From Staff Reports
MURFREESBORO, TN — Racism influenced America’s victory in the Mexican War nearly 20 years before the Civil War, according to a university professor.
“I Never Shall Be a White Man Again: Race and Junior Officers in the Mexican War” is a research report by Middle Tennessee State University History Professor Brady Holley.
Interviewed by “MTSU On the Record” radio program host Gina Logue, Holley’s discussion airs 6 – 6:30 a.m. June 4 on WMOT-FM 89.5 and on www.wmot.org.
Holley examined letters, diaries and other documents and concluded military officer training didn’t necessarily provide greater understanding of the enemy than that of ordinary soldiers and the Army was replete with racism against Mexican people.
America’s military had less negative views of Mexicans who were descended from Spanish conquistadores in the 1500s, Holley said.
“In their physical appearance, they tended to be lighter,” Holley said. “These officers were very aware of … levels of whiteness … the lighter-skinned someone tended to be, the more they attributed that person to be of … European heritage.”
The war from 1846-’48 resulted in U.S. acquisition of what’s now California, Nevada, Utah and Texas, most of Arizona and New Mexico, and parts of Kansas, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Colorado.