The "Mexicanization" of the United States: Mexico in U.S. Public Discourse, 1862-1880
Tracy, Joshua T
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Between 1861-1865 the United States experienced immense social, political, and economic upheaval. The divided U.S. populace, unfamiliar with violent and turbulent aspects inherent of a civil war, used Mexico and, specifically, the term “Mexicanization” to describe their internal discord. Although the term was heavily politicized, “Mexicanization” carried racialized overtones—overtones that negatively and incorrectly portrayed Mexicans to the U.S. populace. “The ‘Mexicanization’ of the United States: Mexico in U.S. Public Discourse,1862-1880” examines U.S. perceptions of Mexico in the latter half of the nineteenthcentury, specifically arguing that the use of the racial pejorative “Mexicanization” exacerbated the American populace’s negative view of Mexicans. Moreover, the use of the term illustrates the United States’ continued denigration of Mexicans in the years following the U.S. Civil War until the early twentieth century—an era in which the idea of Mexico is largely absent from the U.S. national narrative. Indeed, U.S. Border States and/or border territories had significant Mexican populations, and U.S. businesses invested heavily in Mexican industry. Yet the idea of Mexico, and its influence within the United States, is largely overlooked in lieu of U.S. internal matters, such as industrialization, Eastern European immigration, and the Progressive Era. Thus, “The ‘Mexicanization’ of the United States” analyzes “Mexicanization” rhetoric throughout the U.S. in latter half of the nineteenth century.