, has been divided based on political preferences1. The Mexican-American war negatively influenced the culture and society of Mexican Americans, and, therefore, the whole Mexican origin was damaged.

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Ethnic Minorities in the United States of America

Hispanic and Latino Americans are people of Spanish or Latin American descent who live in the United States. People that identify as Latino or Hispanic in general, regardless of background and ancestry, are included in these demographics. Origin refers to a person’s or their families’ ancestry, nationality group, genealogy, or country of birth prior to their movement to the United States of America. Individuals who identify as Latino might be of any racial background. Latinos are a pan-ethnicity in America, including a variety of interconnected cultural and linguistic legacies. They are one of only two ethnicity classifications expressly defined in the United States of America. Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Salvadorans, Dominicans, Guatemalans, and Colombians make up the majority of Latino Americans. In distinct parts of the country, the majority background of local Latino communities differs greatly.

Vast areas of what is now the American Southwest and West Coast, as well as Florida, were conquered by Spain. California, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and Texas were all components of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, which was centered in Mexico City. Considering Texas, the territory was in totally desolate condition when it provoked various land speculations2. After the state of Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821 and until the Mexican–American War in 1848, this broad region became part of Mexico.

Independence of Mexico

After a decade of war between the royal regular army and revolutionaries for freedom, Mexico gained independence from Spain according to the Treaty of Córdoba in 1821, with no outside interference. As a result of the battle, the metal-mining areas of Zacatecas and Guanajuato were decimated, and Mexico debuted as an independent nation with its prospective economic stability from its principal export shattered. Mexico dabbled with monarchy for a short time before becoming a republic in 1824. When war started with the United States in 1846, this administration was marked by uncertainty, leaving it unprepared for a massive foreign conflict. Mexico had successfully prevented Spanish efforts to reoccupy its previous colony in the 1820s, as well as the French in the Pastry War of 1838, but separatists’ victories in Texas and the Yucatan against Mexico’s central state revealed the Mexican coalition’s drawbacks, which had many times changed hands. Historically, the Mexican army and the Catholic Church, both privileged organizations with conservative political beliefs, were more powerful than the Mexican government.

Expansionary policy of the United States of America

The United States has been attempting to extend its borders since the early nineteenth century. With Jefferson’s purchase of Louisiana from France in 1803 came an undetermined boundary between Spain and the United States. The immature and inexperienced United States battled Britain in the War of 1812, with the United States conducting a fruitless invasion of British Canada and the United Kingdom waging an equally futile counter-attack. The Adams-Onis Treaty of 1818 resolved several territorial disputes between the United States and Spain. John Quincy Adams, the United States’ diplomat, demanded unambiguous ownership of East Florida and the creation of U.S. claims over the 42nd parallel. At the same time, Spain wished to limit the United States’ development into what is now the American Southwest. Beginning in 1825, the United States of America attempted to acquire land from Mexico. Andrew Jackson, the president of America, tried unsuccessfully to purchase northern Mexican territory.

Peace and stability in the United States were aided by economic growth. Unlike Mexico, which was in financial distress, the United States was a wealthy nation with vast natural resources that Mexico lacked. Its battle of freedom had occurred decades before and was a brief fight that concluded with French involvement on behalf of the thirteen colonies. As immigrants plowed land and created farms, the United States grew quickly and moved westward, expelling Native Americans. There was a significant external trade for a valuable product created by slave workforce that was popular in the country. However, considering the discussion of slavery among various communities in America, it became one of the key issues on the agenda after the end of the Mexican-American War, as there was a large resettlement of certain groups of people3. This need aided in the growth of the expansion throughout northern Mexico. Even though there were ideological disagreements in the United States, they were mostly confined by the constitution’s structure, and by 1846, divisional political battles had replaced revolution and insurrection. The United States’ interventionism was fueled partly by the desire to gain additional area for financial purposes.

Mexican-American War: Conditions, Characteristics, and Results

The Mexican Army was a poor and fragmented army after the independence struggle. Mexican soldiers were difficult to integrate into a cohesive combat unit. Mexican troops were separated at the start of the conflict between regular soldiers (permanentes) and active militias (activos). The common divisions had twelve infantry brigades (each with two battalions), three artillery groups, eight horse regiments, one independent squadron, and a grenadier unit. Nine infantry and six horse units made up the militia. Presidial forces (presidiales) guarded the scattered communities in the northern lands.

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Since the conflict was fought on Mexican soil, women, identified as soldaderas, were a conventional support system for the warriors. They were not allowed by authorities to participate in the traditional sense on battlefields, although some soldaderas fought alongside the men. During the defense of Mexico City and Monterey, these women battled equally with men. Consequently, it can be concluded that in the absence of gender division, absolutely the entire Mexican society was immersed in the military atmosphere and felt the full impact of the hostilities.

The Mexican troops were armed with leftover British muskets from the Napoleonic Wars. While most American units were still carrying Springfield 1816 flintlock muskets at the start of the campaign, more dependable cap lock variants made significant advances within the ranks as the struggle continued. Some American forces had relatively contemporary weaponry, such as the Springfield 1841 rifle of the Mississippi Rifles and the Colt Paterson pistol of the Texas Rangers, which were more modern than the Mexican firearms during the same era. The United States Mounted Rifles were supplied Colt Walker firearms in the closing phases of the conflict. Most importantly, the dominance of the American artillery frequently carried the day throughout the war. While Mexican and American artillery was on the same technological level, United States military training and the quality and consistency of their supplies and logistics gave United States cannons and pistols a major advantage.

Mexicans were unified in their resistance to foreign invasion and stood for Mexico, despite substantial political disagreements. Although the opposing sides of the conflict were Mexicans and Americans, representatives of Indigenous tribes were also involved in the hostilities4. Political divisions severely hampered Mexicans’ ability to wage war, but there was no disagreement on their national attitude. Within Mexico, the conservative centralists and liberal nationalists struggled for control, and at times, these two groups within the Mexican military fought one other rather than the attacking American army.

Since the American Revolution, the United States had been a sovereign country, but it was deeply split along sectarian lines. Sectional divides were exacerbated by expanding the country, particularly by military conflict with a sovereign nation. James Polk, the eleventh president of America, had barely won the electoral vote and the Electoral College in the 1844 presidential campaign. However, his Democrats lost the House of Representatives to the Whig Party, who voted against the war after the acquisition of Texas in 1845 and the commencement of the conflict in 1846. Unlike Mexico, which had insufficient institutional structures of administration, frequent government transitions, and a military that frequently participated in politics, the United States maintained its political divides inside the confines of its governmental framework.

For the armies of Mexico and the United States of America, desertion was a big issue. An army must be able to control the level of desertion in order to be effective. Desertions weakened the Mexican Army’s troops on the eve of the conflict. Most soldiers were peasants who owed their allegiance to their town and family, not to the commanders who had recruited them. The soldiers were often hungry and unwell, undersupplied, only minimally trained, and underfunded, and their superiors despised them. They had little motive to oppose the Americans. Many people snuck out from camp in search of a chance to return to their native village.

Hundreds of American deserters crossed the border into Mexico. Almost everyone was a recent immigrant from Europe with little links to the United States. The Mexicans enticed American troops with money, land rewards, and officer appointments on broadsides and flyers. Mexican insurgents followed the United States Army and apprehended soldiers who had gone on leave without permission or had dropped out of the ranks5. These individuals were forced to join the Mexican army by the insurgents. The lucrative promises were false for most deserters, as they faced death if arrested by American soldiers.

Mexico could not protect itself in standard combat since it was outmanned militarily, and numerous major cities in the Mexican heartland, including the capital, were captured. The battle in Mexico was complicated by ongoing internal conflicts amongst factions, making a formal end to the war difficult. There were also difficulties in negotiating peace in the United States. The Treaty of Cahuenga brought peace to Alta California in January 1847, when the Californios (Mexican citizens of Alta California) surrendered to American soldiers. To put a stop to the battle, a complete peace deal was required.

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The United States forces had transitioned from a conquering army on the perimeter in search of land to an invading power in central Mexico, possibly becoming a long-term occupation army. Mexico might have continued its long-term guerilla fight against the American Army without signing a peace deal. However, it was unable to remove the invaders, necessitating the negotiation of a settlement. Despite the differences in uniforms and resources between the American and Mexican armies, throughout the fighting, the military on both sides began to feel tired and demoralized6. Polk’s desire for a quick victory against a weak adversary unwilling to fight had evolved into a lengthy and brutal campaign in Mexico’s interior. Although it was not a simple task, the United States’ greatest interests were served by negotiating a contract.

The campaign had been a painful historical experience for Mexico since it had cost the country land and emphasized internal political problems that would last additional twenty years. Following the Reform War involving liberals and conservatives, the French invaded and established the marionette monarchy. Mexico entered a period of self-examination due to the conflict, as its authorities worked to recognize and rectify the factors that had led to such a disaster. A consortium of Mexican writers created an evaluation of the causes for the war and Mexico’s defeat in the early aftermath of the conflict, which Mexican army commander Ramon Alcaraz published.

Mexican American Identity and Self-Awareness

The substantial variability among Mexican Americans, as a community, has generated a vast range of racial and ethnic identities between them. Specifically, Mexican Americans’ background of invasion and immigration as separate modes of absorption into American culture, as well as classification as White and non-White through time and location, has influenced their racial and ethnic assertions7. Mexican Americans’ views on migration are impacted by the national ideological environment around immigration in the United States, not only by different levels of assimilation or group ties. Moreover, both colonization and immigration were not monolithic for Mexican Americans; each involved unique experiences and adjustments to American society.

It is vital to analyze this connection to have a better understanding of the complexities of Mexican Americans’ ethnic heritage. Sociological studies of Mexican Americans’ ethnic identity have revealed diverse and conflicting views on how they characterize themselves ethnically8. When confronted with nativist animosity, Mexican Americans frequently identify themselves in contrast to Mexican immigrants9. In this framework, Mexican Americans generally emphasize their American nationality in an attempt to separate themselves from Mexican immigrants. Compared to other minorities, Mexican Americans do not defend their full connection with genetic relatives but show a greater desire to be attributed to the American nation.

The self-determination of people with Spanish and Mexican roots differs depending on the region. “Spanish” and “Spanish American” are the most disputed ethnic designations among the Mexican American people, especially in New Mexico, where they are most widely practiced10. Between 1880 and 1912, during New Mexico’s campaign for statehood, Mexicans original to the region, known as Nuevomexicanos, selected “Spanish” as an officially proclaimed identity to demonstrate that they deserved sovereignty11. The Hispanos of New Mexico, also recognized as Neomexicanos or Nuevomexicanos, are a racial group that largely inhabits New Mexico and the southern region of Colorado in the United States of America. They are derived from New Mexico’s Spanish and Mexican colonizers, with mestizo ancestors from Native Americans and Mexicans. They are descended from Oasisamerican populations and people from the Viceroyalty of New Spain, the First Mexican Republic, and the Centralist Republic of Mexico. All of them originated in the historical territory of Santa Fe de Nuevo México. The current American states of New Mexico (Nuevo México), southern Colorado, and parts of Arizona, Texas, and Utah comprise this historical territory.

Mexican-American culture

Many people are believed to use the labels Hispanic and Latino interchangeably. In general, they have diverse meanings, which are frequently contested. People having a Spanish-speaking heritage are commonly referred to as Hispanics. On the other side, Latino refers to people from the Latin American region, which includes Mexico. Integration and cultural assimilation, processes of boundary reduction that can occur when members of two or more groups interact, pressure Mexican Americans to adapt to Anglo-American norms. Mexican Americans are faced with social barriers, including the relationships with the representatives of other ethnicities. Much of Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean, are included. Those from nations such as Brazil may classify as Latino but not Hispanic, even though the two labels have a lot of overlap. The term latinx has recently become very popular as a gender-neutral replacement to latino.

Latin Americans and Hispanics originate from a variety of social, economic, and geographic contexts. Depending on their familial ancestry and country of origin, they might be highly diverse. Nevertheless, some cultural commonalities seem to draw these people from different roots together. Considering language, Spanish is one of the most frequent cultural traits of Hispanic Americans. Furthermore, because Hispanic and Latin American cultures are predominantly Christian, religion plays an essential role in their culture.

Economic, Social, and Political Influence of the Mexican-American War

Considering any other war, the Mexican-American conflict brought a significant number of consequences for both sides. The researchers consider the battle of 1846–1848 as North America’s forgotten fight12. As the reaction of the society of the United States of America illustrates, it is eclipsed by the Civil War, which it aided in bringing about. What concerns Mexico, the Mexican-American war is justifiably considered a national tragedy since the country lost half of its land to its expansionist northern neighbor, suffering humiliation and disintegration13. This fact negatively affected the mental state of the Mexicans, as it carried feelings of powerlessness and failure.

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Mexican’s sense of poverty and America’s economic dominance were fueled by the incompetent use of resources during the war. Scholars argue that Mexico did not lose the battle due to a lack of patriotism, contrary to popular belief14. Admittedly, the San Patricios — Irish-American Christians who left the US Army and joined the enemy – were the most well-known defections of the conflict. Conversely, Mexico lost since the United States of America had more financial resources, and the government was able to supply its armies more effectively by land and ocean15. In addition, American per capita earnings were three times that of Mexico, and it was capable of preserving some political cohesiveness throughout the campaign16. Consideration should be given to psychological pressure caused by depression that has been passed on to other generations.

Mexican society has lost tremendous potential in development due to the seized territories, which in the future served to the benefit of America. In numerous ways, America and its Mexican neighbor were startlingly similar: developing nations, geographically varied, experienced with brutality and violence, the forces’ divisions were crowded with the impoverished, and officers bickered for supremacy17. Furthermore, divergence became more prominent after 1848 due to the conflict itself, which made the United States a regional authority on the occasion of the California gold rush18. Moreover, it aided in the precipitation of the American Civil War, resulting in the formation of a larger country and a rapidly growing industrial economy.

The results of the war and its consequences and reflection in various spheres of life became the main topic of discussion and debate in Mexican society. In Mexico, loss sparked heated political debate and polarization, resulting in major social instability and a second foreign (French) invasion, which the Mexicans effectively repelled this time19. Any manifestation of military aggression and armed intervention poses a threat to national security and the situation within the state. Considering the consequences, a bloody and brutal war extremely negatively affected the Mexican people’s economic, social, and political levels. Against the background of a strong shortage of funds, population, and labor resources, countries experienced the pressure of ardent disputes and strife in their societies. Therefore, the Mexican–American War was unquestionably a defining moment for both countries.

The Mexican-American war reignited the debate over slavery expansion, which had polarized the North and South since the Missouri Compromise. It admitted Missouri as a slave territory and Maine as a free region in return for laws prohibiting enslavement in the remaining Louisiana territories north of the 36°30′ parallel except Missouri20. Slavery has been a significantly controversial topic from the very beginning of the settlement of the territory of the modern United States of America. Between 1607 and 1690, the British colonies in America abolished the idea of a society that opposed slavery and valued individuals and personal freedom21. They created the one that enthusiastically and mercilessly enforced slavery on a segment of the population for the profit of the others. The aftermath of hostilities has given a new shape to the discussion of the format of slavery.

Reformers interpreted the conflict as an effort by slave states to expand slavery and strengthen their control by forming new slave states on the newly acquired Mexican territory. Senator David Wilmot of Pennsylvania sought to modify a treaty funding measure on August 8, 1846. The Wilmot Proviso, which prohibited slavery in any land gained from Mexico, was never approved, but it provoked serious discussion and exacerbated sectional tensions.

Understanding the progress made by successive generations of immigrants is critical for determining the long-term influence of immigration on culture. Hispanics, of whom over 60% are Mexican-Americans, comprise one of the fastest-growing groups of older adults in the United States of America due to the high volume of migration22. Second-generation refugees, or children born in the United States of foreign-born immigrants, exhibit symptoms of quick integration in numerous ways. The second generation as a whole and second-generation individuals of most modern ethnic background groups reach or surpass the average American’s educational level23. As an outcome, even when comparing individuals whose parents have been in the United States for at least two generations, Mexican Americans still possess differences. They have educational gaps and deficits of more than a year compared to non-Hispanic whites and over a third compared to African Americans24. Currently, Mexican Americans have difficulties in education and getting used to the correct social environment.

In terms of lifestyle, Mexican Americans have become more hostile to any possibility of aggression against them, as the American invasion has left a long historical mark. Many of them were able to integrate into American culture and ideology of life, but nevertheless there is a strong factor of separate concentration and unification of Mexicans. Living in the United States and using the resources provided by the state, Mexican Americans preserve their identity, language and culture.

Conclusion

To summarize, the Mexican-American war negatively affected Mexican culture and society. In terms of mental and psychological state, the major defeat of the war and its consequences led to a feeling of lack of national strength. Noticing territorial losses, Mexican society lost economically profitable and promising lands, which in the future greatly strengthened the financial system of the United States of America. Global changes have led to massive migration, after which Mexican Americans still have difficulty balancing themselves with the norms of America’s ideals. The culture of Mexican Americans was influenced by American assimilation but retained its true Mexican origins.

References

Ballentine, George. 1860. The Mexican War, by an English Soldier: Comprising Incidents and Adventures in the United States and Mexico with the American Army. A. A. Townsend.

Bowers, Riley. 2021. “Beyond a Border Conflict: Indigenous Involvement in the Mexican-American War.” West Virginia University Historical Review 2, no. 1: 34-46. Web.

Brooks, Nathan. 1851. A Complete History of the Mexican War. Grigg, Elliot & Company.

Dudley, John. 1847. The Mexican War and American Slavery: Sermon. Dartmouth Press.

Duncan, Brian, Grogger, Jeffrey, Leon, Ana Sofia, and Stephen Trejo. 2019. “New evidence of generational progress for Mexican Americans.” Labour Economics 62. Web.

Frost, John. 1848. The Mexican War and Its Warriors: Comprising a Complete History of All the Operations of the American Armies in Mexico. H. Mansfield.

Garcia, Marc, Reyes, Adriana, Downer, Brian, Saenz, Joseph, Samper-Ternent, Rafael, and Mukaila Raji. 2018. “Age of Migration and the Incidence of Cognitive Impairment: A Cohort Study of Elder Mexican-Americans.” Innovation in Aging 1, no. 3. Web.

Jay, William. 1850. A Review of the Causes and Consequences of the Mexican War. American Peace Society

Knight, Alan. 2019. “The Dead March: A History of the Mexican-American War.” Journal of Latin American Studies 51, no. 2: 445-447. Web.

Mansfield, Edward. 1851. The Mexican War. A. S. Barnes&Company.

Salgado, Casandra. 2020. “Mexican American Identity: Regional Differentiation in New Mexico.” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity 6, no. 2: 179-194. Web.

Zimmerman, Robert. 2021. Conscious Choice: The Origins of Slavery in America and Why it Matters Today and for Our Future in Outer Space. eBookIt.com.

Footnotes

  1. Brooks, A Complete History of the Mexican War.
  2. Mansfield, The Mexican War.
  3. Dudley, The Mexican War and American Slavery.
  4. Bowers, “Beyond a Border Conflict”, 34-46.
  5. Frost, The Mexican War and Its Warriors, 52.
  6. Ballentine, The Mexican War, by an English Soldier, 276.
  7. Salgado, “Mexican American Identity”, 179-194.
  8. Salgado, “Mexican American Identity”, 179-194.
  9. Salgado, “Mexican American Identity”, 179-194.
  10. Salgado, “Mexican American Identity”, 179-194.
  11. Salgado, “Mexican American Identity”, 179-194.
  12. Knight, “The Dead March”, 445-447.
  13. Knight, “The Dead March”, 445-447.
  14. Knight, “The Dead March”, 445-447.
  15. Knight, “The Dead March”, 445-447.
  16. Knight, “The Dead March”, 445-447.
  17. Knight, “The Dead March”, 445-447.
  18. Knight, “The Dead March”, 445-447.
  19. Knight, “The Dead March”, 445-447.
  20. Jay, A Review of the Causes and Consequences of the Mexican War.
  21. Zimmerman, Conscious Choice.
  22. Garcia et al., “Age of Migration”, 3.
  23. Duncan et al., “New evidence of generational progress”, 62.
  24. Duncan et al., “New evidence of generational progress”, 62.

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StudyCorgi. "Culture and Society of Mexican Americans After Mexican-American War." December 17, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/culture-and-society-of-mexican-americans-after-mexican-american-war/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Culture and Society of Mexican Americans After Mexican-American War." December 17, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/culture-and-society-of-mexican-americans-after-mexican-american-war/.

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