Spanish Races 1853

Primary Source

—from Annals of San Francisco, 1855


"Annals" illustration of the "colored population."

Since we have given elsewhere short separate notices of some of the leading races not American that people San Francisco, we may here say a few words upon that one which first settled in the country--the Spanish. Over the whole of California, there may be probably about 20,000 persons of Spanish extraction and in San Francisco alone, some 3,000. It is of the last only that we would speak. Few of them are native Californians. Perhaps one-half of the number are Mexicans, and one-third Chileans. The remaining sixth consists of Peruvians and natives of Old Spain, and of parts of Spanish America other than Mexico, Chile and Peru. The Hispano-Americans, as a class, rank far beneath the French and Germans. They are ignorant and lazy, and are consequently poor.

A few of their number may have a high social standing in the city, while some more bear a respectable position. For these there is one page of a French tri-weekly newspaper written in the Spanish language. It is not of them, nor of the few native Californians, who are gentlemen by nature, that we speak, but of the great mass of the race. Many of the Chileans are able both to read and write; few of the Mexicans can. Both peoples, when roused by jealousy or revenge, as they often are, will readily commit the most horrid crimes. In proportion to their numbers, they show more criminals in the courts of law than any other class.

The Mexicans seem the most inferior of the race. They have had no great reason to love the American character, and, when safe opportunity offers, are not slow to show detestation of their conquerors. The sullen, spiteful look of the common Mexicans in California is very observable. The Chileans in the time of the "Hounds" were an oppressed and despised people. Since that period the class has perhaps improved. The Hispano-Americans fill mainly low and servile employments, and in general engage only in such occupations as do not very severely tax either mind or body. They show no ambition to rise beyond the station where destiny, dirt, ignorance and sloth have placed them. They seem to have no wish to become naturalized citizens of the Union, and are morally incapable of comprehending the spirit and tendencies of our institutions. The most inferior class of all, the proper "greaser, is on a par with the common Chinese and the African; while many negroes far excel the first-named in all moral, intellectual and physical respects.

The Hispano-Americans dwell chiefly about Dupont, Kearny and Pacific streets--long the blackguard quarters of the city. In these streets, and generally in the northern parts of the city, are many dens of gross vice, which are patronized largely by Mexicans and Chileans. Their dance, drink and gambling houses are also the haunts of negroes and the vilest order of white men. In the quarrels which are constantly arising in such places many treacherous, thieving, and murderous deeds are committed. A large proportion of the common Mexican and Chilean women are still what they were in the days of the "Hounds"; abandoned to lewd practices, and shameless.

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