The bloody history of lynchings of Mexicans in the Southwest is often forgotten, but recent research from Bill Carrigan reveals that Mexican workers and landowners were the targets of mob lynchings.
Carrigan, a history professor at Rowan University in New Jersey, says these murders were motivated by racism and greed for land, and the victims were often accused of theft or other crimes to motivate the mob. Anglo-Americans claimed that the lawlessness of the region forced them to take the law into their own hands.
“What happened was that very quickly this became an excuse, a justification by mobs, they knew that if they said this it resonated with people and they could get away with their unstated objectives,” says Carrigan. These objectives typically meant taking over the murdered person’s ranchlands or mining claim.
These murders continued with impunity until the 1920s, when the Mexican and U.S. governments teamed up to prosecute a sheriff in Texas responsible for killing a Mexican man and his two sons.
“It’s not that violence against Mexicans ended, it continued,” says Carrigan, “but it now had to take a different kind of form, it couldn’t be the same public execution of Mexicans. It had to be secret, cover-of-night. It was a transformative moment.”
Featured image: In 1877, Francisco Arias and José Chamales were lynched in Santa Cruz, California. Their killers were never named in court, and it was speculated that members of the jury had been in the lynch mob. The photo was taken by John Elijah Davis Baldwin, a Santa Cruz photographer. (CREDIT: Covello & Covello Photography)
36 thoughts on “The History of Anti-Mexican Violence and Lynching”
Typical of the education provided by the LAUSD, this important piece of history along with many others were not taught. I am embarrassed to admit it but I did not realize this happened to Mexicans until I was in my twenties.
It’s a flaw in the entire nation’s education system. The history of Mexicans in America isn’t taught. If your history isn’t important, the message is that you are not important. The good, the bad, & the ugly must all be taught. We’re serving no one but those in power by continuing to white wash our history.
I agree we are missing our history and so many young people don’t understand why they are lost. No one cares so why should they cares. So sad
Even today many of our youth still doesn’t know what our ancestors endured. I love my country, but it has to stop abusing and killing immigrants, minorities from any race or color.
To think that this happened less than 100 years ago makes me realize we have come a long way but there is still work to be done.
also chinese. after building railroads. lynched them in wyoming. truckee california chinatown burn to the ground. ever see a chinatown which was not made of brick? they were burn out.
All Lives Matter!
It is so important to learn your history and that of other ethnic groups. So many experiences and stories that need to be told and shared. Jackson California used to be known as Hangtown for all the hangings that happened there. Last woman hung was a Mexican.
Nope not even in history class growing up did I hear about this maybe cause I’m white
Some of my family members were some of those murdered by the Texas Ranger over 90 years ago. It has just come to light about three years ago n has been recorded n recognize by the State of Texas.
Where can I get a book on this? Name of book author
all type of people races went through tough timessome time in the past. Learn it,know it.. dont hold a grudge over it.. use the knowledge not to make the same mistakes,but not to be remorseful and recentful.
Growing up I never learned details about it. Didn’t study much about it.
Is this why the state of Arizona outlawed “ethnic studies”?
It happened only several years ago out east. It went to court with an all white jury and now the two murders can not be prosecuted because of double jeopardy ! The Mexican only crime was to marry a white lady and have a kid with her. The whole town was in on it.
The Mexican people do not exist in the history books. A few years back while I belonged to a sports club, I offered a cash prize to the two best written essays about Gonzalo Mendez. This was at a middle school. The “Chicano” studies teacher accused me of making up the story about Mendez vs Westminister. I also explained to her in detail what “Chicano” actually means and where it comes from. WE ARE INVISIBLE IN THE HISTORY BOOKS.
When I was first licensed, a client asked me to check on her families land in Star County, Texas. She said they owned a small ranch at one time, but she did not know what happened to it. When I explained to the county clerk, what I was looking for she took me to some old musty books, and said the family probably lost the land in the “Great Partition”. That is exactly what happened. Back in the 30’s, Standard Oil came in and filed a partition suit, ostensibly to determine who owned what land. This was done, when most of the owners were “up north” working as migrants. Once the land was partitioned, court cost was assessed against the owners. The property was then sold to pay the cost. The only notice the owners received was by publication and Standard Oil bought the property. Nobody complained, because, if you were Mexican American, you did not mess with courts and the Texas Rangers (Rinches).
in this era of social media & instantaneous mass communication Trump is blatantly exhibiting the capacity & extent of the white man’s hateful forked tongue & his greed. white women always follow their men & pass down the culture — look at Sarah Palin. They are not hue-man, they lack empathy & feel no shame. They are incapable of seeing themselves & therefore can not change, they will forever remain savage & barbaric. The lynching has morphed into cops shooting, tasing, pepper spraying & mercilessly beating unarmed people of color.
Wow … even as an hispanic American that is an insane comment.
If Trump becomes president….American will be going backwards to the time when violence and division was acceptable.
Won’t ever happen again. It is sad that the young don’t have any idea about their history.
It’s a sad thing when history is not taught in the public school system, well certain history is taught…the rest should just be, well, history.
I knew about this atrocities I was sick when I read about this like what happened to the Irish it was kept quiet!! It see starting all over again with Trump he IS a racist ! Sick disgusting people
History is written by the winners. I am not surprised .
The most revealing I ever read was in a quarterly periodical, The Journal of San Diego History, Volume 46, Number 2 – 3, Summer 2000, entitled “San Diego’s Ku Klux Klan 1920-1980” by Carlos L. Larralde and Richard Griswold del Castillo. It details how terrorism and ethnic cleansing changed the demographics, trajectory and history of San Diego County. It was so revealing that I had my students all read it and write essays about it.
Mexican American History and the dark history of white supremacy and its impact on Mexican Americans should be part of the curriculum for schools. What are your ideas of what teachers and non teachers can do so that steps are taken to implement this in all school districts.
True-This is the ugly side of America but just remember nothing can hold us down forever. The history books are full of BS and that’s ok as long as Chicanos know the truth!
Sobering, eye-opening, and motivating. History is so needed for productive ,collective action.