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Francisco I. MaderoFrancisco Indaleciao Madero

revolutionary leader and President of Mexico

Francisco Indaleciao Madero was born in Parras, Coahuila, on October 30, 1873, into a wealthy landowning family. He was educated at the University of California at Berkeley and in France, and was placed in charge of some of his family's land holdings upon his return to Mexico in 1895. He soon gained a reputation for treating his workers far better than most other landowners -- he paid more than most, provided clean living quarters, and made sure every worker received medical care when needed.

Madero's family was one of the few in Mexico to benefit from the policies of President Porfirio Díaz, but that did not prevent him from joining the common people's fight against the increasingly cruel dictator. A relatively small man with a weak voice, Madero did not see himself as a forceful orator or viable politician, so he contributed to the cause by publishing The Presidential Succession in 1910, in which he openly criticized Díaz for failing to fulfill his promise of only serving a single term as President, and by forming the Anti-Reelectionist Party. The book was so popular that Madero was asked by his supporters to run against Díaz for President.

Díaz had managed to maintain the presidency of Mexico for 34 years by a combination of voter fraud and elimination of opposing candidates, but since he could not risk getting rid of Madero due to Madero's high social status he had him arrested on a charge of inciting rebellion instead. As soon as Díaz had conveniently been re-elected by a ridiculous majority, he allowed Madero to bond himself out of jail. As soon as he was free of his guard detail, Madero escaped to Texas and resumed his efforts to remove Díaz from power. Having failed to remove Díaz through political means, Madero wrote another book in which he called upon Mexicans to rebel under the democratic principles of the "Plan of San Luis Potosí," which called for effective suffrage and no re-election of Presidents. He also set November 20, 1910, as the date on which Mexicans should take up arms and begin a new Mexican Revolution. On the appointed day, Madero crossed the border back into Mexico, and then got lost while trying to find his supporters. When he finally reached his appointed destination he found that his "army" consisted of only a handful of men, only about half of whom were armed. Disappointed and disillusioned, he returned to Texas and considered giving up on the revolution.

While Madero was contemplating his future in Texas, rebellions independent of his influence broke out in many parts of Mexico. The strongest rebellions were being waged in the State of Chihuahua, where Pancho Villa and Pascual Orozco were successfully fighting federal troops. In February of 1911, Madero was forced to leave Texas because he was violating U.S. neutrality laws by supporting the Revolution, and he soon joined forces with Orozco. The Revolution grew in strength rapidly, and Díaz was finally forced to step down in May of 1911. Huge crowds greeted Madero when he entered Mexico City on June 7, 1911, and he took office as President of Mexico on November 6, after one of the most democratic and peaceful elections in Mexico history.

Madero's administration came under attack almost as soon as it began. Conservatives criticized him any time he tried to make changes, and revolutionaries were constantly demanding more immediate change. Madero himself wanted Mexico to become a more democratic nation, but he saw the need to implement the necessary reforms in stages. Although he succeeded in implementing freedom of the press and labor, he never implemented many of the land ownership reforms his supporters expected. A military revolt led by Félix Díaz and Bernardo Reyes broke out in Mexico City on February 9, 1913, and Madero was overthrown on the 10th. He was assassinated by the escort taking him to prison on February 22, 1913.

SEE ALSO
Porfirio Díaz
Pancho Villa

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The Robinson Library >> American History >> Mexico >> History

This page was last updated on 02/19/2017.