25 December 1914

A series of unofficial truces occur across the Western Front to celebrate Christmas.

Christmas truce
Part of First World War
Illustrated London News - Christmas Truce 1914.jpg
Soldiers from both sides (the British and the Germans) exchange cheerful conversation (An artist's impression from The Illustrated London News of 9 January 1915: "British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches").
Date24-26 December 1914
ParticipantsSoldiers from
French Third Republic
German Empire
Russian Empire
United Kingdom
OutcomeUnofficial ceasefires across Europe
  • Carol singing
  • Football games
  • Fraternisation
  • Gift exchanges
A cross, left in Saint-Yves (Saint-Yvon – Ploegsteert; Comines-Warneton in Belgium) in 1999, to commemorate the site of the Christmas Truce. The text reads:
"1914 – The Khaki Chum's Christmas Truce – 1999 – 85 Years – Lest We Forget"

The Christmas truce (German: Weihnachtsfrieden; French: Trêve de Noël) was a series of widespread unofficial ceasefires along the Western Front of the First World War around Christmas 1914.

The truce occurred during the relatively early period of the war (month 5 of 51). Hostilities had lulled as leadership on both sides reconsidered their strategies following the stalemate of the Race to the Sea and the indecisive result of the First Battle of Ypres. In the week leading up to the 25th, French, German, and British soldiers crossed trenches to exchange seasonal greetings and talk. In some areas, men from both sides ventured into no man's land on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to mingle and exchange food and souvenirs. There were joint burial ceremonies and prisoner swaps, while several meetings ended in carol-singing. Men played games of football with one another,[1] creating one of the most memorable images of the truce. Fighting continued in some sectors, while in others the sides settled on little more than arrangements to recover bodies.

The following year, a few units arranged ceasefires but the truces were not nearly as widespread as in 1914; this was, in part, due to strongly worded orders from the high commands of both sides prohibiting truces. Soldiers were no longer amenable to truce by 1916. The war had become increasingly bitter after devastating human losses suffered during the battles of the Somme and Verdun, and the use of poison gas.

The truces were not unique to the Christmas period, and reflected a mood of "live and let live", where infantry close together would stop overtly aggressive behaviour and often engage in small-scale fraternisation, engaging in conversation or bartering for cigarettes. In some sectors, there were occasional ceasefires to allow soldiers to go between the lines and recover wounded or dead comrades; in others, there was a tacit agreement not to shoot while men rested, exercised or worked in view of the enemy. The Christmas truces were particularly significant due to the number of men involved and the level of their participation—even in very peaceful sectors, dozens of men openly congregating in daylight was remarkable—and are often seen as a symbolic moment of peace and humanity amidst one of the most violent events of human history.


During the first eight months of World War I, the German attack through Belgium into France had been repelled outside Paris by French and British troops at the First Battle of the Marne in early September 1914. The Germans fell back to the Aisne valley, where they dug in. In the First Battle of the Aisne, the Franco–British attacks were repulsed and both sides began digging trenches to economise on manpower and use the surplus to outflank their opponents on their northern flanks. In the Race to the Sea, the two sides made reciprocal outflanking manoeuvres and after several weeks, during which the British forces were withdrawn from the Aisne and sent north to Flanders, both sides ran out of room. By November, both sides had built a continuous line of trenches running from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier.[2]

Before Christmas 1914, there were several peace initiatives. The Open Christmas Letter was a public message for peace addressed "To the Women of Germany and Austria", signed by a group of 101 British women suffragettes at the end of 1914.[3][4] Pope Benedict XV, on 7 December 1914, had begged for an official truce between the warring governments.[5] He asked "that the guns may fall silent at least upon the night the angels sang", which was refused by both sides.[6][7]


Fraternisation—peaceful and sometimes friendly interactions between opposing forces—was a regular feature in quiet sectors of the Western Front. In some areas, both sides would refrain from aggressive behaviour, while in other cases it extended to regular conversation or even visits from one trench to another.[8] On the Eastern Front, Fritz Kreisler reported incidents of spontaneous truces and fraternisation between the Austro-Hungarians and Russians in the first few weeks of the war.[9]

Truces between British and German units can be dated to early November 1914, around the time that the war of manoeuvre ended. Rations were brought up to the front line after dusk and soldiers on both sides noted a period of peace while they collected their food.[10] By 1 December, a British soldier could record a friendly visit from a German sergeant one morning "to see how we were getting on".[11] Relations between French and German units were generally more tense but the same phenomenon began to emerge. In early December, a German surgeon recorded a regular half-hourly truce each evening to recover dead soldiers for burial, during which French and German soldiers exchanged newspapers.[12] This behaviour was often challenged by officers; Charles de Gaulle wrote on 7 December of the "lamentable" desire of French infantrymen to leave the enemy in peace, while the commander of 10th Army, Victor d'Urbal, wrote of the "unfortunate consequences" when men "become familiar with their neighbours opposite".[12] Other truces could be forced on both sides by bad weather, especially when trench lines flooded and these often lasted after the weather had cleared.[12][13]

The proximity of trench lines made it easy for soldiers to shout greetings to each other and this may have been the most common method of arranging informal truces in 1914.[14] Men would frequently exchange news or greetings, helped by a common language; many German soldiers had lived in England particularly London and were familiar with the language and the society. Several British soldiers recorded instances of Germans asking about news from the football leagues, while other conversations could be as banal as discussions of the weather or as plaintive as messages for a sweetheart.[15] One unusual phenomenon that grew in intensity was music; in peaceful sectors, it was not uncommon for units to sing in the evenings, sometimes deliberately with an eye towards entertaining or gently taunting their opposite numbers. This shaded gently into more festive activity; in early December, Sir Edward Hulse of the Scots Guards wrote that he was planning to organise a concert party for Christmas Day, which would "give the enemy every conceivable form of song in harmony" in response to frequent choruses of Deutschland Über Alles.[16]

Christmas 1914

British and German troops meeting in no man's land during the unofficial truce (British troops from the Northumberland Hussars, 7th Division, Bridoux-Rouge Banc Sector)

Roughly 100,000 British and German troops were involved in the unofficial cessations of hostility along the Western Front.[17] The Germans placed candles on their trenches and on Christmas trees, then continued the celebration by singing Christmas carols. The British responded by singing carols of their own. The two sides continued by shouting Christmas greetings to each other. Soon thereafter, there were excursions across No Man's Land, where small gifts were exchanged, such as food, tobacco, alcohol and souvenirs, such as buttons and hats. The artillery in the region fell silent. The truce also allowed a breathing spell where recently killed soldiers could be brought back behind their lines by burial parties. Joint services were held. In many sectors, the truce lasted through Christmas night, continuing until New Year's Day in others.[7]

On Christmas Day, Brigadier-General Walter Congreve, commander of the 18 Infantry Brigade, stationed near Neuve Chapelle, wrote a letter recalling the Germans declared a truce for the day. One of his men bravely lifted his head above the parapet and others from both sides walked onto no man's land. Officers and men shook hands and exchanged cigarettes and cigars, one of his captains "smoked a cigar with the best shot in the German army", the latter no more than 18 years old. Congreve admitted he was reluctant to witness the truce for fear of German snipers.[18]

Bruce Bairnsfather, who fought throughout the war, wrote

I wouldn't have missed that unique and weird Christmas Day for anything.... I spotted a German officer, some sort of lieutenant I should think, and being a bit of a collector, I intimated to him that I had taken a fancy to some of his buttons.... I brought out my wire clippers and, with a few deft snips, removed a couple of his buttons and put them in my pocket. I then gave him two of mine in exchange.... The last I saw was one of my machine gunners, who was a bit of an amateur hairdresser in civil life, cutting the unnaturally long hair of a docile Boche, who was patiently kneeling on the ground whilst the automatic clippers crept up the back of his neck.[19][20]

Henry Williamson a nineteen-year-old private in the London Rifle Brigade, wrote to his mother on Boxing Day

Dear Mother, I am writing from the trenches. It is 11 o'clock in the morning. Beside me is a coke fire, opposite me a 'dug-out' (wet) with straw in it. The ground is sloppy in the actual trench, but frozen elsewhere. In my mouth is a pipe presented by the Princess Mary. In the pipe is tobacco. Of course, you say. But wait. In the pipe is German tobacco. Haha, you say, from a prisoner or found in a captured trench. Oh dear, no! From a German soldier. Yes a live German soldier from his own trench. Yesterday the British & Germans met & shook hands in the Ground between the trenches, & exchanged souvenirs, & shook hands. Yes, all day Xmas day, & as I write. Marvellous, isn't it?[21]

Captain Sir Edward Hulse reported how the first interpreter he met from the German lines was from Suffolk and had left his girlfriend and a 3.5 hp motorcycle. Hulse described a sing-song which "ended up with 'Auld lang syne' which we all, English, Scots, Irish, Prussians, Württenbergers, etc, joined in. It was absolutely astounding, and if I had seen it on a cinematograph film I should have sworn that it was faked!"[22]

Captain Robert Miles, King's Shropshire Light Infantry, who was attached to the Royal Irish Rifles recalled in an edited letter that was published in the Daily Mail and the Wellington Journal & Shrewsbury News in January 1915, following his death in action on 30 December 1914

Friday (Christmas Day). We are having the most extraordinary Christmas Day imaginable. A sort of unarranged and quite unauthorized but perfectly understood and scrupulously observed truce exists between us and our friends in front. The funny thing is it only seems to exist in this part of the battle line – on our right and left we can all hear them firing away as cheerfully as ever. The thing started last night – a bitter cold night, with white frost – soon after dusk when the Germans started shouting 'Merry Christmas, Englishmen' to us. Of course our fellows shouted back and presently large numbers of both sides had left their trenches, unarmed, and met in the debatable, shot-riddled, no man's land between the lines. Here the agreement – all on their own – came to be made that we should not fire at each other until after midnight tonight. The men were all fraternizing in the middle (we naturally did not allow them too close to our line) and swapped cigarettes and lies in the utmost good fellowship. Not a shot was fired all night.

Of the Germans he wrote: "They are distinctly bored with the war.... In fact, one of them wanted to know what on earth we were doing here fighting them." The truce in that sector continued into Boxing Day; he commented about the Germans, "The beggars simply disregard all our warnings to get down from off their parapet, so things are at a deadlock. We can't shoot them in cold blood.... I cannot see how we can get them to return to business."[23]

On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (24 and 25 December) 1914, Alfred Anderson's unit of the 1st/5th Battalion of the Black Watch was billeted in a farmhouse away from the front line. In a later interview (2003), Anderson, the last known surviving Scottish veteran of the war, vividly recalled Christmas Day and said

I remember the silence, the eerie sound of silence. Only the guards were on duty. We all went outside the farm buildings and just stood listening. And, of course, thinking of people back home. All I'd heard for two months in the trenches was the hissing, cracking and whining of bullets in flight, machinegun fire and distant German voices. But there was a dead silence that morning, right across the land as far as you could see. We shouted 'Merry Christmas', even though nobody felt merry. The silence ended early in the afternoon and the killing started again. It was a short peace in a terrible war.[24]

A German Lieutenant, Johannes Niemann, wrote: "grabbed my binoculars and looking cautiously over the parapet saw the incredible sight of our soldiers exchanging cigarettes, schnapps and chocolate with the enemy."[25]

General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, commander of the II Corps, issued orders forbidding friendly communication with the opposing German troops.[17] Adolf Hitler, a corporal of the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry, was also an opponent of the truce.[17]

In the Comines sector of the front there was an early fraternization between German and French soldiers in December 1914, during a short truce and there are at least two other testimonials from French soldiers, of similar behaviours in sectors where German and French companies opposed each other.[26] Gervais Morillon wrote to his parents "The Boches waved a white flag and shouted 'Kamarades, Kamarades, rendez-vous'. When we didn't move they came towards us unarmed, led by an officer. Although we are not clean they are disgustingly filthy. I am telling you this but don't speak of it to anyone. We must not mention it even to other soldiers". Gustave Berthier wrote "On Christmas Day the Boches made a sign showing they wished to speak to us. They said they didn't want to shoot. ... They were tired of making war, they were married like me, they didn't have any differences with the French but with the English".[27][28]

On the Yser Front where German and Belgian troops faced each other in December 1914, a truce was arranged at the request of Belgian soldiers who wished to send letters back to their families, over the German-occupied parts of Belgium.[29]

Richard Schirrmann, who was in a German regiment holding a position on the Bernhardstein, one of the Vosges Mountains, wrote an account of events in December 1915, "When the Christmas bells sounded in the villages of the Vosges behind the lines... something fantastically unmilitary occurred. German and French troops spontaneously made peace and ceased hostilities; they visited each other through disused trench tunnels, and exchanged wine, cognac and cigarettes for Pumpernickel (Westphalian black bread), biscuits and ham. This suited them so well that they remained good friends even after Christmas was over". He was separated from the French troops by a narrow No Man's Land and described the landscape "Strewn with shattered trees, the ground ploughed up by shellfire, a wilderness of earth, tree-roots and tattered uniforms". Military discipline was soon restored but Schirrmann pondered over the incident and whether "thoughtful young people of all countries could be provided with suitable meeting places where they could get to know each other". He founded the German Youth Hostel Association in 1919.[30]

Football matches

Many accounts of the battle involve one or more football matches played in no-man's land. This was mentioned in some of the earliest reports, with a letter written by a doctor attached to the Rifle Brigade, published in The Times on 1 January 1915, reporting "a football match... played between them and us in front of the trench".[31] Similar stories have been told over the years, often naming units or the score. Some accounts of the game bring in elements of fiction by Robert Graves, a British poet and writer (and an officer on the front at the time)[32] who reconstructed the encounter in a story published in 1962; in Graves's version, the score was 3–2 to the Germans.[31]

The truth of the accounts has been disputed by some historians. In 1984, Malcolm Brown and Shirley Seaton concluded that there were probably attempts to play organised matches which failed due to the state of the ground, but that the contemporary reports were either hearsay or refer to "kick-about" matches with "made-up footballs" such as a bully-beef tin.[33] Chris Baker, former chairman of The Western Front Association and author of The Truce: The Day the War Stopped, was also sceptical, but says that although there is little evidence, the most likely place that an organised match could have taken place was near the village of Messines: "There are two references to a game being played on the British side, but nothing from the Germans. If somebody one day found a letter from a German soldier who was in that area, then we would have something credible".[34][35] Lieutenant Kurt Zehmisch of the 134th Saxon Infantry Regiment said that the English "brought a soccer ball from their trenches, and pretty soon a lively game ensued. How marvellously wonderful, yet how strange it was".[36] In 2011 Mike Dash concluded that "there is plenty of evidence that football was played that Christmas Day—mostly by men of the same nationality but in at least three or four places between troops from the opposing armies".[31]

Many units were reported in contemporary accounts to have taken part in games: Dash listed the 133rd Royal Saxon Regiment pitched against "Scottish troops"; the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders against unidentified Germans (with the Scots reported to have won 4–1); the Royal Field Artillery against "Prussians and Hanovers" near Ypres and the Lancashire Fusiliers near Le Touquet, with the detail of a bully beef ration tin as the "ball".[31] One recent writer has identified 29 reports of football, though does not give substantive details.[37] Colonel J. E. B. Seely recorded in his diary for Christmas Day that he had been "Invited to football match between Saxons and English on New Year's Day", but this does not appear to have taken place.[38]

Eastern Front

On the Eastern front the first move originated from Austro-Hungarian commanders, at some uncertain level of the military hierarchy. The Russians responded positively and soldiers eventually met in no man's land.[39]

Public awareness

The truces were not reported for a week, an unofficial press embargo broken by The New York Times, published in the neutral United States, on 31 December.[40] The British papers quickly followed, printing numerous first-hand accounts from soldiers in the field, taken from letters home to their families and editorials on "one of the greatest surprises of a surprising war". By 8 January pictures had made their way to the press and the Mirror and Sketch printed front-page photographs of British and German troops mingling and singing between the lines. The tone of the reporting was strongly positive, with the Times endorsing the "lack of malice" felt by both sides and the Mirror regretting that the "absurdity and the tragedy" would begin again.[41] Author Denis Winter argues that "the censor had intervened" to prevent information about the spontaneous cesefire from reaching the public and that the real dimension of the truce "only really came out when Captain Chudleigh in the Telegraph wrote after the war."[42]

Coverage in Germany was more muted, with some newspapers strongly criticising those who had taken part and no pictures were published.[citation needed] In France, press censorship ensured that the only word that spread of the truce came from soldiers at the front or first-hand accounts told by wounded men in hospitals.[43] The press was eventually forced to respond to the growing rumours by reprinting a government notice that fraternising with the enemy constituted treason. In early January an official statement on the truce was published, claiming it was restricted to the British sector of the front and amounted to little more than an exchange of songs which quickly degenerated into shooting.[44]

The press of neutral Italy published a few articles on the events of the truce, usually reporting the articles of the foreign press.[45] On 30 December 1914, Corriere della Sera printed a report about a fraternization between the opposing trenches.[46] The Florentine newspaper La Nazione published a first-hand account about a football match played in the no man's land.[47] In Italy, the lack of interest in the truce probably depended on the occurrence of other events, such as the Italian occupation of Vlorë, the debut of the Garibaldi Legion on the front of the Argonne and the earthquake in Avezzano.

Later truces

British and German troops burying the bodies of those killed in the attack of 18 December.

After 1914, sporadic attempts were made at seasonal truces; a German unit attempted to leave their trenches under a flag of truce on Easter Sunday 1915 but were warned off by the British opposite them. In November, a Saxon unit briefly fraternised with a Liverpool battalion. In December 1915, there were orders by the Allied commanders to forestall any repeat of the previous Christmas truce. Units were encouraged to mount raids and harass the opposing line, whilst communicating with the enemy was discouraged by artillery barrages along the front line throughout the day; a small number of brief truces occurred despite the prohibition.[48][49]

An account by Llewelyn Wyn Griffith, recorded that after a night of exchanging carols, dawn on Christmas Day saw a "rush of men from both sides... [and] a feverish exchange of souvenirs" before the men were quickly called back by their officers, with offers to hold a ceasefire for the day and to play a football match. It came to nothing, as the brigade commander threatened repercussions for lack of discipline and insisted on a resumption of firing in the afternoon.[50] Another member of Griffith's battalion, Bertie Felstead, later recalled that one man had produced a football, resulting in "a free-for-all; there could have been 50 on each side", before they were ordered back.[51][52] Another unnamed participant reported in a letter home: "The Germans seem to be very nice chaps, and said they were awfully sick of the war."[53] In the evening, according to Robert Keating "The Germans were sending up star lights and singing – they stopped, so we cheered them & we began singing Land of Hope and GloryMen of Harlech et cetera – we stopped and they cheered us. So we went on till the early hours of the morning".[54]

In an adjacent sector, a short truce to bury the dead between the lines led to repercussions; a company commander, Sir Iain Colquhoun of the Scots Guards, was court-martialled for defying standing orders to the contrary. While he was found guilty and reprimanded, the punishment was annulled by General Douglas Haig and Colquhoun remained in his position; the official leniency may perhaps have been because his wife's uncle was H. H. Asquith, the Prime Minister.[55][56]

In December 1916 and 1917, German overtures to the British for truces were recorded without any success.[57] In some French sectors, singing and an exchange of thrown gifts was occasionally recorded, though these may simply have reflected a seasonal extension of the live-and-let-live approach common in the trenches.[58] At Easter 1915 there were truces between Orthodox troops of opposing sides on the Eastern front. The Bulgarian writer Yordan Yovkov, serving as an officer near the Greek border at the Mesta river, witnessed one. It inspired his short story "Holy Night", translated into English in 2013 by Krastu Banaev.[59]

On 24 May 1915, Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) and troops of the Ottoman Empire at Gallipoli agreed to a 9-hour truce to retrieve and bury their dead, during which opposing troops "exchang(ed) smiles and cigarettes".[60]

Legacy and historical significance

British and German descendants of Great War veterans

Although the popular tendency has been to see the December 1914 Christmas Truces as unique and of romantic rather than political significance, they have also been interpreted as part of the widespread spirit of non-co-operation with the war.[61] In his book on trench warfare, Tony Ashworth described the 'live and let live system'. Complicated local truces and agreements not to fire at each other were negotiated by men along the front throughout the war. These often began with agreement not to attack each other at tea, meal or washing times. In some places tacit agreements became so common that sections of the front would see few casualties for extended periods of time. This system, Ashworth argues, 'gave soldiers some control over the conditions of their existence'.[62] The December 1914 Christmas Truces then can be seen as not unique, but as the most dramatic example of spirit of non-co-operation with the war that included refusal to fight, unofficial truces, mutinies, strikes, and peace protests.

  • In the 1933 play Petermann schließt Frieden oder Das Gleichnis vom deutschen Opfer (Petermann Makes Peace: or, The Parable of German Sacrifice), written by Nazi writer and World War I veteran  [de], a German soldier, accompanied by Christmas carols sung by his comrades, erects an illuminated Christmas tree between the trenches but is shot dead. Later, when the fellow soldiers find his body, they notice in horror that snipers have shot down every Christmas light from the tree.[63]
  • The 1967 song "Snoopy's Christmas" by the Royal Guardsmen was based on the Christmas truce. Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron), Germany's ace pilot and war hero, initiates the truce with the fictitious Snoopy.
  • The 1969 film Oh! What a Lovely War includes a scene of a Christmas truce with British and German soldiers sharing jokes, alcohol and songs.
  • The video for the 1983 song "Pipes of Peace" by Paul McCartney depicts a fictional version of the Christmas truce.[64]
  • John McCutcheon's 1984 song, Christmas in the Trenches, tells the story of the 1914 truce through the eyes of a fictional soldier.[65] Performing the song he met German veterans of the truce.[66]
  • The Goodbyeee the final episode of the BBC television series Blackadder Goes Forth notes the Christmas truce, with the main character Edmund Blackadder having played in a football match. He is still annoyed at having had a goal disallowed for offside.[67]
  • The song "All Together Now" by Liverpool band The Farm took its inspiration from the Christmas Day Truce of 1914. The song was re-recorded by The Peace Collective for release in December 2014 to mark the centenary of the event.[68]
  • The 1996 song "It Could Happen Again" by country artist Collin Raye, which tells the story of the Christmas truce, is included on his Christmas album Christmas: The Gift, with a spoken intro by Johnny Cash giving the history behind the event.
  • The 1997 song "Belleau Wood" by American country music artist Garth Brooks is a fictional account based on the Christmas truce.
  • The truce is dramatised in the 2005 French film Joyeux Noël (English: Merry Christmas), depicted through the eyes of French, British and German soldiers.[69] The film, written and directed by Christian Carion, was screened out of competition at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival but was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.[70][69]
  • In 2008, the truce was depicted on stage at the Pantages Theater in Minneapolis, in the radio musical drama All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914. It was created and directed by Peter Rothstein and co-produced by Theater Latté Da and the vocal ensemble Cantus, Minneapolis-based organisations. It has continued to play at the Pantages Theater each December since its premiere.
  • On 12 November 2011, the opera "Silent Night", commissioned by the Minnesota Opera, had its world premiere at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota. With libretto by Mark Campbell, based on the screenplay of the film "Joyeux Noel" and with music by Kevin Puts, it won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Music and has been performed or scheduled for more than 20 productions around the world as of 2018s 100th anniversary of the Armistice.
  • Ahead of the centenary of the truce, English composer Chris Eaton and singer Abby Scott produced the song, 1914 – The Carol of Christmas, to benefit British armed forces charities. At 5 December 2014, it had reached top of the iTunes Christmas chart.[71]
  • In 2014, the Northumbria and Newcastle Universities Martin Luther King Peace Committee produced material for schools and churches to mark the truces. These included lesson plans, hand-outs, worksheets, PowerPoint slide shows, full plans for assemblies and carol services/Christmas productions. The authors explained that their purpose was both to enable schoolteachers to help children learn about the remarkable events of December 1914 and to use the theme of Christmas to provide a counterpoint to the UK government's glorification of the First World War as heroic. As the Peace Committee argues, "These spontaneous acts of festive goodwill directly contradicted orders from high command, and offered an evocative and hopeful – albeit brief – recognition of shared humanity" and thereby give a rereading of the traditional Christmas message of "on earth peace, good will toward men".[72][73]
  • Sainsbury's produced a short film for the 2014 Christmas season as an advertisement re-enacting the events of the Christmas truce, primarily following a young English soldier in the trenches.[74][75]
  • In the Doctor Who 2017 Christmas Special "Twice Upon a Time", the First and Twelfth Doctors become unwittingly involved in the fate of a British captain who is seemingly destined to die in No Man's Land before he is taken out of time, only for the Twelfth Doctor to bend the rules and return the captain – revealed to be an ancestor of his friend and ally Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart – to a point a couple of hours after he was taken out of time. This slight bending of the rules results in the captain being returned to history at the beginning of the truce, allowing the captain to live and request aid for his would-be killer. The Twelfth Doctor muses that such a truce was the only time such a thing happened in history but it never hurts to ensure that there will be a couple of fewer dead people on a battlefield.


A Christmas truce memorial was unveiled in Frelinghien, France, on 11 November 2008. At the spot where their regimental ancestors came out from their trenches to play football on Christmas Day 1914, men from the 1st Battalion, The Royal Welch Fusiliers played a football match with the German Battalion 371. The Germans won 2–1.[76] On 12 December 2014, a memorial was unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, England by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and the England national football team manager Roy Hodgson.[77] The Football Remembers memorial was designed by a ten-year-old schoolboy, Spencer Turner, after a UK-wide competition.[77]

Annual re-enactments

The Midway Village in Rockford, Illinois has hosted re-enactments of the Christmas Truce.[78]


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  24. ^ Interview from 2003 Archived 17 December 2005 at the Wayback Machine, originally published in The Scotsman, 25 June 2003, under the headline "Scotland's Oldest Man turns 107", by John Innes.
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  26. ^ Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes To War, Max Hastings. William Collins 2013. ("On 24 December a Bavarian soldier named Carl Mühlegg walked nine miles to Comines, where he purchased a small pine tree before returning to his unit in the line. He then played Father Christmas, inviting his company commander to light the tree candles and wish peace to comrades, to the German people and the world. After midnight in Mühlegg's sector, German and French soldiers met in no man's land.")
  27. ^ Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes To War, Max Hastings. William Collins 2013. ("Twenty-year-old Gervais Morillon wrote to his parents: 'The Boches waved a white flag and shouted "Kamarades, Kamarades, rendez-vous." When we didn't move they came towards us unarmed, led by an officer. Although we are not clean they are disgustingly filthy. I am telling you this but don't speak of it to anyone. We must not mention it even to other soldiers.' Morillon was killed in 1915.")
  28. ^ Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes To War, Max Hastings. William Collins 2013. ("Elsewhere twenty-five-year-old Gustave Berthier wrote: 'On Christmas day the Boches made a sign showing they wished to speak to us. They said they didn't want to shoot.... They were tired of making war, they were married like me, they didn't have any differences with the French but with the English.' Berthier perished in June 1917.")
  29. ^ Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes To War, Max Hastings. William Collins 2013. ("Belgians likewise clambered out of their positions near Dixmude and spoke across the Yser canal to Germans whom they persuaded to post cards to their families in occupied territory. Some German officers appeared, and asked to see a Belgian field chaplain. The invaders then offered him a communion vessel found by their men during the battle for Dixmude, which was placed in a burlap bag attached to a rope tossed across the waterway. The Belgians pulled it to their own bank with suitable expressions of gratitude.")
  30. ^ Richard Schirrmann: The first youth hosteller: A biographical sketch by Graham Heath (1962, International Youth Hostel Association, Copenhagen, in English).
  31. ^ a b c d Mike Dash. "Peace on the Western Front, Goodwill in No Man's Land – The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce". Smithsonian.com.
  32. ^ Robert Graves, Goodbye to All That, 1929
  33. ^ Brown & Seaton, Christmas Truce (1984); pp. 136–139
  34. ^ Baker, C, The Truce: The Day the War Stopped, Amberley, 2014, ISBN 978-1445634906
  35. ^ Stephen Moss (16 December 2014). "Truce in the trenches was real, but football tales are a shot in the dark". the Guardian.
  36. ^ "First World War.com – Feature Articles – The Christmas Truce".
  37. ^ Review of Pehr Thermaenius, The Christmas Match (2014)
  38. ^ Scott, Brough (2003). Galloper Jack: A Grandson's Search for a Forgotten Hero. London: Macmillan. p. 188. ISBN 0333989384.
  39. ^ Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes To War, Max Hastings. William Collins 2013. ("On Christmas Day in Galicia, Austrian troops were ordered not to fire unless provoked, and the Russians displayed the same restraint. Some of the besiegers of Przemyśl deposited three Christmas trees in no man's land with a polite accompanying note addressed to the enemy: 'We wish you, the heroes of Przemyśl, a Merry Christmas and hope that we can come to a peaceful agreement as soon as possible.' In no man's land, soldiers met and exchanged Austrian tobacco and schnapps for Russian bread and meat. When the Tsar's soldiers held their own seasonal festivities a few days later, Habsburg troops reciprocated.")
  40. ^ Weintraub (2001), pp. 157.
  41. ^ Weintraub (2001), pp. 179–180. The "greatest surprises" quote is from the South Wales Gazette on 1 January 1915.
  42. ^ Blom Crocker, Terri (2015). The Christmas Truce: Myth, Memory, and the First World War. University Press of Kentucky. p. 90. ISBN 9780813166162.
  43. ^ Weintraub (2001), p. 179
  44. ^ Weintraub (2001), pp. 73–75
  45. ^ Cutolo, Francesco (2015). "La tregua di Natale 1914: echi e riflessi in Italia" (PDF). QF. Quaderni di Farestoria. 3: 19–26.
  46. ^ "Echi e riflessi della guerra a Berlino. Cortesie tra nemici". Corriere della Sera. 30 December 1914.
  47. ^ "Football tra nemici". La Nazione. 3 January 1915.
  48. ^ Weintraub (2001), pp. 194–195
  49. ^ Riley (2017)
  50. ^ Brown (2005) pp. 75–76. The unit was the 15th Royal Welch Fusiliers, a battalion of the volunteer New Armies, which were arriving in France in late 1915 and early 1916. Griffith mentions Christmas Day was "the first time [he] had seen no-man's land"; his men were possibly also on their first tour in the front line.
  51. ^ "Bertie Felstead The last known survivor of no-man's-land football died on July 22, 2001 aged 106". The Economist. 2 August 2001.
  52. ^ Riley (2017), p. 717
  53. ^ Riley (2017), p. 722; quoting letter published in Wrexham Advertiser, 9 January 1915.
  54. ^ Riley (2017), p. 720
  55. ^ Macdonald, Alastair (24 December 2014). "How Christmas Truce led to court martial". Reuters. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  56. ^ Weintraub (2001), pp. 194–195; Brown (2005) p. 75
  57. ^ Weintraub (2001), p. 198
  58. ^ Cazals (2005), p. 125
  59. ^ Banaev, Krastu (translator). "Holy Night by Yordan Yovkov ". Sobornost 34, no. 1 (2013): 41–51.
  60. ^ The Turkish attack, 19 May 1915, The Anzac Portal, Australian Government Department of Veterans' Affairs
  61. ^ 'Teaching the 1914 Christmas Truces Archived 18 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine', Northumbria and Newcastle Universities Martin Luther King Peace Committee, 2014
  62. ^ Ashworth, Tony. 1980. Trench Warfare 1914–1918: The Live and Let Live System, Pan Grand Strategy. London: Macmillan.
  63. ^ Grunberger, Richard (1979). The 12-year Reich: a social history of Nazi Germany, 1933–1945. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. p. 349.
  64. ^ "When peace broke out". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 November 2014
  65. ^ Folk singer brings 'Christmas in the Trenches' show to Seattle, Tim Keough, Seattle Times, 12 Dec 2014
  66. ^ John McCutcheon, Folk Music.com
  67. ^ "Blackadder Goes Forth. Plan F – Goodbyeee". BBC. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  68. ^ "Under-12 footballers commemorate 100th anniversary of Christmas Truce match". SkySports.
  69. ^ a b Holden, Stephen (3 March 2006). "Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas) (2005) A Christmas Truce Forged by Germans, French and Scots". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 December 2009.
  70. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Joyeux Noël". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 12 December 2009.
  71. ^ "Song inspired by Christmas truce of 1914". Shropshire Star. 5 December 2014. p. 12.Report by James Fisher.
  72. ^ "World War One Christmas Truce Commemorations; Martin Luther King Peace Committee; Newcastle University". Archived from the original on 18 October 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  73. ^ Bible, King James Version, Luke 2:14.
  74. ^ Smith, Mark (13 November 2014). "Sainsbury's Christmas advert recreates first world war truce". The Guardian.
  75. ^ Sainsbury's (12 November 2014). "Sainsbury's OFFICIAL Christmas 2014 Ad" – via YouTube.
  76. ^ "Frelinghien Plaque". Archived from the original on 28 December 2009. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  77. ^ a b "Prince William hails 'lasting memorial' to WW1 Christmas truce". BBC. Retrieves 12 December 2014
  78. ^ Tumilowicz, Danielle. "Midway Village hosts a reenactment of the Christmas Truce". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2016.


Further reading

  • Blom Crocker, Terri (2015). The Christmas Truce: Myth, Memory, and the First World War. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0-8131-6615-5.
  • Eksteins, Modris (2000). The Rites of Spring. New York, NY: Mariner Books. ISBN 978-0-395-93758-7.
  • Michael, Jürgs (2005). Der kleine Frieden im Großen Krieg: Westfront 1914: als Deutsche, Franzosen und Briten gemeinsam Weihnachten feierten [The Little Peace in the Great War Western Front 1914 when Germans, French and British celebrated Christmas Together]. München: Goldmann. ISBN 3-442-15303-4.
  • Riley, Jonathon (2017). "The Second Christmas Truce, 1915". Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion. n.s. 23: 127–139. ISSN 0959-3632.
  • Snow, Michael (2009). Oh Holy Night: The Peace of 1914. ISBN 978-1-61623-080-7.

External links

23 November 1914

Mexican Revolution: The last of U.S. forces withdraw from Veracruz, occupied seven months earlier in response to the Tampico Affair.

Mexican Revolution
Collage revolución mexicana.jpg
Collage of the Mexican Revolution
Date20 November 1910 – 21 May 1920
(9 years, 6 months and 1 day)

Revolutionary victory


Mexico Forces in power:

Federal Army led by Porfirio Díaz

Mexico Revolutionary forces:

Forces led by Bernardo Reyes
Forces led by the general Mareo Velasques
Félix Díaz
Forces led by Victoriano Huerta
Forces led by Félix Díaz
Forces led by Aureliano Blanquet

Forces led by Álvaro Obregón
Remaining Zapatista forces

Supported by
 United States (1910–1913)
 Germany (c. 1913–1919)


Supported by
 United States (1913–1918)
United Kingdom (1916–1918)
Commanders and leaders
Porfirio Díaz
Ramón Corral
Manuel Mondragón
José Yves Limantour
Pascual Orozco (Fought own revolution after Díaz was overthrown and later sided with Huerta after Huerta took power.)
Bernardo Reyes  (Led own revolution until his death in 1913.)
Félix Díaz (sided with Reyes and later Huerta after Reyes killed in 1913.)
Emiliano Zapata (Sided with Orozco until Orozco sided with Huerta.)
Ricardo Flores Magón (POW)
Victoriano Huerta
Aureliano Blanquet
Pascual Orozco in 1915)
Manuel Mondragón (Until June 1913)
Francisco León de la Barra
Francisco S. Carvajal
Pancho Villa
Emiliano Zapata 
Félix Díaz
Aureliano Blanquet 
Álvaro Obregón
Francisco I. Madero
Pascual Orozco
Bernardo Reyes
Pancho Villa
Emiliano Zapata
Ricardo Flores Magón
Francisco I. Madero 
José María Pino Suárez 
Pancho Villa
Venustiano Carranza
Victoriano Huerta (Secretly sided with Reyes against Madero until Reyes died in 1913. After Reyes was killed, Huerta launched his own revolution.)
Aureliano Blanquet (Also secretly sided with Reyes until his death.)
Venustiano Carranza
Pancho Villa
Emiliano Zapata
Álvaro Obregón
Plutarco Elías Calles
Venustiano Carranza
Álvaro Obregón
Venustiano Carranza 
Mexico Counter-revolutionary forces:
250,000 – 300,000
Mexico Revolutionary forces:
255,000 – 290,000
Casualties and losses
German Empire 2 Germans killed United States 500 Americans killed
Mexico 1.7?[3] to 2.7[4] million Mexican deaths (civilian and military)
700,000[5] to 1,117,000[5] civilian dead (using 2.7 million figure)

The Mexican Revolution (Spanish: Revolución Mexicana) was a major armed struggle, lasting roughly from 1910 to 1920, that transformed Mexican culture and government. Although recent research has focused on local and regional aspects of the revolution, it was a genuinely national revolution.[6] Its outbreak in 1910 resulted from the failure of the 31-year-long regime of Porfirio Díaz to find a managed solution to presidential succession. This meant there was a political crisis among competing elites and the opportunity for agrarian insurrection.[7] Wealthy landowner Francisco I. Madero challenged Díaz in the 1910 presidential election, and following the rigged results, revolted under the Plan of San Luis Potosí.[8] Armed conflict broke out in northern Mexico and Díaz was forced out. In the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez, Díaz resigned and went into exile, new elections were to occur in the fall, and an interim presidency under Francisco León de la Barra was installed. A new election was held in 1911, bringing Madero to the presidency.

The origins of the conflict were broadly based in opposition to the Díaz regime, with the 1910 election becoming the catalyst for the outbreak of political rebellion. The revolution was begun by elements of the Mexican elite hostile to Díaz, led by Madero, Pascual Orozco, and Pancho Villa; it expanded to the middle class, the peasantry in some regions, and organized labor.[9] In October 1911, Madero was overwhelmingly elected in a free and fair election and took office in November.

Opposition to his regime then grew from both the conservatives, who saw him as too weak and too liberal, and from former revolutionary fighters and the dispossessed, who saw him as too conservative.

In a chaotic period in February 1913, known as the Ten Tragic Days (Spanish: La Decena Trágica), Madero and his vice president Pino Suárez were forced to resign in February 1913, and were assassinated. The counter-revolutionary regime of General Victoriano Huerta came to power, backed by the United States ambassador,[10] local business interests, and other supporters of the old order. Huerta remained in power until July 1914, when he was forced out by a coalition of different regional revolutionary forces. When the revolutionaries' attempt to reach political agreement failed, Mexico plunged into a civil war (1914–15). The Constitutionalist faction under wealthy landowner Venustiano Carranza emerged as the victor in 1915, defeating the revolutionary forces of former Constitutionalist Pancho Villa and forcing revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata back to guerrilla warfare. Zapata was assassinated in 1919 by agents of President Carranza.

The armed conflict lasted for the better part of a decade, until around 1920, and had several distinct phases.[11] Over time, the revolution changed from a revolt against the established order under Díaz to a multi-sided civil war in particular regions, with frequently shifting power struggles among factions in the Mexican Revolution. One major result of the revolution was the dissolution of the Federal Army in 1914, which Francisco Madero had kept intact when he was elected in 1911 and Huerta had used to oust Madero. Revolutionary forces unified against Huerta's reactionary regime defeated federal forces.[12] Although the conflict was primarily a civil war, foreign powers that had important economic and strategic interests in Mexico figured in the outcome of Mexico's power struggles. The United States played an especially significant role.[13] Out of Mexico's population of 15 million, the losses were high, but numerical estimates vary a great deal. Perhaps 1.5 million people died and nearly 200,000 refugees fled abroad, especially to the United States.[3][14]

Many scholars consider the promulgation of the Mexican Constitution of 1917 (Spanish: Constitucion de 1917) as the end point of the armed conflict. "Economic and social conditions improved in accordance with revolutionary policies, so that the new society took shape within a framework of official revolutionary institutions", with the constitution providing that framework.[15] 1920–40 is often considered to be a phase of the revolution, as government power was consolidated, the Catholic clergy and institutions were attacked in the 1920s, and the 1917 constitution was implemented.[16]

This armed conflict is often characterized as the most important sociopolitical event in Mexico and one of the greatest upheavals of the 20th century;[17] it resulted in an important program of experimentation and reform in social organization.[18] The revolution created the resulting political regime, until Mexico underwent an economic liberal reform process that started in the 1980s.[19]

Porfiriato, 1876–1911

General Porfirio Díaz, President of Mexico
External Timeline A graphical timeline is available at
Timeline of the Mexican Revolution

The Porfiriato is the period in late 19th-century Mexican history dominated by General Porfirio Díaz, who became president of Mexico in 1876 and ruled almost continuously (with the exception of 1880–84) until his forced resignation in 1911.[20] After the presidency of his ally, General Manuel González (1880–84), Díaz ran for the presidency again and legally served in office until 1911. Under his administration, the constitution had been amended to allow unlimited presidential re-election. Díaz had originally challenged Benito Juárez on the platform of "no re-election."[21] During the Porfiriato there were regular elections, marked by contentious irregularities.[22] Although Díaz had publicly announced in an interview with journalist James Creelman for Pearson's Magazine that he would not run in the 1910 election, setting off a flurry of political activity, he changed his mind and decided to run again at age 80.

The contested 1910 election was a key political event that contributed to the Mexican Revolution. As Díaz aged, the question of presidential succession became increasingly important. In 1906 the office of vice president was revived, with Díaz choosing his close ally Ramón Corral from among his Científico advisers to serve in the post.[23] By the 1910 election, the Díaz regime had become highly authoritarian, and opposition to it had increased in many sectors of Mexican society.

In the 19th century he had been a national hero, opposing the French Intervention (Spanish: Intervención francesa) in the 1860s and distinguishing himself in the Battle of Puebla (Spanish: Batalla de Puebla) on 5 May 1862 ("Cinco de Mayo").[24] Díaz entered politics following the expulsion of the French in 1867. When Benito Juárez was elected in 1871, Díaz alleged fraud. Juárez died in office in 1872, and Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada succeeded him. Díaz unsuccessfully rebelled against Lerdo under the Plan de La Noria[25] but later accepted the amnesty offered to him. However, when Lerdo ran for the presidency in 1876, Díaz successfully rebelled under the Plan de Tuxtepec.[26][27]

In his early years in the presidency, Díaz was a master politician, playing factions off one another while retaining and consolidating his own power. He used the rurales, an armed police force directly under his control, as a paramilitary force to keep order in the countryside. He rigged elections, arguing that only he knew what was best for his country, and he enforced his belief with a strong hand. "Order and Progress" were the watchwords of his rule.[28] Although Díaz came to power in 1876 under the banner of "no re-election," with the exception of the presidency of Manuel González from 1880–84, Díaz remained in power continuously from 1884 until 1911, with rigged elections held at regular intervals to give the appearance of democracy.

Díaz's presidency was characterized by the promotion of industry and development of infrastructure by opening the country to foreign investment. He believed opposition needed to be suppressed and order maintained to reassure foreign entrepreneurs that their investments were safe. The modernization and progress in cities came at the expense of the rising working class and the peasantry.[citation needed]

Farmers and peasants both complained of oppression and exploitation. The economy took a great leap during the Porfiriato, as he encouraged the construction of factories and industries and infrastructure such as roads and dams, as well as improving agriculture. Industrialization resulted in the rise of an urban proletariat and attracted an influx of foreign capital from the United States and Great Britain.[citation needed]

Wealth, political power and access to education were concentrated among a handful of elite landholding families, overwhelmingly of European and mixed descent. Known as hacendados, they controlled vast swaths of the country by virtue of their huge estates (for example, the Terrazas had one estate in Sonora that alone comprised more than a million acres). Most people in Mexico were landless peasants laboring on these vast estates or industrial workers toiling for little more than slave wages. Foreign companies--mostly from the United Kingdom, France and the U.S.--also exercised influence in Mexico.[citation needed]

Political system

Anti-Diaz newspaper, Regeneración, the official publication of the Mexican Liberal Party (PLM)

Díaz created a formidable political machine, first working with regional strongmen and bringing them into his regime, then replacing them with jefes políticos (political bosses) who were loyal to him. He skillfully managed political conflict and reined in tendencies toward autonomy. He appointed a number of military officers to state governorships, including General Bernardo Reyes, who became governor of the northern state of Nuevo León, but over the years military men were largely replaced by civilians loyal to Díaz.

As a military man himself, and one who had intervened directly in politics to seize the presidency in 1876, Díaz was acutely aware that the Federal Army could oppose him. He augmented the rurales, a police force created by Juárez, making them his personal armed force. The rurales were only 2,500 in number, as opposed to the 30,000 in the army and another 30,000 in the federal auxiliaries, irregulars and National Guard.[29] Despite their small numbers, the rurales were highly effective in bringing control to the countryside, especially along the 12,000 miles of railway lines. They were a mobile force, often sent on trains with their horses to put down rebellions in relatively remote areas of Mexico.[30]

A banner (1903) at the office of opposition magazine El hijo de Ahuizote reads: "The Constitution has died..." (La Constitución ha muerto...)

The construction of railways had been transformative in Mexico (as well as elsewhere in Latin America), accelerating economic activity and increasing the power of the Mexican state. The isolation from the central government that many remote areas had enjoyed or suffered was ending. Telegraph lines constructed next to railroad tracks meant instant communication between distant states and the capital.[31][page needed]

The political acumen and flexibility Díaz exhibited in the early years of the Porfiriato began to decline. He brought the state governors under his control, replacing them at will. The Federal Army, while large, was increasingly an ineffective force with aging leadership and troops dragooned into service. Díaz attempted the same kind of manipulation he executed with the Mexican political system with business interests, showing favoritism to European interests against those of the U.S.[32]

Rival interests, particularly those of the Americans and the British, further complicated an already complex system of favoritism.[33] As economic activity increased and industries thrived, industrial workers began organizing for better conditions. With the expansion of Mexican agriculture, landless peasants were forced to work for low wages or move to the cities. Peasant agriculture was under pressure as haciendas expanded, such as in the state of Morelos, just south of Mexico City, with its burgeoning sugar plantations. There was what one scholar has called "agrarian compression," in which "population growth intersected with land loss, declining wages and insecure tenancies to produce widespread economic deterioration," but the regions under the greatest stress weren't the ones that rebelled.[34]

Opposition to Díaz

Ricardo Flores Magón (left) and Enrique Flores Magón (right), leaders of the Mexican Liberal Party in jail in the Los Angeles (CA) County Jail, 1917.
"Land and Liberty", the slogan of the Mexican Liberal Party.

A number of Mexicans began to organize in opposition to Díaz policies that had welcomed foreign capital and capitalists, suppressed nascent labor unions and consistently moved against peasants as agriculture flourished. In 1905 the group of Mexican intellectuals and agitators who had created the Mexican Liberal Party (Partido Liberal de México) drew up a radical program of reform, specifically addressing what they considered to be the worst aspects of the Díaz regime. Most prominent in the PLM were Ricardo Flores Magón and his two brothers, Enrique and Jesús. They, along with Luis Cabrera Lobato and Antonio Díaz Soto y Gama, were connected to the anti-Díaz publication El Hijo del Ahuizote. Political cartoons by José Guadalupe Posada lampooned politicians and cultural elites with mordant humor, portraying them as skeletons. The Liberal Party of Mexico founded the anti-Díaz anarchist newspaper Regeneración, which appeared in both Spanish and English. In exile in the United States, Práxedis Guerrero began publishing an anti-Díaz newspaper, Alba Roja (Red Dawn), in San Francisco. Although leftist groups were small in numbers, they became highly influential through their publications, which helped articulate opposition to the Díaz regime. Francisco Bulnes described these men as the "true authors" of the Mexican Revolution for agitating the masses.[35] As the 1910 election approached, Francisco I. Madero, an idealistic political novice and member of one of Mexico's richest families, funded the newspaper Anti-Reelectionista, in opposition to the continuous re-election of Díaz.

Organized labor conducted strikes for better wages and just treatment. Demands for better labor conditions were central to the Liberal Party program, drawn up in 1905. Mexican copper miners in the northern state of Sonora took action in the 1906 Cananea strike. Starting on June 1, 1906, 5,400 miners began to organize labor strikes. [36] Among other grievances, they were paid less than U.S. nationals working in the mines.[37] In the state of Veracruz, textile workers rioted in January 1907 at the huge Río Blanco factory, the world's largest, protesting against unfair labor practices. They were paid in credit that could be used only at the company store, binding them to the company.[38]

These strikes were ruthlessly suppressed, with factory owners receiving support from government forces. In the Cananea strike, mine owner William Cornell Greene received support from Díaz's rurales in Sonora as well as Arizona Rangers called in from across the U.S. border.[39] This private military force was ordered to use violence in order to combat the labor uprisings, marking the U.S.'s involvement in suppressing the Mexican working class. [40] In the state of Veracruz, the Mexican army gunned down Rio Blanco textile workers and put the bodies on train cars that transported them to Veracruz, "where the bodies were dumped in the harbor as food for sharks".[41] Government suppression of strikes was not unique to Mexico, with parallel occurrences both in the United States and Western Europe.

Since the press was suppressed in Mexico under Díaz, little was published that was critical of the regime. Newspapers barely reported on the Rio Blanco textile strike, the Cananea strike or harsh labor practices on plantations in Oaxaca and Yucatán. Leftist Mexican opponents of the Díaz regime, such as Ricardo Flores Magón and Práxedis Guerrero, went into exile in the relative safety of the United States, but cooperation between the U.S. government and Díaz's agents resulted in the arrest of some.

Presidential succession in 1910

General Bernardo Reyes, who later rebelled against President Madero
Francisco I. Madero campaigns from the back of a railway car in 1910.

Díaz had ruled continuously since 1884. The question of presidential succession was an issue as early as 1900, when he turned 70.[42] It was his "undeclared intention to step down from the presidency in 1904."[43] Díaz seems to have considered Finance Minister José Yves Limantour as his successor. Limantour was a key member of the Científicos, the circle of technocratic advisers steeped in positivist political science. Another potential successor was General Bernardo Reyes, Diaz's Minister of War, who also served as governor of Nuevo León. Reyes, an opponent of the Científicos, was a moderate reformer with a considerable base of support.[43] Díaz became concerned about him as a rival, and forced him to resign from his cabinet. He attempted to marginalize Reyes by sending him on a "military mission" to Europe,[44] distancing him from Mexico and potential political supporters.

Díaz re-established the office of vice president in 1906, choosing Ramón Corral. Rather than managing political succession, Díaz marginalized Corral, keeping him away from any decision-making.[45]

In a 1908 interview with U.S. journalist James Creelman, Díaz said that Mexico was ready for democracy and that he would step down to allow other candidates to compete for the presidency.[46][47][48] If Díaz had kept to this, the presidency and vice presidency would have been open in 1910. His later reversal on retiring from the presidency set off tremendous activity among opposition groups.

"The potential challenge from Reyes would remain one of Díaz's political obsessions through the rest of the decade, which ultimately blinded him to the danger of the challenge of Francisco Madero's anti-re-electionist campaign."[49]

In 1910 Francisco I. Madero, a young man from a wealthy landowning family in the northern state of Coahuila, announced his intent to challenge Díaz for the presidency in the next election, under the banner of the Anti-Reelectionist Party. Madero chose as his running mate Francisco Vázquez Gómez, a physician who had opposed Díaz.[50] Although similar overall to Díaz in his ideology,[citation needed] Madero hoped for other elites to rule alongside the president. Díaz thought he could control this election, as he had the previous seven;[51] however, Madero campaigned vigorously and effectively. To ensure Madero did not win, Díaz had him jailed before the election. He escaped and fled for a short period to San Antonio, Texas.[51] Díaz was announced the winner of the election by a "landslide". When it became obvious that the election had been fixed, Madero supporter Toribio Ortega took up arms with a group of followers at Cuchillo Parado, Chihuahua on 10 November 1910.[citation needed]

End of the Porfiriato

Principal battles during the fight to oust Díaz, November 1910-May 1911. Most action was in the northern border area, with the Battle of Ciudad Juárez being a decisive blow, but the struggle in Morelos by the Zapatistas was also extremely important, since the state was just south of the Mexican capital

On 5 October 1910, Madero issued a "letter from jail," known as the Plan de San Luis Potosí, with its main slogan Sufragio Efectivo, No Re-elección ("free suffrage and no re-election"). It declared the Díaz presidency illegal and called for revolt against him, starting on 20 November 1910. Madero's political plan did not outline major socioeconomic revolution, but offered the hope of change for many disadvantaged Mexicans.[51]

Northern leaders of the revolt against Díaz pose for a photo after the First Battle of Juárez. Present are José María Pino Suárez, Venustiano Carranza, Francisco I. Madero (and his father), Pascual Orozco, Pancho Villa, Gustavo A. Madero, Raul Madero, Abraham González and Giuseppe Garibaldi Jr.

Madero's plan was aimed at fomenting a popular uprising against Díaz, but he also understood that the support of the United States and U.S. financiers would be of crucial importance in undermining the regime. The rich and powerful Madero family drew on its resources to make regime change possible, with Madero's brother Gustavo A. Madero hiring, in October 1910, the firm of Washington lawyer Sherburne Hopkins, the "world's best rigger of Latin-American revolutions", to encourage support in the U.S.[52] A strategy to discredit Díaz with U.S. business and the U.S. government achieved some success, with Standard Oil representatives engaging in talks with Gustavo Madero. More importantly, the U.S. government "bent neutrality laws for the revolutionaries."[53]

In late 1910 revolutionary movements broke out in response to Madero's Plan de San Luis Potosí. His vague promises of land reform attracted many peasants throughout the country. Spontaneous rebellions arose in which ordinary farm laborers, miners and other working-class Mexicans, along with much of the country's population of indigenous natives, fought Díaz's forces, with some success. Madero attracted the forces of rebel leaders such as Pascual Orozco, Pancho Villa, Ricardo Flores Magón, Emiliano Zapata and Venustiano Carranza. A young and able revolutionary, Orozco--along with Gov. Abraham González--formed a powerful military union in the north and, although they were not especially committed to Madero, took Mexicali and Chihuahua City. These victories encouraged alliances with other revolutionary leaders, including Villa. Against Madero's wishes, Orozco and Villa fought for and won Ciudad Juárez, bordering El Paso, Texas, on the south side of the Rio Grande. Madero's call to action had some unanticipated results, such as the Magonista rebellion of 1911 in Baja California.[54] During the Maderista campaign in northern Mexico, there was anti-Chinese violence, particularly the May 1911 massacre at Torreón, a major railway hub.[55]

Interim presidency May-Nov. 1911

Francisco León de la Barra, interim president of Mexico, May–November 1911.

With the Federal Army defeated in a string of battles, Diaz's government began negotiations with the revolutionaries. One of Madero's representatives in the negotiations was his running mate in the 1910 elections, Francisco Vázquez Gómez.[56] The talks culminated in the 21 May 1911 Treaty of Ciudad Juárez. The signed treaty stated that Díaz would abdicate the presidency along with his vice president, Ramón Corral, by the end of May 1911, to be replaced by an interim president, Francisco León de la Barra, until elections were held. Díaz and his family and a number of top supporters were allowed to go into exile.[57] When Díaz left for exile in Paris, he was reported as saying, "Madero has unleashed a tiger; let us see if he can control it."[58]

With Díaz in exile and new elections to be called in October, the power structure of the old regime remained in place. Francisco León de la Barra became interim president, pending an election to be held in October 1911. León de la Barra was considered an acceptable person for the interim presidency, since he was not a Científico, not a politician, but rather a Catholic lawyer and diplomat.[59] He appeared to be a moderate, but the German ambassador to Mexico, Paul von Hintze, who associated with the Interim President, said of him that "De la Barra wants to accommodate himself with dignity to the inevitable advance of the ex-revolutionary influence, while accelerating the widespread collapse of the Madero party...."[60] The Federal Army, despite its defeats by the revolutionaries, remained intact as the government's force, while Madero called on revolutionary fighters to lay down their arms and demobilize. The cabinet of De la Barra and the Mexican congress was filled with supporters of the Díaz regime. Madero campaigned vigorously for the presidency during this interim period, but revolutionaries who had supported him and brought about Díaz's resignation were dismayed that the sweeping reforms they sought were not immediately instituted. He did introduce some progressive reforms, including improved funding for rural schools; promoting some aspects of agrarian reform to increase the amount of productive land; labor reforms including workman's compensation and the eight-hour day; but also the right of the government to intervene in strikes. According to historian Peter V.N. Henderson, León de la Barra's and congress's actions "suggests that few Porfirians wished to return to the status quo of the dictatorship. Rather, the thoughtful, progressive members of the Porfirian meritocracy recognized the need for change."[61]

De la Barra's government sent General Victoriano Huerta to fight in Morelos against the Zapatistas, burning villages and wreaking havoc. His actions drove a wedge between Zapata and Madero, which widened when Madero was inaugurated president.[62] Madero had won the election decisively and was inaugurated as president in November 1911, but his movement had lost crucial momentum and supporters in the months of the Interim Presidency.

Madero Presidency, Nov. 1911–Feb. 1913

Francisco I. Madero, as President of Mexico.
Madero and northern revolutionary Pascual Orozco, who rebelled against him in 1912.
Pancho Villa and followers from the Division of the North

Madero was an inexperienced politician who had never held office before, but his election as president in October 1911, following the exile of Porfirio Díaz in May 1911 and the interim presidency of Francisco León de la Barra, raised high expectations for positive change. However, the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez guaranteed that the essential structure of the Díaz regime, including the Federal Army, was kept in place.[63] Madero fervently held to his position that Mexico needed real democracy, which included regime change by valid election, a free press and the right of labor to organize and strike.

Francisco I. Madero, Emiliano Zapata, in Cuernavaca. Zapata rebelled against Madero in 1911 because of Madero's slowness in implementing land reform

The rebels who brought him to power were demobilized and Madero called on these men of action to return to civilian life. According to a story told by Pancho Villa (one of those who had defeated Díaz's army and forced his resignation and exile), he told Madero at a banquet in Ciudad Juárez in 1911, "You [Madero], sir, have destroyed the revolution . . . It's simple: this bunch of dandies have made a fool of you, and this will eventually cost us our necks, yours included."[64] Ignoring the warning, Madero increasingly relied on the Federal Army as armed rebellions broke out in Mexico in 1911–12, with particularly threatening insurrections led by Emiliano Zapata in Morelos and Pascual Orozco in the north. Both Zapata and Orozco had led revolts that had put pressure on Díaz to resign, and both felt betrayed by Madero once he became president.

The press embraced its newfound freedom and Madero became a target of its criticism. Organized labor, which had been suppressed under Díaz, could and did stage strikes, which foreign entrepreneurs saw as threatening their interests. Although there had been labor unrest under Díaz, labor's new freedom to organize also came with anti-American currents.[65] The anarcho-syndicalist Casa del Obrero Mundial (House of the World Worker) was founded in September 1912 by Antonio Díaz Soto y Gama, Manuel Sarabia and Lázaro Gutiérrez de Lara and served as a center of agitation and propaganda, but it was not a formal labor union.[66][67]

Political parties proliferated, one of the most important being the National Catholic Party, which in a number of regions of the country was particularly strong.[68] Several Catholic newspapers were in circulation during the Madero era, including El País and La Nación, only to be later suppressed under the Victoriano Huerta regime (1913–14).[69] From 1876–1911, relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Mexican government were stable, with the anticlerical laws of the Mexican Constitution of 1857 remaining in place, but not enforced, so conflict was muted.[70]

During Madero's presidency, Church-state conflict was channeled peacefully.[71] The National Catholic Party became an important political opposition force during the Madero presidency.[72] In June 1912 congressional elections, "militarily quiescent states...the Catholic Party (PCN) did conspicuously well."[73] During that period, the Catholic Association of Mexican Youth (ACJM) was founded. Although the National Catholic Party was an opposition party to the Madero regime, "Madero clearly welcomed the emergence of a kind of two party system (Catholic and liberal); he encouraged Catholic political involvement, echoing the exhortations of the episcopate."[74] What was emerging during the Madero regime was "Díaz's old policy of Church-state detente was being continued, perhaps more rapidly and on surer foundations."[75] The Catholic Church was working within the new democratic system promoted by Madero, but it had its own interests to promote, some of which were the forces of the old conservative Church, while the new, progressive Church supporting social Catholicism of the 1891 papal encyclical Rerum Novarum was also a current. When Madero was overthrown in February 1913 by counter-revolutionaries, the conservative wing of the Church supported the coup.[76]

Madero did not have the experience or the ideological inclination to reward men who had helped bring him to power. Some revolutionary leaders expected personal rewards, such as the young and militarily gifted Pascual Orozco of Chihuahua. Others wanted major reforms, most especially Emiliano Zapata and Andrés Molina Enríquez, who had long worked for land reform.[77] Madero met personally with Zapata, telling the guerrilla leader that the agrarian question needed careful study. His meaning was clear: Madero, a member of a rich northern hacendado family, was not about to implement comprehensive agrarian reform for aggrieved peasants.

Madero and his military staff officers, Mexico National Palace, 1911. Rather than keeping the revolutionary force that had helped bring him to power, Madero in a fatal decision kept the Federal Army intact

In response to this lack of action, Zapata promulgated the Plan de Ayala in November 1911, declaring himself in rebellion against Madero. He renewed guerrilla warfare in the state of Morelos. Madero sent the Federal Army to deal with Zapata, albeit unsuccessfully. Zapata remained true to the demands of the Plan de Ayala and in rebellion against every central government up until his assassination by an agent of President Venustiano Carranza in 1919.

Zapatistas outside Cuernavaca 1911. Photo by Hugo Brehme[78]

The brilliant northern revolutionary General Pascual Orozco, who had helped take Ciudad Juárez, had expected to become governor of Chihuahua, a powerful position. In 1911, although Orozco was "the man of the hour," Madero gave the governorship instead to Abraham González, a respectable revolutionary, with the explanation that Orozco had not reached the legal age to serve as governor, a tactic that was "a useful constitutional alibi for thwarting the ambitions of young, popular, revolutionary leaders."[79]

Madero had put Orozco in charge of the large force of rurales in Chihuahua, but to a gifted revolutionary fighter who had helped bring about Díaz's fall, Madero's reward was insulting. After Madero refused to agree to social reforms calling for better working hours, pay and conditions, Orozco organized his own army, the "Orozquistas", also called the "Colorados" ("Red Flaggers") and issued his Plan Orozquista on 25 March 1912, enumerating why he was rising in revolt against Madero.[80] This caused considerable dismay among U.S. businessmen and other foreign investors in the northern region. It was a signal to many that Madero's government could not maintain the order that was the underpinning of modernization in the era of Porfirio Díaz.

In April 1912 Madero dispatched General Victoriano Huerta of the Federal Army to put down Orozco's revolt. As president, Madero had kept the army intact as an institution, using it to put down domestic rebellions against his regime. Huerta was a professional soldier and continued to serve in the army under the new commander-in-chief, but his loyalty lay with General Bernardo Reyes rather than with the civilian Madero. In 1912, under pressure from his cabinet, Madero had called on Huerta to suppress Orozco's rebellion. With Huerta's success against Orozco, he emerged as a powerful figure for conservative forces opposing the Madero regime.[81]

During the Orozco revolt, the governor of Chihuahua mobilized the state militia to support the Federal Army and Pancho Villa, a colonel in the militia, was called up at this time. In mid-April, at the head of 400 irregular troops, he joined the forces commanded by Huerta. Huerta, however, viewed Villa as an ambitious competitor. During a visit to Huerta's headquarters in June 1912, after an incident in which he refused to return a number of stolen horses, Villa was imprisoned on charges of insubordination and robbery and sentenced to death.[82] Raúl Madero, the President's brother, intervened to save Villa's life. Jailed in Mexico City, Villa escaped and fled to the United States, later to return and play a major role in the civil wars of 1913-15.

There were other rebellions, one led by Bernardo Reyes and the other by Félix Díaz, nephew of the former president, that were quickly put down and the generals jailed. They were both in Mexico City prisons and, despite their geographical separation, they were able to foment yet another rebellion in February 1913. This period came to be known as the Ten Tragic Days (la decena trágica), which ended with Madero's resignation and assassination and Huerta assuming the presidency. Although Madero had reason to distrust Victoriano Huerta, Madero placed him in charge of suppressing the Mexico City revolt as interim commander. He did not know that Huerta had been invited to join the conspiracy but had initially held back.[83] During the fighting that took place in the capital, the civilian population was subjected to artillery exchanges, street fighting and economic disruption, perhaps deliberately visited on them in order for the rebels to demonstrate that Madero was unable to keep order.[84]

Ten Tragic Days, 9-19 February 1913

Corpses in front of the National Palace during the Ten Tragic Days. Photographer, Manuel Ramos.[85]

The Madero presidency was unraveling, to no one's surprise except perhaps Madero's, whose support continued to deteriorate, even among his political allies. Madero's supporters in congress before the coup, the so-called "Renovadores" ("the renewers"), criticized him, saying, "The revolution is heading toward collapse and is pulling the government to which it gave rise down with it, for the simple reason that it is not governing with revolutionaries. Compromises and concessions to the supporters of the old [Díaz] regime are the main causes of the unsettling situation in which the government that emerged from the revolution finds itself . . . The regime appears relentlessly bent on suicide."[86]

Huerta, formally in charge of the defense of Madero's regime, allowed the rebels to hold the armory in Mexico City--the Ciudadela--while he consolidated his political power. He changed allegiance from Madero to the rebels under Félix Díaz (Bernardo Reyes having been killed on the first day of the open armed conflict). U.S. Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson, who had done all he could to undermine U.S. confidence in Madero's presidency, brokered the Pact of the Embassy, which formalized the alliance between Félix Díaz and Huerta, with the backing of the United States.[87] Huerta was to become provisional president following the resignations of Madero and his vice president, José María Pino Suárez. Rather than being sent into exile with their families, the two were murdered while being transported to prison--a shocking event, but one that did not prevent the Huerta regime's recognition by most world governments.

Historian Friedrich Katz considers Madero's retention of the Federal Army, which was defeated by the revolutionary forces and resulted in Díaz's resignation, "was the basic cause of his fall." His failure is also attributable to "the failure of the social class to which he belonged and whose interests he considered to be identical to those of Mexico: the liberal hacendados [owners of large estates].[88] Madero had created no political organization that could survive his death and had alienated and demobilized the revolutionary fighters who had helped bring him to power. In the aftermath of his assassination and Huerta's seizure of power via military coup, former revolutionaries had no formal organization through which to raise opposition to Huerta.[89]

Huerta Regime, Feb. 1913–July 1914 and civil war

General Victoriano Huerta was a Federal Army commander who served President Francisco I. Madero (1911–13) but joined with anti-Madero conspirators in ousting him.
Victoriano Huerta (left) and Pascual Orozco (right).

Huerta's presidency is usually characterized as a dictatorship. From the point of view of revolutionaries at the time and the construction of historical memory of the Revolution, it is without any positive aspects. "Despite recent attempts to portray Victoriano Huerta as a reformer, there is little question that he was a self-serving dictator."[90] There are few biographies of Huerta, but one strongly asserts that Huerta should not be labeled simply as a counter-revolutionary,[91] arguing that his regime consisted of two distinct periods: from the coup in February 1913 up to October 1913. During that time he attempted to legitimize his regime and demonstrate its legality by pursuing reformist policies; and after October 1913, when he dropped all attempts to rule within a legal framework and began murdering political opponents while battling revolutionary forces that had united in opposition to his regime.[92]

Supporting the Huerta regime initially were business interests in Mexico, both foreign and domestic; landed elites; the Roman Catholic Church; as well as the German and British governments. The United States President Woodrow Wilson, did not recognize the Huerta regime.[93] Huerta and Venustiano Carranza were in contact for two weeks immediately after the coup, but they did not come to an agreement. Carranza then declared himself opposed to Huerta and became the leader of the anti-Huerta forces in the north.[94] Huerta gained the support of revolutionary general Pascual Orozco, who had helped topple the Diaz regime, then became disillusioned with Madero. Huerta's first cabinet was comprised of men who had supported the February 1913 Pact of the [U.S.] Embassy, among them some who had supported Madero, such as Jesús Flores Magón; supporters of General Bernardo Reyes; supporters of Félix Díaz; and former Interim President Francisco León de la Barra.[95]

During the counter-revolutionary regime of Huerta (1913–1914), the Catholic Church initially supported him. "The Church represented a force for reaction, especially in the countryside."[71] However, when Huerta cracked down on political parties and conservative opposition, he had "Gabriel Somellera, president of the [National] Catholic Party arrested; La Nación, which, like other Catholic papers, had protested Congress's dissolution and the rigged elections [of October 1913], locked horns with the official press and was finally closed down. El País, the main Catholic newspaper, survived for a time."[96]

Initially, Huerta was even able to muster the support of Andrés Molina Enríquez, author of The Great National Problems (Los grandes problemas nacionales), a key work urging land reform in Mexico.[97] Huerta was deeply concerned with the issue of land reform, since it was a persistent spur of peasant unrest. Specifically, he moved to restore "ejido lands to the Yaquis and Mayos of Sonora and [advanced] proposals for distribution of government lands to small-scale farmers."[98][99] When Huerta refused to move faster on land reform, Molina Enríquez disavowed the regime in June 1913,[100] later going on to advise the 1917 constitutional convention on land reform.

Venustiano Carranza, Governor of Coahuila, united northern forces of the Constitutionalist Army, with brilliant generals Obregón and Villa

Within a month of the coup, rebellion began to spread throughout Mexico, most prominently led by the governor of the state of Coahuila, Venustiano Carranza, along with Pablo González and old revolutionaries demobilized by Madero, such as Pancho Villa. Carranza issued a narrowly political statement, the Plan of Guadalupe. Upon taking power, Huerta had moved swiftly to consolidate his hold in the North. Carranza might have counted on Chihuahua Gov. Abraham González, but Huerta had him arrested and murdered for fear he would foment rebellion.[89] The Northern revolutionaries fought under the name of the Constitutionalist Army, with Carranza as the "First Chief" (primer jefe). When northern General Pancho Villa became governor of Chihuahua in 1914, following the ousting of Huerta, he located González's bones and had them reburied with full honors.

In Morelos, Emiliano Zapata continued his rebellion under the Plan of Ayala (while expunging the name of counter-revolutionary Pascual Orozco from it), calling for the expropriation of land and redistribution to peasants. Huerta offered peace to Zapata, who rejected it.[101] The Huerta government was thus challenged by revolutionary forces in the north of Mexico and in the strategic state of Morelos, just south of the capital.

Constitutionalist Generals Obregón (left) and Pancho Villa (center) with U.S. Army General Pershing, posing after a 1914 meeting at Fort Bliss, Texas. After the ouster of Huerta, Villa split with Carranza, and was defeated by Obregón in 1915. In 1916, Villa attacked the United States and Pershing was dispatched in a failed attempt to capture him.

Lame duck U.S. President William Howard Taft, whose term ended 4 March 1913, left the decision of whether to recognize the new government up to the incoming president, Woodrow Wilson. Despite the urging of U.S. ambassador Henry Lane Wilson, who had played a key role in the coup d'état, President Wilson not only declined to recognize Huerta's government but first supplanted the ambassador by sending his "personal representative" John Lind, a Swedish-American progressive who sympathized with the Mexican revolutionaries, and then, in the summer of 1913, the president recalled Ambasssador Wilson. Further, under President Wilson, the United States lifted the arms embargo imposed by Taft in order to supply weapons to the landlocked rebels; while under the complete embargo Huerta had still been able to receive shipments from the British.[102] While urging other European powers to likewise not recognize Huerta's government, Wilson also attempted to persuade Huerta to call prompt elections "and not present himself as a candidate."[103] The United States offered Mexico a loan on the condition that Huerta accept the proposal. He refused. Lind "clearly threatened a military intervention in case the demands were not met."[104]

In the summer of 1913 Mexican conservatives who had supported Huerta sought a constitutionally elected civilian alternative to Huerta, brought together in a body called the National Unifying Junta.[105] Political parties proliferated in this period, so that by the time of the October congressional elections there were 26. From Huerta's point of view, the fragmentation of the conservative political landscape strengthened his own position. For the country's conservative elite, "there was a growing disillusionment with Huerta, and disgust at his strong-arm methods."[106] Huerta dispensed with the legislature on 26 October 1913, having the army surround its building and arresting congressmen perceived to be hostile to his regime. Congressional elections went ahead, but given that congress was dissolved and some members were in jail, the fervor of opposition candidates disappeared. The sham election "brought home to [Woodrow] Wilson's administration the fatuity of relying on elections to demonstrate genuine democracy."[107] The October 1913 elections were the end of any pretension to constitutional rule in Mexico, with civilian political activity banned.[108] Prominent Catholics were arrested and Catholic newspapers were suppressed.[109]

Huerta militarized Mexico to a greater extent than it already was. In 1913 when Huerta seized power, the army had approximately 50,000 men, but Huerta mandated the number rise to 150,000, then 200,000 and, finally in spring 1914, 250,000.[110] Raising that number of men in so short a time would not occur with volunteers, and the army resorted to the leva, forced conscription. The revolutionary forces had no problem with voluntary recruitment.[111] Most Mexican men avoided government conscription at all costs and the ones dragooned into the forces were sent to areas far away from home and were reluctant to fight. Conscripts deserted, mutinied and attacked and murdered their officers.[112]

In April 1914 U.S. opposition to Huerta culminated in the seizure and occupation of the port of Veracruz by U.S. marines and sailors. Initially intended, in part, to prevent a German merchant vessel from delivering a shipment of arms to the Huerta regime, the muddled operation evolved into a seven-month stalemate resulting in the death of 193 Mexican soldiers, 19 U.S. servicemen and an unknown number of civilians. The German ship landed its cargo--largely U.S.-made rifles--in a deal brokered by U.S. businessmen (at a different port). U.S. forces eventually left Veracruz in the hands of the Carrancistas, but with lasting damage to U.S.-Mexican relations.[113][114][115]

Huerta's position continued to deteriorate. In mid-July 1914, after his army suffered several defeats, he stepped down and fled to Puerto México. Seeking to get himself and his family out of Mexico, he turned to the German government, which had generally supported his presidency. The Germans were not eager to allow him to be transported into exile on one of their ships, but relented. Huerta carried "roughly half a million marks in gold with him" as well as paper currency and checks.[116] In exile, Huerta sought to return to Mexico via the United States; U.S. authorities arrested him and he was imprisoned in Fort Bliss, Texas. He died in January 1916, six months after going into exile.[117]

Huerta's resignation marked the end of an era since the Federal Army, a spectacularly ineffective fighting force against the revolutionaries, ceased to exist.[118] The revolutionary factions that had united in opposition to Huerta's regime now faced a new political landscape with the counter-revolutionaries decisively defeated. The revolutionary armies now contended for power and a new era of civil war began after an attempt at an agreement among the winners at a Convention of Aguascalientes.

Meeting of the Winners, then civil war 1914–1915

Soldiers moving by rail during the Mexican Revolution

With the departure of Huerta in July 1914, the revolutionary factions agreed to meet and make "a last-ditch effort to avert more intense warfare than that which unseated Huerta."[119] Called to meet in Mexico City in October 1914, revolutionaries opposed to Carranza's influence successfully moved the venue to Aguascalientes. The Convention of Aguascalientes did not, in fact, reconcile the various victorious factions in the Mexican Revolution. The break between Carranza and Villa became definitive during the Convention. "Carranza spurned it, and Villa effectively hijacked it. Mexico's lesser caudillos were forced to choose" between those two forces.[120] It was a brief pause in revolutionary violence before another all-out period of civil war ensued.

Carranza had expected to be confirmed in his position as First Chief of revolutionary forces, but his supporters "lost control of the proceedings."[121] Opposition to Carranza was strongest in areas where there were popular and fierce demands for reform, particularly in Chihuahua where Villa was powerful, and Morelos where Zapata held sway.[122] The Convention of Aguascalientes brought that opposition out in an open forum.

The revolutionary generals of the Convention called on Carranza to resign executive power. Although he agreed to do so, he laid out conditions for it. He would resign if both Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, his main rivals for power, would resign and go into exile, and that there should be a pre-constitutionalist government "that would take charge of carrying out the social and political reforms the country needs before a fully constitutional government is re-established."[123]

Pancho Villa (left), Commander of the División del Norte (Division of the North), and Emiliano Zapata, Commander of the Ejército Libertador del Sur (Liberation Army of the South), joined forces in the Army of the Convention, which fought the Constitutionalist Army of Venustiano Carranza. In practice over the long term, Villa and Zapata fought in different areas, and the Constitutionalists under Alvaro Obregón defeated Villa in 1915
General Alvaro Obregón, who defeated Villa in a series of battles.

Rather than First Chief Carranza being named president of Mexico at the convention, General Eulalio Gutiérrez was chosen for a term of 20 days. The convention declared Carranza in rebellion against it. Civil war resumed, this time between revolutionary armies that had fought in a united cause to oust Huerta in 1913–14. Although during the Convention Constitutionalist General Alvaro Obregón had attempted to be a moderating force and had been the one to convey the Convention's call for Carranza to resign, when the convention forces declared Carranza in rebellion against it, Obregón supported Carranza rather than Villa and Zapata.

Villa went into a loose alliance with southern leader Zapata to form the Army of the Convention. Their forces moved separately on the capital, Mexico City, and took it--which Carranza's forces had abandoned--in December 1914. The famous picture of Zapata and Villa, with Villa sitting in the presidential chair in the National Palace, is a classic image of the Revolution. Villa is reported to have said to Zapata that the presidential chair "is too big for us."[124]

In practice, the alliance between Villa and Zapata as the Army of the Convention did not function beyond this initial victory against the Constitutionalists. Villa and Zapata left the capital, with Zapata returning to his southern stronghold in Morelos, where he continued to engage in warfare under the Plan of Ayala.[125] Lacking a firm center of power and leadership, the Convention government was plagued by instability. Villa was the real power emerging from the Convention, and he prepared to strengthen his position by winning a decisive victory against the Constitutionalist Army.

Villa had a well-earned reputation as a fierce and successful general, and the combination of forces arrayed against Carranza by Villa, other northern generals and Zapata was larger than the Constitutionalist Army, so it was not at all clear that Carranza would prevail. He had the advantage of the loyalty of General Alvaro Obregón. Despite Obregón's moderating actions at the Convention of Aguascalientes, even trying to persuade Carranza to resign his position, he ultimately sided with Carranza.[126]

Another advantage of Carranza's position was the Constitutionalists' control of Veracruz, even though the United States still occupied it. The United States had concluded that both Villa and Zapata were too radical and hostile to its interests and sided with the moderate Carranza in the factional fighting.[127] The U.S. timed its exit from Veracruz, brokered at the Niagara Falls peace conference, to benefit Carranza and allowed munitions to flow to the Constitutionalists. The U.S. granted Carranza's government diplomatic recognition in October 1915.

The rival armies of Villa and Obregón clashed in April 1915 in the Battle of Celaya, which lasted from the sixth to the 15th. The frontal cavalry charges of Villa's forces were met by the shrewd, modern military tactics of Obregón. The victory of the Constitutionalists was complete, and Carranza emerged as the political leader of Mexico with a victorious army to keep him in that position. Villa retreated north. Carranza and the Constitutionalists consolidated their position as the winning faction, with Zapata remaining a threat until his assassination in 1919. Villa also remained a threat to the Constitutionalists, complicating their relationship with the United States when elements of Villa's forces raided Columbus, New Mexico, in March 1916, prompting the U.S. to launch a punitive expedition into Mexico in an unsuccessful attempt to capture him.

Constitutionalists in Power under Carranza, 1915–1920

Mexico at the end of 1915, with the Constitutionalists holding the most territory
Governor of Coahuila Venustiano Carranza--center--the tall and distinguished-looking "First Chief" of the Constitutionalist forces in northern Mexico opposing Huerta's regime. General Álvaro Obregón (left) shown with a cigar in his left hand and his right arm missing, lost in the Battle of León in 1915
Soldaderas were participants in the Revolution, as combatants and support of combatants

Venustiano Carranza had proclaimed the Plan of Guadalupe a month after Victoriano Huerta seized power in February 1913, uniting northern factions into a movement to oust Huerta, especially under generals Alvaro Obregón and Pancho Villa. Huerta went into exile in July 1914 and the revolutionary factions sought to decide Mexico's political future in the Convention of Aguascalientes. Villa broke with Carranza and went into alliance with Emiliano Zapata. General Obregón remained loyal to Carranza and led the Constitutionalist Army to victory over Villa in the Battle of Celaya in April 1915.

The decisive defeat by Obregón of the Constitutionalists' main rival Pancho Villa in a series of battles in 1915 ended the most serious threat from the north. The U.S. recognized Carranza's government as the de facto ruling power in October 1915, following those military victories. This gave Carranza's Constitutionalists legitimacy internationally and access to arms from the U.S. The Carranza government still had active opponents, including Villa, who retreated north,[128] and Zapata, who remained active in the south. Even though he was losing support, Zapata remained a threat to the Carranza regime until his assassination by order of Carranza on 10 April 1919.[129]

The Constitutionalist Army was renamed the "Mexican National Army" and Carranza sent some of its most able generals to eliminate threats. In Morelos he sent General Pablo González Garza to fight Zapata's Liberating Army of the South.[130] Although the peasants of Morelos under Zapata had not expanded beyond their local region and parts of the state of Puebla, Carranza sought to eliminate Zapata. Morelos was very close to Mexico City, and not having it under Carranza's control constituted a vulnerability for his government. Agents of the Carranza regime assassinated Zapata in 1919. Carranza sent General Francisco Murguía and General Manuel M. Diéguez to track down and eliminate Villa. They were unsuccessful, but did capture and execute one of Villa's top men, Felipe Angeles.[131]

General Salvador Alvarado

Carranza pushed for the rights of women and gained women's support. During his presidency he relied on his personal secretary and close aide, Hermila Galindo de Topete, to rally and secure support for him. Through her efforts he was able to gain the support of women, workers and peasants. Carranza rewarded her efforts by lobbying for women's equlity. He helped change and reform the legal status of women in Mexico.[132]

Venustiano Carranza did not move on land reform despite the provisions in the new constitution providing for it. Rather, he returned confiscated estates to their owners.[133] Not only did he oppose large-scale land reform, he vetoed laws that would have increased agricultural production by giving peasants temporary access to lands not under cultivation.[134] In places where peasants had fought for land reform, Carranza's policy was to repress them and deny their demands. In the southeast, where hacienda owners held strong, Carranza sent the most radical of his supporters, Francisco Múgica in Tabasco and Salvador Alvarado in Yucatan, to mobilize peasants and be a counterweight to the hacienda owners.[135] Salvador Alvarado after taking control of Yucatán in 1915, organized a large Socialist Party and carried out extensive land reform. He confiscated the large landed estates and redistributed the land in smaller plots to the liberated peasants.[136] Maximo Castillo, a revolutionary brigadier general from Chihuahua was annoyed by the slow pace of land reform under the Madero presidency. He ordered the subdivision of six haciendas belonging to Luis Terrazas, which were given to sharecroppers and tenants.[137]

Uncle Sam entering Mexico in 1916 to punish Pancho Villa.

Carranza's relationship with the United States had initially benefited from its recognition of his government, with the Constitutionalist Army being able to buy arms. In 1915 and early 1916, there is evidence that Carranza was seeking a loan from the U.S. with the backing of U.S. bankers and a formal alliance with the U.S. Mexican nationalists in Mexico were seeking a stronger stance against the colossus of the north, taxing foreign holdings and limiting their influence. With Villa's raid against Columbus, New Mexico in March 1916, ended the possibility of a closer relationship with the U.S.[138] Under heavy pressure from American public opinion to punish the attackers (stoked mainly by the papers of ultra-conservative publisher William Randolph Hearst, who owned a large estate in Mexico), U.S. President Woodrow Wilson sent General John J. Pershing and around 5,000 troops into Mexico in an attempt to capture Villa.[139] The American intervention, known as the Punitive Expedition, was limited to the western Sierras of Chihuahua and was notable as the U.S. Army's first use of airplanes in military operations. Villa knew the inhospitable terrain intimately and had little trouble evading his pursuers. Villa was deeply entrenched in the mountains of northern Mexico, and knew the terrain too well to be captured. Pershing could not continue with his mission and was forced to turn back. This event not only damaged the fragile United States-Mexico relationship, but also gave way to a rise in anti-American sentiment among the Mexicans.[140]After nearly a year the hunt was called off, and Pershing's force returned to the U.S. Carranza asserted Mexican sovereignty and forced the U.S. to withdraw in 1917.

With the outbreak of World War I in Europe in 1914, foreign powers with significant economic and strategic interests in Mexico--particularly the U.S., Great Britain and Germany--made efforts to sway Mexico to their side, but Mexico maintained a policy of neutrality. In the Zimmermann Telegram--a coded cable from the German government to Carranza's government--Germany attempted to draw Mexico into war with the United States, which was itself neutral at the time. Carranza did not pursue this policy, but the leaking of the telegram pushed the U.S. into war against Germany in 1917.

The 1917 Constitution, and the last successful coup

The new constitution was approved on 5 February 1917. This picture shows the Constituent Congress of 1917 swearing fealty to the new Constitution

Carranza's 1913 Plan of Guadalupe was narrowly political, but he sought to consolidate his position with support of the masses by policies of social and agrarian reform. As revolutionary violence subsided in 1916, leaders met to draw up a new constitution, thus making principles for which many of the revolutionaries had fought into law. The Mexican Constitution of 1917 was strongly nationalist, giving the government the power to expropriate foreign ownership of resources and enabling land reform (Article 27). It also had a strong code protecting organized labor (Article 123) and extended state power over the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico in its role in education (Article 3).

Although villistas and zapatistas were excluded from the Constituent Congress, their political challenge pushed the delegates to radicalize the Constitution, which in turn was far more radical than Carranza himself.[19] While he was elected constitutional president in 1917, he did not implement its most radical elements. He was not in a position to do so in any case, since there were still threats to his regime regionally, despite the relative subsiding of violence nationally.

Mexican diplomat Ignacio Bonillas

Carranza had consolidated enough power to go forward with the drafting of a new constitution in 1917. Carranza was acting president and called for a constituent congress to draft a new document based on liberal and revolutionary principles. Labor had supported the Constitutionalists and Red Battalions had fought against the Zapatistas. Radical reforms were embedded in the constitution, in particular labor rights, agrarian reform, anticlericalism, and economic nationalism. The Mexican state asserted dominion over the nation's territory and resources (Article 27), which enabled land reform and expropriation of Labor was rewarded with a strong article in the 1917 constitution protecting labor rights (Article 123). Following the ratification of the constitution, Carranza was elected to the presidency of Mexico.[141]

After all the bloodshed of the revolution concerning the principle of "no re-election", it was politically impossible for Carranza to run again in the election due to be held in 1920. He chose to back Ignacio Bonillas, a civilian and political unknown. For Northern generals Alvaro Obregón, Plutarco Elías Calles and Adolfo de la Huerta, who had fought successfully for the revolution, the candidacy of a civilian and potential Carranza puppet was untenable. They led a revolt against Carranza under the Plan of Agua Prieta. Carranza attempted to flee the country and died on the way to the Gulf Coast.

Prior to the elections, General Obregón had returned to Sonora and became a political threat to the civilian Carranza. The Regional Confederation of Mexican Workers (CROM) supported Obregón. Carranza was increasingly unpopular, with his minimal implementation of land reform and his return of confiscated haciendas in the north to their owners alienated peasants seeking land. He crushed a strike of workers in Mexico City, alienating labor. Even as his political authority was waning, Carranza attempted to impose a political nobody, Mexico's ambassador to the U.S., Ignacio Bonillas, as his successor. Under the Plan of Agua Prieta, a triumvirate of Sonoran generals, Alvaro Obregón, Plutarco Elías Calles, and Adolfo de la Huerta, with elements from the military and labor supporters in the CROM, rose in successful rebellion against Carranza, the last successful coup of the revolution.[142] Carranza fled to Guerrero but was killed or committed suicide fleeing from Mexico City to Veracruz.[143] Carranza's attempt to impose his choice was considered a betrayal of the Revolution and his remains were not placed in the Monument to the Revolution until 1942.[144]

"Obregón and the Sonorans, the architects of Carranza's rise and fall, shared his hard headed opportunism, but they displayed a better grasp of the mechanisms of popular mobilization, allied to social reform, that would form the bases of a durable revolutionary regime after 1920."[145] The interim government of Adolfo de la Huerta negotiated Pancho Villa's surrender in 1920, rewarding him with an hacienda where he lived in peace until he floated political interest in 1924 election. Villa was assassinated in July 1923.[146] Alvaro Obregón was elected president in October 1920, the first of a string of revolutionary generals -- Calles, Rodríguez, Cárdenas, and Avila Camacho—to hold the presidency until 1946, when Miguel Alemán, the son of a revolutionary general, was elected.

Emiliano Zapata and the Revolution in Morelos

Photo of Zapata's corpse, Cuautla, April 10, 1919[147]

From the late Porfiriato until his assassination by an agent of President Carranza in 1919, Emiliano Zapata played an important role in the Mexican Revolution, since his home territory in Morelos was of strategic importance. Of the revolutionary factions, it was the most homogeneous, with most being free peasants and only few peons on haciendas. With no industry to speak of in Morelos, there were no industrial workers in the movement and no middle class participants. Some intellectuals supported the Zapatistas. The Zapatistas' armed opposition movement just south of the capital needed to be heeded. Unlike northern Mexico, close to the U.S. border, the Zapatista territory in Morelos did not have access to arms, nor did it play into international politics. The Zapatistas were divided into guerrilla fighting forces that joined together for major battles before returning to their home villages. Zapata was not a peasant himself, but led peasants in his home state of Morelos in regionally concentrated warfare regain village lands and return to subsistence agriculture. Morelos was the only region where land reform was enacted during the years of fighting.[148] He initially supported Madero, but during the Interim Presidency of De la Barra, attacks by government forces drove a wedge between the Madero and Zapata. Madero's failure to move on land reform during 1911-13 was a key reason the Zapata rebelled against him under the Plan of Ayala (1911).[149][150] With the overthrow of Madero in the Ten Tragic Days, Zapata disavowed his previous admiration of revolutionary general Pascual Orozco and directed warfare against the Huerta government. With the defeat of Huerta in July 1914, Zapata loosely allied with Pancho Villa, previously allied with Venustiano Carranza and the Constitutionalist Army, particularly General Alvaro Obregón. The Zapata-Villa alliance lasted until Obregón decisively defeated Villa in a series of battles, including the Battle of Celaya. Zapata continued to oppose the Constitutionalists, but lost support in his own area and attempted to entice defectors to his movement. That was a fatal error. He was ambushed and killed on 10 April 1919 by agents of Venustiano Carranza, General Pablo González and his aide, Col. Jesús Guajardo, in an elaborate trap at Chinameca, Morelos. Guajardo set up the meeting under the pretext of wanting to defect to Zapata's side from Carranza's. At the meeting, González's men assassinated Zapata.[151] Photos were taken of his corpse, demonstrating that he had been killed.

Although Zapata was assassinated, the agrarian reforms that were enacted in Morelos were impossible to reverse. The central government came to terms with that state of affairs. Zapata had fought for land for the tillers in Morelos, and succeeded. His credentials as a steadfast revolutionary made him an enduring hero of the Revolution. His name and image were invoked in the 1994 uprising in Chiapas, with the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

Consolidation of the Revolution, 1920–1940

Revolutionary General and President of Mexico Alvaro Obregón served his entire elected term 1920–1924; he ran for re-election in 1928, but was assassinated before he could take office, causing a crisis in managing presidential succession

One of the major issues that faced Alvaro Obregón's early post-revolution government was stabilizing Mexico. Regional caciques (chiefs) were still fighting each other in small skirmishes. The populace was demanding reforms, promised by the 1917 constitution. Many issues faced the working poor, such as debt peonage and company stores that kept the populace poor. The military had generals who wanted to overthrow the regime and take power for themselves. There were also foreign governments, primarily the United States, who feared Mexico would take a communist turn such as Russia was to do in 1918. Obregón was in a difficult position; he had to appeal to both the left and the right to ensure Mexico would not fall back into civil war. With regard to the masses, Obregón, who was conservative but still a reformer, started listening to demands to appease the populace. Obregón's first focus, in 1920, was land reform. He had governors in various states push forward the reforms promised in the 1917 constitution. These were, however, quite limited. Former Zapatistas still had strong influence in the post-revolutionary government, so most of the reforms began in Morelos, the birthplace of the Zapatista movement.[152]

Despite pressures from the U.S., Obregón flirted with the newly formed USSR. To appeal to intellectuals and left-leaning peasants, official Mexican propaganda began having a very Marxist spin. Murals with Lenin and Trotsky began to appear in government buildings. The government also began to foment nationalism amongst the peasantry. This was accomplished by memorializing revolutionary figures and creating anti-Western murals. Among the artists employed was Diego Rivera, who had a Mexican nationalist and Marxist tinge to his government murals. Despite these moves towards an anti-Western and pro-socialist regime, Obregón did not separate the Mexican economy from foreign capitalists, allowing free trade with some restrictions.

Regarding the military, one of his first moves was to incorporate the irregulars who fought in the revolution. He tried to weaken the powers of the ultra-conservative officer corps, who were not friendly to his regime. Some of his reforms began to anger the officer corps, leading to an attempted coup in 1924 that Obregón was able to crush with relative ease.

Revolutionary General and President of Mexico Plutarco Elías Calles (1924–1928), who founded the Partido Nacional Revolucionario and became the power behind the presidency as jefe máximo (1928–1934)

Shortly after the failed coup, Obregón's term ended and Sonoran revolutionary Plutarco Elías Calles took power. In an attempt to buffer his regime against further coups, Calles began arming peasants and factory workers with surplus weapons. He continued other reforms pushed by his predecessor, such as land reform and anti-clerical laws to prevent the Catholic Church from influencing the state. One such move, in regard to land reform, was to nationalize most farmland and give it to the peasants across Mexico. He also put into effect a national school system that was largely secular to combat church influence in late 1924. After two years the church protested the movement by refusing to give the blessed sacrament to the populace. Some peasants also joined in the protests, adding greater land reforms to the list of demands by the rebelling priests. The rebellion was openly supported by the Catholic Church and received funding, beginning the Cristero War.[153]

Meanwhile, in 1927, another military coup was attempted, this time receiving support from land owners. Calles quickly crushed the rebellion with help from the newly mobilized peasant battalions, who later on were used to fight against the Church. In the midst of the mobilized worker's militias, land reform, and anti-church actions, the American government began to openly declare Mexico a Bolshevik regime. To recover from the backlash, Calles began to tone down the radical rhetoric and slowed land reform policies in 1928. A year later, a brokered ceasefire was issued to end hostilities.

After the war ended in 1929, supporters of Calles and Obregón began to form a united political party called the National Revolutionary Party (PNR). This was to unite the various revolutionary factions of the civil war to prevent further Cristero revolts and build stability.

After a series of interim presidents controlled by the party, Lázaro Cárdenas took power in 1934. Cárdenas was a socialist and began to base government policy on class struggle and empowering the masses. However, not all of his reforms were completely socialist. Regardless, his rule was the most radical phase of social reform following the revolution.

Revolutionary General and President of Mexico Lázaro Cárdenas (1934–1940), who revitalized the Revolution

His first acts of reform in 1935, were aimed towards peasants. Former strongmen within the land owning community were losing political power, so he began to side with the peasants more and more. He also tried to further centralize the government's power by removing regional caciques, allowing him to push reforms easier. To fill the political vacuum, Cárdenas helped the formation of PNR sponsored peasant leagues, empowering both peasants and the government. Other reforms included nationalization of key industries such as petroleum, land, and the railroads. To appease workers, Cárdenas furthered provisions to end debt peonage and company stores, which were largely eliminated under his rule, except in the most backwater areas of Mexico. To prevent conservative factions in the military from plotting and to put idle soldiers to work, Cárdenas mobilized the military to build public works projects. That same year another Cristero revolt occurred. This was partially caused by Cárdenas' mandate for secular education early in his presidency in 1934. The revolt was quickly put down due to lack of official support from the Catholic Church, who told rebels to surrender themselves to the government.[154]

The next year, 1936, to further stabilize his rule, Cárdenas further armed the peasants and workers and begins to organize them into formal militias. This proved to be useful later in his presidency as the militias came to his aid in the final military coup in revolutionary Mexico in 1938. Seeing no opposition from the bourgeoisie, generals, or conservative landlords, in 1936 Cárdenas began building collective farms called ejidos to help the peasantry, mostly in southern Mexico. These appeased the peasants, creating long-lasting stability; however, they were not very good at feeding large populations, causing an urban food crisis. To alleviate this, Cárdenas co-opted the support of capitalists to build large commercial farms to feed the urban population. This put the final nail in the coffin of the feudal hacienda system, making Mexico a mixed economy, combining agrarian socialism and industrial capitalism by 1940. Cárdenas left office in 1940, marking the end of the social revolution and ushering in half a century of relative stability.[155]

Cultural aspects of the Mexican Revolution

There was considerable cultural production during the Revolution itself, including printmaking, music and photography, while in the postrevolutionary era, revolutionary themes in painting and literature shaped historical memory and understanding of the Revolution.


José Clemente Orozco, The Trench, mural in the San Ildefonso College, Mexico City

The government of Alvaro Obregón (1920-24) and his Minister of Education, José Vasconcelos commissioned artists to decorate government buildings of the colonial era with murals depicting Mexico's history. Many of these focused on aspects of the Revolution. The "Big Three" of Mexican muralism, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros produced narratives of the Revolution, shaping historical memory and interpretation.[156][157]

Prints and cartoons

José Guadalupe Posada. The Calavera Maderista

During the late Porfiriato, political cartooning and print making developed as popular forms of art. The most well known print maker of that period is José Guadalupe Posada, whose satirical prints, particularly featuring skeletons, circulated widely.[158] Posada died in early 1913, so his caricatures are only of the early revolution. One published in El Vale Panchito entitled "oratory and music" shows Madero atop a pile of papers and the Plan of San Luis Potosí, haranguing a dark-skinned Mexican whose large sombrero has the label pueblo (people). Madero is in a dapper suit. The caption reads "offerings to the people to rise to the presidency."[159] Political cartoons by Mexicans as well as Americans caricatured the situation in Mexico for a mass readership.[160] Political broadsides including songs of the revolutionary period were also a popular form of visual art. After 1920, Mexican muralism and printmaking were two major forms of revolutionary art. Prints were easily reproducible and circulated widely, while murals commissioned by the Mexican government necessitated a journey to view them. Printmaking "emerged as a favored medium, alongside government sponsored mural painting among artists ready to do battle for a new aesthetic as well as a new political order."[161] Diego Rivera , better known for his painting than printmaking, reproduced his depiction of Zapata in the murals in the Cortés Palace in Cuernavaca in a 1932 print.[162]

Photography and motion pictures

Child soldier[163]
Iconic image of Villa in Ojinaga, a publicity still taken by Mutual Film Corporation photographer John Davidson Wheelan in January 1914[164]

The Mexican Revolution was extensively photographed as well as filmed, so that there is a large, contemporaneous visual record. "The Mexican Revolution and photography were intertwined."[165] There was a large foreign viewership for still and moving images of the Revolution. The photographic record is by no means complete since much of the violence took place in relatively remote places, but it was a media event covered by photographers, photojournalists, and professional cinematographers. Those behind the lens were hampered by the large, heavy cameras that impeded capturing action images, but no longer was written text enough, with photographs illustrating and verifying the written word.

The Revolution "depended heavily, from its inception, on visual representations and, in particular, on photographs."[166] The large number of Mexican and foreign photographers followed the action and stoked public interest in it. Among the foreign photographers were Jimmy Hare, Otis A. Aultman, Homer Scott, and Walter Horne. Images appeared in newspapers and magazines, as well as postcards.[167] Horne was associated with the Mexican War Postcard Company.[168]

Most prominent of the documentary film makers were Salvador Toscano and , and some 80 cameramen from the U.S. filmed as freelancers or employed by film companies. The footage has been edited and reconstructed into documentary films, Memories of a Mexican (Carmen Toscano de Moreno 1950) and Epics of the Mexican Revolution (Gustavo Carrera).[169] Principal leaders of the Revolution were well aware of the propaganda element of documentary film making, and Pancho Villa contracted with an American film company to record for viewers in the U.S. his leadership on the battlefield. The film has been lost, but the story of the film making was interpreted in the HBO scripted film And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself. [170] The largest collection of still photographs of the Revolution is the Casasola Archive, named for photographer Agustín Casasola (1874-1938), with nearly 500,000 images held by the Fototeca Nacional in Pachuca.


Corrido sheet music celebrating the entry of Francisco I. Madero into Mexico City in 1911.

A number of traditional Mexican songs or corridos were written at the time and memorialize aspects of the Mexican Revolution. [171][172] The term for soldaderas, known as Adelitas is from a corrido of the same name. The song, La Cucaracha, with numerous verses, was also popular at the time of the Revolution and subsequently. Published corridos often had images of particular revolutionary heroes along with the verses. One that remains popular today is La Cucaracha.


There were few novels of the Mexican Revolution written at the time, most notably Mariano Azuela's Los de Abajo (translated as The Underdogs) is a notable one, originally published in serial form in newspapers. Literature is a lens through which to see the Revolution.[173] Nellie Campobello is one of the few women writers of the Revolution, publishing Cartucho (1931). It is an account of the Revolution in northern Mexico, emphasizing the role of Villistas, when official discourse was erasing Villa's memory and emphasizing nationalist and centralized ideas of the Revolution.[174] Martín Luis Guzmán's El águila y el serpiente (1928) and La sombra del caudillo(1929) drew on his experiences in the Constitutionalist Army.[175][176] In the fiction of Carlos Fuentes, particularly The Death of Artemio Cruz, the Revolution and its perceived betrayal, is a key factor in driving the narrative.

Historical Memory

Centennial and Bicentennial celebrations, Official logo.
The Monument to the Revolution in Mexico City. It was to be the new legislative palace of the Díaz regime, but construction was interrupted by the Revolution

The centennial of the Mexican Revolution was another occasion to construct of historical of the events and leaders. In 2010, the Centennial of the Revolution and the Bicentennial of Independence was an occasion to take account of Mexico's history. The centennial of independence in 1910 had been the swan song of the Porfiriato. With President Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) of the conservative National Action Party, there was considerable emphasis on the bicentennial of independence rather than on the Mexican Revolution.

Metro Zapata in Mexico City, the icon shows a stylized, eyeless Zapata
Equestrian bronze of Villa in Chihuahua, Chihuahua

The most permanent manifestations of historical are in the built landscape, especially the Monument to the Revolution in Mexico City and statues and monuments to particular leaders. The Monument to the Revolution was created from the partially built Palacio Legislativo, a major project of Díaz's government. The construction was abandoned with the outbreak of the Revolution in 1910. In 1933 during the Maximato of Plutarco Elías Calles the shell was re-purposed to commemorate the Revolution. Buried in the four pillars are the remains of Francisco I. Madero, Venustiano Carranza, Plutarco Elías Calles, Lázaro Cárdenas, and Francisco [Pancho] Villa.[177] In life, Villa fought Carranza and Calles, but his remains were transferred to the monument in 1979 during the administration of President José López Portillo.[178] Prior to the construction of that monument, one was built in 1935 to the amputated arm of General Álvaro Obregón, lost in victorious battle against Villa in the 1915 Battle of Celaya. The monument is on the site of the restaurant La Bombilla, where he was assassinated in 1928. The arm was cremated in 1989, but the monument remains.[179][180]

Emiliano Zapata is buried in Cuautla, Morelos, near where he was assassinated in 1919. Since 1920 yearly ceremonies commemorate his assassination at his grave. In 1923, as president of Mexico, Álvaro Obregón sent an envoy to the ceremony in Cuautla and paid the expenses of other officials from the capital to attend.[181]

Names of towns and neighborhoods of major cities. Mexican banknotes also commemorate Mexican revolutionaries, most prominently Plutarco Elías Calles, revolutionary general, president of Mexico, and founder of the political party that has dominated Mexico almost continuously from 1919. Lázaro Cárdenas, revolutionary general and president of Mexico, who is often credited with revitalizing the Revolution, is commemorated on a banknote. In 1996, low denomination Mexican peso notes were printed with the image of peasant revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. The banknotes were withdrawn in 1997.[182] The obverse of the withdrawn banknote depicted the Zapata statue erected in Cuautla in 1932 by Oliverio Martínez showing Zapata in full charro attire seated on a fine horse, placing his hand on the shoulder of a peasant with a machete.[183]

The Mexico City Metro has stations commemorating aspects of the Revolution and the revolutionary era. When it opened in 1969, with line 1 (the "Pink Line"), two stations alluded to the Revolution. Most directly referencing the Revolution was Metro Pino Suárez, named after Francisco I. Madero's vice president, who was murdered with him in February 1913. The other was Metro Balderas, whose icon is a cannon, alluding to the Ciudadela armory where the coup against Madero was launched. In 1970, Metro Revolución opened, with the station at the Monument to the Revolution. As the Metro expanded, further stations with names from the revolutionary era opened. In 1980, two popular heroes of the Revolution were honored, with Metro Zapata explicitly commemorating the peasant revolutionary from Morelos. A sideways commemoration was Metro División del Norte, named after the Army that Pancho Villa commanded until its demise in the Battle of Celaya in 1915. The year 1997 saw the opening of the Metro Lázaro Cárdenas station. In 1988, Metro Aquiles Serdán honors the first martyr of the Revolution Aquiles Serdán. In 1994, Metro Constitución de 1917 opened, as did Metro Garibaldi, named after the grandson of Italian fighter for independence, Giuseppi Garibaldi. The grandson had been a participant in the Mexican Revolution. In 1999, the radical anarchist Ricardo Flores Magón was honored with the Metro Ricardo Flores Magón station. Also opening in 1999 was Metro Romero Rubio, named after the leader of Porfirio Díaz's Científicos, whose daughter Carmen Romero Rubio became Díaz's second wife.[184] In 2012, a new Metro line opened with a Metro Hospital 20 de Noviembre stop, a hospital named after the date that Francisco I. Madero in his 1910 Plan de San Luis Potosí, called for rebellion against Díaz. There is no Metro stop named for Madero, or for Carranza, Obregón, or Calles, and only an oblique reference to Villa in Metro División del Norte.

In Mexico City, there are delegaciones (boroughs) named for Alvaro Obregón, Venustiano Carranza, and Gustavo A. Madero, brother of murdered president Francisco I. Madero. There is a portion of the old colonial street Calle de los Plateros leading to the main square zócalo of the capital named Francisco I. Madero.

The popular heroes of the Mexican Revolution are the two radicals who lost: Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa.[19] Dynamic equestrian statues of popular revolutionaries Zapata and Villa were erected in their respective strongholds. Zapata's name was appropriated by the rebels of Chiapas, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) while those who took and held power have a far more muted historical remembrance. Venustiano Carranza led the victorious Constitutionalist faction, but his attempt to impose a civilian presidential successor unacceptable to northern revolutionary generals prompted Carranza's flight from Mexico City in 1920 and then murder. Carranza is now buried in the Monument to the Revolution and there is a museum in his honor. In that museum, "are the bullets taken from the body of Francisco I. Madero after his murder. Carranza had kept them in his home, perhaps because they were a symbol of a fate and a passive denouement he had always hoped to avoid."[185]

The role of women in the Mexican Revolution has been an important aspect of historical memory. In the Historical Museum of the Mexican Revolution, there is a recreation of Adelita, the idealized female revolutionary combatant or soldadera. The typical image of a soldadera is of a woman with braids, wearing female attire, with ammunition belts across her chest. There were a few revolutionary women, known as coronelas who commanded troops, some of whom dressed and identified as male, who do not fit the image stereotypical soldadera and are not celebrated in historical memory at present.[186]


Strong central government

Remains of the first revolutionaries who rose in arms, located in the old cemetery Gómez Palacio, Durango

Although the ignominious end of Venustiano Carranza's presidency in 1920 cast a shadow over his legacy in the Revolution, sometimes viewed as a conservative revolutionary, he and his northern allies laid "the foundation of a more ambitious, centralizing state dedicated to national integration and national self-assertion."[120] In the assessment of historian Alan Knight, "a victory of Villa and Zapata would probably have resulted in a weak, fragmented state, a collage of revolutionary fiefs of varied political hues presided over by a feeble central government."[120] Porfirio Díaz had successfully centralized power during his long presidency. Carranza was an old politico of the Díaz regime, considered a kind of bridge between the old Porfirian order and the new revolutionary.[187] The northern generals seized power in 1920, with the "Sonoran hegemony prov[ing] complete and long lasting."[188] The Sonorans, particularly Alvaro Obregón, were battle-tested leaders and pragmatic politicians able to consolidate centralized power immediately after the military phase ended. The revolutionary struggle created a new regime that comprised the regional faction of northwest Mexico, willing to make deals with other regions and factions. In the assessment of historian John Womack, "The new state itself would therefore serve as the nation's bourgeois party. Its function forecast its programme, a long series of reforms from above... [from] threats to Mexican sovereignty and capitalism from abroad and from below."[189] The Constitution of 1917 gave the government tremendous power to address issues that brought many into revolutionary struggle. Of key importance is Plutarco Elías Calles's creation of the political party in 1929, which became the means to manage competing groups' demands and to centralize power in the hands of the "Revolutionary family." It is "impossible to separate ... the creation of the National Revolutionary Party (PNR) from the formation of a powerful state."[190]

Constitution of 1917

Metro Constitución de 1917

An important element the Revolution's legacy is the 1917 Constitution. It was pushed forward by populist generals within Carranza's government to undermine the popular support that Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata held.[19] It was not written by liberal elites or the military itself, but rather young radicalized professionals, giving the document some authenticity for the peasantry. The document brought numerous reforms demanded by populist factions of the revolution, with article 27 empowering the state to expropriate resources deemed vital to the nation. These included expropriation of hacienda lands and redistribution to peasants. Article 27 also empowered the government to expropriate holdings of foreign companies, most prominently seen in the 1938 expropriation of oil. In Article 123 the constitution codified major labor reforms, including an 8-hour work day, a right to strike, equal pay laws for women, and an end to exploitative practices such as child labor and company stores. The constitution strengthened restrictions on the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico. However, in the early 1990s, the government introduced reforms to the constitution that rolled back the government's power to expropriate property and its restrictions on religious institutions.[191] Just as the government of Carlos Salinas de Gortari was amending significant provisions of the constitution, Metro Constitución de 1917 station was opened.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party

The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is one of the major lasting legacies of the Mexican Revolution; its first iteration was the Partido Nacional Revolucionario founded in 1929 under Northern revolutionary general and president of Mexico (1924–1928) Plutarco Elías Calles, following the assassination of president-elect (and former president) Álvaro Obregón in 1928. The establishment of the party created an enduring structure that managed not only presidential succession but also groups with competing interests. Initially, Calles remained the power behind the presidency during a period known as the Maximato, but his hand-picked presidential candidate, Lázaro Cárdenas, won a power struggle with Calles, expelling him from the country. Cárdenas reorganized the party that Calles founded, creating formal sectors for interest groups, including one for the Mexican military. The reorganized party was named Party of the Mexican Revolution. In 1946, the party again changed its name to the Institutional Revolutionary Party. The party under its various names held the presidency uninterruptedly from 1929 to 2000, and again from 2012 to 2018 under President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Logo of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which incorporates the colors of the Mexican flag

The PRI was built as a big tent corporatist party, to bring many political factions and interest groups (peasantry, labor, urban professionals) together, while excluding conservatives and Catholics, who eventually formed the opposition National Action Party in 1939.

To funnel the populace into the party, Calles and his supporters built various delegations composed of popular, agrarian, labor, and military groupings (the military was dropped from the party when it reorganized as the PRI in 1946), which channeled both political patronage and limited political options of those sectors. This structure strengthened the power of the PRI and the government. Union and peasant leaders themselves gained power of patronage, and the discontent of the membership was channeled through them. If organizational leaders could not resolve a situation or gain benefits for their members, it was they who were blamed for being ineffective brokers. There was the appearance of union and peasant leagues' power, but the effective power was in the hands of the PRI. Under PRI leadership before the 2000 elections which saw the conservative National Action Party elected most power came from a Central Executive Committee, which budgeted all government projects. This in effect turned the legislature into a rubber stamp for the PRI's leadership.

The Party's name expresses the Mexican state's incorporation of the idea of revolution, and especially a continuous, nationalist, anti-imperialist, Mexican revolution, into political discourse, and its legitimization as a popular, revolutionary party.[18] The Revolution was a powerful memory and its slogans and promises were utilized to bolster the party's power. Latterly, some historians have written of the "myth" of the revolution, namely the memory of the revolution was exploited by the party to legitimatize its rule with one historian Macario Schettino writing: "the twentieth century is for Mexico, the century of the Mexican revolution. But this is a concept, not a fact. The Revolution which marks the twentieth century...never happened. The Mexican Revolution, on which was founded the political regime which ruled from 1928 and for nearly seventy years is a cultural construction".[192] In 1975, the political scientist Rafael Segovia wrote that "the mythification of the Mexican Revolution is an omnipresent and indisputable fact" of Mexican life with the memory of the revolution becoming in the words of the British historian Alan Knight a sort of "secular religion" that justified the Party's rule.[193] In particular, the memory of the revolution was used as justification for the party's policies with regard to economic nationalism, educational policies, labour policies, indigenismo and land reform.[194]

Logo for the Authentic Party of the Mexican Revolution (PARM), with the stylized Monument to the Revolution

The Party has been very authoritarian and hierarchical, leaving little room for opposition. However, it was not interested in oppression for its own sake. Its main goal was to keep order, preferring pragmatism over ideology. Throughout its rule in post-revolutionary Mexico, it avoided empowering one faction too much, preferring to build its own ruling caste rather than side with another. It tended to play off both sides of the political spectrum, both the populists and the emerging middle class.

The tradition of strong-man rule was not completely thrown away, presidentialism (presidencialismo), the political arrangement of a powerful executive branch centered in the presidency, became the favored style of post-revolutionary politics.[195]

In 1988, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, son of president Lázaro Cárdenas, broke with the PRI, forming an independent leftist party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD. It is not by chance that the party used the word "Revolution" in its name, challenging the Institutional Revolutionary Party's appropriation of the Mexican Revolution. Earlier, there was a leftist party the Authentic Party of the Mexican Revolution, which never functioned as a full political party fielding presidential candidates, but asserted its legitimacy as the party of Revolution in Mexico until its demise.

In this the Mexican Revolution was not revolutionary, only making the mechanisms of power less autocratic and more efficient in the attainment of its interests. Octavio Paz wrote that the revolution strengthened the Mexican state more than ever, making Mexico a very state-centered and patrimonialist society.[citation needed] In such a development they betrayed their acknowledged liberal predecessors of the Restored Republic of 1867–1876 which saw the most significant break from authoritarian politics in Mexico's history.[196]

A more modern legacy is that of another insurgency from the 1990s, taking its name from Emiliano Zapata, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejécito Zapatista de Liberación Nacional). The neo-Zapatista revolt began in Chiapas, which was very reliant and supportive of the revolutionary reforms, especially the ejido system, which it had pioneered before Cárdenas took power. Most revolutionary gains were reversed in the early 1990s by President Salinas, who began moving away from the agrarian socialist policies of the late post revolution period in favor of modern capitalism. This culminated in the removal of the ejido system in Chiapas. The destruction of what little the poor starving peasants had caused them to revolt. Calling to Mexico's revolutionary heritage, the EZLN draws heavily from early revolutionary rhetoric. It is inspired by many of Zapata's policies, including a call for decentralized local rule.

Social changes

Logo for the leftist Party of Democratic Revolution
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a first lefist president of the contemporary History of Mexico, he founding the National Regeneration Movement, one party aligned with Cuba's revolutionary wave in the region: Foro de São Paulo.

The Mexican Revolution brought about various social changes. First, the leaders of the Porfiriato lost their political power (but kept their economic power), and the middle class started to enter the public administration. "At this moment the bureaucrat, the government officer, the leader were born […]".[197] The army opened the sociopolitical system and the leaders in the Constitutionalist faction, particularly Alvaro Obregón and Plutarco Elías Calles, controlled the central government for more than a decade after the military phase ended in 1920. The creation of the PNR in 1929 brought generals into the political system, but as an institution, the army's power as an interventionist force was tamed, most directly under Lázaro Cárdenas, who in 1936 incorporated the army as a sector in the new iteration of the party, the Revolutionary Party of Mexico (PRM). The old federal army had been destroyed during the revolution, and the new collection of revolutionary fighters were brought under state control.[198]

On the other hand, although the proportion between rural and urban population, and the number of workers and the middle class remained practically the same, the Mexican Revolution brought substantial qualitative changes to the cities. Big rural landlords moved to the city escaping from chaos in the rural areas. Some poor farmers also migrated to the cities and they settled on neighborhoods where the Porfiriato elite used to live. The standard of living in the cities grew: it went from contributing to 42% of the national GDP to 60% by 1940. However, social inequality remained.[199]

The greatest change occurred among the rural population. The agrarian reform allowed some revolutionary fighters to have access to land, (ejidos), that remained under control of the government. However, the structure of land ownership for ejidetarios did not promote rural development and impoverished even more the rural population.[200][201] "From 1934 to 1940 wages fell 25% on rural areas, while for city workers wages increased by 20%".[202] "There was a lack of food, there was not much to sell and even less to buy. […] the habit of sleeping in the floor remains, […] diet is limited to beans, tortilla, and chili pepper; clothing is poor".[203] Peasants temporarily migrated to other regions to work in the production of certain crops where they were frequently exploited, abused, and suffered from various diseases. Others decided to migrate to the United States.[204]

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  200. ^ Appendini, Kirsten. "Ejido" in The Encyclopedia of Mexico. p. 450. Chicago: Fitzroy and Dearborn 1997.
  201. ^ Meyer, Jean (2004). La Revolucion mexicana. Mexico: Tusquets. p. 299. ISBN 978-607-421-141-2.
  202. ^ Meyer, Jean (2004). La Revolucion mexicana. Mexico: Tusquets. p. 303. ISBN 978-607-421-141-2.
  203. ^ Meyer, Jean (2004). La Revolucion mexicana. Mexico: Tusquets. p. 205. ISBN 978-607-421-141-2.
  204. ^ Meyer, Jean (2004). La Revolucion mexicana. Mexico: Tusquets. p. 304. ISBN 978-607-421-141-2.
Many portions of this article are translations of excerpts from the article Revolución Mexicana in the Spanish Wikipedia.

Further reading

Mexican Revolution – general histories

  • Brenner, Anita. The Wind that Swept Mexico. New Edition. Austin: University of Texas Press 1984.
  • Brewster, Keith. "Mexican Revolution: October 1910 – February 1913" in Encyclopedia of Mexico, vol. 2, pp. 850–855. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn 1997.
  • Crossen, John F. "Mexican Revolution: October 1915 – May 1917" in Encyclopedia of Mexico, vol. 2, pp. 859–862. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn 1997.
  • Cumberland, Charles C. Mexican Revolution: Genesis under Madero. Austin: University of Texas Press 1952.
  • Cumberland, Charles C. Mexican Revolution: The Constitutionalist Years. Austin: University of Texas Press 1972.
  • Gilly, A. The Mexican Revolution. London 1983.
  • Gonzales, Michael J. The Mexican Revolution: 1910–1940. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2002.
  • Hart, John Mason. Revolutionary Mexico: The Coming and Process of the Mexican Revolution. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press 1987.
  • Katz, Friedrich. The Secret War in Mexico: Europe, the United States, and the Mexican Revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1981.
  • Knight, Alan. The Mexican Revolution, Volume 1: Porfirians, Liberals, and Peasants (1986); The Mexican Revolution, Volume 2: Counter-revolution and Reconstruction. University of Nebraska Press 1986.
  • Krauze, Enrique. Mexico: Biography of Power. New York: HarperCollins 1997.
  • Matute, Alvaro. "Mexican Revolution: May 1917 – December 1920" in Encyclopedia of Mexico, vol. 2, pp. 862–864. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn 1997.
  • Niemeyer, Victor E. Revolution at Querétaro: The Mexican Constitutional Convention of 1916–1917. Austin: University of Texas Press 1974.
  • Quirk, Robert E. The Mexican Revolution, 1914–1915: The Convention of Aguascalientes. New York: The Citadel Press 1981.
  • Quirk, Robert E. The Mexican Revolution and the Catholic Church 1910–1919. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1973
  • Ruiz, Ramón Eduardo. The Great Rebellion: Mexico, 1905–1924. New York: Norton 1980.
  • Tuñon Pablos, Esperanza. "Mexican Revolution: February 1913 – October 1915," in Encyclopedia of Mexico, vol. 2, pp. 855–859 . Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn 1997
  • Tutino, John. From Insurrection to Revolution. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1985.
  • Wasserman, Mark. The Mexican Revolution: A Brief History with Documents. (Bedford Cultural Editions Series) First Edition, 2012.
  • Wilkie, James. The Mexican Revolution: Federal Expenditure and Social Change since 1910. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press 1967.
  • Womack, John, Jr. "The Mexican Revolution" in The Cambridge History of Latin America, vol. 5 ed. Leslie Bethell. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1986.

Biography and social history

  • Baldwin, Deborah J. Protestants and the Mexican Revolution: Missionaries, Ministers, and Social Change. Urbana: University of Illinois Press 1990.
  • Beezley, William H. Insurgent Governor: Abraham González and the Mexican Revolution in Chihuahua. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press 1973.
  • Brunk, Samuel. Emiliano Zapata: Revolution and Betrayal in Mexico. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press 1995.
  • Buchenau, Jürgen, Plutarco Elías Calles and the Mexican Revolution. Lanham MD: Rowman and Littlefied 2007.
  • Buchenau, Jürgen. The Last Caudillo: Alvaro Obregón and the Mexican Revolution. Malden MA: Wiley-Blackwell 2011.
  • Caballero, Raymond (2015). Lynching Pascual Orozco, Mexican Revolutionary Hero and Paradox. Create Space. ISBN 978-1514382509.
  • Cockcroft, James D. Intellectual Precursors of the Mexican Revolution. Austin: University of Texas Press 1968.
  • Fisher, Lillian Estelle. "The Influence of the Present Mexican Revolution upon the Status of Mexican Women," Hispanic American Historical Review, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Feb. 1942), pp. 211–228.
  • Garner, Paul. Porfirio Díaz. New York: Pearson 2001.
  • Guzmán, Martín Luis. Memoirs of Pancho Villa. Translated by Virginia H. Taylor. Austin: University of Texas Press 1966.
  • Hall, Linda. Alvaro Obregón, Power, and Revolution in Mexico, 1911–1920. College Station: Texas A&M Press 1981.
  • Henderson, Peter V.N. In the Absence of Don Porfirio: Francisco León de la Barra and the Mexican Revolution. Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources 2000
  • Katz, Friedrich. The Life and Times of Pancho Villa. Stanford: Stanford University Press 1998.
  • Lomnitz, Claudio. The Return of Comrade Ricardo Flores Magón. Brooklyn NY: Zone Books 2014.
  • Lucas, Jeffrey Kent. The Rightward Drift of Mexico's Former Revolutionaries: The Case of Antonio Díaz Soto y Gama. Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2010.
  • Macias, Anna. "Women and the Mexican Revolution, 1910–1920." The Americas, 37:1 (Jul. 1980), 53–82.
  • Meyer, Michael. Huerta: A Political Portrait. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press 1972.
  • Meyer, Michael. Mexican Rebel: Pascual Orozco and the Mexican Revolution, 1910–1915. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press 1967.
  • Poniatowska, Elena. Las Soldaderas: Women of the Mexican Revolution. Texas: Cinco Puntos Press; First Edition, November 2006
  • Reséndez, Andrés. "Battleground Women: Soldaderas and Female Soldiers in the Mexican Revolution." The Americas 51, 4 (April 1995).
  • Ross, Stanley R. Francisco I. Madero: Apostle of Democracy. New York: Columbia University Press 1955.
  • Richmond, Douglas W. Venustiano Carranza's Nationalist Struggle: 1893–1920. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press 1983.
  • Shadle, Stanley F. Andrés Molina Enríquez: Mexican Land Reformer of the Revolutionary Era. Tucson: University of Arizona Press 1994.
  • Smith, Stephanie J. Gender and the Mexican Revolution: Yucatán Women and the Realities of Patriarchy. North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 2009
  • Womack, John, Jr. Zapata and the Mexican Revolution. New York: Vintage Press 1970.

Regional histories

  • Benjamin, Thomas and Mark Wasserman, eds. Provinces of the Revolution. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press 1990.
  • Blaisdell, Lowell. The Desert Revolution, Baja California 1911. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press 1962.
  • Brading, D.A., ed. Caudillo and Peasant in the Mexican Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1980.
  • Joseph, Gilbert. Revolution from Without: Yucatán, Mexico, and the United States, 1880–1924. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1982.
  • Harris, Charles H. III. The Secret War in El Paso: Mexican Revolutionary Intrigue, 1906–1920. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press 2009.
  • Jacobs, Ian. Ranchero Revolt: The Mexican Revolution in Guerrero. Austin: University of Texas Press 1983.
  • LaFrance, David G. The Mexican Revolution in Puebla, 1908–1913: The Maderista Movement and Failure of Liberal Reform. Wilmington, DL: Scholarly Resources 1989.
  • Snodgrass, Michael. Deference and Defiance in Monterrey: Workers, Paternalism, and Revolution in Mexico, 1890–1950. Cambridge University Press. 2003.
  • Wasserman, Robert. Capitalists, Caciques, and Revolution: The Native Elites and Foreign Enterprise in Chihuahua, Mexico, 1854–1911. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press 1984.

International dimensions

  • Buchenau, Jürgen, "Mexican Revolution: Foreign Intervention" in Encyclopedia of Mexico, vol. 2, pp. 865–869. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn 1997.
  • Clendenin, Clarence C. The United States and Pancho Villa: A study in unconventional diplomacy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press 1981.
  • Cline, Howard F. The United States and Mexico. 2nd edition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press 1961.
  • Gilderhus, M.T. Diplomacy and Revolution: U.S.-Mexican Relations under Wilson and Carranza. Tucson: University of Arizona Press 1977.
  • Grieb, K.J. The United States and Huerta. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press 1969.
  • Haley, P. E. Revolution and Intervention: The diplomacy of Taft and Wilson with Mexico, 1910–1917. Cambridge, 1970.
  • Hart, John Mason. Empire and Revolution: The Americans in Mexico since the Civil War. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press 2002.
  • Katz, Friedrich. The Secret War in Mexico: Europe, the United States, and the Mexican Revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1981.
  • Meyer, Lorenzo. The Mexican Revolution and the Anglo-Saxon Powers. LaJolla: Center for U.S.-Mexico Studies. University of California San Diego, 1985.
  • Quirk, Robert E. An Affair of Honor: Woodrow Wilson and the Occupation of Veracruz. Louisville: University of Kentucky Press 1962.
  • Stefan Rinke, Michael Wildt (eds.): Revolutions and Counter-Revolutions. 1917 and its Aftermath from a Global Perspective. Campus 2017.
  • Smith, Robert Freeman. The United States and Revolutionary Nationalism in Mexico 1916–1932. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972.
  • Teitelbaum, Louis M. Woodrow Wilson and the Mexican Revolution. New York: Exposition Press 1967.

Memory and cultural dimensions

  • Benjamin, Thomas. La Revolución: Mexico's Great Revolution as Memory, Myth, and History. Austin: University of Texas Press 2000.
  • Brunk, Samuel. The Posthumous Career of Emiliano Zapata: Myth, Memory, and Mexico's Twentieth Century. Austin: University of Texas Press 2008.
  • Buchenau, Jürgen. "The Arm and Body of a Revolution: Remembering Mexico's Last Caudillo, Álvaro Obregón" in Lyman L. Johnson, ed. Body Politics: Death, Dismemberment, and Memory in Latin America. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press 2004, pp. 179–207
  • Foster, David, W., ed. Mexican Literature: A History. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994.
  • Hoy, Terry. "Octavio Paz: The Search for Mexican Identity." The Review of Politics 44:3 (July 1982), 370–385.
  • Gonzales, Michael J. "Imagining Mexico in 1921: Visions of the Revolutionary State and Society in the Centennial Celebration in Mexico City," Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos vol. 25. No 2, Summer 2009, pp. 247–270.
  • Herrera Sobek, María, The Mexican Corrido: A Feminist Analysis. Bloomington: Indiana University Press 1990.
  • Oles, James, ed. South of the Border, Mexico in the American Imagination, 1914–1947. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery 1993.
  • O'Malley, Ilene V. 1986. The Myth of the Revolution: Hero Cults and the Institutionalization of the Mexican State, 1920–1940. Westport: Greenwood Press
  • Ross, Stanley, ed. Is the Mexican Revolution Dead?. Philadelphia: Temple University Press 1975.
  • Rutherford, John D. Mexican society during the Revolution: a literary approach. Oxford: Oxford University Pres 1971.
  • Simmons, Merle. The Mexican corrido as a source of interpretive study of modern Mexico, 1900–1970. Bloomington: Indiana University Press 1957.
  • Vaughn, Mary K. Negotiating Revolutionary Culture: Mexico, 1930–1940. Tucson: University of Arizona Press 1997.
  • Weinstock, Herbert. "Carlos Chavez." The Musical Quarterly 22:4 (Oct. 1936), 435–445.

Visual culture: prints, painting, film, photography

  • Barajas, Rafael. Myth and Mitote: The Political Caricature of José Guadalupe Posada and Manuel Alfonso Manila. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica 2009
  • Britton, John A. Revolution and Ideology Images of the Mexican Revolution in the United States. Louisville: The University Press of Kentucky, 1995.
  • Coffey, Mary. How a Revolutionary Art Became Official Culture: Murals, Museums, and the Mexican State. Durham: Duke University Press 2012.
  • Doremus, Anne T. Culture, Politics, and National Identity in Mexican Literature and Film, 1929–1952. New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc., 2001.
  • Elliott, Ingrid. "Visual Arts: 1910–37, The Revolutionary Tradition." Encyclopedia of Mexico. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn 1997, pp. 1576–1584.
  • Flores, Tatiana. Mexico's Revolutionary Avant-Gardes: From Estridentismo to ¡30–30!. New Haven: Yale University Press 2013.
  • Folgarait, Leonard. Mural Painting and Social Revolution in Mexico, 1920–1940. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1998.
  • Ittman, John, ed. Mexico and Modern Printmaking, A Revolution in the Graphic Arts, 1920 to 1950. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art 2006.
  • McCard, Victoria L. Soldaderas of the Mexican revolution (The Evolution of War and Its Representation in Literature and Film), an article from West Virginia University Philological Papers 51 (2006), pgs. 43–51.
  • Mora, Carl J., Mexican Cinema: Reflections of a Society 1896–2004. Berkeley: University of California Press, 3rd edition, 2005
  • Myers, Bernard S. Mexican Painting in Our Time. New York: Oxford University Press, 1956.
  • Mraz, John. Photographing the Mexican Revolution: Commitments, Testimonies, Icons. Austin: University of Texas Press 2012.
  • Noble, Andrea, Photography and Memory in Mexico: Icons of Revolution. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010.
  • Noble, Andrea, Mexican National Cinema, London: Routledge, 2005.
  • Orellana, Margarita de, Filming Pancho Villa: How Hollywood Shaped the Mexican Revolution: North American Cinema and Mexico, 1911–1917. New York: Verso, 2007.
  • Ortiz Monasterio, Pablo. Mexico: The Revolution and Beyond: Photographs by Agustín Victor Casasola, 1900–1940. New York: Aperture 2003.
  • Paranagua, Paula Antonio. Mexican Cinema. London: British Film Institute, 1995.
  • Pick, Zuzana M. Constructing the Image of the Mexican Revolution: Cinema and the Archive. Austin: University of Texas Press 2010.
  • ¡Tierra y Libertad! Photographs of Mexico 1900–1935 from the Casasola Archive. Oxford: Museum of Modern Art 1985.ISBN 978-84-934426-51


  • Bailey, D. M. "Revisionism and the recent historiography of the Mexican Revolution." Hispanic American Historical Review 58#1 (1978), 62–79.
  • Brunk, Samuel. The Posthumous Career of Emiliano Zapata. (University of Texas Press 2008)
  • Golland, David Hamilton. "Recent Works on the Mexican Revolution." Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y el Caribe 16.1 (2014). online
  • Knight, Alan. "Mexican Revolution: Interpretations" in Encyclopedia of Mexico, vol. 2, pp. 869–873. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn 1997.
  • Knight, Alan. "The Mexican Revolution: Bourgeois? Nationalist? Or Just a 'Great Rebellion'?" Bulletin of Latin American Research (1985) 4#2 pp. 1–37 in JSTOR
  • Knight, Alan. "Viewpoint: Revisionism and Revolution", Past and Present 134 (1992).
  • McNamara, Patrick J. "Rewriting Zapata: Generational Conflict on the Eve of the Mexican Revolution." Mexican Studies-Estudios Mexicanos 30.1 (2014): 122–149.
  • Tannenbaum, Frank. "Land Reform in Mexico". Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 150, Economics of World Peace (July 1930), 238–247. in JSTOR
  • Van Young, Eric. "Making Leviathan Sneeze: Recent Works on Mexico and the Mexican Revolution," Latin American Research Review (1999) 34#2 pp. 143–165 in JSTOR
  • Wasserman, Mark. "You Can Teach An Old Revolutionary Historiography New Tricks Regions, Popular Movements, Culture, and Gender in Mexico, 1820–1940," Latin American Research Review (2008) 43#2 260–271 in Project MUSE
  • Womack, John Jr. "Mexican Revolution: Bibliographical Essay" in Mexico Since Independence, Leslie Bethell, ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1991, pp. 405–414.

Primary sources

  • Angelini, Erin. "The Bigger Truth About Mexico"
  • Bulnes, Francisco. The Whole Truth About Mexico: The Mexican Revolution and President Wilson's Part Therein, as seen by a Cientifico. New York: M. Bulnes Book Company 1916.
  • O'Shaunessy, Edith. A Diplomat's Wife in Mexico. New York: Harper 1916.
  • Reed, John. Insurgent México. New York: International Publishers, 1969.
  • Turner, John Kenneth. Barbarous Mexico. Austin: University of Texas Press 1984.
  • Wasserman, Mark. The Mexican Revolution: A Brief History with Documents. (Bedford Cultural Editions Series) First Edition, 2012.


External links

19 October 1914

The First Battle of Ypres begins.

On October 19, 1914, near the Belgian city of Ypres, Allied and German forces begin the first of what would be three battles to control the city and its advantageous positions on the north coast of Belgium during the First World War.

After the German advance through Belgium and eastern France was curtailed by a decisive Allied victory in the Battle of the Marne in late September 1914, the so-called “Race to the Sea” began, as each army attempted to outflank the other on their way northwards, hastily constructing trench fortifications as they went. The race ended in mid-October at Ypres, the ancient Flemish city with its fortifications guarding the ports of the English Channel and access to the North Sea beyond.

After the Germans captured the Belgian city of Antwerp early in October, Antwerp’s remaining Belgian forces along with troops of the British Expeditionary Force, commanded by Sir John French, withdrew to Ypres, arriving at the city between October 8 and 19 to reinforce the Belgian and French defenses there. Meanwhile, the Germans prepared to launch the first phase of an offensive aimed at breaking the Allied lines and capturing Ypres and other channel ports, thus controlling the outlets to the North Sea.

On October 19, a protracted period of fierce combat began, as the Germans opened their Flanders offensive and the Allies steadfastly resisted, while seeking their own chances to go on the attack wherever possible. Fighting continued, with heavy losses on both sides, until November 22, when the arrival of winter weather forced the battle to a halt. The area between the positions established by both sides during this period—from Ypres on the British side to Menin and Roulers on the German side—became known as the Ypres Salient, a region that over the course of the next several years would see some of the war’s bitterest and most brutal struggles.

1 September 1914

The last known passenger pigeon, Martha, dies in the Cincinnati Zoo.

Martha  1885 – September 1, 1914 was the last known living passenger pigeon; she was named “Martha” in honor of the first First Lady Martha Washington.

The history of the Cincinnati Zoo‘s passenger pigeons has been described by Arlie William Schorger in his monograph on the species as “hopelessly confused,” and he also said that it is “difficult to find a more garbled history” than that of Martha. The generally accepted version is that, by the turn of the 20th century, the last known group of passenger pigeons was kept by Professor Charles Otis Whitmanat the University of Chicago. Whitman originally acquired his passenger pigeons from David Whittaker of Wisconsin, who sent him six birds, two of which later bred and hatched Martha in about 1885. Martha was named in honor of Martha Washington. Whitman kept these pigeons to study their behavior, along with rock doves and Eurasian collared-doves. Whitman and the Cincinnati Zoo, recognizing the decline of the wild populations, attempted to consistently breed the surviving birds, including attempts at making a rock dove foster passenger pigeon eggs. These attempts were unsuccessful, and Whitman sent Martha to the Cincinnati Zoo in 1902.

However, other sources argue that Martha was instead the descendant of three pairs of passenger pigeons purchased by the Cincinnati Zoo in 1877. Another source claimed that when the Cincinnati Zoo opened in 1875, it already had 22 birds in its collection. These sources claim that Martha was hatched at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1885, and that the passenger pigeons were originally kept not because of the rarity of the species, but to enable guests to have a closer look at a native species.

By November 1907, Martha and her two male companions at the Cincinnati Zoo were the only known surviving passenger pigeons after four captive males in Milwaukee died during the winter. One of the Cincinnati males died in April 1909, followed by the remaining male on July 10, 1910. Martha soon became a celebrity due to her status as an endling, and offers of a $1000 reward for finding a mate for Martha brought even more visitors to see her. Several years before her death Martha suffered an apoplectic stroke, leaving her weakened; the zoo built a lower roost for her as she could no longer reach her old one. Martha died at 1 p.m. on September 1, 1914 of old age. Her body was found lifeless on her cage’s floor. Depending on the source, Martha was between 17–29 years old at the time of her death, although 29 is the generally accepted figure.

After her death, Martha was quickly brought to the Cincinnati Ice Company, where she was held by her feet and frozen into a 300-pound block of ice. She was then sent by express train to the Smithsonian, where she arrived on September 4, 1914, and was photographed. She had been molting when she died, and as such she was missing a few feathers, including some of her longer tail feathers. William Palmer skinned Martha while Nelson R. Wood mounted her skin. Her internal parts were dissected by Robert Wilson Shufeldt and are also preserved and kept by the National Museum of Natural History

From the 1920s through the early 1950s she was displayed in the National Museum of Natural History’s Bird Hall, placed on a small branch fastened to a block of Styrofoam and paired with a male passenger pigeon that had been shot in Minnesota in 1873. She was then displayed as part of the Birds of the World exhibit that ran from 1956 to 1999. During this time she left the Smithsonian twice—in 1966 to be displayed at the Zoological Society of San Diego‘s Golden Jubilee Conservation Conference, and in June 1974 to the Cincinnati Zoo for the dedication of the Passenger Pigeon Memorial. When the Smithsonian shut down its Birds of the World exhibit, Martha was removed from display and kept in a special exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo.Martha was back on display in the Smithsonian from June 2014 to September 2015 for the exhibit Once There Were Billions.


29 July 1914

The Cape Cod Canal opened.

Cape Cod, from its “fist” at Provincetown to its “elbow” off Chatham, presents almost 50 miles of coastline directly exposed to the North Atlantic, without a harbor. It has been said that if the hulls of all the vessels wrecked along the Nauset shore were placed end to end they would form a solid bulwark along the entire coast. Off the south coast Pollock Rip, Great Round Shoals, Cross Rip and Nantucket Shoals converge in the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”.

When the pilgrims arrived at Cape Cod, they soon discovered how to avoid the local hazards. The Scusset River flowed into Massachussetts Bay near the “shoulder” of the Cape, and came within a mile of the Manomet River, which flowed into Buzzards Bay. They established a post to trade with the Dutch in New Amsterdam and with local Wampanoag tribal members, and it didn’t take long for the locals to start planning how to expand this portage into an enduring link across the isthmus.

During the Revolutionary War George Washington, looking for ways to give greater security to the American fleet, commissioned Thomas Machin, an Engineer with the Continental Army, to investigate the feasibility of a canal at the Pilgrim’s crossing. His report, recommending that a Canal be built, survives as the first known Cape Cod Canal survey.

Through the nineteenth century, the passage around Cape Cod continued to be an unavoidable peril for those travelling between New England and the Mid-Atlantic States – up to 500 ships a day took the passage. Numerous surveys for a canal were conducted by various individuals and groups. Some were granted charters and a few actually began construction. But, they either ran out of money or were overwhelmed by the enormity of the project. Meanwhile, the toll of shipwrecks along the outer banks continued to mount. By the late 1880s, shipwrecks occurred at the rate of one every two weeks.

In 1904, August Belmont II became interested in the Canal project. He purchased and reorganized the Boston, Cape Cod and New York Canal Company, which had held a charter since 1899, and enlisted the services of Civil Engineer William Barclay Parsons. On June 22, 1909, he ceremoniously lifted the first shovelful of earth at Bournedale, promising “not to desert the task until the last shovelful has been dug”.

Schooners soon arrived from Maine with granite for construction of a breakwater, which they dropped into place on the east end of the Canal. Two dredges in Buzzards Bay began to work on the westerly approach. By 1910 the Canal project was fully underway; a fleet of twenty-six dredges dug from both bays towards the middle. The Buzzards Bay Railroad Bridge was completed in September of 1910, and the old Bourne and Sagamore highway bridges were completed in 1911 and 1913.

With additional dredging equipment now on site, the Canal project progressed steadily. By April 1914, only one dam separated the waters of Cape Cod Bay from Buzzards Bay. To celebrate the progress, Belmont ceremoniously blended bottles of water from both bays before opening the final sluiceway.

On July 29, 1914, the Cape Cod Canal ceremoniously opened as a privately operated toll waterway. A festive Parade of Ships included the excursion steamer ROSE STANDISH, the destroyer MCDOUGALL carrying Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Belmont’s eighty-one foot yacht, the SCOUT.

Mr. Belmont achieved his objective: The Cape Cod Canal opened seventeen days before the Panama Canal.

18 October 1914

The Schoenstatt Movement is founded in Germany.


The Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt is a Roman Catholic Marian Movement founded in Germany in 1914 by Father Joseph Kentenich. Fr. Kentenich saw the movement as being a means of spiritual renewal in the Catholic Church. The movement is named Schoenstatt (which means “beautiful place”), after a small village close to the town of Vallendar near Koblenz in Germany.

The group focuses on education and spiritual formation. According to their website, “We seek to grow as free, dedicated, and active witnesses of Christ in modern life by uniting our faith with our everyday lives. We look to Mary to educate us in this task and to guide us in becoming better followers of Christ.”

The Schoenstatt Movement was founded at Schoenstatt, a minor seminary conducted by the Pallottines for those intending to work as missionaries in Africa. It grew out of a Marian sodality established there in April 1914. The superior offered the sodality use of St. Michael’s Chapel, near the school. Father Kentenich, the seminary’s spiritual director, inspired in part by the success of Bartolo Longo in establishing the Marian shrine to Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompei, felt called to establish a new shrine at Schoenstatt.

Kentenich’s guidance of the religious brotherhood was influenced by the works of St. Louis Grignion de Montfort.
Schoenstatt officially became a movement with its own structure in 1919. On July 18, 1919 the Pallottines assigned Fr. Kentenich to work full-time with the new movement. The first formal gathering was in Hoerde, August 20, 1920, where the first organizational principles were laid. On December 8, 1920, the first women were accepted into the women’s branch of the “Apostolic Federation of Schoenstatt” including Gertraud von Bullion.

Father Kentenich was arrested and sent to the Dachau Concentration Camp in 1941, where he began to spread the message of the Schoenstatt Movement to fellow prisoners.