Mexican Revolution

Mexican Revolution
Mexican Revolution
Revolución Mexicana
Colage revolución mexicana.jpg
Collage of the Mexican Revolution
Date 1910 - 1920
Location Mexico
Result Porfirio Diaz ousted from power and exiled in France. Convention of Aguascalientes between revolutionary leaders. Mexican Constitution of 1917 enacted. Assassination of important revolutionary leaders Madero, Zapata and Carranza. Founding of the National Revolutionary Party.
Mexico Counter-revolutionary forces:
Federal troops led by Porfirio Díaz
Forces led by Bernardo Reyes
Forces led by Felix Diaz
Army of Victoriano Huerta
Mexico Revolutionary forces:
Liberation Army of the South
Ejército Constitucionalista
Commanders and leaders
Porfirio Díaz
Pascual Orozco, fought own revolution after Diaz was overthrown and later sided with Huerta after Huerta took power
Bernardo Reyes, lead own revolution until his death in 1913
Félix Díaz, sided with Reyes and later Huerta after Reyes died in 1913
Emiliano Zapata, sided with Orozco until Huerta took power
Victoriano Huerta, sided with Reyes until Reyes died in 1913. After Reyes died, Huerta launched his own revolution and took power
1913-1914:Victoriano Huerta
Pascual Orozco
1914-1919:Venustiano Carranza
Alvaro Obregon
Venustiano Carranza
Francisco I. Madero
Pascual Orozco, fought against Diaz
Bernardo Reyes, fought against Diaz
Francisco Villa
Emiliano Zapata
Venustiano Carranza
Francisco I. Madero
Francisco Villa
Venustiano Carranza
Francisco Villa
Emiliano Zapata
Venustiano Carranza
Alvaro Obregon
Francisco Villa
Emiliano Zapata
Alvaro Obregon
External Timeline A graphical timeline is available at
Timeline of the Mexican Revolution

The Mexican Revolution (Spanish: Revolución mexicana) was a major armed struggle that started in 1910, with an uprising led by Francisco I. Madero against longtime autocrat Porfirio Díaz. The Revolution was characterized by several socialist, liberal, anarchist, populist, and agrarianist movements. Over time the Revolution changed from a revolt against the established order to a multi-sided civil war. This armed conflict is often categorized as the most important sociopolitical event in Mexico and one of the greatest upheavels of the 20th century.[1]

After prolonged struggles, its representatives produced the Mexican Constitution of 1917. The Revolution is generally considered to have lasted until 1920, although the country continued to have sporadic, but comparatively minor, outbreaks of warfare well into the 1920s. The Cristero War of 1926 to 1929 was the most significant relapse of bloodshed.

The Revolution triggered the creation of the National Revolutionary Party in 1929 (renamed the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in 1946). Under a variety of leaders, the PRI held power until the general election of 2000.


Porfirio Díaz's rule (DLCC)

History of Mexico
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Pre-Columbian Mexico
Spanish conquest
Colonial period
War of Independence
First Empire
First Republic
War with Texas
Pastry War
Mexican–American War
Second Federal Republic
The Reform
Reform War
French intervention
Second Empire
Restored Republic
The Porfiriato
La decena trágica
Plan of Guadalupe
Tampico Affair
Occupation of Veracruz
Cristero War
The Maximato
Petroleum nationalization
Mexican miracle
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La Década Perdida
1982 economic crisis
Zapatista Insurgency
1994 economic crisis
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General Porfirio Díaz
Leaders of the 1910 revolt pose for a photo after the First Battle of Juárez. Present are José María Pino Suárez, Venustiano Carranza, Francisco I. Madero (and his father), Pascual Orozco, Pancho Villa, Gustavo Madero, Raul Madero, Abraham González, and Giuseppe Garibaldi Jr.
"Manifestación antireeleccionista" by José Guadalupe Posada

After Benito Juárez's death in 1872, Porfirio Díaz wanted to take over as Mexico's leader. As allies the two men had fought against the French in the Battle of Puebla, but once Juárez rose to power Díaz tried to unseat him. Díaz began his reign as president in 1876, and ruled until May 1911[2] when Francisco I. Madero succeeded him, taking office in November 1911.[3] Díaz's regime is remembered for the advances he brought in industry and modernization, at the expense of human rights and liberal reforms. He worked to reduce the power of the Roman Catholic Church and expropriated some of their large property holdings.

Porfirio Díaz's government from 1876–1910 has become known as the Porfiriato. Díaz had a strict "No Re-election" policy in which presidents could not serve consecutive terms in office. He followed this rule when he stepped down (1880) after his first term and was succeeded by Manuel González. Manuel Gonzalez was controlled by Porfirio Diaz and was commonly known as Diaz's puppet. The new president's period in office was marked by political corruption and official incompetence. When Díaz ran in the next election (1884), he was a welcome replacement. In future elections Díaz conveniently put aside his "No Re-election" slogan and ran for president in every election.

Porfirio was an early liberalist, but changed his views after Juarez took office. Díaz became the dictator against whom he had warned the people. Through the army, the Rurales, and gangs of thugs, Diaz frightened people into voting for him. When bullying citizens into voting for him failed, he simply rigged the votes in his favor.[4] Díaz knew he was violating the constitution by using force to stay in office. He justified his acts by claiming that Mexico was not yet ready to govern itself;[citation needed] only he knew what was best for his country and he enforced his belief with a strong hand. "Order followed by Progress" were the watchwords of his rule.[citation needed]

While Díaz's presidency was characterized by promotion of industry and the pacification of the country, some said;[weasel words] it came at the expense of the working class. Farmers and peasants both claimed to have suffered exploitation. The economy took a great leap during the Porfiriato, with his encouraging the construction of factories, roads, dams, industries and better farms. This resulted in the rise of an urban proletariat and the influx of foreign capital (principally from the United States).

Part of his success in maintaining power came from mitigating U.S. influence through European investments - primarily from Great Britain and Imperial Germany. Progress came at a price however, as basic rights such as freedom of the press were suspended under the Porfiriato.[5] The growing influence of the U.S. was a constant problem for Díaz. A major portion of Mexico's land (territory now known as the Mexican Cession) had earlier been ceded to the U.S.; both in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the Mexican-American War, and the subsequent purchase of another large region by the United States in the Gadsden Purchase.

Wealth, political power and access to education were concentrated among a handful of families, overwhelmingly of European descent, who controlled much property in large estates. Most of the people in Mexico were landless. Foreign companies, mostly from the United Kingdom, France and the U.S., also exercised power in Mexico.

Díaz changed land reform efforts that were begun under previous leaders. Díaz's new land laws virtually undid all the hard work by leaders such as Juárez. No peasant or farmer could claim the land he occupied without formal legal title. Helpless and angry small farmers felt a change of regime would be necessary if Mexico was to continue being successful. For this reason, many leaders including Francisco I. Madero, Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata would launch a rebellion against Díaz, escalating into the eventual Mexican Revolution. When it came to the land reform 95% of Mexico's land was owned by only 5% of the Mexican population. This unfair distribution of land went on for years and angered many of the lower class. This corrupt system only allowed the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer. Many of the workers on these Hacienda farms were beaten like slaves and were constantly being put into debt from their previous generations. Díaz allowed this corrupt behavior to go on his entire time as he stayed in power.

Most historians mark the end of the Porfiriato in 1911 as the beginning of the Mexican Revolution. In a 1908 interview with the U.S. journalist James Creelman, Díaz stated that Mexico was ready for democracy and elections and that he would step down to allow other candidates to compete for the presidency.[6][7][8] Growing "old and careless", Díaz figured he would retire to Europe and allow a younger man to take over his presidency. Because of the dissidence this caused, Díaz decided to run again in 1910 for the last time, with an eye toward arranging a succession in the middle of his term.

Madero ran against Díaz in 1910. Diaz thought he could control this election as he had the previous seven.[9] Although similar overall to Díaz in his ideology,[citation needed] Madero hoped for other elites to rule alongside the president. Díaz did not approve of Madero and had him jailed on election day in 1910. Díaz was announced the winner of the election by a landslide, providing the initial impetus for the outbreak of the Revolution.•••

Francisco I. Madero's presidency (1911–1913)

1903. Slogan on the banner reads: "The Constitution has died" (La Constitución ha muerto).

Francisco I. Madero, a young man from a wealthy family in the northern state of Coahuila, stated in 1910 that he would be running in the next election against Díaz for the presidency. In order to ensure that Madero did not win, Díaz had Madero thrown in jail and then declared himself the winner. Madero soon escaped and fled for a short period of time to San Antonio, Texas, United States. On October 5, 1910, Madero issued a "letter from jail" called the Plan de San Luis Potosí, with its main slogan "free suffrage and no re-election." (Sufragio Efectivo, No re-elección) It declared the Díaz regime illegal and called for revolt against Díaz to overthrow the Porfiriato, starting on November 20. Though Madero's letter was not a plan for major socioeconomic revolution, it offered the hope of change for many disadvantaged Mexicans.[9]

Madero's vague promises of agrarian reforms attracted many of the peasants throughout Mexico. He gained support from them that he needed to remove Díaz from power. With the support of the mostly peasant native Mexicans, Madero's army fought Díaz's army and had some success. Díaz's army gradually lost control of Mexico and his administration started to fall apart. The desire to remove Díaz was so great that many natives and different leaders supported Madero and fought on his side.

Native Mexicans with Madero's army

In late 1910, revolutionary movements broke out in response to Madero's letter. Pascual Orozco along with governor Abraham González formed a powerful military union in the north and took Mexicali and Chihuahua City, although they were not especially committed to Madero. These victories encouraged other military and political alliances, including Pancho Villa. Against Madero's wishes, Orozco and Villa fought for and won Ciudad Juárez, bordering El Paso, Texas, along the Rio Grande.

After Madero defeated the weak federal army, on May 21, 1911, he signed the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez with Diaz. It stated that Díaz would abdicate his rule and be replaced by Madero. Insisting on a new election, Madero won overwhelmingly in late 1911. Some supporters criticized him for appearing weak by not assuming the presidency and failing to pass immediate reforms, but Madero established a liberal democracy and received support from the United States and popular leaders such as Orozco, Villa, and Zapata.

Madero was a weak leader and quickly lost much of his support while in power. He angered both the more radical revolutionists and the conservative counter-revolutionists, including the unpopular Congress elected during Díaz's rule. His refusal to enact land reforms caused a break with Zapata who announced the Plan de Ayala, which called for the return of lands "usurped by the hacendados" (hacienda owners) and demanded an armed conflict against the government. Zapata then sided with Orozco.[10]

Soon after, Orozco also broke away from Madero's government and rebelled against him. He created his own army of Orozquistas, who were also called the Colorados ("Red Flaggers") after Madero refused to agree to social reforms calling for better working hours, pay, and conditions. The rural working class, who had supported Madero, now took up arms supporting Zapata and Orozco. The people's support for Madero quickly deteriorated.

Madero's time as leader was short-lived and was brought to end by the coup d'état of General Victoriano Huerta. Madero had appointed Huerta as commander-in-chief when he first claimed power, but Huerta had turned against him. Following Huerta's coup d'état, Madero was forced to resign in 1913. Madero and vice president José María Pino Suárez were both assassinated less than a week later. The murder of Madero ruptured the country, but he became honored as a martyr of the revolution.

Victoriano Huerta's reign (1913–1914)

Victoriano Huerta

In early 1913, Victoriano Huerta, who commanded the armed forces, conspired with U.S. Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson, Félix Díaz and Bernardo Reyes, to remove Madero from power. La decena trágica was an event in which ten days of sporadic fighting in a faked battle occurred between federal troops led by Huerta and Díaz's conservative rebel forces. This fighting stopped when Huerta, Félix Díaz, and Henry Lane Wilson met and signed the "Embassy Pact" in which they agreed to conspire against Madero to install Huerta as president. After Huerta took power, Zapata reunited with Villa and the other revolutionaries.[11] Orozco, however, united with Huerta and Huerta made him one of his generals.[10]

When Huerta gained power and became president, most powers around the world acknowledged him as the rightful leader. However, incoming president of the United States Woodrow Wilson refused to recognize Huerta's government. Henry Lane Wilson was withdrawn as U.S. Ambassador by Woodrow Wilson and his Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, to be replaced by John Lind, a Swedish-American. Bryan, President Wilson, and many Mexicans saw Huerta as an illegal usurper of presidential power in violation of the Constitution of Mexico.

American forces at Veracruz

Venustiano Carranza, a politician and rancher from Coahuila, was forefront in the opposition against Huerta, calling his forces the Constitutionalists, with the secret support of the United States. On March 26, 1913, Carranza issued the Plan de Guadalupe, which was a refusal to recognize Huerta as president and called for a declaration of war between the two factions. Leaders such as Villa, Zapata, Carranza, and Álvaro Obregón led the fighting against Huerta. In April 1914, U.S. opposition to Huerta had reached its peak when American forces seized and occupied the port of Veracruz, cutting off arms and money supplies from Germany. In late July, this situation worsened for Huerta. He vacated his office and fled to Puerto México.


After Huerta vacated the presidency, he moved to Spain in an attempt to establish a new home. Later he returned to Mexico to try to establish another counter-revolution within the post-revolutionary Mexican state.

Germany, which favored Huerta while in power, considered him an important factor related to the war breaking out in Europe (World War I). If Huerta could establish himself again as leader of Mexico, which was the German government's goal, the United States would be distracted on its homefront, giving the Germans an advantage in Europe. Huerta moved to the United States where he began to work toward another revolution in Mexico. The German government gave him funding and advice.

The U.S government and Carranza, the newly elected President of Mexico, were worried when Huerta arrived. They set up surveillance to watch Huerta and try to ensure he did not gain entry into Mexico. The United States government and Carranza wanted to prevent another counter-revolution.

Huerta did not survive long enough to re-enter into Mexico. He was stopped at the border in El Paso, Texas, by the United States government and kept there under house arrest. He died in early 1916.

Pancho Villa (active 1911–1916)

Pancho Villa (Left) "Commander of the División del Norte (Division of the North)" and Emiliano Zapata "Commander of the Ejército Libertador del Sur'
General Francisco "Pancho Villa" with his general staff in 1913. Villa in grey suit in center, Villa's aide, General Rodolfo Fierro to Villa's right.
General Caho meeting with the Governor of Chihuahua March 20, 1914.

José Doroteo Arango Arámbula, better known as Francisco "Pancho" Villa, came from the northern state of Durango. Villa with his army of Villistas joined the ranks of the Madero movements. He led the Villistas in many battles, such as the attack of Ciudad Juárez in 1911 (which overthrew Porfirio Díaz and gave Madero a little power).

In 1911, Victoriano Huerta appointed Villa his chief military commander.[citation needed] During this period Huerta and Villa became rivals. In 1912 when Villa's men seized a horse and Villa decided to keep it for himself, Huerta ordered Villa's execution for insubordination. Raúl Madero, brother of President Madero, intervened to save Villa's life. Jailed in Mexico City, Villa escaped to the United States. Soon after the assassination of President Madero, Villa returned with a group of companions to fight Huerta. By 1913 the group had become Villa's División del Norte (Northern Division). This army led by Villa had numerous American members. Villa and his army, along with Carranza and Obregón, joined in resistance to the Huerta dictatorship.

Villa and Carranza had different goals. Because Villa wanted to continue the revolution, he became an enemy of Carranza. After Carranza took control in 1914, Villa and other revolutionaries who opposed him met at what was called the Convention of Aguascalientes. The convention deposed Carranza in favor of Eulalio Gutiérrez. In the winter of 1914, Villa and Zapata's troops entered and occupied Mexico City. Villa's treatment of Gutiérrez and the citizenry outraged more moderate elements of the population, who forced Villa from the city in early 1915.

Columbus, New Mexico after being attacked by Pancho Villa

In 1915, Villa took part in two of the most important battles during the revolution, the two engagements in the Battle of Celaya, on April 6–7 and from April 13–15. Obregon defeated Villa in the Battle of Celaya, one of the bloodiest of the revolution. Carranza emerged as the winner of the war and seized power. A short time after, the United States recognized Carranza as president of Mexico. On March 9, 1916, Villa crossed the United States–Mexico border and raided Columbus, New Mexico to attempt revenge against the arms dealer who sold the ammunition used in the Battle of Celaya, which was useless for Villa's forces. During this attack, 18 Americans and 90 of Villa's men were killed.

Pressured by public opinion (mainly driven by Hearst Newspapers) to confront Mexican attacks, US President Wilson sent General John J. Pershing and around 5,000 US troops on an unsuccessful pursuit to capture Villa.[12] It was known as the Punitive Expedition. After nearly a year of pursuing Villa, Pershing was called off and given command of the American Expeditionary Force in WWI. The American intervention had been limited to the western sierras of Chihuahua. It was the first time the US Army used airplanes in military operations. Unlike Zapata, Villa fought through the northern part of Mexico. With the Americans always in pursuit of him, Villa always had the advantage by knowing the rough terrain of the Sonoran Desert and the Sierra mountains, using guerilla warfare tactics.

Regardless of the intervention, the loss of the Battle of Celaya meant the rise to power of Carranza and the Sonora generals.

In 1920, Obregón (one of the sonorenses) finally reached an agreement with Villa, who retired from the armed fighting. In 1923 Villa was assassinated by a group of seven riflemen while traveling in his car in Parral. It is presumed the assassination was ordered by Obregón, who feared a bid for the presidency by Villa.

Venustiano Carranza (1914–1920)

Venustiano Carranza became president in 1914, after the overthrow of the Huerta government. He was driven out of Mexico City by Villa and Zapata in December 1914, but later gained the support of the masses by the development of a program of social and agrarian reform. He was elected president in 1917. To try to restrain the revolutionary slaughter, Carranza formed the Constitutional Army to try to bring peace by adoption of the majority of rebel social demands into the new constitution. He reluctantly incorporated most of these demands into the new Constitution of 1917. The socialist constitution addressed foreign ownership of resources, an organized labor code, the role of the Roman Catholic Church in education, and land reform.

During his presidency he relied on his personal secretary and close aide, Hermila Galindo de Topete to rally and campaign support for him. Through her propaganda he was able to gain the support of women, workers and peasants. Carranza also supported his secretary by lobbying for women's equality. He helped change and reform the legal status of women in Mexico.[13]

Although his intentions were good, Carranza was not able to stay in power long enough to enforce many of the reforms in the Constitution of 1917. There was greater decentralization of power because of his weakness. He had appointed General Obregón as Minister of War and of the Navy. In 1920, Obregón with other leading generals Plutarco Elías Calles and Adolfo de la Huerta led a revolt against Carranza under the Plan of Agua Prieta. Their forces assassinated Carranza on May 21, 1920.[citation needed]

Emiliano Zapata (active 1910–1919)

Emiliano Zapata was a leading figure in the Mexican Revolution. He is considered one of the outstanding national heroes of Mexico: towns, streets, and housing developments called "Emiliano Zapata" are common across the country. His image has been used on Mexican banknotes. People have long taken different sides on their evaluation of Emiliano Zapata and his followers. Some considered them bandits, but to others they were true revolutionaries who worked for the peasants. Presidents Porfirio Díaz and Venustiano Carranza called Zapata a womanizer, barbarian, terrorist, and a bandit. Conservative media nicknamed Zapata "The Attila of the South".

Many peasant and indigenous Mexicans admired Zapata as a practical revolutionary whose populist battle cry "Tierra y Libertad" (Land and Liberty) was elaborated in the Plan de Ayala for land reform. He fought for political and economic emancipation of the peasants in Southern Mexico. General Zapata's trademark saying was, "It's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees."[14] Zapata was killed in 1919 by General Pablo González and his aide Colonel Jesús Guajardo in an elaborate ambush. Guajardo set up the meeting under the pretext of wanting to defect to Zapata's side. At the meeting, Gonzalez's men assassinated Zapata.


"Zapatista" originally referred to a member of the revolutionary guerrilla movement founded about 1910 by Zapata. His Liberation Army of the South (Ejército Libertador del Sur) fought during the Mexican Revolution for the redistribution of agricultural land. Zapata and his army and allies, including Pancho Villa, fought for agrarian reform in Mexico. Specifically they wanted to establish communal land rights for Mexico's indigenous population, which had mostly lost its land to the wealthy elite of European descent.

The majority of Zapata's supporters were indigenous peasants from Morelos and surrounding areas. But intellectuals from urban areas also joined the Zapatistas and played a significant part in their movement, specifically the structure and communication of the Zapatista ambitions. Zapata had received only a few years of limited education in Morelos. Educated supporters helped express his political aims. The urban intellectuals were known as "city boys" and were predominantly young males. They joined the Zapatistas for many reasons, including curiosity, sympathy, and ambition.


Zapata agreed that intellectuals could work on political strategy, but he had the chief role in proclaiming Zapatista ideology. The city boys also provided medical care, helped promote and instruct supporters in Zapatista ideology, created a plan for agrarian reform, aided in rebuilding villages destroyed by government forces, wrote manifestos, and sent messages from Zapata to other revolutionary leaders. Zapata's compadre Otilio Montaño was one of the most prominent city boys. Before the Revolution, Montaño was a professor. During the Revolution he taught Zapatismo, recruited citizens, and wrote the Plan de Ayala for land reform. Other well-known city boys were Abraham Martínez, Manuel Palafox, Antonio Díaz Soto y Gama, Pablo Torres Burgos, Gildardo Magaña, Dolores Jiménez y Muro, Enrique Villa, and Genaro Amezcua.[15]

Zapatista women

Women who fought alongside Zapata

Many women were involved with and supported the Zapatistas. Since Zapata's political ambitions and campaign were usually local, the women were able to aid the Zapatista soldiers from their homes. There were also female Zapatista soldiers who served from the beginning of the revolution. When Zapata met with President Madero on July 12, 1911, he was accompanied by his troops. Amongst these troops were female soldiers, including officers. Some women also led bandit gangs before and during the Revolution. Women joined the Zapatistas as soldiers for various reasons, including revenge for dead family members or to perform raids. Perhaps the most popular Zapatista female soldier was Margarita Neri, who was a commander. Women fought bravely as Zapatista soldiers and some were killed in battle. Many survivors continued to wear men's clothing and carry pistols long after the Revolution ended. Colonel María de la Luz Espinosa Barrera was one of the few whose service was formally recognized with a pension as a veteran of the Mexican Revolution.

Agrarian land reform

Under the Porfiriato, the rural peasants suffered the most. The regime confiscated large sections of land, which caused a major loss of land by the agrarian work force. In 1883 a land law was passed that gave ownership of more than 27.5 million hectares of land to foreign companies. By 1894, one out of every five acres of Mexican land was owned by a foreign interest. Many wealthy families also owned large estates, resulting in landless rural peasants working on the property as virtual slaves. In 1910 at the beginning of the revolution, about one half the rural population lived and worked on such plantations.

United States involvement

Ricardo Flores Magón (left) and Enrique Flores Magón (right), prisoners in Los Angeles

The United States was involved politically and socially with the Mexican revolution from 1910-1920. The United States had attitudes and interests among the Mexican population. The attitudes stem mostly from common American people including religious groups and women's groups. These organizations were socially involved with Mexico during the revolution because of the harsh times that many Mexican people faced economically and socially. The Mexican people were devastated by the revolution and lacked work, adequate food, and shelter. The attitude of American organizations like the religious and women’s groups, was that they could not just let the Mexican people suffer, they had to help them. Numerous groups, such as the Red Cross, were able to help the Mexican people during the revolution. The interests among the United States citizens in Mexico during the revolution on the other hand were mostly representative of the United States politicians. The economic interest in Mexico during 1910-1920 had decided United States policy toward Mexico and thus the United States response and involvement with Mexico during this time.

At the turn of the 20th century, Americans, including major companies, held about 27 percent of Mexican land. By 1910 American industrial investment had increased even more, pushing Presidents William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson to intervene in Mexican affairs. For both economic and political reasons, the United States government generally supported whoever was in power, though President Wilson did condemn Huerta's murders of Madero and Pino Suárez. Twice during the Revolution the United States sent troops into Mexico.

Revolutionary defense

The first time was in 1914, during the Ypiranga incident. When United States agents discovered that the German merchant ship Ypiranga was carrying illegal arms to Huerta, President Wilson ordered troops to the port of Veracruz to stop the ship from docking. He did not declare war on Mexico. The United States troops then skirmished with Huerta's forces in Veracruz. The Ypiranga managed to dock at another port, which infuriated Wilson. The ABC Powers arbitrated and United States troops left Mexican soil, but the incident added to already tense United States–Mexico relations.

In 1916, in retaliation for Pancho Villa's raid on Columbus, New Mexico, and the death of 16 American citizens, President Wilson sent Brigadier General John J. Pershing into Mexico to capture Villa. Villa was deeply entrenched in the mountains of northern Mexico, and knew the terrain too well to be captured by the United States forces. General Pershing was forced to abandon the mission and return to the United States. This event, however, further damaged the strained United States–Mexico relationship and caused Mexico's anti-American sentiment to grow stronger. Some[who?] historians believed the United States government invested too much in the Mexican issue and violated its own avowed neutrality.

The Catholic Church during the revolution

During the period of 1876 to 1911, relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Mexican government were stable. Porfirio Díaz had a keen interest in relations with the Church since he was worried about the American expansionist threat. Porfirio Díaz has been quoted as saying:

"Persecution of the Church, whether or not the clergy enter into the matter, means war, and such a war that the Government can win it only against its own people, through the humiliating, despotic, costly and dangerous support of the United States. Without its religion, Mexico is irretrievably lost."

However, Porfirio Díaz was not completely supportive of the Catholic Church. Before his own presidency, Diaz had supported the Juarez regime, which implemented anti-clerical policies, such as expropriation of large tracts of Church-owned property and the forced laicization of Mexican clergy. Indeed, many Roman Catholic clergy, including the Blessed Miguel Pro, were executed during the anti-clerical Cristero War of Mexican President Plutarco Elías Calles during the latter part of the Revolution.

Youth movement

As the Revolution progressed, the status of the University in relation to it changed several times; each time its students took different positions as well. Under different university directors, different revolutionary ideals were forced upon the student body. In many cases the curriculum would change as well. With each change, however, the importance of youth groups became more crucial. The university's students made up the bulk of the youth movement, chiefly composed of educated youth. During the Revolution, some viewed students as anti-revolutionary because of the image of the university as a safe haven for the rich and privileged. People engaged in the Revolution urged the university and students to become more involved and to accept the ideals and beliefs of the revolution.

The youth movements of the revolution were mainly confined to higher schools and especially the National University of Mexico. Young men used art, music, and poetry to speak out on the Revolution and encourage support. The leaders in government often made efforts to suppress such outlets. After the Revolution, new governments in turn gradually tried to suppress the freedoms of the University. By the 1920s, student protests were against the government.

End of the revolution

Rebel camp
Monument to the Revolution located due west of the center of Mexico City

Historians debate the exact end of the "revolutionary period". The most tumultuous phase of it ended with the death of the Constitutional Army's primer jefe (First Chief) Venustiano Carranza in 1920, and the election and inauguration of General Álvaro Obregón as the Mexican President.[16] Coup attempts and sporadic uprisings continued, for instance in the Cristero Wars of 1926–1929. The Cristero War was instigated after Mexican Presient Plutarco Calles, Obregon's handpicked successor and an anti-Catholic fanatic,[17] persecuted the church in Mexico.[17]

One huge uprising also started in 1923, when former intern President Adolfo de la Huerta led a failed revolt in 1923 against president Álvaro Obregón- whom he denounced as corrupt-[18] after Obregon endorsed Plutarco Calles as his successor.[19] Catholics, conservatives and a considerable portion of the army officers, who felt Obregon had reversed Carranza's policy of favoring the army at the expense of the farmer-labor sector, supported de la Huerta.[19] With his superb organizing ability and popular support, Obregon crushed the rebellion and forced De La Huerta into exile. On March 7, 1924, De la Huerta fled to Los Angeles and Obregon ordered the execution of every rebel officer who had a rank higher than a major.[19] Despite the the fact that minor revolts and mutinies still occurred in the following years,[18] de la Huerta's revolt was regarded as the last major uprising to take place against the Mexican government after the Mexican Revolution.[18]

Effective implementation of the social provisions of the 1917 Constitution of Mexico and near cession of revolutionary activity did not occur until the administration of Lázaro Cárdenas (1934–1940). According to Robert McCaa, the total "demographic cost" during the Mexican Revolution 1910–1920 was approximately 2.1 million people.[20] Only two major figures in the rebellion, Alvaro Obergon and Pancho Villa, lived past 1920.[21] Venustiano Carranza, Francisco Madero and Emiliano Zapata each perished violently during the revolution.[21] In the middle of the revolution, Pascual Orozco, who was living in exile in Texas, was killed while attempting to rob cattle from a Texas ranch.[21] During the course of the revolution, however, counter-revolutionaries Victoriano Huerta and Porfirio Diaz died comfortably in their beds.[21]

Villa, who developed ambitions of running for President of Mexico,[22] was later assassinated in 1923;[22] While different people were reported to have been connected to Villa's assassination,[22] it has been believed that Plutarco Calles, who saw Villa as a potential challenge in the upcoming presidential election,[22] was the main person who organized it.[22] During the course of the Cristero War, Obregon- who was re-elected President after his supporters amended the Mexican Constitution to allow former presidents to seek a non-consecutive term-[17] was also later assassinated in 1928 by a Catholic fanatic named Jose de Leon Toral.[17]

With Obergon dead, Calles was now the most powerful figure in Mexico.[19] As a result of the social crisis caused by Obregon's death, Calles formed the National Revolutionary Party (PNR). Th party would be regarded as the world's most durable political entity.[19] Between the years 1928 and 1934, a period known as Maximato, three straw men for Calles served as President of Mexico.[19] By 1934, Calles, who had increasing conservative and rich,[19] had lost influence among the vast left-wingers in the PNR and agreed to let leftist Lazaro Cardenas run for President.[19] Calles, however, could not control Cardenas.[19] In 1936, Cardenas had Calles and 20 of his top henchmen arrested and deported to the United States.[23]

Cárdenas was regarded as the most radical president in Mexican history as well as the most honest.[19] His vision for Mexico was based on three principles: the ejidos (common lands) restored through a strong agrarian program to combat the domination of the large haciendas;[19] a socialist education system to oppose the "fanaticism" of the Church;[19] workers, cooperatives to check the excesses of industrial capitalism.[19] To achieve this goal, he pleaded with workers, peasants and students to form a united front.[19] Cárdenas also abolished capital punishment, better known in Mexico as fusilamiento, death by firing squad. in 1938, Cardenas also nationalized Mexico's oil and renamed the PNR the Party of Mexico's Revolution (PRM). Cárdenas and the PRM's ability to control the republic without summary executions showed the revolutionary period was at its end.

Another major step was in 1940, when Cárdenas voluntarily relinquished all power to his successor Manuel Ávila Camacho, a legal transition that was unprecedented in Mexican history. In 1942, Ávila Camacho and all living ex-Presidents appeared on stage in the Mexico City Zócalo, in front of the Palacio Nacional, to encourage the Mexican people to support the Americans and British in World War II. This demonstration of political solidarity among diverse elements signaled the true end of the Revolution. Given its importance in national history, Mexican politicians and political parties refer frequently to the Revolution in their political rhetoric.

See also


  1. ^ Knight, Alan (May 1, 1980). "The Mexican Revolution". History Today 30 (5): 28. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  2. ^ William Weber Johnson, Heroic Mexico: The violent emergence of a modern nation, Doubleday 1968, p. 69.
  3. ^ Michael Meyer, Mexican Rebel: Pascual Orozco and the Mexican Revolution 1910-1915, University of Nebraska 1967, p. 44.
  4. ^ Loprete, Carlos A. (2001). Iberoamérica. United States: Prentice Hall. pp. 175–177. ISBN 0130139920. 
  5. ^ Alba, Victor. The Horizon Concise History of Mexico p. 116.
  6. ^ McLynn, Frank. Villa and Zapata p. 24.
  7. ^ Womack, John. 'Zapata and the Mexican Revolution p. 10.
  8. ^ Johnson, William. 'Heroic Mexico p. 41.
  9. ^ a b Clayton, Lawrence A.; Conniff, Michael L. (2005). A History of Modern Latin America. United States: Wadsworth Publishing. pp. 285–286. ISBN 0534621589. 
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^[width]=940&lightbox[height]=400
  12. ^ Friedrich Katz, “The Life and Times of Pancho Villa” 1998, p569
  13. ^ Mirande, Alfredo; Enriquez, Evangelina. (1981). La Chicana: The Mexican-American Woman.United States: University of Chicago Press. pp. 217–219. ISBN 978-0-226-53160-1
  14. ^ General Zapata's great-great-nephew, Ricky Zapata
  15. ^ Lucas, Jeffrey Kent (2010). The Rightward Drift of Mexico's Former Revolutionaries: The Case of Antonio Díaz Soto y Gama. Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press. pp. 81–132. ISBN 9780773436657. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b c d
  18. ^ a b c
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n
  20. ^ McCaa, Robert."Missing Millions: The Demographic Costs of the Mexican Revolution." Mexican Studies Vol. 19, Iss. 2 (2003): 367–400.18 October.
  21. ^ a b c d
  22. ^ a b c d e
  23. ^


Many portions of this article are translations of excerpts from the article Revolución Mexicana in the Spanish Wikipedia.


  • Britton, John A. Revolution and Ideology Images of the Mexican Revolution in the United States. Louisville: The University Press of Kentucky, 1995.
  • Chasteen, John. Born In Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America. New York:
  • Doremus, Anne T. Culture, Politics, and National Identity in Mexican Literature and Film, 1929–1952. New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc., 2001.
  • Documents on the Mexican Revolution Vol.1 Part 1. ed. Gene Z. Hanrahan. North Carolina: Documentary Publications, 1976
  • Foster, David, W., ed. Mexican Literature A History. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994.
  • Gonzales, Michael J. "The Mexican Revolution: 1910–1940" Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2002.
  • Hauss Charles, Smith Miriam, "Comparative Politics", Nelson Thomson Learning, Copyright 2000
  • Hoy, Terry. "Octavio Paz: The Search for Mexican Identity." The Review of Politics 44:3 (July, 1982), 370–385.
  • Lucas, Jeffrey Kent. The Rightward Drift of Mexico's Former Revolutionaries: The Case of Antonio Díaz Soto y Gama. Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2010.
  • Macias, Anna. "Women and the Mexican Revolution, 1910–1920." The Americas, 37:1 (Jul., 1980), 53–82.
  • Mora, Carl J., Mexican Cinema: Reflections of a Society 1896–2004. Berkeley: University of California Press, 3rd edition, 2005
  • Meyer, Jean A. The Cristero Rebellion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976, pp. 10–15
  • Myers, Berbard S. Mexican Painting in Our Time. New York: Oxford University Press, 1956.
  • Noble, Andrea, Photography and Memory in Mexico: Icons of Revolution. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010.
  • Noble, Andrea, Mexican National Cinema, London: Routledge, 2005.
  • Orellana, Margarita de, Filming Pancho Villa: How Hollywood Shaped the Mexican Revolution: North American Cinema and Mexico, 1911–1917. New York: Verso, 2007
  • Paranagua, Paula Antonio. Mexican Cinema. London: British Film Institute, 1995.
  • Quirk, Robert E. The Mexican Revolution and the Catholic Church 1910–1919. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1973, pp. 1–249
  • Reséndez Fuentes, Andrés. "Battleground Women: Soldaderas and Female Soldiers in the Mexican Revolution." The Americas 51, 4 (April 1995).
  • Smith, Robert Freeman. The United States and Revolutionary Nationalism in Mexico 1916–1932. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972
  • Soto, Shirlene Ann. Emergence of the Modern Mexican Woman. Denver: Arden Press, 1990.
  • Swanson, Julia. "Murder in Mexico." History Today, June 2004. Vol.54, Issue 6; p 38–45
  • Turner, Frederick C. "The Compatibility of Church and State in Mexico." Journal of Inter-American Studies, Vol 9, No 4, 1967, pp. 591–602
  • Weinstock, Herbert. "Carlos Chavez." The Musical Quarterly 22:4 (Oct., 1936), 435–445.



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