In 1910, after almost four decades of authoritarian rule, Mexico found itself in one of the bloodiest conflicts in the country’s history: the Mexican Revolution. The war that ensued engulfed the country in years of turmoil and would dramatically change all aspects of life. And though it was the people that fought and delivered whatever changes were achieved, there were also key figures who shaped the landscape of the revolution. From the early stages of the revolution to the post-revolutionary society that followed the conflict, many important military, political, and social leaders emerged to drive the many factions toward their goals. Some of the largest factions included the maderistas, villistas, zapatistas and constitucionalistas. Other major groups were also in play, such as loyalists to the previous regime and external actors like the United States government.
1. The First Leader of the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero
The Mexican Revolution officially began on the 20th of November, after an attempt for fair and democratic elections had failed just months earlier. The date of the uprising was set by the Plan de San Luis, a revolutionary manifesto published by Francisco I. Madero. Though many didn’t heed the call at first, eventually, most of the country rose against the dictatorial regime.
Madero was a wealthy hacendando, a member of the landowning elite in Mexico. But he was also a staunch democrat who disagreed with Diaz’s regime policy of re-election and authoritative control of the government. He led the maderistas, a faction that believed in the toppling of Diaz, political reform, and broad social justice. Madero’s motto became a rallying call nationwide: sufragio efectivo, no reelección (effective suffrage, no re-election).
Unlike other more radical factions, the maderistas would only support moderate reforms since their main revolutionary aim was to return democracy to Mexico and not the dramatic transformation of the order of things. Such a stance would eventually lead to Madero’s fall when other revolutionaries rebelled against him when he failed to meet their demands as president. Left without real allies, he was betrayed by his own generals in a coup d’état known as la decena trágica.
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Although Madero became the face of the Mexican Revolution at the start of the conflict, he was not the first to oppose the Diaz regime or call for significant changes in the country. Before him came the Flores Magon brothers and their collaborators, a group of anarchists and radical liberals who are attributed with setting the scene for the revolution.
The so-called magonistas believed in self-emancipation and self-governance, stating that power should be abolished, not exercised. Likewise, popular uprisings, protests, and demonstrations preceded the revolution, notably in the mines of Cananea and Rio Blanco. These showings of discontent were quickly put off, but their appearance proves the changing sentiments within most of the population. Madero’s stage of the revolution represents a symbolic starting point for the transformation of the country. The Mexican Revolution rallied behind him, but it would inevitably transcend him.
2. & 3. The Dictator & the Usurper: Porfirio Diaz & Victoriano Huerta
Before Madero came Porfirio Diaz, the dictator that brought about or at least intensified most of the reasons for the eventual Mexican Revolution. The period known as el Porfiriato was an authoritarian and oppressive regime, albeit modernizing and economically successful too. Under Diaz, Mexico achieved industrialization after decades of failed or limited attempts, thrusting the country into a dramatic transformation. New nationwide railroads were built, major monuments were constructed, and the Mexican nation-state was consolidated.
Diaz was also known for his Pax Porfiriana, a decades-long period of peace, possible only with brute force and free use of the army. His rurales, one of the two armed government forces together with the federales, were famously used to suppress any kind of uprising from workers or peasants. The Diaz government also led an open ethnocide against the Yaqui people, as well as their deportation and enslavement in the haciendas of Yucatan.
Whatever progress came with the Diaz regime, it was at the expense of the popular classes, who were exploited and saw no major benefit to their own. The revolution began with the aim of toppling Diaz, but the underlying motivations of justice and fairness drove the conflict into something greater. On the 25th of May, 1911, Diaz resigned and soon left for exile to France.
4. The Usurper of the Mexican Revolution: Victoriano Huerta
After the overthrow of the Madero presidency, one of Diaz’s sympathizers came to power: Victoriano Huerta. Huerta had organized the coup alongside other Diaz loyalists and the United States ambassador, Henry Lane Wilson, in a conspiration later known as el Pacto de la Embajada. Huerta remained in power even after Diaz’s defeat and exile by changing sides once Madero’s victory became inevitable. An influential and commanding general, Madero needed Huerta as an ally within the army, as it was unknown whether the army’s loyalty remained with the previous government. Huerta seized power with the help of the Americans, but he was soon left without their support. He instead attempted to gain support from the British and French, siding with the economic interests of such countries in Mexico. His fall came after the rest of the revolutionaries rebelled against him and toppled him in 1915.
Next to Diaz and Huerta, a few other establishment figures sought to return the order of things in Mexico to one that resembled the status quo before the revolution. For example, Manuel Mondragón, Aureliano Blanquet, and Gregorio Ruiz. Among them stood two others: Bernardo Reyes and Felix Diaz, two loyalists of the Porfiriato, the latter being Porfirio Diaz’s nephew. These men would become active counterrevolutionaries, stirring conflict and opposing every new government throughout most of the revolution.
5. TheRobin Hood of the Mexican Revolution: Francisco Villa
When Madero called for an uprising in 1910, a number of caudillos rose in their regions and joined the revolution. The caudillos were powerful men who held important influence in their respective regions, similar to warlords or strongmen. Two men gained an important following with their uprisings: Francisco Villa and Emiliano Zapata. Both became known for their advocacy for the popular classes.
Francisco Villa rose in the state of Chihuahua, in the north of the country. He was a charismatic bandit who believed in land reform. He originally sided with Madero, but he became disappointed with the president’s inability to deliver change and the demands made by the revolution. Nevertheless, Villa fought on the side of Madero when a fellow caudillo, Pascual Orozco, rebelled against him. Villa fought next to Huerta, but tensions between the two drove Huerta to try to execute Villa. Villa’s life was saved by Madero, but he was imprisoned for his actions. When Huerta overthrew Madero, Villa sided with the constitutionalists and fought against the usurper.
Villa’s volatility often led him to unnecessary conflict. Famously, after Villa’s attack on Columbus, the United States responded with a punitive expedition into Mexico, looking for Villa. Villa was never found, and the expedition was ultimately a failure. In the later stages of the revolution, Villa allied with Zapata against the constitutionalist government. They were both eventually defeated, but Villa was allowed to retire and was given an hacienda in the state of Chihuahua. He was assassinated in 1923, most likely by his political enemies, Alvaro Obregon and Plutarco Elias Calles.
6. “El Caudillo del Sur”: Emiliano Zapata
Emiliano Zapata is quite possibly one of the most recognizable and transcending figures of the revolution. His character continues to be a revolutionary invocation, even giving the name to a more recent uprising with the “Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional” in southern Mexico. Though born into a moderately well-off family from Morelos —nowhere near as privileged as Madero or other of the caudillos— Zapata’s humble upbringing and closeness to other disadvantaged people motivated him towards ideals of change and justice.
Zapata didn’t lead the uprising from Morelos at the start, but he quickly became its leader after gaining the trust of the people. He went on to receive many nicknames: the Southern Caudillo, the Attila of the South, among others. His figure was highly controversial as he was more on the radical side of the revolution, believing in more dramatic changes and policies, unlike more moderate figures like Madero or Carranza.
The Army of the South, commanded by Zapata, was neither crucial nor useless for the success of the revolution in the national stage, but his movement in state of Morelos and the surrounding regions became a clear example of a radical stronghold which was decided in defending their ideals and struggles even if it came to force and opposition to others who were once allies.
7. “El Primer Jefe”: Venustiano Carranza
Once a loyal man to Diaz, Venustiano Carranza went on to disagree and later oppose in arms to the regime, when he lost Diaz’s favor and realized he was better off siding with Madero. And though his motivations for siding with the maderistas were certainly more complex, Carranza was a first a politician and a businessman, not a military man, hence his careful calculations.
The Huerta regime soon became a rallying call for all the revolutionaries, who left no time to mourn the death of Madero, but instead chose to rise in arms against the usurper. Carranza proclaimed the “Plan de Guadalupe,” which denounced Huerta’s authority and rose in open rebellion against his government with Carranza as the First Chief of the new army: the constitutionalists, named after their belief in the restoration of the democratic order of the Constitution of 1857. Most revolutionaries sided with the uprising and together defeated Huerta.
Carranza went on to become president, but he faced opposition first from the convencionistas, the combined factions of the Villistas and Zapatistas who fundamentally disagreed with Carranza’s ideas and rise to power. Then, he faced opposition from within his faction, eventually costing him his life.
8. “El Manco de Celaya”: Álvaro Obregon
Another leader of the constitutionalists was Alvaro Obregon, a politician from the northern state of Sonora. Obregon first became farmer but soon got his start in politics. When the revolution started, he sided with the maderistas and supported Madero all throughout his administration. When Huerta seized power, Obregon joined Carranza in a rebellion against the usurper.
The constitutionalists, together with the Villistas and Zapatistas, were able to defeat the new regime. Nevertheless, the common front that formed in opposition to Huerta soon broke apart, when the Villistas and Zapatistas rebelled against the new government formed by Carranza. Obregon then became the main military leader, after Carranza, in charge of dealing with the newborn faction war. Obregon’s military leadership proved effective, defeating the Villistas after a difficult series of clashes in the Battle of Celaya that would go on to cost Obregon his right arm, thus receiving the nickname, “the One-Armed Man of Celaya.”
With the Villistas defeated and the Zapatistas sent back to their stronghold in Morelos, the constitutionalists consolidated power for their own. But peace was short-lasting. After naming an unknown diplomat as his successor, Carranza angered Obregon who had ambitions of becoming president after him. Thus, the constitutionalists faced their own split, with Obregon and Calles opposing Carranza, who was eventually killed when fleeing to Veracruz from Mexico City. Obregon rose to the presidency and even chose to later run for re-election, which was seen with great judgement. Nevertheless, shortly after winning his second non-consecutive term in 1928, Obregon was assassinated by a Catholic fanatic who opposed the previous government under Calles.
9. “El Jefe Máximo”: Plutarco Elias Calles
There is no official date for the end of the Mexican Revolution, but the presidency of Plutarco Elias Calles can be seen as a symbolic one if nothing else. Calles was one of Obregon’s closest allies throughout the revolution. Though a military man like Obregon, Calles’ true skill came in the shape of his political savviness. Born into a privileged family with an existing proximity to power, Calles learned his way through politics from a very young age. When the revolution broke out, Calles sided with the maderistas and remained loyal to them despite the uprisings against Madero. Once Madero was overthrown, Calles went with the constitutionalists, with which he remained until he and Obregon betrayed Carranza.
In a speech delivered to Congress during his presidency, Calles proclaimed the end of the times of the caudillos and the beginning of the time of institutions. Ironically, Calles became a caudillo of his own, by consolidating power around him and centralizing the Mexican government’s authority in the executive. He is normally held responsible for the outbreak of the Cristero War, a religious rebellion where Catholics opposed the secular Calles’ government which was antagonistic to the Catholic Church.
Calles also founded the National Revolutionary Party (PNR in Spanish), which went on to become the sole governing party in Mexico for over 70 uninterrupted years. Although driven by his political ambitions, Calles never ran for a second term, respecting anti-re-election sentiments and legislation in the country. Instead, Calles became a puppeteer, ruling over the country through submissive and obeying presidents through a period known as “El Maximato,” named after his sobriquet, “El Jefe Máximo de la Revolución.” Calle’s power would ultimately fade when thought-to-be loyalist Lazaro Cardenas was elected as president and drove Calles into exile, fearing he would challenge his authority.
Who were the key figures of the Mexican Revolution? ›
Two great figures, Francisco “Pancho” Villa from the north of Mexico and Emiliano Zapata from the south, led the revolution and remain key cultural and historical symbols in this fight for social reform.What are 3 major events of the Mexican Revolution? ›
March 6, 1911: Madero leads an attack on a federal garrison. March 24, 1911: Emiliano Zapata organizes a revolutionary band to protest land lost by Indians. April 3, 1911: Madero leads 500 revolutionaries in an attack against Ciudad Juarez. May 7, 1911: Battles ensue throughout Mexico, and Diaz offers his resignation.Who won the Mexican Revolution? ›
From 1915 to 1917, one million civilians and soldiers died in the fighting. The Constiutionalistas emerged victorious. They passed a constitution and elected Carranza president. The Mexican Constitution of 1917 enshrined legal and political rights, but it also called for economic rights and social justice.Who were the two leaders of the rebel army during the Mexican Revolution? ›
Who were two leaders of the rebel army during the Mexican Revolution? Zapata and Villa. strengthened ties with socialist countries like Cuba.Who are the key figures in the revolution quizlet? ›
- King George III. I was the British king during the American Revolution.
- Lord Cornwallis. I was the British general who surrendered at Yorktown.
- John Adams. I championed the cause of independence.
- George Washington. ...
- Thomas Jefferson. ...
- Patrick Henry. ...
- Benjamin Franklin. ...
- Phillis Wheatley.
On the battlefield, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, and Stonewall Jackson were among those who served in the war against Mexico who would later gain prominence in the American Civil War.What is 4 Key events in history of Mexico? ›
- 1519: Cortes sails from Havana and lands in Mexico.
- 1520–1521: Montezuma dies and Cortes lays siege to Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire.
- 1524: Consejo (council) de las Indias established by the King of Spain. ...
- 1527: Bishopric of Mexico created.
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which brought an official end to the Mexican-American War (1846-48), was signed on February 2, 1848, at Guadalupe Hidalgo, a city to which the Mexican government had fled with the advance of U.S. forces.Who ended the Mexican empire? ›
The United States refused to recognize the Empire, and after the end of its own civil war in 1865, began to provide support to Mexican republican forces and the Empire came to an end on 19 June 1867 when Maximilian was executed by the government of the restored Mexican republic, along with his two leading Mexican ...How did Mexican Revolution start? ›
The Revolution began with a call to arms on 20th November 1910 to overthrow the current ruler and dictator Porfirio Díaz Mori. Díaz was an ambitious president, keen to develop Mexico into an industrial and modernised country.
Who was the hero of the Mexican Revolution? ›
Emiliano Zapata, (born August 8, 1879, Anenecuilco, Mexico—died April 10, 1919, Morelos), Mexican revolutionary, champion of agrarianism, who fought in guerrilla actions during and after the Mexican Revolution (1910–20).Who led a rebellion in Mexico? ›
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla—“the father of Mexican independence”—launched the Mexican rebellion with his “Cry of Dolores,” and his populist army came close to capturing the Mexican capital. Defeated at Calderón in January 1811, he fled north but was captured and executed.Who was the Mexican rebel leader? ›
Emiliano Zapata Salazar (Spanish pronunciation: [emiˈljãno saˈpata]; August 8, 1879 – April 10, 1919) was a Mexican revolutionary.Who was the most important person in the revolution? ›
By stopping the only military coup in American history with only one sentence, George Washington proved his aptness for being the first American president. The American Revolution did not aim at complete separation from Britain, but the course of its events resulted in American independence.Who are the revolutionary leaders? ›
- Maximilien Robespierre. Hoist by his own petard: Robespierre was sent to the guillotine in 1794. ...
- Rosa Luxemburg. ...
- Mahatma Gandhi. ...
- Toussaint L'Ouverture. ...
- Mary Harris 'Mother' Jones. ...
- James Connolly. ...
- Emiliano Zapata. ...
- Frantz Fanon.
1. George Washington. George Washington (February 22, 1732[b] – December 14, 1799) was an American military commander, politician, and Founding Father who served as the country's first president from 1789 to 1797.Who was one of the most important leaders of the Chicano movement? ›
In fact, during the Chicano Movement (El Movimiento) of the 1960s and 1970s, Chicanos established a strong political presence and agenda in the United States through the leadership of Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, Cesar Chavez, and Dolores Huerta.Who fought for Mexican rights? ›
In response to these intolerant and harmful practices, one Latino stood up for the rights of his community — Cesar Chavez. He created organizations and led strikes focused on La Causa, “a movement to organize Mexican American farm workers.” Chavez's action led to many protections for Latino workers throughout the U.S.What were the main goals of the Mexican Revolution? ›
The initial goal of the Mexican Revolution was simply the overthrow of the Díaz dictatorship, but that relatively simple political movement broadened into a major economic and social upheaval that presaged the fundamental character of Mexico's 20th-century experience.What is the Mexican Revolution summary? ›
Mexican Revolution, (1910–20), a long and bloody struggle among several factions in constantly shifting alliances which resulted ultimately in the end of the 30-year dictatorship in Mexico and the establishment of a constitutional republic.
What made the Mexican Revolution successful? ›
On one level the Mexican Revolution can be called a success simply because it survived – it moulded a new political generation and made a significant impact on the future of the Mexican state. Revolutions that do not survive very long generally have much less of an impact.What are 4 facts about Mexico? ›
- Mexico is home to the world's largest pyramid. ...
- 69 different languages are spoken in Mexico. ...
- Mexico City is the second city of the world with the largest number of museums. ...
- Mexico is the country with the largest number of taxi cabs in the world. ...
- Mexico is a big time Coca-Cola consumer.
- The Are 68 Indigenous Languages. ...
- Arabic Influence on Mexican Spanish. ...
- Christmas Season Ends in January. ...
- Mexico City Is One of the Largest Cities in the World. ...
- Three Mexicans Have Won the Nobel Prize. ...
- Color TV Was Invented in Mexico. ...
- Mexico Is Home to the Largest Bullring in the World.
|United Mexican States Estados Unidos Mexicanos (Spanish)|
|• Declared||16 September 1810|
|• Consummated||27 September 1821|
|• Recognized||28 December 1836|
|• First constitution||4 October 1824|
There are no holidays in Mexico today. There are no holidays today for the holiday type you chose.Did Mexico lose a war? ›
This played out most desperately for Mexico at the Battle of Buena Vista in February 1847. Despite having nearly three times as many troops, Mexico was defeated.Did Mexico lose any wars? ›
The Mexican-American War (1846—1848)
The Mexicans outnumbered the invaders, however, the Americans had better weapons and far superior military strategy. In 1848 the Americans captured Mexico City and forced Mexico to surrender.
In 1845 the U.S. annexed the Republic of Texas, which had won de facto independence from Mexico in the Texas Revolution (1835–36). When U.S. diplomatic efforts to establish agreement on the Texas-Mexico border and to purchase Mexico's California and New Mexico territories failed, expansionist U.S. Pres. James K.Who was the first Mexican person? ›
The Olmecs, Mexico's first known society, settled on the Gulf Coast near what is now Veracruz.Who ruled Mexico for 300 years? ›
After the fall of the Aztec Empire, Spain called their new lands the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and ruled over Mexico for the next three hundred years. Tenochtitlan, the old capital of the Empire, became known as Mexico City. The Spaniards built palaces and churches on their own style.
Who was the king of Mexico? ›
|Born||6 July 1832 Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austrian Empire|
|Died||19 June 1867 (aged 34) Cerro de las Campanas, Santiago de Querétaro, Mexican Empire|
|Burial||18 January 1868 Imperial Crypt, Vienna, Austria|
|Spouse||Charlotte of Belgium ( m. 1857)|
Answer and Explanation: Mexico can realistically speak of two revolutions in its past (exactly a century apart) although we don't always call them both revolutions. The first of these was Mexico's independence war, which was started in 1810 and lasted until 1821.What caused the Mexican American revolution? ›
The immediate cause of the Mexican-American War was a disputed boundary between the United States and Texas on the Nueces Strip. Mexico did not recognize Texas as legitimate American territory and Texas admission to the United States antagonized Mexican officials and citizens.Who is the most famous Mexican hero? ›
Benito Juárez, in full Benito Pablo Juárez García, (born March 21, 1806, San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca, Mexico—died July 18, 1872, Mexico City), national hero and president of Mexico (1861–72), who for three years (1864–67) fought against foreign occupation under the emperor Maximilian and who sought constitutional ...Was one of the most famous Mexican revolutionaries? ›
Pancho Villa, the Centaur of the North
In 1914-1915, Villa was the most powerful man in Mexico and could have seized the presidency had he so wished, but he knew he was no politician.
In 1912, during the rebellion of Pascual Orozco, Villa aroused the suspicion of Gen. Victoriano Huerta, who condemned him to death, but Madero ordered a stay of execution and sent Villa to prison instead. Villa escaped from prison in November and fled to the United States.Who was the leader of the Mexican Revolution quizlet? ›
Pancho Villa-A popular leader during the Mexican Revolution of 1910. An outlaw in his youth, when the revolution started, he formed a cavalry army in the north of Mexico and fought for the rights of the landless in collaboration with Emiliano Zapata.Who was the leader of the Mexican Revolution Quizizz? ›
The Mexican Revolution began. Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata led armies to the capital. La Reforma took power of the government and made changes to land distribution.Who was a hero of the Mexican American War? ›
Zachary Taylor, a general and national hero in the United States Army from the time of the Mexican-American War and the War of 1812, was elected the 12th U.S. President, serving from March 1849 until his death in July 1850.Who were the 3 key Mexican artists who became international figures? ›
David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco, and Diego Rivera became the leaders of the muralist movement in Mexico and became known internationally as "los tres grandes" or "the big three." Rivera was the most famous of these artists.
Who is the most famous hero of the Mexican Revolution? ›
Emiliano Zapata, (born August 8, 1879, Anenecuilco, Mexico—died April 10, 1919, Morelos), Mexican revolutionary, champion of agrarianism, who fought in guerrilla actions during and after the Mexican Revolution (1910–20).Who was the key person that started the Mexican Revolution with a famous speech What was the name of the speech as well? ›
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla was a Mexican Roman Catholic priest and key figure in the Mexican War of Independence (1810–21). Hidalgo is best remembered for his speech, the “Grito de Dolores” (“Cry of Dolores”), which called for the end of Spanish colonial rule in Mexico.Who were the individuals who fought for Mexican independence? ›
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla—“the father of Mexican independence”—launched the Mexican rebellion with his “Cry of Dolores,” and his populist army came close to capturing the Mexican capital. Defeated at Calderón in January 1811, he fled north but was captured and executed.Who is the most famous historical figure in Mexico? ›
Benito Juárez, 1806-1872
A true national hero, Benito Juarez was the first indigenous President in Mexican history. Juárez served as president from 1857-1872. Born into incredible poverty with Spanish as his second language, Juárez attended seminary school before entering politics.
José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros were considered the leaders of the Mexican Muralism.Who is the one of most influential figures in Spanish art? ›
Pablo Picasso is one of the most recognized painters in the world. He is one of the most influential Spanish painters in history and he often drew inspiration from Spanish politics.Who were the heroes of the revolution? ›
George Washington, Paul Revere, and Thomas Jefferson are remembered as heroes of the American Revolution, but they were only a few of many men and women who risked their lives for independence. Read more about the heroes, both American and European, who were key to the colonists' success in the American Revolution.Who is the most famous Mexican leader? ›
Benito Juárez, in full Benito Pablo Juárez García, (born March 21, 1806, San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca, Mexico—died July 18, 1872, Mexico City), national hero and president of Mexico (1861–72), who for three years (1864–67) fought against foreign occupation under the emperor Maximilian and who sought constitutional ...Who was one of the most important leaders in early Mexican history? ›
Benito Juárez (1806–1872) was a Liberal lawyer who became the first indigenous president of Mexico, and who led the opposition to the French-backed empire of Maximilian von Habsburg.Who was the leader of the first revolutionary force for Mexico? ›
Although Francisco Madero became the head of the Mexican Revolution, he was supported substantially by a group of men in the state of Chihuahua.
Who was the main leader in Mexico's revolution to gain independence? ›
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla is generally regarded as the “Father of Mexican Independence.” He was born in a rural area of Guanajuato where his father managed a hacienda.Who supported the Mexican Revolution? ›
The U.S. played a substantial role in the evolution of the Mexican Revolution. It supported the anti-reelectionist movement, agreed with Bernardo Reyes and Félix Díaz's revolt against Francisco I. Madero, helped the revolutionaries defeat Huerta, and invaded Veracruz in 1914.