The classification of mexican women as an inferior

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^' The classification of Mexican women as an inferior racial other legitimized their execution by lynch mobs. This is clearly illustrated by the hanging of a Mexican woman named Josefa Segovia in Downieville, California on July 5, 1851. Josefa was accused of the murder of Frederick Canon, who had drunkenly attempted to assault her after breaking into her home. Had Josefa been an Anglo woman, she would have been praised for defending her honor. However, her degraded racial status ensured that she was seen as the criminal aggressor.48 Racism was also intertwined with another determining factor in mob violence against Mexicans, economic competition. Anglos considered Mexicans an in- nately lazy and unenterprising people who had failed to exploit the rich natural resources of the Southwest. Thus it was the manifest destiny of the superior Anglo to develop the economic potential of the region. Mexican rivalry for land This content downloaded from 128.54.20.188 on Fri, 02 Oct 2015 18:32:16 UTCAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
422 journal of social history winter 2003 and precious metals was therefore considered an unacceptable challenge to the proprietary rights of Anglo pioneers. The most striking illustration of this is the California Gold Rush. According to one estimate, as many as 25,000 Mexicans migrated to the mining regions of California between 1848 and 1852. The Mexicans not only arrived in the mines earlier than many Anglo prospectors, but brought with them superior expertise and skills. Their rapid prosperity aroused the bitter animosity of those Anglos who believed in their own natural sovereignty over the mines. As the Alta California observed, Anglos reacted to "the superior and uniform success" of dieir ethnic rivals "with the feeling which has for some time existed against the Mexican miners, one of envy and jealousy."49 The introduction of a For? eign Miners' Tax in April 1850 fueled ethnic violence since it sanctioned the expulsion of prospectors who could or would not pay.50 In total, at least 163 Mex? icans were lynched in California between 1848 and 1860. Countless others were driven from the mines in fear of their safety. According to a meeting organized by miners at Rodgers' Bar in August 1850, "Many persons of Spanish origin, against whom there had not been a word of complaint, have been murdered by these ruffians. Others have been robbed of their horses, mules, arms, and even money, by these persons, while acting as they pre tended under the authority of the law."51 Mob violence became a common mediod of Anglo settlers as they sought to secure their control over the incipient capitalist economy of the southwestern states. The Texas Cart War of 1857 is a potent example. During the 1850s, Tejano businessmen developed a freight-hauling service between Indianola and San Antonio.

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