When the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican American War in 1848, Mexicans in conquered territories could become citizens without knowing the English language. Lenguaje sin fronteras examines how people in California and New Mexico dealt with language usage in the generations following the war. It describes the profound implication of language choices on racial perception and treatment, ideas of patriotism, national identity, and social acceptance in the United States. ❧ The war with Mexico left a population of individuals who continued to speak, think, and live in Spanish that has been constantly replenished by their progeny and immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries ever since. Large numbers of Spanish-speaking citizens have been the reality, yet they were not always given full rights as citizens. This dissertation explains how Spanish-speaking citizens have been perceived by the larger society and within the Spanish-speaking community as well as demonstrating how they chose to participate in different local, economic, and educational sectors of the United States. It does so by using primary sources including individual and organizational archival papers, government documents, and Spanish language newspapers. Lenguaje sin fronteras observes that efforts to retain and teach in a language other than English were profoundly impacted by ideas of national identity, racial categorization, and foreign policy. In exploring these topics, this project contributes to discussions of varied language learning situations in other United States colonial settings and in comparisons with other immigrant groups. ❧ The varied responses of American policy regarding expectations of language leave an ambivalent legacy. By retaining Spanish, a language with deep roots in these states, many United States citizens also retained transnational connections with Latin America through a language without borders. In turn, language has contributed to a persistent appearance of non-citizenship, an ""otherness"" among many United States-born citizens over generations. Language mdash; as a common bond, as identity, as access, and as a symbol of what is American mdash; has constantly influenced beliefs, attitudes, and values in unexpected ways. Studying our views of Spanish language usage over a long period advances our understanding of how Americans continuously change their perceived -- and received -- identity.
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