RESISTANCE TO THE BROKEN PROMISES OF
THE TREATY OF GUADALUPE HIDALGO
Katie Menante Anderson
Human beings, no matter what race or ethnicity or place or time, will not tolerate injustice forever. Webster’s defines injustice as a “violation of the right or of the rights of another” (Merriam-Webster, 1990). The history of the United States is filled with such violations. From the early challenges to religious freedom in Massachusetts to the broken treaties and systematic removal of Native Americans from their land to the abominable practice of slavery in the United States, our nation’s reality rarely measures up to the principles and ideals penned by the founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights. The story for Mexican-Americans is no different. The annexations of Texas in 1845 and the Mexican Cession in 1848 make evident the bulldozing efforts of the dominant Anglo culture to fulfill its “Manifest Destiny,” in spite its own declarations that “all men are created equal” and that the United States is a nation that believes in the personal freedoms of life, speech, property and religion. Confronted by the reality of Manifest Destiny and annexation, the new Mexican-Americans resisted the unjust domination of the U.S. Government and its citizens and challenged the broken promises of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Social banditry, the secret and nocturnal resistance of Las Gorras Blancas and their involvement in the newspaper La Voz del Pueblo and political party Partido del Pueblo Unido were different expressions of the Mexican response to the injustices they experienced by the United States and its Anglo citizens. BACKGROUND
In the spring of 1848, the congresses of the United States and Mexico ratified the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo thereby ending the Mexican- American War and finally settling the two nations’ tenuous border dispute over Texas. According to the terms of the treaty, Mexico ceded over half of its territory (the most fertile and resource rich) to a United States of America anxious to fulfill the mandate of Manifest Destiny. Save a small portion of land just west of Texas (which later fell under US control via the Gadsden Purchase), the United States reached its present day continental size by gaining the Greater Southwest, namely all or parts of present day California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and Utah. Mexico in return was paid fifteen million dollars (Lopez y Rivas, 1979, p.12). When explained from the perspective of the dominant Anglo American culture, Manifest Destiny is a sound doctrine replete with all that’s good about 19th -Century America. In his article, New Mexico Resistance to U.S Occupation, Carlos Herrera explains, The 1800’s proved an age when citizens of the U.S regarded themselves the custodians of democracy in all the Americas. In their eyes and minds, Americans regarded it their duty to spread the ideals of the Declaration of Independence, and of their Constitution, from coast to coast. As a nation, The United States considered this goal its manifest destiny, a principle adopted by the citizenry to justify the territorial conquest of Mexico’s northern frontier. Political, economic, and military victories achieved against Mexico came to be identified and associated with the supposed superiority of U.S. society and its institutions. (2000: p.25)
Expanding freedom and democracy and the territory of the United States was perceived to be a right, even righteous, endeavor. However, these same ideas and experiences understood from a Mexican perspective were loaded with racial, economic, political and religious superiority on the part of the United States and did nothing to support the ideals of the Declaration or the Constitution. In theory, it sounded good but in practice, Manifest Destiny was hypocritical to the basic ideals of American democracy. The Anglo American perspective also teaches that Mexico...
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