Assessing the West During the Second Industrial Revolution

Immigration Theory

• The “push-pull” theory holds that the migrating population is “pulled” into the receiving country while being “pushed” out of the country of origin.

– Origins of Theory:

• “Push” Mexican Revolution stirrings by 1910

• “Pull” Second Industrial Revolution in the U.S.

• This lecture will provide evidence demonstrating how investors lured immigrants into U.S. employment, but it will also show that investors wanted to create the perception that migrant labors, and more specifically Mexican Americans, were all immigrants. Why might the status quo want to perpetuate an immigrant identity for one particular ethnic group?

• Proponents of this theory argue the “push” factors in the country of origin are directly linked to the investments made by global capitalism, often represented by the receiving country.

– In the case of Mexican migration, scholars argue United States’ investment in Mexico effects the country in ways that promote migration; rather than improving conditions, the investment weakens Mexicans desire to remain in Mexico.

Immigration Theory

Why is it better to go than to stay?

Population is displaced by foreign investment

Population DECIDES

better to go than to stay


Population sees new

opportunity  pulled

Second Industrial Revolution: In Brief

• Pacific Railway Bill (1862)

– Lincoln offered government funded land grants to private

investors to build the transcontinental railroad.

– By 1869, the Central Pacific and Union Pacific were

joined together in Promontory, Utah.

Second Industrial Revolution: In Brief

• Immediate Effects of the Railroad:

– The railroad increased property values

– stimulated local mining interests

– increased Anglo settlement and Mexican

transmigration patterns

– collapsed old transportation industries, such as


– created new ones dependent upon the United

States banking system, thereby devaluing the peso.

Southern Pacific Rail • The Southern Pacific entered El Paso in 1881

and linked to the Mexican Central by 1884.

Laboring on the Railroads

• Ex-soldiers and Irish immigrants labored on the

Transcontinental Railroad; they worked from the East.

• (90%) Chinese immigrants imported from China strictly

as labor by private investors with the railroad, however,

some may have already been in the United States from

the lure of the California gold rush.

• Chinese laborers were asked to step aside.

• Private US investors worked with Porfirio Diaz, dictator of

Mexico, to fund railroads in northern Mexico.

• These lines connected Tombstone, El Paso, San Antonio,

and Laredo in the United States to Nogales, Guadalajara,

and Cananea in Mexico allowing easy transportation in

and out of the country to migrant workers recruited by US

• Mexican laborers were recruited, along with the Chinese, Irish, Greek, and Italian population, to work on railroad maintenance. For many Mexicans in northern Mexico, the railroad made it easier to reach US employment opportunities, than those in the interior of Mexico. Mexican railroad workers were the predominant labor force as far east as Chicago.

Opportunities on the Railroad

Opportunities on the Railroad

• Mexicans rarely gained skilled positions, such as engineer, or conductor, but they made up 85% of the work gangs responsible for laying ties and leveling roads. Between 1907-1920, Mexicans remained the lowest paid ethnic group among maintenance workers.

• Railroad development suffered from lack of efficiency—the result of private investors laying track with differing equipment from peers— keeping labor demands high.

• Low pay was justified by

employers based on:

– Language limitations

– Difficulty of Mexican population to

work in harsh winter weather

– Irregular shop attendance (not

consuming local products)

– Lack of ambition

– Temporary status

– Drinking after payday

Employers Rationale

Nativism & Chinese Exclusion Act

• Increased settlement along the Pacific Coast reduced

job opportunities and led to depression of wages.

• Low wages and lack of success by labor organizers led

to an eruption of riots and violence against the Chinese,

often blamed because they refused to strike.

– Chinese workers feared that striking would result in


• Congress reacted to labor concerns

with the Chinese Exclusion Act

(1882); this policy forbid US entry to

Chinese immigrants unless they

were professionals or students.

Shuttling Workers: Nogales to Tucson

• Mining was the backbone of Mexico dating back to

Spanish colonization in the 1530s.

• Nogales was the major copper mining city in

Sonora, thereby producing a wealthier, more

educated upper class of Spanish elites.

– Nogales functioned as a recruitment city, but also a

portal for early chain migration to the US

– Chain migration is when one family member

immigrates, gets settled and finds employment,

then calls on other family members to migrate too.

Mineral Resources Drive Economy

• While gold discoveries at John Sutter’s mill in California brought miners flocking to the region, copper proved to be as valuable and in greater quantities.

• Copper was necessary for electrical wiring, which was revolutionizing the East by 1880.

Exclusion from Mineral Rights

• While many Mexican American landowners held

property rights to copper and gold mines, most were

unable to benefit from their mineral rights or were

overshadowed by larger investors.

• In California, state congressmen attacked Chinese and

Mexican laborers with the Foreign Miner’s Tax,

creating an obstacle to limit their participation. Mexican

American miners were assumed to be FOREIGNERS.

• When gold was discovered in Lynx Creek, Az a local

Anglo politician passed a law stating “no Mexicans

shall have the right to buy, take up, or preempt a

claim on this river or in this district for the term of

six months.”

Copper Queen Mining Company

• Copper discoveries in Bisbee, Az were exploited by

Anglo investors who were able to obtain financial

support from the Bank of Arizona, establishing Copper

Queen Mining, which outpaced local Mexican copper

mine owners. • Anglo investors had

access to credit with the

local banking institutions,

making it possible to

finance the advanced

technological equipment

necessary for maximizing

production and profits.

Copper Queen Mining Company

• Rapid expansion of mining industry increased demand for cheap labor, resolved with Mexican importation. However, competition for work did increase ethnic tensions.

• Company housing and work gangs were segregated to limit conflict.

• However, early refusal to include Mexican miners in unions made Europeans protests for higher wages impossible.

• Housing varied region to region. In Tulsa, tent cities

were created for Mexican work gangs. In Santa Fe

city investors supplied laborers with scrap metal and

second-hand materials for use in building a

shantytown. Occasionally workers were housed in

boxcars, or lived in dugouts.

• Camps like the one

in the photo were

designed to provide

employers with easy

access to laborers.

Examination of Housing Conditions

• Labor organizations such as the Western Federation of Miners restricted Mexican participation. In 1903 the union gained a legal victory when the Arizona legislature agreed to reduce the underground labor day to eight hours, which had a negative effect on Mexican miners who needed to work 10-12 hours per day to make ends meet.

Company Guards at Old Dominion Mine, 1917

• Mining necessitated fortifications to protect investment – Increased soldiers added new demands for beef, stimulating

the ranching industry for Anglo ranchers who were able to obtain government contracts, but depressing business for Mexicans.

Concerns of Indian attack on businesses were resolved with

resettlement of the Apache and Calvary-led massacres, such

as the Chivington Massacre, which resulted in the execution

of 700+ Cheyenne and Arapaho in the Santa Fe region.

The Little Lion of the Southwest

• Landowning Mexicans, especially in

the Arizona region, were united with

Anglos in their effort to contain the


• During the Civil War, Manuel

Chaves rode with Col. Chivington

and Union forces stomping out pro-

Confederate factions at the Battle

of Glorieta Pass, but was known

among elite Hispanos for his fierce

bravery in fighting Indians.

Railroad Transforms the Southwest

• Prior to the Railroad muleteers shipped products and merchandise along the southwest border.

• While the railroad did provide resources cheaper and faster, its development eliminated an entire field of employment for Mexican Americans, most notably Estaván Ochoa, considered King of the freighting industry. His business extended all the way to Kansas.

• The Southern Pacific

transported goods from Yuma

to Tucson at the rate of 1.5¢

per pound and took only one

day to deliver, whereas a

muleteer charged 5.5-14¢ per

pound and took 20 days.

Railroad Transforms the Southwest

• Military fortifications increased demand for beef and agricultural products. In response, advertisement for job opportunities and journalistic comments such as, “Mexicans are plentiful, generally peaceable, and are satisfied with very low social conditions,” fed into the push- pull transmigration pattern of the border population.

– Cattle Ranching Boom

– California fruit and vegetable expansion

– Cotton plantation growth in TexasMississippi

– Sugar-beet production in Colorado

– Lumber yards, Railroad, and mines of the Northwest

Struggle for Resources: Range Wars

• Joseph Glidden’s invention of barbed wire transformed the “open range” ranching system of the southwest.

• Traditionally, sheep and cattle were free to graze, but branded and “driven” by a team of ranch hands, or vaqueros.

Struggle for Resources: Range Wars

• Fencing in grazing land intensified ethnic feuds and led to fence cutting and trespassing by those needing water access.

• As communal land grants were denied, and the land sold, savvy Anglos obtained the land and starved out their Mexican competitors.

• Gustavas Swift’s invention of the refrigerated railcar did weaken Mexican cattle ranchers because Anglo businessmen were able to broker shipping deals.

Struggle for Resources: Range Wars

• The Lincoln County War was the

most serious range war, occurring

between two Anglo cattle-ranchers

competing for resources and a

government contract to supply beef

to the local military fort.

– Newspapers spun the affair as a

race war, focusing less on the

landowners and more on the two

principle antagonists, Juan

Patrón and Billy the Kid.

Newlands Reclamation Act • By 1902 the US government sponsored an irrigation

development program to assist struggling

homesteaders in healthy farm development.

– Dams, like the Roosevelt Dam, were created

– Water was rerouted…sometimes away from

traditional Mexican communities.

• Desert Land Act offered 640 acres (free) to anyone

willing to invest their own money in community

irrigation projects.

• Result: massive commercial agriculture, or bonanza

farms, developed in regions with healthy climates.

Cotton & Campesinos

• Importation of Mexican laborers by companies like the Arizona Cotton Growers Association for cotton production was designed to ensure wages remained low and competition for employment high following the Civil War.

• As the Western Federation of Miners strengthened, Mexicans were forced out of the mines, but found ready work in the cotton fields.

Map: Darkest regions represent higher concentration of cotton.

Labor Camps and the Contractista

• The labor camps provided rudimentary shelter, with

little to no sanitation, and were breeding grounds for

disease, however, they did bring camaraderie.

• The labor camps also functioned as a recruitment

center for contractistas, contract employers.

Following the end of the cotton harvest, laborers

followed contractors to other regions, such as

California, for grape or tomato harvesting.

• Cotton production, from clearing the land to harvest day, lasted seven months. Campesinos, or farm workers, lived in labor camps near the ranch or on the border of the city.

Contractista Process

• Businessmen pay contractor to complete the harvesting of

crops (contractor is not paid to hire workers).

– The contractor hires campesinos from a camp, pays

them a wage, minus 25% to be paid upon completion

of the job.

• However, the contractor did not pay fairly and

avoided paying the last lump sum.

– Wages are siphoned: campesinos were paid according

to weight of sack, which could be altered on the scale

or declared heavy due to wet cotton.

– Food or shelter provided by the contractor was

deducted from worker’s wages, giving the contractor

great leverage.

– The contractor could abandon the fields before paying.

Workers at a California grape


Labor Camps and the Contractista

• Worker’s Lacked Bargaining Power to Fight the Contractista system: – Workers who protested high fees of contractor

or weak cotton payments were blackballed, or expelled from the fields.

– Continued protest could result in threats of deportation.

– Worker’s could not hold the property owner accountable because the businessman did not hire them…no connection, no contract.

• Any group of people migrating for work is made more vulnerable by the fact that they are not surrounded by support structures, i.e. family, community, friends, known legal systems.

Cotton & Intra-Migration Patterns

• Unlike other options in the agricultural sector, harvesting cotton was something everyone in the family could do, therefore many migrants sought work in this field at least part of the year.

Entertainment for Workers

• Lydia Mendoza “la

cancionera de los


– Travelled to farms to play

music for laborers

– recognized as one of

America’s great roots

music singers.

– recipient of the National

Heritage Award and

National Medal of the Arts

Populist Party Exclusion

• Small farmers and sharecroppers blamed Mexican

laborers for broader problems of overproduction,

keeping wages low, etc.

• Populist Party developed in the 1890s, representing

farming concerns at the national level.

– Pushed for government funded warehouses, silver

currency, popular election of senators, regulation of

the railroad, and protection for property owners.

– However, just like the labor unions, farm organizations

viewed Mexicans as part of the problem.

• Institutional Racism: Scholars have noted that isolation of labor camps and exclusion from labor unions, etc. made acculturation impossible for Mexican Americans.

Sugar Beet Production

• In the early 1890s Hawaii, which had been the

primary sugar producing region, elected to

nationalize the sugar industry and kick out the

US sugar imperialists.

– Attempts were made to overthrow the Queen, but

President Cleveland did not approve. However, by

the late 1890s, President McKinney sought to

annex Hawaii, but not before putting new pressure

on the country but cutting off sugar imports.

• Dingley Tariff of 1897 raised the tax on imported

sugar, resulting in rapid domestic growth and new

pressure to provide labor.

Sugar Beet Production

• Sugar Beet farming was located in California and

northern Colorado.

• Many of the migrant farmers working in this field

were hispanos, from northern New Mexico, who

became dependent upon supplementing their

income by working elsewhere for part of the year.

– Workers encountered heavy discrimination, as

communities stereotyped all migrant workers

as immigrants.

– Depression of wages led most other ethnic

groups to abandon the sugar beet farms to

Mexican laborers, or betabeleros.

Mexicans Versus Mexican Americans

• Scholars contend that immigrant farm

workers from northern Mexico, depressed

wages and displaced Mexican-US


• Since Sugar Beet work paid more than

agricultural work in border states, many

Mexican Americans migrated north—to

escape discrimination and exploitative

wages just as African-Americans left the

south for the mid-west.

• Sugar Beet production expanded into Idaho, Nebraska and the Dakotas, and with it, Mexican migration and settlement.

• Recruitment:

Japanese-Mexican Labor Association Strike

• In 1903 Mexican and Japanese sugar beet workers in California organized against the Western Agricultural Contracting Company for withholding wages. (decline from $ 6.00 per acre to $ 2.50)

• During the course of striking, one Mexican worker was killed, resulting in WACC concessions.

• Strengthened by the victory, workers formed the Sugar Beet and Farm Laborers Union of Oxnard and sought affiliation with the American Federation of Labor (AFL).

– Samuel Gompers, AFL founder, denied affiliation unless Mexicans promised exclusion of Japanese and Chinese laborers, which Mexicans would not agree to.

American Federation of


Western Agricultural Contracting Company

Independent Agricultural Labor UnionJapanese-

Mexican Labor


• Japanese-Mexican Labor Alliance Most of the farms surrounding Oxnard in 1900 grew sugar beets destined for the second largest sugar mill in the country nearby. Japanese and Mexican laborers were imported to work in the fields. When mill owners and bankers cut wages in 1903, workers formed the Japanese-Mexican Labor Alliance and struck. California State Labor Federation organizer Fred Wheeler supported their action and helped the JMLA negotiate. They won: the union was recognized and wages were restored. Despite lack of support from the AFL, the Sugar Beet and Farm Labor Union went on to win overtime pay and reduction to a 9-hour labor day.

Labor Struggles of Women

• Mexican American women worked as

domestics and in laundry/garment

industry during off-peak seasons.

• While EuroAmerican women were

hired as skilled hands and paid $16.55

per week, Mexican women were

considered unskilled and paid half–

$8 per week.

– Their pay was justified by Anglos who

argued Mexicans had fewer needs since,

as the advertisement stated, Mexicans

were “satisfied with very low social


Claiming Space

Assessing the Immigrant Experience

East Coast versus Southern Border

The Barrio

The Mutalistas

Acculturation versus Americanization

Comparing the Immigrant Experience

• Scholars note that several aspects made immigration

to the United States different for Mexicans.

– Permanence: Not part of the original plan.

– Geography: Low wage farm jobs limited opportunities for

social mobility.

– Land Ownership: Low wages and discrimination in the

credit system weakened immigrants ability to create an

alternative path to success.

– Status: While periodically immigration laws were enforced,

this was usually rare, therefore overlooked but conveniently

used against immigrants later.

– Race: Indian and mestizo ancestry and history of conquest

are used by the status quo to justify discrimination.

• Ellis Island. In 1892 the federal government opened the immigration station on Ellis Island, located in New York City’s harbor, where about 80 percent of the immigrants to the United States landed. As many as 5,000 passengers per day reported to federal immigration officers for questions about their background and for physical examinations, such as this eye exam. Only about 1-2 percent were quarantined or turned away for health problems.

Comparing Immigration

Comparing Immigration

Living in the Barrio

• As immigrants realized that poor wages would prevent quick wealth to take back to Mexico and year-round work opportunities continued, many families began to establish themselves permanently.

• Colonias /Barrios developed, providing a community setting that reinforced Mexican identity and culture. – Colonias also functioned as recruiting stations for


Living in the Barrio

• The most obvious

difference between Mexican

immigration and East Coast

immigration is the fact that

immigration from Mexico

remained constant. Each

wave of immigration

brought new political ideas

to the barrio while

reinforcing old traditions

and beliefs.

Scholarly Perspective

Aguantar is a Spanish word that means “to endure

one’s fate bravely and with a certain style.” There

has long been a tendency to assume that Mexican

Americans adopted a tragic view of life, suffering

disappointments and reversals with passive

acceptance. But far from being fatalistic in the

face of prejudice and discrimination, late 19th and

early 20th century Mexican Americans created a

wide range of organizations to preserve their

cultural and religious traditions and to better their

economic condition.

~Steven Mintz, Mexican American Voices

• Art, Churches, and local Spanish language radio stations

and theaters kept Mexican history present, reinforcing

language, religion, family values, and civic virtue.

Mutalistas • Mexican Americans formed mutalistas, mutual aid

societies or brotherhoods, to address labor and political issues, and later discrimination.

• One of the most successful mutalistas was the Alianza Hispano Americana, formed in response to nativist (anti-immigrant) sentiment on the Arizona border. – They also stepped in to assist the needs of sugar

beet workers and their families during strikes.

• However, many politically-based mutalistas, such Los Hijos de Texas and Hijos de México, divided the Mexican/Mexican American population based upon national or even regional origin.


• Similar to the old Spanish cofradias, mutalistas paid for burials, community holiday materials, such as food, entertainment, and decorations. They provided employment information, and sponsored newspapers and political speakers.

• Mutalistas also functioned like settlement houses. In Chicago, Jane Addams’ Hull House provided immigrants with English classes, soup lines, Mother’s Day Out nursery programs, etc. In San Antonio, Luisa M. De González ran a similar settlement house. However, some settlement houses, such as the Rose Gregory Houchen House in El Paso was designed to “Americanize” Mexican Americans.


• Attempted first with Native Americans, Progressive thinkers

and activists tried to mold differing ethnic groups into

“Americans.” Begs the question: “what is American?”

• Education programs:

– Girls were key: Women are the keepers of culture, family

values, etc. Special programs aimed at transforming the

Mexican family from within were est.

– “Special Needs” segregation allowed in California.

Reinforced with IQ and standardization exams, which

were written in English.

– “Tracking” Vocational programs as opposed to diploma

and higher ed.

• Missionary work: YMCA transformed youth.

Examining Scholarship: Sarah Deutsch “Women

Missionaries and Cultural Conquest”

• Argument: While conquest has traditionally been

viewed as masculine because of military action, the

second element to conquest is psychological, and in

this arena “women did the possessing.” • 200+ women entered the business of

“Americanization” in the

southwest between 1900-


• 19 of 21 mission schools

were run by women • English-only Americanization

school in Tempe, Arizona.

Examining Scholarship: Sarah Deutsch “Women Missionaries and Cultural Conquest”

• Justification for American schools: Moral imperative

– Stated Purpose: “to convince of a full and free salvation

through the savior of the Cross; to make true American

citizens, intelligent and enthusiastic supporters of our

institutions, and to give a moral and technical education that

will enable them to cope with the social temptations and

problems of the twentieth century.”

Examining Scholarship: Sarah Deutsch “Women Missionaries and Cultural Conquest”

• Assimilation/Americanization & Identity Conflict

– Polita Padilla: “I am a Mexican, born and brought up in New

Mexico, but much of my life was spent in the Allison School

where we had a different training, so that the Mexican way of

living now seems strange to me.”

• Deutsch notes that villagers condemned the assimilated as

“extinguished lights.”

In New Mexico 90% of schools operated

less than 3 months per year.

– No state funding and limited local

tax resources

– No high school until 1917

– Teachers not qualified to teach


parents viewed schooling as


League of United Latin American Citizens


• Organized in Corpus Christi in 1929 to safeguard the civil rights of Latino/as, LULAC merged the issues of political and regional mutalistas and fought against discriminating Americanization programs.

– Issues: Voting, desegregation, inequality

• Parochial schools were established to reinforce religion, holidays, culture, and language.

– However, the organization was criticized for not allowing non-citizens membership.

Post WWI Xenophobia

• Xenophobia– fear of the other.

• US position: withdraw from world affairs; immigration policies were created to cut off everyone except Northern Europeans.

– Concern with the unfulfilled Mexican Revolution also played a role in US concerns with North American migration.

• US Culture: “America must be kept American”

– Revival of the Ku Klux Klan

• Reed-Johnson Immigration Act contained a literacy aspect designed to reduce Mexican immigration.

– However, contract workers imported into the country were able to bypass this policy if they agreed to pay the $ 8.00 head tax.

• Arizona Mining Association

• Arizona State University’s Latino Organizations


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