The Burgundian Circle (German: Burgundischer Reichskreis) was an Imperial Circle of the Holy Roman Empire. It was created in 1512 during the Imperial Reforms of the Emperor Maximilian I. The original territories of the circle were Breda (centre of the House of Nassau in the Netherlands), the Counties of Hoorn, Bergen and Egmont, and the various Imperial lands of the Duchy of Burgundy. Most of the territories of the Circle were alienated from the rest of the Empire so at the Diet of Augsburg in 1548 the Circle was extracted from the upper rule of the Empire, but the territories continued to enjoy the protection of the Empire and to provide the equivalent of two armies of the electors for the general defence of the Empire, and as much as three during the Turkish Wars. That year the circle was expanded with the addition of Guelders and the Lordships of Utrecht, Groningen, Jever (Circle-free from 1588) and Overijssel with Drenthe.
In 1566 the Burgindian Netherlands were transferred to the Kingdom of Spain. The Dutch began their rebellion against the Spanish in 1567 and the Eighty Years' War in 1568. The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 ended the warfare and removed the rebelling provinces (Frisia, Groningen, the northern half of Guelders, Holland, Overijssel, Utrecht, Zeeland, Zutphen) from both the Circle and the Empire. The Circle was further diminished in various wars against France: Artois (Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659)), parts of Hainaut and Flanders (Treaty of Aachen (1668)) and Franche Comté (Treaty of Nimwegen (1678)). In 1713/4 the Spanish Netherlands were transferred to Austria in the War of the Spanish Succession. The remaining lands of the much reduced Circle were annexed to France by the Treaty of Campo Formio in 1797.
The Franco-Dutch War of 1672–78 was the source of all the other wars that were ended formally at Nijmegen. Separate peace treaties were arranged for conflicts like the Third Anglo-Dutch War and the Scanian War, but all of them had been directly caused by, and form part of, the Franco-Dutch War. England initially participated in the war on the French side, but withdrew in 1674 in the Treaty of Westminster.
Peace negotiations had begun as early as 1676, but nothing was agreed to and signed before 1678. These treaties did not result in a lasting peace. Some of the countries involved signed peace deals elsewhere, such as the Treaty of Celle (Sweden made peace with Brunswick and Lunenburg-Celle), Treaty of Saint-Germain (France and Sweden made peace with Brandenburg) and Treaty of Fontainebleau (France dictated peace between Sweden and Denmark-Norway).
- Barraclough, Geoffrey, The Origins of Modern Germany (1966, New York, Putnam)
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- Burgert, Annette Kunselman, Eighteenth Century Emigrants from the Northern Alsace to America, 1992, Camden, Maine, Picton Press, publication of the Pennsylvania German Society, vol. 26.
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The Thirty Years War, Geoffrey Parker (ed.), 1984, 1991, New York and London: Routledge.
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- Bonnaud-Delamare, Roger, L'immigration helvétique dans les principautés de Murbach et de Lure après la Guerre de Trente Ans (1649-1715) [26 libraries in the US, two in Canada nine in Europe]
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- Conrad, Glenn R., "L'immigration alsacienne en Louisiane, 1753-59", Revue d'histoire d'Amérique française, 28 (March 1975): pp. 565-577.
- Dollinger, Philippe, L'Alsace de 1900 a nos jours, Toulouse, 1979
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- Laybourn, Norman, L'émigration des Alsaciens et des Lorrains du XVIIIe au XXe siècle, 1986, Strasbourg, Association des Publications près les Universités de Strasbourg. [26 libraries in the US, one in Canada two in Japan, four in Europe]
- Schaedelin, F. "Les émigrés suisses dans le Haut-Rhin", Revue d'Alsace, 1935. [16 US libraries]
- Schoell, Franck-Louis, "Colonies alsaciennes dans la prairie américaine (Illinois et Iowa)", Revue de Paris, 1 January 1922.
- Stintzi, Paul, L'immigration suisse dans le Sundgau après la Guerre de Trente Ans, 1952, Strasbourg, Le Roux, series: L'Alsace et la Suisse à travers les siècles.
- Stintzi, Paul, "L'immigration suisse dans la vallée supérieure de la Thur" in Annuaire de la Société d'Histoire des Régions de Thann-Guebwiller, 1953-4. [Harvard]
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The World Before the Treaty of Westphalia
Flags of different countries act as a symbol of sovereignty in our present world order.
Present World Order
Many people have a passport. They dutifully show it when they cross borders, but do they take a moment to stop and think about what it really means? In fact, that passport is visible proof of how our world is organized now—divided up into different territorial units. In this modern state system, at least theoretically, these units are sovereign, meaning that they possess their own authority: They have supreme and independent rights such as the right to control their territory. In this respect, states are equals on the international plane.
This is the world we know, and it sometimes almost seems like the natural or default mode of international organization: the sovereign state as a political powerhouse, the actor on the international stage. Indeed, this concept is written in the United Nations charter of 1945, which declares, “The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all of its Members.”
But how did this international order come into being? This turning point came in the year 1648 at the end of the long and traumatic Thirty Years’ War in Europe, a war that itself came at the tail end of about a century of religious slaughter and warfare in the western Christian world.
The peace settlement that ended the Thirty Years’ War, called the Peace of Westphalia, pointed international politics in a new direction. This international order has been called the Westphalian system, denoting a system of sovereign states interacting with one another.
Now, very few people know what a Westphalian international system is, but it is worth thinking about what this means as, in fact, it’s one of the main turning points that has structured our world up to the present.
And this turning point in history was caused not by creative invention or discovery rather, it was a turning point that came out of sheer exhaustion, the exhaustion of religious warfare. As a result, earlier appeals to religious authority in politics were downgraded, and, increasingly, the world appeared to be in a state of a shifting balance of power, instead of being subjected to one, overarching, universal authority.
The Divine Authority of the Empires
Let us consider how the concept of authority had been understood before this point in Europe and the world. Much of earlier history is in contrast to our current model of divided sovereignties and divided authority. Instead, the ideal that had great appeal at the start of the modern age was that of universal authority, often expressed as an empire. For much of human history, empires have been more common forms of political organization than a nation-state or a republic.
For instance, China’s Ming empire, the ‘Central Kingdom’, was supposed to embody order and the mandate of heaven, and thus was seen as globally central and authoritative. Or the Roman Empire, surviving in the East, in Constantinople until 1453, continuing the glory that was Rome. So, in the European Middle Ages, authority was seen as divinely sanctioned and universal in its claims and reach. This link to the divine gave tremendous legitimacy.
This is a transcript from the video series Turning Points in Modern History. Watch it now, on Wondrium.
Power Struggles between Religion and Kingdom
In this period, church and state were intertwined in Europe because both appealed to the same source of divine authority, and this would lead to conflicts. Two institutions in the Middle Ages, in particular, had shown this earlier: the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire.
The religious density present in central Europe, 1618, before the Treaty of Westphalia.
(Image: ziegelbrenner/CC BY-SA 3.0/Public domain)
The Church and the imperial state were intertwined in a vivid way that would be unfamiliar to us now: the emperor often controlled who became pope in Rome, while only a pope could crown a Holy Roman Emperor. Who would dominate in this relationship? Both sides sought to inherit the authority of the Roman Empire, which had expired in the West by 476.
During the 11 th and 12 th centuries, as part of one of those frequent movements for reform, a series of popes made large claims to temporal authority, creating what has been called essentially a papal monarchy. For instance, in 1075, Pope Gregory VII had announced that “the Roman church was founded by God alone”, and that only the pope “can with right be called universal”.
And he went on to claim that the pope had the right to depose the emperor. These claims led to the so-called Investiture Controversy with the Holy Roman Emperor, in which ultimately the emperor backed down, but not very sincerely.
In the 12 th century, the Roman Catholic Church was at the very height of its political and secular power. When new monarchies arose to challenge that power, especially the king of France, Pope Boniface VIII in 1302 announced a ringing assertion of papal power in the papal bull labeled Unam Sanctam. He declared, “the temporal authority ought to be subject to the spiritual power”, and, “if the earthly power errs, it shall be judged by the spiritual power”.
Ironically, this expansive statement came just at the point when the pope’s position had become untenable and French soldiers soon arrested the pope. Later popes were pressured to rule under French supervision in Avignon.
Rival popes claimed authority as well, and, at one point there were three rival popes at once. Such scenes did much to damage the political credibility of the papacy.
Power Struggles between Different Kingdoms
The Holy Roman Empire had its own claims and its own problems as well. This institution had been founded when Charlemagne was crowned by a pope in Rome in the year 800 to revive the glories of the Roman Empire in the West. The name “Holy” in the Holy Roman Empire conveyed the spiritual power that was ascribed to this Christian empire. Theoretically, thus, the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire was to have primacy over all other kings and princes in the rest of Christendom.
Symbolically, yes, but, in practice, the Holy Roman Empire had weakened and weakened, shrinking in its borders to mostly just the German lands. The throne of the empire was not hereditary but rather an elected office, which gave power to the nobles who periodically elected the emperor.
At a time when kingdoms like England, France, and Spain were trying to centralize, the Holy Roman Empire remained a feudal jumble of overlapping and multiple principalities, many of them tiny in size. There were more than 300 of these units.
The religious wars engulfed Europe during the first half of the 16th-century. (Image: Everett Historical/Shutterstock)
The Holy Roman Emperor could make vast symbolic claims to authority in Europe, but those claims were hard to enforce with that kind of power base.
In contrast to the papacy and the empire, in the early modern period, monarchs of new centralizing kingdoms were on the rise, and they were not shy about reaching for religious legitimation themselves. The monarchs of Spain called themselves the ‘Most Catholic’ monarchs. The kings of France called themselves the ‘Most Christian’ monarchs, and the English kings were known as the ‘Defenders of the Faith’.
Add to this mix the explosive impact of the religious division of Christians in Europe with the Reformation and the conditions were rife for the Thirty Years’ War.
Common Questions about Our World Before the Treaty of Westphalia
The Treaty of Westphalia was a turning point because it developed Europe’s ability to live with religious diversity. It also led to the sovereignty of states, which kept the peace by maintaining a balance of power.
The outcome of the Thirty Years’ War was the Treaty of Westphalia, which recognized the full territorial sovereignty of the member states of the empire. It also led to secularism and the sovereignty of states by paving the way for the creation of modern nation-states.
Both the Church and the imperial state believed that they had the divine authority . This belief led to frequent clashes between the pope and the emperor.
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Nijmegen, German Nimwegen, gemeente (municipality), eastern Netherlands, on the Waal River (southern arm of the Rhine). It originated as the Roman settlement of Noviomagus and is the oldest town in the Netherlands. Often an imperial residence in the Carolingian period, it became a free city and later joined the Hanseatic League. In 1579 it subscribed to the Union of Utrecht against Spain. It was taken by the French (1672) in the third of the Dutch Wars, and the treaties—between Louis XIV, the Netherlands, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire—that ended the hostilities were signed there in 1678–79. Nijmegen was the capital of Gelderland until its capture in 1794 by the French, who moved the capital to Arnhem. It served as a frontier fortress until its defenses were dismantled in 1878. Occupied by the Germans during World War II, the town was badly damaged and was the scene of an Allied airborne landing in 1944, during which the city centre was entirely destroyed. Rebuilt, Nijmegen is now an important focus of industry, a rail junction, and an inland shipping centre.
A scenic park, the Valkhof (“Falcon’s Court”), contains ruins of Charlemagne’s castle, which was destroyed by the Vikings but rebuilt by Frederick Barbarossa in 1155 before being demolished by French Revolutionary troops in 1796 a 16-sided baptistry (consecrated in 799) and the choir of its 12th-century church remain. The fine Renaissance Grote Kerk (“Great Church”) of St. Stephen and the town hall (1554) both suffered war damage but have been restored. Other notable buildings include the Latin School (1544–45), the Weighhouse (1612), and the modern Church of St. Peter Canisius (1960). Nijmegen has the Catholic University of Nijmegen (1923), with an important medical faculty and hospital a municipal museum the Museum Het Valkhof (1999), with a notable collection of Roman antiquities and a theatre and a concert hall. Pop. (2007 est.) 160,907.
This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.
The Final Struggle
After 1650, the Haudenosaunee looked eastward, hoping to prevent further French expansion. But war and disease had taken their toll. Political divisions made it hard for the Haudenosaunee to confront the army that France sent to Canada in 1665, and Anishinabe defenders checked their northward expansion. The English in New York, whose help the Haudenosaunee requested, proved unreliable allies. In 1701, a treaty, called the Great Peace of Montréal, ended decades of war. Both sides could now claim victory.
The lack of comments here illustrates the ignorance and apathy of Americans in knowing their own history as it pertains to the present situation in the USA — a thing which King Idiot-in-Chief Trump and his mindless followers exploit to a most atrocious degree in their odious quest to portray the Anglo-Europeans as the defining racial group in America.
I think mostly the lack of comments is due to people not commenting on blogs any more. But I appreciate your comment.
Outstanding article. The victors in the struggles between nations usually find a way to rewrite or reinterpret facts. History, with the long view, usually discovers the truth.
Most successful ethnic groups now in the US have been resented at some point. The Irish, Chinese and Italians are all examples. A key difference in the case of Mexican Americans is that their presence predated Manifest Destiny and the arrival of Americans.
In addition, of course, the original Indigenous Americans predated the European Americans who call themselves just “Americans.” And African American descendants of slavery are also in a different position, as their ancestors generally arrived before the ancestors of the majority of European-descent Americans and their forcible relocation puts them in a somewhat different moral category.
EDIT: I decided not to allow most of your comment, even though it is merely hostile and not racist. Writing that my post is about BLM and is the equivalent of murdering Jews in the Holocaust is a little over the top. You responded only to the first sentence, not to the whole post. You seem to object to my assumption that there is a White supremacist project, even though the post itself discusses the competing claims about history. I really don’t feel like putting up with rants like this.
The one part of your comment that is germane is this part:
“That’s odd, because by the time of the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty and cession that you allege the “White Supremacy” movement would like to forget but Mexicans prefer to remember, the Mexican population to which you refer was a mixture of Spanish and indigenous, i.e., descended from both European and indigenous populations. It is thus somewhat unclear how–other than for the purposes of stirringly inaccurate blog writing in keeping with au courant themes–“the Mexican people” who are descended from Spaniards and were forced into adopting Spanish have a greater “non-European” claim on American soil than anyone else has.”
MY (PO) RESPONSE: You argue that Mexicans who have both White/Spanish ancestry and Indigenous ancestry are basically the equivalents to Whites descended from European immigrants with no Indigenous ancestry. That is a highly-motivated claim that simultaneously ignores the reality of racial classifications in the US the lack of Indigenous ancestry among most White/European North Americans, the fact that the Mexicans and Central Americans migrating to the US are disproportionately Indigenous, not White, in culture and physical appearance and the fact that denying the ongoing existence of Indigenous people is the culmination of the 19th Century genocidal project within the boundaries of the US.
I didn’t approve this comment and am now editing it because it is using hostile rhetoric against other people coupled with wildly incorrect facts. Sorry, but I’m not willing to allow this kind of rhetoric on this blog.
Mojave Brennan, well said. The Majority of Americans is exactly what you said. They need to go back to history classes in my opinion, but then again they as always right so I guess that will not happen.
Actually, this history is not taught in American History classes with the possible exception of upper level college courses.
What happened to Mexicans in the annexed territory is one of the many otrosities committed by federal, state and local governments to preserve the white race.
This was taught in my 8th grade history class and throughout history countries have gained territory and forced them to learn another language and I’m not saying what they did was ok but it wasn’t to preserve the white race. (Side note when they say the Mexican American war portrays Mexican aggression citing the Alamo the writer does not understand that the Mexican American war and Texas war for independence in the Mexican American war the Americans picked on the littler guys however in the Texas war for independence Texas was fighting a stronger force and won.
Texas independence is separate from the Mexican American War, yes. Texas was part of Mexico. Anglo-Americans moved into Texas to set up slave plantations and when Mexico abolished slavery, the Texans didn’t want to follow Mexican law, they wanted to keep their slaves. Which is why they declared independence. I myself do not see slave owners defending slavery as having the moral high ground. This is not to say that Mexican generals were saints. Whether Mexico or Texas was stronger militarily at that point is debatable it is certainly true that Mexico was not able to the territory and also true that the US implicitly backed Texas.
When you write about the history surrounding the insurrection that took place in regards to the Alamo, you should do so within the context of that time, and not refer to Texas as “Texas” but rather “Tejas.” Tejas was still a part of Mexico before it won its independence and became a Republic. The other issue I have with your history is that it is incredibly biased.
First, the “defenders of the Alamo” were not truly “defenders” per se, they were guilty of insurrection against their own government, that is the Mexican government.
The defenders of the Alamo were all Mexican citizens at that point. They were not Americans and they were most certainly not living in American at that time.
Secondly, they swore an oath to the country and government of Mexico, and the rebellion should’ve been an internal matter, that is, the government of Mexico vs it’s own citizenry, in this case, citizenry that partook in an act of rebellion.
Whatever History book (s) you’ve been reading should be tossed away, and I recommend a better scholarly work that treats the subject with the utmost respect.
You people know less about your own history as Americans know about theirs. Your comments reek with racism
It is true I read a history channel blip about the treaty I’m starting to think rather than ignorance it’s actually a desire to hide the past. The Americans did not honor the treaty. They would not let Mexicans Americans vote and the stole their lands from them. The Americans never honoured it.
The US did not honor the treaty in whole but the history is somewhat more complicated, as some Mexican Americans were treated as citizens.
There was lost of murdering going on before and during the transfer of Texas. What followed after the territorial exchange was whole extermination and land grab from the Mexican population, which gave birth to the Texas Rangers to ensure all would be lost and taken away from the Mexicans that resided on this side of the sale.
Mexicans were treated as citizens is a fact that has not just come to truth as I can assure you that as per my personal experience as a 4th Generation American born and educated in the USA having served in the military, been a public servant for +30 years, and having been born over a half century ago with relatives who served as far back as the Korean, Vietnam, the Golf war and the Global war on Terrorism I am still called a wet back, referred to as Mexican when any African Americans or European are never told to return to their country as we are daily, jumped for promotions, harassed out of positions and quiet Frankly even been beaten for walking in my native land being an invader and in racial riots at schools.
So say again how magnificently we are and have been treated by our Native Land.
Pleeeease have some respect for we are not blind, nor stupid.
Americans DO NOT like to admit to war crimes… ever. Murders are excused with very lame excuses and no apologizes or reparations.
Many Mexicans lost their land with the help of the brutal Texas Rangers (pinché rinches) who would lynch the male landowner. Or white men would marry the daughter of a Mexican landowner & assume the land through deceit. My ancestors owned the majority of land in southwest Texas before cessation. It’s funny but it’s not how ignorant Americans are about history but that’s because our education system has been setup that way. Our indigenous history has been whitewashed to make sure white Americans can continue treating us as foreigners.
Not to worry: in 2052, Spanish Speakers become a majority in the US. If you want your children to integrate into the New American economic future,, mejor que estudien hablar Español .
Given that Latinx immigrants are all learning English, this seems highly unlikely in most of the US. Perhaps along the Mexican border, Spanish may become domiant.
Yes emigrants arrive as educated bilinguals from grammar school in this last decade and natives retained their spanish, so we are bilingual which makes it a choice trough out the whole nation entirely visible to the naked eye even in my native MidWest region.
and when people say first, second or third college graduate we mean in this country as the education level is higher in Mexico any day having free Universities and plenty willing to used them unfortunately the white American Establishment rebukes Diplomas earn in Mexican Universities to the Mexicans but admire Mexican Educated White Dr’s who studied there.
When that same establishment recognizes all European Universities Diplomas unequally.
I am sorry Pamela but i think you are in a pickle here are you in your 70’s I imagine base in your train of thought.
You should read Petras’s Legacy. She married crooked Miflin Kennedy. You speak of the the pinche texas rangers (they deserve no upper case letters), My tata welo Inez Villarreal had a brother n law named Sylvester DeLeon, he would be my uncle in modern day i guess. Anyhow he was murdered by the Piece Of Shit TEXAS RANGERS specifically the dickhead redneck MF Mabry Grey “mustang” and the other POS John “coffee” Jack Hays….thieves, fortune seekers and liars.
Worry not Senora, for we serve a mighty God. The beauty behind the turmoil is the abundance of crumbs the ignorant has foolishly left as beacon…..lol
That’s exactly right, sadly.
Generations of people that didn’t have anything to do with that war were taught what they were taught. IMO Indians were the ones that had their land stolen. Revisionist history is happening right now! History is being reported And re- written. Some good, some overblown. As a society we need to learn to live together. Accept the fact our blood is the same color. Hate groups need to called out for what they are! Divisionist! Tearing us apart. And our law enforcement needs restructuring. Fast!
I am an old white woman who has finally had her eyes opened, helped by the events ov this 2020 year. I am just now (Goid God) learning about the concentration camps our T. Hitler has on the boulders with Mexico. In an effort to learn more (ignorance is not bliss anymore) I am reading about this area of white supremacy that has always happened along this bourses. It is atrocious. I am ashamed. I wish I had a clue what I could do about it! It’s not enough but I apologize to all races (I believe we whites have abused just about everyone?) onto which we have inflicted our white supremacy onto, in demonic, murderous ways. I’m in shock and will continue to study what my people have done. I am choking while writing this. You stated it yourselves, we are not taught any of these atrocities in our schools. I never attended collage, maybe the books are there. If not for whe Internet I would still be foolishly ignorant of ‘our history’. Please continues to write and post about America’s true history—I’ll be reading and trying to teach others.
Gracias Señora! If only more people were like you! You are 100% correct ignorance is no longer bliss. History has been told from one perspective that of the oppressor. That narrative has done exactly what it was intended to do, Divide & Conquer!
Greatly appreciated and worry not because God can separated men and women within any race because there are evil oppressors always even amongst each race as there are those you defend the oppressed with no racial distinction of any kind and I assume that is the group to which you may be part of based in your words and emotions.
God curse the US for stealing the land from the Mexican Indians America open your eyes
Trump admin recently removed the term “Native” American from the recording of foster children in the US which is another example which sets individuals up for a life of lost identity. Removing requirements from the child welfare reporting system to identify tribal children is an attempt by the state to extinguish the identity and history of the original people. This is dangerous ‘identity politics’. Any person of white eauropean decent who questions ‘social justice’ movements must ask themselves, “Who would I be if my family had been repeatedly dismantled and victimized through racist policies and child removal tactics aimed at erasing your family history?”
Very well articulated – Couldn’t have said it better myself, thank you.
And then came an American president
Rapist, murderers and thieves
Dude, give us some time. This article was posted less than a year ago and is on a topic most people don’t think about that much. But it’s a good contribution to the immigration debate and should stimulate more thoughts.
And BTW, I voted for Trump and I am not anti-immigrant and am not in favor of building a wall between the US and Mexico.
You didn’t learn about this in school?
Hi, I always thought this treaty allowed free access for Mexicans into the US. Is that a part that was deleted or did I mis-remember that? History was never my strongest subject. Thx
The treaty says nothing about free access. However, in practice, the border was not patrolled and no documents were required to cross the border in either direction until the 1930s.
No, it made those on the Norte Side of the Treaty American Citizens with the right to retain their lands. They became American. It did not have a inter border policy in the Treaty. That is a misnomer used as a gateway to the open border agenda as is the espoused theft of land, that was in fact remained in the hands of the propety owners, per the treay
As with the other comment, approving because it is sincere and not racist, even though I disagree with it.
I think you should submit this to the NYPost, Time, CNN…. Get it out there.
I find this blog analysis of the treaty well done. To me I feel that key to the treaty was choice to return to Mexico or remain and become a US citizen. Nowhere does it infer that the countries were conjoined. I had a college professor that was adamant that the Treaty established bilingual languages and prohibited forcing Mexicans from speaking our language. It appears that was untrue, just a wishful interpretation.
In regard to immigration, I love the Mexican people but strongly believe we need a secure border. Legal immigration is good for our country. Illegal immigrantion, regardless from where, is bad.
Thanks for your comment, approved because it is sincere. The treaty implied bilingual protections at least for the people who were already Spanish speakers in 1848, which would imply supporting Spanish at least through 1920. You should research the history immigration laws, as that would help you realize that “illegal” immigration is entirely a product of changing immigration laws and laws were passed that explicitly illegalized what had been legal and regular flows of workers back and forth across the US/Mexico border. Also you may wish to research language supports as non-English speaking European immigrants were accommodated in the US through the early 1900s with, for example, German newspapers, schools, churches. Symbolically, there are many people who don’t think the European settlers had any more right to what is now the US than the indigenous people of the Americas, which most Mexicans and Central Americans are. These interpretations of the meanings of history are not readily resolved just by reading the treaty, but knowing what the treaty actually says is still important.
As far as I know, all German, Hungarian, Frisian, whatever …language publication and activities were private. If you can show me ballots or other government publications written in a non-English, non-Spanish European language before 1970, I’ll take that back. Even today the only European language I ever see produced by a government, other than Spanish, is Russian, and that’s pretty rare.
Bilingual schools were common in the 19th Century, even as there was an English-only movement opposing them, and there were US-born children being reared speaking German in rural areas of the US in the late 1800s. Official documents were published in English and Spanish in the Southwest after the Treaty the original California state constitution required that all official documents be published in both languages. I have been trying to check the ballot question.
While I agree with the majority of your comments that I have read, I have to take issue with a portion of one. You stated: ” ‘illegal’ immigration is entirely a product of changing immigration laws and laws were passed that explicitly illegalized what had been legal”.
Well, yes… I would find it extremely difficult to cite an example of ANY law to which that statement DOESN’T apply.
You are correct. That is the point. Drinking alcohol became a problem of illegal alcohol consumption only with prohibition. There is a huge debate about whether marijuana should be illegal and about whether criminalization of other drugs helps or hurts addiction problems. Migration back and forth across the Mexican and Canadian borders with the US became a problem of “illegal immigration” only when the US made it a problem by changing its immigration laws. The point is that you need to debate what the immigration laws ought to be, what is a sane immigration policy, and not get into the trap of saying that “illegal” immigration is wrong just because it breaks the immigration laws. A major change in the immigration law in 1965 caused a lot of the current problem, as did the creation of ICE in 2004.
Odd how an illegal immigration question led you to mention drugs… hmmmmmm, they do go hand in hand across our borders daily and yes, illegally. No wall jumper wants asylum or they’d go through a port where asylum awaits them. San Francisco and San Diego are beautiful examples of illegal immigrants ruling over state and federal laws. Thank you for your time and patience.
I mentioned alcohol and marijuana. They are classic examples of things that don’t have to be illegal, you can choose how to regulate them. It is hard to imagine anybody reading the news this year who could think that asylum seekers are being treated well by the US.
I just found this because of a lively Facebook discussion about immigration and Christianity’s obligations to welcome alien residents. I agree with the commenter who said please try to get this great research and maps ‘out there’, as part of the conversation. Thank you Pamela Oliver!
I was wondering why this particular post was getting so many hits. Is the FB discussion public?
Thank you for sharing this information. I found it very helpful. Particularly because I study the Xicanx movement, an evolution from the Chicano movement of the 1960’s which recognizes their indigenous roots and aims to get in touch with mother earth. It is important for Xicanxs however, to be aware of how some of us oppressed indigenous peoples in the southwest by accepting proximity to whiteness at their expense.
Yes, there are some good books about this complex history of the Southwest US. But I’m afraid I need to dig around to find the references and can’t just cite them here.
Very good, but I feel in a effort to push “that” agenda you have definitely failed to square the picture. First off the elite texans as you say, were mexican and the mexican government, at that said time, although liberated from Spain, was still Through Santa Ana as well as rich Spanish oligarchs. Also a total failure to mention why those Anglo types were there. They were invited there on behest of The Mexican Government, in hope to bring economic prosperity as well as in an effort to fight the commanche and indians of the pueblo. Initially it had squat to do with the United States. As Jackson wanted nothing to do with it despite that he was an evil expansionist and all.
I like that you also made mention that the squabble had to do with anti slavery, when in fact it was about limiting expansion and Santa Ana and the oligarchs set up armed outposts and made declaration to stop Anglo immigration into the area, because the hope was more mexican people’s would go into the area, but anglos that were invited to come now out numbered the Mexican 1.5/2 to 1. It was these groupings of whites and Mexicans that were fighting against the government for 20 years and requesting help from tge US, not just Anglo invaders…….wow
After Polk became President he sent soldiers to inspect the disputed border areas, and they were attacked. That is when the war began, which many Americans at the time opposed. Those are the truths you failed to mention and that, that land was Mexicos through Spanish Occupation, also an encroachment on Native American Tribal Land and Territory.
Also the points you make concerning language are really a mute point to what the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo did. Which was land grants and citizenship to The Mexican land owners on the norte side of the Treaty, who retained their agricultural lands and became American Citizens. Aztland is a myth, those that were on this side of the Norte kept their lands, America removed itself from Mexico City, after 9 months, after The Treaty was signed…..was it expansionism through war. Yes, was the land The Mexican were on Expansion through Spanish conquest, Yes.
Is there heated debate about who started it, and was there debate among the minds at the time about weather it was handled right, sure. Its just like now, but all that land was conquered as is all land. To say one people’s are imperialists, when in fact their gain was through the same imperialism is in fact revisionism and to tell one part and leaving many other mitigations and factual stones, unturned is the essence of rhetoric through half truths.
Lets us not forget the revichism used in Germany after the Treaty of Versailles. Let us not forget, the lack of rights to the average citizens under Santa Ana, and the rich poor divide. One sided history is easy to hold on to, but I implore others to check it out, read the totality of circumstances not just an agenda based blog. You know maybe its my 3/4 Anglo, or my 1/4 native American, that takes offense. Maybe its that ideological political science is a cancer and everyone wants something they think they were deprived of, when they were also deprivers, or perhaps its just division that rules the day and we all have to bleed because we cannot love.
Approving because the comment is sincere and not spam or racist, although I disagree with parts. The main thing to say is that the interpretations of history are always contested and people interpret the meaning of past events in light of their current interests. I don’t think there is much dispute among historians that the US wanted to gain control of the land west of Texas nor that the US essentially provoked a war with Mexico to get the land. That the war was controversial in its own time for a variety of reasons everybody who knows any history agrees. As my blog post indicates, there was dispute even at the time of the treaty about exactly what it did and did not mean, partly because the US Congress did not ratify all of it and partly just because people read into it what they wanted to see. Whether you think conquest gives you rights usually depends on whether you are on the winning or losing side of the war. But if you are going to justify current borders based on who won a war regardless of the morality of that war, then you can hardly complain if other people decide to violate those borders and see if they can move things around tho their own benefit.
Yes and the Gadsden purchase was really a purchase not an act of extortion and a threat to violate the actual treaty of Guadalupe. Right? (Sarcasm) As for your audacity to mention that Polk’s soldiers were attacked, well that speaks volumes of your bias and deception. We all know the intention by Polk was always to take virtually all of Mexico. Furthermore the difference between Mestizo settlers living in the southwest in a territory loosely occupied by Spain for 150 to 200 years prior to Mexican independence is that the dominant Mestizo and Spanish Indian population that lived in the area emerged from within the cultural spaces produced by the Spanish conquest and those cultural spaces were invaded in what everyone knows was an unjust war. Yes Native Nations take priority over Mexican Mestizo cultural spaces in terms of who was first, but Mexican Mestizo cultural spaces emerged as
transformed Native Nations which were conquered and hybridized and to make these hybrid cultural spaces illegitimate for the purpose of justifying Anglo invasions is simply intellectual dishonesty and outright self deception.
Ill like to meet a fellow Tex/Mex with a massive oil right ownership in Texas but witha quick search of Texas Oil Rich Families you get :
H. Roy Cullen, H. L. Hunt, Sid W. Richardson, and Clint Murchison were the four most influential businessmen during this era. These men became among the wealthiest and most politically powerful in the state and the nation and ZERO Mexicans and let me tell you we can dig.
Thanks for a good article Pam. I am curious about how the land held by Mexicans who became American citizens was lost. If they had control of their land, how did they lose it?
Second question, why should America not defend its claim? The land was disputed instead of solidly decided. Would you back down from a challenge on this blog? (I don’t want to start an argument, but just want to make the point that we stand for what we think is right.)
Thanks for the article and replies.
Thanks for the comment. (1) Lost land. Short answer is violent White people. Some White settlers squatted on Mexican land and wouldn’t leave, it took years of court cases to defend the claims if they could but often lacked documents from the days of Spanish/Mexican rule. And lots of White violent mobs literally forced Mexicans out of their homes and drove them South across the border. Also in California, the White men who showed up in the gold rush mostly soon realized they were not going to get gold and within a few years turned to violently removing both Spanish/Mexican and American Indian people from the Northern California area, so they could have land to farm. Southern California was a desert and stayed majority Mexican until after 1900. US history is very violent.
(2) I’m not sure how to respond to your second point. If I decide I want your wallet, then your wallet is disputed. Why shouldn’t I try to get what I want? Obviously in this history, the different sides had different ideas about what the rules or laws were about who should control the land. I think all reputable historians agree that the dominant US ideology saw a “manifest destiny” that the White settler nation was destined by God to take the whole continent, basically because they were either morally or racially or biologically superior. This justified the genocide of American Indians, as well as the conquest of Nortern Mexico. As my original post mentioned, thinking of it in US vs Mexico terms leaves out the indigenous Americans who had the prior claim over both of the colonial governments. When we teach, we try to help students understand what the different points of view were. From the Mexican point of view, the land belonged to them, and the US claim was illegitimate. I’m not an expert in this history (which is why I had to look up the treaty!) but here are some Internet links to sources giving Mexican points of view. http://www.pbs.org/kera/usmexicanwar/prelude/md_a_mexican_viewpoint.html and a comparison of US and Mexican textbook summaries http://pinzler.com/ushistory/viewmexwarsupp.html and this source (set up for teaching) https://college.cengage.com/history/world/bulliet/earth_peoples/2e/students/primary/mexicanwar.htm .
“In California, the White men who showed up in the gold rush mostly soon realized they were not going to get gold and within a few years turned to violently removing both Spanish/Mexican and American Indian people from the Northern California area, so they could have land to farm. Southern California was a desert and stayed majority Mexican until after 1900. US history is very violent.”
I’d call this a gross mischaracterization. California was very much a mixed society from the Spanish colonization, before Mexico as a nation came to the scene. Consider that of the 22 adult founders of Los Angeles included exactly *one* individual was of Peninsular Spanish blood, one of Creole Spanish birth, and the remainder a rag-tag mix of mestizo, maroon, negro, and indios birth. Yet essentially all their families ended up as landowners of vast swaths of Southern California. Rather little of the population of California immigrated from Mexico during the period it was under Mexican rule, most of the population increase came from the expanding families of “Spanish” settlers and new immigrants from places as varied as the United States, the UK, France, Canada, Switzerland, Denmark and even Peru….all of whom traded with this frontier region. They thought of themselves as Californios…..and resented (and obstructed) officials that Mexico City sent their way.
While you are correct that the small population of Californios (natives of the region prior to 1848) were politically swamped by the immigration that came with the Gold Rush… Those Californios still played a critical role in drafting the State Constitution in 1849, making sure that the State entered as a free state, and that their rights were protected by such laws as the School Law of 1852, which required a purely *non-sectarian* education in public schools, protecting Catholics from the sort of discrimination occurring elsewhere in the US. Their dispossession from the vast tracts of Spanish and Mexican land grants had more to do with events of the 1860-80 period, where the new immigrant’s government funded itself the way most American state and local governments did. With taxes on real property. Which put the Californios in the same unenviable position of much of the European aristocracy, land-rich and cash-poor. And most followed the same route to keeping their financial head above water…selling off parcels of land to cover taxes for increases in government.
Approving because the comment is historical and factual. Nothing you say here disputes the claim that in Northern California there was genocide against the Native Americans and that Californios were generally driven out of the North. Standard Chicano history says that the South remained predominantly Californio into the 20th Century. The original post states that California guaranteed Spanish language rights in its original constitution and specifically states that the English only movement happened in the 1870s.
American treaties are paper thin. Ask the native Americans. My family settled western Arizona. I recently found my great grandfather’s tombstone. They were originally from Spain. Like the Anglos, they killed Indians and stole their land. History is nothing but a recording of bad escrow closings. All of this is justified by calling their victims savages. If not for slavery and genocide, would America be America?
Not everything in history is bad, but it is true that Spaniards were also colonists and that slavery and genocide were key elements of US history that shaped it as a majority-European nation.
In 1838-9 President Andrew Jackson forcibly removed well over 50,000 indigenous peoples off their customary lands in and around Tennessee– including African slaves who were already forcible removed from their ancestral lands– into an area that is now Oklahoma. What is not not widely considered in this genocidal history is that they were actually moved to Mexico–out of the US, and not as history claims, into “reservations.” The Treaty of Guadalupe that ended the Mexican-American war was signed in 1848, which is when that territory was ceded to the U.S.
Hmmm. I had not thought of that point. I’m not quite sure where New Spain’s territorial claim was relative to New France.
1) There are still plenty of Mexican heritage land holdings in California. White folks acquired land legally from many Mexicans (a lot of whom didn’t consider themselves Mexican, btw — but Spanish or Californio). In my county there are both families, with land, who descend from Spanish/Mexican grantees and families who descend from people who bought land from Mexicans.
2) The vast majority of ‘Mexican-Americans’ are descended from people who crossed the border long after the Yankees took over and made the Southwest prosperous. There were, for example, only 3000 Spanish speakers in California before 1850, and mass immigration from Mexico really didn’t start until the 1900s, with the start of political turmoil in that country.
I don’t know what county you are in, but the historical record of violent removal of Mexicans (and indigenous Americans) from their land by Anglo Whites in many areas of the annexed territory is well established. Standard Chicano histories talk about the maintenance of land in the hands of Spanish/Mexicans in Southern California, parts of Texas, New Mexico. That does not erase the violent removals that also happened elsewhere. It is true that most of the “Mexican American” people today are descended from people who migrated after 1900. That does not erase the claims that are made about indigenous ancestry and ancestral homelands.
What claim does someone have to California because they are descended from indigenous people that lived hundreds of miles away in central or sothern Mexico? The indigenous people of California have their own history, languages and cultures. Do indigenous people from Alaska have a right to live in Mexico since they are indigenous to North America?
What possible claim do White people have on California? Should we let any White person from any where in Europe come to California just because some Anglo Americans massacred people? If your ancestors were still in Europe in 1848, as most White people’s ancestor were, why should they be allowed into California? They didn’t commit the massacres, so why should they benefit from it more than the people whose ancestors were in the Americans before 1848? The only way White Anglo Americans can try to claim the moral high ground is either to erase history entirely and pretend it never happened or to claim that violence deserves to be rewarded, that might makes right. “It was my ancestors, not me” does not cut it, because you are still trying to stake a claim in the present based on what happened in the past. Does this mean that anytime you are not getting what you want, you should just start killing people? If this claim did not benefit you, would you ever make the claim? I don’t mean this personally, I mean it to call attention that there are competing moral claims. Any claim about the sanctity of US boundaries is morally suspect. A claim about realpolitik and nation states in the modern world can be advanced, but not a moral claim. In my opinion. In any event, I see no more weight to European American claims to have a right to keep other people out than to Mexican and Central American claims to be able to migrate away from violence or toward economic opportunity.
I was planning a road trip between Cancun to Mexico City…didn’t realize how BIG Mexico actually is! so I got intrigued on how much bigger it was prior to US taking over the land. This article is very educational and key to understanding the immigration issue now days.
Excellent Blog. However we can go back to the Spanish conquest of South America in the Columbian era and ask the same
Question. Violent Spaniards conquered indigenous and continentally established hierarchies and created a new Spanish empire using the same violent techniques in the conquest of Mexico by the US. Where do we stop?
Everybody who writes about Chicano history makes this point, it is nothing new, and creates no particular conundrum for people who are seriously engaging these issues. The ongoing impacts of European colonialism are everywhere in the Americas. The idea of the mixing of the conquerors and the conquered is a big part of Mexican identity. There is a lot of interesting historical work about the layers of history in what is now the Southwest US. The moral lessons people draw from the realities of history tend as a rule to be self-serving. There are those, for example, who say that we all migrated out of Africa and the indigenous Americans migrated to the Americas, and it really does not matter that they got here at least 12,000 years before the Europeans, they are really no different. I can say that it does not matter that I stole your wallet, all that matters is that I have it now, and can back up that claim by pointing out that there was a time at which you didn’t have the wallet. I personally do take moral and political positions on these issues as any human being must, but I am able as an academic to see the process by which all of us construct our justifications from our points of view from the facts of history (or our distortions of the facts of history.) The claim many Mexican American activists make is the (generally correct one) that Mexican migrants are primarily of indigenous American stock, not Spanish stock, and so should be understood as indigenous Americans moving around on “their” land, not as immigrants.
Very true. Since most of these families are of the indigenous stock they were not the Hispanics that were the conquerors they were the conquered converted Indians or Genízaros . Why many in New Mexicans kept their dominance vs California and Texas is because they were of the European Spanish stock. New Mexico had a higher number of whites Hispanics. Usually when u hear of the Hispanics that were mistreated and lynched , stolen from were of the genízaro Hispanic or mostly visually Native American stock. Also would like to mention that is why white Mexican males could vote in California but Indian or mostly Indian male Hispanics couldn’t. In New Mexico the white Hispano elite were able to secure a high number of voters by adapting to Anglo institutions. And remaining politically important. Thus even the more Indian Hispanics families were able to vote but were sometime victims of squatters. In order to understand the American and Mexican war one needs to understand the races of Mexico and Hispanics America in general the laws of both countries the conflicting ones more importantly.
The elite Hispanics were key to Anglo immigration and also aided in ceding from Mexico in Texas. So many people can’t understand the war or the story that follows when they think of Hispanic of one people when in fact are also Indian whites or blacks just with less define lines between the races. With the huge immigration after the war came huge waves of mainly Indian Hispanics stock. The Hispanics of mainly European or Spanish heritage never became victims under American rule. Only the heavily mixed Hispanics got that stick.
I loved finding this blog!
The European tyranny spread throughout all of the Americas, Africa and has returned to its unfinished business in the middle east, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and threatens Iran anew.
The treaty of Hidalgo es one of the main fragile and dubious tools of oppression and exaltation of their existence over, and at the expense of us natives and targeted peoples deemed lesser by their creeds.
Phil we never stop,if we accept territorial expansion by war as a natural human phenonemem then maybe one day will look back at the reacquiring of lost territory by the Mexicans immigrants.The fact is Americans were land hungry and even tried to take Canada at one stage. Usually more advanced or ambitious societies take over the less advanced or primitive ones,which in the main is better for humankind. Also at the time morally wrong. A good example is the British colonization of Australia ,a beautiful almost empty continent.Now a wonderful modern country. Of course territory won by war or force of arms can only succeed by settlers or immigrants populating the conquered lands. It’s like evolution of the human species.However more than a few of us wish that some Mexican “settlers”/immigrants re- acquire something of what Mexico lost to Anglo settlers and gold rushers. A little bit of tit for tat!
Australia was not “empty.” The indigenous Aboriginal Australians lived there. They also suffered death from disease when Europeans arrived and were subject to genocidal policies. It is a peculiar definition of “advanced” that links it to killing people. Aboriginal Australians do not celebrate the arrival or dominance of Europeans in their country.
Interesting article. I remember reading a lot about this in the 70s. My mom Joy Hintz edited Mexican Aerican Athology II (I think it is on line at academic libraries for free.)pp 150-199 is “Our History and Identity” talks briefly about the treaty of Guadalupe and its meaning for cultural and property rights.
Interesting article. I remember reading a lot about this in the 70s. My mom Joy Hintz edited Mexican American Anthology II (I think it is on line at academic libraries for free.)pp 150-199 is “Our History and Identity” talks briefly about the treaty of Guadalupe and its meaning for cultural and property rights.
I am not letting this comment through even though it is not racist or defamatory because it is an off-topic derailment. The fact that many Whites are/were not Anglo is irrelevant to this topic, as is the fact that many Whites were lower class. Also irrelevant is the internment of German and Italian nationals who were as individuals deemed to be national security risks during World War II. This type of derailment is called “whataboutism.” The initial topic of this post was simply what the Treaty actually says, with references to its importance and how some people cite the treaty in making claims. I’ve permitted non-racist comments that verge into the terrain of debating the significance of this history for modern immigration policy, but I’m not going to let this thread open up to random White-centric thoughts about race. –PO
Hi, excellent article. The language component especially, serendipidous information to discover. I was aware of the stipulations regarding US obligation to control raiding of hostile tribes, as Commanche, Navajo, and particularly Apache components, who continued to raid as far south as Zacatecas. What I was looking for was further stipulation as to US obligation to prevent and prosecute white filibusters, I thought I remembered, ala Mexican concern over William Walker and others over time, so we agreed to “crack heads” on those individuals with equal fervor as Indians. Thanks.
Below is factual timelines available to anyone who want to do some research. Modern Mexico lost any rights to U.S. Land do to their own greed, aka Santa Ana. Aside from that, the real people of that region were not Mexican and Spainish was not the true language. Spainish people proper to not speak spainish, they speak proper Castillian.
For three centuries Mexico was part of the Spanish Empire, whose legacy is a country with a Spanish-speaking, Catholic and largely Western culture. After a protracted struggle (1810–21) for independence, New Spain became the sovereign nation of Mexico, with the signing of the Treaty of Córdoba.
• 1519 – Hernan Cortez arrives in Tenochtitlan. Montezuma II is killed.
• 1521 – Cortez defeats the Aztecs and claims the land for Spain. Mexico City will be built on the same spot as Tenochtitlan.
• 1600s – Spain conquers the rest of Mexico and Spanish settlers arrive. Mexico is part of the colony of New Spain.
• 1810 – The Mexican War of Independence begins led by Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo.
• 1811 – Miguel Hidalgo is executed by the Spanish.
• 1821 – The War of Independence ends and Mexico declares its independence on September 27th.
• 1822 – Agustin de Iturbide is declared the first Emperor of Mexico.
• 1824 – Guadalupe Victoria takes office as the first President of Mexico. Mexico becomes a republic.
• 1833 – Santa Anna becomes president for the first time.
• 1835 – The Texas Revolution begins.
• 1836 – The Mexican army led by Santa Anna is defeated by the Texans led by Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto. Texas declares its independence from Mexico as the Republic of Texas.
• 1846 – The Mexican-American War begins.
• 1847 – The United States Army occupies Mexico City.
• 1848 – The Mexican-American War ends with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The U.S. gains territory including California, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada.
• 1853 – Mexico sells portions of New Mexico and Arizona to the United States as part of the Gasden Purchase.
• 1857 – Santa Anna is exiled from Mexico.
• 1861 – The French invade Mexico and install Maximilian of Austria as president in 1864.
• 1867 – Benito Jaurez expels the French and becomes president.
• 1910 – The Mexican Revolution begins led by Emiliano Zapata.
• 1911 – President Porfirio Diaz, who ruled as dictator for 35 years, is overthrown and replaced with revolutionary Francisco Madero.
• 1917 – The Mexican Constitution is adopted.
• 1923 – Revolutionary hero and military leader Poncho Villa is assassinated.
• 1929 – The National Mexican Party is formed. It will later be named the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The PRI will rule the Mexican government until the year 2000.
The following is exerpt from Nicolas del Castillo, Great Neck, NY. NAHUATL: THE INFLUENCE OF SPANISH ON THE LANGUAGE OF THE AZTECS
he Spanish Conquest of Mexico in the 16th century was responsible for a cultural diffusion in the realm of linguistics. The contact of the conquistadors from the Iberian Peninsula with the indigenous people of what is now Mexico set conditions for the exchange of customs and traditions. One area of culture that served to shape cultural contact is in the field of language. The Spanish came into contact with Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. Dalby a writer of the Aztecs, gives a brief background explaining the origin of the Aztecs. He states (436) that Aztec intruders were in the Valley of Mexico in 1256. They founded Tenochtitlan in 1325, and began to expand their empire in the 15th century. Nahuatl was essential to Spanish conquerors and “Nahuatl continued to spread while some other languages died away” (Dalby, 436). Cultural exchanges between Spanish and Nahuatl speakers left neither language unaffected and speakers exchanged portions of their language with each other. An essential fact is that “[n]o distinction between the colonial language and that of today is more immediately apparent than the influence of Spanish” (Karttunen & Lockhart, xi). Groundbreaking examples of this are seen in the extensive usage of loanwords in Nahuatl, the syntactic structure of the language and other key linguistic patterns that can be traced back to the Conquest. Spanish brought by the conquistadors served as a catalyst for Nahuatl to undergo a major transformation like no other factor. Evidence of contact from other indigenous languages did not have nearly as much of influence as Spanish had on Nahuatl. Many elements of the Spanish language would radically transform Nahuatl. This is proven in the great gap between classical and modern Nahuatl early errors in recording keeping, and an inaccurate linguistic account of classical Nahuatl. The greatest factor responsible for the changes in the Nahuatl language throughout the colonial and into the modern era is the influence of Spanish.
I’m approving this due to the useful timeline. It is interpretive opinion and a matter of standpoint and identification, not fact, whether Santa Ana’s “greed” had anything to do with Mexico losing the war to the US. The historical consensus is that the US purposely went to war because it wanted the territory west of Texas whether that was moral or immoral, justified or unjustified, is also a matter of interpretation and standpoint. I’m not quite sure what you think you are demonstrating about language. Nobody in the world who knows anything about Spanish thinks that Mexican Spanish and Castilian are the same dialect, but that is just as irrelevant as pointing out that Americans do not speak the King’s English. That there were empires and wars among indigenous Americans before the Spanish arrived and that opposition to the Aztecs by the people they had conquered contributed to the Spanish victory is also well-known among educated people and is as relevant or irrelevant to interpreting the meaning of history as pointing out that the British colonized India and Ireland and treated both countries very badly, not to mention their behavior toward indigenous Americans. The Mexican national identity is generally built on the idea of “the rape,” the merger of Spanish conquerors and indigenous people, and at least 90% of Mexicans are indigenous. It is also true that indigenous people who refused Hispanization and whose first language is not Spanish remain a significant fraction (roughly a third) of the residents/citizens of Mexico and a substantial fraction of the people who have migrated from Mexico (or Central America) into the US.
I found this very helpful since I knew the CA Constitution had both Spanish and English versions, and did not realize it had been superseded by the 1878 Convention. I am working on my doctoral studies at this point on English exclusion as it affects dual immersion in CA and found this helpful background. Thank you!
By the way, my uncle’s family (Miramontes) had a Spanish land grant that was taken away in Northern CA.
This was a poorly constructed article that would fail the muster of a rudimentary course in Mexican-American History at a community college. First—
[[PO: What follows are claims that Mexico was a European nation that was a dictatorship, that Spanish-Mexicans sided with the Anglos, that European-Spanish Mexicans were genocidal toward Native people, and that I am an idiot. The comment is blurring Texas history and the later war of 1848. I have redacted the specific language as it is arguing against claims I did not make and I don’t feel like hosting those remarks.]]
NOTE from Pamela Oliver:This comment from Julio Chavazmontes is too long for a blog comment so I have pasted the full comment into a Google doc. I neither endorse nor reject the claims made by the author, that the annexation of Northern Mexico by the US was illegal, but the claims are relevant to the topic of this blog. Click here for the link to the full comment.
Here are the first few paragraphs of the comment:
On the 4th of July, 1848, President James Polk appeared before the United States Congress to initiate the procedures necessary to elevate the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to the rank of federal law, a process that culminated in 1850 when the U.S. Senate ratified it thus elevating it to the statute of a federal law of the United States under the Supremacy Clause (Art VI, clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution) as 9 Stat. 922.
In so doing, he unknowingly and unwillingly ensured that Guadalupe Hidalgo should remain actively in force until it would be either repealed or annulled.
Neither has happened hitherto.
Throughout 170 years, the old treaty has been invoked by plaintiffs in hundreds of lawsuits before U.S. tribunals, but no one has used it to defend Mexicans’ rights of residence and the right to return against governmental migratory policies and actions, which are contrary to article XXI of Guadalupe Hidalgo as well as contrary to International Law.
Some American analysts and authors sustain that there is nothing to be done about the United States’ conquest of California, New Mexico and Texas, “because that was the way thing were done in those days” thus, they confirm and endorse “the right of the strongest”.
Others have said that Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Mexican-American War are “a thing of the past”.
Both claims are wrong.
The American Conquest of California, New Mexico and Texas, falls under the “Jus Cogens” overriding rule whereby actions and treaties whose terms conflict with peremptory norms and principles of general International Law, are null and void.
In our case, nearly 40 million Mexicans currently endure the result of the American aggression and the ensuing violent conquest of California, New Mexico and Texas.
American presence in California, New Mexico and Texas is the direct result of a long planned aggressive war of conquest that culminated with the imposition of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to “legitimize” the robbery.
Mexicans currently residing in California, New Mexico and Texas are not illegal aliens but a people under foreign military occupation Mexicans who have traveled further north in pursuit of the livelihood that the American invasion took away from us, are not illegal but forced migrants according to the definitions of International Law they are displaced persons.
This book is not merely a historic exposition of long forgotten facts, but a legal argument about Mexico’s actual sovereignty over California, New Mexico and Texas based on applicable International Law (Jus Cogens), and on Guadalupe Hidalgo as a U.S. Federal Law, sustained by irrefutable documentary evidence.
Mexicans need no foreign visas to travel across Mexican territory.
The United States only title over those Mexican territories remains “the right of the strongest” (as denounced by Senator Thomas Corwin and confessed by President Polk himself).
Click here for the link to the full comment with the rest of the argument..
. . .
We must not allow this to continue happening anywhere we must follow President Clinton’s doctrine by confronting and as best we can, righting the terrible injustice of the past, because in fact, history has no statute of limitations. This is the only way we can truly put an end to the ongoing consequences of the American War on Mexico.
This is the only way to heal the open wound.
The Comeback River (ISBN 978-3-00-055991-4)
Great article and a lot of other interesting facts and opinions. I have read that the treaty of Hidalgo was reviewed for its legal validity and it was found to be valid. Since it was “acquired” though violence and the threat of future violence if a treaty was not signed, how is that valid under international law?
The Franco-Dutch War of 1672–78 was the source of all the other wars that were ended formally at Nijmegen. Separate peace treaties were arranged for conflicts like the Third Anglo-Dutch War and the Scanian War, but all of them had been directly caused by and form part of the Franco-Dutch War. England initially participated in the war on the French side but withdrew in 1674, after the Treaty of Westminster. The Electorate of Cologne left the war in 1674, while the Prince-Bishopric of Münster switched sides from France to join the anti-French coalition that year. Denmark-Norway also joined the anti-French side in 1675, primarily fighting against Sweden.
At the end of the Franco-Dutch and Scanian Wars, these were the belligerents:
The Treaty of Versailles and its Consequences
World War I had brought about unprecedented human suffering in European history. Whole societies of nearly every nation in the continent were either directly or indirectly affected by the war. Of the 60 million European soldiers who were mobilized from 1914 – 1918, 8 million were killed, 7 million were permanently disabled, and 15 million were seriously injured. 1 Germany lost 15.1% of its active male population, Austria-Hungry lost 17.1%, France lost 10.5%, and Britain lost 5.1%. 2 Not only were soldiers affected by the tragedies of the war, but civilians were affected also. It is estimated that approximately 5 million civilians died due to war-induced causes. The birth rate sharply declined during the war period as well. 3
Finally, on 11 November 1918, after four years of war, an armistice based on United States’ President Woodrow Wilson’s “Fourteen Points” was agreed to by Germany. The Treaty of Versailles, however, sharply differed from Wilson’s points, and Germany, who felt betrayed, denounced the treaty as “morally invalid.” 4 What made the post-war peace so difficult to attain, was not simply the terms themselves or the lack of enforcement. The political environment also has to be looked at as playing an important role in the inability of the Allies to forge a lasting peace. Henig argues that “the peace conference was held at a time of unprecedented political, social, economic and ideological upheaval. Any peace settlement would have to operate within highly unstable international and domestic environments… [and] this international instability made the attainment of a lasting peace so difficult.” 5
The goal following World War I was to restore European stability and maintain everlasting peace. However, these goals were recognized by all of the leaders as not easily achievable. French Prime Minister Clemenceau commented on the day the armistice was signed on 11 November 1918, “We have won the war: now we have to win the peace, and it may be more difficult.” 6 The French politician Marshal Foch, as the Versailles Treaty was being signed, stated rather prophetically, “This is not peace it is an armistice for 20 years.” 7
Indeed, Foch was absolutely correct. The Versailles Treaty did little to shape any sort of long-term peace from the results of World War I. Instead, the treaty, hastily put together, was vague, exposed the Allies’ inability to cooperate toward an agreement, and fueled German nationalism from resentment over her treatment by the Allies in the treaty. Hobsbawm argues that “the Versailles settlement could not possibly be the basis of a stable peace. It was doomed from the start, and another war was practically certain.” 8 The principle reasons for the failure of the Treaty of Versailles to establish a long-term peace include the following: 1) the Allies disagreed on how best to treat Germany 2) Germany refused to accept the terms of reparations and 3) Germany’s refusal to accept the “war-guilt” clause, Article 231, led to growing German resentment and nationalism.
The Versailles Peace Conference exposed the ideological rift growing between the Allies. Throughout Versailles and After, Henig argues that Britain and France had “contradictory viewpoints” 9 regarding the treatment of Germany. While public opinions of both nations were strongly in favor of seeing Germany pay to the fullest extent, only France saw Germany as a potential threat to the future security of European stability. Thus, while Britain saw Germany as a “barrier-fortress against the Russians” 10 and an economically strong nation with which to engage in international trade, the French viewed Germany as a threat to French security. France feared that not levying harsh enough penalties upon Germany would only make her stronger and she would eventually rise up against France in revenge. So while the British felt that the Treaty of Versailles was too harsh on Germany, France felt as though it were not harsh enough.
One aspect to deal with was German disarmament. Kitchen explains that “there was general agreement that Germany should be disarmed but considerable differences about how this should best be achieved.” 11 Eventually, the Allies came to an agreement regarding the new state of the German military. The German navy was to be limited to 15,000 officers and men, six battleships, six light cruisers, twelve destroyers, and twelve torpedo boats meanwhile, the army was to be restricted to 100,000 men who would be obliged to enlist for twelve years. 12 The preamble of the military section of the treaty with Germany suggests that Germany was to be disarmed “in order to render possible the initiation of a general limitation of the armaments of all nations.” 13 This is all well and good, except the Germans never abided by this part of the treaty. One of the most crucial omissions of this section was the absence of time limits, which undoubtedly worked in Germany’s favor. 14 No one could possibly expect Germany to be disarmed forever. The treaty, however, offered no hint as to how long the disarmament should last. This, therefore, was one of the parts of the treaty that Germany continually abused and disobeyed out of bitterness.
As it appeared that Germany would not abide by the disarmament policy for good, France began to worry, and for good reason. They had been unable to secure an alliance with Britain or the United States. Britain’s military budget had taken severe cuts and her government was more interested in securing her extra-European overseas colonies than in aiding her intra-European allies, such as France. Britain, unlike France, never seriously expected Germany to become a threat to the peace effort. 15 But there was the looming threat: “the Treaty of Versailles had left [Germany] largely intact, with a population almost double that of France, and with no powerful east European neighbours.” 16
Negotiations regarding the territorial claims also sparked heated debate among the Allies. In fact, the entire peace conference almost ended early when France began to demand that an independent Rhineland and Saar come under French occupation. While France argued that she wanted the western German frontier to end at the Rhine for security reasons, British Prime Minister Lloyd George feared that this would most likely result in a future conflict between the two states. 17 Henig puts the situation best by saying, “While the British government saw 66 million potential German customers, the French government trembled at the prospect of 66 million German soldiers and possible invaders.” 19 France and her Allies eventually came to a painful compromise that the Rhineland would be occupied by Allied troops for 15 years and free of German forces for an unspecified period of time.
Another issue of significant note is how the Allies dealt with the war reparations that Germany owed. One of the major questions regarding the reparations was the following: should Germany be held accountable for what she owed to the Allies or should she be held accountable for what she could afford to pay? But even answering these questions became difficult to answer. For instance, for how much was Germany accountable? Was Germany to pay for all of the damage assessed? And how was the damage assessed? Were the damages to include government costs such as war pensions? France felt that Germany should “cover the costs of restoration of invaded territories and repayment of war debts [and that] a long period of stiff repayments … would have the added advantage of keeping Germany financially and economically weak.” 19 Britain, on the other hand, was concerned with the revival of international trade and knew that if Germany was heavily in debt with the Allied Powers, she would not be able to purchase British goods in sufficient quantities. 20 Because of all of the ambiguities involving the war reparations, an exact monetary figure owed by the Germans to the Allies was never included in the Treaty of Versailles.
For Germany, the terms of reparations eventually arrived at by the Reparations Committee were unacceptable. The German delegates viewed the economic sanctions as being far too harsh. The final telegraphed communication from the German National Assembly to the Allies in Versailles stated, “The government of the German Republic in no wise abandons its conviction that these conditions of peace represent injustice without example.” 21 The British economist John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1920 The Economic Consequences of the Peace in which he argues that the German economy would be destroyed by the post-war Versailles Treaty. Kitchen claims that according to Keynes, “a series of treaties which overlooked the really important issues of economic recovery, food, fuel, and finance would further exacerbate the situation.” 22 The fact of the matter is that Germany never felt as though they were defeated in World War I. Therefore, they had a hard time accepting the fact that they should have to pay for anything. Keynes’ work provided German supporters with all the arguments they needed against the reparations and reconstruction efforts of the Versailles Treaty.
Keynes refers to the economic terms as “outrageous and impossible.” 23 France, who pushed for harsher German punishment and reparation levels more than any other Allied Power, wanted the reparations to seriously cripple the German state. Sally Marks in The Illusion of Peace states that the treatment of reparations by both sides was “the continuation of war by other means. … Reparations became the chief battleground of the post-war era, the focus of power between France and Germany over whether the Versailles Treaty was to be enforced or revised.” 24 But were the reparations really so economically damaging? Or was that a farce created by Keynes and supported by the German government who wished to avoid further punishment and humiliation? This will be discussed more in upcoming pages.
Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles, which laid the blame for World War I solely on the shoulders of Germany, remains to this day a subject of intense emotional debate among Germans:
The Allied and Associated Governments affirm and Germany accepts the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage to which the Allied and Associated Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany and her allies.
Henig argues that “this clause, known as the ‘war-guilt’ clause, more than any other in the entire Treaty of Versailles, was to cause lasting resentment in Germany.” 25 The Treaty presented to the German delegates at Versailles was a harsh break from the promise of a treaty based on Wilson’s “Fourteen Points.” The Germans felt betrayed by the treaty presented to them and resented the manner in which the Allied Powers were treating them. Because of this seemingly harsh treatment, “every party in Germany, from the Communists on the extreme left to Hitler’s National Socialists on the extreme right, concurred in condemning the Versailles Treaty as unjust and unacceptable.” 26 As James argues, Versailles was indeed “the unifying bracket that clamped German politics together.” 27
Thus, the war-guilt clause and the reparations demanded from Germany did little more than to add fuel to the fire that was growing German resentment and nationalism. Hobsbawm even goes as far to say that the war-guilt clause “proved to be a gift to German nationalism.” 28 Marks argues that “the peace left Germany both powerful and resentful.” 29 It is quite possible, in fact, that German was actually more powerful in 1919 than she was in 1914, especially if one takes into account the deep-seated feelings of resentment that she housed toward her enemies, especially France and Britain.
Despite Germany’s claim that the terms of the treaty were far too harsh, most historians today agree that the terms, in fact were “relatively lenient.” 30 Henig alludes to this earlier in her book, when she concludes that “the Treaty of Versailles was not excessively harsh on Germany. … It deprived her of about 13.5% of her territory, 13% of her economic productivity and about 7 million [or 10%] of her inhabitants.” 31 Theoretically, the Allies could have dealt Germany much harsher blows. Then again, unable to effectively enforce this treaty, a harsher one would not have been able to lead Europe any closer to peace.
As Foch predicted, the Versailles Treaty was indeed only a 20 year armistice for the European powers. The inability of the Allies to agree on how to deal with Germany, the main war-time aggressor, led to her regain of economic and political strength in the 1920s and 30s. The Second World War, which broke out in 1939, was waged by Germany against the Allies to exact revenge and to finish what could not be completed by World War I. Mazower refers to World War II as “a bloody reopening of accounts by extreme nationalists wishing to revise the Versailles settlement by force.” 32 The Germans had always resented the terms and conditions of the treaty. Now, with the onset of World War II, Hitler appeared to their chance at avenging the wrongdoings set in place by the peace negotiations twenty years earlier.
Thus, the Treaty of Versailles failed to bring about everlasting European stability and peace for which the Allied Powers’ governments had hoped. The treaty was put together in haste and the Germans refused to sign it because it treated them, or at least they thought so, too harshly in light of what they had been promised (i.e. a mild treaty resembling Wilson’s “Fourteen Points”). For years afterwards, the Allies and Germany struggled through revision after revision of the treaty until the treaty could bend no more in 1939, with the outbreak of World War II as Germany invaded Poland.
What stopped the Treaty of Versailles from ever approaching success, however, was not the terms of the treaty, argues Henig, but rather the reluctance to enforce the terms by the Allies. They were naïve to assume that Germany would cooperate with the treaty terms by themselves. “Thus within a year of the peace conference, the victorious alliance which had defeated Germany and negotiated a set of peace terms had crumbled away. It was this critical collapse, rather than the provisions of the peace terms themselves, which ensured that the Treaty of Versailles was never fully accepted or enforced. Negotiations at the peace conference exposed the divisions between the victorious powers and opened the rifts.” 33 The Allies were strong enough to win the war, but not strong enough to secure the peace.
Revision after revision, therefore could not fix what was doomed to failure. In 1939, the Versailles Treaty was proved to be an ultimate failure as the World War continued after the 20-year armistice.
Image: The Signing of Peace in the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles, 28th June 1919 © IWM (Art.IWM ART 2856) | Image Link
- M. Kitchen, Europe Between the Wars (New York: Longman, 2000), p. 22.
- ibid., p. 23.
- R. Henig, Versailles and After: 1919 – 1933 (London: Routledge, 1995), p. 67.
- ibid., p. 69.
- ibid., p.31.
- ibid., p. 52.
- E. Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes (New York: Vintage Books, 1996), p. 34.
- Henig, p. 1.
- ibid., pp.8-9.
- Kitchen, p. 8.
- Henig, p. 19.
- ibid., p. 43.
- ibid., p. 52.
- ibid., p. 23.
- ibid., p. 70.
- ibid., p. 20.
- A.M. Luckau, The German Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference (New York: Columbia University Press, 1941), p. 112.
- Kitchen, p. 1.
- Henig, p. 50.
- ibid., p. 63.
- ibid., p. 21.
- Hobsbawm, p. 36.
- H. James, Weimar: Why did German Democracy Fail?
- ibid., p. 98.
- Henig, p. 59.
- ibid., p. 61.
- ibid., p.30
- M. Mazower, Dark Continent (New York: Vintage Books, 2000), p. 212.
- Henig, p. 31.
Dawson, William Harbutt. Germany under the Treaty (New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1933).
Henig, Ruth. Versailles and After: 1919 – 1933 (London: Routledge, 1995).
Henig provides a very thorough account of the Treaty of Versailles and the development of the League of Nations. She argues here that the reluctance to enforce the treaty, rather than the treaty terms themselves, was the main cause of the treaty’s failure.
Hobsbawm, Eric. The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914 – 1991 (New York: Vintage Books, 1996).
Keynes, John Maynard. The Economic Consequences of the Peace (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Howe, 1920).
Keynes is sympathetic with Germany and calls for the Allies to revise the Versailles Treaty to be less harsh on German’s economy. Keynes forecasted that the reparations terms would crush the German economy.
Kitchen, Martin. Europe Between the Wars (London: Longman, 2000).
A very well organized material on the inter-war period in Europe.
Luckau, Alma Maria. The German Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference (New York: Columbia University Press, 1941).
Marks, Sally. The Illusion of Peace: International Relations in Europe, 1918 – 1933 (London, 1976).
Marks argues that it is incredible that the Treaty of Versailles came out as well as it did, considering the circumstances.
Mazower, Mark. Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century (New York: Vintage Books, 2000).