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One National Family

Texas, Mexico, and the Making of the Modern United States, 1820–1867

Sarah K. M. Rodríguez

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A fascinating new history of Texas that emphasizes the importance of Mexico's political culture in attracting US settlers and Texas's unique role in the nation-building efforts of both Mexico and the United States.

Why did tens of thousands of Anglo settlers renounce their US citizenship and declare their loyalty to another country by migrating to the Mexican Republic of Texas between 1821 and 1836? In One National Family, Sarah K. M. Rodríguez challenges traditional assumptions about early North American history to draw new conclusions about the comparative power, viability, and nation...

A fascinating new history of Texas that emphasizes the importance of Mexico's political culture in attracting US settlers and Texas's unique role in the nation-building efforts of both Mexico and the United States.

Why did tens of thousands of Anglo settlers renounce their US citizenship and declare their loyalty to another country by migrating to the Mexican Republic of Texas between 1821 and 1836? In One National Family, Sarah K. M. Rodríguez challenges traditional assumptions about early North American history to draw new conclusions about the comparative power, viability, and nation-building of Mexico and the United States. Drawing from archival research in both countries, Rodríguez highlights a profound political irony at the core of US expansion—that it was spurred by US weakness and Mexican viability.

Rodríguez argues that Mexican federalism, long blamed for the country's disintegration and instability, was precisely what attracted thousands of US immigrants to Mexican Texas. Mexico's comparatively weak fiscal structure, ample land, and commitment to dual sovereignty made it an appealing alternative to the thousands of US agrarians who were disillusioned with the United States' political and economic centralization.

Yet if Mexico's political system was its strength in the 1820s, it would be the source of conflict and secession by the 1830s. Both Mexico and the United States confronted the limitations of federalism in their respective journeys from loosely confederated republics to consolidated, modern nation-states. But precisely because of its traumatic territorial losses in the mid-nineteenth century, Mexico embraced the characteristics of modern liberal democracy—majoritarianism, territorial sovereignty, and racial equality—far sooner than the United States did.

Published in cooperation with the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University.

Reviews

Reviews

The first comparative study of its kind, this ambitious and groundbreaking book forces us to rethink the intimately intertwined histories of the United States and Mexico. Placing Texas as the paradigmatic starting point of each nation's conflicted journey toward modernity, Rodríguez makes us reconsider the relationship between slavery and federalism, finding much in common in the two countries' shared drive to consolidate united liberal nation-states. A veritable tour de force.

By undercutting the assumption that the United States was more politically viable than Mexico in the early decades of both countries, One National Family entirely shifts our perspective, changing how we understand not only the early history of Texas but also the path of the two countries to becoming modern nations.

In taking seriously the idea that at least some Anglo migrants were drawn to Texas by Mexico's political system—and not merely the lure of cheap land—Sarah Rodriguez's bold new book will change forever how readers think about manifest destiny and the US-Mexico borderlands.

From Mexican independence and the settlement of Texas to the eve of the American Civil War, this astute account of governance and nation-building challenges conventional assumptions, tracing the ambitions, strengths, and vulnerabilities revealed by developments across the borderland and on both sides of a hardening international divide.

In this ambitious work, Rodríguez has taken a long stride toward clarifying our understanding of these crucial years of expansion and division. Her story is of the United States and Mexico grappling, both within themselves and with others, over issues of slavery and authority that were at the center of North American nation-making.

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Book Details

Release Date
Publication Date
Status
Preorder
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
352
ISBN
9781421449449
Illustration Description
1 map
Table of Contents

Map
Introduction
Part I
Chapter 1: The Greatest Nation on Earth
Chapter 2: Land, Loyalty, and Identity in the Trans-Mississippi Corridor
Chapter 3: Slavery, Federalism, and Mexico's First Civil War
Chap

Map
Introduction
Part I
Chapter 1: The Greatest Nation on Earth
Chapter 2: Land, Loyalty, and Identity in the Trans-Mississippi Corridor
Chapter 3: Slavery, Federalism, and Mexico's First Civil War
Chapter 4: Anti-national and Contemptible Intrigues
Part II
Chapter 5: Toward a Single National Truth
Chapter 6: Sovereignty, Secession, and the Decline of the Old Federalism
Chapter 7: Ayutla, Antislavery, and the Rise of the New Liberalism
Chapter 8: The Birth of Two Nations
Epilogue
Index

Author Bio
Sarah K. M. Rodríguez
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Sarah K. M. Rodríguez

Sarah K.M. Rodríguez (FAYETTEVILLE, AR) is an assistant professor of US history at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.