Introduction involvement in the Mexican revolution from 1913-1917


The Mexican revolution was a never-ending struggle among several
leaders, which resulted in the thirty years of dictatorship in Mexico and the
establishment of a constitutional republic. The Mexican Revolution, even after
a hundred years, remains an important reference point in Mexican
politics. The Mexican Revolution lays the basis of the politic structure
of contemporary Mexico until the present. Nevertheless, United States was one
of the most important factors which led to the establishment of modern Mexico.

To what extent did the united states involvement in the Mexican revolution from
1913-1917 influence Carranza’s presidency?

The United States made it seem like
she was only helping Mexican regain peace, yet twice the military interfered.

As historian John S.D. Eisenhower stated that the United States did nothing to
help the welfare of Mexico, in fact planted hatred in the Mexicans until the
present.1 From
the fall of Diaz to Madero, Huerta then Carranza, one can deduce that the
United States only supported leaders of their own interest. United States
became interest in Mexican affairs after the assassination of Madero. The
United States president Howard Taft was not pleased with the ruling of Huerta,
so Huerta was overthrown by Villa and Carranza. In the end, the United States
supported Carranza because Villa raided New Mexico. This essay will address the
reason of United States invasions, the similarities and differences of Madero
and Carranza’s presidency, the struggles Carranza has with Villa and Zapata due
to his betrayal during the Mexican Revolution with United States’ support, and
the conflicts Carranza had with United states to bring his country’s oil
industry under Mexican’s control, which eventually causing the fall of Carranza
in 1918.



       The relationship between
Mexico and the United States prior to the Mexican Revolution were close to
begin with. After Porfirio Diaz comes to power in 1876, Mexico began to have a
closer relationship with foreign countries, especially United States, in order
to strengthen economy.2
He strengthened industries from 10,000 barrels in 1901 to around 13 million by
Diaz ruled for the longest time in Mexico, from year 1876 – 1910. However, he made
Mexico into a well-developed Country. One of the most significant developments
was the production of railroads in Mexico. By 1910, Mexico built 10,000 miles
of track, which provided numerous ways to transport goods and people.4
Furthermore, the railways ran all the way to Veracruz, the capital city of
Mexico. The railroad is significant because it united the country together. Not
only that, Diaz was loved by his people. Ever since his victory at the war with
France in 1862, he has been viewed as a hero by the people. Yet, his desires to
keep a close relationship with the United States made the few Mexicans
reluctant to support Diaz, especially the indigenous groups. This resulted in
bandits from both countries taking advantage of the mutual trust between the
two countries and differing legal codes of both nations.5
Even so, Diaz kept a somewhat good relationship with the United States.

Furthermore, the United States also recognized Diaz government due to their
supporters in congress to build a railway line between Mexico City and El
Pasco, Texas.6 On
the other hand, his government was considered a military government. He killed
those who went against his ideas. Furthermore, he rotates his generals around
regularly, to prevent forces rising up against him as well as everyone needed
to by loyal to him.7 He
only supported the rich, which causes the oppression of the poor and created a
gap between the wealthy and the poor. In the end, resulted in the loss of
support of the people and the army.8
Without of the main source, Diaz completely grew powerless. Thus, in year 1911,
Diaz lost to another leader of Mexico, Madero. Madero was a young and
inexperienced leader that supported democracy.9
He had many ideas but soon realized the problems it created. In the end, Madero
disappointed the people of Mexico. Twelve month later, Francisco L. Madero was
assassinated in office. This threw Mexico into confusion. Again, Mexico needed
a new person to step up the leadership of Mexico. Then, Huerta, Diaz’s friend,
decided to take the leadership role and became the next leader of Mexico.

Huerta, on the other hand, supported Diaz’s regime.          In fact, he made Mexico into a country of military
government. As the famous British historian Alan Knight said, “The
consistent thread which ran through the Huerta regime, from start to finish,
was militarization: the growth and reliance on the Federal Army, the military
takeover of public offices, the preference for military over political
solutions, the militarization of society in general.”10
With such a regime, many leaders started rising up again to overthrow a
military government. Such leaders were Venustiano Carranza, governor of Coahuila
during the time, Francisco Villa, also known as “Pancho” Villa, and Emiliano
Zapata. All three of the forces came to importance as lastly Carranza became
the leader of Mexico in 1917.


Madero and Carranza

     The aims of Venustiano Carranza’s
regime were similar to that of Francisco Madero’s during the Mexican
revolution. First of all, Madero and Carranza believed in capitalism. Both
Madero and Carranza disagreed with the way Diaz had ruled the country. They
thought that militarism was not the best solution, democracy is. However, both
leaders failed to accomplish their goals during office. As historian Benjamin
Keen and Keith Haynes stated, both Madero and Carranza promised democracy, but
meant democracy for the upper class and elites only.11
Madero and Carranza did nothing to the huge gap of the upper and lower class,
therefore the majorities, which were the lower class, were disappointed. It was
also ironic how both leaders in fact promised agrarian reforms but neither of
them redistributed the land. They believed that the only way for Mexico to
modernize was to give lands to the rich landowners.12 Furthermore, both leaders had the United States support
during their years in office. The United States only recognizes governments that
were willing to keep a close relationship with them, and Wilson, the United States
president during the time, feared that the bond between Mexico and United
States were to be broken if military leaders like Huerta continued to be in

      On the other hands, despite all the
similarities of Carranza and Madero, there are also many contrasts of their
years in office. Even though both leaders were nationalists, Carranza was a
pragmatist and Madero was an idealist.14 An idealist accepts moral principles
whether it is good or bad, and a pragmatist rejects moral principles.15
Madero’s democracy used social control to promote capitalistic ideas, like
limiting knowledge of the people through education.16
Madero also did not wanted re-election of presidents. Yet all Carranza hoped
for was economic and political stability. Due to all the damages during the
revolution and all the property taking by the United States, Carranza hoped for
nothing but for Mexico to settle down. Furthermore, Carranza valued human
rights and supported a constitutional government. Thus, he drafted the constitution
of 1917 during office.17


United States and the
Monroe Doctrine

        The United States’ president Wilson
always had an interest in Carranza, therefore supported Carranza during the
revolution to become the upcoming leader of Mexico after Diaz. Perhaps this was
not the first time United States had intervened in Latin America. As historian
Friedrich Katz stated, “Every victorious faction between 1910 and 1919
enjoyed the sympathy, and in most cases the direct support of U.S. authorities
in its struggle for power.”18
It is certain that the United States intervened Mexico stems from the Monroe
Doctrine theory. The Monroe Doctrine, allows United States to intervene
militarily in any region of Latin America. Thus, there was a long history of
U.S. intervention in Latin America prior to the Mexican Revolution. United
States had interfered in many countries other than Mexico, like Argentina.19
Due to this theory, United States intervened twice in Mexico legally, which
continuously threw Mexico into confusion. As historian E. B. Burns stated, “No
nation intervened with in Mexican affairs more vigorously than the United
States.”20 President
Wilson became interested in Mexican affairs after the murder of Madero. First
time the United States intervened was occupation of Veracruz because President
Wilson from the United States were displeased with Huerta’s government. By the
time, the United States had already recognized Carranza. The second time the
United States intruded Mexico was capturing Villa because of the small damage
he made in the city of New Mexico, Columbus. Both of the intervention United
States almost destroyed Mexico. Furthermore, President Wilson send troops to
Carranza’s forces and supported Carranza, which resulted in Carranza’s rise in
power as well as his fall of power.


Carranza’s relationship with his allies during the Mexican revolution

      As Carranza was preoccupied to defend
from his previous allies during the Mexican Revolution, he did little changes
in office. Again, since President Woodrow Wilson and the United States had an
interest of Carranza, the United States supported Carranza in his battles with
Villa during the Revolution. The United States thought that Villa was not a manipulative
leader and barbaric because Villa was viewed as a great leader with terrible
temper. As john S.D.Eisenhower Stated “Villa never learned to control his
passions and appetites. His principal biographer remarked, ‘Villa… had more of
a jaguar about him than a man.'”21 it
is valuable because it portraits the views of Villa during that time period. This
resulted in Carranza getting the upper hand and Villa’s fall of power. Furious,
Villa raided the city of New Mexico, Columbus, which was United States’ territory.

Then, on March 14, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson launched the “punitive expedition”
to catch Villa.22 A
punitive expedition meant sending a military group to punish someone from
outside the border. Which meant, invading the territory of Mexico. Furthermore,
the expedition took almost a year, until February 7, 1917. This meant that
United States’ soldiers were in Mexican soil for almost a year. NO matter what
it is more than an intervention, more of an invasion.23
Most important of all, after a year of chase, the United States were still
unable to catch Villa. Eventually, president Wilson had to call off the
expedition. This event was seen as a really significant event during the
Mexican Revolution which enormously influenced Carranza’s years in office. Due
to United States’ intervention, Mexico was thrown into confusion. Nevertheless,
Carranza stepped up as president of Mexico in 1917. However, Carranza’s
relationship with his fellow comrades during the Mexican Revolution was never
the same. Zapata and Obregon were both against the leadership of Carranza due
to the United States support. Furthermore, there were still Diaz’s political
groups who were rising against Carranza. Every day during office, Carranza was
in the danger of being attacked anytime.24


The United States and Carranza’s Government

        The United States continued to
intervene even after Carranza’s became the president. Carranza, on the other
hand, knew he needed to act to stop United States from interfering. So, he
drafted the constitution of 1917, which was a way to unite Mexicans together
again as well as to keep the United States out. President Wilson was not pleased
with the Constitution, especially article 27.25 Article
27 restricts land to be controlled by foreign countries. This meant that United
States were no longer able to have territories in Mexico. However, Article 27
could not apply to foreign countries as it is a constitution for Mexico only,
therefore it was futile to draft article 27.26 In
the end, the Constitution of 1917 was considered to be a radical idea instead
of liberal.27 Though
the United States was not pleased with the Constitution, further intervention
would ruin the relationship between Mexico, so the Constitution was implemented
in the end.



Carranza’s Presidency

         Some articles also showed that it was
not mainly the United States that made Carranza’s presidency fall apart. As
E.B. Burns stated “…heCarranza exercised little control over the proceedings.

Ideological differences split the delegates. The radicals, supported by Obregón,
gained control and imposed their views.” 28 The reason of his fall is due to
popular support, that he never had popular support when he came in power as the
leader of Mexico. This implies that Carranza was rather viewed as a traitor
than a hero. This is shown through the provision of 1917. Land and labor
remained the basic issues for the Mexican people, but Carranza chose to
overlook the constitutional provisions dealing with these issues and returned
lands expropriated during the Revolution. This suggests that Carranza failed to keep Mexico in control after
suffering such loss. Though John S.D. Eisenhower argues that “Carranza
triumphed over his rivals because of his political acuity, which led to his
policy of unswerving hostility to the United States, an immensely popular stand
in Mexico.” 29
He states that Carranza had a popular stand in Mexico and that the United
States was the main cause of the fall of Carranza. Carranza did little change
in office only to gain back the oil industry that the United States took from
Mexico. Furthermore, Villa attacked Columbus only due to Carranza’s recognition
by the United States. By 1917, Mexico produced over 55 million barrels
of crude oil, which had become of crucial strategic importance to the British,
and by extension to the Allied, war effort; Carranza threatened to set fire to
the oil fields if the Americans invaded.30 He was also a good leader. Carranza
maintained a policy of formal neutrality during the war, influenced by the
anti-American sentiment that the United States’ various interventions and
invasions during the last century had caused.31 Relations between Carranza and Wilson were often strained,
particularly after the proclamation of the new constitution, which marked the
participation of Mexico in the Great War.32 Nevertheless, Carranza was able to make the best out of a
complicated situation; his government was officially recognized by Germany at
the beginning of 1917, and by the United States on August 31, 1917, the latter
as a direct consequence of the Zimmermann telegram as a measure to ensure
Mexico’s continued neutrality in the war.33 Even though
the United States helped Carranza to gain power, she also obtained many
territories from Mexico (eg. Columbus, New Mexico). The United States is a
great factor that negatively impacted the fall of Carranza’s presidency.



     Supported by the Monroe
Doctrine, United States interventions in the Mexican politics of the Revolution
was not light and that under pretexts of protecting foreign interests, they had
to influence to choose who would be in power, thus showing their significant
role. Therefore, the United States lay the basis of Mexico, economically,
politically and socially. Being the president of Mexico, Carranza also
struggled to bring the country together without further connections with the
United States. During office, Carranza also had conflict with both his allies,
and the United States. Carranza’s previous allies despised him due to his
betrayal act during the Mexican Revolution. Twice the United States intervened
in the Mexican Revolution through force. United States was also against
Carranza of drafting article 27 of the Constitution of 1917 as it restricted
the United States of owning Mexican land. The United States involvements in the
Mexican revolution invoked the hatred of the Mexicans until now. There still
seems to be tension between Mexico and United States. To a great extent,
the United States involvements during the Mexican Revolution influenced
Carranza’s presidency.

1 John S. D. Elsenhower, INTERVENTIONS! – The United
States and the Mexican Revolution 1913 – 1917. W. W. Norton Company New York,
London, p. xii


2 Jürgen Buchenau, “Foreign Policy, 1821–76,”
in Encyclopedia of Mexico, vol. 1, p. 500, Chicago: Fitzroy
Dearborn 1997.                 

3″The ousting of Porfirio
Diaz.” The ousting of Porfirio Diaz | History Today                                          

4Planque, Louis de, et al.

“The Mexican Revolution and the United States in the Collections of the Library
of CongressMexico During the Porfiriato.” Mexico During the Porfiriato
– The Mexican Revolution and the United States | Exhibitions – Library of

5Garner, Paul H. Porfirio
Di?az. Routledge, 2016. 146                                                                                      

6 C. Hackett, “The
Recognition of the Díaz Government by the United States,” Southwestern
Historical Quarterly, XXVIII, 1925, 34–55.

7 Minster, Christopher. “How
Did Porfirio Diaz Stay in Power for 35 Years?” ThoughtCo

8 John S.D.Eisenhower iv

9 Schneider, Ronald M. Latin
American Political History, Westview Press, 2006. 168.

10Knight, Alan. The Mexican Revolution: Counter-Revolution
and Reconstruction, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990 page 62.

11Keen, Benjamin, and Keith
Haynes. A History of Latin America. Wadsworth Cengage Learning,
2013. 327

12Keen, and Haynes. 327

13Horne, Charles F., et
al. The great events by famous historians: a comprehensive and readable
account of the worlds history, emphasizing the more important events, and
presenting these as complete narratives in the master-Words of the most eminent
historians. National Alumni, 1926.

14Britton, John A. Revolution
and ideology: images of the Mexican Revolution in the United States. 1995.

dichotomy:” Objectivism101

16Rosales, Francisco A. Chicano!:
the history of the Mexican American civil rights movement. Arte Pu?blico
Press, 1997.

17Héctor Aguilar Camín;
Lorenzo Meyer (1993). In the shadow of the Mexican revolution:
contemporary Mexican history, 1910–1989. University of Texas Press.

p. 63. ISBN 0-292-70451-8.

18 Friedrich Katz, The Secret War in Mexico:
Europe, the United States, and the Mexican Revolution. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press 1981, p. 563.

19 Bethell, Leslie. The Cambridge history of
Latin America. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2008. 20

20 E. B. Burns, Latin America: A concise interpretive
history, 6th edition, 203

21 John S.D.Eisenhower, INTERVENTIONS!: The United
States and the Mexican Revolution 1913-1917, W.W.Norton & company, New
York, London, p. xvii

22 Hurst, James W. Pancho Villa and Black Jack
Pershing: the Punitive Expedition in Mexico. Praeger, 2008. x

23 Hurst xvi

24 Buffington, Robert, et al. Mexico: An
Encyclopedia of Contemporary Culture and History. ABC-CLIO Interactive,
2004. 69

25 Huck, James D. Mexico: a global studies
handbook. ABC-CLIO, 2008. 87

26 Niemeyer, E. Victor. Revolution at
Quere?taro: the Mexican constitutional convention of 1916-1917. Published
for the Institute of Latin American Studies by the University of Texas Press,

27 D’Antonio, William V.; Pike, Fredrick B.

(1964). Religion, Revolution, and Reform: New Forces for Change in
Latin America. Praeger. p. 66.

28 Burns 199

29 John S.D. Eisenhower, p.


30 Grayson, George
(1981). The Politics of Mexican Oil, p. 10, University of
Pittsburgh Press, USA.

31 Stacy, Lee (2002). Mexico
and the United States, Volume 3, p. 869, Marshall Cavendish, USA.

32 Meyer, Lorenzo (1977). Mexico
and the United States in the oil controversy, 1917-1942, p. 45, University
of Texas Press, USA.

33 Paterson, Thomas; Clifford,
John Garry; Hagan, Kenneth J. (1999). American Foreign Relations: A
History since 1895, p. 51, Houghton Mifflin College Division, USA.


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