“the charm of her attitude was gone”

The official observations of U.S. personnel when they entered New Mexico during the U.S. War on Mexico were often times focused on how New Mexicans were dressed, what crops New Mexicans grew, what food they ate, and whether New Mexicans were “good looking.”  Every one in New Mexico was a specimen of whatever cultural or racial category was in the heads of these outsiders.

“Mr. Stanly accompanied me, for the purpose of sketching one of the women as a specimen of the race. I told the alcalde our object, and soon a very beautiful woman made her appearance, perfectly conscious of the purpose for which her presence was desired. Her first position was exquisitely graceful, but the light did not suit, and when Stanly changed her position, the charm of her attitude was gone.”


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(Above page from Lt. Col. W.H. Emory, Notes of a Military Reconnoissance, lithographs by C.B. Graham and drawings by John Mix Stanley, Ex. Doc. No. 41, Thirtieth U.S. Congress (1848), courtesy of the Prelinger Library)


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