MEXICAN-TEXAN CLUB

William A. Brkich

MEXICAN-TEXAN CLUB. The Mexican-Texan Club (also known as the Club Mexicano Texano) was a Radical Republican organization founded in San Antonio, Texas, in July 1868.  The group’s purpose was two-fold. First, it sought to defend the concept of equality for the newly-freed slaves. Second, it worked to defend Radical Republican issues, including removal from elected office of former Confederates who previously qualified under President Andrew Johnson’s general amnesty and the disqualification for elected office and disfranchisement of anyone who had participated in the rebellion, directly or indirectly. Shortly after the Mexican-Texan Club’s founding, Tejano Democrats organized the Bexareños Demócratas that passionately opposed Radical policies.

The Mexican-Texan Club was organized under the leadership of prominent San Antonio radicals Epistacio Mondragón, Juan M. Chávez, José Fermín Cassiano, Juan E. Barrera, Agustín Gutiérrez, and Antonio P. Rivas. Its membership and leadership consisted of predominantly propertied, elite Tejanos who had longstanding roots in the Bexar region.

The club experienced rapid growth. In February 1869 membership in San Antonio was reportedly at least 400 strong. Moreover, the club expanded to the surrounding counties. The Wilson County club was founded in early 1869 with more than seventy-five members. Its leadership included Manuel Herrera, president; Lorenzo Trevino, vice president; Juan N. Flores, secretary; Ysabel Anaya, treasurer; and E. de la Zerda, collector. In 1872 founders Juan Chávez and Juan Barrera organized Tejanos to back the presidential ticket of Ulysses S. Grant and Henry Wilson. The club communicated its views through public speeches and through the newspaper, El Mexicano de Texas.

As passions of the Civil War began to fade along with Radical Reconstruction issues in the early 1870s, the Mexican-Texan Club began to focus on issues that affected the local Tejano community. Many of its members became part of the Sociedad Benevolencia Mexicana, San Antonio’s first sociedad mutualista (mutual aid society), founded in 1875. Within this organization Mexican-Texan Club leaders began to work alongside their political rivals to forward the interests of Tejanos by organizing public Mexicano protests and events, such as the Diez y Seis celebration. In 1883 the Tejano elite of San Antonio formed the Club Social Mexicano and a second mutualista, Sociedad Mutualista Mexicana, both of which had membership rolls that included members of both political clubs.  

As Anglo-American migration to San Antonio increased during the last quarter of the nineteenth-century, Tejano political divisions decreased. In 1876 Mexican-Texan Club leader Juan Barrera and Bexareños leader Juan Cárdenas were part of a team that organized Tejanos to support bringing the railroad to San Antonio. Moreover, in 1883 Mexican-Texan Club leader Epistacio Mondragón worked together with Cárdenas, to lead a successful protest against Frederick Kerble, lessee of San Pedro Springs Park, who had banned Mexican Americans from using the municipal park’s dance platforms. 

The Mexican-Texan club slowly dissolved in the 1890s. However, its leaders and members continued their struggle for civil rights. By unifying with their political rivals through memberships in various mutualistas and social clubs, former Mexican-Texan Club members planted the seeds for the twentieth-century Tejano civil rights and labor movements that ultimately blossomed into the Chicano movement of the 1960s. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Arnoldo De León, The Tejano Community, 1836–1900 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1982). David McDonald, José Antonio Navarro: In Search of the American Dream in Nineteenth-Century Texas (Denton: Texas State Historical Association, 2010). Judith Berg Sobré, San Antonio on Parade: Six Historic Festivals (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2003). Weekly Telegraph, February 18, 1869.

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Handbook of Texas Online, William A. Brkich, "MEXICAN-TEXAN CLUB," accessed September 24, 2018, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/wem06.

Uploaded on August 21, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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