Conquering California, Part 1 of 17: Introduction

INTRODUCTION

“When America sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing guns. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some of them, I assume, are good people.” ~ Mexican El Presidente Don Juan Trompeta, 1845.

Okay, maybe there really wasn’t a Don Juan Trompeta. But if there had been, I’m sure he would have said something like that, about Mexico’s illegal immigrant problem.

It happened during the first half of the 19th century. Illegal immigrants from America were pouring into Mexico.

At first Mexico welcomed us with open arms. They made it easy for us to become Mexican citizens. And they allowed us to work, and buy land, and participate in the growing economy.

How did we thank this country? In Texas we banded together and rebelled. And in 1836, we took Texas away from Mexico and made it an independent republic.

Mexico sensed that California was next, and began clamping down on illegal immigration. This is a story about how that worked out for Mexico. It’s a tale about how a ragtag band of illegal immigrants from the United States took up arms against their host.

Today, America goes to great lengths to keep Mexicans out. But at one time, it was the other way around. (This photo depicts the beach at the U.S.-Mexico border, from the side of Tijuana, Mexico. Photo from Wikipedia, created by James Reyes on 10/22/06.)

It won’t be a pretty story. Because what you read here won’t bear much resemblance to what you may have read in public school history books, that tend to glorify our country and gloss over our atrocities and bumbling.

But it’s a true tale, as best as I could glean from multiple sources on the internet. And also from what I can remember from a California History course I completed many years ago, in college.

I found a lot of information, and couldn’t resist writing a 10,000 word post. But no one wants to read a 10,000 word post. Not even me. So I’ve decided to break this down into a 17-part series of posts, to serve more easily digestible portions. Chasing Unicorns will be stringing out this series over the summer.

Yep, I’ve done written a mini-book. But I’ve tried to make it an interesting and fun read. And coherent. One thing I’ve noticed about this subject is that there is little coherence. Not even in Wikipedia. Instead, there’s a lot of conflicting information and confusing segues that leave you with more questions than answers.

You can’t get a clear picture of how California became a state unless you take snippets of information from multiple sources, look for a pattern, and then arrange them the way you’d put a jigsaw puzzle together.

But I warn you, this jigsaw puzzle may leave you wincing at times. I love my country. And what I love most about my country is that I can shine an honest light on it without fear of going to jail. So I will present to you the raw, unvarnished truth. All the ugliness and glory combined. The true tale you never read in public school.

This is how the West was really won. This is the true story about illegal immigrants from America, and the conquering of California.

Come on back tomorrow, for Part 2: Alta California.

 

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