The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction

The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction

Book - 1999
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Harvard University Press
In 1904, New York nuns brought forty Irish orphans to a remote Arizona mining camp, to be placed with Catholic families. The Catholic families were Mexican, as was the majority of the population. Soon the town's Anglos, furious at this "interracial" transgression, formed a vigilante squad that kidnapped the children and nearly lynched the nuns and the local priest. The Catholic Church sued to get its wards back, but all the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, ruled in favor of the vigilantes.

The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction tells this disturbing and dramatic tale to illuminate the creation of racial boundaries along the Mexican border. Clifton/Morenci, Arizona, was a "wild West" boomtown, where the mines and smelters pulled in thousands of Mexican immigrant workers. Racial walls hardened as the mines became big business and whiteness became a marker of superiority. These already volatile race and class relations produced passions that erupted in the "orphan incident." To the Anglos of Clifton/Morenci, placing a white child with a Mexican family was tantamount to child abuse, and they saw their kidnapping as a rescue.

Women initiated both sides of this confrontation. Mexican women agreed to take in these orphans, both serving their church and asserting a maternal prerogative; Anglo women believed they had to "save" the orphans, and they organized a vigilante squad to do it. In retelling this nearly forgotten piece of American history, Linda Gordon brilliantly recreates and dissects the tangled intersection of family and racial values, in a gripping story that resonates with today's conflicts over the "best interests of the child."



Baker & Taylor
A disturbing real-life account of racism at the turn of the century follows forty Irish orphans brought to Arizona by Catholic nuns to be adopted by local Mexican-American families, their kidnapping by outraged Anglo vigilantes, and the subsequent Supreme Court case that found in favor of the abductors.

Baker
& Taylor

Follows forty Irish orphans brought to Arizona in the early twentieth century by Catholic nuns for adoption by Mexican American families, their kidnapping by Anglo vigilantes, and the Supreme Court case that found in favor of the abductors.

Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1999.
ISBN: 9780674360419
0674360419
9780674005358
067400535X
Branch Call Number: 305.8 GOR
Characteristics: xii, 416 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm

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