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

Don Francisco Madero, Jr.

The rapid sequence of events in Mexico following the downfall of President Porfirio Diaz, and an overnight injection of new and strange personalities into the muddy maelstrom of politics across the Rio Grande, cannot but confuse one's memory of historic facts and personalities associated with the inchoation of the greatest of Mexico's many revolutions.

Only recently a correspondent writing from Mexico City, referred to Mexico's Masonic Martyr, as "a little epileptic Indian (Madero), former inmate of an insane asylum."

So gross an historical error, deserves correction in justice to the memory of one of Mexico's greatest utilitarians.

Several generations ago, a poor Portuguese gentleman came to the state of Coahuila. He was penniless. It was his fixed determination to rehabilitate his flagging fortunes. As an incentive to actual accomplishment, old Everisto Madero had the personal responsibility of providing for a wife and eighteen children.

Some family, this first generation of the Mexican Maderos.

Evaristo's initial undertaking was the establishment of wagon trains for commercial freighting between the larger cities of Coahuila and Texas towns along the Rio Grande. In those days before the development of railroads in Mexico, such an enterprise could not but be profitable. The first of the Maderos prospered greatly.

His next venture was in cotton. Soon the plantations and cotton mills of the family stretched from Parras to the Rio Grande.

Equally timely investments in rubber plantations, fruitful ranches, oil, the establishment of private banks, extensive mining operations, and stock raising, laid the foundation of one of the greatest private fortunes in Mexico.

In consequence, in the early eighties, a man who had come to Coahuila with nothing but his rifle, and good judgment, was honored by election to the governorship of his state.

One of his sons, Francisco Madero, undertook the personal direction of the old millionaire's many commercial interests. He met with equal success. He too had a large family, twelve children in all.

The Madero brothers of the third generation were all highly educated and trained for the great responsibilities to devolve upon them in the management of the vast family fortune, one which compared favorably with those of the Terrazas, Diaz, Romeros, and other great holdings of the southern Republic. Soon a great business corporation known as Ernesto Madero & Brothers, exerted commercial control not alone in Coahuila, but in many neighboring states.

Of the Madero brothers, none received a more careful training than Francisco Madero Jr., who after graduating from college in the United States, continued his studies in. Paris and abroad until the time came for him to return to Mexico and enjoy his personal fortune of over $30,000,000 as only one of his exceptional character, sound common sense, and liberal culture could.

Madero, happily married found time to delve deep into that gentle philosophy which has for its basic foundation Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, which regards the internal and not the external qualifications of a man, which imposes upon each of its disciples the stern injunction, "never to sit down contented while fellow creatures around us are in want when it is in our power to relieve them, without inconvenience to ourselves."

Fully realizing the pitiable condition of the Mexican masses, beholding the government practically owned by foreigners through the concessions granted the Pearson Syndicate of England, the commercial interests of Germany, and United States Standard Oil, seeing the prolific estates of the country in the hands of a few selfish and unprogressive families, Madero pondered deeply. He had but little confidence in the aged dictator Porfirio Diaz who, according to his own light, had ruled with an iron hand for longer time than any other President or Dictator. Presently Francisco Madero Jr., cast down his gauntlet. He issued a pronunciamiento of revolution. To the Mexican people and their freeing from peonage he dedicated his own private fortune of thirty million dollars.

Of how this gently reared, college-bred, man spent succeeding months in the desert, followed by a ragged, devoted army of the common people, of how he withstood the most amazing hardships and disappointments, prior to reaching the Mexican capitol and forcing the abdication of Diaz, of how for six months he refused to take supreme control of Mexico until a constitutional election by the people should establish his right to become the first gentleman of Mexico,—all this has become history.

Preston S. Krecker in his "Personal Side of Madero" thus describes him:

"My first meeting with the late President Madero took place in the Presidencia of the National Palace. Standing in the midst of a group of Cabinet officers I saw a little, swarthy man talking and gesticulating excitedly. He was not more than five feet, two inches in height. He had a rather broad forehead and his bright eyes were set well apart. His black, pointed beard was carefully trimmed. His cutaway coat was in marked contrast with the more formal frock coats of his dignified councilors.

"Ernesto Madero, Minister of Finance, presented me.

"'Ah, I am glad to know you,' exclaimed the little man in excellent English, smiling, 'Look,' he cried triumphantly, showing me a letter, 'all the New York papers are my friends. They want me to succeed.'

"Although I met the little man of Chapultepec quite frequently after that occasion I never saw him appear depressed or worried. Even when his situation looked the blackest, he never wavered. He was constitutionally optimistic and courageous. He had the happy gift of inspiring those around him with his own spirit. The supreme confidence of Madero was not that of a Dictator who relied on brute force of arms. It was the confidence of a man who had faith in himself and in the equity of his policies, and who felt that the great silent masses were supporting him. He was a new type of Latin-American in politics. He was not a political buccaneer. There was no yellow streak in him. He felt that he had a mission to perform,—the mission of lifting the masses of Mexico from poverty, ignorance and superstition in which they were submerged. He died a martyr to an idea, possibly for Mexico a chimera . . . government by the people. Government by constitutional methods as contrasted by government by a predatory oligarchy was Madero's political creed. He was the first man elected President by constitutional methods, the first to attempt to govern by the same methods. Madero hated bloodshed. Humanity with him was a cardinal virtue. It also was his weakness as ruler of a people who understand only the iron hand. He alone of Mexico's Executives would not resort to the old barbarous "ley de fuega" to get rid of his political enemies."

A high mason, Francisco Madero Jr., appreciated the Machiavellian activities of the Clerical party of Mexico. Right bravely he answered the signs and summons of the craft and accepted the gage of battle offered by the sworn enemies of Freemasonry. Madero was convinced that the Roman Catholic Church was wholly responsible for the dense ignorance and childish superstition pregnant among the Mexican masses. He knew from previous precedents that the light of Republicanism, could never shine upon poor Mexico while dominated to the slightest degree by those taking orders from the overseas Vatican.

The aged Mason, Porfirio Diaz, no longer ruled with the iron hand within the velvet glove. His failing health and physical infirmity had rendered him more easily susceptible to the suborned agents of Politico-Clericalism infesting the Mexican capital.

Madero realized forcibly that the old order must go, that Church and State must be forever separated if Mexico was to take her place among the enlightened nations of the world. Like Napoleon the First, as enthusiastic a Mason as himself, Madero believed that the priest has no place in politics.

In his early days at Coahuila young Madero had had a hand in the game of politics to his cost. He espoused the cause of a scholarly old gentleman of Cuatro Cienegas who had had the temerity to become a candidate for Governor of the State, Don Venustiano Carranza. Following a farcical election these two saw the votes of their adherents cast aside uncounted and the candidate of the Politico-Clerical Party inducted into office.

Then might be said to have commenced the revolution which has cost Mexico much in lives, and material welfare, and shown no sign of any abatement until the recent triumph of the Carranza arms.

Madero sacrificed family, fortune and personal comfort for the people and country he dearly loved. Had he been spared, Mexico today would have been fifty years ahead instead of one hundred years behind civilization.

The murder of Francisco Madero Jr., and his Vice President Pino Suarez took place in the National Palace on the last Saturday in February, following the brutal murder of his brother Gustavo Madero, with whom the perfidious Huerta had been dining tete a tete just a few moments before playing Judas and sending his guest to execution.

Few incidents in history have more pathos than the last hours of President Madero. Until the very last, he had that supreme confidence in the people, that unarmed and unattended, he daily rode through the street of his capital, a pathetic little figure on his great white horse.

He implicitly trusted his two Generals Huerta and Blanquet. He could not bring himself to believe the news that they had betrayed him.

Awaiting with his family in the railroad station, permission to go into the same exile he had graciously accorded his fallen rival Don Porfirio Diaz, he was torn away by Huerta's soldiers to be taken to that place of dark secrets, the National Palace, where with poor Pino Suarez, sometime in the hours preceding midnight, their two helpless bodies were riddled by the bullets of the men they had raised to power.

O tempora! O mores! Even that campaign-hardened conspirator, General Felix Diaz, could no longer countenance companionship with things like Huerta, Blanquet, and their coterie of old-time Mexicans but fled in disgust to the cleaner atmosphere and associations of our United States, leaving poor Mexico to the temporary ministrations of offal of humanity.