The Historical Text Archive: Electronic History Resources, online since 1990 Bringing you digitized history, primary and secondary sources
HTA Home Page | Articles | Mexico/The Revolution | León de la Barra, Francisco and Madero, Francisco I. (1911-1914)

Email to a friend
Printer friendly

León de la Barra, Francisco and Madero, Francisco I. (1911-1914)

During the Mexican Revolution, the issue of what to do with the revolutionary bands was a serious problem. The Zapatistas disbanded twice but were called back twice by Emiliano Zapata when the government did not return the villagers' lands.

Ciudad Juárez capitulation pledge to consult local opinion on things regarding the cacique system. What of new legislation? There were no discussion of reforms on the national level until the Aguascalientes Convention of 1914. Beginning under Carranza, no radical legislation on a national basis until after 1914.

León de la Barra was provisional president in 1911, a caretaker while presidential elections were held. Francisco I. Madero won in a landslide.

Madero faced a tough situation. He had no support from the Left because he was not really interested in agrarian reform. Madero fell because his brother Gustavo failed to organize to defend the administration.

There were many revolts during his 14-month administration. Zapata issued the Plan de Ayala in November, 1911 because he thought Madero was not interested in agrarian reform. The Plan de Ayala called for the return of the land to the villagers. Zapata saw an ally in Pascual Orozco so he supported him for president. Madero believed in free speech, but it caused him problems. There was no money for reforms. He did push moral reforms and such things as a school lunch program. Orozco rose in revolt in 1912. Bernardo Reyes led a revolt in northeast Mexico but was put down. In 1912, there was a revolt by Félix Díaz, the nephew of Porfirio Díaz. This revolt was also put down. Reyes and Díaz were captured and put in jail; Gustavo Madero begged his brother to execute them but Francisco could not bring himself to do it. That was a grave mistake.

Reyes and Díaz conspired against Madero, escaping from jail in Mexico City and beginning a revolt on February 8, 1913, using cadets and the garrison in Tacubaya to attack the National Palace. Reyes was killed by Madero's guards but Díaz escaped into an armory in the Ciudadela near the center of town. Madero called upon Victoriano Huerta to put down the revolt. In what is called the Tragic Six Days or La Decena Trágica (February 9-18, 1913), Huerta shelled the Ciudadela with artillery bombardments with absolute disregard for innocent victims. In the meantime, Huerta and Díaz, with the active cooperation of the US Ambassador, Henry Lane Wilson, struck a deal, the Pact of the Embassy, whereby Madero would be deposed, Huerta would become provisional president, and Díaz would be elected president in a subsequent election. The conservative Wilson was delighted. Gustavo Madero was murdered and Francisco and his vice president, José María Pino Suárez, were promised self passage into exile. However, their car was ambushed by Huerta's men and they were both murdered.

Surprisingly concerned for legality, he has the legal successor to Madero and Pino Suárez appoint him to be next in line to the presidency and then resign. It was pointless to do so, for his actions alienated leading politicians as well as Woodrow Wilson, who became president of the United States in March 4th. Pancho Villa of Chihuahua rose in revolt to avenge Madero. Zapata rose in revolt in Morelos. In northeast Mexico, Venustiano Carranza, a former porfirista from Coahuila, declared himself First Chief of the Constitutionalist Armies and vowed to restore the constitutionalist order upset by Huerta. Carranza would be a formidable opponent. In northwest Mexico, Huerta faced equally formidable opponents on Alvaro Obregón, the finest general of the Mexican Revolution, and Plutarco Elías Calles, both of Sonora. Carranza, Obregón, and Calles would all be presidents of the country.

The revolt, therefore, was a border state revolt against the center, not an Indian/peasant revolt. In Sonora, for example, the governor was José María Maytorena Tapia, a científico, who preferred Huerta but the legislature was anti-Huerta. He resigned, went to California for a time, and then came back to lead Revolutionary forces.

From February 1913 until August 1914, the important thing in the Revolution was the race for the capital, for whoever got there first was likely to dominate Mexico. Carranza, Villa, Zapata, and Obregón were the principle anti- Huerta forces. Obregón and the Sonora forces won the race. Huerta headed for Veracruz and exile. The Constitutionalists were in power but Villa contested Carranza. Obregón went to Chihuahua to talk to Villa; after deciding not to execute Obregón, Villa agreed with him that someone other than Carranza should lead the country.

Many of the leaders did not want Carranza, so they forced the calling of the Convention of Aguascalientes which began meeting in October.