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Latino Americans: 500 Years of History, 100 Years in New Jersey

Rutgers University Libraries NEH/ALA Grant Project 2015-2016

Foreigners in their Own Land (1565-1880) Episode Description

One hundred years after Columbus' arrival in the Caribbean, Spanish Conquistadors and Priests, push into North America in search of gold and to spread Catholicism. With the arrival of the British in North America, the two colonial systems produce contrasting societies that come in conflict as Manifest Destiny pushes the U.S into the Mexican territories of the South West.

Apolinaria Lorenzana provides a window to the Spanish Mission System while Mariano Vallejo personifies the era of the Californio rancheros an elite class who thrive after Mexico gains its independence from Spain. Juan Seguín, a third generation Tejano or Texan, is caught between two worlds; his commitment to an Independent Texas and his identity as a Mexican. Through the Mexican American War, the U.S. takes a full half of Mexico's territory by 1848. Over seventy thousand Mexicans are caught in a strange land and many become American citizens.

As the Gold Rush floods California with settlers, complex and vital communities are overwhelmed. The elites, including Mariano Vallejo and Apolinaria Lorenzana lose their land. Mexicans and Mexican Americans are treated as second-class citizens, facing discrimination and racial violence. Resistance to this injustice appears in New Mexico as Las Gorras Blancas (The White Caps), burn Anglo ranches and cut through barbed wire to prevent Anglo encroachment. At the same time, New Mexicans manage to transform themselves through education, managing to preserve Hispano culture in New Mexico and their standing in the midst of an era of conquest and dispossession.

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