Borderline Americans

Borderline Americans: racial division and labor war in the Arizona borderlands

Katherine Benton-Cohen
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Borderline Americans
    Book Description:

    Are you an American, or are you not This is the question at the heart of Katherine Benton-Cohen's provocative history, which ties that seemingly remote corner of the country to one of America's central concerns: the historical creation of racial boundaries. By showing the multiple possibilities for racial meanings in America, Benton-Cohen's insightful and informative work challenges our assumptions about race and national identity.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-05355-7
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[x])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-17)

    “Are you an American, or are you not?” This was the question that Harry Wheeler, the sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona, used to determine his targets in one of the most remarkable vigilante actions in U.S. history. It took place in a remote mountain town near the Arizona-Mexico border on July 12, 1917, three months after the United States joined World War I. In the days leading up to the event, Wheeler had appointed more than two thousand temporary deputies, among them miners, foremen, Protestant clergymen, prominent merchants and businessmen, a company doctor, and a Catholic priest. At 4:00 A.M.,...

  4. 1 A Shared World in Tres Alamos
    (pp. 18-47)

    The settlement once known as Tres Alamos does not appear on modern maps or mailing addresses. It has left barely a trace on the landscape. Toll bridge, stagecoach station, general store, old irrigated fields, family homesteads—all gone. People still own ranches in the area, which is reached via a long dirt road, but there is no place called Tres Alamos anymore.

    Once, though, here along the San Pedro River, men and women of Mexican, European, and African origin dug irrigation systems, set up businesses, built a school, befriended and married each other, and, inevitably, quarreled with each other, too....

  5. 2 Race and Conflict in Tombstone
    (pp. 48-79)

    In early April 1882, Cochise County hosted an illustrious visitor. William Tecumseh Sherman, who had marched across Georgia during the Civil War campaigns and now served as commanding general of the U.S. Army, was touring southeastern Arizona to investigate reports of violent cattle raids and rampant murder by gangs of “Cowboys” (or “Cow-boys,” but almost always capitalized). Tombstone residents set off a volley of celebratory gunfire and “Chinese bombs” (firecrackers) to greet the general and his entourage. A parade snaked through the main thoroughfares of Fremont and Allen streets, where revelers swayed to the beat of a brass band. Sherman...

  6. 3 The White Man’s Camp in Bisbee
    (pp. 80-119)

    In 1877, the same year Ed Schieffelin found Tombstone’s silver, about twenty miles away a “rather slim and raw-boned” civilian army contractor named Jack Dunn noticed the rusty stain of copper while he scouted for Apaches at a mile-high mountain crossing known as Puerta de las Mulas (Mule Pass). He and his scouting companion shared news of their find back at Fort Bowie, where they grubstaked an alcoholic wanderer named George Warren to investigate further. A year later, forty-seven mining claims had been filed at Mule Pass, including one that became the bountiful Copper Queen Mine. Warren died penniless after...

  7. 4 “A Better Man for Us” in Warren
    (pp. 120-147)

    While Phelps Dodge and its allies reformed and incorporated, the Calumet & Arizona Company took a different approach. In 1906 C&A’s investors created the model suburb of Warren as an alternative to Bisbee, with its overcrowding, poor sanitation, and ethnic tumult. The townsite’s designer, Warren Manning (the name was a coincidence; the town was named for pioneering prospector George Warren), was a prominent Massachusetts landscape architect turned urban planner. In early 1906, he came to Bisbee, checked into PD’s beautiful new Copper Queen Hotel, and was shocked and fascinated by what he found. “Such a town you . . ....

  8. 5 Mormons and Mexicans in the San Pedro River Valley
    (pp. 148-176)

    On September 4, 1915, residents of the railroad town of Benson read the following items in the local paper.

    The town’s “Spanish ladies” were extending a “cordial invitation . . . to all” for an enchilada-and-tamale supper and a concert, to celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day (September 16) and to raise money for the Catholic church. Lee Park Lim, a Chinese interpreter from Tucson, was in town “on of ficial business.” Local girl “Miss Ernestina Martínez spent the weekend” visiting friends at the San Juan Ranch outside town, while rancher Reyes Mendoza had ridden into Benson for a few days and...

  9. 6 Women and Men in the Sulphur Springs and San Simon Valleys
    (pp. 177-197)

    In 1909, the widowed Mary Cowen, her three daughters, and her father, George Homrighausen, rode the Southern Pacific from Paola, Kansas, to the ranch town of Willcox in northeastern Cochise County. There the family hired two teams of horses, loaded their wagons, and made their way to a spot ten miles south, in the Sulphur Springs Valley. Soon they were filing homesteads, buying land, planting crops, and raising cattle. Over the next year, more plains folks rolled in, several from the same county in Kansas. By 1910, Kansas Settlement boasted eighty-nine people who held Sunday school, ice cream socials, and...

  10. 7 The Bisbee Deportation
    (pp. 198-238)

    While midwestern newcomers quietly transformed rural Cochise County, the entire world seemed to be exploding—across the border in Mexico, then in Europe, and closer to home in Arizona’s mining camps and the new state capital of Phoenix. In 1910, Arizona was finally shaking off its frontier reputation to gain statehood, while just next door the Yaqui Wars and the Mexican Revolution were erupting from the long-smoldering resentment against Porfirio Díaz’s repressive regime. In Cochise County, the revolution was no distant abstraction. First in 1911, then in 1914 and 1915, major battles ensued just over the Mexican border, in Naco...

  11. 8 One County, Two Races
    (pp. 239-266)

    World War I turned out to be the high point of Cochise County’s prosperity and political influence. Drought and glutted agricultural markets halted the homesteading movement and devastated the ranching economy. Mining fared no better. From 1918 to 1921, copper prices fell by almost two-thirds, production by three-quarters. In 1921, ev ery mine in Arizona but one closed. Bisbee mines retained a few hundred underground men, many part-time. Work halted at open-pit operations. The Phelps Dodge smelter in Douglas kept only a skeleton crew. Conditions throughout the 1920s remained unsteady, and during the Depression, mine and smelter employment rolls shrank...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 267-274)

    By the 1930s, the line between “Mexican” and “white” was well entrenched, but it was never completely stable. The New Deal and World War II gave workers new tools to dig away at its foundation, the dual-wage system. The New Deal had two faces: one that offered local elites greater power, and another that granted union rights where none had existed before. Thanks to the right to collective bargaining, granted in the National Industrial Recovery Act and the Wagner Act, a new era of unionizing began in Cochise County. A small Mine-Mill local or ga nized in 1933 went on...

  13. Abbreviations
    (pp. 277-278)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 279-348)
  15. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 349-354)
  16. Index
    (pp. 355-367)