Birth of a Notion

August 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

It is the dream of every word hack to introduce a new word or phrase to the English language, a feat more highly prized than even the elusive one-result Google search.

A few years ago, I thought I had finally found my golden fleece, when I thought up “pink elephant Republican,” an obvious corollary to the old term, “yellow dog democrat.” Flush with the feeling of victory, I did some Googling to confirm the originality of my wit, only to discover that someone else had beat me to the phrase, just a measly handful of days before. Depressed but undaunted, I vowed to continue my quest, and I have finally triumphed.

But before I raise the curtains …

Awhile back, we explored the phenomenon of slang, past and present. All new words, including mine, that are introduced into the language are — pro forma — slang, until they either pass into the mainstream or are tossed into the ragbag of time, like so many Nehru jackets or leisure suits.

So, before I reveal my new word to an unsuspecting (and perhaps uncaring) world, let us turn back the pages of slang again, to 130 years ago, and re-examine the perils involved:

“Slang is a dangerous language. Recently, when a handsome young wife went to a hardware store to get one of those wooden contrivances to mash potatoes, and said, ‘I want a masher,’ every man in the shop from the boss, to the office boy, started to wait on her.”

And now, without further adoo doo, I present:

Sillygance (Also sp. Silligance) 1. Lack of grace and refinement in appearance, movement or manners. 2. Frivolous or tasteless opulence in form, decoration or presentation. 3. Lack of restraint in style. 4. Something stupid. Example of use: Snooki and Donald Trump have reached the height of sillygance.

So there it is. Use at your risk or pleasure. Free of charge. No strings or royalties attached. And if you don’t like it, go out and make up your own word and see whether anyone cares.


A Resolution Was Passed by the Unanimous Voice of the County, Forever Forbidding any Mexican from Coming Within the Limits of the County

August 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

This is the last installment of our snapshot looks at the treatment of Mexicans in Texas during the latter part of the 19th century. Today, we look at Columbus and Colorado County.

Columbus is one of the most picturesque towns in Texas, with its dozens of ancient, spreading live oaks and victorian homes. It has also been one if Texas most violent towns, with one famous feud that lasted more than decade, beginning with the gunning down of Bob Stafford, Columbus’ wealthiest citizen, and his younger brother John, on the evening of the present courthouse’s cornerstone laying celebration, July 7, 1890, by City Marshal Larkin Hope and brother Marion. The feud then hopped across family lines to continue until at least 1907. Columbus can also boast of hosting the last lynching in Texas, in 1935, from one of the town’s most massive live oaks, which still stands at the outskirts of town. Killing at least one of your fellow man was once almost considered a rite of passage here. To be fair, Columbus has since seen the light and is now as law-abiding a town as you can find in Texas. Ironically, given its past, Columbus boasts the State’s only Santa Claus museum.

And now to our story.

Despite the intense hatred of Mexicans engendered amongst most Texians by Santa Anna, the people of Columbus seemed to be an extraordinarily hospitable bunch of people in the months after the Texas revolution.

In the early days of June 1837, a “Citizen of Ohio” visited Columbus, which he described for a series of articles that ran in an Ohio monthly called the Hesperian:

“Columbus, a small town consisting of two public houses, two small stores and a half-dozen shanties, stands upon the west side of the Colorado River about one hundred miles from its mouth. Since the expulsion of the Mexicans, quite a settlement has been made in the vicinity of Columbus, consisting of twenty or thirty families who in their collected strength, aided by the citizens of the town, think themselves able to resist any predatory or general attack of the Indians. The people in this settlement had more the appearance of industry than any I had yet seen, and with the exception of gambling, the besetting sin here as everywhere else in Texas, there would be little to complain of more than is common among men anywhere.”

The anonymous author remained in Columbus for several days, preparing for a journey to San Antonio. It would be no casual lark, as the author related:

“All began to prepare for war. Rifles and pistols were put in order, bullets run, and powder distributed. Our wallets were filled with dodgers, and everything attended to necessary for a regular Indian campaign. A course was laid down to regulate our conduct so as to avoid danger to ourselves and especially to our horses during the night, the time when there was the greatest reason for fear. The plan was the same that is most in practice by those who are in the frequent habit of traveling from the coast to the interior. It is to stop about dark, build up a fire and prepare something to eat, to remain in this situation until ten o’clock, then after replenishing the fire, to depart with great secrecy and travel eight or ten miles on the course. To make assurance doubly sure, it is then customary to ride three or four miles either to the right or left and go quickly to sleep. But it is common, after all this precaution, for the party to take turns in watching during the night.

“A number of discharged Mexican prisoners had been collecting for some days from every part of the country until they amounted to near forty, and these were making similar preparations with ourselves to meet the dangers of the unsettled country. A prospect of once more seeing their native land made their hearts glad with joy. The kindness of the citizens had furnished the company which was now preparing to proceed to Mexico a number of muskets to kill game and defend themselves in case of attack, as well as many other things that would be required along the way.”

Attitudes toward Mexicans were very different 19 years later, as both Mexicans and the county’s slave population earned the ire of Colorado County’s Anglo supremacists.

According to several contemporary newspaper accounts, Colorado County was very nearly laid to waste in September 1856. On Sept. 9, 1856, the Vigilance Committee of Colorado County wrote the following report for the Galveston News.

“The object of this communication is to state to you all the facts of any importance connected with a recent intended insurrection. Our suspicions were aroused about two weeks ago, when a meeting of the citizens of the county was called, and a committee of investigation appointed to ferret out the whole matter, and lay the facts before the people of the county for their consideration. The committee entered upon their duties, and, in a short time, they were in full possession of the facts of a well-organized and systematized plan for the murder of our entire white population, with the exception of the young ladies, who were to be taken captives, and made the wives of the diabolical murderers of their parents and friends. The committee found in their possession a number of pistols, bowie-knives, guns, and ammunition. Their passwords of organization were adopted, and their motto, “Leave not a shadow behind.”

“Last Saturday, the 6th inst., was the time agreed upon for the execution of their damning designs. At a late hour at night, all were to make one simultaneous, desperate effort, with from two to ten apportioned to nearly every house in the county, kill all the whites, save the above exception, plunder their homes, take their horses and arms, and fight their way on to a “free State” (Mexico).

“Notwithstanding the intense excitement which moved every member of our community, and the desperate measures to which men are liable to be led on by such impending danger to which we have been exposed by our indulgence and lenity to our slaves, we must say the people acted with more caution and deliberation than ever before characterized the action of any people under similar circumstances.

“More than two hundred negroes had violated the law, the penalty of which is death. But, by unanimous consent, the law was withheld, and their lives spared, with the exception of three of the ringleaders, who were, on last Friday, the 5th inst., at 2 o’clock P. M., hung, in compliance with the unanimous voice of the citizens of the county.

“Without exception, every Mexican in the county was implicated. They were arrested, and ordered to leave the county within five days, and never again to return, under the penalty of death. There is one, however, by the name of Frank, who is proven to be one of the prime movers of the affair, that was not arrested; but we hope that he may yet be, and have meted out to him sue reward as his black deed demands.

“We are satisfied that the lower class of the Mexican population are incendiaries in any country where slaves are held, and should be dealt with accordingly. And, for the benefit of the Mexican population, we would here state, that a resolution was passed by the unanimous voice of the county, forever forbidding any Mexican from coming within the limits of the county.

“Peace, quiet, and good order are again restored, and, by the watchful care of our Vigilance Committee, a well-organized patrol, and good discipline among our planters, we are persuaded that there will never again occur the necessity of a communication of the character of this.”

The September 11 issue of the Galveston News contained the following update: “We learn, from the Columbian Planter, of the 9th, that two of the negroes engaged in the insurrection at Columbus were whipped to death; three more were hung last Friday, and the Mexicans who were implicated were ordered to leave the country. There was no proof against these last beyond surmises. The band had a deposit of arms and ammunition in the bottom. They had quite a number of guns, and a large lot of knives, manufactured by one of their number. It was their intention to fight their way to Mexico.”

The September 5 issue of the La Grange True Issue reported, “We noticed last week the rumor that a large number of slaves, of Colorado county, had combined and armed themselves for the purpose of fighting their way into Mexico. Developments have since been made of a much more serious nature than our information then indicated. It is ascertained that a secret combination had been formed, embracing most of the negroes of the county, for the purpose of not fleeing to Mexico, but of murdering the inhabitants — men, women, and children promiscuously. To carry out their hellish purposes, they had organized into companies of various sizes, had adopted secret signs and passwords, sworn never to divulge the plot under the penalty of death, and had elected captains and subordinate officers to command the respective companies. They had provided themselves with some fire-arms and home-made bowie knives, and had appointed the time for a simultaneous movement. Some two hundred, we learn have been severely punished under the lash, and several are now in jail awaiting the more serious punishment of death, which is to be inflicted today. One of the principal instigators of the movement is a free negro, or one who had been permitted to control his own time as a free man.”

The Pernicious and Growing Influence of the Mexican Peon Population Now in our Midst

August 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Austin is famous — or infamous — depending on your personal prejudices, as a “Sanctuary City” for illegal immigrants. Now, this is a debatable subject, but it is not the point of this particular blog. What is undebatable, and is today’s subject, are the events of the year in which Austin was anything but hospitable to Mexicans, when Austinites put even High Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Governor Jan Brewer of the great State of Arizona to shame with regard to their gentle and kindly treatment of illegal immigrants.

October 7, 1854

MEXICANS AIDING NEGROES. – There are a number of Mexicans encamped in the suburbs of this city. They have been employed to work by different persons. There is no doubt but they are, and have been, aiding negroes to escape from their owners. On last Saturday night Mr. Butts visited the camp and found two negroes in it. He caught one and called to his wife to bring a rope to tie him; before she could reach him, the negro tore loose from him. Mr. Norvell went to the camp on another occasion, and found the Mexicans dealing monte, and the negroes betting. Something must be done to prevent the negroes and Mexicans from associating.

A mass meeting resolved to discontinue the practice of having peons as laborers. The committee went to the Mexican camp and delivered them the instructions. No further trouble. Much complaint of them mixing with the slaves and inciting them to discontent and insubordination.

October 14, 1854

THE PEONS. A respectable citizen of Austin says that while returning from Bastrop lately he discovered at a late hour of night, at a Mexican camp, in the vicinity, a large number of Peons, Mexican women and slaves. The Peons and slaves were playing at monte, smoking cigars, and drinking liquor. He noted one slave with his arms around a Señora and another Señora laying her shawl over a negro while he was reclining on the ground. Our informant rode on to town, but the hour being so late, he could no one to accompany him back to the place in order to arrest the party. Is it surprising that our citizens should feel disposed to rid themselves of this low and dangerous class of Mexican Peones, when scenes like this are transpiring around us?

Public Meeting.

An adjourned meeting of the citizens of Travis county was held at the Old Capitol, at 3 o’clock, on the 7th inst. The object of the meeting was to receive and consider the report of a committee to report upon the following resolutions offered by Capt. Cleveland at a previous meeting.

Dr. Philips, chairman of said committee, reported the following resolutions:

The condition of things arising from the unwarrantable and dangerous privileges allowed to the slave population of this county, and especially in this city, imperatively demand of all citizens interested in the common welfare, the adoption of such measures as will immediately counteract their tendency, and establish different, and more salutary regulations for their government. To the end that efficiency may be given to public sentiment upon this subject, we regard it as highly important that our feelings, views, and determinations should be embodied and expressed so as more certainly to secure general co-operation. We, therefore, recommend the adoption of the following resolutions:

Resolved, 1st. That the practice of masters allowing slaves to hire their own time, make their own contracts, and to occupy houses separate from and without enclosures occupied by white persons, is wrong in principle and detrimental to the best interest of this community, as it is calculated to support insubordination and dishonesty among the slave population; thereby rendering the institution of slavery not only valueless but dangerous.

Resolved, 2nd. That as law-abiding citizens, consulting the interest of all parties concerned, we will not in future allow our slaves any such liberties, nor deal with slaves whose masters allow them such privileges, and we will rigidly enforce the laws against those who allow their slaves such dangerous privileges in violation of the statutes of the State.

Resolved, 3rd. That all slaves found with arms or deadly weapons on any description upon their persons, or in their apartments, be chastised severely in all cases for the wearing and possessing such unlawful and dangerous articles.

Resolved, 4th. That all assemblages of negroes, whether for amusement or religion, without the presence or permission of some respectable white person, are wrong, and should not be permitted.

Resolved, 5th. That the ministers having charge of the different churches in our county, be requested to devote a portion of one Sabbath in each month to their spiritual instruction.

Resolved, 6th. That we will not buy, sell, or give any article to, or have any business transaction with any slave, without the consent of said slave’s master.

Resolved, 7th. That a Vigilance Committee be appointed by this meeting, to consist of 12, from the city of Austin, half from the east and half from the west side of Congress Avenue, and 36 from Travis county, six from each beat or township, whose duty it shall be to enforce a strict compliance with the provisions of these resolutions.

Resolved, 8th. That we will aid and sustain the said Vigilance Committee in the enforcement of the provisions of these resolutions.

October 21, 1854

THE MEETING OF LAST SATURDAY. – In another column will be found the proceedings of a meeting held to devise some plan to relieve the community from the pernicious and growing influence of the Mexican peon population now in our midst. The evils arising from this class of citizens have become insupportable, and the difficulty of convicting one of crimes, unquestionably committed, leave no other plan than the ejectment of those against whom suspicion is so very strong that summary proceedings seem perfectly justifiable. Hence the committee have resolved to expel those Mexicans whose guilt is apparent, “peaceably if they can, forcibly if they must.”

Grand Ratification Meeting.

Pursuant to notice, the citizens of Travis county convened at the Old Capitol, on Saturday the 14th inst., for the purpose of ratifying or repudiating the resolutions adopted on the 7th inst., relative to the Mexican population in the county.

On the motion of Judge W.S. Oldham, Col. Thos. McKinney was called to the Chair, and Dr. W. Philips appointed Secretary.

The Chairman explained the object of the meeting, and read the following resolutions adopted at the previous meeting.

WHEREAS, We have among us a Mexican population who continually associate with our slaves, and instill into their minds false notions of freedom, and make them discontented and insubordinate; therefore,

Resolved, 1st. That all transient Mexicans, or those not freeholders, in our midst, be warned to leave within ten days from the passage of this resolution.

Resolved, 2nd. That all remaining after that time be forcibly expelled, unless their good character and good behavior be vouched for by some responsible American citizen.

Resolved, 3rd. That all citizens employing Mexicans as laborers, be requested to notify them of the passage of this resolution.

Resolved, 4th. That we will not employ Mexicans as laborers, and will discountenance and discourage their presence among us.

Resolved, 5th. That a committee of ten energetic gentlemen be appointed to carry the first and second resolution into effect.

On motion of Major John Marshall the resolutions were taken up seriatim, whereupon Judge S.G. Sneed addressed the meeting at length, reviewing the evils in our community growing out of the Peon Mexican Population, unprincipled white men, abolitionists, dram-shop dealers, etc. The judge urged the most pacific means for ridding our county of the transient Mexican population.

Judge W.S. Oldham being called for, addressed the meeting in clear, forcible and convincing argument, showing most conclusively the propriety and necessity of expelling the Mexican population, specified by the resolutions, from this community, “peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must.”

The preamble and first through fourth resolutions were read and adopted.

The fifth resolution being read, on motion of Dr. Philips, the committee were enlarged to twenty in lieu of ten, as originally appointed, to carry first and second resolutions into effect.

At the close of the regular proceedings, Capt. J.T. Cleveland offered in substance the following resolution: “That a committee of three or four be appointed by the Chairman of this meeting, to wait upon the merchants, grocers, and other dealers in this city and county, and request them not to buy or sell from or to a negro any article whatever, without the written consent of the owner of such slave, and that such merchants, grocers, or other dealers, be requested to sign a written article in accordance with this resolution.” Rejected.

On motion of Judge Sneed, the meeting adjourned sine die.

Thos. McKinney, Chairman.

W.C. Philips, Secretary.

October 28, 1854

The Vigilance Committee have discharged their duties. No peon now remains in the city who is not vouched for by respectable citizens. It should be the duty of every citizen to aid in preserving the current state of things. We trust that our county court will lend its influence in the appointment of suitable patrols.

So the Mexicans Are Coming Here to Steal Our Jobs, Part 2

August 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

This is from the Galveston Daily News, August 25, 1885.


THE NEWS stated some time ago that the cotton crop promises to be large and it is learned that from 5000 to 6000 Mexicans can be obtained at Laredo, provided that responsible and known planters go for them, such as can guarantee, the bankers and others that the Mexicans will be well treated and paid the price agreed upon. To enable planters on the Missouri Pacific lines to gather the immense crop this year, that company has arranged to furnish planters the facilities to bring this labor from Mexico at very low rates to points on and reached by their lines. It will be advisable for planters who desire labor of this kind to send responsible agents to make contracts with the Mexicans and also be prepared to pay transportation for them from Laredo to points they are needed at. When through in the earlier cotton districts in the state, these laborers could be engaged in other and more backward sections, and thus the cotton yield in Texas be made greater than ever before. In closing this paragraph, the United States district attorney for the western District of Texas writes:

Austin, August 17, 1885

My attention has been called to a clipping from your paper hereto attached. The course advised hereto to secure foreign labor is in violation of the act of Congress, February 24, 1883, 48th Congress, second session. Presuming it is not your desire to see citizens of Texas suffer, and that your attention has not been called to the above act, I am most respectfully, A.J. Evans.

THE NEWS is aware that there is a recent law of Congress against the importation of foreign laborers under contract to labor In the United States. But The NEWS has not advised that any planter should go or send outside the United States. Some ten days ago, THE NEWS noticed an item in a New York paper on this subject and in reply to the assumption of illegality THE NEWS suggested, in substance, that if Mexicans should come across the border under no contract, but of their own volition, and be found in Laredo Tex, it could not reasonably be held that a planter who had no hand in bringing them over would be violating any law by hiring them in Laredo Tex., and thence bringing them to his plantation. Perhaps there has been a misunderstanding on the vague impression that planters were asked to pay for bringing laborers from Mexico but THE NEWS has said nothing to that effect and has seen nothing to intimate that any railroad company had proposed to bring laborers on contract from any point outside the United States. Laredo is a populous place in Texas and if Mexicans at Nuevo Laredo, opposite, see fit to cross the ferry of their own accord and enter the labor market, it is their own business, we presume. Nor does that designation, Mexican, as commonly used in Texas, invariably mean a citizen of Mexico The race peculiarities are thus indicated, many of those persons being natives of Texas and citizens of the United States. A certain number work at times across the river in Mexico and so far as they are concerned there would not be the slightest presumption of conspiracy were they in a busy season to return to the land of their nativity – Texas – they not being aliens. And as for Mexican citizens, their immigration, if they come, must be their own free act without any contract to labor. THE NEWS still understands that once lawfully in the United States they are free to hire, and planters are then free to pay their traveling expenses thereafter for a journey within the United States.


August 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

This from the Laredo Times, January 10, 1910, for everyone who is convinced, among other things, that Mexican immigrants steal jobs from patriotic Americans eager and willing to do such work as lick toilets clean and castrate yearlings with their teeth for six bucks, but not for five. Tain’t the case now; waren’t the case then. Read on, puddin’heads, and learn a lesson from the past.

In this discussion of Mexican immigration to the United States the descendants of the old Mexican and Spanish families who settled in Texas and other parts of the West and Southwest prior to the separation of that part of the country from Mexico have been eliminated. Very nearly all descendants of these old families remained, grew up amid the prevailing surroundings and influences of the southwestern part of the United States and are today among the most prominent and progressive citizens of that section of the country. Their ancestors were the original recipients of the large Spanish land grants and when these lands passed under the jurisdiction of the United States the progeny of the old Spanish stock remained with the land. Immigration from the northern and eastern sections of our own country in many instances forced these people to dispose of their large holdings but the affable and polite character habitual with the early Spanish could not be dispelled, even now it wields a constant influence in many sections of the southwestern country. The love of ancestry family tradition, long established racial manner and scrupulous indulgences of a noble race and characteristic of the Spanish people formerly operated against this class of people intimately associating with the American settlers of the south west. Notwithstanding these prominent racial differences the Spanish speaking element has become thoroughly imbued with the true American spirit in the task of aiding in developing the wonderful resources of that section and adding both capital and brains promoting the wealth and unity of these great United States. The United States acquired a large established Spanish speaking population when it acquired Texas and a large area of additional territory to the south west in 1848 it was but natural that people of the same racial civility should be attracted to the part of the country where their own kind had already settled and the development of the rich agricultural lands was well under way Mexico being originally settled by the Spanish race and its internal conditions being turbulent and rebellious. The peons or laboring classes had a difficult time to make more than a scanty existence out of the little which was allowed them, therefore any reasonable offer held to them to migrate was at once accepted.

As the Spanish land owners of the United States had numerous herds of cattle and sheep and few herders to look after their stock they invariably went to Mexico, offered laborers of that country somewhat better wages than they could possibly get at home and in this way induced the earliest Mexican immigrants to come to this country Thus began the movement which is today responsible for the constantly increasing Mexican immigration. From the most authentic official reports Mexican immigration to this country began in 1857. For a period of thirty years thereafter or until 1887 only 10,610 immigrants arrived from Mexico. Many others came during this period but returned after working six or eight months on the cattle or sheep ranches in the vicinity of the border having become dissatisfied because original promises of high wages food and clothing made by the ranchmen who induced them to come were not fulfilled.

During the next thirteen years, from 1887 to 1900, a total of 7000 Mexicans migrated to the United States, showing an increase of nearly 100 per annum over the previous 30 years.

In 1901 the large construction and development companies of the southwestern part of the United States began to look to Mexico for their laborers. Agents were according sent to the interior of that country to induce the necessary number of laborers to work on railway construction and in many instances in and about mines.

Beginning with 1901 Mexican immigration was more active than in previous years as between this date and the close of the fiscal year ended June 30 1907, 11048 laborers arrived at the Mexican border ports for distribution by the various labor agencies among the corporations and other concerns engaging them and at an average of wage of $1.00 gold per day The labor agent usually received 50 cents per head for securing these laborers. During the past few years the cotton planter of the South also entered the labor market for men to work in harvesting the cotton crop. This gave a new impetus to the immigration from the interior of Mexico, consequently whole families would come for the sole purpose of picking cotton. From July 1, 1907 until the close of the fiscal year ended June 30 1909, 25,000 Mexicans, principally laborers, entered the United States of which 18,000 passed thru the port of Laredo. Fully 10,000 more arrived since the beginning of the present fiscal year. This country has therefore received a total of 63,589 Mexican immigrants since 1857.

Before the year 1901 immigration from Mexico was not considered of sufficient importance to merit recognition. It was held that it did not add to our wealth or population. The arrivals from that country did not venture exceed two hundred miles beyond the border where many of their own people had settled and found steady employment and where their presence in any considerable number would not be noticed. During the past three years this race has added materially to the over growing population of the entire state of Texas. Since 1907 many laborers in Mexico abandoned their homes, ranches and shops where they were employed, under the inducements offered them by the numerous agents from the United States operating in that country to take advantage of the high wages offered for labor of the United States. This process has practically depopulated many sections of that Republic. The transportation of these laborers and that of their families is in many instances prepaid at the border and enough money given them to prepay their transportation to their final destination in the United States in case they are admitted. After admission the agents instrumental in bringing them apportion them out to the various concerns employing them and send them to their proper destination. As long as our demand for laborers holds out, immigration from Mexico will not only continue but constantly increase until all demands for cheap labor are fully supplied. As laborers of other nationalities cannot subsist on seventy five cents per day and support large families. Mexicans are practically assured of constant employment in tbe southwest as long as the many industries of that section remain in active operation. No other class of people can survive the long hot summers or compete with them when the actual cost of living remains as high as at present. Under these conditions, Mexican laborers are successful competitors against all comers; their wants are few, their living expenses low and during the cotton picking season entire families can earn enough to add to the common fund to guard against every emergency during the idle seasons.

As the early ranchmen of the southwestern country had a difficult task to keep their Mexican employees unless they assisted them to bring their families to them, and provided some sort of a house in which they could all live, so employers of this kind of labor of later times are assisting the families of their employees to come and like wise providing them with suitable quarters so they will not quit or return or seek employment from those who will. Those Mexicans with families seldom become dissatisfied if they are with them even though their wages are small and their surroundings primitive. It is therefore necessary for those employing Mexican labor to furnish small adobe or jackals in order to completely satisfy them. Construction companies usually furnish them old freight cars in which to live so that no time is lost moving from place to place. Construction companies are further able to keep their laborers by giving them and their families a railway pass to the border if they remain with them six months or more in case they desire to return to their native country to visit their relatives or induce them to come to the United States.

All laborers purchase their rations and other necessities at the company’s commissary and in this manner many spend almost their entire wages, the company eventually reaping the benefit of practically all wages paid

The labor agents and supply companies operating in every town on the border are directly responsible for the large exodus of laborers from Mexico. Those concerns receive a stated compensation for supplying railway and construction companies, plantations and mining companies with all necessary Mexican labor. They keep paid agents in Mexico soliciting laborers and are usually able to furnish them in any number and for any purpose on short notice

The agents whom the supply companies send to Mexico to secure laborers are generally irresponsible and adept in the gentle art of prevaricating to the ignorant and inexperienced; these agents presumably work on their own responsibility but it has been ascertained that some supply company in almost every instance furnishes the funds. All money advanced for transportation to the border or to enable laborers to reach their destination in the United Slates after admission is afterwards deducted from their wages. Many have sold last of personal property to get sufficient money to get to the United States and take advantage of the high wages held out to them. In the course of a few months they earn enough to send for some of their relatives and perhaps migrate farther into the interior where conditions are more conductive for higher wages. Thus the constant tide of immigration is maintained and labor supplied for the entire southwest.

Contrary to the views heretofore advanced that Mexican laborers are coming to this country for temporary sojourn only, it has been ascertained that the entire south western portion of our country is becoming rapidly filled with actual settlers from Mexico. In every town within two hundred and fifty miles from the border there are well established Mexican settlements, many of the people having arrived within the past two years. Ranches, plantations, railroads and numerous other concerns and individuals are well supplied with a full quota of Mexican labor. In northern Texas, Mexicans are displacing other labor as rapidly as they can be secured, and at good wages During the cotton season the demand has heretofore been greater than be supply, notwithstanding the high wages offered. The cotton planter could secure no laborers and he was therefore obliged to send to Mexico that he might gather his crop. New Mexico, Arizona and California have been employing this class of people for years and owing to the large amount of construction work in those sections there is a constant demand for more. The transcontinental railway lines operating in that part of the country been employing Mexicans for some time and have taken them east as far as Chicago. The middle west is also being rapidly supplied with Mexican labor and it is not uncommon to see hundreds of Mexicans employed in this section where only few years ago there were none. The railroads first brought them to that section for construction work but in many instances they were able to get better wages on the farms so they abandoned railroad work and many are now employed in this manner. Mexican labor has displaced the Greek and Italian labor formerly doing the section work on railroads in many parts of the west and as it is usually paid less it will rapidly displace other labor in other capacities on the various railway lines. As long as living wages prevail immigration from Mexico will continue; the labor problem is being solved in many parts of the country by employing this class of people; they are migrating like other races to better their condition; they are contributing labor and industry towards the development of the United States. Many are building homes, purchasing farms, learning trades and in other ways adding to the wealth of the country. While much of their savings is sent to Mexico, it is done to bring friends and relatives to the United States. Old debts are being paid off so the debtor can migrate and begin life anew and as all immigrants of the laboring class from all countries work cheap at first as do all this class; but it does not take much time before many become fairly well skilled and are then able and to demand better wages and receive them.

While our immigration Mexico since 1857 is very small compared with that from other countries, it being only 63,583 during a period of sixty three years considering that there is such a large Mexican population in all the states and territories bordering on Mexico it must be remembered that there is also a large native born Mexican population in these same states and territories which cannot be considered when preparing statistics of those who were born outside the United States and afterwards migrated to this country. Practically about two-thirds of the Mexican population of the United States is native born, therefore when this fact is taken into consideration, the immigration of this class of people to our country does not appear so large or those residing in the United who came from Mexico so numerous.

Of all the previous immigration from Mexico until recently, nine tenths was of the laboring class, poor, ignorant, unskilled in all but the commonest labor and having little or no money upon arrival. Very few had to exceed ten dollars; the majority less than five. During the present year many of the better classes are coming It is not uncommon for Mexicans to have several hundred dollars with which to begin in this country. Many tradesmen and shop-keepers are migrating to continue their business in the United States. Those who have had constant employment since their arrival are sending for their relatives as rapidly as they can secure the funds and will therefore reside here permanently. With a class of people constantly immigrating to our country who are ready to aid in its development, the gates will never be closed..

W.O. Seaver

Where Am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for August, 2012 at The Blunderbuss.