Racialized Mexican-Americans of the 1840s

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As part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ending the Mexican American War, the United States government accepted the Mexicans who lived at that time within the territory of the Southwest and guaranteed them “the enjoyment of all rights of citizens” as they would be "incorporated into the Union of the United States" (Professor, 2013). Within a year of the Treaty’s ratification, however, the reality set in distinguishing that population as “others” instituting significant racialization suppressions. 

The distinguishing factors separating the Mexican-Americans from American citizens was, in essence, the ability for those people to pass as white. Immigrants from Spain who had not bred with the local Indians were considered the elite of that population and allowed to exercise their rights as American citizens, including the privilege of owning land. Conversely, the people with mixed blood, whether the blood was African, Indian or Spanish, were classified as inferiors and had much of their rights as American citizens stripped away, including the privilege of owning land. The Mexicans of African and Indian mix lost their homes and property, while the Californian Mexican-Indians lost their lands and were relocated to reservations. 

Spaniards were able, for the large part, to resist political domination as the pureblood Spaniards who travelled between the Americas and Spain were the office holders for the Mexican-American government. As each successive generation came into power, the Spaniards maintained the pureness of their culture and, while maintaining the cultural practices which made them unique, married into the white population leaving the Indian and African blood lines to serve as subservient residents (Parrillo, 2009).


Parrillo, V. N. (2009). Diversity in America. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.

Professor. (2013). Discrimination against non-white people within the United States. Class Discussion.