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Generalizations on the Revolution
The Mexican Revolution
No significant role in the Revolution for Yucatán, Chiapas, and
Tabasco, i.e. Southern Mexico. Communications were the problem. These states were hard to
reach from other parts of the country.
Three main railroad routes:
1. Veracruz to Mexico City
2. Ciudad Juárez to Torreón to Zacatecas to Mexico City. Repeatedly attacked during
the Revolution. Often this was Carrancista territory.
3. Nogales, Hermosillo, Tepic, across the mountains to Guadalajara. This area finally
- Military leaders and their actions were the deciding factors in the Revolution.
- Military forces came from rural areas and small towns.
- A showdown among the different military forces was absolutely necessary.
- Intellectuals played a small role in the events of the Revolution.
- The role of the United States as almost uniformly ludicrous; not clearly defined; nor
designed or formulated to promote the US interest. Its policy was based on a lack of
knowledge of Mexican conditions and probable attitudes.
- The US had an inadequate intelligence apparatus.
- President Woodrow Wilson decided to do some things that couldn't be done.
- Both Villa and Zapata were completely unsuitable to serve as leader of Mexico.
- Venustiano Carranza deserves more credit than he usually gets for patriotism, courage,
- The progress of the Revolution was influenced by the size of Mexico, its terrain, its
communication lines (timing of movements, supply acquisition), and the isolation of some
areas and some forces.
Business operations during the Revolution
- These interruptions hurt the poor in towns in many ways more than the businessmen
- There were specific demonstrations by the poor against these interruptions.
- The historiographical treatment of business during the Revolution is anti-business.
- It was difficult to force businessmen to do things they didn't want to do. Villa and
Zapata couldn't understand this.
Relationships among the major Revolutionary forces
- They were trying to get rid of Huerta beginning in 1913 but bumped into each other.
- Carranza, up in Coahuila, at the beginning of this period, declared against Huerta,
issued the Plan de Guadalupe,(elections to be held, Huerta was not the president, and
Carranza the head of the Constitutionalist armies). Support from others vacillated.
- Carranza remained a civilian and insisted on civilian control of the military.
- The military wanted control.
- Carranza was an old-time liberal. The radicals thought that meant he was a conservative.
He wasn't interested in social or agrarian reform. The military wasn't either.
- Chief military forces at first headed by Pablo González in the northwest. Then Benjamin
Hill, Plutarco Elías Calles, and Alvaro Obregón. Northern armies didn't do very well in
the first part of 1913.
- So, Carranza moved his base of operations to Sonora in late 1913 because they were more
easily protected. He organized the Sonora forces to fight for him and was, more or less,
- There was a Díaz faction headed by the governor of the state. After five months, he
moved to Chihuahua. He had trouble dealing with Villa, who was making it clear that he was
going to establish an independent position for himself.
- Carranza and Villa distrusted each other. Villa launched a military campaign against
Torreón, taking it by April, 1914. Won other victories. These events led him to believe
that he was the most important person in Mexico.
- Carranza retaliated by appointing a military chief for Chihuahua. The Constitutionalist
forces did well in 1914. Villa and his generals went to Torreón to plan a campaign
further south but didn't consult Carranza but Carranza went anyway. Wore him out. Villa
gave in the Carranza's scheme for Villa to take his forces against Saltillo. Villa
realized that it was a move to get Carranza's army to Mexico City before Villa.
- Carranza named other generals to fight in Zacatecas. Villa resigns and Carranza accepts
but it doesn't work. General Felipe Angeles, the most useful of Villa's advisers from the
point of view of giving him the kind of advice villa needed to survive in Mexico with this
kind of competition, convinced Villa not to resign. The Villistas went to Zacatecas and
did well. After he won Zacatecas there wasn't much between him and Mexico City, but he had
run out of ammunition and coal. Carranza controlled access to the in the North. So Villa
tried to butter up Carranza but the latter cut him off.
Convention of Aguascalientes
- The convention was necessary to work out cooperation between the Villistas and the
Carrancistas. Would meet in Aguascalientes because it was on the railroad line and midway
between the Villa and Carranza forces. In July, 1914, Villa and González delegates met in
Torreón but Carranza disavowed their actions. They set up a pacification commission which
1. The Division of the North to continue to recognize Carranza as
the chief of the Constitutionalist armies.
2. Villa was to continue as head of the Division of the North.
3. Carranza was to give supplies to Villa.
4. Villa was to be head of his area.
5. Villa agreed to have his decisions ratified by Carranza.
6. Carranza's cabinet (once they won) was to include both sides.
7. When Carranza became President, he was to summon delegates from the
Constitutionalist armies (1:1,000 soldiers) to draw up election plans, etc.
8. No one in the provisional government would be allowed in the regular government. For
example, a person couldn't run for president.
9. They agreed to have agrarian reform and reforms to benefit urban workers. Carranza
rejected this plan, saying that these matters should be decided by civilians. Villa spent
his time in July building his forces to fight Carranza. Carranza was urging Obregón to
hurry to Mexico City.
Carranza argued against US intervention when the US invaded Mexico
at Tampico and Veracruz even though the invasion was designed to dislodge Huerta from the
presidency. Carranza took the nationalist stance. By July, Huerta saw that the game was
over and left.
He left officials, some military forces, and police forces supported
somewhat by the politically active population to prevent the Zapatistas from taking over.
The capitalinos didn't understand the Zapatistas, who were ruralites, and, thus, were
afraid of them. they had been isolated, fighting in Morelos and surrounding states, for
most of the Revolution. Obregón got to Mexico City in August before Villa.
Carranza got there on the 18th of August and created the first
national administration by Revolutionary forces. He named a cabinet but didn't call for
elections or for the former Madero Congress. He didn't claim to be provisional president
to avoid running afoul of the Torreón agreement and Mexican law. He suspended
constitutional guarantees and closed the courts, partly to invoke the 1862 Juárez law on
collaborationists. His doing so contributed to charges of dictatorship against him. The
damage to the population of Mexico City has been exaggerated. The Huerta police were still
The Revolutionary forces compelled Carranza to dismiss them but
other police took their places. Relations between Emiliano Zapata and Carranza. Zapata
claimed to be the head of the whole Revolution, leading the "Liberating Army of the
South." To get cooperation from the Zapatistas, one had to accept this argument and
the Plan de Ayala. Carranza wouldn't accept for the obvious reasons but also because
Zapata had rebelled against Madero and had also cooperated with Pascual Orozco, who had
rebelled against Madero. The Carrancistas and the Zapatistas were incompatible. Carranza
was under tremendous pressure to treat with Zapata. So Carranza announced that he was
calling for a convention to be held in Mexico City in October, a convention which would be
There was an argument between the governor of Sonora and the
Constitutionalists. Villa supported the Sonora governor. Villa didn't get anywhere so he
asked Obregón to come up. Also discussed how to solve the Villa-Carranza split. Obregón
agreed that they had to get rid of Carranza. Agreed that Carranza had to choose between
being provisional president or running for the regular term; couldn't do both. Carranza
rejected this idea. Villa and Obregón didn't get along very well.