A dramatic response to American racism occurred in Los Angeles during 1855 when eighteen-year-old Francisco P.Ramírez published a Spanish-language newspaper, El Clamor Público. Ramírez called upon a Mexican American majority to rebel and seize power by electing themselves to public office.
Ramírez was a radical liberal in a town controlled by white conservative Southerners with antebellum values. Nevertheless, from 1855 to 1859, he railed against slavery and ridiculed those in Los Angeles who supported it. His demands for Mexican equality, the abolition of slavery, free elections, and education for women were well ahead of his time. He was the first civil rights activist in Los Angeles.
In December 1859 El Clamor Público bankrupted for lack of popular support. For three decades afterward Ramírez was involved in every major political and social movement of his day. He continued to champion equality and civil rights as a San Francisco newspaper editor and the only Mexican American lawyer in Los Angeles. His life's work has been the subject of academic seminars and mandatory reading in university classes.
Historians have long recognized the need for a complete biography of Ramírez. Dr. Abraham Hoffman, a noted scholar in the history of Los Angeles, has written, "Another person more mentioned than profiled was Francisco P. Ramírez, a figure who truly cries for more biographical information."
An original and significant work contributing vastly to our knowledge of this important civic leader, and also to the very rich and detailed political history of Los Angeles and Baja California. . . .Truly monumental, perhaps the best biography of a Mexican American of this era yet produced. --Richard Griswold del Castillo, author of The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo: A Legacy of Conflict
Ours is a golden age of Southern California historical writing. Further proof now comes with the publication of this masterfully researched and written, long-overdue full-length biography of Francisco P. Ramírez. --Kevin Starr, University of Southern California
Paul Bryan Gray, a California lawyer and historian, was honored in 2001 with the Historical Society of Southern California's Donald H. Pflueger Award for distinguished research and writing, in connection with Forster vs. Pico: The Struggle for the Rancho Santa Margarita.
Gordon Morris Bakken teaches American history at California State University, Fullerton. He is the author of twenty books as well as numerous articles and law reviews, book chapters and encyclopedia entries, and book reviews.