Walter Kamphoefner | New Americans or New Southerners? German Texans
Texas, which was home to more than a quarter of Germans residing in the eleven Confederate states, was the only place with an appreciable rural German element, one that was large enough to play a role in politics and war. Just what role they played, however, still remains under dispute. In the popular media, various characterizations of Germans have portrayed them as everything from “fire-breathing secessionists” to “virtually all Unionists.” The range of scholarly opinion is nearly as broad. Older accounts often reflect the characterization of antebellum traveler Frederick Law Olmstead, portraying Germans as largely abolitionist in sentiment. More recent scholarship has cautioned against generalizing from a few radical Forty-eighters to the bulk of ordinary German immigrants. Kamphoefnel re-examines the role and attitudes of Texas Germans (and smaller continental European groups often allied with them) toward slavery, the Confederacy, and Reconstruction, drawing particularly on evidence from letters and from voter behavior. It also explores personal factors which made individuals more or less sympathetic to the Confederate cause.
Dr. Kamphoefner earned his Ph.D. at University of Missouri-Columbia in 1978 and came to TAMU in 1988, where he is now Professor of History. He teaches in the fields of immigration, urbanization, and quantitative methods. He is the author and editor of numerous books and articles related to the German experience in the United States and Texas, including Germans in the Civil War: The Letters they Wrote Home, edited with Wolfgang Helbich (2006) and “New Perspectives on Texas Germans and the Confederacy” in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly (1999). He has now embarked on a larger project involving overseas immigrant tracing to multiple destinations, supported by an American Philosophical Society Sabbatical Fellowship.
Omar S. Valerio-Jiménez | Although We Are the Last Soldiers: Citizenship, Ideology, and Tejano Unionism
Mexican Texan resistance to the Confederacy and Tejano Unionism along the South Texas border will be examined by Valerio-Jiménez. He argues that Mexican Texans’ reactions to the U.S. Civil War were rooted in the relationships Mexicans had established with African Americans in the villas del norte (towns along the Rio Grande) during the Spanish and Mexican periods. Following U.S. annexation, Tejanos assisted runaway slaves who sought freedom in Mexico and they also intermarried with African Americans. The paper demonstrates that Mexican Texans who joined the Union Army did so for various reasons including anti-slavery sentiment, opposition to pro-Confederate local politicians, and expressions of U.S. citizenship. Although they endured hardships during the war and were not politically rewarded afterwards, Tejanos invoked their military service as a claim to U.S. citizenship.
Omar Valerio-Jiménez is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Iowa, where he teaches courses on Latinos, borderlands, and the U.S. West. His first book, River of Hope: Forging Identity and Nation in the Rio Grande Borderlands (Duke University Press, 2013), explores state formation and cultural change along the Mexico-United States border, and traces changes in ethnicity, citizenship, and gender relations among borderland residents as jurisdiction over the area passed from native peoples to Spain, Mexico, and finally the United States. He is co-editor of the anthology, Major Problems in Latina/o History (Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2014), and author of articles on divorce, regional identity, and immigration that have appeared in the Journal of Women’s History, Estudios Mexicanos/Mexican Studies, and the Journal of American Ethnic History. His longer-term project is a transnational study of the U.S.-Mexican War that examines memory, identity, and civil rights.
Rebecca Czuchry | In Their Own Words: African American Women's Testimonies of Violence
Immediately following the Civil War in 1865, African Americans in the former Confederacy faced extremely brutal violence perpetrated by whites. This was particularly true in Texas, a state known during the period for both violence and racial intolerance. Despite this brutal atmosphere, black Texans risked their lives by reporting acts of violence that occurred in their communities. This presentation will examine the testimonies of African Americans as a form of resistance; in testifying to federal officials, black Texans resisted re-subjugation and established a degree of autonomy and power over their own lives.
Dr. Czuchry received her Ph.D. in History from Texas A&M University. She is associate professor and chair of department of History, and Director of African American Studies at Texas Lutheran University, where she teaches nineteenth and twentieth-century U.S. history, race and gender in the U.S., the Atlantic World, the African Diaspora, and Texas and the Borderlands. She is the author of “‘Wantonly Maltreated and Slain Simply Because They are Free:’ Racial Violence During Reconstruction in South Texas,” in African Americans in South Texas History, ed. Bruce Glassrud (College Station: Texas A&M University, 2011). Her recent research has focused on racialized sexual violence during the Reconstruction period.