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Louis Cardis

An Italian immigrant, Luis Cardis was a middle-aged man when he came to El Paso in 1864. He quickly learned fluent Spanish, which helped him build political power with Mexican Americans.

Cardis gained political favor with men who valued his strong ties with the Mexican Americans. A group of powerful businessmen, called the Salt Ring, schemed to make money off of the El Paso area Mexican Americans. Their scheme resulted in a famously intense dispute over control of the salt beds at the foot of the Guadalupe Mountains, ninety miles east of the city.

Cardis also formed an alliance with local Democrat James Howard, to influence the Mexican vote for his political election. In return, Howard aided Cardis's successful campaign for the state legislature. Howard said, I think no county in the State deserves more credit than El Paso, and no man more that L. Cardis.

However, the relationship deteriorated, and the politicians became bitter enemies when Howard double-crossed Cardis in the salt flats scheme and physically attacked him on two occasions. In retaliation, Cardis incited a mob of angry Mexican Americans that held Howard captive in San Elizario for three days.

The Texas Rangers rescued Howard, and he fled the scene until his vengeful return to El Paso on October 7, 1877. Howard shot Cardis dead with a shotgun. Two months later, a gang of Cardis supporters killed Howard.

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critical thinking
Why do you think that Louis Cardis was able to influence the Mexican American community?

Related Links:

Handbook of Texas Online

San Angelo Standard-Times history article

Read More, Learn More:

Sonnichsen, C. L. 1961. The El Paso Salt War. Texas Western Press. Broaddus, J. Morgan. 1963.

The Legal Heritage of El Paso. El Paso: Texas Western College Press.