Why did Henry David Thoreau oppose the Mexican American War and did all Americans support the Mexican War?

The Mexican American War in 1846 was popular, especially in the South. As in the case of Texas, southerners hoped that slavery would expand into newly conquered territories, giving them more votes in Congress. But many Americans opposed the war, including then congressman Abraham Lincoln. Abolitionists, people who wanted to end slavery, were against the … Read more

How many Americans died in the Mexican American War and Was the Mexican American War easy to win?

The Mexican American War was not easy for the 13,000 Americans who died fighting it, most of them succumbing to disease in unhealthy camp conditions. Over a year’s worth of battles were fought, most of them American victories, but some won at a high cost in casualties. Mexican troops were usually poorly disciplined and poorly … Read more

Why was the Bear Flag Republic formed and When did John C. Fremont led a revolt against Mexico?

During the Mexican War, American explorer John C. Fremont (1813-1890) led a revolt against Mexico in Sonoma, California. With no support from the rest of the province, Fremont and other American settlers declared California an independent republic on July 4, 1846. The republic, which flew a bear flag, was short-lived. A few days later, the … Read more

How did Mexico react to the annexation of Texas in 1845?

Mexico’s congress never recognized Texan independence, arguing that General Santa Anna had granted it under duress. When the United States moved to annex Texas in 1845, Mexico cut off diplomatic relations, which is often a first step toward war. Mexican general and dictator Santa Anna led an eventful career. He gained power as leader of … Read more

What happened to the desperadoes in Texas after the Mexican War of Independence?

Aided by rich Mexican Americans, Anglo settlers organized posses and vigilante groups to hunt down the bandits known as desperadoes. The effort was successful: by the 1870s, most of the bandits had been captured and executed. But the vigilantes were also indiscriminate, shooting and hanging people for no better reason than that they spoke Spanish. … Read more

Why was the Texas Revolution a Blow for Slavery and How did Mexico try to keep control of Texas?

The Texas Revolution is remembered as a blow for freedom. What is often forgotten is that many Texan Americans were southerners who owned slaves. In fact, Mexico’s antislavery policy was one of the irritants that provoked the revolution. When Mexico abolished slavery in 1829, an outcry from Texans forced Mexico to take back the decree. … Read more

When did Texas become part of the United States?

Many Americans in Texas were not satisfied with independence. They wanted to be reunited with their native country, the United States. Slave-owning American southerners wanted to annex Texas because it would enter the Union as a slave state, lending support to their side in the growing congressional disputes over slavery. In 1845, the United States … Read more

Why did Texas revolt against Mexico in 1835 and What was the Texas Revolution about?

In 1835, Mexican president Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (1794-1876) threw out the nation’s constitution and made himself dictator. Many Americans in Texas, as well as Tejanos (Mexicans in Texas), hated this blow to their liberty. While most Tejanos wanted to remain part of Mexico, Texan Americans demanded full independence. In the Texas Revolution (1835-1836), … Read more

Why did Americans want to go to Texas and why did Mexico want them there before Texas won its independence?

American cotton farmers and cattle ranchers felt crowded as the population grew and cheap real estate became hard to find. They saw a promised land in the wide open spaces of Texas. As for Mexico, it did not so much desire Americans as it feared Europeans. Because Texas was thinly populated, Mexico worried that Britain … Read more

How did the Lost Land get lost and How did Mexico lose its northern provinces to the United States?

Mexico lost its northern provinces to the United States in a three-step process: the Texas Revolution, the Mexican War, and the Gadsden Purchase. The story begins with the first U.S. citizens in Texas. In 1822, Stephen E Austin (1793-1836) led a group of American families to settle in the fertile region between the Brazos and … Read more

When did Florida become part of the United States?

Florida, with the Gulf Coast strip of land called West Florida, was the next chunk of Spanish America to be lost. In 1819, Spain ceded the Floridas to the United States, partly in return for American acknowledgment that Texas was part of New Spain. That acknowledgment was short-lived.

What happened after the Mexican Revolution in 1910 and Why did many Mexicans struggle with poverty?

Porfirio Diaz ruled Mexico as a dictator for thirty-five years, from 1876 to 1911. Under his politically repressive reign, Mexico was modernized and business boomed. Foreign investors, including many from the United States, bought up Mexico’s resources. But the vast majority of Mexicans remained poor, while the small circle of the rich got richer. In … Read more

Why was the agricultural industry important to Mexican Americans during the early 1900s?

In the early twentieth century, commercial agriculture was booming in the West and Southwest. Small family farms were giving way to agribusiness, large, mechanized operations that could sell produce at low prices. New dams opened deserts to irrigation and planting. The invention of refrigerated train cars made it possible to ship fresh fruits and vegetables … Read more

What is a barrio and What does the word barrio mean in Spanish?

Barrio is Spanish for “neighborhood.” In the United States, it refers to a section of a city where Mexican Americans and other Latinos live. In the early part of this century, segregation often forced Mexican immigrants to settle in the barrios, even though these ghettos were dirty and dangerous. The one benefit was that Mexican … Read more

Did bandidos really exist in nineteenth century southwest America or are they a myth?

Bandidos existed in the 1800s, but the modern caricature of these nineteenth-century southwestern bandits as mere criminals is not quite accurate. To some, the bandidos were heroes. Also known as desperadoes, from the Spanish word desesperado (“desperate man”) they began their outlaw careers in the 1850s. They included Juan Cortina in Texas and Joaquin Murieta, … Read more

Why were Mexican Americans hired to build the railroads in the southwest during the 1880s?

Large stretches of the railroads crisscrossing our nation were built or maintained by Mexican Americans. The Southern Pacific and Santa Fe lines hired Mexican Americans to build new desert lines in the 1880s. One reason the jobs were available was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. This law, put in place by anti-Asian prejudice, halted … Read more

Why didn’t the law protect Mexican American property during the 1800s?

Although Mexican Americans were equal under the law to English-speaking Americans, they discovered that the law and reality were two different things. Laws were written only in English, with Spanish banned from the courtroom. Spanish and Mexican land grants were often not honored. Sometimes the owner could not prove the exact boundaries of his land; … Read more

What is the difference between a Colonia and a Barrio and What do the words mean in Spanish?

A colonia was literally a colony of Mexican Americans, a Hispanic community founded close to the farms, mines, or railroads where the immigrants worked. A colonia of boxcars and shacks would spring up every so often along the tracks that Mexican Americans were laying down. These settlements became the basis for some modern communities of … Read more

What does the word “buckaroo” mean in Spanish and Where did the term come from?

The English word “buckaroo” for cowboy is a corrupt form of the Spanish word “vaquero.” The name fits, because Anglo cowboys learned a lot of their trade from Mexican Americans, who were experts in western-style ranching long before the Anglos arrived. Many of the cowboy techniques, equipment, and apparel we think of as distinctively American … Read more

Which Spanish Explorer discovered the Grand Canyon and When?

Spanish explorer, Francisco de Coronado (c. 1510-1554) discovered the Grand Canyon. He too came in search of rumored treasure, in this case, the fabulously wealthy Seven Cities of Cibola and another legendary realm named Quivira. Leading an expedition overland from Mexico in 1540, he explored what are now Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. … Read more

Which Spanish explorer discovered the Mississippi River in 1541?

Hernando de Soto (c. 1500-1542) was the Spanish explorer discovered the Mississippi River. Lured by false reports of gold and silver treasures in the wilderness, he landed in Florida in 1539 and slogged through much of what is now the American South. He passed through present-day North and South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. In … Read more

Who was the first European Explorer to see American Buffalo or Bison during the 1500s?

wild american buffalo

The first European explorer to see American buffalo was probably Spanish explorer Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca (c. 1490-c. 1560), who survived one of the most incredible adventures any Spaniard underwent. Cabeza de Vaca originally sailed to Tampa Bay, Florida, as treasurer for the expedition of conquistador Panfilo de Narvaez (c. 1480-1528) in 1528. The … Read more

What was the first region of the present day United States that the Spanish claimed in the 1500s?

Florida was the first region of present day United States that the Spanish claimed during the Spanish colonization of the Americas. Now a favorite spot for vacationers and retirees, this region was claimed for Spain in 1513. The discoverer was Juan Ponce de Leon, conqueror of Puerto Rico. Discovering it in the Easter season, he … Read more

What is the oldest surviving town founded by Europeans in the mainland United States?

The oldest surviving town founded by Europeans in the mainland United States is Saint Augustine, Florida, settled in 1565. The founder was Spanish colonizer Pedro Menendez de Aviles (1519-1574), who brought five hundred colonists with him. The city contains the oldest public square and oldest church in the United States. Off the mainland, the United … Read more

Why did the Spanish Empire lose all its American colonies in the 1800s if Spain was so powerful?

In the sixteenth century, Spain was the most powerful nation in the world. It had a strong monarchy and a fearsome military, funded by gold and silver from the American colonies. Then, like empires throughout history, Spain began to decline. England defeated the Spanish Armada, or naval fleet, in 1588. Endless wars and civil turmoil … Read more

How many Hispanics lived in the thirteen English colonies in North America during the fifteenth century?

A few Hispanics live in the thirteen English colonies. Hispanics made up a small percentage of the colonial population. For example, New York contained a number of Jews descended from people who fled persecution in Spain and Portugal in the fifteenth century. New York’s first Hispanic Jews had settled there in 1654, when it was … Read more

How did the city of Galveston, Texas get its name and When did Bernardo de Galvez become governor of Louisiana?

Even before Spain entered the American War of Independence, one Spanish official was an amigo, or friend, to the rebels: Bernardo de Galvez (1746-1786), who became governor of Louisiana in 1777. While Spain was still officially neutral, Galvez saw to it that arms and supplies were sent to the rebels from New Orleans. After Spain … Read more

Which came first: England’s thirteen colonies on the Atlantic coast or Spain’s colonies in the American Southwest?

The thirteen colonies that later became the United States began with the founding of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, England’s first permanent settlement in North America. By that time, Juan de Ofiate had already been living in New Mexico for nine years. However, Spanish colonization was slow. By the time San Francisco, California, was founded in … Read more

Who lived in Central America before the Spanish colonists arrived in 1519?

Central America and southern Mexico were inhabited from ancient times by several Native American peoples, most notably the Maya. The Maya had a long history of advanced civilization. They developed their own forms of writing, mathematics, and astronomy. They carved cities and farms out of jungle wilderness. In the classic Mayan period, from 300 to … Read more

When did the Spanish conquer Central America and What was the first long term Spanish colony?

The Spanish conquered Central America around the same time they were conquering South America. Spanish conquistador Vasco Nutiez de Balboa (1475-1519) founded the first lasting Spanish colony in Central America at Darien, in what is now Panama, in 1510. Later that century, the Spanish pushed north from Panama and south from Mexico. They conquered most … Read more

Why did the Spanish want to settle in the American Southwest if there was no great wealth to claim?

In the game of colonization, the rule was “use it or lose it.” Getting there first allowed you to claim possession, but if you didn’t establish a colony, other countries could take it away from you. In 1579, English navigator Francis Drake (c. 1540-1596) explored North America’s Pacific Coast, reaching the vicinity of present-day San … Read more

When was Belize settled by English buccaneers and When did Belize gain independence from Britain?

Belize is a tiny country on Central America’s east coast and was founded by English buccaneers in the early seventeenth century. These pirates lurked on its cays, or small islands, waiting to pounce on Spanish ships bearing gold and silver bound for Spain. Britain kept possession of Belize until 1981, when the colony became independent. … Read more

Who said “Damn the Torpedoes, full speed ahead” and Where did Jorge Farragut come from?

“Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.” is one of the best-known battle cries in American history. It was uttered by a Hispanic American of Minorcan descent: U.S. naval officer David Farragut (1801-1870). His Spanish father, Jorge Farragut, immigrated from Minorca in 1772 and fought in the Revolutionary War. David exclaimed his famous line in 1864, … Read more

What is a presidio and What does the word “presidio” mean in Spanish?

The word presidio is Spanish for “fort.” Spanish settlements in the Far North during the Spanish colonization of the Americas usually centered on a mission church protected by soldiers in a presidio. The priests of the mission would try to convert the local Native Americans. One of the best-known mission priests was Junipero Serra (1713-1784), … Read more

Who were the Spanish settlers who came to the Far North of Mexico during the colonization of the Americas?

Although they came from New Spain, most were not of pure Spanish descent. Many were Native Americans of the Nahua group; others were mestizos. Most were poor people enticed to relocate in the Far North by offers of land. They eked out a difficult living farming and ranching, often in arid places that required irrigation. … Read more

How many U.S. States have Spanish names and Where did the American dollar come from?

Nine U.S. states have Spanish names: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Texas. Spanish place names can be found in North American localities from El Paso, Texas, to Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada. But perhaps the most intimate sign of the Spanish presence in early American history can be found in … Read more

What do the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands have to do with Spanish colonization of the Americas?

The Canary Islands and Balearic Islands, both owned by Spain, contributed colonists to the New World. In the eighteenth century, the Canary Islands, located off northwest Africa, sent colonists to San Antonio and San Saba, Texas; Louisiana; and Florida. When Florida was held by the British (1763-1783), the British recruited colonists for Florida from the … Read more

When did Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica become Spanish Colonies and What happened to the Natives?

Two men who had sailed with Columbus conquered the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico soon after Columbus’s death. In 1511, Spanish soldier Diego de Velazquez (c. 1465, c. 1524) began his conquest of Cuba by founding Baracoa, the first Spanish colony on the island. Appointed governor of Cuba, he founded Havana, the present-day capital … Read more

When did Louisiana belong to France and How did Spain claim possession of Louisiana in the 1700s?

Although Louisiana was named for French king Louis XIV, this colony once belonged to Spain. The territory was first claimed for France in 1682. The French colony was vast, comprising the entire valley of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. It stretched from Montana to Ohio to Alabama to the present-day state of Louisiana. However, … Read more

How did Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan prove Columbus Right by circumnavigating the earth?

Christopher Columbus’s geography was wrong, but his basic idea was right. It was possible to reach Asia by sailing west from Spain. Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan (c. 1480-1521) provided the proof with his final expedition. Working for the Spanish crown, Magellan set sail from Spain in 1519. His fleet traveled to the southern tip of … Read more

What happened to the Hispaniola Arawak population when Christopher Columbus and his Spanish settlers arrived?

Convinced that vast reserves of gold lay somewhere on Hispaniola, Christopher Columbus and his settlers set the Arawak to work searching for the yellow ore. Little more than gold dust in streams could be found. Unwilling to go away empty-handed, the Spaniards shipped some Arawak back to Spain as slaves and forced others to work … Read more

How did Aztec emperor Montezuma lose his empire in the Spanish conquest of Mexico?

Aztec emperor Montezuma believed that Conquistador Hernan Cortes was the incarnation of the god-ruler Quetzalcoatl. This deity was usually depicted as a feathered serpent, but a prophecy had said that he would come in the form of a light-skinned, bearded man, and Cortes fit that description. Seeing no point in resisting a god, Montezuma showered … Read more

What happened to Christopher Columbus’s first settlement, La Navidad and Why was the fort destroyed?

Christopher Columbus’s first settlement, La Navidad did not last long. In 1493, after returning to Hispaniola on his second voyage, Columbus discovered that the little fort had been destroyed. The Spaniards at the fort had abused the local Native Americans, taking slaves and raping women. The locals responded by killing the invaders and destroying their … Read more

When did Christopher Columbus set foot in what is now the mainland United States?

Christopher Columbus did not set foot in what is now the mainland United States. That honor awaited other discoverers. However, on his second voyage (1493-1496), Columbus did set foot in Puerto Rico, which later became a possession of the United States. He explored many other places in the Americas, including, on the second voyage, Jamaica … Read more

Why didn’t Brazil become a Spanish colony during the Spanish colonization of the Americas?

In January 1500, Spanish explorer Vicente Yafiez Pinz6n (c. 1460–c. 1523) became the first known European to reach Brazil. By doing so, he beat Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral (c. 1468-1520), who did not make it to Brazil until April. Despite winning the race of discovery, Spain did not lay claim to Brazil. Spain was … Read more

How were Native Americans treated differently in other parts of the West Indies during the Spanish Colonization of the Americas?

Elsewhere in the West Indies, the Arawak were exterminated just as they were on Hispaniola. So were the Caribes, the Native American people who gave their name to the Caribbean Sea. It is estimated that the Native Americans of the West Indies numbered 6 million in 1492. After two centuries of Spanish and, later, English … Read more

Where in the Americas did the Spanish first settle and What does Hispaniola mean in Spanish?

On his first voyage in 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered both Cuba and Hispaniola, two of the four large West Indian islands known as the Greater Antilles. The other two are Jamaica and Puerto Rico. His first colony was founded on Hispaniola, an island that today is divided into the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island’s … Read more