Although the Mexican Revolution did not start until 1910, the roots of its uprising can be traced back to 1872, the year that Mexico’s elected President Benito Juarez passed away. After Juarez passed away, a former colleague of his in the Mexican Army named Porfirio Diaz was able to win the Presidency in 1876. In the early years of Diaz’s Presidency, he was viewed as a very successful leader. He was able to create a more stable government in Mexico, building up the nation’s police force and army as well. Diaz also created a flourishing economy that saw improvements in Mexico’s highways, railroads, telephone lines, oil fields, and stronger mining industry.(11)
Despite being elected and credited with the transformation of the world’s image of Mexico into a developed nation, Diaz is more often viewed by history as a ruthless dictator. His policies created an enormous gap between Mexico’s elite and peasant workers, thus resulting in considerable unrest coming from the majority of Mexico’s poor citizens. Diaz also placed the Mexican economy under the dependence of foreign nations such as the United States and European countries, who often extorted Mexico’s peasants under the support of Diaz. Eventually, Mexico’s citizens would want a stake in government, and challenged Diaz in elections for rule of the country. However, achieving the Presidency would not be possible as Diaz would threaten Mexico’s citizens into voting for him in subsequent elections, and even go as far as rigging elections to ensure victory.(12) Throughout his reign, the Mexican people would have no say in government, and were subjected to whatever policies Diaz deemed necessary to keep Mexico under his control.
The Mexican Revolution would begin on November 20, 1910, when Diaz’s political opponent, Francisco Madero, would declare himself the President of Mexico after losing a corrupted election that same year. Madero’s determination to oust Diaz would inspire three major revolutionary armies in 1911. In the south, a rebel group was started by Emiliano Zapata, while the north saw armies formed by Pascual Orozco, and Francisco “Pancho” Villa. All of these rebel armies, especially the one lead by Pancho Villa, would be comprised of poor, working-class citizen’s. These armies would use the aid of Soldaderas to help the male soldiers succeed in rebelling. The Soldaderas, while not fighting, would cook, clean, carry critical supplies, and provide emotional support for the male soldiers, most of whom were usually their husbands. After Pancho Villa’s army captured the city of Juarez on May 10, 1911, Diaz would step down as President of the country and flee to Europe, thus placing Francisco Madero as President of Mexico.
Madero’s Presidency would be short-lived. After countless rebel attacks, one led by Felix Diaz would finally prevail in February 1913. After reaching an agreement with Diaz, Army General Victoriano Huerta became the new President of the country, and promptly had Madero exectured. Huerta’s rule would be met by even more unrest through the country, as many were furious that a former Diaz General was now ruler of their country. (13) Under Huerta’s rule, Soldaderas would reach their peak of importance in the revolution. Revolutionary armies led by Villa and Zapata would increasingly depend on Soldaderas to wage their successful rebellions against Huerta, while Huerta would enlist women in his army to aid the men. The culmination of their efforts would be seen on March 26, 1914, when Venustiano Carranza issued the Plan de Guadalupe, a formal document establishing that Mexico would no longer recognize Huerta as their leader. (14)
Carranza would become the new President in 1914, and would immediately come under attack by Villa and Zapata’s rebel armies, who wanted a larger stake in the development of Mexico’s government. Finally, in 1917, Carranza would officially be elected President of Mexico, and with the help of Villa and Zapata, draft the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States. The Constitution would be drafted with influence coming from many prominent political Soldaderas, though they would not officially be recognized as contributors because they were women.(15) While unrest would continue for the following decade in Mexico, the major portion of the revolution would end with the drafting of the Constitution, and the Soldaderas would once again resume their roles as home-makers in Mexico’s households.