American society in the 1800s had a rough edge to it. In a nation made up of people of diverse backgrounds and heritage, social controls needed to be strict and enforceable. The extreme economic inequality of Americas cities and the wide open moral code of the frontier led to a culture of crime and violence that still plagues our country. During the 1800s, professional police forces were established in cities, towns, and territories across the continent. On the frontier, justice was often swift and severe, with hanging judges making their reputations as representatives of the law in a lawless land. Long prison sentences in miserable conditions were the rule for criminals, and many a prisoner might have preferred the option of a quick execution. Before the reform of the legal system, which is an ongoing process, there was definitely a separate law, and a separate standard of penalties, for the rich and for the poor. The evolution of a humane penal system and a fairer protection of all citizens under the law is an important contribution of 1800s America to the modern world.
With the principles of democracy firmly established after the War for Independence, Americans in the 1800s took their politics very seriously. As more and more male citizens gained the right to vote, elections became very public, hotly contested, and sometimes even violent. In the cities and towns of America, politicians courted political power and influence among new immigrant communities; buying votes and stuffing ballot boxes was shockingly common. While the major national political issues of foreign policy, taxation, the abolition of slavery, and states rights took center stage in Congress, Americans split along regional and party lines that still exist in the twenty-first century. Scandals over greed and corruption caused whole city governments to fall, but America also produced some of the greatest statesman and political leaders in its history. Former slaves, poor immigrants, and women demanded their right to vote.
Like people everywhere, Mexicans have experienced governments that have been beneficial to the people, and those that have treated people harshly. The history of government in the land known as Mexico is long and complex, beginning more than 3,000 years ago with the various Amerindian civilizations that lived in the region. Once the Spanish conquered the native people during the 16th century, they imposed their own forms of government that persisted until the early decades of the 19th century. Since Mexico gained its independence in 1821, the people have experienced many periods of unrest and turmoil, as various groups have attempted to create an effective government. With the election of Enrique Peña Nieto as president in 2012, many Mexicans hope that their government is headed in the right direction to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The history of Mexican government, and hopes for the future, are traced in Meeting Future Challenges: The Government of Mexico.
Mexicans today are proud of their rich heritage and their beautiful land, but they also recognize that their nation has many problems, including widespread poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, and drug-related violence. Many of Mexico's ongoing problems - such as illegal immigration, environmental issues, and drug trafficking - also affect its northern neighbor, the United States. Mexican Facts and Figures is an overview that will tell you about Mexico's past and its present, while also providing statistical information about the country's 31 states and its federal district.
The central states of Mexico are the geographic and economic heart of the nation. This region has been the site of many events that shaped Mexico's history, and includes the federal district that is home to the national government. The fertile farmland of central Mexico provides food. In Mexico's Central States, you will learn about the geography and climate, history, economy, culture, and the major communities of 11 Mexican states: Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico State, Mexico City (Federal District), Michoacn, Morelos, Puebla, Quertaro, and Tlaxcala.
The Mexican states located on the Gulf of Mexico are known for their ancient ruins, crystal-clear waters, and friendly people. This region was home to some of Mexico's earliest Amerindian civilizations, and was the first part of Mexico that Europeans explored during the early 16th century. Today, this region is among the safest and most stable parts of Mexico. In Mexico's Gulf States, you will learn about the geography and climate, history, economy, culture, and the major communities of five Mexican states: Campeche, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, Veracruz, and Yucatán.
Northern Mexico is a vast desert region bordering the United States. This region an important center for manufacturing, mining, and other industries due to its proximity to the U.S., and many maquiladoras (small factories) are located along the border. It also has many sights that attract tourists, such as the world-famous Copper Canyon. In Mexico's Northern States, you will learn about the geography and climate, history, economy, culture, and the major communities of seven Mexican states: Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, and Zacatecas.
The states of Mexico's Pacific North region feature a wide range of terrains, from dry desert to beautiful coastal beaches and fertile valleys. Numerous archaeological sites can be found in the regions rugged mountains, and tourists enjoy beach resorts such as Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán, and the Sonoran Desert. Unfortunately, this region is also the base for one of Mexico's most powerful drug cartels, so in recent years drug-related violence has been a constant problem. In Mexico's Pacific North States, you will learn about the geography and climate, history, economy, culture, and the major communities of five Mexican states: Baja California, Baja California Sur, Nayarit, Sinaloa, and Sonora.
The southernmost states along Mexico's Pacific coast are rich in both history and natural resources. These states have been shaken by natural phenomena, such as earthquakes and volcanoes, and plagued at times by rebellions and violence. Yet these states attract millions of tourists each year, drawn to the beautiful beaches of Acapulco, Huatulco, and other resorts, or to major archaeological sites such as Monte Albán and Palenque. In Mexico's Pacific South States, you will learn about the geography and climate, history, economy, culture, and the major communities of four Mexican states: Colima, Chiapas, Guerrero, and Oaxaca.