The Mexican Revolution (2023)


The Mexican Revolution was a complex, protracted, and violent conflict that lasted for over a decade (1910-1920). Though a new constitution was established in 1917, violence continued for several years after this date. Indeed, even the 1920s were marked by continued turbulence as the post-revolutionary government worked to consolidate its power and establish the parameters of revolutionary change.

Sparked by Francisco I. Madero, a member of an extremely wealthy landowning family in the northern state of Coahuila, the Revolution was at first a narrow political fight against Porfirio Díaz, who had been in direct or indirect control of the country since 1876. Madero's slogan, "Sufragio efectivo, no reelección" ("Effective suffrage, no reelection"), captures his principal objective: the removal of Díaz from office and the imposition of strictly-enforced term limits on his freely-elected successors.

More than political grievances plagued much of Mexico, however. During Díaz's tenure in office, known as the Porfiriato, he had pursued an ambitious developmentalist program, seeking to turn Mexico into a modern economy integrated into expanding global markets. In this he was advised by a group of científicos—technocratic advisers who generally advocated for the "rationalization" of Mexican economy and society in pursuit of an (elusive) modernity.This entailed the construction of thousands of kilometers of railroads, the privatization of government lands known asbaldíos, the breakup of communally-held lands and the indigenous villages that worked them, and the transition to a commodity-exporting economy. Many poor farmers, both indigenous and nonindigenous, were deprived of their landsand compelled to work as wage laborers on enormous haciendas. Wealthy landowners and land companies, many foreign, were the beneficiaries of these policies and were able to accumulate vast swathes of territory for the production of agricultural exports such as coffee, henequen (a fibrous plant used to make twine), and cattle.The exact patterns of dispossession, and the labor and production regimes that subsequently took shape, varied significantly from region to region. This variation contributed to the significant regional diversity that would characterize later revolutionary activity.

Campesinos were not the only sector of Mexican society to experience economic hardship as a result of Díaz's program. Industrial laborers faced terrible working conditions, and Mexican workers were often discriminated against, receiving lower pay than foreign counterparts (typically Americans) working in the same factories. The federal government responded harshly to strikes, including the Cananea strike of 1906 and the Río Blanco strike of 1907.

When Madero called for a general revolt against Díaz, then, there was a wide array of actors that found the prospect of overthrowing the old dictator appealing. Recently dispossessed smallholders in the north of Mexico, campesinos feeling the crush of growing estates in the sugar-growing regions in southern Morelos, factory workers in Veracruz: all of these groups, and many more, saw good reason to join the revolt.

While the vagueness of Madero's call to arms lent it widespread appeal, it also set the stage for divisions within the early revolutionary coalition. After Madero's forces, with crucial assistance from Francisco (Pancho) Villa and Pascual Orozco, took the key border city Juárez, Díaz was willing to negotiate his exit. In May 1911, just over two weeks after losing Juárez, Díaz resigned as president and left for exile in France. Madero was officially elected president in October 1911 and inaugurated in November of the same year. It was clear, however, from the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez signed by Díaz and Madero, that the more radical land reforms desired by Emiliano Zapata and his supporters were not to be. On November 25, Zapata published the Plan de Ayala, which called for the continuation of the revolutionary struggle against Madero, whom he deemed a traitor. The Plan de Ayala, unlike Madero's earlier Plan de San Luis Potosí, explicitly called for agrarian reform.

Madero's short time in office was marked by uprisings and unrest. In 1913, Victoriano Huerta took the presidency by military coup. Madero, who had resigned, was assassinated anyway. Huerta's regime was opposed by Zapata, Villa, and Venustiano Carranza, as well as the United States, which occupied the strategic port of Veracruz. In 1914, Huerta was forced to resign, and Carranza became president. Villa and Zapata broke with Carranza to form the Conventionist Army and fight against Carranza's Constitutionalists. The United States and other foreign powers recognized the Carranza government, which by 1917 was able to draft a new national constitution. Though Zapata and Villa were excluded from the constitutional convention, the 1917 constitution contained provisions for land and labor reform, making it one of the most progressive constitutions of its time.

This progressivism was not borne out in Carranza's enforcement of the constitution. He distributed little land and in 1919 ordered the assassination of Zapata. In 1920, he was overthrown by the final military coup of the Revolution, and Álvaro Obregón was elected president.

Skirmishes and unrest continued through the 1920s as the Sonoran dynasty (Obregón and his successor, Plutarco Elias Calles, who ruled as president and then puppet master from 1924-1934) consolidated power and worked to stabilize the country. In 1934, Lázaro Cárdenas, arguably Mexico's most popular president and that most closely associated with the popular promise of the revolution, was elected. He redistributed large amounts of land, though much was of poor quality; nationalized major industries, most famously oil; and promoted local public works, public education, and the interests of indigenous peoples.

After Cárdenas's term ended in 1940, the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) candidates leaned far more conservative. The PRI, claiming to be the institutionalization of the Revolution, maintained its grasp on power until 2000, through a combination of fraud and force, as well as an ideological flexibility (or vacuity) that allowed it to co-opt its opponents. Failing that, it turned to outright oppression, especially of leftist groups that highlighted the disjuncture between the PRI's professed commitment to the Revolution, and the realities of its politics and policies.

The centrality of the Revolution to many of the conflicts between the government and its opponents is striking. The best-known example is the 1994 uprising of Zapatistas, whose name harks to that of Zapata's supporters at the start of the twentieth century and who launched their movement on the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect. Arguing that NAFTA would exacerbate the already-extreme poverty of many indigenous people, they occupied the city of San Cristóbal de las Casas and burned land deeds to protest the enduring power of large landowners. The government responded with violence, bombing the Zapatistas until a tense ceasefire was reached. To this day, the government has continued to exercise low-level violence against the Zapatistas—there are more than 70 army bases in the state of Chiapas where the Zapatista territories lie, and paramilitary groups have caused the forced dislocation of thousands.

Content Standards

NCSS.D1.1.9-12. Explain how a question reflects an enduring issue in the field.

NCSS.D1.2.9-12. Explain points of agreement and disagreement experts have about interpretations and applications of disciplinary concepts and ideas associated with a compelling question.

(Video) The Mexican Revolution Explained in 10 Minutes

NCSS.D2.His.1.9-12. Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by unique circumstances of time and place as well as broader historical contexts.

NCSS.D2.His.2.9-12. Analyze change and continuity in historical eras.

NCSS.D2.His.3.9-12. Use questions generated about individuals and groups to assess how the significance of their actions changes over time and is shaped by the historical context.

NCSS.D2.His.4.9-12. Analyze complex and interacting factors that influenced the perspectives of people during different historical eras.

NCSS.D2.His.5.9-12. Analyze how historical contexts shaped and continue to shape people’s perspectives.

NCSS.D2.His.15.9-12. Distinguish between long-term causes and triggering events in developing a historical argument.

NCSS.D2.His.16.9-12. Integrate evidence from multiple relevant historical sources and interpretations into a reasoned argument about the past.

AP World History: Modern

Topic 7.1 Shifting Power After 1900

  • Learning Objective 7A:Explain how internal and external factors contributed to change in various states after 1900.

AP Comparative Government

Topic 4.5 Impact of Social Movements and Interest Groups

  • Learning Objective IEF-2.A:Explain how social movements and interest groups affect social and political change.


The three activities in this lesson plan can be used individually or in conjunction with each other. Each activity works with primary sources in a different way, helping students develop different historical skills.

Activity 1: The Context for Revolution

In Activity 1, students work with two maps of railroad systems in Mexico to assess the impacts of railroad construction on different aspects of Mexican economy and society. This comparison provides an entry into an exploration of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century Mexico and its changing relationships to global—and especially U.S.—markets. They will then read excerpts from two of the most influential representations of the Díaz regime in the U.S. press, one a glowing portrait of Díaz by James Creelman, and the other a searing indictment of the dictator and his system by John Kenneth Turner. Students will have to grapple with these almost diametrically-opposed characterizations of the Porfiriato and think about how such different analyses could emerge.

The effects of railroad construction during the Porfiriato (notes for Activity 1)
The effects of railroads in Mexico were complex. On the one hand, they did spur tremendous economic growth by creating opportunities for Mexico to export agricultural products to international markets. However, this growth came at a steep cost, and one that was not distributed equally across Mexican society. The construction of railroads pulled more territory within the reach of global markets, which in turn put greater economic pressure on the land. Combined with legislation that mandated the privatization of communal lands and encouraged the settlement of white Europeans and Americans in Mexico, most indigenous villages with communal property were broken up, with villagers losing access to lands they had farmed or used to gather other resources for generations. Many campesinos and villagers had also relied extensively on baldíos, which were government-owned lands that were customarily used to graze livestock, gather firewood, hunt, fish, and so on. The sale of baldíos, often for low prices to large landowners, further deprived poorer Mexicans of the ability to subsist. Smallholders who were unable to produce legal titles to their land (a common occurrence, especially in places where land had long been plentiful and land may never have been formally titled) were also vulnerable to dispossession as wealthy landowners came to control vast swathes of territory, both through legal channels and by force. The Creel-Terrazas family of Chihuahua offers perhaps the most infamous case: the family controlled more than 7 million acres of land in the late nineteenth century. Those dispossessed of their land were often compelled to work as wage laborers on haciendas (large estates), which increasingly produced cash crops for export, rather than subsistence agriculture. In some regions, such as Yucatán, the new labor regime took an especially brutal form that often resembled slavery. Moreover, many regions in Mexico became doubly dependent on global markets. Not only were they exporting products abroad, and experiencing increased volatility on the world market, they were also more and more dependent on the importation of foodstuffs whose production had been displaced by cash crops.

Activity 2: The Meanings of Revolution

(Video) The Mexican Revolution - Bandits Turned Heroes I THE GREAT WAR 1920

Activity 2 is a structured seminar discussion or DBQ activity. Students work with excerpts from three major revolutionary texts: the Plan de San Luis Potosí, in which Francisco Madero first called for revolt; the Plan de Ayala, in which Emiliano Zapata breaks with Madero and makes the first programmatic calls for radical agrarian reform; and the Constitution of 1917, which was the first national constitution to include economic and social rights. Students are asked to assess, on the basis of these excerpts, what the significance of the Revolution was to these actors.

This activity deliberately movesstudents away from conceptualizing the Mexican Revolution, and processes of social change more generally, in binary terms of success and failure. Rather, it challenges them to recognize the historical contingency of an event's significance and to be open to the unintended and unforeseen consequences that are often lost in evaluations of a movement's "success."

Activity 3: Legacies of Revolution

Activity 3 brings students to the recent past to explore the 1994 Zapatista uprising and its effect on other social movements in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Students work with the Zapatistas' initial declaration, from 1994, and a retrospective piece by a U.S. author commemorating the movement's 25th anniversary. After reflecting on these sources, students compare the 1994 Zapatista movement to other contemporary social movements and their relationships to the state, civil society, and the international public.

Lesson Extension: The Mexican Revolution in Comparative Perspective

Students research two other revolutions from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries and compare them to the Mexican Revolution. Following this initial research, students complete a creative project of their choosing.

Lesson Activities

Activity 1.The Context for Revolution

For background on the Porfiriato, read the sections “The Porfiriato,” “Porfirian Modernization,” and “Society under the Porfiriato” in Mexico: A Country Study.

Primary Source Analysis
Compare this map from 1877, showing Mexico’s only railroad at the time, to this map from 1910. The following questions should guide your analysis.

  • What impacts might the creation of this more extensive network of railroads have had? (See the "Preparation" section of this pagefor some clues.)
  • Examine the 1910 map in close detail.
    • What do you notice about the two titles on the map?
    • What other details are included on the map, in addition to rail lines?
  • One of the longest stretches of railroad in Mexico, the Mexican National Railway, was built by the Mexican National Construction Company. Based on the name alone, what would you assume about this company? Why?
  • Poor’s Manual of Railroads was a compilation of detailed information about railroads and their finances first published in 1868. Read the entry from the 1887 edition about the Mexican National Railroad Company (from the start of the entry on page 934 through the end of the third article of the Memorandum of Agreement on page 935).
    • Who was the intended audience ofPoor's Manual?
    • Where was the Mexican National Railroad Company based?
    • Under what terms was the construction of the railroad to be completed?
    • Why are these pieces of information significant?

Synthesis: Creelman and Turner
Two of the most influential contemporary representations of Díaz in the United States were written by James Creelman, in 1908, and John Kenneth Turner, in 1910. Read the following excerpts:

Choose one of the following projects to complete based on what you have learned in this activity and your own independent research.

  1. Draw a political cartoon to accompany either Creelman or Turner's description of Díaz.
  2. Write your own set of interview questions to ask (a) Porfirio Díaz, (b) a U.S. investor interested in investing in a Mexican railroad, or (c) a Maya farmer whowas forced to move onto a henequen estate as an indebted worker, with no prospect of ever paying off their debt.
  3. Imagine you are a Mexican worker at the Cananea mines in 1906, about to go on strike. Write a short speech or create a poster that expresses why you are striking.

Activity 2.The Meaning of Revolution

Read the "Background" section of this page, and review the Library of Congress's Timeline of the Mexican Revolution, to familiarize yourself with the conflict and how it developed over time. For a more detailed overview, refer toJürgen Buchenau's article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia, Latin American History.

This activity works with a selection of excerpts from three longer primary sources: the 1910 Plan de San Luis Potosí, the 1911 Plan de Ayala, and the 1917 constitution. This activity can be formatted as a seminar discussion or a document-based question (DBQ).

Based on the provided documents, answer the following question: What was the significance of the Mexican Revolution for contemporaries?

This activity is available as a PDF packet here.

  1. Document 1: Excerpt from Plan de San Luis Potosí, Francisco I. Madero, 1910
    "For many years profound discontent has been felt throughout the Republic, due to such a system of government, but General Díaz with great cunning and perseverance, has succeeded in annihilating all independent elements, so that it was not possible to organize any sort of movement to take from him the power of which he made such bad use. The evil constantly became worse, and the decided eagerness of General Díaz to impose a successor upon the nations in the person of Mr. Ramon Corral carried that evil to its limit and caused many of us Mexicans, although lacking recognized political standing, since it had been impossible to acquire it during the 36 years of dictatorship, to throw ourselves into the struggle to recover the sovereignty of the people and their rights on purely democratic grounds. . . .

    In Mexico, as a democratic Republic, the public power can have no other origin nor other basis than the will of the people, and the latter can not be subordinated to formulas to be executed in a fraudulent manner. . .

    For this reason the Mexican people have protested against the illegality of the last election and, desiring to use successively all the recourses offered by the laws of the Republic, in due form asked for the nullification of the election by the Chamber of Deputies, notwithstanding they recognized no legal origin in said body and knew beforehand that, as its members were not the representatives of the people, they would carry out the will of General Diaz, to whom exclusively they owe their investiture.

    (Video) the storm that swept mexico

    In such a state of affairs the people, who are the only sovereign, also protested energetically against the election in imposing manifestations in different parts of the Republic; and if the latter were not general throughout the national territory, It was due to the terrible pressure exercised by the Government, which always quenches in blood any democratic manifestation, as happened in Puebla, Vera Cruz, Tlaxcala, and in other places.

    But this violent and illegal system can no longer subsist."

  2. Document 2: Excerpts from Article 1 of the Plan de Ayala, Emiliano Zapata, 1911
    "Taking into consideration that the Mexican people led by Don Francisco I. Madero went to shed their blood to reconquer liberties and recover their rights which had been trampled on, and for a man to take possession of power, violating the sacred principles which he took an oath to defend under the slogan “Effective Suffrage and No Reelection,” outraging thus the faith, the cause, the justice, and the liberties of the people: taking into consideration that that man to whom we refer is Don Francisco I. Madero, the same who initiated the above-cited revolution, who imposed his will and influence as a governing norm on the Provisional Government of the ex-President of the Republic Attorney Francisco L. de Barra [sic], causing with this deed repeated shedding of blood and multiple misfortunes for the fatherland in a manner deceitful and ridiculous, having no intentions other than satisfying his personal ambitions, his boundless instincts as a tyrant, and his profound disrespect for the fulfillment of the preexisting laws emanating from the immortal code of ’57 [Constitution of 1857], written with the revolutionary blood of Ayutla;...

    For these considerations we declare the aforementioned Francisco I. Madero inept at realizing the promises of the revolution of which he was the author, because he has betrayed the principles with which he tricked the will of the people and was able to get into power: incapable of governing, because he has no respect for the law and justice of the pueblos, and a traitor to the fatherland, because he is humiliating in blood and fire, Mexicans who want liberties, so as to please the científicos, landlords, and bosses who enslave us, and from today on we begin to continue the revolution begun by him, until we achieve the overthrow of the dictatorial powers which exist."

  3. Document 3: Articles 6-8of the Plan de Ayala, Emiliano Zapata, 1911
    "6. As an additional part of the plan, we invoke, we give notice: that [regarding] the fields, timber, and water which the landlords, científicos, or bosses have usurped, the pueblos or citizens who have the titles corresponding to those properties will immediately enter into possession of that real estate of which they have been despoiled by the bad faith of our oppressors, maintain at any cost with arms in hand the mentioned possession; and the usurpers who consider themselves with a right to them [those properties] will deduce it before the special tribunals which will be established on the triumph of the revolution.

    7.In virtue of the fact that the immense majority of Mexican pueblos and citizens are owners of no more than the land they walk on, suffering the horrors of poverty without being able to improve their social condition in any way or to dedicate themselves to Industry or Agriculture, because lands, timber, and water are monopolized in a few hands, for this cause there will be expropriated the third part of those monopolies from the powerful proprietors of them, with prior indemnization, in order that the pueblos and citizens of Mexico may obtain ejidos, colonies, and foundations for pueblos, or fields for sowing or laboring, and the Mexicans’ lack of prosperity and well-being may improve in all and for all.

    8.[Regarding] The landlords, científicos, or bosses who oppose the present plan directly or indirectly, their goods will be nationalized and the two-third parts which [otherwise would] belong to them will go for indemnizations of war, pensions for widows and orphans of the victims who succumb in the struggle for the present plan."

  4. Document 4: Excerpt of Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution of 1917
    "Article 27. Ownership of the lands and waters within the boundaries of the national territory is vested originally in the Nation, which has had, and has, the right to transmit title thereof to private persons, thereby constituting private property.

    Private property shall not be expropriated except for reasons of public use and subject to payment of indemnity.

    The Nation shall at all times have the right to impose on private property such limitations as the public interest may demand, as well as the right to regulate the utilization of natural resources which are susceptible of appropriation, in order to conserve them and to ensure a more equitable distribution of public wealth. With this end in view, necessary measures shall be taken to divide up large landed estates; to develop small landed holdings in operation; to create new agricultural centers, with necessary lands and waters; to encourage agriculture in general and to prevent the destruction of natural resources, and to protect property from damage to the detriment of society. Centers of population which at present either have no lands or water or which do not possess them in sufficient quantities for the needs of their inhabitants, shall be entitled to grants thereof, which shall be taken from adjacent properties, the rights of small landed holdings in operation being respected at all times."

  5. Document 5: Excerpts from Article 123 of the Mexican Constitution of 1917
    "Article 123.The Congress of the Union, without contravening the following basic principles, shall formulate labor laws which shall apply to:
    Workers, day laborers, domestic servants, artisans (obreros, jornaleros, empleados domésticos, artesanos) and in a general way to all labor contracts:
    1. The maximum duration of work for one day shall be eight hours.
    2. The maximum duration of nightwork shall be seven hours. The following are prohibited: unhealthful or dangerous work by women and by minors under sixteen years of age; industrial nightwork by either of these classes; work by women in commercial establishments after ten o'clock at night and work (of any kind) by persons under sixteen after ten o'clock at night.
    3. The use of labor of minors under fourteen years of age is prohibited. Persons above that age and less than sixteen shall have a maximum work day of six hours.
    4. For every six days of work a worker must have at least one day of rest.
    5. During the three months prior to childbirth, women shall not perform physical labor that requires excessive material effort. In the month following childbirth they shall necessarily enjoy the benefit of rest and shall receive their full wages and retain their employment and the rights acquired under their labor contract. During the nursing period they shall have two special rest periods each day, of a half hour each, for nursing their infants.
    6. The minimum wage to be received by a worker shall be general or according to occupation...
    7. Equal wages shall be paid for equal work, regardless of sex or nationality.
    8. The minimum wage shall be exempt from attachment, compensation, or deduction.
    9. Workers shall be entitled to a participation in the profits of enterprises...
    11. Whenever, due to extraordinary circumstances, the regular working hours of a day must be increased, one hundred percent shall be added to the amount for normal hours of work as remuneration for the overtime. Overtime work may never exceed three hours a day nor three times consecutively. Persons under sixteen years of age and women of any age may not be admitted to this kind of labor.
    16. Both employers and workers shall have the right to organize for the defense of their respective interests, by forming unions, professional associations, etc...
    29. Enactment of a social security law shall be considered of public interest and it shall include insurance against disability, on life, against involuntary work stoppage, against sickness and accidents, and other forms for similar purposes;
    30. Likewise, cooperative societies established for the construction of low-cost and hygienic houses to be purchased on installments by workers, shall be considered of social utility..."

  6. Document 6: Image of Emiliano Zapata and Francisco (Pancho) Villa, with Villa seated in the presidential chair. Mexico City, 1914.

    The Mexican Revolution (1)

    Photo caption

    Francisco (Pancho) Villa, in the presidential chair, with Emiliano Zapata to his right. Mexico City, 1914.

    Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia

    (Video) A People's History of the Mexican Revolution, La Revolución Mexicana


Activity 3.Echoes of Revolution

In 1994, a group of indigenous people in the state of Chiapas took up arms against the federal government. The name they chose for themselves—the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN—harks back to the zapatista army of the early twentieth century. TheZapatistas launched their movement on January 1, 1994, the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect. NAFTA, they argued, would further exacerbate the already-extreme poverty experienced disproportionately by indigenous people. Occupying the city of San Cristóbal de las Casas, the Zapatistas burned the land records that represented the enduring power of the landed elite. The state met this uprisingwith violence, which has continued with varying intensity through to the present.

Both despite and because of this violence, the Zapatistas have worked to buildautonomous communities, called caracoles, that are independent from state interference. While this means the rejection of state surveillance and police forces, it also means forgoinggovernment funding for infrastructure, education, and other public goods. They have also engaged with global civil society and exerted a powerful influence on other social movements, through both online platforms and large gatherings convened in Chiapas.

In this activity, you will work with a Zapatista source—"First Declaration from the Lacandon Jungle," in which the Zapatistas articulated the reasons for their movement in 1994—and a retrospective written for a U.S. publication on the 25th anniversary of the uprising. Provided with each reading are questions for reflection and discussion.

"First Declaration from the Lacandon Jungle," 1993-1994.

  • How do the Zapatistas situate themselves within the longer arc of Mexican history?
  • What similarities do you notice between the Declaration and the Plan de Ayala? What differences?
  • Why do you think the Zapatistas chose their name?

"A Spark of Hope: The Ongoing Lessons of the Zapatista Revolution 25 Years On,"Nacla Report on the Americas,Hilary Klein, 2019.

  • According to Klein, how has the Zapatista movement changed over time?
  • How have the Zapatistas influenced other social movements around the world?

Select either the Movimiento 15-M (15-M Movement) or the Occupy movement (you can select a particular location to narrow your focus) to research independently. You might consider the following factors:

  • Underlying social, economic, and political contexts
  • Use of social media and digital technology
  • Movement demands
  • Movement organization and leadership structures
  • Relationship to the state and political parties
  • Relationship with other civil society actors
  • Challenges faced by the movement
  • Achievements or successes of the movement

Compare the social movement you researched with the Zapatistas in Chiapas. What similarities and differences do you notice?

Lesson Extensions

The Mexican Revolution in Comparative Perspective

Select two of the following modern conflicts.

  • U.S. Revolution
  • French Revolution
  • Haitian Revolution
  • Mexican war for independence
  • Russian Revolution

Using both primary and secondary sources for each conflict, complete the Mexican Revolution Comparison worksheet. (Note that the Mexican Revolution must be one of the three conflicts you compare.)

After developing an understanding of these three conflicts, select two to analyze in greater depth for the final project (again, one must be the Mexican Revolution, so you can pick one other conflict). Choose from among the following final project options.

  • Primary Source Comparison: Select a key textual primary source from each of the two conflicts you have chosen. Be sure to find a reputable translation if your sources were not originally written in English. If a source is very long, you may select an excerpt from it. Write a brief introduction to each source, providing information about the author(s), historical context, and the document's larger significance. If you are working with an excerpt, you must also explain why you have chosen that particular section of the document. Then, annotate the sources (you can do this by hand, using comments or footnotes in a word processor, or using web annotation software).Be sure to highlight and comment upon the following:
    • Key phrases and sentences: why are they significant?
    • Connections to other documents, conflicts, or ideas, including the influence the document had on the conflict. At least 4 of your annotations must introduce comparisons between your two documents.
    • Challenging or potentially unfamiliar words and phrases: what do they mean, and why are they used?
  • Revolutionary Dialogues: For each of your revolutions, write the script for a conversation between two people: one person is convinced of the revolutionaries' cause (or one of the revolutionaries' causes) and is trying to convince the other, who is more reluctant, to join them. You must choose and specify the particular identities of your actors, as well as the moment in the conflict when the conversation may have taken place. Each script should be 1-2 pages long.
  • Revolutionary Legacies:In this option, you'll work with more than two revolutions. Select three, one of which must be the Mexican Revolution. Conduct a survey or series of interviews with people in your school or community, asking them which revolutions they're most familiar with, what they know about them, and what they think some of the lasting effects of these revolutions have been. Write a 2-3 page summary synthesizing and analyzing your findings. Briefly describe your methodology and then address the following questions, at a minimum:
    • Which revolution did your audience seem to know best? Why do you think this is the case?
    • How did people describe the three revolutions in question? What ideas or themes were repeated across many interviewees or survey participants?
    • What did your audience identify as some of the lasting legacies of each revolution?
    • How do these ideas and perceptions compare with what you have learned during your own research?
  • Artistic Revolutions:Many of these revolutions have inspired significant artistic production, both during the conflicts and to commemorate them. Select a work of art portraying each of the two revolutions you have chosen. The works can be contemporary to the conflict, or they can be retrospective. Imagine they are to be displayed side-by-side in a museum exhibit. Write a short (250-300 word) description for each piece of art and a slightly longer(300-500 word) essay that places the pieces into conversation with each other. How are the revolutions depicted in each piece? What similarities and differences do you notice between the artistic representations of war? What can we learn from studying these pieces together? Below are some pieces of art that may help start your project.

Reference Websites


The Mexican Revolution? ›

Mexican Revolution, (1910–20), a long and bloody struggle among several factions in constantly shifting alliances which resulted ultimately in the end of the 30-year dictatorship in Mexico and the establishment of a constitutional republic.

What happened in the Mexico revolution? ›

The Mexican Revolution sparked the Constitution of 1917 which provided for separation of Church and state, government ownership of the subsoil, holding of land by communal groups, the right of labor to organize and strike and many other aspirations.

What started the Mexican Revolution and why? ›

The Mexican Revolution started in 1910, when liberals and intellectuals began to challenge the regime of dictator Porfirio Díaz, who had been in power since 1877, a term of 34 years called El Porfiriato, violating the principles and ideals of the Mexican Constitution of 1857.

What were 4 major events of the Mexican revolution? ›

March 6, 1911: Madero leads an attack on a federal garrison. March 24, 1911: Emiliano Zapata organizes a revolutionary band to protest land lost by Indians. April 3, 1911: Madero leads 500 revolutionaries in an attack against Ciudad Juarez. May 7, 1911: Battles ensue throughout Mexico, and Diaz offers his resignation.

What are 5 facts about the Mexican revolution? ›

6 Things You May Not Know About the Mexican Revolution
  • The Mexican Revolution deposed the country's longest-serving president. ...
  • A new Mexican strongman soon took over. ...
  • The anti-Huerta forces eventually began fighting each other. ...
  • The United States intervened numerous times in the conflict.
Nov 20, 2012

Why was the Mexican revolution successful? ›

On one level the Mexican Revolution can be called a success simply because it survived – it moulded a new political generation and made a significant impact on the future of the Mexican state. Revolutions that do not survive very long generally have much less of an impact.

Was the Mexican Revolution a success or failure? ›

Mexican Revolution, (1910–20), a long and bloody struggle among several factions in constantly shifting alliances which resulted ultimately in the end of the 30-year dictatorship in Mexico and the establishment of a constitutional republic.

What are 3 causes of the Mexican Revolution? ›

The economic policies of Porfirio Díaz, unequal distribution of land, deeply entrenched economic inequality, and undemocratic institutions were the major causes of the revolution.

What was the role of the US in the Mexican Revolution? ›

The U.S. played a substantial role in the evolution of the Mexican Revolution. It supported the anti-reelectionist movement, agreed with Bernardo Reyes and Félix Díaz's revolt against Francisco I. Madero, helped the revolutionaries defeat Huerta, and invaded Veracruz in 1914.

What was the Mexican Revolution when did it happen? ›

What ended the Mexican Revolution? ›

The surrender of the Federal commander at Juárez at May 10 marked the beginning of the end. An agreement negotiated with the Díaz regime provided that Díaz would resign, that an interim president, Francisco León de la Barra, would call general elections, and that revolutionary forces would be discharged.

What were the negative effects of the Mexican Revolution? ›

After gaining independence in 1821, the country was left in a poor state. Agricultural, mining and industrial production had fallen during the war, and over half a million Mexicans had died. As a new country, Mexico was struggling internally to achieve nationhood.

What event ended the Mexican Revolution? ›

The official end of the Mexican Revolution is often taken to be the creation of the Constitution of Mexico in 1917, however the fighting continued long into the following decade.

What was the biggest cause of the Mexican Revolution? ›

The economic policies of Porfirio Díaz, unequal distribution of land, deeply entrenched economic inequality, and undemocratic institutions were the major causes of the revolution.

Who led the Mexican Revolution? ›

Francisco Madero persuades Pascual Orozco and Francisco "Pancho" Villa to join the revolution. Emiliano Zapata leads uprising of villagers in Morelos for land and water rights. Simultaneously armed revolts begin in other parts of Mexico.

Who did Mexico gain independence from? ›

When Mexico achieved its independence from Spain in 1821, it included most of the viceroyalty of New Spain, minus the Caribbean and the Philippines.

What was one positive impact of the Mexican Revolution? ›

The 1917 constitution enshrined political and socioeconomic rights and limited the power of the Catholic church. Eventually, the revolution brought universal education, labor rights, land reform, and the nationalization of some industries.

Which Mexican revolutionary got the most accomplished? ›

Emiliano Zapata was an accomplished guerrilla leader during the Mexican Revolution, and he strongly opposed the hacienda system that characterized much of rural Mexican life. Partly because of his efforts, fundamental land reform was enshrined in the Mexican constitution of 1917.

Why did Mexico want independence from Spain? ›

In 1820, liberals took power in Spain, and the new government promised reforms to appease the Mexican revolutionaries. In response, Mexican conservatives called for independence as a means of maintaining their privileged position in Mexican society.

What are 3 facts about the Mexican revolution? ›

Did You Know?
  • Many key figures of the Mexican Revolution, including Venustiano Carranza, Francisco Madero, Álvaro Obregón, Pancho Villa, and Emiliano Zapata, were eventually assassinated.
  • Over twice as many Mexicans died in the Mexican Revolution as did Americans in World War II.

Did the US win the Mexican revolution? ›

The war—in which U.S. forces were consistently victorious—resulted in the United States' acquisition of more than 500,000 square miles (1,300,000 square km) of Mexican territory extending westward from the Rio Grande to the Pacific Ocean.

What were the differences between the American and Mexican Revolution? ›

While both countries fought for independence from foreign rule, the Mexicans fought against Spanish rule while the Americans fought against British rule.

What were the major turning points in the Mexican revolution? ›

The Battle of Celaya (April 6-15, 1915) was a decisive turning point in the Mexican Revolution. The Revolution had been raging for five years, ever since Francisco I. Madero had challenged the decades-old rule of Porfirio Díaz.

How did the Mexican Revolution affect the economy? ›

The Mexican Revolution (1910-20) severely disrupted the Mexican economy, erasing many of the gains achieved during the Porfiriato. The labor force declined sharply, with the economically active share of the population falling from 35 percent in 1910 to 31 percent in 1930.

Why did the US invade Mexico in 1916? ›

Pancho Villa's forces then raided the town of Columbus, New Mexico, on March 9, 1916, resulting in the death of sixteen Americans and much larger casualties for Villa's forces. In response, the Wilson Administration decided to order a punitive raid into Mexico with the goal of capturing Pancho Villa.

What happened to Pancho Villa? ›

At the end of the Mexican Revolution, after his army dwindles, Villa negotiates an amnesty with the Mexican government and retires his military pursuits in 1920, only to be assassinated in an ambush three years later in 1923.

Why did the US intervene in Mexico in 1914? ›

U.S. President Wilson claimed that U.S. troops invaded because Victoriano Huerta's government refused to apologize for the Dolphin Incident, which happened when U.S. sailors were arrested in Tampico during a trip to resupply the U.S.S. Dolphin.

Who won the Mexican American War? ›

The United States Army won a grand victory. Although suffering 13,000 killed, the military won every engagement of the war. Mexico was stripped of half of its territory and was not consoled by the monetary settlement.

What did they fight for in the Mexican revolution? ›

The Revolution began with a call to arms on 20th November 1910 to overthrow the current ruler and dictator Porfirio Díaz Mori. Díaz was an ambitious president, keen to develop Mexico into an industrial and modernised country.

What caused the Mexican Revolution 1810? ›

The desire for independence from Spanish rule first formally emerged in 1810. A priest named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla is famous for issuing a call for revolution on September 16, 1810 in an event known as “El Grito de Dolores”. His call sparked a flame that would fuel the Mexican fight for independence.

What was one effect of the revolution in Mexico? ›

The 1917 constitution enshrined political and socioeconomic rights and limited the power of the Catholic church. Eventually, the revolution brought universal education, labor rights, land reform, and the nationalization of some industries.

What are the differences between the American and Mexican Revolution? ›

While both countries fought for independence from foreign rule, the Mexicans fought against Spanish rule while the Americans fought against British rule.

Why did Spain leave Mexico? ›

In 1820, liberals took power in Spain, and the new government promised reforms to appease the Mexican revolutionaries. In response, Mexican conservatives called for independence as a means of maintaining their privileged position in Mexican society.

What was the goal of the Mexican war? ›

The immediate cause of the Mexican-American War was a disputed boundary between the United States and Texas on the Nueces Strip. Mexico did not recognize Texas as legitimate American territory and Texas admission to the United States antagonized Mexican officials and citizens.

Who freed Mexico from Spain? ›

In September of 1810, Miguel Hidalgo, the parish priest of the small town of Dolores in central Mexico, uttered the country's cry for independence. He called not only for liberation from Spain, but also for the end of slavery and the return of lands to the Indigenous inhabitants.

What was the biggest cause of the Mexican revolution? ›

The economic policies of Porfirio Díaz, unequal distribution of land, deeply entrenched economic inequality, and undemocratic institutions were the major causes of the revolution.

How long did Spain rule Mexico? ›

After the fall of the Aztec Empire, Spain called their new lands the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and ruled over Mexico for the next three hundred years. Tenochtitlan, the old capital of the Empire, became known as Mexico City.

What changed economically after the Mexican Revolution? ›

The Mexican Revolution (1910-20) severely disrupted the Mexican economy, erasing many of the gains achieved during the Porfiriato. The labor force declined sharply, with the economically active share of the population falling from 35 percent in 1910 to 31 percent in 1930.

What were the three wars that hit Mexico before the Mexican Revolution of 1910? ›

ConflictCombatant 1
Comanche–Mexico Wars (1821–1870)Mexican Empire (1821–1822) Mexico
Apache–Mexico Wars (1821–1915) Part of the Mexican Indian Wars and the American Indian WarsCrown of Castile (1600s–1716) Spain (1600s–1821) Mexican Empire (1821–1822) Mexico (after 1822) United States Confederate States (1861–1865)
42 more rows

What were the effects of the Mexican Revolution on culture? ›

Beginning in 1910, the Mexican Revolution spawned a cultural renaissance, inspiring artists to look inward in search of a specifically Mexican artistic language. This visual vocabulary was designed to transcend the realm of the arts and give a national identity to this population undergoing transition.


1. Revolución Mexicana - The Mexican Revolution in HD
(GI Joe Productions)
2. The Mexican War of Independence
(M. Laser History)
3. The Mexican Revolution (1910 - 1920)
(2 Minutes Knowledge)
4. How the Mexican Revolution shaped world politics w/Christina Heatherton | The Marc Steiner Show
(The Real News Network)
5. A Brief History of the Mexican Revolution
(Baja Window to the South)
6. The Mexican Revolution and Civil War — World History for Teens!
(Miacademy Learning Channel)


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