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dc.contributor.authorLeiker, James N.
dc.descriptionDissertation (Ph.D.)--University of Kansas, History, 1999.
dc.description.abstractAfrican Americans comprised almost 10 percent of the United States Army's strength between 1866 and 1898, participating in all major functions of western military service: Indian pacification, border control, protection of civilian communities, and so on. Although the saga of military conquest has been told many times, the social ramifications of employing former slaves and free Blacks to acquire and secure western lands has been ignored in the historical literature. In the sparsely-populated communities along the Texas-Mexico border, African American soldiers were a ubiquitous presence from the end of the Civil War to the United States' entry into World War One.

During the antebellum era, hundreds of runaway slaves from east Texas found sanctuary in Mexico, while in the Civil War, many black Union soldiers entered Mexico and acculturated to Hispanic culture. The number of black soldiers in border garrisons averaged close to 1000, and in some months approached 2000, prior to 1885. Once Blacks joined the western Army, their relationship with border peoples began to deteriorate. Charged with enforcing American authority and protecting elite interests, black soldiers became hated symbols of Anglo aggression.

After 1898, African American newspapers advocated military service as a “self-help” opportunity which might win for Blacks an expanded role in their country's new conquests. As Mexicans displaced blacks labor in Texas' developing system of commercial agriculture, a pattern of interracial hostility arose that became vicious once black soldiers returned to the border. At Brownsville, Rio Grande City, Laredo, and other towns, black soldiers and Hispanics engaged in violence. By the time of the Mexican Revolution and the American “Punitive Expedition,” the two groups regarded each other as enemies, despite a shared experience with white racism. Their history emphasizes the need to consider interaction between peoples of color rather than with the dominant group alone.
dc.publisherUniversity of Kansasen_US
dc.rightsThis item is protected by copyright and unless otherwise specified the copyright of this thesis/dissertation is held by the author.
dc.titleRacial borders : Black soldiers and race relations along the Rio Grande, 1866-1916en_US

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