Hispanic-Latinos of the Civil War

As a Latina, when I hear “Civil War,” I think of Hispanic-Latinos who fought in a war in hopes of providing an income for their families. I also think about the lack of documentation by historians. The Civil War caused Hispanic-Latinos to experience poverty and live in deplorable conditions. Hispanic-Latinos fighting in a war and having to choose sides to protect their land, human rights, and preserved lifestyle. This war caused fear, destruction, discrimination, death, poverty, and hardships among Hispanic-Latinos.

Hispanic-Latinos have been a part of America before the Civil War. Hispanic-Latinos footprints in America date back to the 16th Century with a history of fighting in other wars. For example, Juan Ponce de Leon, in 1513, had to retreat and return to Cuba from the Florida coast. Pedro Mendez settled in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565 and was part of the Civil War battle. San Antonio de Valero was a priest and part of a mission formed to force Native Americans to Christianity in 1718. Joseph Marion Hernandez was the first member of congress in the 18th Century who served in the U.S. military.

During the 18th Century, Mexico gave America, the United States “control of California, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah,” portions of Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Kansas (Schatz, 2022). Hispanics-Latinos were forced and compelled to give up their land. After taking Mexico’s land, in 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, “all person born or naturalized in the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” This caused hatred towards Hispanic-Latinos citizens of lands they no longer controlled from a country obsessed with building a wall to keep Hispanic-Latinos out of America. Humans who America defines as immigrants and foreigners, the native settlers of the land. Targeted, fighting for the right to vote and preserve the land they rightfully owned. These settlers were Mexicans who were the subject of police brutality, and the government wrongfully took lands. A current trend of the 21st Century is where Native Americans get displaced from their homes and land, being systematically forced to a reservation to rebuild their society, and are subjected to climate change that causes a negative impact. Native Americans are brought under the government’s jurisdiction as a recurring pattern similar to the treatment of Hispanic-Latinos due to being compelled to give up their land for the benefit of America.

Citizens of Puerto Rico residing in the United States volunteered to serve in the military and fought in the Civil War. After the Civil War, Spain surrendered Puerto Rico to the United States as a U.S. territory. In the 19th Century, the U.S. gave Puerto Rico citizenship, although Puerto Ricans are not allowed to vote in Presidential elections only if they reside in the U.S. Under the control of the U.S., Puerto Rico still faces many economic, political, and social challenges, including the protracted education system.

The Civil War in 1861 began over disputes regarding the free and slave states, state rights, and expansion into western territories. As tensions continue to rise over control of controversial topics in every state, will this lead to an American Civil War in the 21st Century? How can America say it is a land of opportunity but deny such opportunities to immigrants compelled to surrender their land, with a broken system of mass incarceration, a pattern of false conspiracies that lead to violence against democracy with riots and insurrections? Can this lead to an American Civil War surrounded by Hispanic-Latinos immigration policies and an increasing population of Hispanic-Latinos?

In conclusion, in the 21st Century, we are surrounded by trending words of “an American Civil War” by commentators, journalists, and media, and it can happen. If it happens, I believe the racial ideologies and treatment of Hispanic-Latinos will be an issue and topic concerning the American Civil War. The Hispanic-Latino population is increasing, the voices are becoming louder, and political involvement is increasing after many years of being the target of inhuman treatment. Hispanic-Latinos have fought in wars dating back to the 16th Century serving in the military, a selfless sacrifice to make it in American society. Still, they are denied human rights, exposed to extortion and violence, and caged under deplorable conditions, and hate crimes increased by approximately 21% (Brooks 2018). Such controversial topics may be a cause and rise to an American Civil War lifted by the unjust of the Union. Alex Padilla, the first Hispanic-Latino, U.S. Senator representing California, quoted, “In the face of these challenges, we must overcome, together, again. We must renew the collective fight for our democracy. It’s up to us- the
time is now to get the job done.”

By Dr. D. Medina-Cortes

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