Republicans Continue to Introduce Legislation Reminiscent of the 1855 California Spanish Language Translation Despite The Treaty of Guadalupe HidalgoSaturday, March 30th, 2013
This past week has a been a busy one for Republicans with their continued use of the derogatory term “wetback” [Russell Pearce has been using that term since 2006] and now we are seeing Republicans waste tax payer money as they introduce legislation that will outlaw Spanish and other non-English languages from being used in federal documents. Although the GOP continues to use discriminatory and dehumanizing terms that predates the Civil Rights era, we also see GOP legislators introducing bills reminiscent of 1855.
History seems to repeat itself with bigotry and this is not the first time Mexican-Americans have experienced this sort of thing and types of legislation. We see Republican Representatives Steve King and Jim Inhofe attacking our voting rights with their efforts to outlaw Spanish and other non-English languages from being used on federal documents — to include voting forms.
According to Think Progress:
Rep. Steve King (R-IA), most recently in the headlines after attacking President Obama’s young daughters for going on vacation, introduced the English Language Unity Act in the House earlier this month, along with Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) in the Senate. As King notes on his website, the bill would require “all official functions of the United States to be conducted in English.” Federal and state governments print thousands of documents every year, many of which are translated into other languages besides English.
One major impact King’s bill could have is to stop the decades-long practice of printing non-English ballots in areas where there’s a significant non-English language group. Indeed, Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 currently requires local jurisdictions with a substantial number of non-English speakers to allow them to vote in other languages.
You can parallel what happened to the Mexicans in the 1800′s and their land with what Republicans are trying to do with regard to suppressing voting rights.
Shortly after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed … and according to the United States National Park Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior:
The first major post-war influx of Anglos began, fueled by the discovery of gold in 1848. The 10,000 Californios (pre-conquest Mexican Californians) soon found the territory swamped by Anglo-American migrants and foreign immigrants. …
Northern California received the major thrust of the Anglo gold rush migration, while southern California remained heavily Mexican. This ethnic contrast was one factor in the debate over the possibility of dividing California into two states, as happened in the case of New Mexico and Arizona. However, the coming of the transcontinental railroad to southern California in the 1870s spurred a land boom and the state’s second major population explosion. By the 1880s, Anglo settlers were also numerically dominant in the southern part of the state.
The presence of a Mexican majority in 1848 contributed to a promising start for good ethnic relations in California. Californios participated widely in the early post-conquest government, and provided eight of the 48 delegates to the 1849 state constitutional convention. There they won such transitory victories as a provision that all state laws and regulations be translated into Spanish. In southern California, where Californios remained a majority in some places until the 1880s, they continued to be elected to local and county positions, and a handful held state offices or seats in the legislature.
However, the rapid establishment of a heavy statewide Anglo majority quickly rendered Mexican Americans politically powerless at the state level. As a result, they could not prevent enactment of inequitable and sometimes discriminatory laws. For example, the legislature placed the heaviest tax burden on land, an abrupt and decimating shift from the Mexican system of taxing production rather than land. Although this tax also hurt Anglo landowners, it seriously undermined the Californio economic position, based primarily on ranching. The Foreign Miners’ Tax of 1850, a $20 monthly fee for the right to mine, was applied not only to foreign immigrants but also to California-born Mexicans, who had automatically be come U.S. citizens under the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The state anti-vagrancy act of 1855 was so obviously anti-Mexican that it became known popularly as the Greaser Law. Possibly the most blatantly anti-Mexican law was the 1855 act negating the constitutional requirement that laws be translated into Spanish. Finally, there were growing vigilantism and squatter violence against Californio landowners.
Land had been the basis of the California socio-economic system. The loss of land after the U.S. conquest undermined that system, in spite of the theoretical protections provided by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Holders of Spanish and Mexican land grants, most of whom were Mexican Americans, had to seek legal confirmation of their titles. In effect, the federal government placed the burden of proof on the landowners instead of automatically accepting all titles and then handling challenges on an individual basis.
Already suffering from heavy taxes and lacking capital, Chicano landowners had to go through the slow, expensive process of legally confirming their claims, and often were forced to borrow money at high interest rates to cover the costs of the legal struggle. Moreover, they had to argue their cases before U.S. judges and land commissioners unfamiliar with Hispanic legal principles and the land tenure system on which land grants were based. Even when they did win confirmation of their grants, Mexican Americans often found themselves personally destitute, or had to sacrifice their land to pay their legal expenses.
To adjudicate landholdings in California, Congress passed the Land Act of 1851, establishing a Board of Land Commissioners to review claims. If appealed, cases moved on to the U.S. district court, and even the Supreme Court. Of the 813 claims, 549 were appealed (417 by government attorneys), some as many as six times. The board went out of business in 1856, but multiple appeals caused land cases to drag on for an average of 17 years. MORE>>>
There is no doubt Mexican-Americans and Latinos have seen legislation like this before and it is high time we introduce laws that counter laws introduced by King and Inhofe wasting more tax payer monies.
- 1861, During the 1860s, Tiburcio Vásquez, Joaquín Murieta, and others are branded as bandits for resisting the seizure of American Hispanic lands in California.
- 1865: Under provisions of the 1862 Homestead Act, Land speculators acquire American Hispanic land by using squatters to claim the land illegally. This land was obtained illegally with the aid and might of the U.S. Government against their own American Hispanic citizens.
- The “Tejanos” (American Hispanics in Texas) suffered outright repression from the Texas Rangers, who were known as the “Hispanic’s Ku Klu Klan”.
- 1850 California: The new comers grew jealous of the experienced Mexican-Californio miners, and In 1850, the new legislature (with the might of the Federal U.S. Government) enacted a burdensome “Foreigner Miner’s Tax” of $20.00 per month. This new tax was aimed at the American Hispanics and the Spanish speaking Californios, enforced by volunteer armed new comers. Many of our mining terms, like bonanza and placer are Spanish in origin by the way.
- Up to the at least the 1940s, Southwest Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and California: Birth certificates for American Hispanics did not indicate they were American born. A new born of American Hispanic origin (those who had been here for centuries included), was *born in Mexico* or *Mexican* instead of American.
- 1850, four thousand Hispanic miners gather in Sonora, California, to protest the Foreign Miners’ Tax, which was enacted to drive them from gold fields. Many Hispanics could not afford the extra taxation and left.1851 California counties with the highest Hispanic populations were taxed at a rate five times greater than any other region in the state. Many Hispanics could not afford another extra tax, and left.
- 1854, the takeover of American Hispanic lands: The Surveyor of General Claims Office is established in New Mexico (includes Arizona) but cannot process claims fast enough to prevent the takeover. Loss of over 75% of Hispanics lands from illegal or legal offical means. A violation of the TGH.
- 1855 Laws are enacted in California to prohibit many cultural pastimes of the American Hispanic population.
- 1855 California. Soon the Anglos dominated the state legislature, enacting the tax and laws like the 1855 Greaser Act, which defined vagrants as (quote) “all persons who [were] commonly known as ‘Greasers’ or the issue of Spanish or Indian blood.” The “Greaser” Act. A anti-vagrancy act by the State Legislature Excludes “Diggers” (Indians) but includes persons of mixed Spanish and Indian blood or “Greasers”.
- This Law was intended to keep Hispanics from owning the mines, and provided another justification for expropriation of American Hispanic lands.This racist epithet is all too well known to date, which started with ordinary people, and made law in the California State Legislature 1855.
- 1855, California The anti-Catholic Know-Nothings organize and hold a state convention in Sacramento.
- 1855, California, The Legislature refuses to provide funds for translation of state laws into Spanish despite the fact that 1) The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidaldo provides for the protection and guarantee of the conquered Spanish speaking Americans, 2) the majority of the State’s inhabitants are of Spanish speaking extraction.
- 1857, California: Former delegate to the State Constitutional Convention Manuel Dominguez is barred from testifying for the defense in The People vs. Elyea because he is a mestizo. (Note: using mestizo was a way to separate Hispanics and keep them from uniting, this was and still used today in the southwest. Many whites considered Hispanics from the acquired western states as “inferior to Indians and Africans because they were racially mixed, a hybrid race that represented the worst nightmare of what might become of the white race if they let down their racial guard”.)
- 1855 Anglo businessmen attempt to run American (Hispanics) teamsters (wagon-drivers) out of south Texas, violating the guarantees offered by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
- 1857, Anglo businessmen try to push American Hispanic teamsters out of south Texas, violating the guarantees of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
- 1858, Miners and settlers move into Colorado in search of silver, forcing more Hispanic Americans from their land.
- 1800s – 1900s the western U.S. lynchings of American Hispanics were common on a daily basis.
- 1862, The Supreme Court rules in favor of Daly City “squatters”. The Homestead Act is passed in Congress, allowing squatters in the southwest to settle and claim American Hispanic lands. This was common in California and the southwest.
- 1863 Arizona: Anglo segment was becoming numerical dominant. Anglo Arizonans were, for the most part, preoccupied with controlling the large American Hispanic population politically.
- 1889 Northern Arizona: The 1889 Taylor Grazing Act: this law enacted was responsible for the elimination of the sheep industry in Concho, Arizona whose owners were primarily Spanish speaking sheep herders and Native Americans.. Concho, once a thriving Spanish speaking community , with the loss of the sheep industry left Concho and vicinity, in an almost helpless condition, and started its decline and loss of population.
- Southwest, Arizona, New Mexico: 75% of American Hispanics lost their land in the late 1800s and beginning of the 1900s through illegal and “legal” methods. The “legal” methods land was lost is due to the language. The Character (language) of the Southwest was/is Spanish, however land owners were not permitted to argue their case in the Spanish language. All lawyers in the S.W. at that time were Spanish speaking. The U.S. Government brought in English speaking lawyers for the landowners and hence ended up with the land owned by the Spanish speaking landowners.
- 1848: Land had been the basis of the California socio-economic system. With the loss of land after the U.S. conquest undermined that system. The protections provided by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo were ignored by the U.S. Holders of Spanish and Mexican land grants, most of whom were American Hispanics, were required to seek legal confirmation of their titles. The federal government placed the burden of proof on the landowners instead of automatically accepting all titles and then handling challenges on an individual basis. In direct contradication to the protection by the TGH.
- 1883 (May 12) Phoenix, Arizona: Phoenix merchants signed an agreement to receive Mexican currency only at the rates of: dollars, 80 cents; halves, 40 cents; quarters, 20 cents.
- Late 1800s, Northern Arizona (New Mexico at the time), my ancestor Marcos Padilla Baca was the Justice of the Peace when the first English speakers entered the region. The American Hispanics helped the interlopers with shelter and food, and were soon repayed by enacting laws which would put American Hispanics and Native Americans out of business.
- 1884 Texas, there were daily lynchings of Hispanic Americans in the area around Fort Davis, Texas; many Anglos voiced the opinion that the lynchings should continue until no Hispanics remained in the area. Lynchings were a tool of racial oppression elsewhere in the Southwest as well; in California, lynching of Hispanics became so common that in the Hispanic community, American democracy became known as “linchocracia.” (From Vernellia R. Randall Professor of Law, and Luis Angel Toro).
- Morenci – Clifton, Arizona: There was a prospect of trouble between American Hispanics and Anglos at Clifton and Morenci. The outbreak of racial conflicts was based on the sympathy of the Hispanics towards Spain in her troubles abroad.