1900 - Because checking the emigration status of immigrants became so lax, more than two million unchecked people lived in the City by this year.The Germans
Around the year 1700, many Germans were fleeing their homeland to find an easier life in other European countries, the Western Hemisphere, and Australia due to extremely violent conditions. Unlike most immigrants, German immigrants mostly did not immigrate for political reasons. In fact, the country was repeatedly being attacked by armies of various nationalities. Inhabitants of the southwestern part, especially, were constantly robbed and tortured. Entire villages were often burnt down and their inhabitants killed. During the flood of emigrants from Germany, its rulers tried to stop the flow, but to little effect. In fact, the flow increased, and in 1709 about 15,000 Germans left for Britain, and 3,000 crossed the Atlantic to New York. In 1745, there were an estimated 45,000 Germans living in Pennsylvania alone.
After the year 1800, Germans still poured into the US, but for different reasons than the earlier generations. Modernization and population growth forced many Germans from their respective family businesses. Also, modernization made immigrating more convenient and faster with inventions such as the steam boat and steam train. Many Germans took long, complicated, but cheap routes through Great Britain by way of train and boat to get to the United States.
In the United States, most Germans lived on the countryside. Only about two fifths lived in cities larger than 25,000 people. In 1870, German-born farmers made up one third of the agricultural industry in the region. This does not include most Pennsylvanian Germans who were born native to the US. German farmers didn't just stay in the east. Large numbers of German farmers could be found in the Midwest and in Texas. Some even went as far west as Anaheim, California. West coast German farmers, though, didn't live up to the east coast stereotype of a German farmer. Most of the west coast farmers would sacrifice fertile land for a closer location to other Germans.
Also, in cities, Germans The Emigrants' Farewell. (From a painting by Ludwig Bokelmann, Library of Congress)would cluster together to form communities not unlike the Chinese Chinatowns. These replications of Germany would house prominent German businesses such as the lager beer industry. German entrepreneurs such as bakers, butchers, cabinetmakers, cigar makers, distillers, machinists, and tailors also could be found in abundance in these "Miniature-Germany" towns. German women, however, were less likely than the average American woman to enter the labor force. Very few German women could be found holding jobs in a factory, or as a clerk. Instead, they sought after work as bakers, domestic workers, hotel keepers, janitors, laundry workers, nurses, peddlers, saloon keepers, and tailors.
Not all Germans got along in large groups, though. During much of the nineteenth century, divisions among Germans seemed more significant those between German Americans and other groups. These divisions were based on geography, on ideology, and on religion. The first two were most apparent before 1871, when the push for German unification tended to unite most but certainly not all German Americans in feelings of pride in their fatherland and its achievements. Initially, German immigrants tended to identify themselves as Bavarians, Württembergers, Saxons, and so on, although intellectuals and those who politicized yearned for some kind of German unification. Most of these were liberals of one kind or another, who dreamed of a more-or-less democratic Germany. Even so, when unification did come to Bismarckian, autocratic terms after the wars of unification, all but the most ideologically committed German Americans rejoiced: Liberals and conservatives, as well as the more numerically important apolitical, were united in a feeling of pride. (Roger Daniels, 1990)
Religious differences were more enduring. German emigrants departing for the USA, late nineteenth century. (Brown Brothers)Most German immigrants were Protestants, with Lutheranism by far the most denomination; perhaps a third of German immigrants were Catholics, and around 250,000 were Jewish. With the Lutheran community in the United States there was considerable friction. Nineteenth-century German Lutheran immigrants found that the existing German Lutheran churches in the US had developed into what, to them, were unwelcome tendencies. Most had been Americanized enough so that English was used for all or part of their services. Even worse, doctrine had been liberalized. The older churches and their offshoots, established by immigrants who had come before the Revolution, had come closer to Reformed and even Anglican churches and in many instances had adopted preaching styles similar to that of the Methodists. These trends were, not surprisingly, more pronounced in the cities than in the country. In New York and Philadelphia, for example, Lutheran bodies had adopted new constitutions in which all reference to the Augsburg Confession had disappeared. The result was, eventually, schism. By 1847, under the leadership of a recent immigrant pastor, C. F. W. Walther, whose enemies called him "the Lutheran pope of the West," the newer Lutheran arrivals who wished to maintain the old-style doctrine had organized the Missouri Synod. Over the years it has remained the bulwark of the more conservative American Lutherans, regardless of where they live.
The boom of the Hawaiian sugar industry in the 1870s and 1880s, in contrast to Japan's painful transition to a modern economy that produced large-scale unemployment, bankruptcies, and civil disorders, contributed to a much larger portion of Japanese emigrants moving to Hawaii. Thus as of 1900, the majority of half of all the Japanese immigrants in the world living in the U.S. lived in Hawaii. From 1885 through 1894, over 28,000 Japanese migrated to Hawaii, the vast majority being single men. Opposed to the first Japanese from Yokohama, these Japanese were farmers and farm laborers, immigrating as sojourners rather than settlers. Initially, around three-quarters of them returned to Japan, though as years passed, this figure declined to only one-quarter. Anticipating the legislation of American laws against contract labor to Hawaii in 1900, after the American takeover of the islands, Hawaiian plantation owners imported more than 26,000 contract laborers from Japan in 1899, in order to beat the ban- the largest number ever admitted in a single year. The contracts were then voided under American laws, however, leaving thousands of Japanese free to migrate to the U.S mainland. But Hawaii remained the principle are of concentration for Japanese in the U.S. for many years.
The burdens of Italian women, 1905. (Harvard University Social Ethics Collection)During the mass emigration from Italy during the century between 1876 to 1976, the U.S. was the largest single recipient of Italian immigrants in the world. However, their impact was not as great as countries like Argentina and Brazil. That was due to the fact that hundreds of thousands of immigrants from nations all over the world were migrating to the U.S. at the same time and American born natives already made up the majority ethnic group. The Italians did play a major role though, socially with individuals rising to national stature in many different fields.
In 1850, less than 4,000 Italians were reportedly in the U.S. However in 1880, merely four years after the influx of Italian immigrants migrated, the population skyrocketed to 44,000, and by 1900, 484,027. From 1880 to 1900, southern Italian immigrants became the predominant Italian immigrant and stayed that way throughout the mass migration. Despite the increase numbers, the Italians were not the largest foreign-origin group in American cities. Outnumbered by groups migrating for decades before them. Italians only made-up 1.5% of the U.S. population at its peak.
In the U.S. where the abundance of cheap land could no longer be found, the mostly agricultural Italians in Italy, became mostly urban. Starting from the bottom of the occupational ladder working up, they worked jobs such as shoe shinning, ragpicking, sewer cleaning, and whatever hard, dirty, dangerous jobs others didn't want. Even children worked at an early age, as in Italy, even at the expense of their educations. The Italians were known for rarely accepting charity or resorting to prostitution for money, another reflection of patterns in Italy.
As in many other places in the world, Italians in America clustered into groups related to their place of origin. For example, the Neapolitans and Sicilians settled in different parts of New York, and even people from different parts of Sicily settled on different streets. However, what seldom occurred in U.S. were Italians enclaves, or all-Italians neighborhoods. The Italians would disperse themselves in other immigrant groups, such as, the Irish, the Jews, the Germans, and the Poles, while remaining in their clusters. Also, immigrants usually settled in different regions of U.S. based in where they came from in Italy. The Sicilians resided in New Orleans, the Neapolitans and Calabrians in Minnesota, and mostly northern Italians in California. However most of the Italians were concentrated in the mid Atlantic states in 1910 with 472,000 in New York and nearly 200,000 in Pennsylvania at the time.
The living conditions for the Italians tended to be Italian woman. Italian laborers also tended to skimp on food in a desperate attempt to save money. However, after time and new generations of Italians, the dirtiness of their homes disappeared along with the complaint of weak Italians from lack of nutrition.
The Italians were noted for their diligence and sobriety as workmen. In the late 19th and 20th centuries, Italians often became fishermen, shoemakers, waiters, fruit sellers, and tradesmen. Most were unskilled laborers though, working in mines and construction jobs. Over the years, the Italians rose up the economic scale but acquiring job skills in blue-collar job rather than by becoming educated and entering that profession.
The Irish were unfortunately divided during much of the nineteenth century and was therefore helpless in the face of its grave problems. The Act of Union of 1803 incorporated the island into British polity, but was useless in easing the difficult situation of the people.. With an overly large population as the result of the Napoleanic Wars, the Irish soon became impoverished. And with the religious prejudice of Protestant Masters to the Catholic Irish, plus political subordination, many had no alternative by to emigrate to the United States for relief. Between 1820 and 1860, the Irish were never less than a third of all immigrants. The British Passenger Acts attempted to deflect the immigration from the British Isles to Canada instead of the U.S., making the fare a cheap 15 shilling compared to the 4 or 5 pound fare to New York. Many Irish soon found it convenient to take the affordable trip to Canada, where they could buy cheap fares to the U.S., or cheaper yet, they could walk across the border. By 1840, the Irish constituted nearly half of all entering immigrants, and New England found it self heavily foreign born. By 1950, the Irish consisted of one fifth of all foreign born in the originally homogenous region.
In 1845, the great New England bonnet makers. (Harper's Monthly, October, 1864, New York Public Librarypotato rot touched off a mass migration. The disaster eliminated the sole subsistence of millions of peasants, thrusting them over the edge of starvation. For five weary years, the crops remained undependable, and famine swept through the land. Untold thousands perished, and the survivors, destitute of hope, wished only to get away (Handlin, 1972).
The only mode of escape was emigration. Starving families that could not pay landlords faced no alternative but to leave the country in hopes of a better future. And thus the steadily scaling number of Irish who entered the U.S. between 1820 and 1830 skyrocketed in the 1840s, nearly 2 million came in that decade. The flow persisted increasingly for another five years, as the first immigrants began to earn the means of sending for relatives and friends. The decade after 1855 showed a subside in the movement, but smaller numbers continued to arrive after the Civil War. Altogether, almost 3.5 million Irishmen entered the U.S. between 1820 and 1880.
Emigrating to the U.S. wasn't the magical solution for most of the immigrants. Peasants arrived without resources, or capital to start farms or businesses. Few of them ever accumulated the resources to make any meaningful choice about their way of life. Fortunately for them, the expansion of the American economy created heavy demands for muscle grunt. The great canals, which were the first links in the national transportation system were still being dug in the 1820s and 1830s, and in the time between 1830 and 1880, thousands of miles of rail were being laid. With no bulldozers existing at the time, the pick and the shovel were the only earth-moving equipment at the time. And the Irish laborers were the mainstay of the construction gangs that did this grueling work. In towns along the sites of work, groups of Irish formed their small communities to live in. By the middle of the nineteenth century, as American cities were undergoing rapid growth and beginning to develop an infrastructure and creating the governmental machinery and personnel necessary to run it, the Irish and their children got their first foothold- on the ground floor. Irish policemen and firemen are not just stereotypes: Irish all but monopolized those jobs when they were being created in the post-Civil War years, and even today Irish names are clearly over-represented in those occupations (Daniels, 1990). Irish workmen not only began laying the horsecar and streetcar tracks, but were some of the first drivers and conductors. The first generations worked largely at unskilled and semiskilled occupations, but their children found themselves working at increasingly skilled trades. By 1900, when Irish American mend made up about a thirteenth of the male labor force, they were almost a third of the plumbers, steamfitters, and boilermakers. Industry working Irish soon found themselves lifted up into boss and straw-boss positions as common laborers more and more arrived from southern and eastern Europe- Italians, Slavs, and Hungarians.
In years after 1860, Irish The printing room of a large cotton mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts. (Library of Congress)Immigration persisted. More than 2.6 million Irish came in the decades after 1860. However, larger numbers of immigrants from elsewhere masked the inflow of Irish people. Those Irish who did continue to flow into the U.S. tended to settle in the already existing Irish communities, where Catholic Churches had been built, and cultural traditions were carried out. However materialistically poor they were, the Irish were rich in cultural resources, developing institutions that helped them face hardship without despair. Cultural events such as St. Patrick's Day were regarded by most Americans as evidence of the separateness of these immigrants, but helped hold the Irish culture together. Their desire for self-expression showed that the Irish understood their group identity. Poor as they were, they drew strength from a culture that explained their situation in the world and provided spiritual resources to face if not to solve the problem. Aside from the church, the most important media of that culture were the press and the stage. All Irish newspapers had either a nationalistic or a religious base, some published as church organs, other drawing support from patriotic societies. Their newspapers interpreted news, accommodated information, and printed popular poems and stories. The stage was even more appealing because it did not demand literacy, presenting to attentive audiences dramas as real as life but not as painful. By the late 1800s, the painful initial Irish transplantation into American society had ended. Second and third generation born and educated in the U.S. replaced the immigrants, but their heritage still stemmed from the peasants' flight from Ireland and of the hardships of striking new roots in the New World.
If not to count the ancestors of the Amerindians who presumably crossed the Bering Strait in prehistoric times, the Chinese were the first Asians immigrants to enter the United States. The first documentation of the Chinese in the U.S. begins in the 18th century, however, there have been claims stating that they were in the area now known as America at an even earlier date. Large-scale immigration began in the mid 1800's due to the California Gold Rush. Despite the flood of Chinese immigrants during that time, their population began to fall drastically. Because of laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act, the highly imbalanced male to female ratio, and the thousands of immigrants returning back to China, the Chinese population in the U.S. fell to a lowly 62,000 people in 1920. Nonetheless, the Chinese make up the largest Asian population in the United States today.
In actuality, the first Chinese immigrants were well and widely received by the Americans. However, the first Chinese immigrants were wealthy, successful merchants, along with skilled artisans, fishermen, and hotel and restaurant owners. For the first few years they were greatly receipted by the public, government officials, and especially by employers, for they were renowned for their hard work and dependability.
However, after a much larger group of coolies, unskilled laborers usually working for very little pay, migrated to the U.S. in the mid 1800's, American attitudes became negative and hostile. By the year 1851, there were 25,000 Chinese working in California, mostly centered in and out of the "Gold Rush" area and around San Francisco. During that time, more than half the Chinese in the U.S. lived in that region. These Chinese clustered into groups, working hard and living frugally. As the populations of these groups increased, they formed large cities of ethnic enclaves called "Chinatowns" all over the country. The first and most important of the Chinatowns, without a doubt, belonged to San Francisco. One of the most remarkable qualities of San Francisco's Chinatown is its geographic stability. It has endured half a century of earthquakes, fires, and urban renewal, yet has remained in the same neighborhood with the same rich culture. Chinatowns have traditionally been the places where Chinese Americans lived, worked, shopped, and Chinese immigrants in classs being prepared for naturalization, San Francisco, late nineteenth century. (Photoworld)socialized. Although these cities were often overcrowded slum areas in the 1800's, the Chinatowns turned from crime and drug ridden places to quiet, colorful tourist attractions in the mid 1900's.
The way of living among the Chinese was quite dissimilar from the patterns displayed among the masses of rowdy American gold-seekers surrounding them. Approximately 1/3 of the of the men attracted by California gold were Southern whites. Along with desires of wealth, many Southerns brought along hostile racial attitudes from the antebellum South. In the years that followed, those virulent temperaments were felt through laws and attitudes, and Blacks as well as Chinese suffered throughout the mid-century. Miners in the area often used violence to drive the Chinese out of various mines. While impatient gold-seekers would abandon prospective rivers, the Chinese would remain, painstakingly panning through the dust to find bits of gold.
The Chinese did not only mine for gold, but took on jobs such as cooks, peddlers, and storekeepers. In the first decade after the discovery of gold, many had taken jobs nobody else wanted or that were considered too dirty. However, in 1870, hasty exploitation of gold mines and a lack of well-paying jobs for non-Asians spurred sentiment that the "rice-eaters" were to blame. By 1880, a fifth were engaged mining, another fifth in agriculture, a seventh in manufacturing, an added seventh were domestic servants, and a tenth were laundry workers. Approximately 30,000 Chinese worked outside of California in such trades as mining, common labor, and service trades. During the 1860's, 10,000 Chinese were said to be involved in the building of the western leg of the Central Pacific Railroad. The average railroad payroll for the Chinese was $35 per month. The cost of food was approximately $15 to $18 per month, plus the railroad provided shelter for workers. Therefore, a fugal man could net about $20 every month. Despite the nice pay, the work was backbreaking and highly dangerous. Over a thousand Chinese had their bones shipped back to China to be buried. Also, although nine-tenths of the railroad workers were Chinese, the famous photographs taken at Promontory Point where the golden stake was driven in connecting the east and west by railway, included no Chinese workers.
As time passed, the resentment against the Chinese increased from those who could not compete with them. Acts of violence against the Chinese continued for decades, mostly from white urban and agricultural workers. In 1862 alone, eighty-eight Chinese were reported murdered. Though large landowners that hired Chinese, railroads and other large white-owned businesses, and Chinese workers themselves pushed against a growing anti-Chinese legislation, the forces opposing the Chinese prevailed, issuing laws that excluded or harassed them from industry after industry. Mob violence steadily increased against the Chinese until even employers were at risk. Eventually, laws such the Naturalization Act of 1870 and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 restricted immigration of Chinese immigrants into the U.S.
The Naturalization Act of 1870 restricted all immigration into Chinese coolies employed by the Central Pacific in the Sierra Nevada had to fight winter snow drifts to get the railroad built. (Sketch by Joseph Becker, Association of American Railroads.)the U.S. to only "white persons and persons of African descent," meaning that all Chinese were placed in a different category, a category that placed them as ineligible for citizenship from that time till 1943. Also, this law was the first significant bar on free immigration in American history, making the Chinese the only culture to be prohibited to freely migrate to the United States for a time. Even before the act of 1870, Congress had passed a law forbidding American vessels to transport Chinese immigrants to the U.S. The reason behind the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was to prevent an excess of cheap labor. However, the act froze the population of the Chinese community leaving its already unproportional sex ratio highly imbalanced. In 1860, the sex ratio of males to females was already 19:1. In 1890, the ratio widened to 27:1. For more than half a century, the Chinese lived in, essentially, a bachelor society where the old men always outnumbered the young. In order to sustain their population after the Chinese Exclusion Act, there was an immeasurable amount of illegal immigration. Plus, the Chinese had created an intricate system of immigration fraud known as "paper sons."
Despite the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Chinese population in the United States continued to increase. Although, after the population reached its peak in 1890 with 107,488 people, the Chinese population began its steady decline. These descending numbers reflected not only the severing effect of the legislation on the inflow of Chinese immigrants, but of the many returning back to China due to the highly imbalanced sex ratio and to bring back monetary support for their families. In fact, many of the Chinese immigrants who migrated to the United States had no intention of permanent residency in the country. These sojourners preferred to retain as much of their culture as possible.
As decades passed, the situation between the Chinese and the Americas improved. Such events as the Chinatowns turning from crime and drug ridden places to quiet, colorful tourist attractions, well-behaved and school conscientious Chinese children being welcomed by public school teachers, and China becoming allies with the U.S. during World War II, all paved the way for the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act. As immigration from China resumed, mostly female immigrants came, many, wives of Chinese men in the U.S. Many couples were reunited after decades apart.
The first Jewish immigrants to the United States were Sephardic Jews that were fleeing persecution by Portuguese rulers in Brazil, around 1654. The previous rulers of Brazil, the Dutch, were known for their religious tolerance, but the Portuguese were characterized by their intolerance for other religions. Two years after the first American-Jew put his foot on North American soil, the first Jewish congregation was established in the Dutch Colony of New Amsterdam, which was later re-named New York. Twenty-one years later, another congregation was established in Newport, Rhode Island.
In 1702, the Hester Street, the heart of New York's East Side, 1900. (The National Archives)first Ashkenazic Jews from Germanic Europe arrived in the "New World". However, it was decades before the first Ashkenazic synagogues were established. Instead of building their own temples, the German Jews simply joined the much larger group of Sephardic Jews. At first, the Sephardic Jews looked down upon the Ashkenazics, even going as far as to disinherit sons and daughters that married into a Sephardic family.
Eventually, though, the Ashkenazic Jews began to establish themselves in the Sephardic community. Marriages between the two sects became more frequent and accepted, and Ashkenazics could be found as leaders of Sephardic congregations. Both groups remained relatively small, and around 1776, there were only about 2000 Jews in the American Colonies.
The Ashkenazic Jews were Polish Jews in Czestochowa, 1914. (United Press International)persecuted by the Sephardic, but all Jews living in the American colonies experienced persecution by the Christians. Peter Stuyvesant, the governor of the colonies, showed resistance to the Jewish settlers, but the colony was owned by the Dutch West India Company. The company's board of directors included several Sephardic Jews, so Stuyvesant was over-ruled. Anti-Jewish sentiment never was strong in the United States, especially compared to that of Europe. In the US, they were merely another group of people trying to make a better life, while in Europe they were always seen as the single minority. In the US, Jews were accepted members of society, sometimes even leaders of public and private groups or organizations.
For almost one hundred years, Filipinos have lived and labored in Chicago and in smaller communities in Illinois. During the twentieth century, official Filipino numbers, as enumerated in the United States census, grew from three in the Windy City in 1910 to over 29,309 in the city and 63,182 in the Chicago metropolitan area in 1990. [See Table: Filipino Population in the United States & Chicago.] Reflecting a national pattern, substantial increases among Filipinos in the Chicago area will likely be noted in the census of 2000.
Unlike the Hawaiian experience in which Filipinos were recruited for plantation labor during the opening years of the century, the first Filipinos to arrive in Illinois came as college students. Overwhelmingly young and male (given social conventions that restricted the travel of Filipinas across the Pacific), the earliest students were the sons of Filipino elites who willingly acquiesced in the American acquisition of the Philippines in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War. Although their schooling had begun under Spanish rule, given the socio-economic position of their families and their status as the presumptive heirs of current Filipino leaders, their incorporation into the emerging American colonial system through education in English in the United States became a priority. Their tiny numbers were soon overshadowed by the arrival in 1903 of the first pensionados, government-sponsored scholarship students chosen from each Philippine province for education in the United States. After a year (1903-04) of high school as a group in California during which the students adjusted to life in the United States and learned English, the pensionados were dispersed to colleges and universities, especially on the East Coast and in the Middle West. A second group followed in the next year. Thus, in January 1906, six pensionados were enrolled at the State Normal School in DeKalb, Illinois: Lino Arreza (Surigao), Santiago Bautista (Nueva Ecija), Mariano Carbonell (La Union), Gregorio Manuel (Cebu), Antonio Nera (La Union), and Gregorio Ramirez (Bulacan). Thirty-six other students attended other Illinois schools—the University of Chicago, Lewis Institute, and Armour Institute in Chicago, and the University of Illinois, the State Normal Schools at Normal and Macomb, and Dixon Business College outside the city.
When Mexico took over control from Spain in the early 1820s, the new government ignored and isolated the "norteños" (inhabitants of Mexico's northern provinces), except to break up the mission system in California. The systematic Navajo and Apache raids on New Mexico villages and ranches were ignored, as was the vulnerability of California, as the central government pulled back its soldiers to use them in recurrent civil wars and factional battles. When Texas seemed too independent, Mexico's President Santa Anna led an army to massacre the villagers and destroy the American settlements. After initial victories and massacres at The Alamo and Goliad, Santa Anna was decisively defeated by the Texans, who declared independence. The Tejanos in Texas joined the revolution and supported the new Republic of Texas; The Hispanics in New Mexico and California were localistic and did not identify with the regime in Mexico City. The "norteños" played a minor role in the Mexican American War of 1846-48, and when offered the choice of repatriating to Mexico or remaining and becoming full citizens of the United States, the great majority remained. Only when large numbers of Americans arrived did they develop a sense of "lo mexicano," that is of "being Mexican," and that new identification had little to do with far-off Mexico. American entrepreneurs often cultivated alliances and partnerships with the Mexican propertied elites in the states of Texas and California, and the territories of New Mexico and Arizona. The Californios—who only numbered 10,000 in 1848, remained in California but were soon overwhelmed by the immigration of hundreds of thousands of newcomers to California, and largely became invisible to Anglos. The Latino culture of the rest of the Southwest, especially New Mexico and southern Texas, called itself "Spanish" (rather than "Mexican") to distinguish themselves from "los norteamericanos". The Latinos emphasized their own religion, language, customs and kinship ties, and drew into enclaves, rural colonies and urban barrios, which norteamericanos seldom entered; intermarriage rates were low.
Beginning in the 1820s, immigrants from the U.S. and Europe settled in Texas (Tejas), then part of Mexico. Anglo and Hispanic Texas joined to fight Mexico in 1836, defeating an invading army and declaring the independence of Texas. The Texas Republic included Tejanos as leading citizens, but Mexico refused to recognize its legal existence. The US annexed Texas in 1845, leading to the Mexican-American War of 1846-48. While there were some Americans who considered the war with Mexico illegal and immoral, others considered it part of Manifest Destiny—the American destiny to pursue the war. This policy claimed that it was the United States' right to expand westward across North America and settle the land.
The Americans won easily and the war ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. In the Treaty Mexico gave up more than 500,000 square miles of territory, which today comprises Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming. The United States in 1853 purchased the Gadsden Purchase, a strip of land in southern New Mexico and Arizona that provided a route for a railroad.
The result was unchallenged American 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 on-and-off-again President General Santa Anna, and the US Government offered protection from Indian raids that Mexico had not prevented, meaning 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 claims in lawsuits before state and federal courts. 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.
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, 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. 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 Randolph Campbell
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 19th century. The federal government delayed granting statehood to New Mexico because of its Hispanic American political leadership.
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.
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 Mexicans, Italians, Native Americans, and sometimes Chinese lynching victims as white. 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. 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. 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 some success mining gold in California. Some Anglos reacted with violence. Between 1848 and 1860, at least 163 Mexicans were lynched in California alone.