American emigrants: confederate, socialist and Mormon colonies in Mexico
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This dissertation discusses three different colonization schemes of Americans in Mexico—Confederates in the wake of the US Civil War and Reconstruction who refused to live under the Union government, a group of who tried to establish a utopian society, and Mormons who sought refuge from prosecution in the United States from anti-polygamy laws. In many ways, each of these groups were a far cry from the Mexican government’s ideal of colonists, but each also benefitted from the idea that Anglo-Americans were particularly well suited to the “exploitation” of natural resources and the development of an industrial capitalist economy. The Mexican government, particularly under Porfirio Díaz’s regime, was willing to grant certain freedoms to these groups that it denied to others. Thus, while millions of people across the world looked to the United States for political and economic freedoms, dissidents in the United States often turned to Mexico for the same reason. The assumptions about white Americans also worked in the colonists’ favor on a personal level. Most of these colonists had very little capital and brought nothing to invest in Mexico besides their labor. Nonetheless, they actively sought and established relationships with the Mexican elite—attending parties and hosting gatherings with some of the richest people in the region. Despite their status as privileged white American colonists, all three groups engaged in some form of justifying their presence in Mexico. The colonists were all aware that their presence in the nation was contentious. Through varying methods, all performed Mexicanidad, or Mexican identity, to prove their belonging in Mexico.