Francisco P. Ramirez’s Radical Journalism and the promises and realities of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
Despite the promises of the Treaty, anti-Mexican violence in the aftermath of war was so commonplace that many English-language U.S. newspapers often did not include reports of it in their publications. In 1855, 19 year old Mexican American journalist Francisco Ramirez published the first issue of El Clamor Publico.
Ramirez initially believed in the ideas of democracy and freedom that came with annexation into the United States. He was hopeful and believed in the promises of the Treaty. He encouraged his readers to assimilate. Ramirez changed course, however, after witnessing the realities of the new racial order and he began to use his journalism to expose hypocrisy and encourage his readers to know their rights.
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In the years leading up to the Civil War, the antebellum period, Ramírez used his journalism to challenge the spread of slavery and White supremacist practices in the United States. As one author notes, “The young editor wielded El Clamor as an educational tool to counter the views of the majority of white Angelenos who were ardently proslavery.
Ramírez attacked the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision in 1857, in which it was ruled that African Americans had no rights that white people were bound to respect; echoing abolitionist movement warnings, Ramírez predicted that slavery would tear the United States apart. He “angered whites, many of whom were Southern sympathizers, with his attacks on slavery and calls for racial equality for Mexicans, blacks, Chinese and Indians.” El Clamor Público posited that slavery was the linchpin of the apocalyptic violence sweeping the continent (Paul Ortiz, An African American and Latinx History of the United States, pg 56).
We are left with Ramírez’s legacy of radical journalism but his views at the time led to the downfall of his publication, unfortunately. He angered many of the White population. He also turned away many of his Mexican American readers who did not approve of his firm stances on slavery, the moderates, who just wanted to go along with the new order with hopes of being embraced by it.
The new racial order that accompanied the dominant White American culture forming in the Southwest in the 1850s, layered onto the older ideas about racial identity perpetuated through the Spanish casta system that remained among many of the land-owning elite and many believed that their claims to White Spanish heritage would set them apart from other Mexican Americans who were visibly Black and Brown. As the film I asked you to watch for our discussion board this week shows, it did not work out that way, and Mexican Americans were disenfranchised in the new racial hierarchy.
Read more about Francisco P. Ramirez: Please click the following link to access a 4-page article about this little-known Mexican American historical figure (plan to read it more than once if you need to and take notes that will help you answer the writing prompts) Click to access article, “Francisco Ramirez: Pioneering Mexican-American Lawyer” by Paul Gray: Students are required to refer to this source in this Critical Thinking Activity
Use the sources on this page to write about Francisco P. Ramirez.
Refer to sources by name in your work to explain what did you learn about this little known historical figure:
Did Francisco P. Ramirez initially believe in the promises of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo? Be specific and demonstrate your understanding of the promises of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that we are focused on this week.
What made his journalism radical in post-1848 United States? In other words, what was happening during the time that he was publishing his work and how did he use his journalism to respond?
What led to the downfall of his publication and what does that teach you about the different political positions Mexican Americans held at the end of the nineteenth century?
What parts of this history challenged or supported your understanding of U.S. History prior to this Module?
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