La Nueva California: Latinos from Pioneers to Post-Millennials

La Nueva California: Latinos from Pioneers to Post-Millennials

by David Hayes-Bautista

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La Nueva California: Latinos from Pioneers to Post-Millennials by David Hayes-Bautista

Since late 2001 more than fifty percent of the babies born in California have been Latino. When these babies reach adulthood, they will, by sheer force of numbers, influence the course of the Golden State. This essential study, based on decades of data, paints a vivid and energetic portrait of Latino society in California by providing a wealth of details about work ethic, family strengths, business establishments, and the surprisingly robust health profile that yields an average life expectancy for Latinos five years longer than that of the general population. Spanning one hundred years, this complex, fascinating analysis suggests that the future of Latinos in California will be neither complete assimilation nor unyielding separatism. Instead, the development of a distinctive regional identity will be based on Latino definitions of what it means to be American.
This updated edition now provides trend lines through the 2010 Census as well as information on the 1849 California Constitutional Convention and the ethnogenesis of how Latinos created the society of "Latinos de Estados Unidos" (Latinos in the US). In addition, two new chapters focus on Latino Post-Millennials—the first focusing on what it’s like to grow up in a digital world; and the second describing the contestation of Latinos at a national level and the dynamics that transnational relationships have on Latino Post-Millennials in Mexico and Central America.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520292536
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 02/07/2017
Edition description: Second Edition, Revised
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

David E. Hayes-Bautista is Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Healing Latinos: Fantasía y Realidad, No Longer a Minority: Latino Social Participation in California, and The Burden of Support: Young Latinos in an Aging Society.

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La Nueva California

Latinos From Pioneers To Post-Millennials

By David E. Hayes-Bautista


Copyright © 2017 The Regents of the University of California
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-520-29253-6


America Defines Latinos


Proclamation abolishing racial categories and slavery among Mexicans ... They will not be called Indian, mulatto, or any racial category, but rather all, in common, Americans.

— JOSÉ MARÍA MORELOS, November 17, 1810

ON THE THIRD DAY OF THE 1849 California Constitutional Convention, one of the delegates from Los Angeles, José Antonio Carrillo, rose to address the assembly, speaking through an interpreter, as he was not yet proficient in English. Carrillo had heard a fellow delegate say that the constitution being developed for the new state of California was not going to be for Latinos — the "native Californians," or Californios — but only for the "American" population. He begged leave to say that he considered himself "as much an American citizen" as the delegate who had made that remark. William M. Gwin of San Francisco patronizingly replied that the constitution was being made for the Atlantic Americans because they constituted the majority of the population, but that its purpose was also to "protect" the Latino minority. At this, Kimball H. Dimmick, an Atlantic American delegate representing San José, informed the convention that his own Latino constituents also considered themselves just as American as the rest of the population in the soon-to-be state. "They all demanded their title of 'Americans'. They would not consent to be placed in the minority. They considered themselves to be in the class 'Americans' and had the right to belong to the majority. ... The Constitution had to be made for their benefit, just as it was for that of the native Americans [i.e., Atlantic Americans]."

When Miguel Hidalgo, Simón Bolívar, José de San Martín, and others roused the populations of Central and South America to fight for independence from Spain in the early nineteenth century, "America" was largely a geographical expression, for the modern nation-states of Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, and the rest did not yet exist. These revolutionary leaders could not generate patriotism by invoking an imagined community with flags, national anthems, and other standard symbols of national unity. Yet many, if not most, of the leaders and the people did share a mental model of a territorial idea that could rally soldiers, craftsmen, merchants, slaves, and farmers: América.

In a speech in 1814, Simón Bolívar used that mental model to inspire the troops of one of his commanders, Rafael Urdaneta: "Para nosotros, la Patria es América" (For us, the homeland is America). A writer from Buenos Aires, José Antonio Miralla, who lived in Lima and Havana during Central and South America's wars for independence, declared, "Es uno el corazón americano" (The American heart is one). Vicente Rocafuerte, an independence activist from Guayaquil, Ecuador, whose dreams of liberty took him to Lima, Havana, and Mexico City, later remembered that in his youth, he had considered "toda la América" (all America) under colonial Spanish rule to have been "la patria de mi nacimiento" (the homeland of my birth). Seeking to ignite the fires of independence, Mexican priest Miguel Hidalgo in 1810 made his famous proclamation addressed to "la nación americana" (the American nation), with the invocation, "Rise up, O noble spirits of Americans! ... for the day of glory and public happiness has arrived."

In their respective struggles for independence from a European colonial power, both Mexico and the United States declared to the world their intention to create an independent republic based on notions of equality. Each subsequently fought a war against its colonial power, then formalized its own governing principles and structure. After Mexican independence, Alta California was part of the new Republic of Mexico, whose first constitution was written for "la América Mexicana" (Mexican America); and a generation of leaders grew up shaped by these ideals of Mexican independence. Yet some forty years after Hidalgo called on the "noble spirits of Americans" to fight for self- governance, the subsequent generation of Californios found itself confronting a competing vision of America from the United States of America, after the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo (1848) ceded nearly half of Mexico's territory, including Alta California, to the US at the end of the Mexican-American War.

José Antonio Carrillo was joined at the 1849 California Constitutional Convention by other Latinos who had been active participants in government when Alta California was still part of Mexico, such as Pablo de la Guerra, Mariano Vallejo, Antonio María Pico, José María Covarrubias, and Manuel Domínguez. Their vision of California's future as part of the United States was based on their understanding of Mexico's constitution and government, and their vision of "America" presumed the values of self-government with freedom and equality for all.

On the other hand, many of the Atlantic American delegates to the California Constitutional Convention probably were surprised by Latinos calling themselves "Americans" simply because they believed in ideals of equality, freedom, and democracy. The early leaders of the United States independence movement felt they had developed a plan for self- governance and political equality that would serve as a model for the rest of the world. But between the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and California's Constitutional Convention in 1849, the definition of "American" had largely changed in the US, from the universalist idea of individual liberty and freely chosen self-governance to a nativist definition that limited "American" to members of a self-perceived national ethnic group: white, preferably Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, and English-speaking. Kaufman has detailed the stages in this shift. The French and Indian War (1754–1763) highlighted differences between the white, British-origin, English-speaking Protestant population and perceived "others" — Catholic, Francophone, and of French origin; or Native American, either Catholic or pagan; or black, African-origin slaves — even before the American Revolution was fought, for self-governance ostensibly based on universalist ideas such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Yet contemporary and subsequent Whig historians asserted that these "universal" values had been born deep in the German forests and taken to England by the Anglo-Saxons. With the "desire for freedom in their veins," the Anglo-Saxons' English descendants had brought these values to North America's shores. Many early American statesmen, including Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, and George Washington, subscribed to this ahistorical notion of the Anglo-Saxon origins of republican values. For instance, Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Adams in 1776 that the "political principles and form of government" guiding the new republic were derived from "the Saxon chiefs." A nativist narrative in which the American government was the product of a white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant people, "descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion," competed with the universalist narrative that American governmental values and institutions were open to peoples of any language, origin, or religion. This nativist definition of America was strengthened by the "Black Legend" of Spain. Dating from the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation, the Black Legend depicted the Catholic Spanish to British Protestants as "unusually brutal and avaricious barbarians of a mixed race, a combination of African and European ... who then went on to mix with the Native Americans and other non-European peoples in the New World." By contrast, English Protestants liked to see themselves as a "civilized and uncontaminated race" descended from the Anglo-Saxons, an inaccurate but nonetheless firmly held concept of identity they bequeathed to their white, Protestant descendants in North America.

As ideas about race, ethnicity, and government began to coalesce in the US between 1776 and 1849, whites increasingly considered nonwhites incapable of self-government; they believed it was their duty to impose their model of government and society upon nonwhites for the ultimate "benefit" of those lesser races. Horsman sees in the US expansion into Texas an example of how the definition of "American," already shifted from a universalist one based on lofty ideals to a nativist one based on Anglo-Saxonism, was used to further Manifest Destiny over nonwhite ethnic groups who happened to live in the way of US territorial expansion — lofty rhetoric about freedom and democracy to the contrary. Kaufman posits that by 1849, citizens of the United States had learned a dual definition of who was American. On the one hand, in the universalist narrative, an American was any inhabitant of the western hemisphere who believed in freedom, equality, individual liberty, democratic self-government, and similar values. On the other hand, in the nativist narrative, an American was a white, English-speaking Protestant descended from Anglo-Saxon ancestors either literally or fictively, via cultural assimilation.

Carrillo and the other Latinos participating in California's Constitutional Convention in 1849, however, believed that the universalist ideals they shared, of equality, freedom, and self-government, made them as American as the Atlantic Americans, whose rhetoric, at least, indicated that they shared similar ideals. These Latinos' adherence to the universalist values of Mexican independence made them advocates for the abolition of slavery and for racial equality in voting. Considering their own cultural heritage just as valid as the Atlantic American tradition, they also supported the publication of all public documents and announcements in Spanish as well as English, and the continuation of Iberian and Mexican legal traditions protecting married women's property rights. From their universalist point of view, inclusion of these policies in California's new constitution would spread the blessings of freedom, equality, and democracy to even more people: African Americans also would be endowed with life, liberty, and the ability to pursue happiness; adult male African Americans, Native Americans, and their descendants would be able to vote; traditional property rights would be secured; and Spanish-speaking citizens would be informed of new laws, so as to respect and comply with them.

But the prevailing Atlantic American, nativist view on these policy issues was nearly the opposite of the Californios' universalist vision. It considered slavery a valid legal institution (whether one personally condoned it or not), limited the vote to adult white males, and believed all US citizens should speak English. Thanks to this nativist narrative, by the mid-nineteenth century African Americans, Native Americans, and their descendants in the US had been formally excluded from the enjoying the same political and social rights as white persons, and the enslavement of nonwhite human beings was constitutionally permitted. Although not yet enforced by legislation, the idea of publishing official communications in any language but English mocked the goal of the cultural assimilation of nonwhites to an "Anglo-Saxon" model.

For six weeks, the issues of slavery, racial restrictions on suffrage, the right of married women to own property independently of their husbands, and the use of the Spanish language were debated at the convention, with the nativist narrative clearly driving many Atlantic American delegates' positions on these issues. But by the end of the convention, the universalist vision of "American California," championed by the Latino delegates and a significant portion of the Atlantic American ones, largely prevailed on these policy issues. The 1849 Constitution of the State of California abolished slavery, (theoretically) opened suffrage to nonwhites, guaranteed legal protection for married women's property rights and stipulated that all legal documents be published "en inglés y en español" (in English and in Spanish).


Ever since the conclusion of the California Constitutional Convention in 1849, Latinos in California, and in the rest of the US, have experienced periodic clashes between these opposing views of their place in American society. Latinos have very much adhered to the universalist outlook, and this view consistently has driven their ideas of the American Dream. Data presented in this book will demonstrate that, in terms of adherence to the universalist values that hold US society together, Latinos have been, and are, entirely American. Moreover, they have shown themselves to be at times even more American than any other group in the US, in terms of traditional individualist values and behaviors, such as workforce participation, family formation, and independence from public assistance. Despite these facts, Latinos have over and over again run up against the competing nativist narrative, which insists on defining "American" in terms of membership in a single ethnic group — white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, and English-speaking — and therefore argues that Latinos have not been, are not, and never can be truly American.

The Nativist Narrative in California

California was admitted to the United States with a state constitution based largely on the universalists' concept of American identity. The abolition of slavery in California, however — a universalist ideal with a precedent in the Mexican government's abolition of slavery in 1813 — nearly proved to be a deal breaker. California's admission as a free state upset the carefully crafted balance between free and slave states established by the Missouri Compromise; and the slave states, perceiving their political power as endangered, threatened to leave the Union. Civil war loomed in 1850, and for a good part of that year the federal government virtually ceased to function, as members of the US Congress deadlocked over how to respond to California's proposed admission as a free state. After nine months of acrimonious debate, Stephen Douglas and his congressional allies managed to negotiate a series of compromise bills, known in their totality as the Compromise of 1850. This compromise essentially saved the United States for another decade, but the price required for California's admission as a free state was high. Slavery would not be banned in any other territory taken from Mexico, but instead would be decided in the future by a territory's voters, in a process dubbed "popular sovereignty"; and the Fugitive Slave Act greatly strengthened the hand of slave owners, who now could legally pursue their escaped "property" into any state, free or slave.

After California gained admission in 1850, nativist arguments about citizenship and identity commanded further public attention in California, strengthened in part by the Black Legend, in a narrative of Anglo-Saxon superiority over the mixed-race Catholic Latino. A common image in English-language papers during the Gold Rush portrayed Catholic, Spanish- speaking, mixed-race Latinos as having been culturally and economically inert, or "asleep," in California "before this Anglo-Saxon race broke upon them, and woke them from their lazy slumbers." Latinos were aware that US nativists saw English-speaking, white, Protestant "Anglo-Saxons" as racially superior. A Latino newspaper in San Francisco chided its English-language counterparts for constantly printing stories about "la superioridad de la raza sajona" (the superiority of the Saxon race), with its self-proclaimed ableness, moral perfection, and generosity, compared to the allegedly backward, vice-ridden Latinos, incompetent to govern themselves. Most filibustering expeditions into Mexico in the same period were overtly predicated on such Anglo-Saxonism. A pro-filibuster editorial in the English- language Stockton Weekly Democrat was excerpted, in Spanish translation, by Francisco P. Ramírez, editor of Los Angeles's El Clamor Público, to show his readers the filibusters' nativist braggadocio: "The Anglo-Saxon race will take away from it the richest portion of our continent, and will make Mexico into what Nature intended it should be, whilst its wretched inhabitants will be obliged to flee to the tropics; or we will make them our slaves, as their color well justifies it." In another anti-filibuster editorial, Ramírez said scornfully that "the Anglo-Saxons, in their origins, were robbers and pirates," adding that this "piratic instinct" was still alive in their own day and age. Meanwhile, legislators guided by the Anglo-Saxonist narrative taking root in the state lost little time in attempting to move California away from its original universalist principles.


Excerpted from La Nueva California by David E. Hayes-Bautista. Copyright © 2017 The Regents of the University of California. Excerpted by permission of UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS.
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Table of Contents

Lists of Figures and Tables ix

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xix

1 America Defines Latinos 2

2 Latinos Reject America's Definition 25

3 Washington Defines a New Nativism 42

4 Latinos Define Latinos 67

5 Times of Crisis 92

6 Latinos Define "American" 118

7 Creating a Regional American Identity 142

8 Latino Post-Millennials 164

9 Latino Post-Millennials Create America's Future 185

Appendix 203

Notes 207

Index 239

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