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The Mexican Revolution ( ) 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. 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 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 (1876–1910)

After Benito Juárez’s death in 1872, Porfirio Díaz wanted to take over as Mexicomarker’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 1910 when Francisco I. Madero succeeded him, taking office in 1911. Díaz’s regime is remembered for the advances he brought in industry and modernization, but at the expense of human rights and liberal reforms. He worked to reduce the power of the Catholic Church and expropriated some of their large property holdings.

The era of 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, one of his underlings. The new president’s period in office was marked by corruption and official incompetence. When Díaz ran in the next election (1884), he was a welcome replacement. In future elections, Díaz would conveniently put aside his "No Re-election" slogan and run for president in every election.

Díaz became the dictator he had warned the people against. Through the army, the Rurales, and gangs of thugs, Diaz frightened people into voting for him. If bullying citizens into voting for him failed, he simply rigged the votes in his favor. 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; 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.

"Manifestación antireeleccionista" by José Guadalupe Posada
While Díaz’s presidency was characterized by promotion of industry and the pacification of the country, it came at the expense of the working class, farmers and peasants, who suffered extreme exploitation. The economy took a great leap during the Porfiriato, especially through the encouragement of construction such as 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 Statesmarker, but part of his success in maintaining power came from mitigating US influence through European investments - primarily from Great Britain and Germany). Progress came at a price though, since civil liberties such as freedom of the press were suspended under the Porfiriato. The growing influence of the United States was a constant problem for Díaz, since a major portion of Mexico's land (territory now known as the Mexican Cession) had earlier been ceded to the United States in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which 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 Kingdommarker, Francemarker, and the United States, also exercised power in Mexico.

Díaz changed land reform efforts started 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. Small farmers were helpless and angry; change of power would be necessary if Mexico was to continue being successful. From this cause, many leaders including Francisco I. Madero, Pancho Villa, and Emiliano Zapata would launch a rebellion against Díaz, escalating into the eventual Mexican Revolution.

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. 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 decided to run against Díaz in 1910. Diaz thought he could control the election as he had the previous seven. Although similar overall to Díaz in his ideology, unlike Díaz, Madero hoped for other elites to rule alongside the President. Díaz, however, 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)


Francisco I. Madero, a young man from a wealthy family in the northern state of Coahuilamarker, 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, Texasmarker, United Statesmarker. 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." 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.

Madero's vague promises of agrarian reforms attracted many of the peasants throughout Mexico. He was able to gain much needed support from them in order to remove Díaz from power. With the support of the mostly peasant Indians, 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.

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 Mexicalimarker and Chihuahua Citymarker, 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 Pasomarker, Texas, along the Rio Grandemarker.

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.

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 came to an end after General Victoriano Huerta set in motion a coup d'état. 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 would stop 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.

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 Coahuilamarker, 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 Veracruzmarker, cutting off arms and money supplies from Germanymarker. 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.

Germanymarker, 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, Texasmarker, by the United States government and kept there under house arrest. He died in early 1916.

Pancho Villa (active 1911-1920)

José Doroteo Arango Arámbula, better known as Francisco "Pancho" Villa, came from the northern state of Durangomarker. He was one of the leaders of the Mexican Revolution. Villa with his army of Villistas joined the ranks of the Madero movement. He led the Villistas in many battles, such as the attack of Ciudad Juárezmarker in 1911 (which overthrew Porfirio Díaz and gave Madero power), the Battle of Celaya.

In 1911, Victoriano Huerta appointed Villa his chief military commander. 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 Citymarker. Villa's treatment of Gutiérrez and the citizenry outraged more moderate elements of the population, who forced Villa from the city in early 1915.

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 Mexicomarker, in a vengeance attempt against the arms dealer who sold the ammunition used on the Battle of Celaya which was useless for Villa's forces. During this attack, 18 Americans were killed as well as 90 of Villa's men.

Pressured by public opinion (mainly driven by Hearst Newspapers) to confront Mexican attacks, US President Wilson sent General John J. Pershing and 10,000 U.S. troops on an unsuccessful pursuit to capture Villa. 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 World War I. The American intervention had been limited to the western sierras of Chihuahuamarker.It was the first time the American Army used airplanes on military operations.

Regardless of the intervention, the loss of the Battle of Celaya meant the rise to power of Carranza and the Sonoramarker 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 gunfire while traveling in his car in Parral. It is pressumed such assassination was ordered by the sonorenses who feared a supposed bid for the presidency by Villa, breaching the 1920 agreement.

Venustiano Carranza (1914–1920)

Venustiano Carranza became president in 1914, after the overthrow of the Huerta government. He was driven out of Mexico Citymarker by Villa and Zapata in 1915, 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.

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.

Emiliano Zapata (active 1910–1919)

Emiliano Zapata Salazar 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."

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. 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 Morelosmarker 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.

Zapatista women

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 resulted in a major loss of land by the agrarian work force. In 1883 a land law was passed which gave ownership of more than 27.5 million hect 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.

Women in the revolution

For decades myths portrayed Mexican women as passive beings who contributed minimally to the Mexican Revolution. Mexican women were in fact active participants in the Mexican Revolution and their involvement had an immense impact on shaping Mexican society. They were involved in politics, created revolutionary newspapers, worked as teachers, nurses, they sold/smuggled arms, and they even fought on the battlefields.

Some of the most famous female participants in the revolution were the Soldaderas, and female fighters who accompanied men from battle to battle. Soldaderas and female fighters are not the same, however. First, Soldaderas, or camp followers, were large groups of females that travelled with revolutionary militias. These women performed various tasks such as cooking, nursing the wounded, cleaning clothes, foraging for food/supplies, spying on the enemy, and smuggling arms. Without women to perform these tasks, army life would have been extremely difficult for the men.

The motives of women who became soldaderas varied. Some joined because there was a need for them, and women felt it was their revolutionary duty. Most women, however, were following their husbands on to the battlefield because they did not want to be left alone for long periods of time. Women were constantly in fear of rape, so it was safer to travel with their men and endure the hardships of a soldadera.

Nearly all armies had large numbers of soldaderas that traveled with them, except for Emiliano Zapata. Although, his army contained female soldiers, women did not travel with Zapata’s army as camp followers. For the most part the women who helped Zapata’s army remained in their homes and supplied the troops with goods as they travelled nearby. The reason Zapata, and indeed others disliked travelling with soldaderas was the fact that their accompaniment was burdensome; these women carried vast amounts of supplies and could not keep up with swift moving units.

Soldaderas did not bear arms except in unusual circumstances, and they rarely engaged in battle. Yet, there were women who performed these duties- female fighters. In 1913 there was an estimated 200 female soldiers scattered amongst various factions. They performed duties such as spying, but were mostly known for their bravery on the battlefield. In fact, due to their accomplishments a handful of women actually ended up getting promoted to the rank of Colonel i.e. Petra Herrera, and Maria Cadena.

Soldaderas and female fighters were admired by Mexicans throughout the revolution and their image was romanticised through corridos such as La Adelita. While these corridos were somewhat meant to portray these women’s bravery and revolutionary spirit, they also still portrayed women’s primary roles as being girlfriend, wife, or lover.

By 1915 the number of women accompanying men onto the battlefield began to dwindle as the major hostilities of the revolution were coming to a close. In turn, the armed forces were reorganized and reduced in number. The first to go were soldaderas who were forced to return home, or to the cities penniless. A small amount of female soldiers were given pensions from the government, but most ended up dying in poverty. Many women were also forced to work in prostitution.

Other important roles women played throughout the revolution included the mass mobilization of women in organizations. From Anti re-election clubs to revolutionary newspapers, women always provided a voice for the revolution. . However, women were not always in agreement with the revolutions ideals of anti-clericalism. When anti-clerical aspects of the Constitution of 1917 were enforced under Plutarco Elias Calles (1924–8) in an attempt to create a cultural revolution, women reacted strongly. The Church had always been an integral part of women’s lives, so in reaction to anti-clerical state action women joined organizations such as the Union Popular, and the Union de Damas Catolicas de Mexico (Damas).

The Damas, for example, performed a variety of tasks to include visiting orphanages, prisons, they organized small groups for religious training, and they wrote petitions and letters to the state and national congresses in opposition to its actions. Their protests, however, always went unanswered officially. At times large groups of these women would physically resist troops at the entrance of churches. The first of these large confrontations was at the Church of the Sacred Family. A group of women had refused to leave at soldiers commands and were attacked with water hoses. The women fought back with rocks and then dispersed, only to regroup. One hour later 5000 women marched to the governors’ palace to protest and were once again violently attacked. In confrontations like these women often faced arrest and imprisonment for opening their homes to priests who would use their homes to perform sermons.

Las Religiosas i.e. persecuted nuns, had to go underground during this time of anti-clerical chaos. Many fled to the United States; others hid in the homes of families and friends, or travelled with soldiers. Wherever they did go, they provided religious services. Women’s organization within the Church gave women, who might not otherwise have got a chance, a means to gain administrative experience, and the skills to politically advance further.

Women began moving education from inside their own homes to communities. Here they sought to introduce ideas of modernity and improvement, mostly to women who wanted to emulate urban models of order, nutrition, and hygiene. The contents of what teachers taught was not solely up to the women who taught. The parameters of education were infusions of what the teachers knew from their own lives, as well as content of the school program created by the SEP, and encounters between the community and school officials.

There were two basic changes in which school helped to improve peasent family life: inoculation and the raising of the hearth from the ground to waist level. As people were informed of the benefits of inoculation, more people survived epidemics. The raise in hearth level was more hygienic and labour saving. Besides these basic improvements in rural Mexico, teachers played an enormous role in cementing revolutionary Mexican citizenship.

United States' involvement

The U.S. relationship with Mexico has often been turbulent. During the Mexican independence movement, the U.S. assisted the Mexican insurgents in achieving independence, using the Monroe Doctrine as the justification. With the reign of dictators such as Iturbide and Santa Anna, the U.S.-Mexico relationship deteriorated. When the liberal president Benito Juárez came to power with his agenda for a democratic Mexican society, President Lincoln personally commended him and sent supplies to help Juárez overthrow emperor Maximilian I of Mexico. This support during the US Civil War ended with the upheaval following Lincoln's assassination. After the death of Juarez, Mexico reverted to a dictatorial government under the rule of Porfirio Díaz.

At the turn of the 20th Century, United States owners, including major companies, held about 27 percent of Mexican land. By 1910 American industrial investment was 45 percent, pushing Presidents Taft and Wilson to intervene in Mexican affairs. For both economic and political reasons, the U.S. government generally supported the man in power (President Wilson did condemn Huerta's murders of Madero and Pino Suarez). Twice during the Revolution, the U.S. sent troops into Mexico.

Revolutionary defense
The first time was in 1914, during the Ypiranga incident. When US 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 U.S. troops then carried out a skirmish against Huerta's forces in Veracruz. The Ypiranga managed to dock at another port, which infuriated Wilson. The ABC Powers arbitrated and U.S. troops left Mexican soil, but the incident added to already tense U.S.-Mexico relations.

In 1916, in retaliation for Pancho Villa's raid on Columbus, New Mexicomarker, 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 U.S. forces. General Pershing was forced to abandon the mission and return to the U.S. This event, however, further damaged the strained U.S.-Mexico relationship and caused Mexico's anti-American sentiment to grow stronger. Some 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 Americanmarker 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.

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 Mexicomarker. 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
Historians debate the exact end of the "revolutionary period". From a military standpoint, it ended with the death of the Constitutional Army's primer jefe (First Chief) Venustiano Carranza in 1920, and the ascension to power of General Álvaro Obregón. Coup attempts and sporadic uprisings continued, for instance in the Cristero Wars of 1926–1929. 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.

Cárdenas also abolished capital punishment, better known in Mexico as fusilamiento, death by firing squad. 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 Cardenas 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 Citymarker Zócalomarker, 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.


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


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See also


  1. Alba, Victor. The Horizon Concise History of Mexico pg. 116
  2. McLynn, Frank. Villa and Zapata pg. 24
  3. Womack, John. 'Zapata and the Mexican Revolution pg. 10
  4. Johnson, William. 'Heroic Mexico pg. 41
  5. Mirande, Alfredo; Enriquez, Evangelina. (1981). La Chicana: The Mexican-American Woman.United States: University of Chicago Press. pp. 217–219. ISBN 022653100, 9780226531601
  6. McCaa, Robert.“Missing Millions: The Demographic Costs of the Mexican Revolution.” Mexican Studies Vol. 19, Iss. 2 (2003): 367–400.18 October.

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