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Journal ArticleDOI

Reverberations of Racial Violence: Critical Reflections on the History of the Border

01 Mar 2023-The Journal of American History (The Journal of American History)-Vol. 109, Iss: 4, pp 930-931
TL;DR: In the early 20th century, hundreds if not thousands of ethnic Mexicans were killed in Texas, and many were executed by the Texas Rangers as discussed by the authors , and these state-sanctioned murders were not simply random acts of violence; they were instrumental in the making of Texas and in the integration of Texas into the United States.
Abstract: Mexican Americans have a “hidden history” of being lynched in the United States (p. 211). As this anthology reveals, between 1910 and 1920, hundreds if not thousands of ethnic Mexicans were killed in Texas, and many were executed by the Texas Rangers. These state-sanctioned murders were not simply random acts of violence. This violence was instrumental in the making of Texas and in the integration of Texas into the United States. During the early twentieth century, thousands of land-hungry white Americans migrated to Texas, but the best lands were already held by Tejano families. As the price of land soared with the arrival of the railroads and commercial agriculture, Tejanos came under siege. Through legal challenges, intimidation, and white vigilantism, Tejanos lost their lands. In Cameron and Hidalgo Counties alone, Tejanos lost more than 180,000 acres (p. 254). Ethnic Mexicans who resisted dispossession and those who engaged in banditry were conflated as “wetback” outlaws. Anglos dealt with them by calling on Rangers such as Frank Hamer. Known as “the Angel of death,” the six-foot-three-inch 230-pound Hamer killed his first man at age sixteen (pp. 14, 163). Between 1915 and 1916, roaming bands of Rangers and their allies killed three hundred Mexicans (p. 255). During the Mexican Revolution, Rangers suspected Mexicans in Porvenir of helping revolutionary bandits, so they carried out one of the largest lynchings in U.S. history, killing fifteen Mexican men and boys (p. 95).