The Squatter and the Don


by María Amparo Ruiz de Burton

ISBN: 978-1-55885-185-6
Publication Date: 1997 (second edition)
Bind: Trade Paperback
Pages: 352

Scholars Rosaura Sánchez and Beatrice Pita provide a well-researched historical framework and critical analysis of The Squatter and the Don, along with a short biography of María Amparo Ruiz de Burton. They also offer informative notes to the introduction and the narrative.

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Originally published in San Francisco in 1885, The Squatter and the Don is the first fictional narrative written and published in English from the perspective of the conquered Mexican population. Despite being granted the full rights of citizenship under the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848, this group had become a subordinated and marginalized national minority by 1860.

María Amparo Ruiz de Burton witnessed the disintegration of the old order, the shifts in power relations and the rapid capitalist development of the California territory, all of which led to the disruption of everyday life for the Californios. In The Squatter and the Don, a historical romance, Ruiz de Burton laments land loss and calls for justice and redress of grievances. At a time when the few histories narrated by Californios remained in manuscript form in archives, the very act of writing and publishing this novel was a form of empowerment.

The Squatter and the Don questions United States expansionism, as well as the rise of corporate monopolies and their power over government policy, all while successfully utilizing the favored nineteenth-century American literary genre to do so. This novel is a disquieting and challenging literary creation, all seen from the vantage point of very real characters who suffer individually, even while striving to embrace Anglo-American culture and the promises of American democracy.