The Fourth of July—El Cuatro de Julio!
Leading American academicians Harvard’s the late Dr. Sam Huntington (deceased) and Hoover Institute’s Dr. Victor Davis Hanson proclaimed that Mexicans are the greatest threat to American ideals and sovereignty.
American history, however, contradicts these “men of letters.”
Centuries of European – English, Spanish – domination of North and South America – began to erode and eventually mostly disappear when a courageous group of English subjects signed their names to a proclamation written by Virginia slave owner Thomas Jefferson on the 4th of July 1776. The world would change forever when that declaration was signed.
Its world-wide effect is best described by Francisco Saavedra de Sangronis, Spanish diplomat/finance minister to the West Indies. “What is not being thought about at present, what ought to occupy the whole attention of politics, is the great upheaval that in time the North American revolution is going to produce in the human race.”
The first to break away from European domination was America, soon to be named the United States of. Next came Mexico (1810-21) and Central and South American countries eventually named Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and the other Spanish colonies south to Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire).
The key link between hemispheric colonialism and independence was Mexico and Mexicans. Yes, calling Mexico Mexico before independence from Spain is derided by critics steeped in traditional dislike of anything Spanish, Roman Catholic and/or of mixed Amerindian/European Mestizos, but not calling Mexico Mexico before its 1810 revolt for independence is like not calling America America before 1776.
For example, the spirit of American independence didn’t reach deeply into France’s Bourbon Royalty or its Madrid incarnation in 1779 when France and Spain declared war on England. That spirit was more greatly felt in the Spanish territories of Cuba, New Spain (Mexico) and New Orleans where the newly appointed Spanish Governor General Bernardo Vicente de Galvez y Madrid had surreptitiously helped American rebel forces since 1775. Authorized by Spain’s King Charles III, American agent Oliver Pollock could buy military supplies including gun powder in New Orleans. Boatloads of critical materiel were shipped up the Mississippi River by Spanish boats and boatmen to American rebel forces.
General Galvez enthusiastically joined the formal war against England by initially enlisting a “force (that) included (300) recruits from Mexico, free blacks, (500) experienced Spanish infantrymen in the Louisiana Regiment, (26) volunteers from the American colonies and from Louisiana’s German and Acadian communities, and American Indians.”
The Spanish government built up its military in America then demanded that Great Britain recognize the rebel “United States of America,” when the demand was rejected, Spain declared war.
With numbers (8,000) equaling those of France helping Washington in New England and Virginia, “Bernardo Galvez rousted the British from their strongholds in Louisiana (Baton Rouge, Mobile Bay) and British Florida (the massive British fort at Pensacola).
The British army commanded by Lord Cornwallis moved south from the New York area to encamp at the Yorktown Peninsula in the hope of winning the war there. The American cause’s future was not bright at the time; mutinies by American troops were occurring with frequency for lack of pay, food and supplies.
The Continental Congress could not provide the required “hard currency,” as its “Continental currency” was worthless. Any possible American victory was in jeopardy for lack of money.
“…gold and silver,” was needed, “to finance French (naval) efforts and pay soldiers of the Continental Army, many of whom hadn’t received any pay in months…the needed funds were raised (by the Spanish) within six hours in Cuba in an emergency collection from the people of Havana.”
Washington’s soldiers and French sailors were paid, the British surrendered and the United States of America was born, paid for with Mexican silver and gold – eight years after the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Six decades later, Mexicans and Americans fought a border war that resulted in a huge expansion of the U.S. and a shrinking by half of Mexico. Over 100,000 Mexican citizens automatically became U.S. citizens per the Treaty of Guadalupe that ended the war in 1848.
Many of them would don U.S. uniforms and fight in and during the Civil War (1861-65); they were Abraham Lincoln Mexicans (and a few Cuban-born). Their war contribution was a Mexican American cavalry brigade in California that defended west of New Mexico; it was commanded by the highest ranking “Hispanic” in Union ground forces, Brigadier General Romualdo Pacheco. The highest ranking Hispanic naval officer of the war, Admiral David Farragut, was offered the Republican nomination for President in 1868.
More than 20,000 Hispanics served in the Civil War from private to general and admiral. Three Hispanics were awarded the new Medal of is awarded the news Medal of Honor out of five Civil War bravery awards.
China: United States Marine Pvt. France Silva – 1900, the first Mexican American to be awarded a Medal of Honor. France: U.S. Army, Pvt. David B. Barkeley Cantu from Texas, was awarded a Medal of Honor posthumously; Army did not know he was Mexican American until decades later. U.S. Army Private Marcelino Serna, born in Mexico; illegally living in the United States, was the first Mexican to earn the Distinguished Service Cross…he was Texas’ most decorated veteran of World War One.
WWII – seventeen Hispanics awarded the Medal of Honor including the war’s second most decorated fighting man, Texan Cleto Rodriguez, the most decorated fighting Mexican American ever. Two were Mexican citizens. Korean War – 15 Hispanics awarded Medals of Honor including 10 Mexican Americans and five Puerto Ricans.
Vietnam: 22 Hispanics, including 4 Puerto Ricans, three Mexican citizens and 15 Mexican Americans were awarded Medals of Honor.
Despite Sam Huntington and Victor Davis Hanson’s negative views of and about Mexicans and Mexican Americans, objective observers might declare them to be lethal enemies of America’s enemies, not America.
Feliz Cuatro de Julio!
Viva la Independencia!