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A Brief History of Mexico

Mexican War of Independence

Beginning in 1535, soon after the Spanish conquered the Aztecs, the area known as Mexico today, along with all of the western United States was known as "New Spain". Hundreds of years later, in the early 1800's, tensions were rising with the Spanish or "peninsulares", people born on the Iberian peninsula,  being regarded  much higher in society as the "Criollos", a mix between indigenous and Spanish people. One day, September 16th, 1810, a Roman Catholic priest named Miguel Hidalgo, gave a speech supporting independence from Spain. This is called "Grito de Dolores", and it's regarded as the start of the war and the Mexican Independence Day.

In the beginning, only Creoles would fight against the Spanish, as the elite in Mexico were living very comfortably. Soon, a general, named Agustin de Iturbide, starting leading the Mexicans. He signed a plan, called the Plan of Iguala, which said that Mexico would become a constitutional monarchy. He also formed the Army of Three Guarantees, which fought for religion, independence, and unity. Finally that army defeated the Spanish, and they were finally free.

First Mexican Empire

Iturbide, who was a successful general during the War of Independence, declared himself to be the emperor of Mexico. This empire didn't last, as people got angry, and he was executed as a new Democratic government was formed. For eight years after the War of Independence, Spain didn't recognize the independence of Mexico, their attempts to reconquer it were unsuccessful, and finally, Spain recognized the independence of Mexico.

United Mexican States

After the Mexican Empire, there was a Republican government, called the United Mexican States. Santa Anna, a general during the war as well, was a leader for many years during this time.

French Invasion and Second Mexican Empire

In 1861, Napoleon's brother, Joseph Bonaparte, invaded Mexico following them not paying their debt. They attempted to conquer all of Mexico, and on May 5th, 1862, Mexican troops won a major battle at the Battle of Puebla, and that day would be known as "Cinco de Mayo". Interestingly enough, it's a much more popular holiday in the United States than it is in Mexico. 

The French still were able to advance in Mexico, however, and they appointed a king, Maximilian I, to the throne. Soon after, with the help of Porfirio Diaz, a general at the time, along with the former president, Benito Juarez, and an army, they overthrew Maximilian and executed him with a firing squad. Benito Juarez returned to his original position.

Porfiriato

In 1876, Sebastian Lerdo, the vice president under Benito Juarez, who had just died a year, ran for re-election and won. Porfirio Diaz, outraged, initiated a coup, and he became president. His presidency from 1876 to 1911 was called the "Porfiriato". In 1911, after people became angry at his oppressive presidency, it resulted in a revolution, called the Mexican Revolution.

Mexican Revolution

Diaz had been president for so long that many people expected him to end his power when he turned 70. However, when he decided to extend his term, many people were outraged. In 1910, Francisco Madero announced he would run against Diaz. In a letter issued from jail, known as the Plan de San Luis Potosi. It declared the presidency of Diaz illegal, and said that he would revolt against Diaz in November.

Madero's message inspired various rebel leaders, such as Pancho Villa and Pascual Orozco. They won many cities, and Diaz started negotiating with revolutionaries. They culminated in the Treaty of Ciudad Juarez. The treaty said that Diaz would give up his power, and Francisco De La Barra would become the interim president.

Presidency of Francisco Madero

In 1911, an election was held, and Madero won in a landslide victory. A major mistake that Madero made was to not reward Pascual Orozco, a young ambitious revolutionary who helped win the war. Instead of appointing him to governor, he appointed Abraham Gonzalez, who was more experienced. Orozco organized his own army, called the "Orozquitas", who rebelled against Madero. 

Madero went to general Victoriano Huerta to put down the revolt.  After a stalemate, Huerta turned on the president, and after a coup d'etat, Madero was forced to resign., and Huerta became president. On their way to jail, Madero and his vice president, Jose Suarez, were shot dead.

Presidency of Victoriano Huerta

The presidency of Huerta is generally considered a dictatorship. There are two distinct periods in his regime: the first, when he tried to be a good president and pass reformist policies, and the second, when he murdered his political opponents and dropped all attempts to have a legal presidency.

Within the month of his rule, rebellion was already starting against Huerta. The northern revolutionaries, including Pancho Villa and Venustiano Carranza, were known as the "Constitutional Army", with Carranza as the leader. They started leading more and more people against him. The United States also took control of the port of Veracruz, preventing the Germans from supporting Huerta with supplies. After many military losses, Huerta stepped down in 1914. 

War of the Winners

After Huerta left power, there was a convention held in Aguascalientes. Many people wanted Carranza to resign his power, and he agreed only if Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata would resign too. So, civil war resumed, and Pancho Villa allied with Zapata, while Carranza was allied with Alvaro Obregon.  So, Carranza and Obregon were part of the "Constitutional Army", while Villa and Zapata made up the Army of the Convention.

Villa and Zapata were doing very well, taking major cities, and they finally took Mexico in December 1914.  The United States still had support of Carranza and the Constitutionalists. 

In April 1915, their armies met in the Battle of Celaya. Pancho Villa's army was destroyed in the battle. Venustiano Carranza emerged as the leader of Mexico, with a strong army to support him. Pancho Villa retreated north, and Carranza solidified his position as president.

Modern Mexico

After the revolution, Mexico had a good relationship with the United States, and had no conflicts, except for the invasion by Pancho Villa, which caused the United States to send the Punitive Expedition, an attempt to capture him that was unsuccessful. This was also the first time the United States ever used an airplane in a military operation. In 1917, a new constitution was enacted. It limited the power of the Roman Catholic church, and it promoted free education for all. 

Since then, the political party, PRI (pronounced "pre"), has been the primary political party since then. In 2000, Vicente Fox, of the party PAN, became president of Mexico, becoming the first president of the PAN party. The current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, is of the party PRI. 

David Witten

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