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In 1894, Walter Logan, the so-called "apostle of irrigation," promoted investment in Mexico among New York entrepreneurs by claiming, "Sonora is the California of Mexico, and history repeats itself." Logan was but one of many notable surnames--Chandler, Huntington, Rockefeller, Hearst--that lined up, like boxcars, to follow the ties of U.S. capital into Mexico. His sales pitch for a "new California" articulated an important historical trajectory that led to heavy investment across the border. By 1910, Americans owned more than twenty-seven percent of the nation's total land and eighty percent of its railroads.
Latin Americanists refer to this economic expansion as a "peaceful invasion" of Mexico and the creation of a "semi-colonial economic order." One scholar suggests that "U.S. elites sought to extend their interests into Mexico by employing the strategies that were so successful for them in the American West." My dissertation asks how and why this occurred, and it measures the cultural consequences of Western expansion and heavy U.S. investment in Mexico at the dawn of the twentieth century.
Several sites along the U.S.-Mexican borderlands set the backdrop to this history: silver mines in southern Colorado, New Mexico's Pecos and Mesilla Valleys, Sonora's Yaqui River valley, irrigated fields in Chihuahua, hunting grounds in Baja California, law offices in Los Angeles, and mythic mines and treasure caches in Arizona.
This research has received generous support from a Richard E. Greenleaf Fellowship at the University of New Mexico, an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship at the Huntington Library, and a Graduate Student Fellowship at the Newberry Consortium on American Indian Studies. Several organizations at Yale have sustained this research, as well: the Beinecke Library; the Howard R. Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers and Borders; the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition; and the Program in Agrarian Studies.