The Mexican rebellion, commonly known as the Mexican Revolution, began in 1910 with Mexican revolutionary Francisco Madero's efforts to overthrow dictator General Jose de la Cruz Porfirio Diaz Mori. Diaz had ruled Mexico for nearly 34 years and during that time the U.S. had made significant investments in the country's oil and mining resources as well as its railroad. The American government had a vested interest in who took the reins from Diaz. But American interest became American involvement, a development not entirely welcomed by Mexico.
The Real Mexico
Early 1900s Mexico presented an image to the outside word of a prosperous, peaceful country with an astute leader and a beautiful climate. The reality of Mexico was widespread poverty and illiteracy, government oppression and corruption and deplorable living conditions. A very small percentage of the population controlled most of the land. Rebellion among the lower classes was swiftly quashed.
America Recognizes Madero
Francisco Madero, the son of Mexican aristocrats, believed he was destined to lead Mexico based on the prediction of a Ouija board séance. Madero faulted Diaz for not following the Mexican constitution and challenged Diaz in 1910 but was defeated in a rigged election. Madero fled to the U.S. and published a manifesto encouraging Mexicans to rally against Diaz. Madero made several strong allies, including Doroteo Arango, better known as Pancho Villa. Concerned that a revolution might jeopardize foreign interests, President William Howard Taft assigned 2,000 troops to the Texas border. Madero's allies soon overpowered Diaz's military forces in Mexico and in June, Madero was elected president of Mexico. Taft recognized Madero but remained concerned with Mexico's stability.
The Rise of Huerta
Madero's leadership was short-lived. His ally, Pascual Orozco, staged a counterrevolution in March 1912 with backing from Chihuahua's cattle barons. Madero sent his trusted general, Victoriano Huerta, to crush the counterrevolution. Huerta, however, was planning a coup with support from American Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson, who disliked Madero and favored a return to dictatorship. After subduing Orozco, Huerta pressured Madero to resign and shortly thereafter arranged Madero's murder. Huerta established himself as a military dictator in February 1913.
Intervention and Occupation
President Woodrow Wilson refused to recognize Huerta as Mexico's new leader. Instead, he supported Constitutionalist party leader Venustiano Carranza. When Carranza was denied a fair election, Wilson lifted an arms embargo, intending to supply Carranza's supporters. He also used the accidental arrest of eight U.S. sailors at Mexico's Tampico Harbor to increase U.S. military presence there. Wilson then learned a German ship carrying weapons for Huerta's forces was en route to Veracruz. U.S. marines, intent on seizing the Veracruz warehouse, encountered unexpected Mexican resistance. A four-day conflict ended with U.S. occupation of Veracruz. To Wilson's surprise, Carranza criticized the U.S. occupation and discouraged further U.S. intervention in Mexico's revolution.
In July 1914, Huerta resigned and by the end of the year, Carranza's forces took control of Mexico City. Initially, Wilson had supported Carranza but later threw his support to Carranza's rival, Pancho Villa. Carranza was resolved not to step aside for Villa. With World War I underway, Wilson was anxious to resume good relations with Mexico and in October of 1915 finally gave Carranza's government temporary approval. Furious, Villa attempted to provoke U.S. intervention in Mexico by raiding Columbus, New Mexico and murdering 17 Americans. Troops under General John J. Pershing traversed Mexico in search of Villa without success. U.S. involvement in Mexico's revolutions had come to an end.
- PBS.org: The Storm That Swept Mexico: Henry Lane Wilson
- Mexconnect: The Mexican Revolution: A Nation in Flux: Part : 1910 - 1920
- Encyclopedia of The New American Nation: Wilsonian Missionary Diplomacy: Intervention in Mexico
- Mexconnect: The Mexican Revolultion: A Nation in Flux: Part 2
- HistoryMatters: The United States and The Mexican Revolution: "A Danger For All Latin American Countries": Letters From Venustiano Carranza
- Miller Center: University of Virginia: American President: A Reference Source: William Howard Taft: Foreign Affairs
- David McNew/Getty Images News/Getty Images