How do we promote an "Inclusive American History" to all Americans? The following are communications in answer to Paul Newfield's letter.
Quoting Paul Newfield email@example.com:
I think that the scope of the Hispanic contribution to America in winning it's War of Independence against Great Britain depends on a person's view and perception of history. For someone from Concord or Lexington, there is probably no real need to look beyond the limits of his own neighborhood to find an abundance of heroes and events and places that shout out the glories of the winning of the American Revolution. For someone from South Carolina, adventuresome tales of the Swamp Fox will fill the imagination of the listener. New York... Virginia... For those citizen soldiers living in the British colonies, and INSIDE Britain's sphere of influence, the conflict was one of revolution against their sovereign ruler and insurrection against his entire form of government. The war and its consequences were very personal. The Eastern Seaboard Americans were ready to overturn the entire foundations of their society. Personal independence and liberty were strong motivations for those fighters.
On the other hand, for someone participating in that War who was living OUTSIDE of Britain's sphere of influence, say, in Spanish Louisiana, that war was viewed only as following the Spanish king's orders. The war was not about personal liberties, not about fighting for independence. It was just another war of King "A" against King "B", with soldiers on each side dying for their respective kings. Independence and liberty were not significant motivating factors for these people living outside of Great Britain's sphere.
British West Florida - a British possession only since the end of the Seven Years War - did not share the emotions and traditions and history of the other British "colonies". Spain was ready to snatch West Florida for its own at the first opportunity. And if the snatching were to help the cause of the American Revolutionaries in their fight against the British, all the better. (The very term "Seven Years War" speaks to a broader world view, while the narrower term "French and Indian War" regionalizes the conflict)
Texas and California -- Whatever military contributions there might have been by Spanish soldiers at the time would only have been in the context of King "A" vs. King "B". At the time of the fighting, I suspect that the soldiers carrying the rifles thought little of Liberty and Independence as envisioned by people like George Washington and Thomas Payne.
When the dust settled, the history books would be written in English, glorifying the newly formed nation with tales and stories close to home - from New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, etc. The only reason that the French received so much attention was because its troops and its leaders [i.e., Lafayette, et al] were on the ground, fighting INSIDE of the American / British zone of battle.
By seeking a greater recognition of the Hispanic contributions to the founding of the country, aren't we really seeking to change the paradigm by trying to place all contributions at parridy? To ~equalize~ the importance of any contribution at the time of the American Revolution, regardless of where that contribution might have occurred? If we attempt to inflate the value of the Hispanic contribution, do we not also diminish the relative value of those who fought to actually establish the country?
Perhaps we should be seeking a different way of posing the question, "Who are we as a nation?"
"He drew a circle that shut me out, Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout, But love and I had the wit to win. I drew a circle that took him in." -- Unknown Paul Newfield
The people in Spanish Louisiana were not fighting for some abstract cause or for some king they had never seen. They were fighting for home, hearth, and family.
The British planned to invade Spanish Louisiana. Galvez simply beat them to the punch and invaded them first. Letters captured at the Battle of Baton Rouge in 1779 laid out the planned British invasion in glorious detail.
Take a look at Louisiana. Imagine you are living in New Orleans and the British warship the WEST FLORIDA is daily patrolling Lake Pontchartrain. How secure do you feel? You feel that your life and liberty are under constant threat.
Baton Rouge, held by the British, is a mere 70 miles away. The British come to New Orleans all the time on shopping sprees. If they come to shop, they can come to invade in a thrice.
Now, imagine further, that you have managed to capture some British couriers and you know the British are planning an invasion. (Galvez did in fact learn of British perfidy through his extensive spy network.)
You can talk all you want about King A and King B. When King B is sitting in Spain and you're worried about the British invading, treaties and politics don't mean much to you.
Consider Galvez's position from a purely human standpoint. In 1779, he was married to a French creole. He had a stepdaughter and a baby daughter. His father-in-law, mother-in-law, and brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law lived in New Orleans. He had been living in New Orleans since Jan. 1776 and had friends galore in Louisiana. The king be damned when you are defending the people you love.
People fought for many reasons. Some were not the purest of reasons, to be sure. The French were stinging from their recent defeat at British hands. Did they help us because they loved liberty or did they want to stick it to the British?
Many of Galvez's militiamen hated the British because they had been forced out of their homes in Canada and had come to Louisiana to live. This was a sore spot and many saw the attack on Baton Rouge as a chance for revenge. Oliver Pollock was Irish. His reasons for funding the fight against the British is obvious.
The Spanish contribution is not inflated if you consider that the Spanish sent 10,000 lbs of gunpowder to George Washington at a critical time in 1776. General Washington was measuring out how much powder and lead he had left and deciding when to fight and when to flee based on his available supplies.
Galvez sent a flatboat flotilla with 9,000 lbs. of gunpowder up the Mississippi in Sept. 1776. (The other 1,000 lbs. went by ship with George Gibson.) The supplies included cloth, medicine, lead, and muskets. Bernardo de Galvez opened up another front in 1779, drawing British supplies and troops from the 13 colonies and thereby helping General Washington's troops.
Galvez fought the Maryland Loyalist forces, Pennsylvania Loyalists, Waldeckers, along with the 16th Foot while colonists were fighting similar units.
Captain Pickle of the US Navy captured the West Florida on Lake Pontchartrain. Is his contribution to the war any less important because it was outside the original 13 colonies?
It doesn't matter where the battles occurred. The problem is that history books often said that the French were the only foreign power to help in the American Revolution. We remember the Marquis, Pulaski, and Von Steuben but forget others.
Look. I don't want to change history. I only want the complete story told. Not every British colonist was fighting for liberty. About 1/3 of them were Loyalists, about 1/3 rebels, and the final 1/3 didn't care.
And sometimes people contributed a great deal without even knowing they were making a contribution. Take Jane McCrea's death. It certainly forced many colonists to make a choice: Tory or Whig? If the British could not protect the fiancée of a British lieutenant, how could they protect the colonists? Lila Guzman
Lila wrote: Hello, everyone.
A huge "amen!" to educating everyone about the Spanish contribution to the founding of our country. Let's do whatever we can to get the word out. I hope no one takes this the wrong way, but I have to correct something in the rousing call-to-arms email Michael wrote: Today, we Americans are indebted to this heroic Spaniard and his Hispanic army of 7,000 for assisting in the founding of the United States of America by helping to win her independence.
I'm sorry, Michael, but no. To say that his army was Hispanic is to deny the role of the free mulatto militia, black slaves, Indians, the French (Creoles and Acadians), the Germans, the Anglo-Americans, and even Oliver Pollack (an Irishman) who participated in the march on Baton Rouge.
In 1779, when Galvez marched on Manchac and Fort Richmond (Baton Rouge), his army was a crazy quilt of nationalities and skin colors.
Ditto for the Battle of Mobile (some say the "Siege of Mobile.") If you were breathing and willing to fight for Don Bernardo, you could become part of his military operation.
And as a former member of the US Navy, I have to point out that it wasn't just an army. Don Bernardo had naval forces under his command, too. In Aug. 1779, a hurricane sank his ships in New Orleans harbor and he had to raise them before his troops could set out. Some marched. Some sailed up the Mississippi. He set sail for Mobile in 1780. He set sail for Pensacola the following year.
Additionally, I don't think you can lay all of this at the feet of the Black Legend. When I was a kid growing up in Kentucky, I watched Ricky Ricardo on I Love Lucy. He was the only Cuban I knew in the 1950s. I saw Zorro and was transported to Spanish California. I watched the Cisco Kid (although memories of that show are fainter than the rest.)
Then suddenly--there were no Latino faces on TV. Not until Chico and the Man in the 70s. After Freddy Prinze's death, there were scattered faces--Jimmy Smits and the guy on Law and Order (I've temporarily misplaced his name). Then in the 90s, George Lopez (the other Lopez) was discovered by Sandra Bullock and given a tv show.
What happened? Why did Hispanics vanish from television? Why the resistance? Perhaps there are historical reasons for excluding the Spanish from the history of our founding. There was some attempt by the Spanish in New Orleans to get Kentucky into the Spanish Empire. That may not have set well with some.
Don Bernardo died in 1786. I have often speculated that history might have been told differently if he had lived. The Marquis de La Fayette was around to do the grand tour in the 1800s after surviving the French Revolution. Poor Don Bernardo was not. Perhaps there was a lack of opportunity for promotion of the Spanish cause?
Whatever the reason, I can only give you my anecdotal suspicions. And I rely on your discretion with the following 2 paragraphs.
A Latina writer friend of mine has won beaucoup awards, including a very prestigious one from the American Library Association. She cannot get attention from the major publishers in New York City because they think all Latinos live in barrios, are gang members, and just arrived in the United States. They cannot accept that there are middle-class Latinos with ancestors who have been here since the founding of the US. Hispanic doctors? Lawyers? Coca Cola executives? Whoever heard of such a thing!
I just completed a series of non-fiction books with my husband for a particular publisher. The subjects include: Roberto Clemente, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Ellen Ochoa, Cesar Chavez and George Lopez. Why are we going back 50 years on some of those biographies? Why aren't we writing about Antonio Banderas (Puss in Boots in the latest Shrek movie), Don Francisco, Cristina, Alberto Gonzales, General Ricardo Sanchez, Bill Richardson? (We have Governor Richardson's permission to write a children's bio of him--but we don't have a publisher yet.) I don't have the answer. But I am encountering resistance to biographies of modern Hispanics. In Austin, Texas (my community), Univision was recently the #1 television station in the 18-35 demographics. Yet, was the death of Eduardo Palomo covered by the mainstream media? Not that I'm aware of.
OK, I've finished ranting. Lila Guzman, Ph.D.
Before you read this, I'm generally not given to emotion. However, some things in life are important enough to invest one's self in. Therefore, please forgive me in advance if I seem to be too invested.
I've read your comments and find this whole thing fascinating. I'm not a historian, I'm an MBA. I'm just a guy who spent his life as a corporate executive, government executive, and university adjunct professor. All of you folks have blazed trails in history and genealogy way beyond my capacity. Frankly, Mimi infected me with the genealogy bug back in 1994. Since our first meeting, I have completed my work on my mother's lines, only that.
I would like to make a point to all who have read my suggested course of action. What you read from me was a cut-and-paste, excerpts from a book I've written for my two sons. Hopefully, the book will be published this year. I've spent five years on this adventure.
The purpose was to give them and understanding of our roots. My family settled North America in 1599. They remained soldiers under Spain until 1821, when the new nation of Mexico annexed New Mexico. They served as soldiers under Mexico until 1846, when the Americanos took New Mexico. Our clans then served proudly as Americans in the Spanish American War with dear Teddy, Civil War, W.W.I, W.W.II, Korea, Vietnam, etc.
It is not my intent to take anything away from the French, Germans, Blacks, Native - Americans. Most certainly, I appreciate the Anglo - American colonists that established this great nation. Without them there would be no United States of America.
In short, I'm an American and I really like it. It makes me feel good. I'm not anti - American. I love this country. With that said, let me now explain my position as simply as possible. Spaniards under the Empire (White, Black, Brown, Yellow, Purple), Hispanics, Latinos, Hispanos, etc., (all) have given a great deal to this country. That doesn't make them good or bad, just people who participated. Those who died to secure this nation's freedom just did their job, nothing more nothing less.
To report their doing their jobs in defense of this nation is not to exclude any other group of Americans or others. It is simply to add to that wonderful list of patriots and those non - Americans that gave so much to make this wonderful place happen.
I don't know if I qualify as a true American, perhaps a better term would be a descendant of families that were very early explorers and settlers of portions of the North American Continent that later became the USA. Hopefully, this will satisfy Native - Americans that wish to remind all that they were here first or Anglo - Americans who may view themselves as the true American. What ever the case, I wish them well in their perspective.
With that said, I would like to assist in reporting the facts, not fiction. My intent is not political, but simply to tell the truth. Like every other group that loves this nation, Hispanics wish to offer their remembrances of those they lost and those that suffered for this nation. After all, she's worth it!!!!
Michael Perez firstname.lastname@example.org
Perdona me "dos centavos" (and my Spanish):
Paul makes very good points. History is a dress designed by the one who wears it. Kind of like a man with a wife. If she is proud of him, she will want the world to know him; if she is jealous of him, she will try to hide him; but almost always she will want to change him to her own personal liking. History is manipulated because it isn't a popular subject among people and thus, easily fashioned without objection. Teaching a balanced or "inclusive" history is far more complicated than prejudices. That would be too easy to correct. It has to do with teaching people something most do not care to know, "so don't make me learn more than I absolutely need to know to pass the test". Isn't that why Lila and Rick used a young lad - to sell the stories (books) about the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution? Who would read them if they didn't include Lorenzo? Hats off! That's the way to sell history.
Promoting heroes by "race" limits an audience to that same "race" whereas promoting heroes by deeds appeals to all races. While the former may serve to help produce pride in a particular race it does little or nothing to establish historical truth among all races. Said the Marine, "You can't handle the truth" - so it is easier to change truth than to face it and so it is hard for most people to acknowledge that American Independence was fought for and won by many who did not directly enjoy it (i.e. live in the North). I once had an SAR member tell me, "I don't want to hear about TCARA, I want to hear about the American Revolution". Hello?!!
While it is easy to "sell" exclusive history to someone whom it directly relates, it is another project entirely, to "sell" that history to a disinterested party. And that is the question at hand. How do we "sell' or educate ALL peoples, "exclusively Hispanic" history. Unless you have a targeted customer base, you must make your product appealing to a crosscut of customers at large. That is, unless we want to educate only Hispanics, we must teach an "inclusive history" that has something of interest to everyone (America's History is the most inclusive of any other country's). Otherwise, we only succeed in polarizing our audience. (Isn't that what our schools have done?) I do not believe that is our objective.
The question begs, how do we promote an "Inclusive American History" to all Americans? Pero, este es me "dos centavos".
Jack Cowan JVC4321@aol.com ________________________________________
Here is my two cents. It is crucially important that in promoting the history of Spain in the United States, those of us who are descendants of her subjects in the United States, do not segregate ourselves with our attitude and the word w e use. It seems to me that not only is the general American public ignorant of the role Spain and her children played in American history, but also most of the Hispanics. Hispanics by and large believe themselves to be victims, that the Anglo Americans came and took over because of their manifest destiny doctrine. In this email Michael, you mention that Manifest Destiny could only go forward if the history of Spain in this country would be forgotten. Here is the thing I discuss in my book, when you study the history of the Hispanics that were in Texas and the Louisiana and the rest of what would be the U.S. in colonial days and not the history of the millions of Hispanics that have come in more recent times, when you read what they, their leaders and representatives wrote, they had a sense of destiny that they would be part of the American Union. Of this everyone it seems is ignorant. The Texas Revolution was first and foremost an original Tejano cause, if not a present day Tejano cause, the Anglo Americans only joined them in that cause, as they themselves said, as brothers. It seems to me that the whole history is twisted up side down, the Anglo Americans were not the enemy of the colonial Spanish settlers of Texas, the Mexicans were, for Texas to be part of the United States was not just the manifest destiny of the Anglo Americans, it was the manifest destiny of the Spaniards who were already in Texas, and they wrote about it. Perhaps if we teach what the Spanish colonial settlers of Northern New Spain in what would be the United States believed, instead of what their Mexican oppressors to the south believed, our history could be incorporated in to the history of the United States.
At any rate, it has taken me 3 revisions and 420 pages to explain what I mention in this email. Not for the financial gain that would come of it, I am well provided for as I am now, but for the benefit of incorporating the history of Spain and her children in the United States do I wish every American school would use my book to teach in which I give a voice to the silenced Spaniard Founding Fathers of Texas. We have to begin by recognizing that the Spanish colonials of the US were distinct from the people in Mexico, they were distinct ethnically and racially, generally speaking, their history and struggles were distinct, their situation was distinct, they were isolated from the rest of Spain's possessions in the new world, and they were certainly distinct in their views of the destiny of their land and who the heroes and villains were, who the oppressors, the Mexicans, and their liberators, the Americans, were. But they were very few in number and so today they have been lost to history being replaced by the views, history and views of history of those who, although shared a common language and many surnames, were their oppressor. Never the less, it was them who tamed the wilderness of Texas and not another, and their views views are what their history should be built upon, and their views and beliefs actually form a full part of the United States and are not the views of a conquered people, rather, of a liberated people. I realize I may be ruffling some feathers, but, like I said, it takes 420 pages to explain.