This essay traces the struggle for the commons on New Mexico's Las Vegas Land Grant, a community property claim in New Mexico. Following the U.S.–Mexican War, waves of enclosures undermined communal property relations throughout the region. The Las Vegas grant was particularly appealing to land speculators and commercial cattle operators for its vast grasslands, timber, and rail connections. In the late 1880s a clandestine movement, known as Las Gorras Blancas, responded to the property enclosures and new wage labor relations on the grant with night-riding tactics that included cutting the barbed wire fences that enclosed common property and destroying the rail infrastructure that served the new class of speculators and commercial cattle operators. This essay examines the specific patterns of land speculation in Las Vegas amid the wider capitalist transformation of New Mexico as a means to understand the development and political economy of the Las Gorras Blancas protest.

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