High Lights of the Mexican Revolution - J. L. McLeish

Don Venustiano Carranza

The Constitutional President of Mexico is of a higher type intellectually than many of those who aspired to the exalted position after the overthrow of Madero.

Don Venustiano Carranza offers an interesting study to the historical psychologist.

This educated old gentleman for many years has been a profound student of men and events. His political training was acquired in the trying school of practical experience. His is the judicial mind, calm, unexcitable, coldly intellectual. He presents few characteristics commonly associated with our established concepts of the Latin American temperament.

When the news was brought to Carranza, that American Marines had taken possession of Vera Cruz, during the stormy days of the Huerta regime, he was undoubtedly the least perturbed of any of the Mexicans grouped in his suite.

Carranza clearly recognized the fact that history was but repeating itself. He knew that Huerta and his Clerical advisers had again resorted to the Machiavellian trick first played upon the Mexican people by the Church Party in 1847, when they precipitated American Intervention: and again in the sixties, when they connived at the French Occupation rather than see Benito Juarez supreme, Master of Mexico City.

Don Venustiano Carranza is fifty-five years of age. In his native state of Coahuila, he has played a most conspicuous role. Of the people born, he is a product of the Public Schools. His professional training he received in Mexico City. He has always been a Liberal of the Liberals, a Patriot of Patriots, a Mexican of the Mexicans.

At the age of thirty-four, Carranza defied Diaz and his "Ring."

He it was who inaugurated a revolt against Governor Galan the puppet of the Dictator, carrying it to a successful termination.

After attaining high standing as a man of the law in Coahuila, Carranza turned politician. His first essay in this field was as state representative in the Legislature of Coahuila.

For some years he had been the close friend of Francisco I. Madero. After that young Idealist attained his great ambition, and was elected Constitutional President of Mexico, Governor Carranza dispatched from Coahuila, a battalion of expert riflemen to serve their State's most distinguished son, as a personal bodyguard. These gallant volunteers were the very first victims of the treacherous Huerta. While still commanding the Madero forces, Don Victoriano commanded the men of Coahuila to charge the Citadel. He knew full well that it was defended by the machine guns of General Felix Diaz, that should they comply with his orders, they would be ruthlessly shot down to a man.

It was by such ruthless tactics that Huerta precipitated a wholesale slaughter of the friends of Madero. Only so could he compass his own eventual elevation to power.

After the downfall of his friend, Carranza was the only one of the twenty-seven Governors of States in Mexico, who had the moral temerity to send his grito of defiance to the assassins of the Maderos.

On February 19th, 1913, Carranza sent his decree to the Congress of his State. It openly disavowed Huerta and his associates in crime. Its endorsement was prompt and unanimous. It was timed simultaneously with the arrival of the information that Madero and Suarez had been done to the death.

It became patent to Generals Huerta and Felix Diaz that they were not dealing with any ordinary revolutionist in Carranza. They were quick to make him overtures. They offered him the most alluring terms and concessions. Their envoy was authorized to "arrange matters on the spot."

Carlos de Fornaro, one of his biographers gives as his response:

"Messrs. Huerta y Felix Diaz:

"My only answer to the despicable proposals offered to me in your letter dated February 27th, is that I want to inform you that men like myself do not betray, do not sell themselves: that is your function, you, who have no other objects in life, than the shameful satisfaction of ignoble ambitions.

"Raise the black flag of your tyranny, and over the country the voice shouts, 'Treason and Death.'

"On my part, with the help of the Mexican people, I shall lift from the mud, into which you have thrown it, the flag of my country. Should I fall defending it, I shall have obtained for my small action in life, the greatest prize which we honest men can aspire to.


The ink was scarcely dry upon this document, than Carranza made public his Plan of Guadalupe, proclaiming himself First Chief of the Constitutionalist Army. He knew quite well the serious undertaking upon which his love for Mexico was leading him to embark. Just before leaving his State Capitol he remarked:


Even so it has proved in the passing of time.

Today Carranza stands like his greater predecessor, Juarez, opposing the same formidable influences that were arrayed with illimitable resources against the Liberals of 1857—in plain English, the Clergy of the Roman Hierarchy, backed by innumerable privileged landowners, and the Foreign Interests, who foresee for themselves only blackest ruin, in a free and enlightened Mexico.

It is interesting to know that the father of Don Venustiano, fought as a Colonel in the Great Liberal Movement of '57, under Juarez.

Carranza took the field to meet defeat at Anhelo.

Undiscouraged he pressed on, rallied his forces, and with a long succession of defeats and victories, began at last the arduous march through the States of Durango, Sonora and Chihuahua, pursued closely by the minions of Huerta who had placed a price of $150,000 upon his head.

Eventually he occupied Hermosilla, Sonora and rallied to his arms three formidable armies. These operated under Generals Obregon, Villa and Gonzales. As personal advisers he had Zubaran, Capmany, Escudero, Villareal and Angeles, all ardent Liberals.

Of the successive Constitutionalist victories along the border, culminating in the capture of Juarez, of the ultimate investment of Chihuahua, Torreon, Saltillo, Monterey, Tampico, Tepotzotlan,—of the complete reorganization of the State Governments—the final occupation of Mexico City—the crowning treachery of Francisco Villa, culminating in his frenzied raid upon Columbus, New Mexico, so precipitating American intervention,—contemporary history has told.

By the recent invasion of Mexico by General Pershing, Carranza was put to the supreme test. He was not found wanting. His attitude offers much hope for the future of Mexico under his regime.

A little later he proved himself too shrewd a diplomat to take seriously, the fatuous proposition from Herr Zimmerman of Berlin: he was not to be bribed by the luring offer of Wilhelmstrasse that for his treacherous alignment against his benefactors he might have in exchange such prizes as Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, three precious stars in the glorious firmament of the United States.

Unfortunately for Wilhelmstrasse, Carranza knows his American history, appreciates the illimitable resources of his northern neighbor, knows full well that alliance with Germany spells inevitable Ruin for Mexico.

It does seem unfortunate that President Wilson was compelled to dispatch an expeditionary force to Colonia Dublan. Undoubtedly the Administration knew much not made known to the public. Perhaps some inkling of the German intrigues was already in evidence at Washington, whereby our demonstration in force south of the Rio Grande became a coup d'etat. Quien sabe?

In all his replies to President Wilson's notes, Carranza has been studiously polite and free from any wish to play his own galleries, a common failing with the average Mexican. Nor must his attitude be attributed to fear of the Colossus of the North. The de facto Government, has at hand a force of trained veterans, officered by experienced Generals, a combination capable of offering us even greater resistance than in '47.

Carranza's diplomacy is undoubtedly influenced by a fixed wish of giving no cause for American Intervention. Undoubtedly he has long ago visualized the hand of the Roman Hierarchy trying to force our Administration to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for the Italian monkey. This for Mexico could only mean utter annihilation, and a resumption of intolerable inquisitorial rule, to forfend which Carranza and his Generals, Obregon, Gonzales, Trevino and Angeles have been fighting many, many months.