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Foreign Bodies and International Race Romance
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History teaches no truth more emphatically, than that those empires, which have become powerful, have drawn their energy from the life-vigor imparted by one single dominant race. A State composed of a heteroge neous mixture of discordant races, held together by no ties of a common origin, no common faith, no common language, no common customs and habits, necessarily contains within itself the elements of weakness and final ruin.

—Daniel Ullmann, “The Course of Empire”

In an 1856 speech called “The Course of Empire,” delivered before the Order of United Americans on the anniversary of Washington's birthday, the New York nativist Daniel Ullmann tried to reconcile the project of

U.S. empire-building with Washington's emphasis in his Farewell Address on the importance of a “unity of government which constitutes” U.S. Americans as “one people.”[29] After a few introductory remarks, Ullmann began with these words: “To form a great people in the present state of civilization requires a more comprehensive combination of elements than at any previous age of the world.” Although he emphasized a variety of key elements in that combination, including geographical position, extent of territory, climate, and resources, he concluded that “preeminent among the elements of strength, are the characteristics of the race or races composing the people” (6–7). In order to build a great empire, he argued, there must be “a great central dominant race, with sufficient vital power to mold and absorb all the rest into one homogeneous national body” (8). In the United States, according to Ullmann, that dominant race was “unquestionably” the “Anglo-Saxon branch of the Teutonic race.” He mused: “How far the mixture of foreign and discordant elements of castes and nationalities should be permitted is a question requiring the closest scrutiny of the philosopher and statesman to determine. In some nations the foreign mixture has been so great as to modify all the modes of thought, habits, and customs, to such a degree, that the original nation no longer existed” (20). Although Ullmann argued that the Spanish empire had fallen apart because it had “no real unity of race, language and territory” (12), he had high hopes for the U.S.-American empire. “It is certain that the American people must mold and absorb all other castes, races, and nationalities into one great ho-mogeneous American race” (20), he concluded. “We seek not the empire of the sword—not the empire of the Inquisition—not the empire of despotism; but the empire of the people—the empire of the rights of man—the empire of science, art, and literature—the empire of morals and religion—the empire of obedience to God, his precepts and commands. Let then the Union of these States stand firm and solid as the everlasting hills” (21).

Despite Ullmann's guarded optimism about the ability of Anglo-Saxon Americans to “absorb all other castes, races, and nationalities,” during the war with Mexico questions about how far “the mixture of foreign and discordant elements … should be permitted” were among the main sticking points for those who debated the question of annexation.[30] Which foreign elements might safely be absorbed by Anglo-Saxon America and which would fatally modify it? Ullmann's assertion that the Spanish empire's fatal flaw was that it had “no real unity of race, language and territory” tells us something about what many politicians and popular

novelists of the late 1840s thought about Mexico. Even though some were powerfully attracted by the idea that contiguous Mexican territory might be absorbed into the United States, most conceived of Mexico as a “State composed of a heterogeneous mixture of discordant races” that threatened to corrupt a fictive U.S.-American unity.

Those on all political sides of the annexation issue, moreover, pondered these questions by translating them into the register of erotic and sexual relations between Mexicans and U.S. Americans. For instance, when in January of 1847 Representative Owen of Indiana argued that the inhabitants of northern Mexico were at present “unprepared” for annexation, he added that “when, it may be, the sons of our republic, attracted by the black eyes of Mexican beauty, shall have found homes and wives in those far regions of the south … then may come annexation; come, when mutually desired.”[31] Here, Owen imagined the Mexico of the future as a feminized extension of the U.S. domestic sphere that might offer “homes” and “wives” for U.S. sons; in this way, he tried to ground annexation in mutual heterosexual desire. Although Owen suggested that at some point in the future Mexico might be safely absorbed into the United States, however, many other U.S. Americans adamantly opposed the annexation of Mexico, especially the densely populated sections, at any time and on any terms. Opponents of annexation, too, frequently used a sexually charged language to denounce the expansionists as rapacious conquerors who wanted to force Mexico into an unwanted union with the United States. Senator Berrien, for instance, condemned the expansionists' “sordid lust for the acquisition of territory” in Mexico, while George Badger objected to “wresting from her one inch of her domain by the exertion of any force which shall control her will.”[32]

Although reasons for opposing the annexation of new lands were various, fears of the so-called amalgamation that would result from a union with Mexico figured prominently in antiannexationist arguments. And arguments that hinged on this word also had pronounced sexual and racial connotations, for as Robert Young suggests, until “the word ‘mis-cegenation’ was invented in 1864, the word that was conventionally used for the fertile fusion and merging of races was ‘amalgamation.’”[33] Thus Senator Berrien tried to mobilize fears of sexual and racial mixing when he asked his colleagues: “Are you willing to put your birthright into the keeping of these mongrel races who inhabit these territories, by incorporating them into this Union? For myself, I am not. I protest against this amalgamation.”[34] These kinds of ideas, moreover, were not limited to the Whig opposition. Although Indiana senator Hannegan supported

the war and expansion, he shared some of his Whig opponents' views of annexation as racial amalgamation. As a result, he argued in early 1847 that the United States should seek to annex only relatively uninhabited areas, for he feared that “Mexico and the United States are peopled by two distinct and utterly unhomogeneous races. In no reasonable period could we amalgamate.”[35] And in language that anticipated the nativist Ullmann's argument almost ten years later, Democrat Hunter argued that to have an extensive empire the United States needed “a homogeneous” people: “This cannot be expected if alien and hostile races are to be suddenly incorporated in our body politic.”[36] All of these politicians posed the question of annexation in sexual and racial terms, and all of them viewed other “races” as threats to a fictive U.S. national body.

Other fears about annexation included worries that the acquisition of foreign lands would cause domestic dissension, specifically over the issue of slavery. During the debates over the Wilmot Proviso, politicians on both sides of the issue frequently expressed concern that foreign policy might fatally disrupt domestic peace by pushing the slavery question to the point of crisis. Pennsylvania Whig James Pollock warned that “the acquisition of territory will awaken a question, the agitation of which will shake the very foundations of the Union.” “Is there no common ground to be found upon which the North and South may meet in peace and embrace each other in the bonds of common brotherhood?” he asked. “There is; and it can only be found in a firm determination on the part of Congress and the people, never to add another foot of foreign territory to that we now possess.”[37] Southern Whig Thomas Corwin agreed: “Should we prosecute this war another moment, or expend one dollar in the purchase or conquest of a single acre of Mexican land, the North and South are brought into collision on a point where neither will yield.”[38] And New Jersey's Senator Miller also foresaw that “your conquered peace in Mexico will become the fierce spirit of discord at home.”[39] All of these politicians accurately predicted that the bonds of common (white) brotherhood would ultimately be torn apart by the struggle over slavery, which was intensified by the heated disagreements about whether lands taken through foreign conquest would be slave or free.

The international race romances of 1846–1848 both register and attempt to manage such concerns about racial amalgamation, the bonds of white brotherhood, slavery, and entanglements of the foreign and the domestic.[40] They do so, however, by seeking to anchor questions about national expansion in the bodies of men and women drawn irresistibly

together across national boundary lines. This does not mean that all of the international romances of this period advocate annexation: like the congressional debates over expansion, most of these story-paper novels suggest various fears about the incorporation of Mexico and especially Mexicans into the United States. But as they struggle to imagine a future relationship between the United States and Mexico, these novels both appeal to and reconstruct hierarchies of gender, race, and sexuality to legitimate their respective visions of postwar inter-American power relations.

These wartime narratives were based in part upon models developed a little earlier to legitimate the efforts of U.S.-American men to gain land and power in Texas and California. Antonia Castañeda has suggested that in Anglo representations of Mexican California in the 1840s, “elite Californianas were deemed European and superior while the mass of Mexican women were viewed as Indian and inferior.” Both images, she argues, “formed part of the belief and idea system that rationalized the war and dispossession of the land base,” for the positive images facilitated marriages that allowed Anglo men to acquire land, while the negative ones “served to devalue the people occupying a land base the United States wanted to acquire—through purchase if possible, by war if necessary.”[41] Similarly, many of the bifurcated representations of Mexican women in the international race romances of 1848 seek to justify the appropriation of Mexican lands and other assets by, on the one hand, portraying elites as, in Castañeda's words, “aristocratic, virtuous Spanish ladies” who may be appropriate marriage partners for white U.S. men, and, on the other hand, constructing pejorative images of nonelite Mexicanas in order to champion “Anglo America's racial, moral, economic, and political superiority.”[42] But the proliferation of nonwhite or ambiguously white characters shadows the whiteness of the elite Mexican heroines, and it often undermines or blocks, as we shall see, international romances between such heroines and U.S. heroes.

The heroine of story-paper international romances is almost always a Mexican woman, although sometimes one parent is a U.S. citizen. In Buntline's The Volunteer, the heroine Edwina Canales/Helen Vicars was born in Mexican Texas, the child of a U.S.-American father and a Mexican mother, while in The Mexican Spy: or, The Bride of Buena Vista, Annabel Blackler, the main female character, is the daughter of a Philadelphia merchant and a Mexican woman “of Castilian extraction” (7). In almost every case, the heroine is repeatedly, if rather anxiously, described as white. The titular character in Inez, the Beautiful, for example,

is “not of the blood of the Anglo-Saxons,” but “the graceful delicacy of her limbs strongly denoted” that “she was not a descendant of the Aztecs”; in fact, “there was something in her every feature, and in her finely developed figure” that told “that nought but pure Castilian blood flowed in her veins” (16). On the other hand, The Prisoner of Perote's “beautiful, dark-haired, dark-eyed Josefa” (8), who has “warm blood, which traced its source to the old Castilian fount” (22), is one of the rare heroines whose desire for the hero is unreturned. Even though in most novels “Castilian blood” would place Josefa within the magic circle of whiteness, in this one her “southern nature” is repeatedly underlined in ways that suggest her racial liminality. But Josefa is an exception that proves the rule: the whiteness of Mexican women was often questionable to U.S. observers, so much so that it had to be nervously reasserted by authors who promoted some version of international romance. White-ness is also inseparable from class and status, for all of these heroines are elite, often the daughters of Spanish dons on haciendas, Mexican generals, or other rich and influential Mexicans. In The Prairie Guide, for instance, Isabella has inherited an “immense estate” from her father, and it seems likely that “the fertile lands” (7) of her uncle's rancho will also be passed on to her, while Isora La Vega, the heroine of The Secret Service Ship, is also poised to inherit a “princely estate” (26) from her father. Representations such as these establish the elite, white Mexican heroine as a symbol of the material advantages—especially land—that many U.S. men found so desirable.

But these elite white heroines are not the only female characters in the story-paper novelettes, for they are often contrasted with nonwhite Mexican women who do not play leading roles in the international romance. In The Volunteer, Edwina Canales is paired with her friend, the half-Castilian, half-Aztec Anita Urrea, the daughter of the famous Mex-ican general. It is noteworthy that Anita is described as “all woman—all tenderness” (18), while Edwina is said to be “of a sterner and more queenly cast” (19). Although it might be expected that the former description would be reserved for the heroine, and that the second would not be a compliment in the mid-nineteenth-century United States, Buntline clearly prefers Edwina to Anita, for Edwina's martial womanhood wins the love of the U.S. hero, while Anita remains in Mexico and is married to Edwina's brother, a guerrilla fighter. And in The Secret Service Ship, Isora La Vega is contrasted to Juana the evil giantess, whose “inhuman nature” is attributed to the fact that the “cannibal blood of Patagonia” (90) flows in her veins. As a result, Juana strangles infants,

tries to kill the heroine, and generally preys “upon the human species” (28). Finally, in The Mexican Spy, the half U.S.-American heroine Annabel is compared with Marguerita, the “ill-formed, though handsome-featured” (34) daughter of a Mexican ranchero, as well as with Corita, the Mexican daughter of Annabel's uncle Jose de Villa Rica. Although as I have suggested, elite Mexican women are often figured as white and as eligible for a role in international romance, in this case even the wealthy Corita's love is slighted by the U.S. officer Henry Rowland, who prefers her “whiter” cousin Annabel.

Besides their whiteness, another characteristic that distinguishes many of the heroines of international romance is a talent for cross-dressing. Edwina Canales fiercely leads Mexican troops into battle, fights bravely and effectively, and generally relishes the “perils” and “excitements of active service” (57) until she receives a shoulder wound while fighting in the war's bloodiest battle, Buena Vista. Because she has already fallen in love with Captain George Blakey, the U.S. volunteer who lifts her from the bloody heap of bodies in which she is half-buried, she ends her military career, marries Blakey soon after, and returns with him to the back-woods settlement of Rural Choice, Kentucky. And yet for much of the narrative, she is dead set on avenging the murders of her parents at the hands of Texas bandits who coveted their land and her body, and she is represented as a “noble” and “exalted” example of female patriotism, even though she fights on the Mexican side. “This may appear singular to many of our readers,” Buntline advises his audience, “but there have been many instances of the kind” (40).

Indeed, there were “many instances of this kind” in the story-paper literature of the period, for the figure of the cross-dressed Mexican maid was a nearly standard plot device in the international race romances of 1846–1848. In The Mexican Ranchero, for instance, Buena Rejon is “the farfamed, wide known, deep dreaded maid of the chapparal, the female avenger of Mexico” (17). Although she often fights in female dress against U.S. forces, she masquerades as a man, fools her brother, and becomes the lieutenant of his ranchero band in order to act as “fearlessly and perilously” (95) as she wishes. The heroine of The Hunted Chief also cross-dresses in order to lead a guerrilla band with such daring skill that the U.S.-American hero longs “to measure swords with them, man for man” (4). On the other hand, the war causes Inez, the Beautiful, “a Mexican military prodigy,” to impersonate a man in order to fight side by side with her father, a general, at the battle of Resaca de la Palma, where she wields her sword “with a consummate precision defying the most skilled swordsmen”

(46). And Isora La Vega, the heroine of The Secret Service Ship, masquerades as a robber chief, manages to capture the U.S.-American hero with her “fatal lasso,” exhibits “more than masculine prowess and heroism” (36), fights quite effectively for the Mexicans at the battle of Cerro Gordo, and even ultimately frees the U.S. hero from his captivity. Although this sort of behavior is sometimes deemed “strange,” it is more usually described as “heroic” or “noble,” probably because it is justified by patriotism, defense of the family, or heterosexual love.

Some of the models of womanhood in these story-paper novels complicate the idea that there are natural, fixed oppositions between male and female behavior.[43] For instance, when in The Hunted Chief the U.S.-American hero and the Mexican heroine are attacked by a band of robbers, Rainford notes that “he could discover nothing of the fear so natural to women, but her manner was resolute and collected, while from her eyes there gleamed the light of genuine courage. She sat as firm and erect in her saddle as a veteran warrior upon parade” (39). Here, Rain-ford's attribution of a “natural” fear to women is countered by the heroine's courage and firmness, although she is also represented as an exception to the norm, a kind of “wonder.” Similarly, when in The Secret Service Ship, Isora and Rogers are attacked by bandits, Isora “wildly wielding her weapon, sprang into the thickest of the fight! … Rogers would have encircled her waist with his arm, the better to protect her person, but proudly she waved him off and fearlessly fought on” (32). Later, Rogers is captured by Mexicans, and Isora dons her male apparel once more to effect his rescue, explaining that “it is a duty the true woman owes to him she loves” (85). Even though Isora's crossing of gender boundaries is justified by the exigencies of warfare, her exceptional status, heterosexual love, and the ideal of true womanhood, this ideal has in this case apparently been revised to include adopting male dress, engaging in bloody physical fights, and rescuing helpless men.

Although U.S. readers in the 1840s enjoyed many stories about domestic heroines who impersonated men, these international race romances must be interpreted in light of the strong probability that the gender-bending behavior of these heroines would be attributed to their exotic, foreign status as well as to a perceived crisis in Mexican nationality. In Buntline's The Volunteer, Edwina Canales's inversion of gender roles is symptomatic of a larger crisis, one that sometimes is tenuously linked to the violence of U.S. empire-building but is more often attributed to the weakness of Mexican men and Mexican national sentiment. When Blakey first meets the cross-dressed Edwina in battle, he asks, “Has it

come to this, that even the women of Mexico arm to repel their invaders?” and speculates that “deep must have been wrongs which could induce you thus to unsex yourself and face the fearful perils of war” (12). Although Blakey's question suggests that Edwina's gender performance is extreme and unnatural, it also implies that the invading U.S. forces have provoked such a radical response; it implicitly casts the United States in the role of the rapacious intruder who is repelled by the righteous maiden, a rape-revenge fantasy that partially derives from the popular urban gothic novels that many of these writers of U.S.-Mexican War romances also produced. But this explanation is replaced by another answer when Edwina replies, “It is time that they did so, Senor, when the men prove so cowardly as those who have fled and left me to your mercy” (12). The representation of the woman as unnaturally if admirably masculine, in other words, is accompanied by many descriptions of Mexican men as cowardly, weak, and unmanly. This dichotomy structures most of the international romances of 1846–1848.

Even though the reader is often quickly let in on the secret of the cross-dresser's “true” gender, sometimes the novels play with the possibility of male-male desire. Captain Bill Bruxton's claim that the cross-dresser in The Hunted Chief, for example, is “a perfect beauty” seemingly depends upon the chief's presumed maleness; “he” is, according to Bruxton, “the most beautiful boy you ever saw” (7). And when Josefa masquer-ades as a Mexican cavalry officer in The Prisoner of Perote, “he” quickly manages to “prepossess, if not infatuate” (27) the other soldiers. It could be argued, of course, that men are “naturally” drawn to the cross-dresser because they intuit that she is a woman; this may suggest that despite the cross-dresser's almost flawless performance of masculinity, “natural” gender differences cannot entirely be hidden. Indeed, the fact that all of these soldiers are erotically compelled by the cross-dresser may fortify the belief that men are inevitably attracted to women, so that their impulses register the female gender of the cross-dresser even though she appears to be a man. But the repetition of the fantasy in so many stories suggests that some kind of pleasure was taken in the gender confusion, and this almost all-male world in which officers are drawn to beautiful soldiers and enlisted men are infatuated with their leaders is not so different from the world depicted in soldiers' personal narratives about the war; the war theater intensified all kinds of hierarchical male-male relationships, and there is perhaps some trace of this as well in the trope of the soldier who is drawn to a man who turns out to be a woman.[44]


Many of these heroines are said to be near twins of their brothers, who are curiously feminized and whose bodies are described in ways that are often reserved for women. These descriptions also resemble those of the cross-dressers in scenes in which the latter masquerade as men.[45] In The Volunteer, the guerrilla chief Canales, who is the heroine's brother, is “small, but compactly, nay, elegantly formed; his features are regular and delicate as a woman's” and are “particularly expressive of a kind and womanlike disposition. … One would scarcely believe that his slight and delicate person could undergo more fatigue, exposure, and actual hardship than could any man of his company, yet so it was” (27). And although Rafael Rejon the Ranchero, the Maid of the Chaparral's brother, is a valiant “Mexican hero” (14), he is also described as small and woman-like: “Small and slender as a lady's were his graceful feet, which were encased in beautifully wrought moccasins; and a wildly picturesque appearance was given to his lower limbs by the tight-fitting buskins of the buffalo's hairy hide, which so plainly revealed their symmetrical shape and proportions” (13). These representations may be explained by the-ories, such as Gobineau's, which held that “lower” races were female or feminized, and that race-mixing could therefore cause a racial degeneration that made men more feminine.[46] This idea is supported by Rejon's statement that the “daughters of this benighted land of Mexico are ever more noble and brave spirited than her degenerate sons, who seem to have a blood less pure and lofty in their mongrel veins” (82). These gendered representations could be used to justify conquest, inasmuch as according to this schema Mexican men were too unmanly to defend or govern “their” women, themselves, and their nation. Descriptions of Mexican men as appealingly womanlike in novels that trumpeted the idealized man-hood of U.S. men also suggested hierarchies between nations and between men that were implicitly grounded in the inequalities that were assumed and defended in dominant models of male-female relations.

Interestingly, these two feminized guerrilla chiefs are two of the rare cases where Mexican men seem to be welcomed into the U.S.-American family circle. Both Rejon and Canales turn out to have one U.S.-American parent, and that is certainly significant in the hero's decision, in both novels, to join the family by marrying the twinlike sister at the end. It also helps to explain why Rejon, for one, is not only described as lady-like but also as “noble and manly” (13). As he explains, it is only because of “this mingling of American with the Mexican blood” in his “nature” that he has perhaps “escaped the taint” of racial degradation that afflicts Mexico's “degenerate sons” (82). In other words, if he is both lady-like


Figure 7.“Rejon the Ranchero” illustration from Charles Averill's The Mexican Ranchero (1847). (Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

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and manly it is only because he is both Mexican and “American.” The novel nonetheless overrides some of the fears of racial mixture that it raises when Rejon is allowed to marry the white Southern U.S.-American hero's sister. At the end Harold's sister Alfredine, on the other hand, stays in Mexico and marries the guerrilla leader, who renounces his vow of eternal vengeance to the invader since he has “learned to LOVE our race, instead of hate” (100). If this representation seems to suggest that U.S. Americans in general viewed Mexican men as white and assimilable, however, it should be recalled that in The Mexican Ranchero heroic white men such as Rejon and Harold are contrasted with the villainous Irish immigrant Raleigh and the mixed-race monster Montano. This novel, moreover, is
the only warera story-paper romance I have found in which a Mexican man is allowed to marry a U.S. white woman; these novels as a whole are not interested in welcoming Mexican men into the white inter-American family. And as “noble and manly” as Rejon is, his feminization symbolically subordinates him to white U.S.-American men like Harold.

More usually, though, Mexican men were represented as unmanly because they were savage, as Indians and blacks were thought to be, or because they were decadent, as Spaniards and creoles appeared when viewed through the lens of the Black Legend. In both cases Mexican men were outside the pale of white male civility as it was defined in the mid-nineteenth-century United States.[47] Indeed, in this literature the civility and manliness of white U.S.-American men is defined in opposition to the incivility and unmanliness of Mexican men. In Inez, the Beautiful, for instance, Charles Devereux, an American lieutenant “just verging towards manhood” (10) exhibits his manliness by foiling the efforts of Don Jose Terceiro—a “monster bearing but the semblance of a man” (18)—to rape the heroine and to force her to marry him. Terceiro is an un-manly monster in a man's guise because his passions, which are deemed Castilian, are so easily inflamed, and so he tries to make Inez the “victim to his hellish lust” (14). But she escapes by jumping into a river, whereupon Devereux promptly rescues her. Although he, too, is sexually aroused by her, he prays to heaven for “courage to banish the polluting desire that for a moment possessed” him (20), and in the end he becomes engaged to marry her. In The Secret Service Ship General Ampudia is similarly represented as an unmanly “avenging fiend of hell” (12) because he is unable to control his passions; the chivalrous Midshipman Rogers, however, displays his manliness by rescuing a woman Ampudia is trying to rape and by hurling the general into a sepulchral pit. Finally, in The Prisoner of Perote, it is because of his timidity rather than his rapacity that the Mexican cavalry officer Don Fernando is the defining foil for the U.S. hero. Fernando fails to rescue his betrothed from a fire because he is wounded and timid, but his failure makes it possible for the U.S.-American Julius Marion to step in and display his manly courage and coolness as he rescues the beautiful Josefa, who promptly falls in love with him. In addition to this panoply of passionate, unmanly Spaniards and creoles, the novels also include many representations of lawless, savage mestizo rancheros and villainous, licentious priests.

In almost every case, the representations of unnatural genders and perverse sexualities are used to legitimate some form of U.S. involvement in Mexico. For not only are manly U.S. men often characterized through

contrasts with unmanly Mexican men, but in many narratives U.S. soldiers must turn the cross-dressed heroines into women again by inspiring their love. Despite Inez's prodigious military skills, when, dressed in her male disguise, she meets the U.S. officer Devereux, with whom she has fallen in love, on the battlefield at Resaca de la Palma she immediately drops her sword and surrenders: “[T]he sword which before had been held with such a firm grasp and which had been wielded with such a consummate precision defying the most skilled swordsmen, loosened in his hand and fell to the earth, and he now stood before our gallant and invincible hero, trembling” (46). A few minutes later “he” is revealed to be a “she,” the “gallant warrior” is transformed into an “Amazonian beauty” (49), her “male apparel” is replaced by “her own proper dress,” and Inez hopes never to have cause to wear such “uncomfortable garments” again (49). Similarly, in The Hunted Chief, after the cross-dressed female ranchero meets the young American, Rainford, she repudiates her performance of masculinity as a “hollow masquerade” that “has become odious to me” (48). At the end of the novel, when she comes out as a woman to Rainford and confesses her love, she vows to “never more appear in man's apparel, or as the leader of these troops” (86). Even though Isora La Vega retains some of her manly skills and cross-dresses even after she has declared her identity and her love to Midshipman Rogers in The Secret Service Ship, she also exhibits new “womanlike” qualities: she becomes “as soft and yielding and womanlike in love, as she was brave and wild and fearless in her periods of passion; such is the mingled nature of the pure maiden of Mexico” (88). In each of these cases, desire for imperial U.S.-American manhood transforms masculine Mexican women into more properly “yielding and woman-like” subjects, even if they still retain an exotic, foreign “mingled nature.”

The heroine's love object is almost always a U.S. officer whose manly body and status as a representative of the nation are the most important things about him. Midshipman Rogers, for instance, is initially described as a kind of walking, talking U.S. flag. In the first scene, while he is on a spy mission dressed as a Mexican, he saves the heroine from assault and then exposes his true identity:

The cloak fell instantly from the disguised form of the unknown, revealing the graceful figure, and lordly proportions of a strikingly handsome young man arrayed in the brilliant uniform of an American Naval Officer, in a proud attitude of command, as he stood thus majestically upon the castle ramparts of San Juan d'Ulloa, his right arm rearing proudly aloft to the breezes of the

Gulf, a superb dark blue banner, on which was embroidered in bright golden characters, the inscription “United States Secret Service,” surrounded by a circle of thirty glittering stars, such as ever gem the Flag of Our Union; while the azure sash which encircled his manly waist, so well stocked with a mimic armory of poniard, pistol, and dagger, was itself a star-spangled standard, folded into a semblance of a scarf, the extremity of which also formed the sword-knot of the splendid Italian rapier, upon whose diamond-hilt his left hand rested, ready at a moment's warning, to make the brave man's use of the true friend in need. (15)

All tricked out in stars and stripes, the naval officer's body—his “graceful figure” and “lordly proportions”—presents a spectacle at which the heroine gazes “in involuntary admiration” (15). Generally, the hero's role as a U.S. soldier is the key to his character. In The Hunted Chief, we never learn what part of the United States Lieutenant Rain-ford is from, nor does the narrative reveal anything about his class of origin; what is more important is that he possesses “an extraordinary share of manly beauty” and that there was “a fire in his hazel eye that could stimulate a soldier to deeds of daring, or could kindle a flame in the heart of a susceptible maiden” (4).

Despite the emphasis on an overarching model of military manhood that could serve as a point of identification for U.S.-American men of different classes and as an object of desire for readers, however, domestic class hierarchies continue to be registered in much of this fiction. Alexander Saxton has argued that the story-paper fiction of the 1840s features “Free Soil” heroes who adumbrate “the Free Soil alliance of yeomen, artisans, and established capital out of which sprang the Republican party” in the 1850s.[48] But during the 1840s, this coalition was still inchoate, and story-paper literature reflects different positions on the question of class hierarchy, from Whiggish efforts to adapt it to the changing conditions of Jacksonian U.S.-America, with its increasing intolerance for a “politics of deference,” to other efforts to liberate middle and lower-class male characters “from the disabilities attached to class.” And yet, despite their differences, both strategies crucially depended upon what Saxton calls the ascendancy of a “scenario of white brother-hood purified and consolidated through the destruction of non-whites.”[49]

Examples of the first position—that is, efforts to preserve class hierarchies while acknowledging changing conditions—can be found in those novels in which an elite U.S. officer, often a merchant's son, is paired with a lower-class Yankee character who speaks in a dialect and

helps the hero foil the villains. In The Chieftain of Churubusco, Charles Warren, the romantic hero, who is a West Point graduate and a “young gentleman of good family” (11) from New York, is paired with Solomon Snubbins, an “honest Yankee” (53) from Maine who plays an even bigger part in defeating the English and Mexican villains than Warren does. And in The Mexican Spy, Major Henry Rowland, the son of a coal merchant in Philadelphia, teams up with a Connecticut Yankee, Pelatiah P. Shattuck. But perhaps the most explicit attempt to construct a scenario of white brotherhood that preserves and adapts class hierarchies in changing conditions can be found in Arthur Armstrong's The Mariner of the Mines. This novel features two U.S. captains who serve as the romantic heroes: Harold Redwood, a New Hampshire volunteer, and Campbell, who is from New York. Redwood's father is a retired merchant who “possessed many strong and aristocratic prejudices against those whom he termed common people” (12), prejudices that are shared by his wife. Although it might be expected that Harold would inherit these prejudices, he prefers the society of the common people to “that of the exclusive aristocrats who generally visited his father's house” (12–13). Campbell, on the other hand, is a foundling who was adopted by a wealthy benevolent gentleman. Although he wins the love of Adelia Sherwood, “the daughter of a rich and very aristocratic merchant” (51) in New Orleans, her father initially objects to their courtship because his “prejudices in favor of a pure and unspotted lineage were great and insurmountable” (52). Later, he changes his mind when he receives news of Campbell's heroism on the battlefield, but in the end Campbell turns out to be the son of wealthy, distinguished parents anyway. These two heroes are paired with two vernacular types, a New Hampshire Yankee named Zephaniah Sniggins, and Caesar Burney, Campbell's black servant. Even though the servant and the Yankee both speak in dialect, fight together, and are referred to by the Mexicans as “two common soldiers” (70), the Yankee is extremely condescending to Burney, repeatedly referring to him as “blackee”; at the end the Yankee returns to New Hampshire to marry his sweetheart, while Caesar “remains with his master, Captain Campbell” (84), who marries Adelia Sherwood in New Orleans.

These pairings of elite and nonelite men have a long history that goes back at least as far as Royall Tyler's 1790 play The Contrast, in which Colonel Manly, the romantic hero, was paired with his servant, the yeo-man Yankee Jonathan. Saxton explains that the premise was that Manly, who “spoke for the landlord-merchant oligarchy that had led the Revolution

and dominated the economic, political and social life of the new nation,” would serve as a point of identification for elites as well as for members of the lower class, who were expected to look “habitually to their betters for moral and intellectual tutelage.”[50] Jonathan's servile relationship to Manly reflects this expectation, despite his attempts to “discount the class distance between himself and Colonel Manly” by focusing on racial disparities between himself and blacks.[51] But by the 1830s, as Yankee characters proliferated in the theater and in popular fiction, Saxton argues, the elite class status of the romantic heroes “took on negative reference as the Jacksonian upsurge restructured American culture and politics” and the Yankee “left his original politics of deference behind him.”[52]

The pairings of romantic heroes and Yankee vernaculars in U.S.–Mexican War novels reflect efforts to construct cross-class alliances between a merchant elite and a lower class of yeomen and artisans in the wake of the Jacksonian upsurge. In The Mariner of the Mines the merchant's son Redwood even explicitly repudiates the aristocratic prejudices of his father and opts for the society of the “common man.” Although Campbell also turns out to be a merchant's son, his status as a foundling of unknown origin for much of the novel provides opportunities for an assault on the merchant Sherwood's similarly aristocratic prejudices; and Sherwood's change of tune after reading of Campbell's valor on the battlefield suggests that manly military merit, as demonstrated by participation in U.S. empire-building abroad, can compensate for an obscure or lowly class origin. On the other hand, the Yankee Zephaniah Sniggins exhibits none of the deference that marked the behavior of earlier Yan-kees such as Tyler's Jonathan. He still, however, tries to negate differences of class and status by making fun of blacks; even though he is paired with Caesar, he reasserts a hierarchy between himself and the servant that replicates and displaces the earlier hierarchy between white master and white servant in plays such as The Contrast. Indeed, the bonds of white brotherhood between the yeoman Yankee and the merchants' sons are forged at the expense of Caesar, who remains literally bound in a servile relationship to Campbell at the end of the novel, as well as the “motley and merciless” (11) Mexicans against whom the white brothers battle.

Significantly, the bonds of white brotherhood are also forged in opposition to the immigrant Irish. In The Mariner of the Mines, the patriotic Yankee is contrasted with Dennis O'Finnegan, a side-switching sergeant in the Mexican infantry who, when asked if he is a Mexican, replies

that “I'm jist anything I can git the best pay for” and is denounced as a “darn traitor” (39) by the Yankee. And in The Chieftain of Churubusco, when Riley and his band of Irish deserters try to talk the Yankee into deserting, he replies that he would rather be “torn chock into ribbins by wild horses, have my tongue cut smack smooth out of my head, and be ground all up intew etarnal smash” (47). These representations suggest that in the 1840s an emerging cross-class coalition among artisans, yeo-manry, and an important sector of the merchant elite was built on the foundation of nativism as well as the subordination of nonwhites. That was in fact often the case: during the 1840s and early 1850s, nativist small producers and a minority of nativist workingmen sometimes threw their support to the Whigs against the Democrats, the party of the immigrants. The success of such a coalition depended on a politics that, in Amy Bridges's words, “insisted on the primacy of American interests and the subordination of class divisions.”[53] One of the ways that class divisions were subordinated and “American” interests promoted was precisely through the construction of mass cultural representations of white Protestant imperial manhood and fraternity such as these.

And yet, these strategies for turning representatives of different classes into a band of white brothers do not completely succeed in obscuring class differences. They continue to be strongly marked, especially in the contrast between the Yankee's peculiar dialect and the refined, proper speech of the romantic heroes. It is also noteworthy that the Yankee in The Mariner of the Mines is paired with Caesar Burney instead of simply being assimilated to a trio that includes Redwood and Campbell; despite the hierarchy that structures the relationship between Caesar and the Yankee, as “common soldiers” they are distinguished from the officers, and the text establishes a mirroring relationship between them through the use of dialect and by making them the sources of comic relief. Finally, what Saxton calls “the problem of marriage-ability” continues to haunt these novels, underlining the class differences that the authors in other ways try to obscure and soften. In The Mexican Spy the Yankee is entirely ineligible for romance; he returns home to Vermont while the elite romantic hero, Major Rowland, is married to the merchant's daughter, Annabel Blackler. And in The Chieftain of Churubusco, the Yankee weds Vanilla Hartville, a blind girl who in the beginning is the heroine's servant and is said to be the daughter of a Mexican “lepero,” although she turns out to be the daughter of a poor Texas settler. The elite hero Charles Warren, however, marries the wealthy and aristocratic Lauretta Varere. Similarly, in


The Mariner of the Mines, the Yankee returns home to marry his lowly Yankee sweetheart while the two officers and merchants' sons marry rich women. These representations to some degree qualify Saxton's claim that before the Civil War, “[r]omantic love was not for vernaculars” even as they establish boundaries between the classes that cannot be bridged by marriage.[54]

Saxton argues that only later, after the U.S.-Mexican War period, is “equal access to privileges of the upper class, including acquisition of wealth and marriageability,” extended to characters of lower-class origin.[55] Significantly, the example he cites is Ned Buntline's Buffalo Bill, who, despite his relatively humble origins, gets to marry a banker's daughter. But Buntline was already working toward such a solution to the problem of marriageability in The Volunteer, in which he makes the hero, George Blakey, a backwoodsman from Kentucky. George's father, a self-made man, had come to Kentucky “with no property save his axe, rifle, and a healthy young wife [!]” (8) but soon became a successful shopkeeper. As a Westerner and a shopkeeper's son, George is considerably removed from the merchant elite of New York and Philadelphia, but he is the hero of international romance nonetheless, for he wins the heroine's love despite the fact that “his line of descent” is not “so haughty as her own” (70). In Newton Curtis's The Prairie Guide, also, the “handsome and noble-looking” Charles Fanchette impresses the rich Mexican heroine “despite the rough teachings of his early education” (24), and a U.S. officer notes, “[If] he does not make a noise in the world yet, then I am no prophet. One may look a long time for his equal” (7). But such a white egalitarian position, which emphasizes equal opportu-nity and class mobility for nonelite men, is grounded in the ideal of white “native” military manliness tested and displayed through violent encounters with foreigners and nonwhites. This is true of all of the story-paper novels that obscure or negate the hero's class origins in favor of an overarching model of imperial manhood and international romance.

Another way that these novels try to mitigate class differences among U.S.-American men is by contrasting them with foreign villains who are also wealthy aristocrats. In The Hunted Chief, the Chevalier Rijon, who wants to force a marriage with the heroine, is a sensual, rich, Spanish native, the descendant of a noble family who nonetheless exhibits “no true nobility” but is rather “an unprincipled villain” (16). In Buntline's Magdalena, the villain is Colonel Gustave Alfrede, a rich Mexican officer who rapes and kills the U.S. hero's mother and sister and then tries to use the leverage of debt to force Magdalena's father to pressure her to

marry him. And The Prairie Guide features yet another villainous Mexican officer, Captain Minon, who is “a Captain of lancers, a rich man, and a descendant of the aristocracy of Iturbide's days” (10). This emphasis on aristocratic foreigners as the antagonists makes the class distinctions between merchants' sons, Yankee yeomanry, and Western settlers seem less significant; the villainous foreign aristocrat serves as a scapegoat for class resentments that might otherwise be directed at the sons of U.S. elites. Instead, class rivalries are to some extent displaced by imperial rivalries between men over access to the women.

Force and consent are key words in these international romances. Although Donna Isabella Xera, the heroine of The Prairie Guide, despises him, Captain Minon pressures her guardian and even kidnaps and imprisons her in an effort to force a union. Even though her uncle initially consents to the marriage, however, Isabella insists that “I ought to be permitted to make my own choice” (17). When in The Chieftain of Churubusco, Don Jose de Varere—“a rich and influential citizen of Puebla”—says that his will is his daughter's law and that he can determine whom she will marry, her servant girl replies that it “may be so in everything else but love” (11); the heroine, Lauretta Varere, indeed refuses to consent to the unwanted marriage in spite of her antagonists' efforts to force her to do so. And in The Texan Ranger, Adela refuses to agree to marry Don Eugenio, “a lover chosen for her by her father, rather than by her own will” (92). By identifying Mexico and Spain with patriarchy and coercive force, these narratives represent the United States, by contrast, as the land of modernity and relative freedom for women. Since in these novels romantic and political discourses are mapped onto each other, these scenarios also construct the Mexican government as despotic and U.S. government as consensual, democratic, and “free.”

Scenes in which Mexican heroines and U.S. heroes are magnetically attracted to each other and almost instantly fall in love reinforce this dichotomy between force and consent, imagined as a contrast between Mexico and the United States. When Xelima and St. James quickly fall for each other in The Vidette, the narrator defends love at first sight: “True love is to the human soul, what the spark of fire is to the magazine, and equally as instantaneous in its effects” (79). And when Fanchette, the prairie guide, first sees Isabella, he “started, as if he had received an electric shock” (24) and soon harbors a “deep and fervent attachment” to her, while after only a few hours, “with all the ardor of a soul capable of the greatest extremes of passion—she loved him!” (25). By making the U.S. hero the Mexican heroine's romantic choice, and by

dramatizing heterosexual love as intense, almost instantaneous, and natural, these narratives try to justify, present an alternative to, or compensate for the military invasion of Mexico by displacing scenes of force and coercion with a vision of loving, consensual relations between the two nations, albeit one that still depends upon the gendered hierarchies and inequalities that structured the marriage contract in the United States.[56]

This ideological work was especially urgent because U.S. opponents of the war were increasingly arguing that the invasion of Mexico violated the liberal democratic ideal of consent, although occasionally the principle of consent would be invoked to explain why the United States could in good conscience annex all or part of Mexico. The expansionist Democrat senator Dickinson, for one, argued that as a republic, “deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed,” the U.S. form of government was “admirably adapted to extended empire,” inasmuch as “its influences” were “as powerful for good at the remotest limits as at the political centre.”[57] More often, though, when the question of annexation came up, the ideal of consent was cited as a reason why the incorporation of Mexico would be hypocritical and wrong. The Whig C.B. Smith, for instance, argued in the House of Representatives that the U.S. government was based on the principle of “consent of the governed” and that imperialists sought “in violation of this principle, to extend our government, by force, over a reluctant and unwilling people.”[58]

In practice, of course, liberal democratic theory often conflates consent and submission, and it thereby fails, as Carole Pateman argues, “to distinguish free commitment and agreement by equals from domination, subordination, and inequality.”[59] In a critique of consensual paradigms as they have been applied to Chicanas/os, Carl GutiérrezJones has persuasively argued that since “the history of Anglo and Mexicano/Chicano interaction is one of territorial occupation through legal manipulation working in concert with violence, it comes as little surprise that consent, as framed in the mainstream manner, is significantly challenged by Chicano texts: consent cannot be the cornerstone of justice where choice has not played a significant role.”[60] In the mid–nineteenth century, the question of empire forced some of these contradictions to resurface in the sphere of politics as well as in mass literary culture. In response to the war, in other words, congressmen found it necessary to return to questions of consent and to debate the meaning of a principle that was more often left unexamined. And although advocates of expansion would of

course want to represent the U.S. annexation of all or part of Mexico as consensual, opponents tried to present alternative models for postwar relations—more intimate commercial relations without political union, for example—by representing other sorts of arrangements as both consensual and superior to the use of military coercion in support of a project of territorial expansion.

Many of these novels symbolically attempt to reverse the U.S. invasion of Mexico by representing international romance as the Mexican heroine's conquest of the U.S. hero. After Charles Devereux falls in love with Inez, he thinks of her as “the being who had taken captive his heart” (22). And in The Secret Service Ship, Midshipman Rogers not only tells Isora that she has made “a full conquest” of his heart but also adds, “You had made a breach in the walls, the first glance I received from your dark eyes on the ramparts of San Juan d'Ulloa!” (63). Although U.S. soldiers were invading the homes of Monterrey and bombing the city of Vera Cruz, narratives such as this one try to invert the terms of military conquest and occupation by making the Mexican woman the conqueror. Midshipman Rogers also tries to heal the wounds of war and turn force into consent by suggesting that love transcends national enmities: “By nationality we are enemies, 'tis true, dear lady, but O! say not that in feeling and in LOVE we are foes!” (63). Other strategies that are deployed to justify a U.S. presence in Mexico include the emplotment of a preexisting relationship between the romantic hero and heroine. In The Mexican Spy, the half-Mexican Annabel Blackler observes that “the affections of my heart were pre-engaged long before I first came to this unhappy country” (62); and in The Texan Ranger, Marguerita fell in love with a U.S. officer at a military ball while her father was exiled in New Orleans: “[F]or his sake,” she “loved the whole nation” (102). These representations try to override the military hostilities between nations by resolving them into loving bonds that derive from preexisting transnational connections between elites in Mexico and the United States.

Although many of these novels promote international romance as the symbolic resolution to the war, the conclusions present a number of different outcomes. In The Prairie Guide, the Mexican heroine Isabella dresses as a man and follows her lover to Matamoras, where he has rejoined the U.S. forces. Once it is revealed that she is a female in disguise, the two are married at once, making it possible for the humble guide to share her “immense estate” (8) and incredible wealth. This ending is obviously suggestive of the landgrab that accompanied the ending of the

war, when the United States increased its size by more than one-fifth at the expense of Mexico. And in The Mexican Ranchero, the half-Mexican Buena Rejon's desire for and marriage to the U.S. soldier seems to figure Mexico's “consent” to an intensified relationship with the United States, once the mixed-race monster and the Irish Catholic renegade have been dispatched. At the end of the novel, she marries Herbert Harold and moves to a plantation in Virginia. As we have seen, Harold's sister Al-fredine stays in Mexico and marries Buena's brother Rafael, who renounces his vow of eternal vengeance to the invader and seeks “the national reconciliation of the hostile lands” (100). Similarly, when the wealthy St. James marries the Mexican Xelima at the end of The Vidette, their romance makes him renounce “ambition, a desire for military distinction, a niche in the temple of his country's fame” (96). Because now “the very mention of war sickened him” (96), he resigned his commission and left his Yankee second-in-command in charge of his troops. In this case, international romance is used to criticize the war rather than to justify it. Or at least it suggests that wars should be fought by lower-class types such as the Yankee rather than the refined St. James.

Although a significant number of these novels end in marriage, in others marriage must be deferred until the war ends. Inez, the Beautiful, for instance, ends with a “contract of marriage” between hero and heroine that is “not to be consummated until peace is concluded between the United States and Mexico” (50–51). The narrator concludes that this is “a consummation devoutly to be wished” by “that respectable class of citizens who embrace the strongest PEACE views” (51). And at the end of The Secret Service Ship, Midshipman Rogers and Isora La Vega are engaged and plan to marry at the end of the war, when “there will be no bar of nationality” between the “union” (100). At the conclusion of The Light Dragoon, too, the U.S. officer Allston and the heiress Elvira are engaged but not yet married, and Elvira is revealed to be the lost child of a U.S. officer in the Seminole War and his Spanish wife, who was murdered by Indians (rather than the daughter of the rich Mexican Espindola, who adopted her). After they marry, Allston plans to return to Mexico as soon as that country is “conquered” in order to claim the deceased Espindola's estates “in the name of the heiress, Elvira” (100). This conclusion seems to indicate a desire for Mexican lands without the Mexicans, since Elvira turns out to have only a legal relationship to her “adopted” nation.

In still other novels, however, the consummation of international romance is prevented by the violence of war or by other obstacles, such as the previous engagement to a U.S. woman that makes it impossible for


Julius, in The Prisoner of Perote, to return Josefa's love. At the end of the novel, during the siege of Vera Cruz, Josefa is killed by a bomb, and as she dies she bequeaths a ring to her friend, Julius's fiancée, which becomes “the sacred bond of their marriage” (40). And The Mariner of the Mines completely rejects the possibility of international romance by wedding Campbell to the daughter of a New Orleans merchant and pairing the wealthy Redwood with the foundling Charlotte Archington, who turns out to be the daughter of a rich U.S. merchant and an Englishwoman whose father traded in Mexico and later became a Mexican citizen. Moreena, a “native Mexican girl,” falls in love with Redwood, and when she is rejected by him her love turns to hatred and she tries to kill both him and Charlotte, although she is ultimately foiled. Her brother Francisco, who tries to force Charlotte to marry him, fares no better. This novel apparently refuses any form of amalgamation between the United States and Mexico, although it does underline the advantageous trading relationships that might be established in Mexico by foreign merchants.

Some of these novels end by trying to harmonize relations between North and South. At the conclusion of The Mariner of the Mines, when Caesar Burney remains with “his master” Campbell in New Orleans, Campbell's marriage to the Southern merchant's daughter in that city anticipates the reunion of Northern and Southern interests—at the expense of Burney, of course, as well as the Mexicans who are vilified in this novel. And when the death of the evil Irishman Raleigh allows the dispossessed Captain Harold in The Mexican Ranchero to recover “the old family plantation” in Virginia and to move there with his Mexican bride, the narrative seems to be responding to Southern objections to the war by incorporating the South into its vision of postwar reconciliation, although the question of slavery is repressed. When the issue is explicitly raised in The Mexican Spy, the conclusion seems forced and hollow. That novel features a black character, Brutus, a former slave in Alabama. Brutus, who was freed by his master, is a servant to a rich Mexican don, but at the end he returns to Alabama and becomes the “overseer on a plantation there” (100). In the novel, Brutus, who is paired with the Yankee vernacular character Pelatiah Shattuck, is used as comic relief (as part of a spy mission, he cross-dresses as a nun, for example) in ways that are reminiscent of blackface minstrelsy.[61] The fact that he returns to Alabama and becomes an overseer on a plantation, along with his view of his former master as a benign, fatherly presence, suggests that the novel is struggling to put to rest fears raised by debates over slavery through the promotion of what Eric Lott calls “the mythology of plantation

paternalism.”[62] This strategy reflects a general desire among most Democrats and many Whigs to bury the subject of slavery, especially as election time neared, in order to maintain a tenuous hold on white national unity.

If these novels strain to manage the incipient crisis, in other narratives the question of slavery erupts from within plots that otherwise try to marginalize the issue. In The Texan Ranger, for example, Marguerita helps two U.S. officers escape from the Mexicans, but she is betrayed by “a Texan slave whom she had trusted, for he had been a servant of her uncle's ever since his flight from Texas, and she believed that he was faithful” (101). But he asked her for more money to keep her secret because he wanted to buy his wife and two boys in Bexar, and when she refused he turned her in to the Mexican authorities. This vignette is particularly interesting because some proannexationists, according to Michael Holt, tried to convince “reluctant Northern Democrats opposed to slavery extension and a growing black population” that adding new territory to the Union would “benefit the anti-slavery cause” by drawing slaves to Texas and eventually to Mexico, thus eliminating “the twin problems of slavery and race adjustment” in the older states.[63] In other words, these Northern Democrats argued that U.S. expansion would mean that slavery would move even farther south and therefore farther away, and that slaves would gravitate across the border to whatever was left of Mexico, where slavery had been abolished. Although such a representation of runaway slaves in Mexico might have comforted the many Northern Democrats who wanted black people removed as far away as possible, it could hardly, however, have been reassuring to Southerners who worried, during the debates over the Wilmot Proviso, about the protection of the peculiar institution.

In The Volunteer, on the other hand, the Mexican heroine's brother, the guerrilla Canales, also employs a black “body servant,” Matteo, who accompanied him from Texas to Mexico and whose son, Roberto, joins Canales's band. Even though Matteo's continued service to Canales might suggest to supporters of slavery that racialized labor relations akin to slavery could be maintained in Mexico, Roberto's assimilation into Canales's guerrilla band is treated more ambiguously. In fact, this portrayal of the black son of a slave allied with Mexican guerrillas recalls the fears raised in the Williams Brothers' story paper the Uncle Sam, quoted in the previous chapter, to the effect that mixed-blood Mexican soldiers “proclaiming liberty to the people of color” might enlist Southern slaves to fight against U.S. whites. At the very

least, these representations support Michael Rogin's argument that the internal stresses that the ideology of Manifest Destiny was meant to alleviate reappeared with even greater fractiousness in the American 1848: “Escaping from the past into the West, from social crowds into nature, from class conflict into racial domination, America escaped into a bloody Civil War.”[64]

And what of the “internal stresses” of Indian/white relations? Despite the recent history of Indian Removal, the Seminole Wars, and the Black Hawk War, those who supported annexation in Congress sometimes optimistically suggested, as did Senator Sevier, that “[we] can get along with those Indians with as little trouble as we do with our own”[65] Some of these, like Senator Breese, thought that Mexican Indians were “apt to learn, and willing to improve, and, if not possessed of all the manlier virtues, have at least those which fully ensure their cheerful acquiescence to our control and rapid advancement under it.”[66] Others, such as Senator Dickinson, took the harsher view that like “their doomed brethren, who were once spread over the several States of the Union, they are destined, by laws above human agency, to give way to a stronger race from this continent or another.”[67] Although Democrats generally endorsed one of the poles of the “civilization or extinction” dyad, Whigs who opposed annexation tended to argue that Mexican Indians were not likely to disappear anytime soon, and almost all of them worried about the incorporation of Indians into the white nation.[68] Senator Bell, for instance, warned that even if U.S. whites immigrated to Mexico, “[Y]ou will still have five millions of Indians on hand, to be an ever-eating canker on your system.”[69]

The international romances of 1846–1848 usually focus most centrally on Mexican creoles, but some Indian characters do appear in these texts in subordinate roles. In Buntline's Magdalena, the Indian boy Zalupah, who is Magdalena's servant, is so intensely loyal to her that he sacrifices his life to save the U.S. officer that she loves. Although his behavior is described as “brave” and “noble” (63), this representation naturalizes hierarchical master/servant relations and constructs what we might call a mythology of hacienda paternalism that implies that creole/Indian relations in Mexico resemble (white fantasies of) white/black relations in the South. Zalupah is also used to define Magdalena's whiteness through contrast. When she decides to disguise herself and to team up with Zalupah in order to save her beloved, she must stain her face and hands “as dark as a New Orleans quadroon, or a Seminole Indian” (59) in order to be of “the same hue” (59) and to pass as an Indian

peon. But if this representation suggests that Indians are easily controllable, cheerfully subordinate to whites, and perhaps destined to fade away, in other narratives they are more autonomous and potentially threatening. In The Texan Ranger, the Comanche Prince Cima offers to bring his three thousand warriors to the aid of the Mexicans against the “American invader” (68) if the beautiful Adela, the Rose of the Rio Grande, will marry him, while in The Chieftain of Churubusco, Comanches capture a U.S. American who is on his way to Mexico and initiate him “into their wild and warlike tribe” (39). In still other narratives, as we have seen, when heroines are of Indian descent, international romance is usually repudiated as a way of figuring postwar relations between nations. Although The Heroine of Tampico is in some ways an exception, since in it the daughter of Seminole Indians marries a U.S. officer, in this case the fact that she is not a Mexican Indian is significant. Since the novel features no international pairings, and on the contrary doubles the Seminole Indian/U.S. officer romance with a marriage between the officer's brother and an Anglo-American heroine, the novel apparently prefers an interracial, intranational romance to one between U.S. Americans and Mexicans. Although it might be expected, then, that story-paper romances would promote annexation, many of them support the U.S. military presence there but express reservations about the incorporation of all of Mexico, and especially of Mexicans, into the white U.S. republic. Of course, some of these novels, such as The Vidette, end by criticizing the war, and others register the fact that the war is controversial, or hope that it will soon end. But more of the novels try to sidestep the question of the justice of the war and instead develop strategies for resolving the conflict in ways that counter the international romance equals annexation paradigm. When international romance is consummated, but the Mexican heroine returns to the United States with her new husband, for instance, the novels may be suggesting that exceptional “white” Mexican women (and by extension, perhaps, the northern Mexican border-lands) can be incorporated into the nation, but that greater Mexico and the mixed-race Mexican masses cannot be so easily assimilated. When the heroines are only half-Mexican, or when international romance is entirely repudiated, these stories reject the possibility of annexation more forcefully. And often, the narratives end by indicating that the brothers of the heroines of international romance remain at the forefront of the struggles in Mexico. This may imply that elite Mexican men with political and commercial connections to U.S. American men should rule


Mexico, doubtless by taking U.S. interests to heart. Indeed, in some of these romances, the representations of U.S. merchants and especially merchants' sons, many of whom do not marry Mexican women, suggest that these novels may be advocating intimate economic relationships with Mexico rather than political or romantic ones. Although it would be difficult to argue in almost every case that the story-paper novels un-equivocally endorse the war and the annexation of Mexico, in all of these narratives the boundaries of gender, race, and sexuality are central to debates over the politics of empire-building and the incorporation of “foreign” territories and peoples.

I suggested in the previous chapter that story-paper literature claimed to be neutral or independent and tried to appeal to a mass audience composed of multiple classes. Nonetheless, the political debates between Democrats and Whigs over the war and annexation resonate throughout the pages of these novels. Although Democrats advocated the annexation of all of Mexico, more of them wanted to take only the relatively sparsely inhabited parts of northern Mexico, especially California. And despite the fact that most of the Whigs voted for supplies and resources in support of the war, and even ran war hero Zachary Taylor as their presidential candidate in the election of 1848, many raised questions about the origin of the war, tried to devise strategies for ending it, and argued for a “No Territory” program. Indeed, Whiggish positions are implicitly referenced in the story papers more often than might be expected, not only when objections to annexation are voiced but also in the efforts to construct models of white Protestant manhood and fraternity that might serve as “mutualist” points of identification for U.S. American men of different classes. Such a conjunction of class, nativism, white manhood, and imperialism is especially significant in the work of Ned Buntline, whose infamous career as a purveyor of popular culture is the subject of chapter 5.

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