Studying Mexican history: From the ancient Maya to revolution and modern day independence

Mexican HistoryMexican history spans more than two millennia and with it, a rich exploration into the mixing of different native Indian cultures, including those of the Olmecs, Toltecs, Aztecs, along with the native Spanish, who invaded Mexico in 1519 and later conquered the Aztec empire by 1521. In reviewing Mexican history, many of the native Indian cultures practiced human sacrifice to appease their Gods while at the same time having made major achievements in the areas of mathematics, astronomy, architecture, and art. The Maya, for example, were able to predict the solar and lunar eclipses and produced one of the most accurate calendars up until the 20th century. 

The seeds of Mexican independence were planted when on September 16, 1810 a priest named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, with a historic proclamation, urged his fellow Mexicans to take up arms against the Spanish government. Ending Spanish Colonial rule took Mexico down a long, difficult road towards establishing independence. Being forced to endure many civil uprisings, Mexico lost nearly half of its geographical landscape to the United States during a two year war ending in 1848.

We at Questia want to open the doors to our digital library by granting access to reference works on five books that explore Mexican history, tracing its roots back to the Mayans all the way through the fight for independence to the continuing challenges faced by today’s native population.

Mayan Civilization

In this second edition, author John S. Henderson has reorganized his research to take into account the vast new quantities of data about the Maya that was unearthed in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Epigraphers have put forward an avalanche of new interpretations of glyphs and readings of texts that provide a rich source of information for reconstructing the politics of Classic Maya cities. All of the new research has shifted basic perceptions about the Maya cultural tradition. [Henderson, John S. The World of the Ancient Maya. 2nd ed. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1997. Questia. Web. 13 Feb. 2013.]

Mexico under Spanish Rule (New Spain)

Author Susan Schroeder examines Mexico’s nonnative populations who, not uncommonly, still feel threatened and angry whenever there is a manifestation by indigenous groups to make known their grievances. Why this misplaced animosity toward Indians continues is difficult to understand but one can pinpoint a series of recent instigating events including the United States designating 1992 as the year of the American Indian. According to Schroeder, nonnatives’ qualms are rooted in the colonial era, when Spaniards worried constantly about Indian uprisings. [Schroeder, Susan, ed. Native Resistance and the Pax Colonial in New Spain. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska, 1998. Questia. Web. 13 Feb. 2013.]

Mexican War of Independence

Author Jaime E. Rodriguez examines the complex process of New Spain’s transition from a kingdom of the Spanish Monarchy to the First Federal Republic of Mexico. During his first ten years of research, Rodriguez  worked in the archives and repositories of Mexico City; the second decade he spent researching in the states of Puebla, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Yucatán, Jalisco, Michoacán, and Zacatecas in Mexico as well as in the archives of Madrid and Seville.  The overriding question Rodriguez explores is why one former colony, the United States, succeeded in establishing a stable government and a flourishing economy, while other former colonies, the Spanish American countries, endured political chaos and economic decline. [RodrÍguez O., Jaime E. “We Are Now the True Spaniards”: Sovereignty, Revolution, Independence, and the Emergence of the Federal Republic of Mexico, 1808-1824. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2012. Questia. Web. 13 Feb. 2013.]

The Mexican War (U.S.-Mexican War)

The editors have chosen to spotlight the Mexican war diary of controversial Southerner, Lt. Daniel Harvey Hill, and 4th Artillery, USA. It is the day-by-day chronicle of young Lt. Daniel Harvey Hill, Company E, 4th Artillery, U.S. Army, from June 8, 1846, when he embarked for Mexico at Fortress Monroe, Virginia, to March 24, 1848, when he sailed back home.  The Mexico City campaign was among the most important military operations conducted by American arms prior to the Civil War, and Hill’s perceptive eye provides the reader with unique insights into the expedition. [Hill, Daniel Harvey. A Fighter from Way Back: The Mexican War Diary of Lt. Daniel Harvey Hill, 4th Artillery, USA. Ed. Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes, Jr. and Timothy D. Johnson. Kent, OH: Kent State UP, 2002. Questia. Web. 13 Feb. 2013.]

The Mexican Revolution

Authors Hodges and Gandy try to solve the puzzle of what happened to the Mexican Revolution? What happened to the social pact that was supposed to benefit the business community, the bureaucrat-professionals, the proletarian workers, and the landless peasants? The outcome of the Mexican Revolution is still a mystery. According to both authors, the revolution had not only been betrayed; an invisible hand had also remodeled the business corporation. Professionals not only seized the reins; they had become the corporations’ chief beneficiaries. [Hodges, Donald C., and Ross Gandy. Mexico, the End of the Revolution. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002. Questia. Web. 13 Feb. 2013.]

Today, Mexico is not only one of the world’s largest economies, but its strong ties to the United States through its free trade agreements have enabled it to produce 1.7 trillion in overall gross domestic product (GDP) in 2011, and with Volkswagen’s latest auto plant opening in Mexico, the country seeks to become the world’s top car maker.

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