Borderline Americans: Racial Division and Labor War in the by Katherine Benton-Cohen

By Katherine Benton-Cohen

“Are you an American, or are you not?” This was once the query Harry Wheeler, sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona, used to decide on his objectives in a single of the main notable vigilante activities ever conducted on U.S. soil. And this is often the query on the middle of Katherine Benton-Cohen’s provocative background, which ties that possible distant nook of the rustic to 1 of America’s important issues: the ancient construction of racial barriers.

It used to be in Cochise County that the Earps and Clantons fought, Geronimo surrendered, and Wheeler led the notorious Bisbee Deportation, and it really is the place deepest militias patrol for undocumented migrants at the present time. those dramatic occasions animate the wealthy tale of the Arizona borderlands, the place humans of approximately each nationality—drawn by means of “free” land or via jobs within the copper mines—grappled with questions of race and nationwide identification. Benton-Cohen explores the day-by-day lives and transferring racial limitations among teams as disparate as Apache resistance combatants, chinese language retailers, Mexican-American homesteaders, Midwestern dry farmers, Mormon polygamists, Serbian miners, manhattan mine managers, and Anglo ladies reformers.

Racial different types as soon as blurry grew sharper as business mining ruled the sector. principles approximately domestic, family members, paintings and wages, manhood and womanhood all formed how humans thought of race. Mexicans have been legally white, yet have been they appropriate marriage companions for “Americans”? Why have been Italian miners defined as dwelling “as no white guy can”? by means of displaying the a number of percentages for racial meanings in the USA, Benton-Cohen’s insightful and informative paintings demanding situations our assumptions approximately race and nationwide identification.

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72 The Spanish and then the Mexicans had tried to solve the “Indian problem” for more than two hundred years, with limited success. Non-Â�Hispanic Americans argued that Spaniards were simply bad colonialists, and that Americans would show them how it was done. Americans typically made these arguments before acÂ�tually encountering any Apaches. In 1856 the annual report of the Sonora Exploring and Mining Company, created to search for silver ore in the Gadsden Purchase, assured investors: “No deÂ�penÂ�dence can be placed on the accounts given by the Spaniards, who were cruel colonizers, and have always provoked that barbarity of€which they so much complain.

In Â�contrast, common law in its strictest form gave widowed Â�women only the use,€not ownership, of a mere one-Â�third of their husbands’ estates (though this custom had faded). Still, Arizona was generous. By 1887, the widow of a€man with other heirs received the one-Â�third portion of her husband’s property free and clear, and all of her husband’s estate if he had no descendants. Not only that; Arizona’s inheritance laws were absolutely gender-Â�neutral: widowed husbands and wives got the same provisions.

On a visit to Tucson, Long asked Wise why he never visited his own ranch. ” Wise signed the ranch over to Long, who was killed by Apaches shortly after. ’”78 Soon after Long’s death, a Tucson posse perpetrated one of the nation’s most notorious attacks against Indian peoples. In late April 1871, a group of 43 A Shared World in Tres Alamos six prominent Anglos and several dozen Mexican Americans from Tucson (many from families with long histories of Apache fightÂ�ing in the colonial military) banded together with Tohono O’odham Indians in a brutal attack on a band of Aravaipa Apaches, camped under a white flag outside Camp Grant on the San Pedro River several dozen miles north of Tres Alamos.

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