The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976 Page: 401
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Labor Emigration to the Southwest, z9z6 to z9o
Few landowners were willing to make the heavy investments of time and
money needed for agricultural production in the face of the threat of land
and crop seizures by peasants, revolutionary groups, and federal forces. In
many areas of heavy population concentration previously productive lands
lay entirely abandoned. Although statistics for the period are inadequate,
they do show a sharp decline in food supplies. One source suggests that the
production of corn and beans, the basic staples for the majority of the
populace, fell precipitously from 19Io to 1918. In the latter year corn
supplies dropped to 1,930,000 metric tons compared to 1,975,ooo tons
available in 191o; the bean crop in 1918 was only o107,ooo tons compared
to the 191 o figure of 60o,ooo tons.?
The peasantry also suffered disproportionately from rampant inflation.
Wages remained what they had been before 19 10, but prices rose rapidly.
In a study of the revolution's impact, government economist Fernando
Gonzalez Roa found that with the rising cost of food and the decline in
real wages the greater part of the rural lower classes were literally dying
of hunger throughout Mexico. Similar hardships were faced by persons
engaged in mining, commerce, and industry.2
Severe shortages of labor in the United States coincided with harsh
conditions in Mexico that forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave
their native land. The economic mobilization brought on by entry into
World War I in April, 1917, accentuated labor shortages in the agricultural
Southwest and in many industrial areas in other parts of the country. Over
1,000,000 United States citizens were conscripted for military service.
Thousands of poor white and black laborers throughout the South and
Southwest trekked northward to cities such as Chicago, Detroit, and New
York in search of better-paying industrial jobs created by the wartime boom.
In many areas, only old women and children were available for stoop labor
in the fields.'
Extensive recruitment of Mexican workers was also encouraged by the
1Memorandum, November 17, 1917, [illegible] to Carranza, Archivo Carranza (Fun-
daci6n Cultural de Condumex, S.A., Mexico City); Charles C. Cumberland, Mexico:
The Struggle for Modernity (New York, 1968), 372. Items in the Archivo Carranza
have no classification numbers and are arranged only in chronological order. They are
hereafter cited as Carranza Papers.
2Fernando Gonzalez Roa, El aspecto agrario de la Revolucion mexicana (Mexico City,
1919), 170; Edwin Walter Kemmerer, Inflation and Revolution: Mexico's Experience of
1912-1917 (Princeton, 1940).
3Frank L. Polk to Marion Letcher, January 2, 1918, General Records of the Depart-
ment of State, File 8II1.504/85, Record Group 59 (National Archives); Truman G.
Palmer to Robert Lansing, August 8, 1917, File 8I .504/42, ibid.; U.S., Congress, House,
Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, Temporary Admission of Illiterate Mexi-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976, periodical, 1975/1976; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101203/m1/458/: accessed November 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.