In 1846, the US declared war on Mexico in an attempt to acquire the disputed Rio Grande. This was after the US annexation coupled with failed attempts to purchase the territory form Mexico. The war went on for close to two years. By the end of this period, the US was divided on whether or not the merits exceeded the demerits. The congress, for example, debated how much was enough territory for the US to acquire to acquire as spoils of war after the end of the war. Eventually, the US and Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The treaty provided an understanding between the two governments.
Through the agreement, the US promised to that it would ensure that all Mexicans who were now in the newly acquired US territory were going to be incorporated into the union of the United States. They were also going to enjoy all the rights of US citizens. To be classified as citizens of the US, something had to be done since the US did not accept colored people as citizens at the time. What the US therefore did was to classify Mexicans as whites so that they would benefit from all the rights that were enjoyed by the citizens of the US. In this paper, I analyze the effects of the treaty with regard to the welfare of the Mexican people.
Following the treaty, terms that were negotiated by Trist, Mexico conceded New Mexico and Upper California to the United States. These became to be known as the Mexican Cession and it included the present-day New Mexico, Arizona, parts of Utah, Colorado and Nevada. According to article V of the treaty, Mexico relinquished every type of claim to Texas and recognized Rio Grande as a boundary of the Southern United States. $15,000,000 was paid to Mexico by the United States in consideration to the extension of the boundaries that were acquired by the United States (see Article XII of treaty). In the XV article of the treaty, the United States made an agreement to pay the American citizens all the debts that the Mexican government owed them. In the articles VIII and IX of the treaty, the civil rights and the property of the Mexican citizens who were living in the new boundaries of United States were assured of protection. Other provisions that were of importance to all the citizens in both sides were the promise to be policed along the boundaries as well as the compulsory arbitration of the disputes in future between the two nations.
As a consequence of the treaty, more than half of the Mexican territory was acquired by the US. The US had a however did not see to all the provisions of the treaty. It instead violated them in the long term to the extent of encouraging the racialization of the Mexican community. Within a year from the ratification of the treaty, the US violated the treaty by beginning the process of racialization. Racialization comprised of creating privileges for whites which were not applicable for the Mexicans. Under this arrangement, only Mexicans who were white were accorded all the rights of a citizen. On the other hand, Mestizos, Indians who had been Christianized and afromestizos were all regarded as inferior citizens.
Polk was forced to make a quick decision whether he was willing to repudiate the very satisfactory handiwork of his discredited junior after receiving a copy that was sent to him in Washington from Trist. Polk decided to forward the copy to the senate (Bernhardt Mark, pp. 17). The senate reluctantly endorsed the treaty by means of votes and ensured that they did away with the Article X whose purpose was to guarantee protection of the Mexican land grants. Immediately the ratification of the treaty took place, the troops of the United States were forced to move out of the Mexican Capital.
The treaty fails to enforce and it is unable to adjudicate certain claims in the American courts under the various existing legal doctrines. Due to this reason most individuals with land-related claims under the treaty have been turning their attention to federal legislature to seek for assistance. A very small number of bills have been introduced to the congress to examine the validity of such claims and to propose some forms of restitution to the dispossessed landowners as well as their descendants. There have also been findings that there were losses of property due to the Mexico war that had severe repercussions in the American-Mexican community in Southwest of the United States. According to various researchers, there were parts and obligations of the treaty that were not fulfilled by the United States (Mark, pp. 19).
A general survey in the American history reveals that the United States has unwritten policies that territorial expansion via the judicial and the political avenues which deny the Mexican American their constitutional rights as both citizens and property owners in general. Among other things that the treaty denies the Mexican American are their political and civil rights (Ruben and Jarrod, pp.210). The treaty did not consider future days. It is thought that the main reason could have been the hurry to end the war between the two nations. The treaty had a lot that was fair to most citizens, but it however had few enforcement mechanisms. The effects of failing to enforce the requirements of the treaty have been evident in the few past recent years. The economy has been changing over the years since the signing of the treaty (De Leon and Stewart, pp.297). The citizens from both nations have been experiencing the pinch, however, the only document that changed their living circumstances, that is, the treaty, offered little protection against economic change.
There is nowhere in the treaty where cultural rights or the non-English rights of the citizens who were formerly Mexicans has been mentioned, or that of their descendants who live in the United States. The drafters did not want to create special class of citizens. The treaty rather ensures that all the citizens, be it the new ones or those of the United States have equal rights. Due to this reason, the treaty offered little protection against negative racial attitudes.
The treaty led to the old skill sets of subsistence and ranching economy to become obsolete as people stopped practicing what they knew best. With the limited land sizes and the failure of the treaty to deal with the issues of lands, the population increased majorly due to the incoming numbers of the immigrants, and that led to increased population pressures. There were so many immigrants due to the fact that every individual had equal rights (Ruben and Jarrod, pp.220). Most changes came with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and this as well changed the tax system that was in place in that particular time. Changing tax system imposed huge new tax burden which led to raised legal fees that squeezed the citizens further. Many were forced to sell their land parcels to pay their debts. As the land slipped away, so did the political influence. The expansion of rail system intensifies the unsuitable trends, that is, lack of rail connections with rest of US (De Leon and Stewart, pp.300).
Over the years, there has been creative destruction and the dynamics of international migration has also been on the rise. “Creative Destruction” is defined as the process of economic mutation where the old systems of production and opening up of new markets occur as the old systems and markets become destroyed (Bernhardt 23). Such a state of constant revolution in a capitalism nation means that while the new jobs are created, the old ways of living are constantly destroyed. Such has led to the economic development of the US West as well as other areas of the developing world at the same time. The following features are common: rapid reorientation of the markets away from the production for local consumption, movement towards production for trade goods, world markets and cash crops, scale of production growth et cetera.
Violating the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was a furtherance of the discrimination that had been shown started during the colonization of Mexico. After the violation of the treaty, Mexicans found themselves playing the discriminated role that enhanced domination, repression and categorization as had been experienced under the colonization of Spain. The victory won by the colored population at the independence of Mexico came to a stop as a new racial order was created to provide colored Mexicans with inferior rights.
The US made changes to the ratified document allowing the violation of certain aspects of the treaty. First while the treaty had required that all Mexicans who lived on the ceded lands for over one year be declared citizens as soon as possible, the Us changed this so that it was now required that they be considered by the congress of the US. This enabled the congress to reject requests for citizenship when they deemed appropriate especially on the basis of race and color.
At ratification, the US erased article IV of the treaty. This was the article that protected the land grants of Mexicans that were granted by both governments. By the time the treaty was ratified, about 80,000 of Mexicans occupied the ceded territory. This comprised about 4% of the entire population of Mexicans. The majority of these people chose to become US citizens while a few remained Mexican. While most people believed that their rights to property would be protected by the US, by the end of the 19th century a majority of them had lost their lands through either fraud or force.
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was not regarded as self-executing. As a consequence, legislations that were created afterwards diluted the contents of the treaty hence poking holes into the law and making the treaty less effective in protecting the rights of Mexicans and Communal land, for example was protected by the treaty but private land wasn’t. Moreover, the US had a right to use any of the submerged lands belonging to Mexico.
The treaty saw to a situation where individuals in the ceded land were no longer citizens of Mexico. The government of Mexico would therefore not protect them. At the same time, the government of the US did not extend any special guardianship to these individuals. While they awaited the US citizenship, their rights and property were threatened by discrimination. During the California Gold Rush, for example, the fear that Mexicans who were native to California would monopolize the profits of gold led to violence, vigilantism and harassment against them.
In conclusion, the treaty only served to stop the war. After the war, people who occupied the ceded territories of Mexico were placed under conditions in which their rights were violated. While they had expected the treaty to offer them protection, the amendments made by the congress weakened the treaty and made them vulnerable to the discrimination that was characteristic of the US at the time. Moreover, the US created laws that made Mexicans of color inferior to their white counterparts. It was impossible for these Mexicans to make a decent living without protection by either of the governments. Upon cessation, the Mexicans ceased being citizens of their former nation. Moreover, they still waited to receive their citizenship from the US. During this period, they became vulnerable to discriminative practices from white citizens of the US.
Bernhardt, Mark. “Red, White, And Black: Opposing Arguments On Territorial Expansion And Differing Portrayals Of Mexicans In The New York Suns And New York Heralds Coverage Of The Mexican War.” Journalism History 1 (2014): 15-27. Academic OneFile.
De León, Arnoldo, and Kenneth L. Stewart. “Lost Dreams and Found Fortunes: Mexican and Anglo Immigrants in South Texas, 1850-1900.” The Western Historical Quarterly 1983: 291. JSTOR Journals.
Donato, Ruben, and Jarrod S. Hanson. “Legally White, Socially “Mexican”: The Politics Of De Jure And De Facto School Segregation In The American Southwest.” Harvard Educational Review 82.2 (2012): 202-225. ERIC.
Gutierez, Ramon. Unravelling America’s Hispanic Past: Internal Stratification and Class Boundaries. Aztlan 17(1): (2004) :79-101
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