Latino Americans Blog
Comments on the book: OUR HISPANIC ROOTS: What History Failed To Tell Us, 2nd ed.
May 5, 2014 12:21 PM by Carlos Vega
For hundreds of years the great Hispanic contribution to the making of the United States has been systematically glossed over by history books and the nation at large. Yet, we can say based on undisputed historical fact, that without the Hispanic contribution it is quite probable that today’s United States would not exist. That contribution extended for a period of over 300 years, from the discovery of North America by the Spaniard Juan Ponce de León in 1513, up to and beyond the American Revolution. In fact, without the Hispanic support and aid amounting to many millions of today’s dollars—over a billion dollars to be exact—the American Revolution would have either failed or extended indefinitely.
Let’s look at some of the book’s facts.
-First, the name “America.” What do we understand for “America”? In the United States, America has only one meaning—the United States and Americans its people, so everything from the United States is called America: American food, American cars, American politics, American Education. Is this right? It is not. America comprises two continents, one to the north and the other to the south, and Americans are all the people from either of the two Americas. People from Mexico, Argentina, the Dominican Republic and the United States are all Americans. But, America” is basically a misnomer, named after an Italian explorer, Americo Vespucci, with little credentials to his name. If anything, it should have been named “Columbus,” or “Isabella,” or the “Indies” as if was called in the 16th century, “the New World” as it was called originally, or perhaps even better given a Native American name—Aztec, Inca or Quechua.
-Fate in action. On approaching North America, Columbus’ Spanish pilot, Yáñez Pinzón, advised him to veer south instead of continuing in a westward direction, which he did. Had he continued westward and landed somewhere in today’s state of Virginia, America, both north and south, would have changed forever.
-Two of our most revered founding fathers, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, were direct descendants of Spanish royalty going all the way back to the Middle Ages (King Ferdinand I, called “the Saint”) and Washington also of the Spanish Medieval hero, Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, called “El Cid.”
-The Hispanic presence in North America outlasted both England and France for many years, from 1513 de 1821 when Spain ceded Florida to the United States.
-By the time England and the other European nations arrived, the seeds of Western Civilization were firmly planted and sprouting across the continent, west to east and north to south.
-Hispanics founded the first towns and cities and established the first schools, hospitals, churches, convents, forms of government, industries and commerce, built the first infrastructures including roads and bridges, and wrote the first books and dictionaries.
-Hispanics discovered, explored, and settled most of the North America, including 27 of today’s states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. In fact, by 1763, just 13 years before the Declaration of Independence, all lands west of the Mississippi, plus Florida, were under Hispanic domain. That’s approximately 2,500,000 square kilometers compared to the land occupied by the Thirteen Colonies of only 600,000.
-In the American Revolution, Hispanics were the United States’ greatest ally providing hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, supplies and troops. In fact, the victory at Yorktown was due in a great part to a public collection of over 500,000 dollars in Cuba, and the English defeat to the battles won by the Spanish general Bernardo de Gálvez in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.
-Hispanics discovered all bodies of water surrounding North America—the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea—and chartered the Atlantic Ocean making North America accessible to all. This gave the United States direct access to the entire world without having to cross frontiers.
-Calling Hispanics illegal aliens is not just, as they simply crossed the border back to their home which had been taken away from them. By the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848, Mexico “ceded” over half of its territory to the United States comprising the present-day states of California, Nevada and Utah, most of Arizona and western portions of New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming, plus the “annexation” of Texas two years earlier. In fact, the first North American illegal aliens were the British as they trespassed on Hispanic territory in the early 16th century as were the other European nations including France, Holland and Germany. All of them were the true illegal aliens, meaning that the Thirteen Colonies were established on lands that belonged to someone else. And with that Mexican “cession” the United States acquired immense natural resources that are today the basis of the United States’ economy, such as petroleum, coal, natural gas, gold and silver. So it was not only the land but what came with it.
-During the American colonial period and for many years after that, the only legal tender in the United States were Spanish gold and silver that came directly from the mines of Mexico, Peru and Bolivia. That gold and silver were instrumental in building the United States, for which it can be said that while Spain was the banker, those Hispanic countries plus others in the region were the investors and collaterals, in essence, the Indians and Blacks who mined those treasures with so much sacrifice.
-Hispanics introduced in North America today’s basic food staples, including corn, potatoes, tomatoes, coffee, sugar, plus chocolate, vanilla, apples, pears, peaches, grapes, all medicinal plants and livestock, including cows, pigs and the horse.
-In terms of who founded the United States the following can be said based on fact: that the Thirteen Colonies founded the republic and that Hispanics founded the country for it was already established and functioning when the Thirteen Colonies expanded west.
Written by Carlos B. Vega, Ph.D