Mexican Revolution

warfare, tactics, politics

The Mexican Revolution

The Mexican Revolution occurred between 1879-1920 when victories depended on the money behind politicians. There was a long line of political figures who struggled for power in this Revolution. Some victorious revolutionaries used their political powers for their own gain. Including forced re-election, favoritism to the wealthy, and more land for wealthy landowners. All of these gains politicians wanted were done through the abuse of minorities. Even when there were leaders who didn't abuse Mexico's resources, the continuous struggle was with the morals of the politicians. It was a continuous threat that was only settled in Mexico approx. 41 years after its Revolution's beginning.

Main question: So what influenced soldiers to fight, was it the inept leadership, or just desire for land? The way historians address the soldiers is; “If they did not fight for land, they would have to watch their families starve” (Stein)

Porfirio Diaz becomes President.

Former general Porfirio Diaz became president of Mexico in 1877. President Diaz's reform policies made Mexico a democracy, however, he used the system as a dictatorship. Being in power from 1877-1880 and 1884-1911. He served more years than a democracy allows. He is now blamed for instilling corruption in the government that favored rich land-owners. The rich bought the land rights of peasants. The rich worked on haciendas, that only produced one food, while peasants worked on ejidos that had small portions of diverse crops. President Diaz saw ejidos as less economical. He favored rich landowners making haciendas. Haciendas as large farms, produced abundant profitable crops such as sugar. He ultimately wanted to make Mexico more rich, but only for some Mexicans.

The birth of a hero, Zapata

In 1879 Emiliano Zapata was born in the small village of Anenecuilco. Zapata was part of a Native American group descendant of the Aztecs. They were not the wealthiest of people, quite the opposite, and had very little land. The aztecs being Native Americans, were looked down upon by The land was the currency of that time so their small farms were viewed inferior to haciendas. During childhood and adulthood, Zapata saw his neighbors have their farms unjustly stolen by hacienda owners. The hacienda owners were allowed to do that under the 1857 constitution that rejected the church having land. Since most the land had been owned by the Catholic church, this law was meant to disperse the lands to the poor. It backfired as hacienda owners began categorizing peasants as members of the church, and judges in court sided with the hacienda owners. This deeply affected Zapata throughout his life, he kept to the belief of giving back to the poor.


All across Mexico there were uprisings to remove the corrupt government officials. The government didn’t care for the need of its peasants and its workers. A good example; “Diaz was a dictator who smashed those who dared to oppose him. He ignored social welfare programs” (Stein 30). The leaders to revolt were General Pancho Villa in the North and General Emiliano Zapata in the South. The men, women, and children fighting in the revolution were primarily lower class. Those supporting Zapata followed his idea of returning the land to lower class. That took the form of burning down haciendas and soldiers farming the land with rifles at hand. To fight off any opposing group of people. The crops grown would then either go to the revolutionaries, or the peasants that supported the revolution. The people supporting Villa raided cattle farms, stores, and other businesses for supplies. They sought fair wages in the industrial workforce and equal rights. Both armies mustered horses and rifles to support military engagements.

Game Over

Porfirio Diaz left office without warning in 1911 after the uprisings in the North and South. Fearing for his life and desiring to be out of the conflict. Leaving the position open for a clean election, that did occur. With the new President being Francisco Madero, who was an honest man that fed the poor "at his own table" (Stein 18). The general idea in Mexico was that Madero would bring change.

Zapata's Resolve

After fighting for a new government and coming victorious. In 1912, Emiliano Zapata returned to his village in Morelos to begin a new society. Under the 'plan of Ayala', that focused on redistributing taken farmlands to farmers. Zapata's follower's took over haciendas and returned them to the poor. He worked on his belief keeping to a life on an ejido, horse riding, and farming. Staying out of politics for there was mild stability at the time.

Return of Chaos

In 1913, after the shock of President Madero taking inaction toward legislation for two years. Politicians and citizens became frustrated. As mentioned: "The president angered the rich by claiming to favor land reform, and at the same time he frustrated the poor by failing to act" (Stein 21). So they (soldiers) sought for renewal the only way known at the time; rebellion. It came upon a leader who those with such resentment could follow. That leader was General Victoriano Huerta, who ordered his men to arrest the president and later kill him. Those loyal to Huerta began to wage war against those loyal to Madero. As Huerta attempted to gain control of the nation. By eliminating the troops of the people in power.


In 1914, General Huerta after being defective leaves Mexico. Having his troops be surrounded and losing their support for him. He escaped to Cuba, meanwhile Generals Zapata, Villa, Obregon, and Carranza met in Mexico City. During the meeting, people feared those loyal to Zapata or 'Zapatistas' to come and slaughter those Anglo-Saxon. For the reason, that Zapatistas consisted of Native Americans who were taken their lands and their rights. During the meeting, Zapatistas peacefully walked into the city to buy supplies and leave. While those following Pancho Villa that consisted of a mixed race between Anglo-Saxon and Native Americans. Known as Villistas, shot rifles, raided stores, and assaulted civilians. Leaving the racial fears empty in comparison to societal problems. At the end of the meeting, Zapata was irritated by how the other Generals each desired presidency. Seeking the position for monetary profit, that can be attained through legislation.

The New Leader

General Carranza becomes president in 1917, in what Zapata saw as a betrayal. After speaking with Carranza to make sense of why he chose the position. Zapata is made the enemy of the government. As the "plan of Ayala" or the redistribution of land that Zapata achieved. Came in the way of production and only decreased incomes from large haciendas. Carranza aimed to keep power through the economy.


Followers of Zapata (Zapatistas), were attacked by followers of Carranza. The battles that ensued were mainly guerilla tactics deployed by Zapatistas. At night, shooting soldiers behind cover, so as to make every hill or turn a possible death. In the day, Zapatistas only resumed fieldwork and denied military activity. The means of battle were on foot or horseback, using a single shot rifle, revolver, or sword. The only deep loss came when Zapata was executed in 1919 when heading to meet a rebel leader recruit. Who was actually loyal to Carranza and wanted Zapata dead. In the meeting itself after a traditional greeting was told. At the end of the greeting, a firing squad revealed itself and shot dead Emiliano Zapata. Along with firing at the ten soldiers with him at the time.


President Carranza attempted to muster an army to solidify reign. Having no direct opponent to his position of power. However, he was killed in the attempts to do so. Stepping up as leader was General Obregon. Who after becoming president brings some stability to Mexico. His presidency in 1920 marked the end to the Mexican Revolution. Although much blood was shed and little progress was made in such a long frame of time. There was the support for cultural figures who fought that still exists today. The people never forgot about the ideals of each General. Leaving behind a legacy of followers not wishing for the continuation of a single dominant class.

Resources in MLA Citations

"Staff Pages."Staff Site. Web. 20 Sept. 2015.

A website editorial created by Leah Angelo, who’s not known to be a Historian, but a blogger. The information presented gives general information on Porfirio Diaz. This overview can help learning by making clear the information, and listing important information to further research. The information itself is unreliable and can not be utilized as a primary source. There is no list of primary sources in the website either, so this text can only be used for research understanding and not presentation use.

"Contenido no Disponible" Discovery. Web. 20 Sept. 2015.

This is a website that utilizes historical images from archives or photographers. The images reference historical events such as the Mexican Revolution, and is useful for finding images of historical figures. The images used for the Mexican Revolution in this website are a secondary source. There’s no information presented on the events in the Mexican Revolution. So this resource is limited to visuals in a presentation.

" History of Emiliano Zapata - The Mexican Revolution - Mexico." History of Emiliano Zapata - The Mexican Revolution - Mexico. Web. 20 Sept. 2015. An online resource that has a general textual overview of Emiliano Zapata’s life. The website can not be trusted equal to a printed book. Having this information on a website is possible by historians and non-historians alike. The website can be referenced for it’s image of Zapata, however, its history of Zapata is a secondary source that’s unreliable for use in a presentation.

"On This Date in Latin America - February 9, 1913: The Decena Tragica. "Americas South and North. 9 Feb. 2013. Web. 21 Sept. 2015.

Stein, R. Conrad. The Story of Mexico. Greensboro, NC: Morgan Reynolds Pub., 2012 Print.

Product of writer R. Conrad Stein that has researched Mexican History since 1995. Seeking to inform people of the various events nations have faced. He presents an in depth summary of the events known in the Mexican Revolution. Providing a specialised text that can be used to fully understand individual roles in the Revolution. Limited to records of past articles and is a secondary source at best.

Stein, R. Conrad. Emiliano Zapata: Revolutionary and Champion of Poor Farmers. Chanhassen, MN: Child's World, 2004. Print.

Created by R. Conrad Stein having several years writing about the Mexican Revolution. Made as a brief summary of his study, for the purpose of informing younger audiences. Being a faster means of finding prominent figures and names of key events. However leaving out in depth supporting information and not having primary sources.