Mexican Revolution

"I would rather die standing than live on my knees."

—Emiliano Zapata

Amidst the unyielding facade of the Porfiriato, a system brimming with inequity and discontent, the tinderbox of revolution was quietly filling to the brim.

The Mexican Revolution, in its raw intensity and brutal visage, bore the weight of a people's unyielding thirst for justice, much like the plough on the withered back of an overworked peon.

One may dissect the elements of this tumultuous period much like a pig farmer inspects his sty - a seemingly chaotic mass, but within, a complex ecosystem, a dance of power, resistance, and the ceaseless pursuit of a nebulous ideal called freedom.

1910: THE MEXICAN REVOLUTION BEGINS

Francisco I. Madero
© History Oasis

February

Francisco I. Madero, a man born into privilege but burdened with the conscience of the underprivileged, initiates his presidential campaign against the iron-grip of Porfirio Díaz, the aging autocrat who has held Mexico in his steely grasp for over three decades.

Madero, a fervent believer in democracy, seems unaware of the hornet’s nest he’s about to stir. He start the Anti-Reelectionist Party to try and take Díaz from power.

June 26th

Madero, the would-be liberator, is arrested in Monterrey by Díaz's henchmen.


Democracy, it seems, is a threat to the established order. Totalitarianism reveals itself in Mexico, just as it would in Europe decades later.

July

Díaz, perhaps a little too confident in the might of his regime, allows Madero to go into exile in the United States.

He fails to understand that this move will only fan the flames of the revolution. Madero, now safely in San Antonio, Texas, begins drafting the Plan of San Luis Potosi. The blueprint for revolution is being drawn.

November 20th

A man holding the Plan of San Luis Potosi
© History Oasis

The Plan of San Luis Potosi is published.

Madero, the architect of the revolution, calls for an uprising against Díaz.

He declares himself the legitimate President of Mexico, a claim that is more symbolic than it is factual, but symbolism carries weight in these troubled times.

November 23rd

The first shots of the revolution are fired in Puebla.

The revolt, however, is prematurely stifled by Díaz's forces.

Yet, the revolution is a Hydra; for each rebellion quelled, two more take its place. The beast of revolt is awake, and it is hungry.

December

The fires of revolution spread across the nation.

Pascual Orozco in Chihuahua, Emiliano Zapata in Morelos, and Ricardo Flores Magón in Baja California all rise against the Díaz regime.

The uprisings are sporadic and uncoordinated, but they are a manifestation of the simmering discontent that has long been brewing beneath the surface of Mexican society.

In 1910, Mexico stands on the precipice of a new era.

A once dormant populace has been roused by the call for revolution.

The stage is set for a bitter struggle, one that will shake the very foundations of Mexican society.

And amidst this chaos, one can almost hear the echoes of Orwell's words: "In a time of universal deceit—telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

Madero and his compatriots have dared to tell the truth, and Mexico will never be the same.

1911: THE FALL OF DIAZ

portrait of Porfirio Diaz
© History Oasis

March

The Northern Revolutionary Club, steered by Pascual Orozco and Francisco Villa, declares allegiance to Madero's cause.

Their combined forces, like a gathering storm, begin laying siege to the northern states of Mexico.

The revolution, it seems, is no longer a spark but a wildfire.

Mexicans begin to moderate celebrations like the quinceañera and prepare for a long war.

April 29th

Agua Prieta, a small town in Sonora, falls to the revolutionaries.

It's a minor victory in the grand scheme of the conflict, but a significant one.

It proves that Díaz's mighty regime can be wounded. The aura of invincibility that once shrouded Díaz is slowly beginning to dissipate.

May 8th

The pivotal Battle of Ciudad Juarez begins.

Orozco and Villa, two men from humble backgrounds, now command the revolutionary forces against the entrenched forces of Díaz.

The city, a borderland bastion, becomes a microcosm of the broader conflict tearing Mexico apart.

May 10th

Ciudad Juarez capitulates.

The revolutionaries, a ragtag coalition of peasants, miners, and outlaws, wrest control of the city from Díaz's forces.

The victory sends shockwaves through Mexico.

The unthinkable has happened. Díaz's fortress has been breached. Madero's call to arms, once seen as a fool's errand, now rings with the clarity of prophecy.

May 11th

© History Oasis

The Battle of Cuautla is fought. Known as the six deadliest days of any battle in the Mexican Revolution.

May 17th

Díaz, the long-standing dictator, under the pressure of the escalating revolution, offers his resignation.

The news is met with jubilation and dread in equal measure.

The joy of the dictator's fall is tinged with the foreboding of uncertainty.

Pandora's box has been opened, and Mexico stands on the precipice of the unknown.

May 25th

Díaz, the once all-powerful autocrat, leaves Mexico, exiled to France.

The symbol of oppression for over three decades is gone, but his shadow lingers.

Madero takes the reins of a fractured nation, a nation teetering on the brink of an abyss.

The events of 1911 saw Mexico caught in the throes of power, rebellion, and change.

The fall of Ciudad Juarez and the subsequent resignation of Díaz marked not an end, but the beginning of a protracted struggle, a struggle for the soul of Mexico.

The year ended not with resolution, but with a sense of impending turmoil. The revolution, it seems, was just beginning.

1912: THE RISE OF VILLA & ZAPATA

portrait of Pancho Villa
© History Oasis

January

A year into Madero's presidency, the seeds of discontent are sown.

Pascual Orozco, once an ally, now rises in revolt against Madero, disillusioned by the slow pace of reform.

The revolution has begun to eat its own.

February 9th

General Victoriano Huerta, a man carved in the mould of the old regime, seizes the opportunity presented by the dissent.

Huerta, like a malevolent puppeteer, stages a coup, turning the machinations of power including the US against Madero.

The president, who once seemed the harbinger of a new dawn, is arrested. The revolution, it seems, has spiralled into a parody of itself.

February 18th

A ten-day siege, known as the Ten Tragic Days (La Decena Trágica), begins.

The presidential palace is bombarded, and the city of Mexico, once the seat of power, descends into chaos.

The revolution, which began as a call for liberty and justice, now seems a beast of destruction.

February 22nd

Madero, the man who dared to challenge the old order, meets a grim fate.

He is executed in a chilling, cold-blooded display of power by Huerta.

His death sends a chilling message to the revolutionaries - the old order will not go quietly. A sense of foreboding darkness descends over Mexico.

The revolution has claimed the man who sparked it, and the war of attrition is far from over.

March

First Battle of Rellano begins.

Huerta assumes the presidency, a wolf cloaked in the garb of the shepherd.

His ascendancy signals a return to the heavy hand of dictatorship.

The revolutionaries, including Villa and Zapata, refuse to recognise his rule, and the struggle for Mexico continues.

The events of 1912 are a grim testament to the cyclical nature of power.

The revolution, which promised a new dawn, has led Mexico back into the darkness of dictatorship.

Madero's idealistic dream of democracy has been usurped by the brutal pragmatism of Huerta's coup.

The revolution, once a beacon of hope, now seems a harbinger of chaos.

May

© History Oasis

Orozco's Rebellion is defeated at the Second Battle of Rellano.

1913: HUERTA’S REIGN OF TERROR

Ten Tragic Days
© History Oasis

February 18th

As the smoke clears from the chaos of La Decena Trágica, the full horror of Huerta's coup is revealed.

Madero, the man who had dared to dream of a democratic Mexico, is murdered.

His demise is not just the death of a man, but the death of an ideal. Mexico, once ablaze with the promise of revolution, now stares into the cold, unblinking eye of the state.

March

Huerta is officially elected president.

However, his rule is anything but legitimate.

The election, a farcical play, is marred by intimidation and fraud.

Yet, it serves its purpose.

It bestows upon Huerta the veneer of legitimacy, a veneer as thin and brittle as the peace he presides over.

April

Rebellion sprouts anew, fueled by the outrage over Madero's murder.

The north, under the command of Venustiano Carranza, and the south, led by Emiliano Zapata, rise in revolt against Huerta's regime.

The revolution, once thought quelled, roars back to life. The spirit of Madero, it seems, lives on in the hearts of the revolutionaries.

July

Huerta's reign of terror takes a gruesome turn.

Under the guise of maintaining public order, he instigates La Ley Fuga, or "the law of flight".

Prisoners, under the pretense of attempting escape, are gunned down.

The law is nothing more than a thinly veiled excuse for extrajudicial killings.

The state, under Huerta, has become the very embodiment of a totalitarian nightmare.

December

The revolutionaries, united by their shared hatred of Huerta, score a series of victories.

The forces of Carranza and Villa seize the city of Chihuahua.

Huerta's regime, once seemingly invincible, begins to show cracks.

The year ends not with peace, but with the promise of more conflict.

1913 saw Mexico caught in the grip of a dictator, a dictator who used the machinery of the state to stifle dissent and maintain power. However, the spirit of the revolution, though battered and bruised, proved resilient.

The struggle for Mexico was far from over, and the revolutionaries were not ready to yield.

1914: CARRANZA DECLARES HIMSELF PRESIDENT

portrait of Venustiano Carranza
© History Oasis

January

The revolutionaries, under the command of Carranza, Villa, and Obregón, start the year with a string of victories.

Tampico, Torreón, and Durango all fall into their hands. Huerta's regime, once an imposing monolith, is beginning to crumble.

April 21st

Battle of Veracruz
© History Oasis

The United States, viewing the turmoil south of the border with growing unease, intervenes.

The American navy seizes the port of Veracruz in a bid to choke off Huerta's supplies and limit the influence of Germany, a specter looming over the globe.

Mexico, already a tinderbox of tension, is set ablaze by the intrusion of a foreign power.

June

The revolutionaries score their most significant victory yet.

Zacatecas, a crucial city for Huerta due to its rich silver mines, falls to Pancho Villa's forces. The defeat sends shockwaves through Huerta's regime.

The end, it seems, is near.

July 15th

Huerta, the man who once wielded power with ruthless efficacy, resigns.

His departure, however, does not bring peace. Instead, it leaves behind a power vacuum, a void that threatens to consume Mexico.

August

Carranza declares himself the head of the Constitutional government.

His claim to power, however, is not uncontested.

Villa and Zapata, once allies in the fight against Huerta, turn against him. The revolution, once a united front against dictatorship, splinters into factions.

December

The year ends on a grim note.

The Convention of Aguascalientes, a failed attempt to unite the warring factions, leads to open conflict. Mexico, once again, descends into the chaos of war.

The revolutionaries, it seems, are destined to repeat the mistakes of the past.

1914 saw the revolution devour its children.

The ousting of Huerta, a victory that should have united the revolutionaries, instead sowed the seeds of division.

Mexico, caught in a whirlwind of revolution and intervention, finds itself on the brink of a civil war. The dream of a democratic Mexico, it seems, is slipping further away.

1915: THE REVOLUTION TURNS ON ITSELF

The Battle of Celaya
© History Oasis

January 10th

The year opens with a decisive battle in Celaya.

Alvaro Obregon, a general under Carranza, faces off against Villa's forces.

The battle, a clash of two revolutionary titans, marks a turning point in the revolution.

Villa, once a formidable force, suffers a crushing defeat. The revolutionaries, in a grim spectacle, have begun to devour their own.

April

A second confrontation at Celaya between Villa and Obregon further cements the latter's ascendency.

Villa's forces, once a source of fear for the old regime, are decimated.

The revolution, it seems, is becoming a war of attrition, a war where the lines between friend and foe blur into obscurity.

May

Carranza, buoyed by the victories at Celaya, declares himself the legitimate president of Mexico.

His claim, however, is far from universally accepted. Zapata, still controlling large areas in the south, refuses to acknowledge his authority.

The revolution, instead of unifying the nation, has fractured it further.

October

Carranza, in an attempt to consolidate his power, moves the capital to Veracruz.

The city, once a bustling port, now becomes the nerve centre of Carranza's regime. The move, however, is a tacit admission of the fragile nature of Carranza's rule.

December

The United States, in an attempt to stabilize the situation south of its border, gives de facto recognition to Carranza's government.

The move, though pragmatic, is a chilling reminder of the foreign interests at play in the revolution.

1915 was a year of shifting allegiances and brutal power struggles.

The revolution, once a beacon of hope, has become a labyrinth of conflict, a conflict where the revolutionaries are as much a threat to each other as they are to the remnants of the old order. The specter of Huerta's reign, it seems, continues to haunt Mexico.

1916: THE PUNITIVE EXPEDITION

The Punitive Expedition
© History Oasis

January

The year begins with no respite from the chaos.

Pancho Villa, the once beloved "Centaur of the North", disheartened by the U.S. government's recognition of Carranza's regime, takes a drastic step.

He attacks the town of Columbus, New Mexico, in an audacious cross-border raid. The incident, a stark reminder of the revolution's volatile nature, incites international tension.

March

In response to Villa's raid, the United States launches the Punitive Expedition, a military campaign aimed at capturing Villa.

The American forces, led by General John J. Pershing, penetrate deep into Mexican territory.

Yet, Villa remains elusive. The expedition, far from quelling the unrest, only stokes the flames of nationalism among the Mexican populace.

June

Carranza, eager to consolidate his rule, calls for a new constitution.

His move, however, is met with skepticism. The revolutionaries, embroiled in their own struggles, view Carranza's call as an attempt to legitimize his rule.

The Battle of Carrizal ends the Punitive Expedition.

November

Villa, despite being pursued by American forces, manages to regroup and launches a series of attacks against Carranza's forces.

His resurgence, albeit short-lived, underscores the fluid nature of the revolution.

December

The year ends on a grim note.

The revolution, once a beacon of hope for a brighter future, has degenerated into a morass of violence and chaos.

Carranza's proposed constitution, still a paper promise, offers little solace to a nation scarred by years of conflict.

1916 was a year when truth became malleable, shaped by the dictates of power and politics.

The revolution, once a clear struggle against the old order, had become a labyrinth of shifting allegiances, US and other foreign interventions, and personal ambitions. The promise of a democratic Mexico, seemed a distant dream.

1917: A NEW CONSTITUTION

Mexican constitutional convention
© History Oasis

January

© History Oasis

The year begins with a flicker of hope.

The Constitutional Convention, a gathering of revolutionary leaders, convenes in Queretaro.

The aim is to draft a new constitution, a roadmap for a democratic Mexico.

The revolutionary leaders, however, are divided, and reaching a consensus seems a Herculean task.

February 5th

Despite the divisions, the Constitutional Convention declares a new constitution.

It is a document both radical and pragmatic, offering sweeping reforms that touch upon every aspect of Mexican life.

Labour rights, land redistribution, and educational reforms are enshrined in its pages.

Yet, the constitution, much like the revolution itself, is a beast of contradiction. It offers a vision of equality and justice while being born in the crucible of conflict and chaos.

March

Carranza, the man who once vied for power in the tumultuous world of the revolution, is elected president under the new constitution.

His rule, however, is far from stable. The blood of the revolution is still fresh, and its spirit restless.

April

Zapata, the champion of agrarian reform and a thorn in the side of Carranza's regime, continues his struggle in the south.

His Plan de Ayala, a call for land reform, strikes a chord with the peasants. The revolution, it seems, has not quelled the hunger for justice.

October

The Russian Revolution erupts halfway across the world.

The event sends shockwaves through Mexico. The revolutionaries, already steeped in their own struggle, find themselves grappling with the implications of a world increasingly defined by ideological divides.

1917 was a year of contradictions.

The declaration of a new constitution offered a glimpse of a democratic Mexico, yet the reality was far from the ideal.

The revolutionaries, once united against a common foe, found themselves divided. The spirit of the revolution, restless and untamed, continued to shape the destiny of Mexico.

1918: THE PROMISE OF PEACE REMAINS ELUSIVE

Mexican Revolution battle
© History Oasis

January

The year begins with the continued American pursuit of Villa, a task that seems increasingly futile.

The Punitive Expedition, launched with such fanfare two years prior, is now seen as a quagmire. Villa, despite being cornered, continues to elude capture.

March

The Punitive Expedition is officially called off.

The American forces, having failed to capture Villa, withdraw from Mexican soil. The episode, though seen as a failure for the Americans, further galvanizes Villa's image as a symbol of Mexican resistance.

June

The Spanish flu pandemic begins its deadly march across the globe. Mexico, already ravaged by the revolution, is not spared.

The pandemic adds another layer of suffering to a nation already teetering on the brink.

August

Carranza, in an attempt to maintain some semblance of control, continues his push for a new constitution.

The document, though promising sweeping reforms, is seen as a hollow gesture by many Mexicans.

November

The end of the First World War sends shockwaves around the globe.

Mexico, despite being consumed by its own internal strife, is not immune to these tremors. The end of the global conflict raises questions about the future trajectory of the Mexican revolution.

December

The year ends with Mexico still in the grip of revolution.

Carranza's rule, far from stabilizing the nation, has only deepened the divides. The promise of the revolution remains a distant and elusive dream.

1918 was a year of desperation and disillusionment.

The revolution, once hailed as a beacon of hope, had become a quagmire of violence, disease, and political maneuvering.

The Mexican people were left yearning for a peace that seemed perpetually out of reach.

1919: THE ASSASSINATION OF ZAPATA

Emiliano Zapata assassination
© History Oasis

January

The year begins with Mexico in a state of weary uncertainty.

The revolution, once a clarion call for change, has become a protracted struggle, seeping into the very marrow of the nation. The people live in an unsettling reality where peace feels like an elusive dream.

April 10th

A grim event marks the course of the revolution.

Emiliano Zapata, a beacon of hope for the peasants and a symbol of resistance against Carranza's regime, is assassinated.

His death, a calculated move orchestrated by Carranza, sends shockwaves through the country.

The revolution loses one of its most revered figures.

May

In response to Zapata's assassination, Zapatista rebels launch a series of attacks against Carranza's forces.

The death of their leader, rather than breaking their spirit, fuels their determination. The revolution, it seems, is far from over.

August

Carranza, in an effort to consolidate his rule and legitimize his regime, pushes for the implementation of the 1917 constitution.

His efforts, however, are seen by many as too little, too late.

November

The unrest continues unabated. Villa, despite the odds, remains a thorn in Carranza's side. His forces, though reduced in number, continue to challenge the government troops.

December

The year ends with the revolution still raging. The promise of a brighter future, the dream that sparked the revolution, feels like a distant echo.

1919 was a year marked by loss and defiance.

The assassination of Zapata was a blow to the revolution, yet it also served to fuel the flames of resistance. The revolution seemed stuck in a relentless cycle of conflict, with the hope for peace seemingly just out of reach.

1920: THE MEXICAN REVOLUTION BURNS ITSELF OUT

the end of the Mexican Revoltuion
© History Oasis

April

The year opens with a sense of unease.

Carranza, the man who once promised to lead Mexico into a new era, is increasingly seen as a despot.

His autocratic rule, his reluctance to implement the agrarian reforms promised by the 1917 constitution, and his attempt to install a puppet successor, all fan the flames of discontent.

May 21st

The discontent culminates in a chilling event.

Carranza, the man who once rode the storm of revolution, is assassinated.

His death is eerily reminiscent of Madero's fate, a chilling echo of the past. The revolution, it seems, is trapped in a cycle of bloodshed.

June

Obregon, the general who once led the charge against Villa, ascends to power.

His rise, however, is not heralded by the trumpets of victory, but by the sighs of a war-weary nation.

The revolution, once a fiery beast of change, is spent. The will of the people, a force that once threatened to topple the old order, is now a flicker struggling to survive in the face of exhaustion.

November

Obregon is officially elected president.

His rule, however, is marked not by the spirit of revolution, but by pragmatism. He begins to rebuild the shattered nation, focusing on stability over radical reform.

December

photo of Gildardo Magana
© History Oasis

Zapata, the champion of the peasants, is long dead, but his spirit lives on.

The Zapatistas, under the leadership of Gildardo Magaña, negotiate with Obregon. The Zapatistas, once the vanguard of revolution, now seek to secure their gains within the confines of the new order.

1920 was a year of harsh realities.

The dream of revolution, once a beacon of hope, had given way to a grim reality. The old order was gone, but the new was far from the utopia the revolutionaries had envisioned.

The revolution, once a mighty force, had burned itself out, leaving behind a nation struggling to pick up the pieces.

The Mexican Revolution was a grim tableau of power struggles, betrayals, and the relentless grind of revolution.

It was a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and a stark reminder of the capacity of power to corrupt.

Its consequences would reverberate through generations to come.

NEXT