|Intro||Mexican revolutionary leader and president|
|Was||Politician Writer Musician Military personnel|
|Field||Literature Military Music Politics|
|Birth||30 October 1873, Parras de la Fuente|
|Death||22 February 1913, Mexico City (aged 39 years)|
Francisco Ignacio Madero González (Spanish pronunciation: [fɾanˈsisko igˈnasjo maˈðeɾo ɣonˈsales]; 30 October 1873‒22 February 1913) was a Mexican statesman, writer, and revolutionary who served as the 33rd president of Mexico from 1911 until his assassination in 1913. He was an advocate for social justice and democracy. Madero was notable for having challenged Mexican President Porfirio Díaz for the presidency in 1910 and being instrumental in sparking the Mexican Revolution.
Born into an extremely wealthy landowning family in northern Mexico, Madero was an unusual politician, who until he ran for president in the 1910 elections, had never held office. In his 1908 book entitled The Presidential Succession in 1910, Madero called on voters to prevent the sixth reelection of Porfirio Díaz, which Madero considered anti-democratic. His vision would lay the foundation for a democratic, 20th-century Mexico, but without polarizing the social classes. To that effect, he bankrolled the Anti-Reelectionist Party (later the Progressive Constitutional Party) and urged Mexicans to rise up against Díaz, which ignited the Mexican Revolution in 1910.
Madero's candidacy against Díaz garnered widespread support in Mexico, since he was someone of independent financial means, ideological determination, and bravery to oppose Díaz when it was dangerous to do so. Arrested by the dictatorship shortly after being declared Presidential candidate by his party, the opposition leader escaped from prison and launched the Plan of San Luis Potosí from the United States, in this manner beginning the Mexican Revolution.
Following the resignation of Díaz from the presidency on 25 May 1911 after the signing of the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez, Madero became the highest political leader of the country. Known as "Maderistas", Madero's followers referred to him as the "caudillo de la Revolución" (leader of the Revolution). He was elected president on 15 October 1911 by almost 90% of the vote. Sworn into office on 6 November 1911, he became one of Mexico's youngest elected presidents having just turned 38. Despite considerable popularity amongst the people, Madero's administration soon encountered opposition both from more radical revolutionaries and from remnants of the former regime.
In February 1913, a military coup took place in the Mexican capital led by General Victoriano Huerta, the military commander of the city. Madero was arrested and a short time later assassinated along with his Vice-President, José María Pino Suárez on 22 February 1913, following the series of events known as the Ten Tragic Days (la Decena Trágica). The death of Madero and Pino Suárez led to a national and international outcry which eventually paved the way for the fall of the Huerta Dictatorship, the triumph of the Mexican Revolution and the establishment of the 1917 Constitution of Mexico under maderista President Venustiano Carranza.
Family and early years, 1873–1903
He was born in Parras de la Fuente, Coahuila, the first son of Francisco Ignacio Madero Hernández and Mercedes González Treviño, and first grandson of family patriarch, Evaristo Madero. He was sickly as a child, and was small in stature as an adult. It is widely believed that Madero's middle initial, I, stood for Indalecio, but according to his birth certificate it stood for Ygnacio. His family was one of the wealthiest families in Mexico: his grandfather, Evaristo Madero, had relatively humble origins starting a regional carting business, but he took advantage of the economic opportunity to transport cotton from Texas during the U.S. Civil War and built a diversified fortune. He founded the Compañía Industrial de Parras, which was initially involved in vineyards, cotton, and textiles, and later expanded into mining, cotton mills, ranching, banking, coal, guayule rubber, and foundries in the later part of the nineteenth century. For many years, the family prospered during Porfirio Díaz's regime, and by 1910 the family was one of the ten richest in Mexico, worth 30 million pesos ($15 million U.S. dollars). Grandfather Evaristo served as governor of Coahuila from 1880-1884, during the four-year interregnum of Porfirio Díaz's rule, but was permanently sidelined from political office when Díaz returned to the presidency in 1884 and served until 1911. Evaristo married twice and had 14 children who lived to adulthood, including Francisco I. Madero, Sr., father of the future president. Thus, young Francisco was a member of a huge and powerful northern Mexican family which had long-standing issues with the Díaz regime.
Francisco and his brother Gustavo A. Madero were educated at the Jesuit college in Saltillo, but this early Catholic education had little lasting impact. Instead, his father's subscription to the magazine Revue Spirite awakened in the young Madero an interest in Spiritism, an offshoot of Spiritualism. As a young man, Madero's father sent him to the École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Paris (HEC). During his time in Paris, Madero made a pilgrimage to the tomb of Allan Kardec, the founder of Spiritism, and became a passionate advocate of the belief, soon coming to believe he was a medium. He then attended high school at Culver Academies. Following business school, Madero traveled to the University of California, Berkeley to study agricultural techniques and to improve his English. During his time there, he was influenced by the Theosophist ideas of Annie Besant, which were prominent at nearby Stanford University.
In 1893, the 20-year-old Madero returned to Mexico and assumed management of the Madero family's hacienda at San Pedro, Coahuila. Well traveled and well educated, he was now in robust health. He installed new irrigation works, introduced American cotton, and built a soap factory and an ice factory. He also embarked on a lifelong commitment to philanthropy. His employees were well paid and received regular medical exams; he built schools, hospitals, and community kitchens; and he paid to support orphans and award scholarships. He also taught himself homeopathic medicine and offered medical treatments to his employees. Francisco became increasingly engaged with Spiritism and in 1901 was convinced the spirit of his brother Raúl, who died at age 4, was communicating with him, urging him to do charity work and practice self-discipline and self-abnegation. Madero became a vegetarian, stopped drinking alcohol and smoking.
Already well connected to a wealthy family and now well educated in business, he built a personal fortune of 500,000 by 1899. The family was organized on patriarchal principles, so that even though young Francisco was wealthy in his own right, his father and especially his grandfather Evaristo viewed as someone who should be under the authority of his elders. As the eldest sibling, Francisco exercised authority over his younger brothers and sisters. In January 1903, he married Sara Pérez, first in a civil ceremony, and then a Catholic nuptial mass celebrated by the archbishop. From all accounts it was a happy marriage, but they had no children.
Introduction to politics, 1903–1908
On 2 April 1903, Bernardo Reyes, governor of Nuevo León, violently crushed a political demonstration, an example of the increasingly authoritarian policies of president Porfirio Díaz. Madero was deeply moved and, believing himself to be receiving advice from the spirit of his late brother Raúl, he decided to act. The spirit of Raúl told him, "Aspire to do good for your fellow citizens...working for a lofty ideal that will raise the moral level of society, that will succeed in liberating it from oppression, slavery, and fanaticism." Madero founded the Benito Juárez Democratic Club and ran for municipal office in 1904, though he lost the election narrowly. In addition to his political activities, Madero continued his interest in Spiritualism, publishing a number of articles under the pseudonym of Arjuna (a prince from the Mahabharata).
In 1905, Madero became increasingly involved in opposition to the government of Porfirio Díaz. He organized political clubs and founded a political newspaper (El Demócrata) and a satirical periodical (El Mosco, "The Fly"). Madero's preferred candidate, Frumencio Fuentes, was defeated by that of Porfirio Díaz in the 1905 governmental elections. Díaz considered jailing Madero, but Bernardo Reyes suggested that Francisco's father be asked to control his increasingly political son.
Leader of the Anti-Re-election Movement, 1908–1909
In an interview with journalist James Creelman published in the February 17, 1908 issue of Pearson's Magazine, President Díaz said that Mexico was ready for a democracy and that the 1910 presidential election would be a free election.
Madero spent the bulk of 1908 writing a book, which he believed was at the direction of spirits, now including that of Benito Juárez himself. This book, published in late 1908, was titled La sucesión presidencial en 1910 (The Presidential Succession of 1910). The book quickly became a bestseller in Mexico. The book proclaimed that the concentration of absolute power in the hands of one man – Porfirio Díaz – for so long had made Mexico sick. Madero pointed out the irony that in 1871, Porfirio Díaz's political slogan had been "No Re-election". Madero acknowledged that Porfirio Díaz had brought peace and a measure of economic growth to Mexico. However, Madero argued that this was counterbalanced by the dramatic loss of freedom, including the brutal treatment of the Yaqui people, the repression of workers in Cananea, excessive concessions to the United States, and an unhealthy centralization of politics around the person of the president. Madero called for a return of the Liberal 1857 Constitution of Mexico. To achieve this, Madero proposed organizing a Democratic Party under the slogan Sufragio effectivo, no reelección ("Valid Voting, No Re-election"). Porfirio Díaz could either run in a free election or retire.
Madero's book was well received, and widely read. Many people began to call Madero the Apostle of Democracy. Madero sold off much of his property – often at a considerable loss – in order to finance anti-re-election activities throughout Mexico. He founded the Anti-Re-election Center in Mexico City in May 1909, and soon thereafter lent his backing to the periodical El Antirreeleccionista, which was run by the young lawyer/philosopher José Vasconcelos and another intellectual, Luis Cabrera Lobato. In Puebla, Aquiles Serdán, from a politically engaged family, contacted Madero and as a result formed an Anti-Re-electionist Club to organize particularly among working class Mexicans for the 1910 elections. Madero traveled throughout Mexico giving anti-reelectionist speeches, and everywhere he went he was greeted by crowds of thousands. His candidacy cost him financially, since he sold much of his property at a loss to back his campaign.
In spite of the attacks by Madero and his earlier statements to the contrary, Díaz ran for re-election. In a show of U.S. support, Díaz and William Howard Taft planned a summit in El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, for October 16, 1909, a historic first meeting between a Mexican and a U.S. president and also the first time a U.S. president would cross the border into Mexico. At the meeting, Diaz told John Hays Hammond, "Since I am responsible for bringing several billion dollars in foreign investments into my country, I think I should continue in my position until a competent successor is found." The summit was a great success for Díaz, but it could have been a major tragedy. On the day of the summit, Frederick Russell Burnham, the celebrated scout, and Private C.R. Moore, a Texas Ranger, discovered a man holding a concealed palm pistol along the procession route and they disarmed the assassin within only a few feet of Díaz and Taft.
The Porfirian regime reacted to Madero by placing pressure on the Madero family's banking interests, and at one point even issued a warrant for Madero's arrest on the grounds of "unlawful transaction in rubber". Madero was not arrested, though, apparently in part to the intervention of Díaz's finance minister, José Ives Limantour, a friend of the Madero family. In April 1910, the Anti-Re-electionist Party met and selected Madero as their nominee for President of Mexico.
During the convention, a meeting between Madero and Díaz was arranged by the governor of Veracruz, Teodoro Dehesa and took place in Díaz's residence on April 16, 1910. Only the candidate and the president were present for the meeting, so the only account of it is Madero's own in correspondence. A political solution and compromise might have been possible, with Madero withdrawing his candidacy. It became clear to Madero that Díaz was a decrepit old man, out of touch politically, and unaware of the extent of formal political opposition. The meeting was important for strengthening Madero's resolve that political compromise was not possible and he is quoted as saying "Porfirio is not an imposing chief. Nevertheless, it will be necessary to start a revolution to overthrow him. But who will crush it afterwards?" Madero was worried that Porfirio Díaz would not willingly relinquish office, warned his supporters of the possibility of electoral fraud and proclaimed that "Force shall be met by force!"
Beginning of the Mexican Revolution, 1910–1911
Madero campaigned across the country and met with numerous supporters. On 6 June 1910, the Porfirian regime arrested him in Monterrey and sent him to a prison in San Luis Potosí. Approximately 5,000 other members of the Anti-Re-electionist movement were also jailed. Francisco Vázquez Gómez took over the nomination, but during Madero's time in jail, the fraudulent election was held and gave Díaz the victory with an electoral vote of 196 to 187.
Madero's father used his influence with the state governor and posted bond to give Madero the right to move about the city on horseback during the day. On 7 October 1910, Madero galloped away from his guards and took refuge with sympathizers in a nearby village. He was then smuggled across the U.S. border, hidden in a baggage car by sympathetic railway workers.
Madero set up shop in San Antonio, Texas, and quickly issued his Plan of San Luis Potosí, which had been written during his time in prison, partly with the help of Ramón López Velarde. The plan proclaimed the elections of 1910 null and void, and called for an armed revolution to begin at 6 pm on 20 November 1910, against the "illegitimate presidency/dictatorship of Díaz". At that point, Madero declared himself provisional President of Mexico, and called for a general refusal to acknowledge the central government, restitution of land to villages and Indian communities, and freedom for political prisoners.
The family drew on resources to make regime change possible, with Madero's brother Gustavo A. Madero hiring the law firm of Washington lawyer Sherburne Hopkins, the "world's best rigger of Latin American revolutions" to foment support in the U.S. A strategy to discredit Díaz with U.S. business and the U.S. government did meet some success, with Standard Oil engaging in talks with Gustavo Madero, but more importantly, the U.S. government "bent neutrality laws for the revolutionaries." The U.S. Senate held hearings in 1913 as to whether the U.S. had any role in fomenting revolution in Mexico, Hopkins gave testimony that "he did not believe that it cost the Maderos themselves more than $400,000 gold", with the aggregate cost being $1,500,000US.
On 20 November 1910, Madero arrived at the border and planned to meet up with 400 men raised by his uncle Catarino to launch an attack on Ciudad Porfirio Díaz (modern-day Piedras Negras, Coahuila). However, his uncle showed up late and brought only ten men. Madero decided to postpone the revolution. Instead he and his brother Raúl (who had been given the same name as his late brother) traveled incognito to New Orleans, Louisiana.
In February 1911, Madero entered Chihuahua and led 130 men in an attack on Casas Grandes, Chihuahua. He spent the next several months as the head of the Mexican Revolution. Madero successfully imported arms from the United States, with the American government under William Howard Taft doing little to halt the flow of arms to the Mexican revolutionaries. By April the Revolution had spread to eighteen states, including Morelos where the leader was Emiliano Zapata.
On 1 April 1911, Porfirio Díaz claimed that he had heard the voice of the people of Mexico, replaced his cabinet, and agreed to restitution of the lands of the dispossessed. Madero did not believe this statement and instead demanded the resignation of President Díaz and Vice-President Ramón Corral. Madero then attended a meeting with the other revolutionary leaders – they agreed to a fourteen-point plan which called for pay for revolutionary soldiers; the release of political prisoners; and the right of the revolutionaries to name several members of cabinet. Madero was moderate, however. He believed that the revolutionaries should proceed cautiously so as to minimize bloodshed and should strike a deal with Díaz if possible. In May, Madero wanted a ceasefire, but his fellow revolutionaries Pascual Orozco and Francisco Villa disagreed and went ahead with an attack on Ciudad Juárez. The revolutionaries won this battle decisively and on 21 May 1911, the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez was signed.
Under the terms of the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez, Díaz and Corral agreed to resign by the end of May 1911, with Díaz's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Francisco León de la Barra, taking over as interim president solely for the purpose of calling general elections.
This first phase of the Mexican Revolution thus ended with Díaz leaving for exile in Europe at the end of May 1911. On 7 June 1911, Madero entered Mexico City in triumph where he was greeted with huge crowds shouting "¡Viva Madero!"
Interim Presidency of Francisco León de la Barra, May–November 1911
Although Madero had forced Porfirio Díaz from power, he did not assume the presidency in June 1911. Instead, he pursued a moderate policy, leaving Francisco León de la Barra, one of Díaz's supporters, as president. He also left in place the Congress of Mexico, which was full of candidates whom Díaz had handpicked for the 1910 election.
Madero now called for the disbanding of all revolutionary forces, arguing that the revolutionaries should henceforth proceed solely by peaceful means. In the south, revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata was skeptical about disbanding his troops, especially since the Federal Army from the Díaz era remained essentially intact. However, Madero traveled south to meet with Zapata at Cuernavaca and Cuautla, Morelos. Madero assured Zapata that the land redistribution promised in the Plan of San Luis Potosí would be carried out when Madero became president.
However, in Madero's absence, several landowners from Zapata's state of Morelos had appealed to President De la Barra and the Congress to restore their lands which had been seized by revolutionaries. They spread exaggerated stories of atrocities committed by Zapata's irregulars, calling Zapata the "Attila of the South". De la Barra and the Congress therefore decided to send regular troops under Victoriano Huerta to suppress Zapata's revolutionaries. Madero once again traveled south to urge Zapata to disband his supporters peacefully, but Zapata refused on the grounds that Huerta's troops were advancing on Yautepec de Zaragoza. Zapata's suspicions proved accurate as Huerta's Federals moved violently into Yautepec de Zaragoza. Madero wrote to De la Barra, saying that Huerta's actions were unjustified and recommending that Zapata's demands be met. However, when he left the south, he had achieved nothing. However, he promised the Zapatistas that once he became president, things would change. Most Zapatistas had grown suspicious of Madero, however.
Before becoming president, Madero published another book, this one under the pseudonym of Bhima (one of Arjuna's brothers in the Mahabharata) called a Spiritualist Manual.
Madero as president of Mexico, November 1911 – February 1913
Madero became president in November 1911, and, intending to reconcile the nation, appointed a cabinet which included many of Porfirio Díaz's supporters. However, Madero was unable to achieve the reconciliation he desired since conservative Porfirians had managed to get themselves organized during the interim presidency of Francisco León de la Barra and now mounted a sustained and effective opposition to Madero's reform program. Conservative Porfirians in the Senate refused to pass the reforms he advocated. At the same time, several of Madero's allies denounced him for being overly reconciliatory with the Porfirians and with not moving aggressively forward with reforms: thus, on 25 November 1911, Emiliano Zapata issued his Plan of Ayala, denouncing Madero for being uninterested in pursuing land reform.
After years of censorship, Mexican newspapers took advantage of their newly found freedom of the press to criticize Madero's performance as president harshly. Gustavo A. Madero, the president's brother, remarked that "the newspapers bite the hand that took off their muzzle." Francisco Madero refused the recommendation of some of his advisors that he bring back censorship.
The press was particularly critical of Madero's handling of three rebellions that broke out against his rule shortly after he became president:
(1) In December 1911, Bernardo Reyes (the popular general whom Porfirio Díaz had sent to Europe on a diplomatic mission because Díaz worried that Reyes was going to challenge him for the presidency) launched a rebellion in Nuevo León, where he had previously served as governor. Reyes' rebellion lasted only eleven days before Reyes surrendered at Linares, Nuevo León, and was sent to the Santiago Tlatelolco prison in Mexico City.
(2) In March 1912, Madero's former general Pascual Orozco, who was personally resentful of how Madero had treated him, launched a rebellion in Chihuahua with the financial backing of Luis Terrazas, a former Governor of Chihuahua who was the largest landowner in Mexico. Madero despatched troops under General José González Salas to put down the rebellion, but they were initially defeated by Orozco's troops. General José González Salas committed suicide and Victoriano Huerta assumed control of the federalist forces. Huerta was more successful, defeating Orozco's troops in three major battles and forcing Orozco to flee to the United States in September 1912.
Relations between Huerta and Madero grew strained during the course of this campaign when Pancho Villa, the commander of the División del Norte, refused orders from General Huerta. Huerta ordered Villa's execution, but Madero commuted the sentence and Villa was sent to the same Santiago Tlatelolco prison as Reyes from which he escaped on Christmas Day 1912. Angry at Madero's commutation of Villa's sentence, Huerta, after a long night of drinking, mused about reaching an agreement with Orozco and together deposing Madero as president. When Mexico's Minister of War learned of General Huerta's comments, he stripped Huerta of his command, but Madero intervened and restored Huerta to command.
(3) In October 1912, Félix Díaz (nephew of Porfirio Díaz) launched a rebellion in Veracruz, "to reclaim the honor of the army trampled by Madero." This rebellion was quickly crushed and Félix Díaz was imprisoned. Madero was prepared to have Félix Díaz executed, but the Supreme Court of Mexico declared that Félix Díaz would be imprisoned, but not executed.
Besides managing rebellions, Madero did have a number of accomplishments during his presidency:
- He created the Department of Labor; introduced regulation of the labor practices in the textile industry; and oversaw the creation of the Casa del Obrero Mundial ("House of the World Worker"), an organization with anarcho-syndicalist connections, that would play a major role in the subsequent Mexican labor movement.
- Although not as radical as the Zapatistas would have liked, Madero did introduce some agrarian reforms, such as a reorganization of rural credit and the creation of agricultural stations.
- He launched an infrastructure program, building schools, railroads, and new highways.
- He introduced new taxation on foreign oil companies.
- He launched a modest programme of school lunches for the poor.
Overthrow of Madero
In early 1913, Victoriano Huerta, the commander of the armed forces conspired with Félix Díaz (Porfirio Díaz's nephew), Bernardo Reyes, and US Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson against Madero, which culminated in a ten-day siege of La Ciudadela known as La decena tragica (the Tragic Ten Days). Madero accepted Huerta's "protection" from the Díaz/Reyes forces, only to be betrayed by Huerta and arrested. Madero's brother and advisor Gustavo A. Madero was kidnapped off the street, tortured, and killed. Following Huerta's coup d'état on 18 February 1913, Madero was forced to resign. After a 45-minute term of office, Pedro Lascuráin was replaced by Huerta, who took over the presidency later that day.
Following his enforced resignation, Madero and his Vice-President José María Pino Suárez were kept under guard in the National Palace. On the evening of 22 February, they were told that they were to be transferred to the main city penitentiary, where they would be safer. At 11:15 pm, reporters waiting outside the National Palace saw two cars containing Madero and Suárez emerge from the main gate under a heavy escort commanded by Captain Francisco Cárdenas, an officer of the rurales. The journalists on foot were outdistanced by the motor vehicles, which were driven towards the penitentiary. The correspondent for the New York World was approaching the prison when he heard a volley of shots. Behind the building, he found the two cars with the bodies of Madero and Suárez nearby, surrounded by soldiers and gendarmes. Captain Cárdenas subsequently told reporters that the cars and their escort had been fired on by a group, as they neared the penitentiary. The two prisoners had leapt from the vehicles and ran towards their presumed rescuers. They had however been killed in the cross-fire. This account was treated with general disbelief, although the American ambassador Henry Lane Wilson, a strong supporter of Huerta, reported to Washington that, "I am disposed to accept the (Huerta) government's version of the affair and consider it a closed incident".
President Madero, dead at 39, was buried quietly in the French cemetery of Mexico City. Only his close family were permitted to attend, leaving for Cuba immediately after. Ambassador Wilson was later dismissed from his position. Following Huerta's overthrow, Francisco Cárdenas fled to Guatemala where he committed suicide in 1920 after the new Mexican government had requested his extradition to stand trial for the murder of Madero.
Memorials and references in popular culture
On the morning of December 8, 1914, Francisco "Pancho" Villa declared that the street leading from the Zócalo in Mexico City towards the Paseo de la Reforma would be named after Madero. Still officially called Francisco I. Madero Avenue, but commonly known simply as Madero street, it is one of the most popular and historically significant streets in the city. It was pedestrianised in 2009.
Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada created an etching for a broadside, produced on the occasion of Madero's election in 1910, titled "Calavera de Madero" portraying Madero as a calavera.
Madero appears in the films Viva Villa! (1934), Villa Rides (1968) and Viva Zapata! (1952).
In the novel The Friends of Pancho Villa (1996) by James Carlos Blake, Madero is a major character.