The Mexican Revolution - Part I

I.                   Revolution - A sudden, forceful overturn of established cultural, political, social, and economic institutions, usually accompanied by violence, and their substitution with new institutions.

II.                Legacy and Enemies of the Porfiriato

A.    Significant technological progress

B.     Much industrialization,  with heavy foreign influence

1.Concentrated in North – significant connections to United States

2.Northern industrialists distrusted by Diaz

C.     Growth and patronage favor bankers, large merchant importers most of all

D.    Middle class emerges, 8-10% of population

1.Grew faster than available jobs

2. Downward mobility by 1910, many become low paid teachers

3.Largely kept out of power by Diaz

E.     Industrial working class

1. About 800,000 in 1910

2.Terrible working conditions, paid significantly less than foreign workers

F.      Rural poor

1.Railroads and commercialization drive up land prices, pressure small ladowners

2.Most lose their land, with 95% of rural population landless by 1910

III.             Francisco Madero’s Revolt and the Collapse of the Old Order (1910-1912)

A.    Election of 1910

1.Diaz toys with not running to smoke out opponents

2. Most back down when Diaz says he will run, Madero actually runs against him

a.       Runs on classic Mexican Liberal program

b.      Calls for clean elections, free public education

c.       Arrested and allowed to escape to Texas

B.     Plan de San Luis

1. Madero calls for Diaz resign

2.“Effective suffrage and no-reelection”

3.Declares 1910 election invalid, sets date for rebellion (November 20)

C.     Rebellion actually takes place, somewhat to Madero’s surprise

1.Madero’s allies

a.       Northern elites

b.      Northern malcontents (mostly cowboys, lower middle class)

c.       Peasant rebellion in the South

2.Army does poorly in face of rebels, Diaz resigns

D.    Madero in power (1911-1912)

1.Refuses to take power till an election takes place, creating a power vacuum for some months

2.A cautious Liberal reformer, does little to change regime Diaz left behind

3.Unable to deal with peasant rebellions, which in turn lead elites to reject him

4.Overthrown by Victoriano Huerta, a Diaz general, in 1912, and executed

a.       Woodrow Wilson withholds recognition

b.      Northern elites reject for executing Madero, economic slump, and non-recognition

c.       Agrarian revolt, mainly in South, continues


IV.             Huerta and the Revolt of the Masses (1912-1915)

A.    Emiliano Zapata and Agrarian Revolt

1. A small peasant landowner, chosen as leader to protect village lands

2. Based in Morelos, would grow to lead a large revolt by small farmers and landless

3. Plan de Ayala, November, 1911

a.       Tierra y libertad – Land and Liberty

b.      Calls for significant land reform – soldiers fight for land

c.       Calls for end of power of local bosses

4.Most radical of revolutionary leaders, attracts urban leftists

B.     Pancho Villa and the Revolt of the Malcontents and Misfits

1. Rancher, cowboy, cattle thief from Durango

2.Builds large professional army from cowboys, miners, bandits, second sons

3. Soldiers fought for promotion, middle-class respectability

4.Wanted not to overturn society but to gain its spoils

C.     Venustiano Carranza and Alvaro Obregon – Revolt of the Northern Elites (Constitutionalists)

1. Constitutional rule and classic liberalism

2.Loosely allied with Woodrow Wilson

3.Officer corps of ranchers, minor entrepreneurs, large land owners

D.    Characteristics of rebel leaders

1.Mostly young, except Carranza

2.Generally from small towns and the provinces, but few rural

3.Largely middle class and professionals, with school-teachers forming largest groups

V.                Carranza and the Defeat of the Masses (1915-1920)

A.    Carranza defeats Huerta 1914, Villa and Zapata largely defeated by 1915

B.     Uninterested in social or agrarian reform – Villa and Zapata begin to reassert themselves

C.     Unable to control corrupt generals

D.    Constitution of 1917

1.Demonstrates Carranza’s weakness, as more radical than he wanted

2.Largely influenced by his leading general, Alvarao Obregon

3.Included provisions for labor laws, agrarian reform, nationalizing mines and industries

4.Also placed strong restrictions on Catholic Church

E.     Carranza tries to impose successor in 1920, overthrown by Obregon and killed

F.      Obregon neutralizes Zapata and Villa – military phase of revolution largely over

VI.             The Sonoran Dynasty (1920-1934)

A.    Obregon finds a devastated country – what to do?

1.One million dead

2.Ranching, mining, farming significantly damaged – only oil improves

3.No bank or newspaper survives the war

4.No clear path forward

a.       No single ideology fueled the war – much side-switching

b.      A revolution of discontent, but no unified vision

B.     The Sonorans

1. Saw themselves as the Californians of Mexico

2.Would rule though “savage pragmatism”

a.       Ideologically flexible

b.      Prepared to work with anyone who would cooperate, but crush all opponents

C.     Obregon in power (1920-1924)

1.Enlightened despotism, capitalism corruption

2. Power based on a triad – army, agraristas (Zapata’s people) and unions – bound together by nationalism

3.Elites enriched but kept out of power

4.Catholic Church becomes defacto opposition party

5.Jose Vasconselos and the new nationalism

a.       Education minister, uses position to promote new unifying concept of nationalism

                                                                                                        i.            Cosmic race – blending in  Mexico brought together best of all races

                                                                                                      ii.            Indigenismo – Amerindian heritage now considered a point of pride

b.      Public art and schools used to spread these ideas

6.Modest land reform

a.       mostly taken from Obregon’s enemies and given to his friends

b.      Most extensive in Morelos to appeases Zapata’s followers

7.Unions legalized, but corrupt and tied to government

D.    Plutaro Elias Calles (1924-28) and the Maximato (1928-34)

1.Former schoolteacher, last of the major revolutionary leaders

2.Nationalist, sought enforce nationalization of oil but back down under U.S. pressure

3.Cristero Revolt (1926-29)

a.       Calles enforces anti-clerical parts of Constitution, talks about creating new Church

b.      Church goes on strike, largely rural rebellion breaks out

c.       Eventual compromise causes government to back down from some anti-clerical position, but role of Church greatly diminished

4.Organizes Partido Nacional Revolucianario (PNR) ancestor of PRI – would rule Mexico till 2000

5. Supported land reform in theory, but little progress

6.Continues to rule Mexico after leaving office as Jefe Maximo until 1934 - the Maximato