Political affairs—Revolution. Organization of revolutionary government of Francisco I. Madero. Suspension of constitutional guaranties. Message of President Diaz. Armistice and treaty of peace. Resignation of President Diaz. Provisional presidency of de la Barra. Recognition of de la Barra’s Government by the United States. Progressive Constitutional party convention and platform. Message of President de la Barra. Election and inauguration of President Madero. Arrest of Gen. Reyes in the United States. Measures taken in anti-American demonstrations and to prevent breach of neutrality laws. Action of diplomatic corps in City of Mexico. Transportation of Mexican troops through border States of the United States

Note.—The events directly tributary to the following correspondence go back at least as far as April 2, 1903, when, organized opposition to the Government of President Díaz having appeared at the State elections of Nuevo León, the State authorities suppressed a large but pacific demonstration of Oppositionists at Monterrey, not without bloodshed. In 1905 the Nuevo Leonese elections again impending, the opposition formed “Benito Juárez Democratic Clubs,” which ramified through the State. A State convention was called, which out of prudence was held in the City of Mexico, where a platform was drafted with “No reelection for governor or municipal presidents” as its chief plank. This convention attracted national attention, as did the occurrences of election day, which showed the futility of opposition at the polls.

The opposition received new strength in 1908 in consequence of a statement of President Díaz to James Creelman, published in the March number of Pearson’s Magazine, where the President was quoted as declaring, “No matter what my friends and, supporters say, I retire when my presidential term of office ends, and L shall not serve again. * * * I welcome an opposition party in the Mexican Republic. * * * If it can develop power, not to exploit but to govern, I will stand by it.” This interview encouraged the formation of the No reelection or Antireelection Party, and hastened the publication (October, 1908) of Francisco I. Madero’s book, “La Sucesión Presidencial,” which voiced that party’s sentiments and had for its immediate object the formation of a public opinion against the reelection of President Díaz in 1910.

[Page 349]

While such pacific propaganda was going on, many revolutionists, not content to await the result of the 1910 elections, gathered on the border, and occasional armed conflicts occurred on or close to the boundary line, as when on June 26, 1908, some 40 men, who had somehow armed themselves on the American side of the border, attacked the Mexican garrison at Las Vacas, opposite the railway junction at Del Rio, Tex., withdrawing after losing several men and exhausting their ammunition. Such attacks, shared in by men of considerable education and ardent political partisanship, added greatly to the tasks of the United States Federal officers, whose regular work had been to deal with cattle thieves, smugglers, and fugitives. Of the vigilance of these officers President Díaz spoke as follows on September 16, 1908, in his message to the Mexican Congress:

When attacks were made on small border towns by bands of outlaws the Washington Government has not only concentrated forces along the boundary line to prevent the fleeing marauders from seeking refuge in American territory, but has also instituted prosecutions for violation of the neutrality laws against individuals who had made plans in the United States for raids into Mexico. (For. Rel., 1908, p. 604.)

But successful cooperation with the Mexican Government was made difficult by the inability of the Government of the United States legally to arrest propagandists or forbid traffic in arms and ammunition, where there was no breach or no procurable evidence of a breach of the neutrality statutes.

The problem for both Governments was aggravated by a general antipathy in Mexico of Americans, largely caused by a special dislike of those Americans who, for business reasons, were coming into Mexico in steadily increasing numbers. Responded to in kind, this mutual border feeling was intensified by the attacks across the line. Out of such conditions started various local or State organizations of Americans, such as the Texas Rangers. These naturally attracted the fire of the bolder Mexican outlaws, and on July 31, 1910, border rancor was greatly inflamed by the killing of Ranger Lieut. Carnes and Constable West by a body of Mexicans who crossed the Rio Grande at San Benito, Tex., made an attack and escaped across the river into Mexico. Feeling ran high in Texas on this occasion, but was not expressed in reprisals until precipitated by the act of an alleged Mexican citizen, Antonio Rodríguez, who for the rape and murder of an American woman was burned alive at Rock Springs, Tex., in 1910. This caused in turn fresh reprisals by Mexicans, which were now directed not only; against the persons of American citizens, but also against the United States Government as represented by consular residences, the flag, and the like. Demonstrations both peaceful and violent were reported from far within the interior of Mexico.

Meantime the prediction of the Antireelection Party that President Díaz would run again, in spite of what he had declared to Creelman, was realized. The President, who was 80 years old and had been President for 34 years, announced his candidacy for his eighth term, which would begin November 30, 1910, and last six years. He had selected for Vice President Don Ramón Corral, leader of the “Científicos” and thoroughly unpopular. Gen. Bernardo Reyes, governor of the State of Nuevo Léon, who had been minister [Page 350] of war on President Díaz’s staff, was reported to be opposed to the reelection of Vice President Corral, and many persons advocated that Gen. Reyes himself be elected Vice President. In the midst of the campaign Gen. Reyes went to Mexico City and, soon after, to Europe on a special military mission.

The opposition nominated Francisco I. Madero, of Monterrey, for President. Madero came from a very wealthy and very influential family, most of whom had always been staunch supporters of President Díaz, and, although they greatly respected their distinguished relative, many of the family openly declared in favor of Díaz. Francisco Madero had written a book, above referred to, which had had a wide circulation, and which emphasized the probability that a Corral administration would be even worse than the Díaz régime. It said:

The nation can never separate the name of Señor Corral from the iniquitous Yaqui war. * * * He answers perfectly all the requirements that the President desires his successor to possess, and the nation must not hope anything from him but a prolongation of absolute power, with the fresh aggravations that he will have to employ in order to impose his authority (p. 262). The problem, therefore, is reduced to this: Which is the best for the nation, the continuation of the present absolutism or the introduction of democratic practices? (p. 292).

The book was well written and its author was also a fluent speaker. During the 1910 campaign he went about for months, urging the people to rise against the existing tyranny and fight with what weapons they could find for the reestablishment of constitutional government.

The election date was June 26, 1910. On June 5, in the midst of his campaign, Madero was arrested at Monterrey on a charge of having concealed a fugitive from justice—Roque Estrada, Madero’s own secretary, and habitually in Madero’s house. Madero was taken to San Luis Potosí, where he was convicted of sedition, held until after the elections were over, and then, through the efforts of friends, released on 8,000 pesos bail, with restriction, however, to the limits of San Luis Potosí, where he was kept under observation. (File No. 812.00/351.) Other Antireelectionists were similarly treated. Some escaped and fled to revolutionary centers in the United States, where their writings and other activities greatly emboldened the revolutionists. Two of these, Ricardo and Enrique Mores Magón, were indicted by the United States Federal grand jury for violating the neutrality laws; Ricardo was convicted and imprisoned; Enrique continued writing widely quoted articles. (File No. 812.00/350.)

The tasks of the United States Federal officers were greatly increased when, on October 6, 1910, Madero escaped from San Luis Potosí to San Antonio, Tex., general headquarters of the revolutionary junta (file No. 812.00/351), and was at once announced in the press as its president and leader of the revolution. (San Antonio Express, Oct. 11, 1910, file No. 812.00/352.) A few days later, in a manifesto addressed “To the American people,” he declared that all he asked was “the hospitality which all free peoples have always accorded to those from other lands who strive for liberty.” (File No. 812.00/353.)

Madero came prepared, with a specific revolutionary program, which had long been maturing, known as “The Plan of San Luis [Page 351] Potosí,” in which the cause and purpose of the revolution are set forth.

Madero’s Manifesto and the Plan of San Luis Potosí.


Our beloved land has come to one of those historic moments when extreme sacrifices must be made for liberty and justice. * * * An intolerable tyranny oppresses us, with no alternative but a shameful peace based on might instead of right * * * obedient to the single will, or caprice of Gen. Porfirio Díaz, who in his long administration has shown his chief aim to be his own continuance in power at whatever cost. * * * The evil of such a government, under which organized expression of opinion is impossible, was greatly aggravated by the determination of Gen. Díaz to name his successor, and by his choice of Señor Ramón Corral as that successor the evil has now become unbearable. Accordingly many Mexicans, with no recognized political standing—for no man during these last 36 years could acquire it—have resolved to regain for the people their sovereignty.

We who have so resolved have organized, among others, the National Antireelectionist Party, whose slogan is “An honest ballot and no second term.” The two principles comprised by this slogan are the only ones whose application can save the Republic from a dangerous extension of the dictatorship which grows daily more despotic and immoral.

The Mexican people have rallied to the standard of this party, sent their delegates to the national convention, which it shares with the Nationalist Democratic Party, and nominated Dr. Francisco Vázquez Gómez and me for Vice President and President. * * * My campaign was a triumphal march, for the magic words “An honest ballot and no reelection” electrified the people throughout the country and made them resolve to put those two principles into effect. The moment, therefore, came when Gen. Díaz perceived the situation and, realizing that he could not meet me to advantage in a lawful contest, put me in prison before the election, which was fraudulently conducted, violence, even to the filling of the jails with unoffending freemen, being employed to enforce the frauds.

The Mexican people protested against the illegality of that election, and in doing so employed, each in its proper turn, every recourse offered by the law of the land, going finally before Congress, hopeless as it was to do so; for the people well know that that unlawful body obeys implicitly the will of Gen. Díaz. * * * They knew, indeed, that in following me at all outrage awaited them; but nevertheless, for liberty’s sake, they went with admirable stoicism to the polls, ready to face any affront.

It was necessary to take those fruitless steps—party organization, appearance at the polls, conduct of the election strictly within the prescribed procedure. By this orderly conduct we expected to show to the world that the Mexican people are able to use the instruments of democracy. They were, however, not allowed to use them; and they clearly show by their present attitude that they know I should have been elected if their electoral rights had been respected, and that they do not recognize the Government of Gen Díaz.

By virtue of this knowledge and attitude, by virtue of the national will, I hereby declare the recent elections illegal and the Republic, therefore, without a legitimate government. I hereby provisionally assume the Presidency of the Republic until the people shall have nominated, according to law, their governing officials. In order to do so, they will have to remove from power the audacious usurpers, and I should display a dishonorable weakness and a betrayal of them were I to fail to lead those that have trusted me and by force of arms compel Gen. Díaz to respect the will of the nation.

The present Government, although deriving from violence and fraud, will enjoy up to the 30th of November next a certain aspect of legality in the regard of foreign nations, since it has been tolerated by the Mexican people. But it is imperative that the new administration, deriving from the fraud of the old, shall be prevented from usurping and entering into power, or shall, at least, find most of the nation in arms against it.

Therefore I appoint 6 o’clock of Sunday night, the 20th of November next, as the time for an armed uprising, according to the following—

[Page 352]


The elections for President and Vice President of the Republic, Justices of the Federal Supreme Court, and Deputies and Senators, held in June and July of this year, to be declared void.
The present Government of Gen. Díaz to be ignored, and likewise ignored all the authorities whose power should derive from the people.
To avoid as far as possible the disorder inherent in all revolutionary movements, all laws are to be kept in force except those that manifestly would counteract the principles herein proclaimed; except also the laws and decrees that sanction the fiscal acts of the Díaz administration: Provided, That the obligations of that Government contracted with foreign Governments and companies before the 20th of next November are to be respected. * * * Proceedings whereby lands have been unlawfully seized are to be subject to review, and if found abusive of the law the lands are to be restored to the rightful owner, together with indemnities for damages suffered: Provided, That where, before the date hereof, lands thus seized have passed into the possession of a third party, the former rightful owner will receive indemnity only, to be paid by those for whose benefit the seizure was made.
Besides the constitution and existing laws, it is hereby declared that the principle of no reelection of President or Vice President of the Republic, governors of States, and presidents of municipalities is a part of the supreme law pending the appropriate amendment of the constitution.
I hereby assume the character of Provisional President of the United Mexican States, with the power to make war against the usurping Government of Gen. Díaz. As soon as the national capital and more than half of the States of the Federation are under the control of the people the Provisional President will call nation-wide special elections, to occur 30 days after the call, and will deliver his office to the President-elect as soon as the result of the election is known.
The Provisional President before surrendering his office to his duly elected successor will report to the Congress of the Union the use he shall have made thereof.
On and after November 20 next, 6 o’clock p.m., all citizens of the Republic will take up arms to oust from power the present authorities. * * *
When the authorities make resistance, they are to be compelled by force of arms to respect the popular will, but in such cases the laws of war are to be rigorously observed. Especial attention is directed to the prohibition of the use of expansive bullets and the execution of prisoners. Attention is also called to the duty of every Mexican to respect the persons and property of foreigners.
Such authorities as resist the materialization of this Plan will be imprisoned and held for trial before the courts upon the termination of the revolution. * * *
An honest ballot. No second term.

Francisco I. Madero.

San Luis Potosí, October 5, 1910.

While revolutionary preparations for the execution of this plan were in progress, legal steps were also being taken by the Antireelectionist Party to have the June elections set aside as fraudulent. The party’s electoral executive committee collected evidence of 150 electoral frauds, which was presented to the courts in due form; the courts, however, refused a hearing to the plaintiffs, who appealed to the National Congress for a new election, but Congress would not entertain the petition and recognized Díaz and Corral as duly elected. The opposition was finally convinced that the only thing remaining for the dissatisfied was rebellion.

The general aspect of Mexican affairs at this period, and their effect on American citizens in Mexico, is sketched by the American ambassador, Henry Lane Wilson, in a long dispatch of October 31, 1910. (File No. 812.00/355.) It begins with a description of the Mexican constitution and its practical application, and continues [Page 353] with observations on the personality of President Díaz and the cause of opposition to his Government. Among these the ambassador mentions concentration of ownership of land and other wealth; objectionable forms of taxation; debasement of the lower classes through intemperance and lack of education; growth in the middle class of interest in public affairs; corrupt state of the judiciary; and pronounced anti-American feeling. Of the last two items the ambassador says in part:

By far the greatest evil, and the greatest cause of complaint in the Republic, is the lame, incompetent, and corrupt judiciary. Naturally, a weak and de-baunched judiciary falls as an especial burden upon the people of the country in which it exists; but, having in mind our vast investments in this country, the constant inflow of American capital, and the steady increase of American immigration, it is of prime importance for us to know in just what manner the courts are constituted, the influences that surround them, their methods of procedure, and the character of their personnel. Since I have taken charge of this post I have been obliged, in the protection of American interests, to come constantly in contact not only with the judiciary of the Federal district and the supreme court but with that of the States of the Republic, and I am bound to say that it has only been by the exercise of the utmost vigilance and by pressure upon the President, upon the foreign office, by unofficial communications to governors, and by almost daily visits by a representative to the judges here in Mexico, that I have been able to prevent the grossest injustice and the rankest outrages to persons and property of American citizens, I have thought, and continue to think, that in a country where such peculiar conditions exist there is no refuge for an American citizen, whose clear and just rights are being taken away from him, except recourse to the power and influence of his Government through its diplomatic representative. I am especially anxious that you shall understand this part of the work which I have to do here, because I regard it as the greatest source of danger in the relation of the two countries. * * * It is a common form of thought in the Mexican mind that the Americans are getting the best of everything in the country, and that they should be mulcted whenever possible, through the forms of law or otherwise.

Another serious and dangerous phase of the situation here is the pronounced anti-American feeling which exists throughout the Republic and is not confined to any class, though naturally finding its most violent expression where the restraints of custom, courtesy, and education are weakest. This sentiment of hostility is partially due to the memories of the war of 1846, partially to race antipathy, but in a larger measure to resentment of American commercial aggression and envy of American property and thrift. It finds its expression in two ways: First, in attacks upon American property interests by either fictitious legal proceedings or direct confiscation, through the collusion of corrupt officials, and sometimes not even cloaked under forms of law [cases, cited]; second, in attacks on personal rights, frequently without process of law. Cases of this kind are so frequent as to be almost of daily occurrence. * * * Usually the action of the embassy brings some results, but the constant recurrence of the grossest outrages is arousing in the minds of American colonists in Mexico a feeling of deep resentment, which may eventually bring unhappy results.

Demonstrations both pacific and violent too numerous to mention in full occurred during the ensuing months. On November 10, 1911, at Ciudad Porfirio Díaz (opposite Eagle Pass, Tex.) an attack was made on the consulate, for which official apology was immediately made. (File No. 812.00/386.) On November 12 there was a demonstration without violence at Chihuahua. (File No. 812.00/394.) A boycott on all American goods was started at San Luis Potosí. (File No. 812.00/396.) Various opinions were held in both countries as to the causes of the anti-American feeling, but it was clear to all that the mere existence of the feeling was one of the strongest assets of [Page 354] the revolution. Attacks upon consulates, insults to the flag, assaults upon the persons of American citizens and destruction of their property were acts calculated to embarrass the Mexican Government, since it could do no less than suppress such demonstrations. These suppressive measures were interpreted to the people as clear evidence of the close understanding between Cientifico and Gringo; and such arguments multiplied volunteers for the revolutionary army.

But the immediate cause of the November, 1910, demonstrations was the above-mentioned burning alive of a Mexican at Rock Springs, Tex. The following correspondence begins while the first effect of it is taking place:

[454] The American Ambassador to the Secretary of State.

File No. 812.00/385.

[455] The Secretary of State to the Mexican Ambassador.

File No. 812.00/362.

[456] The American Ambassador to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

File No. 812.00/450.

[457] The Minister for Foreign Affairs to the American Ambassador.

File No. 812.00/450.

[458] The Mexican Ambassador to the Secretary of State.

File No. 311.122 R61/6.

[459] The American Ambassador to the Secretary of State.

File No. 812.00/379.

[460] The Acting Secretary of State to the American Ambassador.

File No. 812.00/419A.

[461] The American Ambassador to the Secretary of State.

File No. 812.00/450.

[462] The President of Mexico to the American Ambassador.

File No. 812.00/516.

[463] The American Ambassador to the Secretary of State.

File No. 812.00/447.

[464] The Mexican Ambassador to the Secretary of State.

File No. 812.00/420.

[465] [Memorandum.]

File No. 812.00/421.

[466] The Secretary of State to the Mexican Ambassador.

File No. 812.00/421.

[467] The American Ambassador to the President of Mexico.

File No. 812.00/516.

[468] The American Ambassador to the Secretary of State.

File No. 812.00/388.

[469] The Acting Secretary of State to the American Ambassador.

File No. 812.00/427.

[470] The Mexican Ambassador to the Secretary of State.

File No. 812.00/476.

[471] The Secretary of State to the Mexican Ambassador.

File No. 812.00/476.

[472] The American Consul at Ciudad Porfirio Diaz to the Secretary of State.

File No. 812.00/473 B.

[473] The Commanding General, Department of Texas, to The Adjutant General.

File No. 812.00/454.

[474] The American Ambassador to the Secretary of State.

File No. 812.00/461.

[475] The Mexican Ambassador to the Secretary of State.

File No. 812.00/511.

[476] The Minister for Foreign Affairs to the American Ambassador.

File No. 812.00/516.

[477] The Mexican Ambassador to the Secretary of State.

File No. 812.00/512.

[478] [Untitled]

File No. 812.00/497.

[479] The American Ambassador to the Secretary of State.

File No. 812.00/517.

[480] The Mexican Ambassador to the Secretary of State.

File No. 812.00/499.

[481] The Secretary of State to the Mexican Ambassador.

File No. 812.00/511.

[482] [Untitled]

File No. 812.00/512.

[483] The Secretary of State to the American Ambassador.

File No. 812.00/385.

  1. González y Domenech. La Revolutión y Sus Héroes, pp. 213–225.