What Would Bronson Cutting Do?

The Seven Burros of Bronson Cutting

Cutting bust About my favorite sculpture at the Roundhouse is the bust of Bronson M. Cutting. His big chubby face greets those approaching the capitol from the east where he faces Atalaya Hill, the direction of his beautiful home, Los Siete Burros, located on Old Santa Fe Trail. (Historic Santa Fe Foundation)

The bronze was commissioned by his friends and admirers and dedicated at a ceremony in 1939 on the anniversary of his death in a plane crash four years earlier.

Bronson Cutting fell in love with New Mexico and its people upon his arrival in 1910 and devoted the rest of his relatively short life to improving their lot.  His "rare combination of moral courage, modesty and marked ability" was directed at fighting injustice and advancing progressive policies.

Although nominally a Republican, he shunned party regularity to champion progressive reform in state and local government. After his service in World War I, Cutting organized the Hispanic veterans through American Legion chapters and forced the Republican and Democratic parties to adopt progressive planks and candidates and to include qualified Hispanics in their administrations. Once elected to the United States Senate in 1928, Cutting criticized the weak efforts of Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt to end the Great Depression. (Bronson M. Cutting: Progressive Republican, by Richard Lowitt.)

Stephen Fox describes the political scene in Desert Exposure

In the north they danced to the tune called by the Maxwell Land Grant Company, coal mines and the Santa Fe Railroad; in the south it was the Phelps-Dodge and Chino mining companies and the El Paso Railroad. The Republicans also made mutually profitable alliances, blatantly exchanging bribes for votes, with the old Spanish land-grant ranchers and stockmen who controlled the Hispanic counties in the north.

The Democrats were clustered in "Little Texas," the southeastern part of New Mexico that was settled in the late 1800s by former slaveholders from the neighboring state. The Democrats were virulently racist, even by the minimal standards of 1912. (...)  

Cutting declared a plague on both their houses: Republicans were too crooked, he decided, and Democrats were too anti-Hispanic. Instead he became a party unto himself. His main allies, it turned out, were Hispanics, who then numbered about 60% of all New Mexicans.


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