In 1807 the first meeting of the Anglo-American andnSpanish cultures occurred when an expedition under thencommand of Zebulon Montgomery Pike was capturednnorth of Santa Fe. Soon thereafter, fur trappers and tradersnbegan to make their way into the region, often convergingnon the village of Taos; and after Mexico won its independencenfrom Spain in 1821, Anglo-American incursionsnmetamorphosed into a highly prized trading relationshipnthat made the Santa Fe Trail between New Mexico andnMissouri a veritable bridge between Anglo and HispanicnAmerica. Simultaneously, the Mexican government awardednAnglo-Americans in Texas grants to settle rich farmland.nBy 1836 they had revolted and won their war for independence.nFor neariy a decade, Texas was an independent republic,nbut in 1845 it was annexed by the United States, an act thatnprovoked war with Mexico. By 1848, the United States hadnprevailed and Mexico was forced to cede the greater part ofnwhat is today the U.S. Southwest. Significantly, at the timenof the so-called “Mexican Cession,” there were perhapsnseventy-five thousand Mexican inhabitants in the entirenregion. Among those who remained were the ancestors ofnMexican-Americans such as my friend who claims descentnfrom a member of the old Coronado expedition. (When hisnson’s Anglo-American girlfriend asked him a couple of yearsnago when his family had come to the United States, mynfriend correctly responded that it was the United States thatnhad come to his family.) In point of fact, however, thenancestors of the majority of today’s Mexican-Americannpopulation, including my own, would not come to thenSouthwest until after it was a part of the United States.nIn addition to place names, terms from the Spanishncolonial period are either still used by inhabitants of thenregion or are so much a part of popular folklore that theynhave been fully assimilated into American culture. Theseninclude ranching terms such as rodeo, mustang, lariat, andnbuckaroo. Spanish terms such as fiesta, siesta, fandango,nand, certainly, adios are well-known to Anglo-Americansnwho do not speak Spanish. Mexican music performed bynAmerican and Mexican entertainers flood the airwaves ofnthe Southwest. Walk in the plaza of El Paso or the streets ofndowntown San Antonio and you will likely hear far morenSpanish than English. Whether painted by Anglo-Americansnor Hispanic-Americans, art in the Southwest often hasna pronounced Mexican flavor. Mexican food is one of thenmost popular ethnic cuisines not only in the Southwest butnin the entire United States.nThe Hispanic heritage lives on even in the law. Asnriparian, or water, law throughout the region is often basednon custom, courts in the Southwest often demand to knownthe history of water usage in a given locale for centuriesnback, thus implicitly lending weight to Spanish law. Herenand there, the 13th-century Spanish legal code known as “lanLey de las Siete Partidas” still plays a role in Southwesternnjurisprudence. Those who would downplay these real andnfar-reaching contributions, and who persist in the notionnthat the Hispanics of the Southwest were litfle more thannfoils for John Wayne movies, are simply uninformed. Thosenwho see danger in Hispanic culture before they see richnessnand a different kind of order are alarmist at best, bigoted ornxenophobic at worst.nHowever, there is no denying that a certain danger doesnexist in the growing tendency to exalt the contributions ofnminority groups. Specifically, such an orientation inevitablynruns the risk of disparaging the culture that has produced thenmajoritarian institutions that hold the nation together. Therenis in fact reason to be deeply concerned that from Californianto Texas the traditional notion of the melting pot is beingnincreasingly sneered at today. Instead, ethnic activists, ethnicnpoliticians, and their liberal and libertarian patrons increasinglynemploy metaphors about society and culture that stressnseparateness. For them, the United States is a “patchworknquilt,” a “mosaic,” a “salad bowl.” Anything but innocuous,nthis assault on the supremacy of the melting pot metaphorntranslates into the exaltation of ethnicity over citizenship.nFifteen years ago when I was a graduate student at anMidwestern university, the renowned English socialnhistorian E.J. Hobsbawm met with a small group ofnwould-be historians on the occasion of one of his infrequentnvisits to this country. After fielding a few obligatory questionsnabout his work on revolutions in Europe, he suddenlynraised the issue of the growing presence of Hispanics in thenUnited States. I can’t remember his exact words, but hisnquestion went something like this: “What in the world isngoing on here?”nThe answer, in a word, was “immigration.” It is hardlyncoincidental that historical revisionism in the Hispanicncommunity should coincide with one of the major demographicntrends of our time, the massive rate of entry into thenUnited States of Hispanic immigrants from all over LatinnAmerica. This phenomenon began in the latter 1960’s andncontinues virtually unabated to this day. From the seventyfiventhousand in the Southwest in 1848, the number ofnHispanics has grown to approximately 23 million today.nThough they come from all over Latin America, half ornmore are of Mexican descent.nHowever greater in importance the historicalncontributions of Hispanics and other ethnicngroups may grow, the civic culture of thenUnited States must remain largelynAnglo-Saxon.nIt is the numbers that are proving problematic, not thenHispanic-ness (or the Asian-ness) of the new immigration.nThose who know their U.S. immigration history will recallnthat Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson both expressednconcerns about the creation of large enclaves ofnnon-English immigrants in the United States in the 18thncentury. Their fears arose not because the newcomers werennot of English stock, per se, but because the immigrants’naffinity for their own language and legal customs tended tonimpede assimilation, which in turn raised questions aboutnseparatism. The Founding Fathers’ concerns over Germannimmigration proved that racism per se need not be a motivenin addressing such issues. In our own day, if francophonennnAPRIL 1992/19n