[for HIST 566, WNMU, 15 July 2017]
I’m at a bit of a loss for this first assigned blog post. We’re in the third module of the class, and I’m still trying to place the players in a mental timeline. Who supported or competed with whom seems more complex in the context of the Mexican Revolution than it has in other revolutions I’ve looked at (admittedly, there haven’t been many). With that in mind, I’d like to use this post to make sure I have this all straight.
The Mexican Revolution is generally agreed to have started in 1910, with Madero, but of course the seeds of the revolution were sown in the colonization of Mexico by Spain. I won’t go that far back in this post, but I will go back to the Partido Liberal Mexicano and 1906. Wasserman (p. 31) gives us an excerpt from the PLM’s 1906 program that demonstrated the party’s opposition to then-President/dictator Porfirio Diaz. The PLM wielded cross-class appeal, but ultimately failed to trigger the revolution, and Diaz and his destructive policies remained in power for another four years.
Diaz himself may have provided a catalyst to the development of the revolution when he broadcast his (perhaps false) intentions to cede power in the next election (Wasserman, p. 34; Gonzales, p. 38). Regardless of his intention with that announcement, it did eventually lead to his forced removal from power by Francisco Madero. A long-standing feud between Diaz and the Madero family provided personal motivation for Francisco Madero, who had considerable practice opposing those of Diaz’s policies that had negatively affected his family’s livelihood (Gonzales, p. 42). When Madero expanded his resistance to Diaz’s regime, his plan appealed to landowners like his family as well as the laboring poor.
Madero was supported by the Zapatistas (followers of Emiliano Zapata) at first, but only tentatively. They, who were comprised primarily of the most impoverished people, were far more extreme in their hopes for the revolution than he was. It seems as though Madero were hoping to create only limited change (Wasserman, p. 35-37), which would largely avoid many of the social issues the Zapatistas wanted changed (Wasserman, p. 37-39). Maybe Madero’s revolutionary goals were primarily economic, while the Zapatistas’ goals were primarily social (so much as any revolutionary goal can be only one or the other, which is to say, hardly at all). So, when Madero failed to fulfill the Zapatistas’ social goals, the Zapatistas turned against him quickly and with force (Wasserman, p. 38). It did not help that Madero, moderate that he was, brought conservatives (anti-change) into his administration and made the passage of liberal (pro-change) legislation more unlikely (Gonzales, p. 87).
Madero lasted as president until 1913, when General Victoriano Huerta conspired with the US Ambassador to Mexico, Henry Wilson, to remove the president (Gonzales, p. 92, 95-97). Huerta took over the presidency, but never gained the support of Zapata or his followers. Instead, Huerta inspired two more (primary) opposition groups to take up arms, led by Pancho Villa and Venustiano Carranza.
Pancho Villa is going to get his very own post from me, because he’s a local legend and I find him fascinating.
Carranza led a group that actually wasn’t named after him (!): the Constitutionalists. They were more conservative, but they benefitted from the intervention of the US under President Woodrow Wilson (Wasserman, p. 11-12).
…In fact, now that I think I have this figured out (so far) (writing is how I do my thinking), I’m no longer at a loss for what to post. So the next post will look at the alliances and conflicts of the Villistas, the Constitutionalists, the Conventionalists, the Zapatistas… and their overlaps. And then we’ll get into the influence of radio, because that’s massive.
Just an aside – I found Diaz’s plan to balance US business interests with the interests of European investors (Gonzales, p. 9) to be comically terrible. I’d have a hard time crediting the accusation if it weren’t so obviously demonstrated by pretty much Diaz’s entire foreign policy history (Gonzales, the rest of chapter 1).
Gonzales, Michael J. The Mexican Revolution, 1910-1940. Albuquerque, NM: Univ. of New Mexico Pr., 2002.
Wasserman, Mark. The Mexican Revolution: a brief history with documents. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.