Mexico’s Reform Liberals realized that their intention to modernize the country depended upon public peace, so they organized a federal rural police force as one of their first orders of business. They modeled it after Spain’s Guardia Civil, tailored it to fit Mexico’s reality, and by early 1857 had four corps patrolling major roads outside the capital. The civil war and foreign intervention that followed temporarily subordinated the constabulary to military needs, but the reestablishment of domestic order in 1867 permitted the reorganization and expansion of the Rurales. Former guerrillas demanding payment for wartime services and bandits who threatened to pillage if not enlisted were among the two thousand men assembled by the 1870s and divided into seven corps assigned to further the centralist aims of the government. As capitalism gained impetus and the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz took root in the 1880s, the Rurales became institutionalized. Bureaucrats made tables of organization, as well as rules and regulations, to govern the flow of personnel and matériel. Inspectors defined the duties of the men and issued numerous decrees meant to instill discipline and esprit de corps. The Rurales became a mainstay of Porfirian rule, although their public image was far more striking than their performance. Parading in front of the presidential palace on carefully selected horses, and wearing handsome charro outfits, they were one thing; on duty they were something else. An increasingly rapid turnover of personnel prone to drunkenness, insubordination, and desertion marked the internal workings of the corps and reflected the degree of instability among ordinary Mexicans as the tenure of the Porfiriato lengthened.1 Because virtually all guards recruited during the thirty-year dictatorship were common people from the central part of the country, personnel records of the individual corpsmen offer the opportunity to study the nation’s massive and unsettled lower classes, and computer programming provides a tool for systematic examination and evaluation of the data taken from those records.2

Mexico’s rural police force was never large, especially given the extent of territory and the number of inhabitants for which it was responsible. Until 1905, some 2,000 Rurales were divided evenly into ten corps and assigned to roughly one-fourth of the nation’s territorial extent and one- third of its inhabitants. An eleventh corps was added in 1905 to handle the special “Yaqui problem” in Sonora and a twelfth in 1908 when labor agitation mounted around Mexico City.3

Enlistments were for four years before 1890 and five years after that date. Longer enlistments were meant to stabilize the organization, but failed of their purpose. Had all recruits completed their enlistments in the twenty-five years from 1885 to 1910, the corps would have employed about 10,000 men. As it turned out, headquarters had to attract some 35,000 recruits during those years just to keep the ranks at legislated levels. And while the corps had to enroll nearly 10,000 men between 1890 and 1900 to fill 2,000 slots, the following decade it needed more than 20,000 to maintain a constabulary of 2,400 policemen. The 50 percent increase indicates increasingly hard times for the constabulary. Put another way, from 1885 to 1890 the Rurales took in 3.93 men for each budgeted slot. In the next decade, the ratio climbed to 4.72, and from 1901 to 1910 to 7.11 in order to keep each position filled.

While many more Mexicans joined the Rurales in the final years of the dictatorship, they stayed in the organization for ever shorter periods of time (graph I). In 1880-85 only 8 percent dropped out in their first year of service, but by 1890 the dropout rate reached 17.3 percent, and a decade later rose to 32.1 percent. During the final decade the dropout rate was 47.8 percent, or a staggering 127 percent overall increase.

When calculated for the first six months of service, the dropout rate rose to an even more spectacular 234 percent. What was 2.3 percent in 1880-85 and 8 percent in 1886-90, leaped to 18.7 percent in the next decade. The percentage for the final ten years was 26.4. It meant that in the last period over one-fourth of those who joined either deserted or were discharged within six months of their enlistment.

Throughout the period the crucial month for enlistees was the first. Dropout statistics for it measure how the attitudes of those who joined the rural police force must have changed over time. Early-outs, once past the first month, remained fairly stable in all time periods—a rate of increase was apparent after 1900, but slight. In other words, about the same percentage of men left the force after three months of service in 1885-90 as left after three months in 1901-10, or after ten months, or twenty-five months. The number of Rurales who left within one month of joining the service in 1891-1900, however, increased six times over those who had departed during the first month between 1885 and 1890. The same increase was elevenfold between the 1890s and 1901-10. A small year-by-year sample after 1900 indicates that more than 50 percent of the Rurales who joined in 1907 deserted the corps within a month.

Desertions, drinking, and disobedience always plagued the rural police corps, but like nearly all aspects of the organization, considerations leading to disassociation were bad at the beginning and even worse toward the end (graph II). Desertions rose steadily: 8 percent in 1880-85; 18 percent from 1886 to 1890; 32 percent in the next decade; and 35 percent in the last ten years. In the same period the desertion rate of Canada’s Royal Mounted Police was 6 percent or lower. The United States Army figure was at 6.7 percent, and some thought that scandalous. The British Army reported a desertion rate of 1.7 percent at the time.4

Not only did policemen desert more frequently, but more quickly, as the end of the Porfiriato approached. Of those who left the corps within six months of their enlistment during 1885-90, 45.5 percent had deserted. After 1900, desertion reached 56.3 percent in the first six months, and included a lieutenant who left with his unit’s payroll.

Discharges for habitual violators of service rules increased in much the same way: 9.1 percent in 1880-85; 10.7 percent from 1886 to 1890; 13.3 percent in the 1890s; and 19.2 percent in the last decade. Most were released for continuing drunkenness, flagrant insubordination, and persistent inattention to duty. Frequently those discharged were charged with all three. Over half of the service records show punishment for at least one misdemeanor; 30 percent of those who committed violations did so five or more times. More than a few were cited for twenty or more offenses—and not all of them received a discharge because of the infractions. Toleration for incorrigibles decreased after 1900. While 45 percent of those who violated regulations between 1880 and 1885 did so at least five times, only 23.2 percent were five-time offenders in the last decade. Rurales were not better behaved after 1900. It was simply that more men were being discharged than punished as troublemakers after 1900 in comparison with earlier times.

Punishments for misbehavior ran from a few to twenty days of restriction to quarters, between one and three weeks of extra duty, or from ten days to a month in jail. Being drunk on duty was by far the most common offense. In fact, the inspector who surveyed the First Corps in 1910 called the majority of corpsmen he encountered alcoholics. Most official charges of insubordination, missing roll calls and bedchecks, fighting, abusing authority, and mistreating horses and equipment also involved heavy drinking. Headquarters stepped up punishments to curb violations. Among five-time offenders in 1885-90, only 8.9 percent received the heaviest penalty of a month in jail, but after 1900 the figure rose by 40 percent. Conversely, light penalties decreased for the same offender group. Whereas 26.7 percent received ten days or less restriction in 1885-90, that percentage decreased to 14.3 percent after 1900.

Records keepers in the capital must have known what was going on in the ranks, even without the benefit of a computer. Desertions, felonies, and habitual misdemeanors accounted for 20.5 percent of the turnover rate in 1880-85, 31.6 percent in 1886-90, 49.7 percent in 1891-1900, and 60.3 percent in the final decade. Add to these early-outs some 10 percent for those killed on duty, and increasing numbers released over the time period as unfit (too ignorant or unskilled to perform any useful service), together with others discharged for personal reasons, such as the need to support aging parents at home, and the nature of the constabulary and the dilemma faced by its inspectors general becomes clear.

The completion rate summed up their problems (graph II): from 1880 to 1885, two-thirds of the men completed their four-year terms, a decent record for any constabulary. But by 1886-90, the completion rate had dropped to 51.5 percent. In the next decade, when recruits were required to sign for five years, only 28.9 percent completed their enlistment. In the final ten years the completion rate was down to a miserable 13.4 percent overall. It is not possible to sustain an effective police force with so rapid a turnover. The solution for the government lay in recruiting better qualified, more dependable men, but men with those qualifications seemed to volunteer in declining numbers as the regime went on.

In short, the men in the ranks made the corps what it was. All Rurales were volunteers, and until 1904 enough men joined without special recruitment tactics to fill the units. After that it was necessary to send recruiting teams into the countryside to enlist personnel.5 It was not necessarily that by 1904 Mexicans had become more disaffected with the corps or even the dictatorship, but that the lives of many more average people—and this is verified by all the statistical indicators in this study— had by then reached an unprecedented state of instability. Thousands seem to have been on the move, some seeking to improve the quality of their lives, others simply to find work. In that environment, most of those who sampled the Rurales did not stay in the institution very long. Economic development was changing the lives of ever more Mexicans, change that was always awkward and frequently harsh. Such movement may not have altered their values, hut it intruded upon their former world views and, in the process, to some degree probably politicized them.

Those who volunteered came almost exclusively from the central states: over half (53.58 percent) from the Bajío; 18.81 percent from Puebla/Tlaxcala; 11.71 percent from the state of Mexico; and 10.26 percent from San Luis Potosí/Zacatecas. Of course, 47 percent of the nation’s people resided in these states, and the organization drew men from these individual regions approximately in proportion to each area’s population in relation to the entire country. The corps attracted very few cowhands from the northern tier, rancheros from Jalisco (where there was considerable unemployment), or agriculturalists from Oaxaca and the Yucatán Peninsula. The army, on the other hand, used the forced draft to enroll men from all states, although about 25 percent of the military came from the Federal District.6

The location of detachments influenced regional recruitment. Individual corps commanders enlisted personnel at their respective duty stations, and in a good many instances buddies joined the constabulary together, which gave their district a particularly strong representation. Yet the presence of Rurales did not necessarily encourage recruitment among all occupational groups. Campesinos and artisans seemed to have joined up in places where they had direct contact with Rurales, but very few factory workers left their machines to enlist in the police force, even after 1903 when most Rurales were stationed at industrial sites. Proletarians did not enlist in the force in any numbers, even when they were otherwise unemployed.7

Labor conditions in regions of Mexico also affected recruitment. A manpower surplus in central Mexico appears to have been the principal factor boosting enlistments from that area. Higher wages in various segments of the northern economy, where there was a good deal of labor mobility, proved more attractive than police service. Conditions in the south firmly tied workers to their peonage, often far from their families. Rurales did not enlist runaways; they chased them down and returned them to their toil.8

Matching geographical areas against time periods and enlistment (graph III) shows that between 1880 and 1910 recruitment from Puebla/ Tlaxcala dipped 43 percent and at a slightly more rapid pace toward the end of the Porfiriato. Conversely, it increased 22 percent from the Bajío, the largest jump occurring in the 1880s, but with another substantial leap after 1900. Enrollments from Mexico declined 13 percent over the period, while those from San Luis Potosí/Zacatecas showed a slight overall increase. There seems to have been no correlation between population growth in particular states, or the population density of specific states, and enlistment in the corps. Men from states with increasing density did not join the organization in disproportionate numbers, although overall recruitment continued to come from the most densely populated central region of the country.9 These percentages, reinforced by occupational statistics, indicate that industries in Puebla/Tlaxcala increasingly soaked up potential Rurales, while at the same time more factory production of consumer items displaced larger numbers of artisans in the Bajío. They also point to the possibility that, despite its considerable population growth, Mexico City’s expanding economy was able to absorb the city’s ordinary workers, and in doing so probably helped to curb discontent in the capital.

More than half of all those who joined Mexico’s Rural Police Force labeled themselves common country people. Almost one-third (30.4 percent) of the enlistees said they had been artisans. Half came from places of more than 2,500 population and the rest from the countryside. They were shoemakers, potters, tanners, and mason’s helpers, and combinations of several specialties, since few artisans earned a living from only one trade. Another 22.7 percent considered themselves campesinos—the word most frequently used was jornalero, or “dayworker,” which indicates they had been for daily hire as opposed to live-ons, tenant farmers, or sharecroppers. Craftsmen, or men with specific skills—carpenters, printers, ironworkers, saddlers, cartwrights, and muleteers—constituted 12.4 percent of the force, while 9.7 percent were proletarians. A slightly larger group (13.8 percent) listed their preinduction work as comerciante, or “merchant,” which presumably included everyone from street vendor to shopkeeper. Just over 1 percent were former soldiers, while domestics, office workers, custodians, bakers, barbers, and a wide variety of others, which defy even tentative grouping, made up the final 9.7 percent.10

Rurales, then, were in the main poor, semiskilled people (graph IV) with no particular qualifications, training, or background for police work, which at least in part explains their performance. They were quite different in background and experience from, for example, Canada’s urban middle-class mounties, the Texas Rangers, who had former lawmen in their ranks, or the former noncommissioned officers who entered the French Gendarmerie.11 Regulations stipulated that inductees in Mexico’s Rural Police Force be healthy, literate, between the ages of 21 and 50, and of good personal character. Each recruit was supposed to obtain two letters of reference from reputable citizens, but few did. Recruitment proved so difficult that officials largely ignored entrance requirements, especially in the final decade of the Porfiriato, when enlistments-to-departures became a revolving door.12 After 1900 the corps stretched regulations to accept teenagers as carpenters and masons, because older men with such qualifications and more experience could take advantage of the building boom in several major urban centers. An inspector who visited detachments of the First Corps in 1910 found an 80-year-old officer at one post and a paralyzed lieutenant in charge of another. Physical incapacity might thus accompany the nepotism, widespread drunkenness, and rampant financial peculations that marked units. Horsemanship and marksmanship were never prerequisites for enlistment, although official propaganda made it seem that those two qualifications particularly distinguished the corps. In fact, surprisingly few men who came to the constabulary could qualify as horsemen or shoot a carbine with accuracy, but this mattered little. Most rural police posts were stationary and did not require equestrian skills, and the corpsmen had little opportunity or inclination to fire their rifles, especially since they had to account to superiors for every bullet expended.13

Most who joined the organization were illiterate. Two-thirds were bachelors. Marriage naturally made it difficult for artisans and campesinos to break from their accustomed tasks, especially when rural police service did little if anything to enhance family life. Bachelors, being more mobile, could join and quit the constabulary with less commitment and fewer personal repercussions. Of course, the admission of so many single men helped to speed up the turnover rate. Actually, the number of single people in all of Mexico increased during the Porfiriato, and the trend predominated in the central part of the republic. Moisés González Navarro, who has reviewed social life in the period, believes that these bachelors constituted the majority of the itinerant workers. Enlistments in the Rurales support his thesis.14

Because younger men would not join the corps, recruits had to come from the upper age echelons of the country’s expanded labor pool. The average enlistee was in his late twenties, and after 1900 was well into his thirties, at a time when the average age of Mexicans was decreasing. That meant that when Rurales finished their enlistments after 1900, they were close to 40 years old, quite old to be out of work and facing limited prospects for the future.

Of special note are all those artisans who joined the Rurales. As the nation’s economic activity increased, campesinos, jostled about by the development, became attached to their bosses and work in a variety of new situations. Within these new patterns, they tended to do less for themselves. They certainly worked just as hard as farmers, or harder, but they made fewer clothes for their families and improvised less around their homes. Instead, they increasingly relied upon local artisans and shopkeepers for simple necessities and daily goods. Many artisans and vendors were itinerants, hawkers who sold goods and services. Peddling and trading further increased with the introduction of machine-made goods and as economic growth required increasingly skilled craftsmen. These traveling merchants moved with an air of self-respect not altogether common with ordinary people, and while they may not have been more literate than campesinos, they were better informed and probably more political.

While the market economy at first abetted the spontaneous growth of artisan life, railroads and heavier industry soon began to discourage it, to disrupt the livelihoods of the artisans, and, eventually, to drive many from the work force. Financial and social gains were wiped out. Not only did cartwrights and muleteers lose their livelihoods to the railroads, but posadas, shops, and stables along the old stage routes lapsed into disuse, and peddlers who had furnished food and forage to travelers lost their markets.15 The place of these people in the social composition of the revolutionary armies has never been measured, but the manager of a cotton plantation in Durango noted that among those from his establishment who were the quickest to join the revolt were the blacksmith, carpenter, and muleteer, and that among the rebel leaders in his district were a tinsmith, a tramway operator, and the son of a wagoner. Artisans provided the anarchists and urban working groups with their leadership during the rebellion.16 Not tied to land for their livelihood and somewhat accustomed to trade and travel, artisans, touched by the spirit of selfgain, were more prepared than many other rural Mexicans to chance another occupation. The constabulary was one possibility; revolution later became another. Among those people who joined the corps and left within the first month—with all their equipment and who knows what else— were a good many artisans.

The sharp decline of campesino recruits is difficult to assess with assurance. People may have become more securely tied to their own land or the farms and haciendas of other people. Also, commercialization probably meant substantial betterment for many farmers, even those with relatively small holdings. During the Porfiriato the Bajío experienced an extraordinary rise in the number of ranchos, and of small and independent farms.17 In its initial years, the corps probably attracted a larger number of genuine volunteers from among people anxious to break away from their narrow and boring village life, but the more mobile layer eventually exhausted itself, and the successors had to be wrenched from their land. At least they were less adventuresome and more suspicious of change than their predecessors. Among the dayworkers the unwillingness to change occupation was also apparent. The records make clear that despite sustained recruitment efforts after 1900, fewer dayworkers joined up.

The recruitment of the relatively small group of skilled workers increased 80 percent over the thirty years, probably because the organization steadily became more sedentary and bureaucratic. Supply depots had to be built and maintained along with barracks in major cities. While the number of skilled enlistees may have increased, it did not mean that the Rurales attracted the more qualified and experienced tradesmen. For example, recruitment rules were frequently bent to enroll a teenager who did not meet age specifications, but who called himself a carpenter.18

Merchants, most likely petty vendors, increased 35.8 percent, and factory workers 18.3 percent, over the entire period, but each declined sharply in the final decade, merchants by 18 percent and workers by 16 percent. The increases before 1900 can be attributed to trends already noted. The commercialization of the economy produced a growing number of vendors, but some did not succeed for lack of aptitude and enterprise; competitors crowded out others, so they joined the Rurales. As for the proletarians, new, more efficient factories replaced old ones, releasing hands for labor elsewhere. There were never enough plants in Mexico to absorb the number of people willing to work in them, despite the miserable conditions.19 But the decrease in enlistments of merchants and factory workers after 1900 is much harder to explain. Expanding urban activities must have demanded more service personnel and millhands. Mexicans entering commerce increased 0.9 percent annually from 1885 to 1900, 1.2 percent in the next decade. Such growth was especially noticeable in the Federal District. The private employee sector, which had an 8.4 percent annual growth rate from 1895 to 1900, increased to 9.4 percent after 1900. Domestics, waiters, custodians, and others in the service sector appeared less frequently in the constabulary because city jobs proved more attractive than police work.20

Fewer men who had been proletarians enlisted in the corps after 1900. In fact, overall recruitment fell in industrialized areas, indicating that more factory jobs may have become available, and that workers preferred those positions to rural police service. Increasing unionization might also have affected the attitudes of proletarians toward the Rurales. The daily presence of Rurales at the plants could also have influenced the thinking of workers about the corps. Although they were not particularly repressive toward the laborers, Rurales policed the daily activities of employees and occasionally used the flats of their swords to prod them to work or to keep them at their tasks. Furthermore, units of the constabulary were instrumental in quelling the bloody strikes at Cananea in 1906 and at Río Blanco the following year.21 All of these conclusions are necessarily speculative and subject to verification by other sources and thorough analysis by specialists familiar with regional demographic and socioeconomic specifics for the period. But the data on the Rurales certainly raise some new questions about old visions of the Porfiriato.

Practically no former enlisted army men became Rurales in any of the periods under review, a deviation from the international pattern that then and today often sees former military people recruited for police service. It would seem that the Rural Police Force, beset with recruitment problems, would turn to army personnel for relief. The fact that they did not undoubtedly reflects upon the type of Mexican who ended up in the army. Díaz had almost as much trouble keeping the army up to size as he did the Rurales, and like the constabulary, that size was much smaller than was then or is now generally thought. Men were force-drafted into the army by district political bosses. It was one way they rid themselves of criminals, political enemies, and other troublemakers. It also helped them to control the labor supply in their districts, and gave the bosses considerable control over the upper echelons of regional society. At any rate, those men who ended up in the military were not normally volunteers as were the Rurales. Furthermore, army discipline was much more strict and punishment for offenses much more certain and severe than in the constabulary. Few former army men would volunteer for more of the same, or nearly the same, by joining the rural police force.22

In accounting for the small number of former soldiers, there is an added consideration. Rurales considered themselves a social cut above the average infantryman, and the image-building efforts of the administration deliberately encouraged that view. The Rurales had, since their inception, been considered by the national executive a counterbalance to the army, which could not be politically trusted. Modernization for Mexico’s liberal reformers meant bringing those ambitious army factions that had formerly nourished so much domestic disorder into line with the government’s centralistic aims. The proceeds of economic development had much more to do with eventual success in that area than the Rurales, but the constabulary nonetheless was a vital element in the system of checks and balances on which the government banked for its tenure.23 In the 1870s and the early 1880s, the military fought doggedly for control of the constabulary, and it was well into his dictatorship before Díaz could drive a permanent wedge between the two. It is true that the army and Rurales reinforced each other in moments of crisis for the administration, but it was always a nervous relationship, prone to feuding and the serving of self-interest. Porfirio Díaz wanted it that way.24

Regional occupational trends among those who became Rurales are diverse, fascinating, and indicative of conditions hard to explain. Development does not arrive like a tidal wave; its spread is uneven both in scope and intensity. Its ability to change human beings depends in good part upon the makeup of those individuals it touches. Some resist it more or less successfully. Others embrace it. Regardless of its impact, people do not change overnight. It is a long, slow, often tortuous process, all of which is reflected in the ways in which different men from various areas in different time periods ended up as Rurales.

Of all who enlisted from the Bajío (graph V), 40 percent were artisans. The number of these artisan-enlistees grew rapidly between 1880 and 1900, but very slowly after that. Numerically, the Bajío continued to furnish the largest number of artisans, but Puebla/Tlaxcala and Mexico furnished the corps with increasing numbers and higher percentages of artisans after 1900. The large number of artisans from the Bajío might have been expected. That area had a history of petty entrepreneurship, commercial exchange, personal mobility, and mestizaje even before Mexico’s independence from Spain.25 Later development produced even more self-starters, numbers of whom soon opted for rural police service. The fact that the induction of artisans from this region leveled off may reflect the geographically uneven distribution of manufactured goods that characterized the Porfiriato. More industrialized Puebla/Tlaxcala and Mexico displaced artisans more readily after 1900, because they lay quite firmly within the marketing network of the factories, while in the Bajío the full tide of machine-made goods did not reach numbers of people because of the underdeveloped railroad feeder-line system in the region. Luis González y González found that new communications surrounded places like San José de Gracia in Michoacán, but did not touch them. Thus, more artisans retained their usual work in districts beyond the reach of the fingers of development.26

Campesinos from the Bajío made up 35.4 percent of the men who joined the Rurales in 1880-85, but only 24.2 percent of the 1886-90 group, 16.6 percent of those from 1891 to 1900, and a slightly higher 18.8 percent in the final decade. Some people may have been more firmly attached to the land, by necessity or choice, but outward migration, especially into the United States, greatly increased after 1900. Many of the laborers came from the Bajío. Dayworkers found better pay and more freedom in Texas than in the Rurales.27 Proletarians of the Bajío also discovered the better wages available in the mines of Chihuahua, and when they did, they tended to choose mining over the Rurales. Of all men who joined the constabulary from the Bajío, 10 percent said they previously had been industrial workers, but between 1800 and 1900, when older, less efficient factories collapsed under the impact of more modern industrialization, their numbers increased to 15.5 percent. In the final decade, however, that percentage tailed off to 3.9 percent as factory hands found jobs in new plants and other enterprises. Perhaps some chose to work their own ranchos or were hired as repairmen on commercial farms. Whatever their reasoning, they chose the Rurales in declining numbers.

Artisans who enlisted from San Luis Potosí/Zacatecas (graph VI) increased from 12 percent to 20 percent of the men who joined from that area in the 1880s and remained at 20 percent thereafter. Campesinos dipped from one-third to one-fifth of the group between 1880 and 1890, and then held steady. This trend matches the patterns previously noted: artisans displaced in larger numbers after substantial increases in their occupation in the 1880s during the early stages of development, but fewer campesinos leaving their work—at least to join the Rurales. But San Luis Potosí/Zacatecas was not the Bajío. The area lay between the agriculture of the central part of the country and the mining and cattle centers of the north. It was a transitional region that provided wages adequate to keep many rural laborers on the farms.28 To the dissatisfied, the region was the gateway to opportunities in the north. Finally, not many Rurales, whose presence might have interested residents in police service, were stationed in the two states.

Merchants, who made up 14.3 percent of the total representation from San Luis Potosí/Zacatecas in the 1890s, increased by 47 percent, to constitute 21 percent of the group in the last time period. Those who joined might well have been the victims of severe economic undulations in the area. Mining fell off after 1885 and more sharply after 1900, but after a decade of general stagnation, overall business recovered and experienced substantial growth in the next 10 years.29 Mineworkers and factory hands, who constituted 27.3 percent of the recruits from this region between 1885 and 1890, dropped to 4.4 by 1900, an indication that proletarians found other job opportunities much more inviting than rural police work. After 1900, the percentage of proletarians in the Rurales from this district rose to 8.5, reflecting the constriction of previously attractive employment. Among the disappointed were undoubtedly candidates for public disorder. The records of the corps are not sufficiently detailed to verify all these possibilities. Once again, however, the statistics demonstrate the need to study the process of modernization locality by locality as well as by time periods.

In Puebla/Tlaxcala (graph VII), 55 percent of those enlisting in 1880-85 were former campesinos, but the numbers in that category declined to 28 percent by 1900-10. Meanwhile, the recruitment of artisans jumped from 10 percent in 1885-90, to 19 percent in 1891-1900, to 28.1 percent by 1901-10, increases predictable for a manufacturing region. Vendors and shopkeepers, after a steady climb to 18 percent of the enlistees earlier in the Porfiriato, dropped to 6 percent in the final decade in keeping with most other regions. It did not matter so much to street hawkers and other peddlers that the artisans who had formerly supplied them were being squeezed out of business by manufacturing. A variety of merchants welcomed machine-made products, which enabled them to profit in the nation’s enlarged market economy.

In 1880-85 artisans made up 10 percent of the enlistees from the state of Mexico (graph VIII), mainly from the capital, but their numbers increased to 17 percent in 1885-90 and to 21 percent in 1900-10. Again, manufacturing made its impact. Campesinos remained 30 percent of the inductees from 1880 to 1890, then dipped to 16.8 percent in 1891-1900, but rose to 23.9 percent in the final years in a reversal of trends found elsewhere. Although the state of Morelos did not furnish many Rurales (and few were stationed there), the number of campesinos who enlisted from Morelos increased after 1900 when new railroad transport in the area made it profitable for sugar planters to extend their holdings at the expense of campesinos.30 Perhaps some of the same impact was felt in the neighboring state of Mexico. Virtually no factory workers from the state of Mexico joined the Rurales, and skilled laborers, merchants, and service people, who had all increased their percentage of enlistments up to 1900, fell off sharply in the last decade, the apparent result of fuller employment in a variety of low-level jobs in the capital. At least, it became increasingly difficult for the corps to attract these people from their city life.

In overview and in a somewhat different perspective, the number of artisans who enlisted as Rurales increased 66 percent over the thirty-year period, but the greatest percentage increases were in Puebla/Tlaxcala (524.4 percent) and Mexico (111 percent). The Bajío moved up only 33 percent and San Luis Potosí/Zacatecas less than 11 percent. Campesinos decreased 44 percent overall, but by 46.9 percent in the Bajío, 40 percent in San Luis Potosí/Zacatecas, 38 percent in Puebla/Tlaxcala, and 20 percent in Mexico. After 1900, the state of Mexico provided a significantly increased number of corpsmen. As for skilled laborers, a relatively small group of Rurales, they averaged an 80 percent general increase: 342 percent in the Bajío, 271 percent in Puebla/Tlaxcala, 39 percent in Mexico, and 0 percent in San Luis Potosí/Zacatecas. Merchants, another small segment of the corps, registered a 35.8 percent total increase, with jumps of 90 percent in San Luis Potosí/Zacatecas, 69 percent in Mexico, 67.3 percent in the Bajío, and 31 percent in Puebla/Tlaxcala. Proletarians (only 9.7 percent of the entire corps) increased 18 percent overall: 21 percent in San Luis Potosí/Zacatecas and 1 percent in Mexico. Decreases of almost 25 percent occurred in the Bajío and Puebla/Tlaxcala. Once again, a detailed analysis of regional social patterns belongs with specialists familiar with the peculiarities of the district under study. Certainly, rural police statistics indicate the hazards of generalizing about the employment puzzle in Mexico from 1880 to the Revolution.

Former artisans proved to be the most dependable Rurales. Those artisans who fulfilled their enlistments between 1885 and 1910 increased 300 percent. Misdemeanor charges against them decreased 12 percent, even while the overall percentage for the corps was up almost 100 percent. Artisans are a different breed from the campesino or the jornalero. While many artisans had at the same time been subsistence farmers and pursued their crafts for extra income, others had depended solely upon their artisan skills for a living. People with strong attachment to their land return to their land in times of stress. An artisan, however, could not always return to his village, because the goods he formerly produced there were now machine-made. Thus, deprived of his traditional employment, the artisan was compelled to turn to the Rurales for a semblance of security.

Campesinos proved to be reasonably reliable rural policemen until 1900, and then they began to leave the service earlier and more frequently. Between 1891 and 1900 almost a quarter of the campesinos completed their enlistments, but in the final decade the proportion dropped to 18.9 percent. The decline may indicate that the campesinos enlisting after 1900 did so with a different mental set. They may actually have been forced from their land while their predecessors had genuinely volunteered for service because of the possibility of self-betterment. Those who left (or were driven from) their property after the turn of the century may have been more resistant to change—simply less flexible people—than others who were earlier attracted to new opportunities. Rural dayworkers seemed to view the corps as a possible career in the early years of its existence, but later they began to exploit the constabulary for matériel as did everyone else. Their perception of rural police force service seems to have changed.

Among other groups found in the Rurales, former factory workers had double the average completion rate of the organization. Compared to sunup-to-sundown work at a loom, rural police work must have seemed good to a few proletarians. Still, the numbers of former factory workers in the force were small. The tendency of factory people to stick to their numbing tasks despite oppressive conditions, especially in the earlier stages of industrialization, is well known.31

The corps also failed to keep for long the few genuinely skilled laborers it managed to attract. Long accustomed to shifting about and selling their services to the highest bidders, ironsmiths, carpenters, and their like, when they joined, left in percentages far disproportionate to their numbers, and usually within the first months of enlistment. Their skills were better paid elsewhere, where they also experienced less regimentation.

Rurales who called themselves former merchants left the organization in totals greater than their overall group percentages until 1900, but thereafter more than expected completed their terms. As the merchant sector is occupationally so diversified, the statistical shift is more difficult to explain. It seems that the first decades of development spawned a variety of merchants. Some eventually tried the Rurales, but when that proved unprofitable and unpleasant, they returned to vending or sought employment as day laborers. Increasing industrial output after 1900, along with the continuing commercialization of the country’s economy, improved possibilities for merchants. Fewer joined the corps than in the past, but those who did join displayed a better retention rate than their predecessors. They may have been people burned by their venture into petty capitalism, to whom rural police service offered a security they had not experienced peddling wares on some city street.

Until 1900, domestics, custodians, streetsweepers, waiters, and other menial laborers stayed in the organization in percentages far beyond their expected statistical rate. After that date, only half completed their enlistments, and many of those left very early. Urban growth had by 1900 created a need for personal and public services. Furthermore, the city, although offering poor wages, had its recompense in urban amenities ordinarily denied those on police duty at some isolated mining camp or in a dull mill town.

From a geographical standpoint, Rurales from the state of Mexico fulfilled their enlistments as might be expected in relation to the number of enlistees from the district until 1900. Then there was a sharp drop-off. In 1890-1900 this region, with 11.8 percent of the total enlistees, showed a 10.2 percent completion rate, but in 1900-10, with 11.1 percent of enlistments, only 4.8 percent fulfilled their contracts. Most left for one reason or another after about a month of service. When judged against corps averages, 26.5 percent should have left within six months, but for the state of Mexico it was 38 percent in the final decade. These statistics seem to correlate with job opportunities in the capital.

In accordance with anticipated percentages, recruits from Puebla/ Tlaxcala steadily fell short of fulfilling their enlistments. In 1885-90, 21.5 percent statistically were expected to fulfill contracts, but only 17.1 percent did so. In 1891-1900, 19.7 percent should have completed their terms, but only 16.8 percent did so. From 1901 to 1910, 15.2 percent were expected to finish, but only 10.8 percent did so. Individuals from Puebla/Tlaxcala who deserted the corps did not do so in unexpected numbers, but they were given early discharges for continuing misconduct in numbers that far exceeded what might be expected from corps averages. What we have learned to expect from Puebla/Tlaxcala in this analysis are variations from the norm. First it was the drop-off of merchants as enlistees in this region and nowhere else. Then the artisans, who from the Bajío displayed a decent record of steadfastness and dependability, were irresponsible and troublesome if from Puebla/Tlaxcala. Total enlistments from this area decreased 4 percent a year, or 43 percent overall: a far higher rate than is seen elsewhere. The state of Mexico was the only other area that registered a decrease in volunteers, and there the fall amounted to only 13 percent for the entire period. Friedrich Katz, in his survey of labor conditions in various parts of Mexico, found that a worker surplus in central Mexico had generally alleviated debt peonage. But that pattern does not hold for Puebla/Tlaxcala, where wage competition between the commercial farms and textile mills forced the farmers to link their workers more closely to their enterprises through some form of debt peonage. In sum, Puebla/Tlaxcala is different. Its peculiar blend of industrial and rural conditions deserves much more study.32

The artisans and campesinos who enlisted from the Bajío tended to have better staying power. In 1885-90 their expected completion rate was 53.8 percent, but 57.1 percent fulfilled their contracts—a percentage differential particularly significant in that more than half of all Rurales came from this region. For 1891-1900 it was 52.9 percent expected and 60.9 percent completed. Percentages leveled off in the final decade: 56.2 percent expected and 56.6 percent completed. Therefore, in terms of persistence, artisans from the Bajío formed the core of Mexico’s Rural Police Force. Why they did so is again a subject for a regional specialist, but as mentioned earlier, traditions and social conditions in the Bajío had in earlier times differed markedly from the rest of the country. The self-seeking rebelliousness and profit-mindedness of ordinary people from the region have been tied to the Independence movement.33 But in the Porfiriato a disproportionate number of them apparently found satisfaction in the Rurales, which is why the organization’s recruitment teams after 1900 did their most deliberate soliciting in the Bajío.

All of these variations emphasize the dangers of generalizing about labor conditions and worker mentality during the dictatorship. A further example is afforded by San Luis Potosí/Zacatecas. In 1885-90 the enlistments-by-job from this area were: artisans, 36 percent; campesinos, 18 percent; mine and factory workers, 27 percent; and merchants, 5 percent. Of that entire group, 11.4 percent completed their contracts, which was three percentage points above the expected norm. The mix changed in 1891-1900: 23 percent artisans, 19 percent campesinos, 4 percent mine-workers and factory hands, and 14 percent merchants; and the staying power of the group dropped two points below expectations. In the final period, 1901-10, the blend by jobs was: 20 percent artisans, 20 percent campesinos, 9 percent mine and factory workers, and 21 percent merchants. These people fulfilled their contracts three points better than anticipated. Why did the differences exist? Economic conditions changed in San Luis Potosí/Zacatecas, much as they did all over the country, affecting attitudes toward rural police service and influencing how long enlistees decided to remain in the constabulary. Modernization affected and moved countless Mexicans in a similar manner and myriad other ways.

Pay and possible social mobility do not seem to have been significant lures for rural police service. Pay was only $1.30 pesos daily, more than most common Mexicans earned, but subject to deductions for horse, rifle, and equipment. Only 8 percent of those who joined the force were ever promoted, and only a handful of those passed the rank of corporal. The corps might have offered some men security, but at a heavy price paid in terms of unaccustomed regimentation and flagrant abuse by one’s superiors. There was at times the opportunity to profit at one’s duty post; Rurales were big men about town and took advantage of their authority.34 Many enlisted just to get a gun, horse, and matériel; then they deserted and sold the booty. Stolen equipment frequently showed up in pawn-shops, or some petty merchant fenced the goods to a variety of buyers.35

Not many viewed the constabulary as a career. Fewer than 10 percent overall reenlisted and hardly any of them for more than one additional term. Fewer still considered the corps for a career and the rate of reenlistment dropped as the Porfiriato wore on. At the start, the record was praiseworthy; in 1885-90 a total of 30.5 percent of those who completed their enlistments re-joined. The next decade saw the percentage fall to 15.5 percent; and in the final ten years only 5 percent served beyond their original commitment.

The inability of a major federal institution such as the Rural Police Force to retain its personnel reflects both the nature of the Porfirian dictatorship and the instability of Mexican society. Modernization must have attracted and driven thousands of ordinary Mexicans from their traditional tasks and then entangled them in new employment subject to the uncontrollable gyrations of world capitalism. Many entrepreneurs survived a succession of recessions, even the steep depression of 1893, to profit from the recoveries that followed, but a good number did not. Mills and mines opened to full employment and then collapsed in bankruptcies. The same boom-and-bust conditions afflicted agriculture. Hirings and lay offs at different times and in disparate regions spawned migrations of people in search of a decent livelihood. Population growth, about 60 percent during the Porfiriato (twice the rate of the fifteen years preceding the Profiriato), and rumor also contributed to growing migrations.36 Gossip carried by itinerant peddlers about “other places” must have stirred the imagination and moved the feet, along with stories brought home by those who had traveled the new terrain ploughed by development.

It was not only the classic move from farm to factory that destabilized Mexican society. Frequent job changes—from working in a factory to peddling food to serving in the rural police to hammering railroad spikes to farming—unsettled many Mexicans. Some people thrive on such switching about, and it could be argued that the personal instability so evident in Mexican society was more due to the lure of vastly improved job opportunities than to a lack of decent employment. Repercussions of development are multidirectional. A shifting labor supply meant that management did not need to hunt down runaways; replacements were readily available.37 On the other hand, if bosses wanted to retain a steady work force, they had to bind the workers more tightly to their enterprises. Some undoubtedly did so through debt peonage; others did so through such incentives as better pay. As the wedge of modernization, however, cuts more deeply into society, it touches humans less willing or less able to adapt. Fewer of these people are apt to trade independence for security. When they finally are propelled into other circumstances, their resentment will undoubtedly be great and their performance less steady. Men who joined the Rurales after 1900 showed these tendencies.

Sharply shifting world trade conditions after 1900 struck Mexico’s dependent and delicately balanced economy with resounding impact. The undulations destabilized and disgusted ever more Mexicans. The international financial panic of 1907 proved especially disruptive.38 Restricted credit forced business closures that hurled thousands into unemployment. People tumbled down the social ladder they had just begun to climb. Others who had so tenaciously clung to habitual pursuits were wrenched free. In search of relief, numbers tried the Rurales, but for most who joined, their behavior was erratic and their tenure brief.

Computer analysis shows the rural police force to have been significantly less stable as the government of Porfirio Díaz wore on. As an institutional pillar of the regime, it seriously weakened after 1900. It did not collapse, or even crumble, but became increasingly vulnerable to stress. The especially rapid turnover of its personnel in the later stages indicates that any glimpse of self-betterment offered by police service in earlier times had largely disappeared. By 1901-10, the revolving recruitment door was spinning ever faster, as individuals grasped at yet another possibility of employment and then cast it aside without giving the corps much of a chance. They could not seem to find what they wanted, or expected, so they shifted from shoemaking to vending to tenant farming to policing to weaving in factories. New work, when it could be found, seemed just another job rather than an improvement. It still took an act of will to join the Rurales, and another one to desert or to fulfill an enlistment. The atmosphere in much of Mexico was not one of oppressiveness, said to have characterized the country on the eve of its Revolution.39 A good deal of deliberate searching and expectancy existed along with considerable frustration. When more is learned about these plans, hopes, and obstacles, the rebellion will be better understood.

Mexico’s Revolution is truly a millstone around the necks of scholars investigating the Porfiriato. Most everything that occurred during the long dictatorship has been interpreted as precursor to, or cause of, the revolt. Not much attention has been paid to these events and processes as inhibitions to rebellion, or to the remarkable capabilities of human beings to withstand or rationalize oppression, or to the fact that most Mexicans did not rebel. It is tempting to assert that the Mexicans who dropped in and out of the Rurales were symptomatic or representative of a much larger group of seriously disaffected Mexicans who became rank-and-file rebels, but nothing in the records of the constabulary indicates disenchantment with the regime among Rurales. In fact, once hostilities erupted, the rural policemen proved to be steadfast—even heroic—in their defense of the government. Desertions among the corpsmen seemed to drop off, even though the revolutionaries offered comfort and a bonus to those who defected.40 Such turnabout behavior is not unusual for military troops and police. War tends to firm up units that have been desultory in peacetime. The Rurales also had another incentive to resist with verve; the rebels took few prisoners. Furthermore, the battlefield record includes only those Rurales in service when hostilities broke out, not the thousands who had previous service in the corps and who had left for a variety of reasons. Individuals’ motives for joining and leaving the Rurales are difficult to assess. Still, guards did not seem to blame Díaz or his system for their troubles. Even the revolutionaries praised the Rurales. When guards felt cheated or abused by a superior in the corps, they frequently wrote to the president for relief—and received it. Porfirio Díaz played the game of conciliation and compromise very well.

When Francisco Madero issued his call to revolt for November 20, 1910, few Mexicans responded. It does not appear that very many of these unsettled people from central Mexico who flirted with rural police service and then rejected it rushed to join the sputtering guerrilla struggle far north in Chihuahua. A few thousand soldiers and Rurales kept the peace in central Mexico, while the bulk of the army was shuttled north to confront the major rebel activity. Certainly, if there had been much revolutionary activity in the Bajío, the 800 soldiers stationed in Querétaro, Guanajuato, and Michoacán, or the 150 federales in San Luis Potosí, Zacatecas, and Aguascalientes, or the 300 cavalrymen and reserves in Puebla/Tlaxcala and Guerrero could not have controlled it.41 Only when the outcome became clear did any number of people from those states in which the corps had recruited join the revolt. Mexico City rioted only after Díaz had departed for exile. The main question about the Revolution is, then, not why Mexicans rebelled, but why so many obviously unsettled, searching people—like those who enlisted in and so rapidly left the rural police corps—did not join the Revolution.


For the history of the constabulary as an institution see: Paul J. Vanderwood, “Genesis of the Rurales: Mexico’s Early Struggle for Domestic Security,” HAHR, 50 (May 1970), 323-344; “Mexico’s Rurales: Reputation Versus Reality,” The Americas, 34 (July 1977), 102-112; and “The Rurales: Mexico’s Rural Police Force, 1861-1914” (Ph.D. Diss., University of Texas at Austin, 1970), in press at El Fondo de Cultura Económica, Mexico City. For aims of Liberals see: Richard N. Sinkin, “Modernization and Reform in Mexico, 1858-1876’ (Ph.D. Diss., University of Michigan, 1972); Luis González, Enrique Florescano et al., La economía mexicana en la época de Juárez (Mexico City, 1972).


All statistics in this essay, unless otherwise footnoted, are from the computer study. Mathematical computations necessary to make the computer data meaningful were done by my friend Thomas H. Gillooly, who is a mathematics teacher with a strong college background in Mexican history. My sincere thanks to him for his contributions and patience.

The computerized sample selected for examination was taken from records of the rural police corps contained in more than 2,000 legajos (unorganized bundles of documents) in the Ramo de Gobernación of Mexico’s Archivo General de la Nación (hereinafter AGN). Some legajos only contained personnel records of individual guards. Other personnel records were found in legajos of documents pertaining to a variety of police matters. As most legajos were tagged with a date, an attempt was made to diversify the sample by date. Data were collected from a total of 1,930 personnel records. More exist in the collection, but the 1,930 represent the average number of men in the constabulary at any one time between 1880 and 1910. Thirty-four pieces of information were taken from each file, including: age at enlistment, literacy, marital status, home state, occupation before enlistment, length of service, promotions, reenlistments, time in grade, punishments, and reason for discharge. Standard quantification provided a composite of the average corpsman and his performance (there were no women in the constabulary; in fact, the corpsmen were expressly prohibited from escorting female prisoners to jail—but they kept plenty of girlfriends in their barracks). The portrait of the force assembled through overall averages is informative, but static. The real story of the corps is found in movement and change over time, and when data were cross-referenced with time periods, this movement became obvious.

Time periods used in the survey were 1880-84, 1885-90, 1891-1900, and 1901-10. Five percent of the records dealt with the first period, 15 percent with the second period, 49 percent with the third period, and 31 percent with the last period. All percentages in this study were calculated in relation to the sample size for the period under review. Original analysis included the years 1876-79, the initial years of the Porfirio Díaz government, but the final sample for that period proved too small to be of value. Manuel González was president from 1880 to 1884. The records for the González period also turned out to be too limited to trust, so while observations are drawn from them for comparative purposes, conclusions in this study normally exclude them.

The analysis is also divided geographically. Because almost all of the corpsmen came from the central part of the republic and were stationed there for duty (though not often in their home districts), large areas of Mexico are excluded from this analysis. The regions addressed are four: the state of México, Puebla/Tlaxcala, the Bajío (Guanajuato, Querétaro, and adjoining fringes of the states of México, Michoacán, Jalisco, and Aguascalientes), and, finally, San Luis Potosí/Zacatecas. México stands by itself with the capital, the one big city most affected by the impact of modernization. Puebla/Tlaxcala was especially noteworthy for its textile manufacturing and San Luis Potosí/Zacatecas for its mining enterprise. The Bajío was the most densely populated and agriculturally productive region in the country— having both commercial plantations and subsistence farms. The clash between traditional and new landholdings was especially strident in this region, which furnished half the corpsmen.

In the final computer run two pieces of data were cross-referenced with the time periods. Occupation before enlistment and home state were tallied against time segments to see what kinds of jobs people from certain states held when they joined up. Reasons for discharge and occupations before enlistment were matched against time categories to learn if any work group—campesinos, artisans, proletarians—proved to be more dependable than others as Rurales.


Vanderwood, “Mexico’s Rural Police Force,” pp. 145-147.


Baily Millard, “The Shame of Our Army: Why Fifty Thousand Enlisted American Soldiers Have Deserted,” Cosmopolitan Magazine (Sept. 1910), 412-413.


Vanderwood, “Mexico’s Rural Police Force,” pp. 148-149.


Dirección General de Estadística, Tercer censo de población de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos verificado el 27 de octubre 1910, 2 vols. (Mexico City, 1918-20), I, pp. 260-261. The personnel record of each recruit gives his hometown, which may or may not have been the place where he enlisted. A shoemaker from Zamora who went to Mexico City for work could have joined the corps in Puebla. Judging by recruitment practices, however, most men probably enlisted in their hometowns.


Vanderwood, “Mexico’s Rural Police Force,” pp. 153-155. To analyze the patterns of geographical deployment of the individual units for this study, I plotted the detachments by different time periods on a series of maps of the Republic of Mexico. I am greatly indebted to Major Francis A. Richey, a specialist in Mexican history now on active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps, who employed his military maps, and logistical and intelligence skills to plot the locations and movements of the Rural Police detachments between 1876 and 1910. (Hereinafter cited as “Geographical Survey.”) See also, Vanderwood, “Mexico’s Rural Police Force,” pp. 288-290.


Recent scholarship that emphasizes regional labor differences and worker mobility in Porfirian Mexico includes: Harry E. Cross, “Living Standards in Rural Nineteenth Century Mexico: Zacatecas, 1820-1880,” Journal of Latin American Studies, 10 (May 1978), 1-19; Friedrich Katz, “Labor Conditions on Haciendas in Porfirian Mexico: Some Trends and Tendencies, ” HAHR, 54 (Feb. 1974), 1-47. The same Katz work appears in La servidumbre agraria en México en la época porfiriana (Mexico City, 1976), where it is reinforced by selections mainly from eyewitness accounts of labor conditions in different parts of the nation; Arthur P. Schmidt, “The Impact of the Railroad in Puebla and Veracruz, Mexico, 1867-1911” (Ph.D. Diss., Indiana University, 1973); Mark Wasserman, “Oligarquía e intereses extranjeros en Chihuahua,” Historia mexicana, 22 (Jan.-March 1973), 279-319, and Mark Wasserman, “Oligarchy and Foreign Enterprise in Porfirian Chihuahua, 1876-1911” (Ph.D. Diss., University of Chicago, 1975); Jan Bazant, “Landlord, Labourer, and Tenant in San Luis Potosí, Northern Mexico, 1822-1910,” and David A. Brading, “Hacienda Profits and Tenant Farming in the Mexican Bajío, 1700-1860,” both in Kenneth Duncan and Ian Rutledge, with the collaboration of Colin Harding, Land and Labor in Latin America: Essays on the Development of Agrarian Capitalism in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Cambridge, 1977), pp. 59-82 (Bazant) and 23-58 (Brading); Raymond Th. J. Buve, “Peasant Movements, Caudillos and Land Reform during the Revolution (1910-1917) in Tlaxcala, Mexico,” Boletín de estudios latinoamericanos y del caribe, no. 18 (June 1975), 112-152; James D. Cockcroft, Intellectual Precursors of the Mexican Revolution, 1900-1913 (Austin, 1968), especially chapter 1; Delmar Leon Beene, “Sonora in the Age of Ramón Corral” (Ph.D. Diss., University of Arizona, 1972). Four papers that underlined the varying relationship between politics and economic development in various states during the dictatorship were read at the December 1978 meeting of the American Historical Association in San Francisco: Stuart Voss, “Porfirian Sonora: Economic Collegiality”; Mark Wasserman, “The Economic Empire of the Terrazas Family of Chihuahua”; Allen Wells, “Family Elites in a Boom and Bust Economy: The Molinas and Peons of Porfirian Yucatán”; and John H. Coatsworth, “The Mobility of Labor in Nineteenth Century Mexican Agriculture.”


Computer study results compared with Tercer censo statistics, 1:68.


Because there was no job description on the official record, only a one- or two- word title to explain a person’s occupation before service, these groupings are somewhat loose. There is undoubtedly some overlap among artisans, skilled laborers, and “others.” Perhaps almost all of them were in fact artisans.


Theodore Zeldin, France, 1848-1945, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1973-77), 1:518; R. C. Macleod, The NWMP and Law Enforcement (Toronto, 1976), pp. 84-86; Ben H. Procter, “The Texas Rangers,” p. 2, in Philip D. Jordan, ed., “A Comparative Look at Frontier Justice” (Manuscripts at the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, Fort Worth, Texas).


AGN, Ramo de Gobernación, Leg. 908, Exp.. . . Juan J. Jiménez.. . .; Colección de leyes, decretos, reglamentos y circulares referentes a los cuerpos rurales de la federación desde su fundación hasta la fecha (Mexico City, 1900).


AGN, Leg. 908, Exp.. . . Juan J. Jiménez.. . . ; Vanderwood, “Mexico’s Rural Police Force,” pp. 255-257. Many practice targets bundled up at the AGN prove that the Rurales were not notable marksmen, although they carried the latest model rifles of their day.


Moisés González Navarro, Historia moderna de México: el Porfiriato; la vida social (Mexico City, 1957), pp. 31-32.


Alejandra Moreno Toscano, “Cambios en los patrones de urbanización en México, 1810-1910,” Historia mexicana, 22 (Oct.-Dec. 1972), 182-184; Enrique Florescano and Alejandra Moreno Toscano, “El sector externo y la organización espacial y regional de México (1521-1910),” in James W. Wilkie, Michael C. Meyer, and Edna Monzón de Wilkie, eds., Contemporary Mexico: Papers of the IV International Congress of Mexican History (Berkeley, 1976), p. 95; Rodney D. Anderson, Outcasts in Their Own Land: Mexican Industrial Workers, 1906-1911 (DeKalb, 1976), pp. 39-40, 46-50.


Patrick A. O’Hea, Reminiscences of the Mexican Revolution (Mexico City, 1966), pp. 16, 33; John M. Hart, Anarchism and the Mexican Working Class, 1860-1931 (Austin, 1978), pp. 86-87, 178-179.


González Navarro, Vida social, p. 210; Moisés Ochoa Campos, La revolución mexicana, 4 vols. (Mexico City, 1966), 1:71; 11:131; Brading, “Hacienda Profits,” p. 54.


AGN, Leg. 908, Exp.. . . Juan J. Jiménez.. . . ; “computer study.”


Katz, “Labor Conditions,” p. 24; Anderson, Outcasts, pp. 17-32.


Roger D. Hansen, The Politics of Mexican Development (Baltimore, 1971), p. 22.


On Cananea: Manuel González Ramírez, La Huelga de Cananea, vol. 3 of Fuentes para la historia de la revolución (Mexico City, 1956); Anderson, Outcasts, pp. 110-116; Herbert O. Brayer, “The Cananea Incident,” New Mexico Historical Review, 13 (Oct. 1938); Sonora (State of), Secretaría del Gobierno del Estado de Sonora, Archivo General del Estado, Tomo 2184, Exp. Originales de la huelga, Exp. Mensajes cambiados. . . ; Cartas y telegramas; Huelga de Cananea; Diversas listas y relaciones; Disturbios políticos relacionados con la huelga y posteriores de ella; Cartas, proclamas y discursos de los liberales; Mexico, Mexico City, Patronato de Sonora, Volumes 22-23, Numbers 1-299. (Hereinafter cited as Patronato de Sonora, Vol. No.). For Río Blanco: Daniel Cosío Villegas, Historia moderna de México, porfiriato, vida política, 2 vols. (Mexico City, 1970), II: 718-719; Anderson, Outcasts, chapter 4; Moisés González Navarro, “Las huelgas textiles en el Porfiriato, “Historia mexicana, 6 (Oct.-Dec. 1956), 85; Moisés González Navarro, “La huelga de Río Blanco,” Historia mexicana, 6 (Apr.-June 1957), 510-533; AGN, Leg. 718, Exp. Huelga de las fábricas. . .; Exp.. . .Huelgistas. . .; El Imparcial (Mexico City), 8 Jan. 1907, p. 1; 9 Jan. 1907, pp. 1-2; 10 Jan. 1907, pp. 1-2; 11 Jan. 1907, pp. 1-2; Mexico, Cholula, Universidad de las Américas, Archivo de Porfirio Díaz, Leg. LXVI, Nos. 000018, 000109-000118, all Jan. 7, 1907; 000159, 000165-000174, Jan. 8, 1907; 000255, Jan. 11, 1907 (Hereinafter cited as APD, Leg., No., date.); Florencio Barrera Fuentes, Historia de la revolución mexicana: la etapa precursora (Mexico City, 1955), pp. 213-222.


Robert M. Alexius, “The Army and Politics in Porfirian Mexico” (Ph.D. Diss., University of Texas at Austin, 1976), pp. 47-67; Ochoa Campos, Revolución, 4:215-223; AGN, Leg. 1906, Exp. Sarrelangue. . .; Ministros de policía; Jorge Vera Estañol, Historia de la revolución mexicana: orígenes y resultados (Mexico City, 1967), p. 44.


Sinkin, “Modernization,” pp. 175-233; Vanderwood, “Genesis of Rurales,” pp. 323-333. For a good study of how police forces develop differently within distinct national political environments see: David H. Bayley, “The Police and Political Development in Europe,” in Charles Tilly, ed., The Formation of National States in Western Europe (Princeton, 1975).


Vanderwood, “Mexico’s Rural Police Force,” pp. 212-218.


Brading, “Hacienda Profits,” p. 28; D. A. Brading and Celia Wu, “Population Growth and Crisis: León, 1720-1860,” Journal of Latin American Studies, 5 (May 1973), 1-36; Eric R. Wolf, The Mexican Bajío in the Eighteenth Century: An Analysis of Cultural Integration (New Orleans, 1955).


Luis González y González, San José de Gracia: Mexican Village in Transition, John Upton, tr. (Austin, 1972), p. 56; Fernando Rosenzweig, “El desarrollo económico de México de 1877 a 1911,” El Trimestre Económico, 32(3), No. 127 (July-Sept. 1975), 415-417.


William K. Meyers, “Politics, Vested Rights, and Economic Growth in Porfirian Mexico: The Company Tlahualilo,” HAHR, 57 (Aug. 1977), 437; Katz, “Labor Conditions,” pp. 28-29; Victor S. Clark, “Mexican Labor in the United States,” Bulletin of the Bureau of Labor (Department of Commerce and Labor) (Washington, 1909), 17 (1908):466-470, 514-515; Robert Sandels, “Antecedentes de la revolución en Chihuahua,” Historia mexicana, 24 (Jan.-Mar. 1975), 396-397; Moisés González Navarro, “Los braceros en el Porfiriato,” Estudios sociológicos, 5 (1954), 263-278; John Martínez, Mexican Emigration to the United States, 1910-1930 (San Francisco, 1971), pp. 2-5; Paul Friedrich, Agrarian Revolt in a Mexican Village (Englewood Cliffs, N. J., 1970), p. 46.


Harry E. Cross, “The Mining Economy of Zacatecas, Mexico in the Nineteenth Century” (Ph.D. Diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1976), pp. 290-363; Bazant, “Landlord,” pp. 59, 78-79.


Cockcroft, Precursors, pp. 18-26; Cross, “Mining Economy,” pp. 16, 25, 313, 355, 363; John Wibel and Jesse de la Cruz, “Mexico,” in Richard Morse, ed., The Urban Development of Latin America (Palo Alto, 1971), p. 101.


John Womack, Jr., Zapata and the Mexican Revolution (New York, 1969), chapter 2.


Two recent excellent books that treat this theme are: Tamara K. Hareven and Richard Langenbach, Amoskeag, Life and Work in an American Factory City (New York, 1978) and Barrington Moore, Jr., Injustice: The Social Basis of Obedience and Revolt (New York, 1978).


Katz, “Labor Conditions,” pp. 27-29; Buve, “Tlaxcala,” pp. 121-128.


David A. Brading, “A Creole Nationalism and Mexican Liberalism,” Journal of Inter-American Studies and World Affairs, 15 (May 1973), 139-190; David A. Brading, “Estructura de la producción agrícola en el Bajío, 1700—1850,” in Enrique Florescano, ed., Haciendas, latifundios y plantaciones en América Latina (Mexico City, 1975), pp. 105-131; Wolf, Mexican Bajío.


El Monitor Republicano (Mexico City), 22 March 1883, p. 3; 30 March 1883, p. 2; AGN, Leg. 393, Exp. Sánchez Peredes, Alfredo; Leg. 582, Exp. . .. Visitador . . .; Leg. 824, Exp. . .. José Sánchez . . .; Leg. 854, Documentos . . .; Leg. 988, Exp. . .. Juan J. Jiménez. . ..


AGN, Leg. 852, Exp. . .. Visitas . . ..; Leg. 888, Exp. Documentos varios mandados . . .; Leg. 908, Exp. . .. Juan J. Jiménez. . ..


For capricious economy consult: Anderson, Outcasts; Archibald Willingham Butt, “Where Silver Rules: Wages, Prices and Conditions in the Most Prosperous Silver Using Country in the World, (Mexico City, 1896) in Pamphlets on Money, vol. 6; Luis Nicolao d’Olwer, Francisco R. Calderón et al., Historia moderna de México: el Porfiriato: la vida económica, 2 vols. (Mexico City, 1965); David Fletcher, “The Fall of Silver in Mexico, 1870-1910, and its Effect on American Investments,” Journal of Economic History, 18 (Mar. 1958), 33-55; Clark W. Reynolds, The Me xican Economy, Twentieth Century Structure and Growth (New Haven, 1970); Rosenzweig, “Desarrollo económico,” pp. 405-454.


Katz, “Labor Conditions,” pp. 28-30.


For Panic of 1907 see: Charles C. Cumberland, Mexican Revolution: Genesis Under Madero (Austin, 1952), pp. 12-13; González Navarro, “Los braceros,” p. 264; Friedrich Katz, “Peasants in the Mexican Revolution of 1910," in Joseph Spielberg and Scott Whiteford, eds., For«inp, Nations: A Comparative View of Rural Ferment and Revolt (East Lansing, 1976), p. 70; Ramón E. Ruiz, Labor and the Ambivalent Revolutionaries, 1911-1923 (Baltimore, 1976), pp. 8-9; Sandels, “Antecedentes en Chihuahua,” p. 398; Raymond Vernon, The Dilemma of Mexico’s Development: The Roles of the Private and Public Sectors (Cambridge, Mass., 1963), p. 54; Wasserman, “Oligarquía,” p. 314; Wasserman, “Porifirian Chihuahua,” p. 170.


See note 8, supra.


Paul J. Vanderwood, “The Counter-Guerrilla Strategy of Porfirio Díaz,” HAHR 56 (Nov. 1976), 570-573.


Revista del ejército y marina, 10-11 (July-Dee. 1910), 618-619.

Author notes


The author is Professor of Mexican History at San Diego State University.