Carranza and the Fighting, notes
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:
- Veracruz to Mexico City
- Ciudad Juárez to Torreón to Zacatecas to Mexico City. Repeatedly attacked during the
Revolution. Often this was Carrancista territory.
- Nogales, Hermosillo, Tepic, across the mountains to Guadalajara. People here finally
- Military leaders and their actions were the deciding factors in the
- 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
- 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, and perseverance.
- 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
other 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, accepted.
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 called for:
- The Division of the North to continue to recognize Carranza as the
chief of the Constitutionalist armies.
- Villa was to continue as head of the Division of the North.
- Carranza was to give supplies to Villa.
- Villa was to be head of his area.
- Villa agreed to have his decisions ratified by Carranza.
- Carranza's cabinet (once they won) was to include both sides.
- When Carranza became President, he was to summon delegates from
the Constitutionalist armies (1:1,000 soldiers) to draw up election plans, etc.
- No one in the provisional government would be allowed in the
regular government. For example, a person couldn't run for president.
- They agreed to have agrarian reform and reforms to benefit urban
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 the the charges of dictatorship against him.
The damage to the population of Mexico City has been exaggerated.
The Huerta police were still there. 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 Carrancista.
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.