Research papers on the Chicano Movement illustrate the historical significance on this civil rights movement that is not often discussed. Paper Masters can explain and outline the movement from its history to the elements that are still relevant today.
California was part of the Republic of Mexico until after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which annexed California to the United States at the end of the 1846-1848 Mexican-American War. Soon after the land was transferred, the California Gold Rush brought tens of thousands of gold-seekers from foreign countries and other parts of the United States into what had previously been a part of Spanish-ruled Mexico. Most Anglo-Americans settled near the northern California focus of the gold rush, and it was not until the 1870s, when the transcontinental railway connected southern California to the rest of the nation, that there was a state-wide Anglo-American majority. At that point, legislation began to reflect discriminatory practices against the Mexican and Spanish Californians in the following ways:
- Land was brought under taxation.
- Taxation caused wealthy landowners to lose their land titles and fortunes in long court battles and working class Mexicans and Californians to lose their rancho jobs.
- The rancheros were not trained for work in industry and non-ranching occupations and became unemployed or underemployed.
- Foreigner mining fees were also levied on Mexicans born in California, despite their U.S. citizenship rights under the Hidalgo Treaty.
- Vagrancy laws were passed to drive newly jobless Mexicans and Californios from California, and the state changed its Constitution so that laws no longer had to be written in Spanish as well as English.
A lower class of disenfranchised, Mexican-ancestored, displaced-worker Californians was thus created, which ultimately motivated the Chicano movement.
The Chicano civil rights movement was born in the 1960s, when African-Americans were pursuing their civil rights with vigor. The Chicano movement sprang up separately, but brought similar charges of discrimination and cultural disenfranchisement. Unlike African-Americans, Mexicans arrived in the United States when they were absorbed by California's annexation, or when they immigrated from Mexico.