Venustiano Carranza
Overview
Venustiano Carranza de la Garza, (December 28, 1859 – May 21, 1920) was one of the leaders of the Mexican Revolution
Mexican Revolution
The Mexican Revolution was a major armed struggle that started in 1910, with an uprising led by Francisco I. Madero against longtime autocrat Porfirio Díaz. The Revolution was characterized by several socialist, liberal, anarchist, populist, and agrarianist movements. Over time the Revolution...

. He ultimately became President of Mexico
President of Mexico
The President of the United Mexican States is the head of state and government of Mexico. Under the Constitution, the president is also the Supreme Commander of the Mexican armed forces...

 following the overthrow of the dictatorial Huerta
Victoriano Huerta
José Victoriano Huerta Márquez was a Mexican military officer and president of Mexico. Huerta's supporters were known as Huertistas during the Mexican Revolution...

 regime in the summer of 1914 and during his administration the current constitution of Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 was drafted. He was assassinated near the end of his term of office at the behest of a cabal
Cabal
A cabal is a group of people united in some close design together, usually to promote their private views and/or interests in a church, state, or other community, often by intrigue...

 of army generals resentful at his insistence that his successor be a civilian.
Carranza was born in the town of Cuatro Ciénegas
Cuatro Ciénegas
Cuatro Ciénegas is a city in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila. It stands at , at an average elevation of 740 metres above sea level. The city serves as the municipal seat for the surrounding municipality of the same name....

, in the state of Coahuila
Coahuila
Coahuila, formally Coahuila de Zaragoza , officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Coahuila de Zaragoza is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico...

, in 1859, to an upper middle-class cattle
Cattle
Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

-ranching family.
His father, Jesús Carranza
Jesús Carranza
Jesús Carranza Neira was a Mexican colonel from Cuatro Ciénegas, Coahuila. He helped Benito Juárez and also lent him money.Jesús Carranza was married to María de Jesús Garza and had 15 children; among them was Venustiano Carranza, who later became President of Mexico.The Veracruz town of Jesús...

, had been a rancher and mule-driver until the time of the Reform War
Reform War
The Reform War in Mexico is one of the episodes of the long struggle between Liberal and Conservative forces that dominated the country’s history in the 19th century. The Liberals wanted a federalist government, limiting traditional Catholic Church and military influence in the country...

 (1857-1861), in which he fought against the Indians and on the Liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 side.
Encyclopedia
Venustiano Carranza de la Garza, (December 28, 1859 – May 21, 1920) was one of the leaders of the Mexican Revolution
Mexican Revolution
The Mexican Revolution was a major armed struggle that started in 1910, with an uprising led by Francisco I. Madero against longtime autocrat Porfirio Díaz. The Revolution was characterized by several socialist, liberal, anarchist, populist, and agrarianist movements. Over time the Revolution...

. He ultimately became President of Mexico
President of Mexico
The President of the United Mexican States is the head of state and government of Mexico. Under the Constitution, the president is also the Supreme Commander of the Mexican armed forces...

 following the overthrow of the dictatorial Huerta
Victoriano Huerta
José Victoriano Huerta Márquez was a Mexican military officer and president of Mexico. Huerta's supporters were known as Huertistas during the Mexican Revolution...

 regime in the summer of 1914 and during his administration the current constitution of Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 was drafted. He was assassinated near the end of his term of office at the behest of a cabal
Cabal
A cabal is a group of people united in some close design together, usually to promote their private views and/or interests in a church, state, or other community, often by intrigue...

 of army generals resentful at his insistence that his successor be a civilian.

Early years, 1859–1887

Carranza was born in the town of Cuatro Ciénegas
Cuatro Ciénegas
Cuatro Ciénegas is a city in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila. It stands at , at an average elevation of 740 metres above sea level. The city serves as the municipal seat for the surrounding municipality of the same name....

, in the state of Coahuila
Coahuila
Coahuila, formally Coahuila de Zaragoza , officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Coahuila de Zaragoza is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico...

, in 1859, to an upper middle-class cattle
Cattle
Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

-ranching family.
His father, Jesús Carranza
Jesús Carranza
Jesús Carranza Neira was a Mexican colonel from Cuatro Ciénegas, Coahuila. He helped Benito Juárez and also lent him money.Jesús Carranza was married to María de Jesús Garza and had 15 children; among them was Venustiano Carranza, who later became President of Mexico.The Veracruz town of Jesús...

, had been a rancher and mule-driver until the time of the Reform War
Reform War
The Reform War in Mexico is one of the episodes of the long struggle between Liberal and Conservative forces that dominated the country’s history in the 19th century. The Liberals wanted a federalist government, limiting traditional Catholic Church and military influence in the country...

 (1857-1861), in which he fought against the Indians and on the Liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 side. During the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867), Jesús Carranza became a colonel
Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 and was Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez born Benito Pablo Juárez García, was a Mexican lawyer and politician of Zapotec origin from Oaxaca who served five terms as president of Mexico: 1858–1861 as interim, 1861–1865, 1865–1867, 1867–1871 and 1871–1872...

's main contact in Coahuila. Jesus Carranza's connection to Juarez caught the attention of Venustiano, who would idolize Juarez.

Because of his family's wealth, Venustiano was able to attend excellent schools in Saltillo and Mexico City. Venustiano studied at the Ateneo Fuente, a famous Liberal school in Saltillo
Saltillo
Saltillo is the capital city of the northeastern Mexican state of Coahuila and the municipal seat of the municipality of the same name. The city is located about 400 km south of the U.S. state of Texas, and 90 km west of Monterrey, Nuevo León....

. In 1874 he went to the
Escuela Nacional Preparatoria
Escuela Nacional Preparatoria
The Escuela Nacional Preparatoria , the oldest senior high school system in Mexico, belonging to the National Autonomous University of Mexico , opened its doors on February 1, 1868. It was founded by Gabino Barreda, M.D., following orders of then President of Mexico Benito Juárez...

(National Preparatory School) in Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

. Carranza was still there in 1876 when Porfirio Díaz
Porfirio Díaz
José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori was a Mexican-American War volunteer and French intervention hero, an accomplished general and the President of Mexico continuously from 1876 to 1911, with the exception of a brief term in 1876 when he left Juan N...

 issued the Plan of Tuxtepec
Plan of Tuxtepec
The Plan de Tuxtepec was a plan in Mexican history. It was drafted by Porfirio Díaz in 1876 and proclaimed on January 10, 1876 in the Villa de Ojitlán municipality of San Lucas Ojitlán, Tuxtepec district, Oaxaca...

, marking the start of Porfirio Díaz's rebellion against President
President of Mexico
The President of the United Mexican States is the head of state and government of Mexico. Under the Constitution, the president is also the Supreme Commander of the Mexican armed forces...

 Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada
Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada
Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada y Corral was a jurist and Liberal president of Mexico.-Background:...

 under the slogan "No Reelection" (Tejada had served one term as president). Díaz's troops handily defeated Tejada's and Díaz and his armies marched into Mexico City in triumph.

Upon completion of his studies, Carranza returned to Coahuila to raise cattle with his family. He married Virginia Salinas in 1882 and the couple had two daughters.

Introduction to politics, 1887–1909

The Carranzas had high ambitions for Venustiano, who would use the family money to help his political career. In 1887, at age 28, he became municipal president
Municipal president
A presidente municipal is the chief of government of municipios in Mexico. The position is comparable to the county executive of a county in the United States or to the mayor of a city in the United States, although the jurisdiction of a presidente municipal includes not only a city but the...

 of Cuatro Ciénegas
Cuatro Ciénegas
Cuatro Ciénegas is a city in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila. It stands at , at an average elevation of 740 metres above sea level. The city serves as the municipal seat for the surrounding municipality of the same name....

. Carranza remained a Liberal who idolized Benito Juárez, at the same time as he grew disillusioned with the increasingly authoritarian characteristic of the rule of Porfirio Díaz during this period.

In 1893, 300 Coahuila ranchers organized an armed resistance to oppose the "reelection" of Porfirio Díaz's supporter José María Garza Galán
José María Garza Galán
José María Garza Galán was a Mexican politician. He was governor of the northern state of Coahuila during the presidency of Porfirio Díaz. Garza Galán, native of Múzquiz, wanted to be again governor in 1893, but there were protests. Eventually, Porfirio Díaz asked Garza Galán to withdraw his...

 as Governor of Coahuila
Governor of Coahuila
List of governors of the northeastern Mexican state of Coahuila de Zaragoza, since its establishment as the province of Nueva Extremadura in Northern New Spain, later province of Coahuila and Texas, and Coahuila as a Mexican state....

. Venustiano Carranza and his brother Emilio participated in this uprising. Porfirio Díaz quickly dispatched his "man in the north", Bernardo Reyes
Bernardo Reyes
Bernardo Reyes was a General in the army of Mexico under Porfirio Díaz. He served as governor of Nuevo León he helped in the modernization of that state. While governor of Nuevo León, Reyes approved a workers compensation law. He was the father of the writer Alfonso Reyes, and grandfather of the...

, to defuse the situation. Venustiano Carranza and his brother, who had now gained power and influence in the area, were granted a personal audience with Reyes in order to explain the justification of the uprising and the ranchers' opposition to Garza Galán. Reyes agreed with Carranza and wrote to Díaz recommending that he withdraw support for Garza Galán. Diaz accepted this request and appointed a different governor

The events of 1893 allowed Carranza to make some friends in high places, including Bernardo Reyes. After winning a second term as municipal president of Cuatro Ciénegas
Cuatro Ciénegas
Cuatro Ciénegas is a city in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila. It stands at , at an average elevation of 740 metres above sea level. The city serves as the municipal seat for the surrounding municipality of the same name....

 (1894-1898), Reyes had Carranza "elected" to the legislature. In 1904, Bernardo Reyes's protege Miguel Cárdenas
Miguel Cárdenas
Miguel Cárdenas was a Mexican politician. He was candidate for the elections of 1894 for the post of governor of Coahuila and was supported by Bernardo Reyes. But Cárdenas removed his candidacy as did José María Garza Galán. So, José María Múzquiz became governor. Eventually, Miguel Cárdenas...

, Governor of Coahuila, recommended to Porfirio Díaz that Carranza would make a good senator. As such, Carranza entered the Mexican Senate later that year. Although Carranza was sceptical of the Científico
Científico
The Científicos were a circle of technocratic advisors to President of Mexico Porfirio Díaz....

s whom Porfirio Díaz was relying on to run Mexico, Carranza kept his head down and was a dutiful Porfirian senator.

By 1908, it was widely assumed that Diaz would be the next governor of Coahuila. In 1909, Carranza received Porfirio Díaz's permission to declare himself as candidate to replace Miguel Cárdenas as Governor of Coahuila. Miguel Cárdenas supported Carranza's candidacy, as did the wealthiest landowner in the region, Evaristo Madero (father of Francisco I. Madero
Francisco I. Madero
Francisco Ignacio Madero González was a politician, writer and revolutionary who served as President of Mexico from 1911 to 1913. As a respectable upper-class politician, he supplied a center around which opposition to the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz could coalesce...

). However, for reasons never made entirely clear, Porfirio Díaz ultimately did not support Carranza in this race, with the result that Carranza lost the election. This left Carranza angry with Porfirio Díaz.

Personality

Carranza was a large, tall man, standing a full 6'4", and he looked very impressive with his long white beard and glasses. He was intelligent and stubborn, but had very little charisma. A dour man, his lack of sense of humor was legendary. He was not the sort to inspire great loyalty, and his success in the revolution was mainly due to his ability to portray himself as a wise, stern patriarch who was the nation's best hope for peace. His inability to compromise led to several severe setbacks. Although he was personally honest, he seemed indifferent to corruption in those who surrounded him.

Supporter of Francisco I. Madero
Francisco I. Madero
Francisco Ignacio Madero González was a politician, writer and revolutionary who served as President of Mexico from 1911 to 1913. As a respectable upper-class politician, he supplied a center around which opposition to the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz could coalesce...

, 1909–1911

Carranza followed Francisco Madero's Antireelection Movement of 1910 with interest, and after Madero fled to the US and Díaz was reelected as president, Carranza traveled to San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in the United States of America and the second-largest city within the state of Texas, with a population of 1.33 million. Located in the American Southwest and the south–central part of Texas, the city serves as the seat of Bexar County. In 2011,...

 to join Madero. Madero named Carranza provisional Governor of Coahuila. The Plan of San Luis Potosí
Plan of San Luis Potosí
The Plan of San Luis de Potosí was a political document written in San Antonio, Texas, United States, and published in the Mexican city of San Luis Potosí in 1910. The document ushered in the Mexican revolution and the collapse of the Presidency of Porfirio Díaz...

, which Madero issued at this time, called for a revolution beginning November 20, 1910. Madero named Carranza commander-in-chief
Commander-in-Chief
A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces or significant element of those forces. In the latter case, the force element may be defined as those forces within a particular region or those forces which are associated by function. As a practical term it refers to the military...

 of the Revolution in Coahuila, Nuevo León
Nuevo León
Nuevo León It is located in Northeastern Mexico. It is bordered by the states of Tamaulipas to the north and east, San Luis Potosí to the south, and Coahuila to the west. To the north, Nuevo León has a 15 kilometer stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border adjacent to the U.S...

, and Tamaulipas
Tamaulipas
Tamaulipas officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Tamaulipas is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 43 municipalities and its capital city is Ciudad Victoria. The capital city was named after Guadalupe Victoria, the...

. Carranza, however, failed to organize a revolution in these states, leading some of Madero's supporters to speculate that Carranza was still loyal to Bernardo Reyes. Nevertheless, following the revolutionaries' decisive victory at Ciudad Juárez
Ciudad Juárez
Ciudad Juárez , officially known today as Heroica Ciudad Juárez, but abbreviated Juárez and formerly known as El Paso del Norte, is a city and seat of the municipality of Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Juárez's estimated population is 1.5 million people. The city lies on the Rio Grande...

, Carranza travelled to Ciudad Juárez and Madero named Carranza his Minister of War on May 3, 1911, despite the fact that Carranza did not contribue much Madero's rebellion. The revolutionaries were split on how to deal with Porfirio Díaz and Vice President Ramón Corral
Ramón Corral
Ramón Corral was the Vice President of Mexico under Porfirio Díaz from 1904 until their deposition in 1911.-Early Years:...

. Madero favored having Díaz and Corral resign, with Francisco León de la Barra
Francisco León de la Barra
Francisco León de la Barra y Quijano was a Mexican political figure and diplomat, who served as interim president of Mexico from May 25 to November 6, 1911....

 serving as interim president until a new election could be held. Carranza disagreed with Madero, arguing that allowing Díaz and Corral to resign would legitimate their rule, while an interim government would merely be a prolongation of the dictatorship and would discredit the Revolution. Madero's view prevailed, however.

Governor of Coahuila
Governor of Coahuila
List of governors of the northeastern Mexican state of Coahuila de Zaragoza, since its establishment as the province of Nueva Extremadura in Northern New Spain, later province of Coahuila and Texas, and Coahuila as a Mexican state....

, 1911–1913

Carranza returned to Coahuila to serve as governor, shortly holding elections in August 1911 which he won handily. As governor, Carranza began to reform the judiciary, the legal codes, and tax laws. He introduced regulations to prevent mining
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

 accidents, to rein in abusive practices at company stores, to break up commercial monopolies, to combat alcoholism
Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a broad term for problems with alcohol, and is generally used to mean compulsive and uncontrolled consumption of alcoholic beverages, usually to the detriment of the drinker's health, personal relationships, and social standing...

, and to rein in gambling
Gambling
Gambling is the wagering of money or something of material value on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money and/or material goods...

 and prostitution
Prostitution
Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute and the person who receives such services is known by a multitude of terms, including a "john". Prostitution is one of...

. He also made large investments in education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

, which he saw as the key to societal development. At the same time, he was concerned to promote law and order in the countryside, and had Porfirio Díaz's rurales
Rurales
Rurales was the name commonly used to designate the Mexican Guardia Rural : a force of mounted police or gendarmerie that existed between 1861 and 1914...

reenlist into his security forces. Carranza also did not favor reform the way Madero and most of army did and felt that a firmer hand (preferably his) was needed to rule Mexico.

The relationship between Carranza and Madero deteriorated in this period. Carranza, who had opposed Madero's plan to have an interim presidency, now criticized Madero for being a weak and ineffectual president. Madero in turn accused Carranza of being spiteful and authoritarian. Carranza believed that there would soon be an uprising against Madero, so he formed alliances with other Liberal governors: Pablo González Garza, Governor of San Luis Potosí
Governor of San Luis Potosí
The governor of San Luis Potosí solely exercises the role of the executive branch of government in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosí, per the Political Constitution of the Free and Sovereign State of San Luis Potosí...

; Alberto Fuentes Dávila, Governor of Aguascalientes
Governor of Aguascalientes
List of governors of the Mexican state of Aguascalientes....

; and Abraham González
Abraham González
Abraham González Casavantes was the provisional and constitutional governor of the Mexican state of Chihuahua during the early period of the Mexican Revolution...

, Governor of Chihuahua
Governor of Chihuahua
According to the Political Constitution of the Free and Sovereign State of Chihuahua, Executive Power in that Mexican state resides with a single individual, the Constitutional Governor of the Free and Sovereign State of Chihuahua, who is chosen for a period of six years and cannot for any reason...

.

Carranza was unsurprised in February 1913 when Victoriano Huerta
Victoriano Huerta
José Victoriano Huerta Márquez was a Mexican military officer and president of Mexico. Huerta's supporters were known as Huertistas during the Mexican Revolution...

, Bernardo Reyes
Bernardo Reyes
Bernardo Reyes was a General in the army of Mexico under Porfirio Díaz. He served as governor of Nuevo León he helped in the modernization of that state. While governor of Nuevo León, Reyes approved a workers compensation law. He was the father of the writer Alfonso Reyes, and grandfather of the...

, and Félix Díaz overthrew Madero during La Decena trágica (The Ten Tragic Days). Carranza offered Madero refuge in Coahuila, but he was unable to prevent Madero's execution.
A passionate student of history, Carranza believed that Madero had made the same mistakes in 1912 that Ignacio Comonfort
Ignacio Comonfort
Ignacio Gregorio Comonfort de los Ríos was a Mexican politician and military officer who served as President of Mexico....

 had made in 1857-58: by being weak and overly humanitarian, Madero had allowed conservative reactionaries to seize power. Carranza now believed that he could fill the role that Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez born Benito Pablo Juárez García, was a Mexican lawyer and politician of Zapotec origin from Oaxaca who served five terms as president of Mexico: 1858–1861 as interim, 1861–1865, 1865–1867, 1867–1871 and 1871–1872...

 had played in the years after Comonfort's downfall. Seeing an opportunity to gain power, Carranza soon rebelled against Huerta

In late February 1913, Carranza asked the legislature of Coahuila to formally declare itself in a state of rebellion against Huerta's government. Carranza, however, only had a small number of troops who largely sat out during the early part of the rebellion. In his first battle with federal troops, in early March 1913, Carranza was defeated and forced to retreat to Monclova
Monclova
On the other hand, temperatures during late spring and summer can have bouts of extreme heat, with evenings above 40°C for many consecutive days. In recent decades the hottest records have climbed as high as 43°C on July 13, 2005 and 45°C on May 4, 1984. However nighttime low temperatures are...

. On the way, he stopped at his Guadalupe Hacienda
Hacienda
Hacienda is a Spanish word for an estate. Some haciendas were plantations, mines, or even business factories. Many haciendas combined these productive activities...

. There he found a group of young officers—Francisco J. Múgica, Jacinto B. Treviño
Jacinto B. Treviño
General Jacinto Blas Treviño González was a Mexican military officer, noteworthy for his participation in the Mexican Revolution of 1910 to 1921.-Early life:...

, and Lucio Blanco
Lucio Blanco
Lucio Blanco was a Mexican military officer, noteworthy for his participation in the Mexican Revolution of 1910 to 1920.-Biography:...

—who had drawn up a plan
Plans in Mexican History
In Mexican history, a plan was a declaration of principles announced in conjunction with a rebellion, usually armed, against the central government of the country . Mexican plans were often more formal than the pronunciamientos that were their equivalent elsewhere in Spanish America and Spain...

 modeled on the Plan of San Luis Potosí
Plan of San Luis Potosí
The Plan of San Luis de Potosí was a political document written in San Antonio, Texas, United States, and published in the Mexican city of San Luis Potosí in 1910. The document ushered in the Mexican revolution and the collapse of the Presidency of Porfirio Díaz...

 which disavowed Huerta and called on Carranza to become Primer Jefe ("First Chief") of the Constitutional Army
Constitutional Army
The Constitutional Army was the army that fought against Huerta's Federal Army, and later, against the Villistas and Zapatistas during the Mexican Revolution. It was formed in March 1913 by Venustiano Carranza, so-called "First-Chief" of the army, as a response to the murder of President Francisco I...

.

Carranza felt that it had been a mistake to include promises of social reform in the Plan of San Luis Potosí because this had created unrealistic expectations in the populace, and had resulted in them growing disillusioned with the Revolution after it failed to deliver on its promises. He then drafted a different constitution, Plan of Guadalupe
Plan of Guadalupe
The Plan of Guadalupe was a document drafted on March 23, 1913 by Venustiano Carranza in response to the overthrow and execution of Francisco I. Madero, then President of Mexico...

. This new proposed constituion only promised to restore the 1857 Constitution of Mexico, without the promised social reforms of the Plan of San Luis Potosí. A few weeks after Carranza had issued the Plan of Guadalupe, he met a delegation from Sonora
Sonora
Sonora officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sonora is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 72 municipalities; the capital city is Hermosillo....

 headed by Adolfo de la Huerta
Adolfo de la Huerta
Felipe Adolfo de la Huerta Marcor was a Mexican politician and interim President of Mexico from June 1 to December 1, 1920....

 in Monclova, and the Sonorans agreed to support the Plan of Guadalupe. Alvaro Obergon, a local engineer and farmer, would also raise an army for Carranza in Sonora.

Primer Jefe of the Constitutional Army
Constitutional Army
The Constitutional Army was the army that fought against Huerta's Federal Army, and later, against the Villistas and Zapatistas during the Mexican Revolution. It was formed in March 1913 by Venustiano Carranza, so-called "First-Chief" of the army, as a response to the murder of President Francisco I...

, 1913–1915

Carranza initially divided the country into seven operational zones, though his Revolution was really launched in only three: (1) the northeast, under the command of Pablo González Garza
Pablo González Garza
Pablo González Garza was a Mexican General during the Mexican Revolution. He is considered to be the main organizer of the assassination of Emiliano Zapata....

; (2) the center, under the command of Pánfilo Natera; and (3) the northwest, under the command of Álvaro Obregón
Álvaro Obregón
General Álvaro Obregón Salido was the President of Mexico from 1920 to 1924. He was assassinated in 1928, shortly after winning election to another presidential term....

. The Revolution, launched in March 1913, initially did not go well, and Huerta's troops marched into Monclova
Monclova
On the other hand, temperatures during late spring and summer can have bouts of extreme heat, with evenings above 40°C for many consecutive days. In recent decades the hottest records have climbed as high as 43°C on July 13, 2005 and 45°C on May 4, 1984. However nighttime low temperatures are...

, forcing Carranza to flee to the rebels' stronghold of Sonora
Sonora
Sonora officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sonora is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 72 municipalities; the capital city is Hermosillo....

 in August 1913. However, Carranza's army would later grow remarkably. In March 1914, Carranza was informed of Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa
José Doroteo Arango Arámbula – better known by his pseudonym Francisco Villa or its hypocorism Pancho Villa – was one of the most prominent Mexican Revolutionary generals....

's victories and of advances made by the forces under Pablo González and Álvaro Obregón. Carranza determined that it was safe to leave Sonora, and traveled to Ciudad Juárez
Ciudad Juárez
Ciudad Juárez , officially known today as Heroica Ciudad Juárez, but abbreviated Juárez and formerly known as El Paso del Norte, is a city and seat of the municipality of Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Juárez's estimated population is 1.5 million people. The city lies on the Rio Grande...

, which served as his capital for the remainder of his struggle with Huerta.

Although Pancho Villa was a skilled commander, his tactics throughout the 1913-14 campaign created a number of diplomatic incidents which were a major headache for Carranza in this period. Villa had confiscated the property of Spaniards in Chihuahua, and had allowed his troops to murder an Englishman, Benton, and an American, Bauch. At one point, Villa arrested Manuel Chao, the Governor of Chihuahua
Governor of Chihuahua
According to the Political Constitution of the Free and Sovereign State of Chihuahua, Executive Power in that Mexican state resides with a single individual, the Constitutional Governor of the Free and Sovereign State of Chihuahua, who is chosen for a period of six years and cannot for any reason...

, and Carranza had to personally travel to Chihuahua to order Villa to release Chao. In response to the Benton Affair, the American government sent 2,000 Marines
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 to occupy Veracruz, Veracruz
Veracruz, Veracruz
Veracruz, officially known as Heroica Veracruz, is a major port city and municipality on the Gulf of Mexico in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The city is located in the central part of the state. It is located along Federal Highway 140 from the state capital Xalapa, and is the state's most...

. The fighting ended with 18 American Marines and 200 Mexican soldiers being killed, and Veracruz taken.

The uneasy alliance between Carranza, Obergon, Villa and Emiliano Zapata would eventually lead the rebels to victory. The fight against Huerta formally ended on August 15, 1914, when Álvaro Obregón signed a number of treaties in Teoloyucan in which the last of Huerta's forces surrendered to him and recognized the Constitutional government. On August 20, 1914, Carranza made a triumphal entry into Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

. Carranza (supported by Obergon) was now the strongest candidate to fill the power vacuum and set himself up as head of the new government. This government successfully printed money, passed laws, etc.

The Convention of Aguascalientes
Convention of Aguascalientes
The Convention of Aguascalientes was a major meeting that took place during the Mexican Revolution.The call for the Convention was issued on 1 October 1914 by Venustiano Carranza, head of the Constitutional Army, who described it as the Gran Convención de Jefes militares con mando de fuerzas y...

: Break with Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa
José Doroteo Arango Arámbula – better known by his pseudonym Francisco Villa or its hypocorism Pancho Villa – was one of the most prominent Mexican Revolutionary generals....

 and Emiliano Zapata
Emiliano Zapata
Emiliano Zapata Salazar was a leading figure in the Mexican Revolution, which broke out in 1910, and which was initially directed against the president Porfirio Díaz. He formed and commanded an important revolutionary force, the Liberation Army of the South, during the Mexican Revolution...

Although the revolutionaries Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa
José Doroteo Arango Arámbula – better known by his pseudonym Francisco Villa or its hypocorism Pancho Villa – was one of the most prominent Mexican Revolutionary generals....

 and Emiliano Zapata
Emiliano Zapata
Emiliano Zapata Salazar was a leading figure in the Mexican Revolution, which broke out in 1910, and which was initially directed against the president Porfirio Díaz. He formed and commanded an important revolutionary force, the Liberation Army of the South, during the Mexican Revolution...

 had fought against the Huerta government, they had never signed on to the Plan of Guadalupe.

Zapata, in his Plan of Ayala
Plan of Ayala
The Plan of Ayala was a document drafted by revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata during the Mexican Revolution. In it, Zapata denounced President Francisco I. Madero for his perceived betrayal of the revolutionary ideals, embodied in Madero's Plan de San Luis, and set out his vision of land reform...

, demanded sweeping social reforms of the type which Carranza had specifically excluded from the Plan of Guadalupe. When it became clear that Carranza was not willing to introduce these social reforms, Zapata broke with Carranza, formally breaking off all connection on September 5, 1914.

As we saw above, tensions between Carranza and Pancho Villa were high throughout 1913-14, over Governor Chao and over the diplomatic incidents which Villa provoked. Before Huerta was overthrown, Villa defied Carranza's orders and successfully captured Mexico's strategic silver-producing city of Zacatecas; Villa's successful capture of the city would break the back of Huerta's regime. In addition, Carranza also feared Villa would beat him to Mexico City. In August, Carranza refused to let Villa enter Mexico City with him, and refused to promote Villa to major-general. Villa formally disavowed Carranza on September 23, 1914.

On July 8, 1914, Villistas and Carrancistas had signed the Treaty of Torreón
Torreón
Torreón is a city and seat of the surrounding municipality of the same name in the Mexican state of Coahuila. As of 2010, the city's population was 608,836 with 639,629 in the municipality. The metropolitan population, including Matamoros, Coahuila, and Gómez Palacio and Lerdo in adjacent Durango,...

, in which they agreed that after Huerta's forces were defeated, 150 generals of the Revolution would meet to determine the future shape of the country. This Convention went ahead at Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes
Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes
The city of Aguascalientes is the capital of the state of Aguascalientes in western central Mexico. It stands on the banks of the Río Aguascalientes, 1880 meters above sea level, at...

 on October 5, 1914. Carranza did not participate in the Convention of Aguascalientes
Convention of Aguascalientes
The Convention of Aguascalientes was a major meeting that took place during the Mexican Revolution.The call for the Convention was issued on 1 October 1914 by Venustiano Carranza, head of the Constitutional Army, who described it as the Gran Convención de Jefes militares con mando de fuerzas y...

 because he was not a general (several Zapatista
Liberation Army of the South
The Liberation Army of the South was an armed group formed and led by Emiliano Zapata that took part in the Mexican Revolution. The force was commonly known as the Zapatistas....

 civilian intellectuals were allowed to join the Convention, however).

At the Convention, the young philosopher José Vasconcelos
José Vasconcelos
José Vasconcelos Calderón was a Mexican writer, philosopher and politician. He is one of the most influential and controversial personalities in the development of modern Mexico. His philosophy of "indigenismo" affected all aspects of Mexican sociocultural, political, and economic...

 argued that Article 128 of the 1857 Constitution provided that the revolutionary army now constituted the legitimate government of Mexico; the assembled generals quickly agreed with him. The Convention therefore called on Carranza to resign. Carranza responded with a message to the Convention sent on November 23, 1914. He agreed to resign, but only if he could be assured that a truly constitutional government would be put in place following his resignation. He therefore listed three preconditions that must be met before he would resign: (1) the establishment of a preconstitutional regime that would make necessary social and political reforms before constitutional government is reestablished; (2) the resignation and exile of Villa; and (3) the resignation and exile of Zapata.

A week later, the Convention's joint commissions of war and of the interior (a group which included Álvaro Obregón
Álvaro Obregón
General Álvaro Obregón Salido was the President of Mexico from 1920 to 1924. He was assassinated in 1928, shortly after winning election to another presidential term....

, Felipe Ángeles
Felipe Ángeles
Felipe Ángeles Ramirez was a Mexican military officer, noteworthy for his participation in the Mexican Revolution of 1910 to 1920.-Early life:...

, Eulalio Gutiérrez
Eulalio Gutiérrez
Eulalio Gutiérrez Ortiz was elected provisional president of Mexico during the Aguascalientes Convention and led the country for a few months between November 6, 1914, and January 16, 1915....

, and Francisco I. Madero
Francisco I. Madero
Francisco Ignacio Madero González was a politician, writer and revolutionary who served as President of Mexico from 1911 to 1913. As a respectable upper-class politician, he supplied a center around which opposition to the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz could coalesce...

's brother Raúl) agreed in principle to Carranza's conditions. The Convention then elected Eulalio Gutiérrez as provisional President for 20 days until his position could be ratified, and called on Carranza to resign immediately. Carranza responded by moving his government to Córdoba, Veracruz
Córdoba, Veracruz
Córdoba, officially known as Heroica Córdoba, is a city and the seat of the municipality of the same name in the Mexican state of Veracruz. It was founded in 1618....

 and by sending the Convention a telegram in which he said he would not resign until his conditions had been fully met and they had not: Villa remained in control of the División del Norte
Division del Norte
The División del Norte was an armed faction formed by Madero and initially led by General Jose Gonzales Salas following the call to arms from Francisco Madero at the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution in 1910. After Salas committed suicide following his defeat at the hands of Pascual Orozco at the...

; Zapata had not resigned; and Gutiérrez was only granted power for 20 days, which hardly made him an effective preconstitutional government.

With Carranza's withdrawal, Carrancistas now controlled only the Mexican states of Veracruz
Veracruz
Veracruz, formally Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave , is one of the 31 states that, along with the Federal District, comprise the 32 federative entities of Mexico. It is divided in 212 municipalities and its capital city is...

 and Tamaulipas
Tamaulipas
Tamaulipas officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Tamaulipas is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 43 municipalities and its capital city is Ciudad Victoria. The capital city was named after Guadalupe Victoria, the...

. These states, however, gave Carranza an advantage, as they held Mexico's two main ports. Because he held these two ports, Carranza was able to collect more revenue than Villa. The rest of the country was now under the control of the various generals represented by the Convention. Carranza was at least able to negotiate the withdrawal of American troops from Veracruz, Veracruz
Veracruz, Veracruz
Veracruz, officially known as Heroica Veracruz, is a major port city and municipality on the Gulf of Mexico in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The city is located in the central part of the state. It is located along Federal Highway 140 from the state capital Xalapa, and is the state's most...

 in November 1914 and set up his capital there.

Álvaro Obregón and Pablo González remained loyal to Carranza, however, and fought on. Although Villa had a more formidable army, Obregón was a better tactician. With Obregón's help, Carranza was able to portray Villa as a sociopathic bandit in the press. In April 1915, Obregón scored a decisive victory over Villa in the Bajío
Bajío
The Bajío is a region of Central Mexico that includes the plains south of the Sierra de Guanajuato, in the state of Guanajuato, as well as parts of the states of Querétaro and Michoacán .In general parlance, it is usually associated with the States of Guanajuato and Querétaro, although it only...

 at the Battle of Celaya
Battle of Celaya
The Battle of Celaya, which occurred near Celaya, Guanajuato on 13 April 1915, was a battle of the Mexican Revolution.The Conventionist forces under Pancho Villa were badly defeated by forces under the command of Álvaro Obregón, who supported the presidency of Venustiano Carranza. Villa lost...

, which saw 4,000 of Villa's soldiers killed and another 6,000 captured, and in May 1915, González began a campaign against the last-remaining Zapatistas. In July 1915, Francisco Lagos Cházaro
Francisco Lagos Cházaro
Francisco Jerónimo de Jesús Lagos Cházaro Mortero was acting President of Mexico designated by the Convention of Aguascalientes from June 10, 1915 to October 10, 1915....

, the last interim president appointed by the Convention of Aguascalientes, surrendered. In August 1915, Carranza's troops entered Mexico City a second time. The United States recognized Carranza as President of Mexico in October 1915 and by the end of the year, Villa was on the run.

Head of the Preconstitutional Government, 1915–1917

With the defeat of the División del Norte and the Zapatistas, by mid-1915, Carranza was President of Mexico as head of what he termed a "Preconstitutional Government." Carranza formally took charge of the executive branch on May 1, 1915.

On December 12, 1914, Carranza had issued his Additions to the Plan of Guadalupe, which laid out an ambitious reform program, including Laws of Reform, in conscious imitation of Benito Juárez's Laws of Reform.

Reforms were carried through in many areas
  • Judicial reform - Carranza introduced important reforms to ensure an independent judiciary for Mexico.

  • Land reform - although Carranza had initially been sceptical about the need for land reform, his interactions with Zapata convinced him that the problem was real. Carranza's solution was the ejido
    Ejido
    The ejido system is a process whereby the government promotes the use of communal land shared by the people of the community. This use of community land was a common practice during the time of Aztec rule in Mexico...

    system, by which formerly communal lands which had been privately expropriated were to be returned to villages. In practice, very few lands were returned.

  • Labor - in February 1915, the Constitutionalist Army signed an agreement with the Casa del Obrero Mundial ("House of the World Worker"), the labor union with anarcho-syndicalist
    Anarcho-syndicalism
    Anarcho-syndicalism is a branch of anarchism which focuses on the labour movement. The word syndicalism comes from the French word syndicat which means trade union , from the Latin word syndicus which in turn comes from the Greek word σύνδικος which means caretaker of an issue...

     connections which had been established during Francisco I. Madero's presidency. As a result of this agreement, six "Red Battalions" of workers were formed to fight alongside the Constitutionalists against Villa and Zapata. However, after the defeat of Villa and Zapata, relations between Carranza and organized labor soured. In January 1916, the Red Battalions were dissolved, and throughout 1916, Carranza opposed workers' who attempted to exercise their right to strike, seeing their actions as disruptive. In August 1916, the Casa del Obrero Mudial was forcibly disbanded by the police, and an 1862 law making striking a capital offense was reinstated.

  • Struggle against foreign companies for natural resources - under the presidency of Porfirio Díaz
    Porfirio Díaz
    José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori was a Mexican-American War volunteer and French intervention hero, an accomplished general and the President of Mexico continuously from 1876 to 1911, with the exception of a brief term in 1876 when he left Juan N...

    , foreign mining and oil companies (chiefly American companies) had received generous rights from the government. On January 7, 1915, Carranza issued a decree declaring his intention to return the wealth of oil and coal to the people of Mexico. The two largest oil companies exploiting Mexico's natural resources were the Mexican Eagle Petroleum Company
    Mexican Eagle Petroleum Company
    Compañía Mexicana de Petróleo El Aguila SA, , called in English the Mexican Eagle Oil Company or Mexican Eagle Petroleum Corporation, was a Mexican oil company in the 20th century.-History:Sir Weetman Pearson, Bart...

    , an English company led by Lord Cowdray
    Weetman Pearson, 1st Viscount Cowdray
    Weetman Dickinson Pearson, 1st Viscount Cowdray GCVO, PC , known as Sir Weetman Pearson, Bt, between 1894 and 1910 and as The Lord Cowdray between 1910 and 1917, was a British engineer, oil industrialist, benefactor and Liberal politician...

     and operating mainly in the region of Poza Rica, Veracruz and Papantla, Veracruz; and Mexican Petroleum, an American company led by Edward L. Doheny
    Edward L. Doheny
    Edward Laurence Doheny was an American oil tycoon, who in 1892, along with business partner Charles A. Canfield, drilled the first successful oil well in the Los Angeles City Oil Field, setting off the petroleum boom in Southern California.At first he was an unsuccessful prospector in the state of...

     and operating in the region of Tampico, Tamaulipas. Carranza was largely unable to move against the foreign oil companies because the region of La Huasteca
    La Huasteca
    La Huasteca is the first climbing area in Monterrey, Mexico, only 15 minutes from the city. With nearly 200 bolted routes with grades from 5.8 to 5.13C, it is the favorite place for weekend climbers. It is also known for the slippery type of limestone from which it is comprised, and which makes...

    where they operated was under the control of General Manuel Peláez
    Manuel Peláez
    Manuel Peláez Gorrochotegui Mexican military officer, noteworthy for his participation in the Mexican Revolution of 1910 to 1920.Manuel Peláez was born in 1885 in the Huasteca region of the state of Veracruz, in the coastal area roughly between Tampico, Tamaulipas, and the port of Veracruz...

     who protected the oil companies' interests in exchange for protection money from the oil companies. Carranza moved more successfully against the mining companies, implementing the Calvo Doctrine
    Calvo Doctrine
    The Calvo Doctrine is a foreign policy doctrine which holds that jurisdiction in international investment disputes lies with the country in which the investment is located. The Calvo Doctrine thus proposed to prohibit diplomatic protection or intervention before local resources were exhausted...

    . He raised their taxes, and removed the right of diplomatic recourse for mining companies, declaring them now subject to the Mexican courts (both policies were opposed by the United States and delayed several times at the request of United States Secretary of State
    United States Secretary of State
    The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

     Robert Lansing
    Robert Lansing
    Robert Lansing served in the position of Legal Advisor to the State Department at the outbreak of World War I where he vigorously advocated against Britain's policy of blockade and in favor of the principles of freedom of the seas and the rights of neutral nations...

    ).

The Constitutional Convention of Querétaro, 1916–1917

In September 1916, Carranza convoked a Constitutional Convention, to be held in Querétaro, Querétaro. He declared that the liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 1857 Constitution of Mexico would be respected, though purged of some of its shortcomings.

However, when the Constitutional Convention met in December 1916, it contained only 85 conservatives and centrists close to Carranza's brand of liberalism, a group known as the bloque renovador ("renewal faction"). Against them were 132 more radical delegates who insisted that land reform
Agrarian land reform in Mexico
Before the 1910 Mexican Revolution that overthrew Porfirio Díaz, most of the land was owned by a single elite ruling class. Legally there was no slavery or serfdom; however, those with heavy debts, Indian wage workers, or peasants, were essentially debt-slaves to the landowners. A small percentage...

 be embodied in the new constitution. These radical delegates were particularly inspired by the thought of Andrés Molina Enríquez
Andrés Molina Enríquez
Andrés Molina Enríquez was a Mexican positivist sociologist, amateur anthropologist, and former Justice of the Peace in Mexico State.-Los Grandes Problemas Nacionales:...

, in particular his 1909 book Los Grandes Problemas Nacionales (English: The Great National Problems). Andrés Molina Enríquez, though not a delegate to the Convention, was a close advisor to the committee that drafted Article 27 of the constitution which declared that private property had been created by the Nation and that the Nation had the right to regulate private property to ensure that communities that had "none or not enough land and water" could take them from latifundios
Latifundia
Latifundia are pieces of property covering very large land areas. The latifundia of Roman history were great landed estates, specializing in agriculture destined for export: grain, olive oil, or wine...

and haciendas
Hacienda
Hacienda is a Spanish word for an estate. Some haciendas were plantations, mines, or even business factories. Many haciendas combined these productive activities...

. Article 27 also moved much further than the Calvo Doctrine
Calvo Doctrine
The Calvo Doctrine is a foreign policy doctrine which holds that jurisdiction in international investment disputes lies with the country in which the investment is located. The Calvo Doctrine thus proposed to prohibit diplomatic protection or intervention before local resources were exhausted...

 and declared that only native-born or native Mexicans could have property rights in Mexico, and that, though the government might grant rights to foreigners, these rights were always provisional and could not be appealed to foreign governments.

The radicals also moved much further than Carranza approved on labor relations. In February 1917, they drafted Article 123 of the Constitution, which established an eight-hour work day, abolished child labor, contained provisions to protect female and adolescent workers, required holidays, provided a reasonable salary to be paid in cash and profit-sharing, established boards of arbitration, and provided for compensation in case of dismissal.

The radicals also established more radical reform of the relationship of church and state than that favored by Carranza. Articles 3 and 130 were heavily anticlerical
Anti-clericalism
Anti-clericalism is a historical movement that opposes religious institutional power and influence, real or alleged, in all aspects of public and political life, and the involvement of religion in the everyday life of the citizen...

: the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 in Mexico was denied recognition as a legal entity; priests were denied various rights and subject to public registration; religious education was forbidden; public religious ritual outside of the churches was banned; and all churches were became the property of the nation.

In short, although Carranza had been the most ardent proponent of constitutionalism and led the Constitutional Army, the 1917 Constitution of Mexico
Constitution of Mexico
The Political Constitution of the United Mexican States is the current constitution of Mexico. It was drafted in Santiago de Querétaro, in the State of Querétaro, by a constitutional convention, during the Mexican Revolution. It was approved by the Constitutional Congress on February 5, 1917...

 was very different from the liberal constitution that Carranza had wanted. However, the Carrancistas had gained some important victories in the Constitutional Convention: the power of the executive was enhanced and the executive
Executive (government)
Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

 was enhanced and the power of the legislature
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

 was diminished. The post of Vice President was eliminated. And judges were given life tenure to promote judicial independence.

President of Mexico
President of Mexico
The President of the United Mexican States is the head of state and government of Mexico. Under the Constitution, the president is also the Supreme Commander of the Mexican armed forces...

, 1917–1920

The new constitution was proclaimed on February 5, 1917. With Villa and Zapata on the run, Carranza had no opposition to prevent him from being elected president. In May 1917, Carranza became the constitutional President of Mexico
President of Mexico
The President of the United Mexican States is the head of state and government of Mexico. Under the Constitution, the president is also the Supreme Commander of the Mexican armed forces...

.

Carranza, however, brought very little change and those who wanted to see a new, liberal Mexico after the revolution were disappointed. Mexico was in desperate stress in 1917. The revolutionary fighting had decimated the economy, destroyed the nation's food supply, and led to widespread disease.

Carranza continued to face many internal enemies: Emiliano Zapata
Emiliano Zapata
Emiliano Zapata Salazar was a leading figure in the Mexican Revolution, which broke out in 1910, and which was initially directed against the president Porfirio Díaz. He formed and commanded an important revolutionary force, the Liberation Army of the South, during the Mexican Revolution...

 continued his rebellion in the mountains of Morelos
Morelos
Morelos officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Morelos is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 33 municipalities and its capital city is Cuernavaca....

; Félix Díaz had returned to Mexico in May 1916 and organized an army that he called the Ejército Reorganizador Nacional (National Reorganizer Army) that remained active in Veracruz
Veracruz
Veracruz, formally Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave , is one of the 31 states that, along with the Federal District, comprise the 32 federative entities of Mexico. It is divided in 212 municipalities and its capital city is...

; the former Porfirians Guillermo Meixueiro and José María Dávila were active in Oaxaca
Oaxaca
Oaxaca , , officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Oaxaca is one of the 31 states which, along with the Federal District, comprise the 32 federative entities of Mexico. It is divided into 571 municipalities; of which 418 are governed by the system of customs and traditions...

, calling themselves Soberanistas (Sovereigntists) and insisted on local autonomy; General Manuel Peláez
Manuel Peláez
Manuel Peláez Gorrochotegui Mexican military officer, noteworthy for his participation in the Mexican Revolution of 1910 to 1920.Manuel Peláez was born in 1885 in the Huasteca region of the state of Veracruz, in the coastal area roughly between Tampico, Tamaulipas, and the port of Veracruz...

 was still in charge of La Huasteca
La Huasteca
La Huasteca is the first climbing area in Monterrey, Mexico, only 15 minutes from the city. With nearly 200 bolted routes with grades from 5.8 to 5.13C, it is the favorite place for weekend climbers. It is also known for the slippery type of limestone from which it is comprised, and which makes...

; the brothers Saturnino Cedillo, Cleophas Cedillo, and Magdaleno Cedillo organized an opposition in San Luis Potosí
San Luis Potosí
San Luis Potosí officially Estado Libre y Soberano de San Luis Potosí is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 58 municipalities and its capital city is San Luis Potosí....

; José Inés Chávez García led the resistance to Carranza's government in Michoacán
Michoacán
Michoacán officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Michoacán de Ocampo is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 113 municipalities and its capital city is Morelia...

; and Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa
José Doroteo Arango Arámbula – better known by his pseudonym Francisco Villa or its hypocorism Pancho Villa – was one of the most prominent Mexican Revolutionary generals....

 remained active in Chihuahua. After Carranza became president, Obergon retired to his ranch. The fighting, however, continued, particually against Zapata in the south. The only two rebel leaders captured by Carranza were Pancho Villa's supporter Felipe Ángeles
Felipe Ángeles
Felipe Ángeles Ramirez was a Mexican military officer, noteworthy for his participation in the Mexican Revolution of 1910 to 1920.-Early life:...

, and Emiliano Zapata
Emiliano Zapata
Emiliano Zapata Salazar was a leading figure in the Mexican Revolution, which broke out in 1910, and which was initially directed against the president Porfirio Díaz. He formed and commanded an important revolutionary force, the Liberation Army of the South, during the Mexican Revolution...

 (Carranza had put a bounty on Zapata's head, which led to his assassination).

Carranza maintained Mexican neutrality throughout World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. He briefly considered allying with the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 after German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann
Arthur Zimmermann
Arthur Zimmermann was State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the German Empire from November 22, 1916, until his resignation on August 6, 1917. His name is associated with the Zimmermann Telegram during World War I...

 sent Mexico the famous Zimmermann Telegram
Zimmermann Telegram
The Zimmermann Telegram was a 1917 diplomatic proposal from the German Empire to Mexico to make war against the United States. The proposal was caught by the British before it could get to Mexico. The revelation angered the Americans and led in part to a U.S...

 in January 1917, inviting Mexico to enter the war on the German side. Zimmermann promised Mexico German aid in re-capturing territory lost to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 during the Mexican–American War
Mexican–American War
The Mexican–American War, also known as the First American Intervention, the Mexican War, or the U.S.–Mexican War, was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 in the wake of the 1845 U.S...

, specifically the states of Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

, and Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

. Carranza assigned a general to study the possibility of recapturing this territory from the U.S., but ultimately concluded that war to recapture territory from the U.S. was not feasible as aid from Germany could not be guaranteed due to the blockade by the Royal Navy.

Carranza remained lukewarm about the anti-clerical Articles 3 and 130 of the Mexican Constitution, both of which he had opposed at the Constitutional Convention. He proposed a constitutional amendment to mollify these constitutional provisions, but his proposal was rejected by the state legislatures and 2/3 of the Mexican Congress.

Public corruption was a major problem of Carranza's presidency. A popular saying was that "The Old Man doesn't steal, but he lets them steal," and a new verb, carrancear was coined, meaning "to steal".
Carranza determined not to run for re-election in 1920. His natural successor was Álvaro Obregón
Álvaro Obregón
General Álvaro Obregón Salido was the President of Mexico from 1920 to 1924. He was assassinated in 1928, shortly after winning election to another presidential term....

, the heroic Carrancista general. Carranza, however, felt that Mexico should have a president who was not a general, and therefore endorsed Ignacio Bonillas
Ignacio Bonillas
Ignacio Bonillas Frajio was a Mexican diplomat. He was a Mexican ambassador to the United States and held a degree in mine engineering from M.I.T....

, an obscure diplomat, for the presidency. Obregón supporters were repressed and killed and Obregón himself decided that Carranza would never leave the office peacefully. In response, a group of Sonora
Sonora
Sonora officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sonora is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 72 municipalities; the capital city is Hermosillo....

n generals (including Obregón, Plutarco Elías Calles
Plutarco Elías Calles
Plutarco Elías Calles was a Mexican general and politician. He was president of Mexico from 1924 to 1928, but he continued to be the de facto ruler from 1928–1935, a period known as the maximato...

, and Adolfo de la Huerta
Adolfo de la Huerta
Felipe Adolfo de la Huerta Marcor was a Mexican politician and interim President of Mexico from June 1 to December 1, 1920....

), who were the strongest power bloc in Mexico, issued the Plan of Agua Prieta
Plan of Agua Prieta
The Plan of Agua Prieta was a manifesto, drawn up in the form of a plan, during the Mexican Revolution.Drafted and signed by supporters of Gen. Álvaro Obregón, the Plan repudiated the government of President Venustiano Carranza...

, repudiating Carranza's government and renewing the Revolution on their own.

On April 8, 1920, a campaign aide to Obregón attempted to assassinate Carranza. After the failed attempt, Obregón brought his army to Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

 and drove Carranza out. Carranza set out towards Veracruz to regroup but was betrayed and assassinated
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

, along with his top advisors and supporters, in Tlaxcalantongo in the Sierra Norte de Puebla
Sierra Norte de Puebla
The Sierra Norte de Puebla – known simply as the Sierra Norte by locals – is a mountain range that makes up the southern end of the Sierra Madre Oriental in central Mexico.-Mountain range:...

 mountains by the forces of General Rodolfo Herrero, supporter of Carranza's former allies and local chieftain, on May 21, 1920 while he was sleeping. According to General Francisco L. Urquizo, Carranza's last words, after the shots woke him up, were: "Licenciado, ya me rompieron una pierna" which translates as "Lawyer, they have already broken one of my legs". (Carranza was referring to his partner, Licenciado Aguirre Berlanga, when he was ambushed and shot). Obregón afterwards put Herrero on trial for Carranza's murder, but Herrero was acquitted because it was proven that he and the his men did not miss Carranza when they fired shots at him; hence, it was impossible to determine who fired the shot that killed Carranza.

Legacy

The ambitious Carranza made himself one of the most important figures in the Mexican Revolution because he truly believed that he knew what was best for the country. He was a planner and organizer, and succeeded through clever politicking where others relied on strength of arms. His defenders point out that he brought some stability to the country and provided a focus for the movement to remove Huerta, who was a monster.

He made many mistakes, however. During the fight against Huerta, he was the first to declare that those who opposed him would be executed, as he considered his to be the only legitimate government in the land after the death of Madero. Other commanders followed suit, and the result was the death of thousands who might have been spared. His unfriendly, rigid nature made it difficult for him to retain his hold on power, especially when some of the alternatives, such as Villa and Obregón, were much more charismatic.

Today, he is remembered as one of the “Big Four” of the Revolution, along with Zapata, Villa and Obregón. Although for most of the time period between 1915 and 1920 he was more powerful than any of them, he is today probably the least remembered of the four. Historians point out Obregón's tactical brilliance and rise to power in the 1920's, Villa's legendary bravery, flair, style and leadership and Zapata's unwavering idealism and vision. Carranza had none of these.

Still, it was during his watch that the Constitution still used today was ratified and he was by far the lesser of two evils when compared to the man he replaced, Victoriano Huerta. He is remembered in the songs and legends of the North (although primarily as the butt of Villa's jokes and pranks) and his place in the history of Mexico is secure.

See also

  • Venustiano Carranza, D.F.#Formation and name

External links

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