Events in Hispanic American History, 1851 – 1875
After the United States took over California in 1846, the biggest
issue for Californios (Hispanic Californians) is land ownership. These
former Mexican citizens have to prove what land they owned before the
takeover, especially because newly arriving Anglos want the land.
Therefore Congress passes the Calfornia Land Act to help Californios prove
their claims. Many Californios, however, lose their land.
General Santa Anna returns to power as president of Mexico and,
through the Gadsden Treaty, sells to the United States the region from
Yuma (Arizona) along the Gila River to the Mesilla Valley (New Mexico).
Vagrancy laws and so-called "greaser laws" prohibiting
bear-baiting, bullfights, and cockfights are passed, clearly aimed at
prohibiting the presence and customs of Californios. ("Greaser"
was a negative term Anglos used for their Hispanic neighbors.)
Anglo businessmen attempt to run Mexican teamsters (wagon-drivers) out
of south Texas, violating the guarantees offered by the Treaty of
Cigar factories are built in Florida, Louisiana, and New York to
make genuine Cuban cigars. Many working-class Cubans follow the industry
to jobs in the United States.
The Homestead Act is passed in Congress, allowing squatters in
the West to settle and claim vacant lands, often those owned by Mexicans.
April 27. Spanish troops stationed in Puerto Rico mutiny,
and are executed by the colonial governor.
Cubans leave for Europe and the United States in sizable numbers
during Cuba's first major attempt at independence from Spain.
The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is adopted, declaring
all people of Hispanic origin born in the United States to be U.S.
September 17. A decree in Puerto Rico frees all children born of
slaves after this date. In 1870, all slaves who are state property are
freed, as are various other classes of slaves.
September 23. El Grito de Lares, the shout for Puerto
Rican independence, takes place, but disorganized insurrectionists are
easily defeated by the Spanish.
October. Cuban rebels led by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes declare
independence at Yara, in the eastern portion of the island.
The Spanish government frees the slaves it owns in Cuba and
Puerto Rican representatives in Spain win equal civil rights for
Slavery is finally abolished in Puerto Rico.
The U.S. Supreme Court in Henderson v. Mayor
of New York
rules that power to regulate immigration is held solely by the federal
The Ten Years' War, a series of unsuccessful Spanish attempts to evict
rebels from the eastern half of Cuba, comes to an end with the signing of
the Pact of El Zajón. The document promises amnesty for the insurgents
and home rule, and provides freedom for the slaves that fought on the side
of the rebels.
Almanac, Gale, 1997.