Discuss the Racial Stereotypes of Mexicans That Underpinned Manifest Destiny
Looking at the general subtext of the manifest Destiny, it seems that its legitimacy was built on the backs of the typical Mexican stereotype. Although many historians argue that the manifest Destiny was actually underpinned by strong forces of nationalism and the aspiration to spread a democratic system others believe that the Mexican stereotype was severely limited. Racial stereotypes included racial inferiority of the Mexican peoples themselves, being religiously incorrect. It was such limitations of the Mexicans that seemed to sanction the Anglo-American’s almost the right, under the divine leading of God to apply their expansionist polices, pushing for Mexican territory such as Texas.
Anglo-Americans used various racial stereotype strategies to influence the Mexicans but the Mexicans successfully underpinned Manifest Destiny.
Puritan culture was so influential and persistent that it impacted American culture and Catholicism to a higher extent. Most Americans embraced puritan culture after the whites decided to conquer and Christianize the land with their idea of establishing a “city on a hill”. City on a hill later secularized into Manifest Destiny which was a covetous, spiritual, perfect destiny. Khalaf (2012, p.48-49) asserts that puritans’ impact forms part of America’s psyche and therefore cannot be overlooked because they influenced religion, work and education. Puritan existence charmingly summed up religion and further induced the predestination doctrine that drove them to work towards the eternal life.
Puritans believed that their religion was superior and that they would conquer any territory with their doctrines after they left England for not agreeing to support the monarch. Puritanism later became a ruling class and whoever did not fall within their system was sidelined. Their government included religious exclusiveness was known for their discriminatory practices. The ruling Puritans formed rules which ensured that they dominated Mexico in such a way that whoever did not conform to the rules was regarded as a lesser citizen. Puritans introduced a rich Christian mythology and took themselves as the chosen people greatly influenced America both politically, socially and economically (Khalaf 2012, p. 48-49).
Anti-Catholicism is one of the obstinate traditions of paranoiac distress that has ever happened in Mexico. The issue initially began in U.K and it was derived from the heritage of the protestant Reformation as well as religious wars which included anti-Catholic propaganda for a number of political and dynastic reasons. Barton (2006, p. 116-117) explains that protestants were trying to correct what they perceived as errors in the catholic doctrine and practices. There was another feeling by Protestants that Catholics were extinguishing Mexican culture. Puritans were just not pleased with the Catholicism and they felt that their doctrine and practices were superior and even more Godly than the Catholics. Actually, these Protestants greatly spearheaded the nativist movement. However, puritans’ efforts to convert Mexicans to Protestants did not bear much fruits because of the great resistance from the Catholics (Barton 2006, p. 116-117).
In the 19th century, most Americans used Jesus’ metaphor to destroy or make many cities and states without referencing Winthrop’s creating “a city on a hill”. Americans seem to have manipulated this metaphor especially in their foreign and domestic policies and even interfering with other nations. Manifest destiny played a consequential role in U.S relations with Mexico and it was by that time that republic of Texas declared independence from Mexico. The American government was trying to extend their territory (Wright 2010, p. 83-87). Mexico was not impressed by the fact that Texas wanted to join America. Newly independent states were supposed to request to join United States instead of U.S extending her territory to people who did not want. However, this annexation was disputed since it would lead to additional slave state but President Jackson and Van Buren refused the idea of Texas joining U.S since slavery would have divided the Democratic Party. All the Presidential candidates who were opposed to annexation of Texas, Henry Clay and Van Buren were dropped in favor of Polk who supported the annexation.
Polk seemed to favor regional compromise on expansion and focused mostly on Texas in his Southern expansion agenda. He acted as if he was elected in the office to facilitate expansion because he also promoted the occupation of Oregon. He therefore took part of Mexico that had showed their interest although this region was still belonged to Mexico thus causing the Mexican-American war in 1846. Fortunately, America succeeded and there was an idea proposed to take all of the Mexico as a way of promoting peace within the region. This brought lots of controversy since the unwavering supporters of manifest destiny such as John L. O’Sullivan felt that this was an act of forced expansion by America hence, an abuse of the principle (Majewski 2010, p. 142-144).
Aspect of manifest destiny particularly for racial reasons would make this move unfair. It was felt that this move would mean that the Indian race, whose population is very high, would be incorporated with the Caucasian race. Gerstle (2010, p.114-115) explains that during that time Mexicans could not be assimilated due to their culture and morals which was different from Caucasian race. Some also argued that Mexicans would impose threat to the integrity of the Caucasian race although this was against manifest destiny. It was argued that Mexicans were not worth of becoming Americans as this could have been the case if Mexico was taken by United States.
However, “mission”, which was one of the components of the manifest destiny, asserted that Mexicans would have improved because being part of America would mean adopting American democracy. Identitarianism which was basically used to enhance manifest destiny was used to resist the “All Mexico” plan thus opposing manifest destiny. People who supported the annexation of “All Mexico” argued that it was an anti-slavery measure but the controversy later ended with the Mexican Cession.
Inferiority of the Mexicans
Montejano (1987, p. 231-233) issues regarding Mexican inferiority originated from the challenges they faced and could not be sustained by physical force alone but also depended on segregated order. Diverse reactions from the Mexicans arose regarding the concept of Anglo supremacy as well as Mexican inferiority. Beginning 19th century, there was transfer of Anglo-Saxon controlled worldview by the Caucasian Americans who believed in the inferiority of other races such as Mexicans and blacks. They took other races as obstruction to advancement and they largely included this in their arguments. Mexicans were regarded as lazy, slow people with low mental capacity thus making the Mexican race ideal for monotonous physical labor.
It is apparent that Americans largely defined their cultural heritage by adopting Anglo Saxon mythology which considered the whites from the Northern European origin as the superior and noble race. The white race was considered as the real children of Adam thus making other races inferior by divine will. Although this notion was initially meant for Indian and black races, it was transferred to Mexico since they did not share their (Whites) interest. This was intended to justify expulsion of Mexicans by the white settlers and investors (Wright 2010, p. 83-87).
Montejano (1987, p. 231-233) explains that every Mexican who stood on the Caucasians’ way of southern expansion was depicted as mongrel race that were impure. Americans were convinced that they had a god given land that extended from the east throughout to the west coast. The U.S then decided to engage Mexico into war so that they would take their land and the debate regarding the war was marred with racism. Kyriakides & Torres (2012, p. 72-73) posits that the victory of the Mexican-American war in 1848 strengthened the Mexicans inferiority and catalyzed the emerging form of racial doctrine.
Most of the Mexicans were uneducated and very poor. The only job they could do was farming and other hard labors. However, increase in Mexicans’ population in America baffled the U.S thus forcing them to find measures of evicting them. They feared that the inferior race would mingle with Caucasians. Typically, idea of referring to human being as either alien or inferior is mostly instigated by the people in great power and authority (Majewski 2010, p. 142-144). All the issues regarding inferior Mexicans starting from occupying the Mexican land was started by politicians, both presidents and senators. For instance, Jefferson’s notions of the racial differences resembles Social Darwinism [extension of Christianity] which was incorporated to defend the legitimacy of the Mexican American War “survival of the fittest” and those who survived “natural conflict” was what God wanted. Jefferson used scientific theory to bolster racism and argued that non-whites did not descend from Adam and were therefore entitled to dissimilar standard of treatment (Kyriakides & Torres 2012, p. 72-73).
Looking at the evidence in retrospect, it seemed that the Mexican racial stereotype did underpin the manifest destiny. Mexicans succeeded in resisting and underpinning the Americans who believed in the force of Manifest Destiny. Even after the Mexican defeat it seemed that the Caucasian race was split due to emerging capitalist system that arose outside and inside the European states. The Americans seemed to play on what they interpreted as wrong, backward and inferior concerning the Mexicans (Molina 2011, p. 1024-1026). Despite man historians claiming that the manifest destiny was in the best interest of both cultures (Anglos and the Mexicans) it seemed that overall; most historians see such an ethic more to do with the personal aggrandizement of the growing country of America. Manifest Destiny was an irrational argument that was intended legitimate of white privilege. Mexicans succeed amongst the whites did in stopping the capitalist expansion by exposing the assumption that there was internal cohesiveness.
Barton, P 2006, Hispanic Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists in Texas, Austin, University Of Texas Press.
Gerstle, G 2010, “Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Immigrant Political Incorporation: The American Experience”, International Labor and Working Class History, vol. 78, no. 1, pp. 110-117.
Khalaf, S 2012, Protestant Missionaries in the Levant: Ungodly Puritans, 1820-1860, London, Routledge.
Kyriakides, C., & Torres, D 2012, Race Defaced Paradigms of Pessimism, Politics of Possibility, Stanford, California, Stanford University Press.
Majewski, J 2010, “Mastering America: Southern Slaveholders and the Crisis of American Nationhood”, Southern Quarterly, vol. 48, no. 1, pp. 142-145,161.
Molina, N 2011, “Borders, Laborers, and Racialized Medicalization: Mexican Immigration and US Public Health Practices in the 20th Century”, American Journal of Public Health, vol. 101, no. 6, pp. 1024-31.
Montejano, D 1987, Anglos and Mexicans in the Making Of Texas, 1836-1986, Austin, University Of Texas Press.
Wright, G 2010, “The Theoretical and Ideological Underpinnings of U.S. Propaganda in Latin America: A Critical Assessment”, Global Media Journal, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 83-n/a.