On October 6, 1925, Jesús Antonio Almeida, governor of Chihuahua, married Susanna Nesbitt Becerra. It was a gala occasion, perhaps the first such social event since the days of the Porfiriato. The wedding was an important political, as well as social, landmark. The marriage brought together two powerful subregional elite families with strong bases in the western districts of the state. But more importantly, it connoted the process of accommodation taking place between the old, Porfirian elite and the new revolutionary elite in Chihuahua. The Almeida brothers—Alberto B., Benjamín, Esteban, Casimiro, and Jesús Antonio—were politicians, ranchers, lumbermen, and merchants. They were representative of the middle class that had emerged from the years of chaos; beginning as small ranchers or businessmen in western Chihuahua, grabbing economic opportunity and challenging for political power. The bride was the daughter of a family that had ruled Urique (a mining center in western Chihuahua) for a century, and which had been one of the pillars of the old regime. Even more striking, the guest list of the wedding included the most prominent families of the old order: Terrazas, Creel, Lujan, Falomir, and Prieto.1 What had become of the revolution, when revolutionary generals and scions of the ancien régime ate, drank, and danced together as if more than a decade of war and suffering had not happened?

One of the least studied and, perhaps, most intriguing aspects of the history of revolutions is the fate of the members of the elite of the old regime. Did the old elite or some portion of it survive the revolution? If so, which elements persisted and why? What strategies did it use to defend and maintain itself? What were the relations between the old elite and the new, revolutionary elite? Did the revolutionaries accommodate the old elite and if so, why? And finally, what effect did the accommodation between old and new elites have on the course of the revolution?

Albert Saboul has noted for the French Revolution that it destroyed the “formerly dominant class, the landed aristocracy” (though exactly to what extent is open to question), by eliminating the bases of its power, feudal rights, tithes, and access to national lands. Yet, he also observes that a “great many nobles lived through the revolution without coming to much harm and kept their property intact. . . .” Saboul goes on to argue that even those elements of the landed aristocracy that persisted transformed their economic organization to meet the challenges of bourgeois capitalism.2 In his study of the old regime in Europe after the French Revolution, Arno Mayer warns,

[t]here has been . . . a marked tendency to neglect or underplay, and to disvalue, the endurance of old forces . . . and their cunning genius for assimilating, delaying, and neutralizing, and subduing capitalist modernization.. . . The forces of the old order were still sufficiently willful to resist and slow down the course of history, if necessary by recourse to violence.3

In both these views of the French Revolution, there are lessons for historians of the Mexican Revolution, for they point out both interesting parallels and the complexity of the phenomenon of old elite survival.

There is some considerable difference of opinion concerning to what extent the Porfirian elite survived the Mexican upheaval. One view holds that the revolution gradually eliminated the landowning oligarchy from 1920 to 1940, by redistributing its land.4 A second view postulates that

the old Porfirian oligarchy tied to latifundista property had certainly not disappeared physically, but a good part of its capital had been lost or taken outside the country; as a group it was divided and disarticulated by its political defeat and lack of power.

The landholders “never recovered their power, and little by little, they negotiated their subordination to the state in return for economic gains and sinecures.”5 A third view ranks the old elite as one of the “three distinct groups” that vied for power after the revolution.6 While at first glance these appear to be widely disparate interpretations, they are, in fact, only differing perspectives on the same complex process, which—and this is crucial for understanding the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution—varied according to time and region.

A number of recent regional case studies—on Aguascalientes, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Michoacán, Morelos, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, and Yucatán, dealing with all or part of the period from 1920 to 19407—allow us to make some sense out of these conflicting interpretations. They show clearly that a significant element of the old elite survived the revolution, so that the pertinent questions concern not whether the old elite persisted, but who did, how, why, and to what effect? These investigations also enable us to posit a typology and a chronological pattern of old elite persistence, on which a study of Chihuahua in the years following 1920 can throw additional light, as well as revealing local variations.

We can classify the members of the old elite according to their economic bases. The more diverse their economic holdings, the more likely they were to endure the revolution. The more dependent on landholding, the more vulnerable the elite became over time. Thus, Arturo Warman found in Morelos that the “old, dominant class, above all the narrow group in which the Porfirian hacendados dominated, had not been liquidated, but they had lost their strength. . . . They were a defeated group.”8 The landed group, however, fought hard, and at times successfully, to retain its properties. In areas such as Veracruz, the hacendados maintained the upper hand well into the Cárdenas era.9 On the other end of the continuum were the Monterrey elite. Its members had never relied on landholding as their base. They were, both before and after the revolution, the most important industrialists in Mexico. Thus, it was no accident that the Monterrey elite emerged in the late 1920s and 1930s as the strongest foe of the revolutionary regime, defying even Lázaro Cárdenas.10 Then, too, the old landed elite of the Huasteca region, enriched by oil royalties, held the revolution at bay in open rebellion, led by Manuel Peláez, until 1920.11 The smartest, most capable of the old elite changed with the times, diversifying their economic assets.

We can also construct a general chronological pattern for the plight of the old elites. From 1910 to 1913, they were virtually untouched. The government of Francisco I. Madero sought no precipitous change in the countryside.12 Many hacendados then abandoned their property from 1914 to 1917, some the victims of revolutionary expropriations, but most because agriculture was not economically viable during the upheaval’s most violent period. In these circumstances, landowners either turned the property over to an administrator or rented it out. A few of the landed elite had commercial or financial interests in the larger cities or abroad, which they tended.13 After 1917, Carranza encouraged many hacendados to return, in an effort to increase food production and find political allies.13 For the next decade, those of the old landed elite that remained battled the revolution to a standstill. During this era, they found new allies among the revolutionaries, many of them generals, who had, themselves, become hacendados.15 They were strengthened by the continued and widespread economic and political crises that pushed aside reform in favor of expediency. In Veracruz in the early 1920s, for example, the old landlords joined with General Guadalupe Sánchez, the military zone commander, to neutralize agrarian reform.16 The landlords, using local political bosses and militia, suppressed agrarian reform in Naranja, Michoacán through the end of the decade.17 The Yucatecan landed elite joined the de la Huerta rebellion in 1923, and ousted radical Felipe Carrillo Puerto.18

The old elite suffered at the hands of the federal government, when, during major revolts—de la Huerta, 1923-24, Cristero, 1926-29; and Escobar, 1929—agrarian reform became a matter of the latter’s survival. Land reform was the price the regime had to pay for the military support of the rural population. The depression years from 1929 to 1934 further eroded the power of the old elite because they could not operate profitably. Moreover, although there was no notable sympathy for agrarian reform during the presidencies of Pascual Ortiz Rubio and Abelardo Rodríguez, campesino and labor organizations sprang up in many areas during the early 1930s which demanded agrarian reform and were willing to fight for it. Ultimately, the old landed elite was dealt a near death blow with the massive reforms administered by Cárdenas. Even then, a strong element remained. Each segment of the old elite, to whichever era it lasted, survived through a combination of the weakness of the revolutionary regime at all political levels, the growing compatibility of its economic and political interests with those of the emerging new elite, and the considerable skills and sound strategies of its own members.

The decade of civil war and foreign invasion from 1910 to 1920 had left Mexico in ruins. Not only had a million people perished, but the nations communications, commerce, and transportation were nearly destroyed. The most pressing matter for the triumphant northerners, led by President Alvaro Obregón, was to consolidate their political power. As Linda Hall has demonstrated, land reform, the crucial threat to the old elite, was strictly a means to this end.19 The revolution had by no means been completely successful even by the end of the 1920s. The northerners needed political allies on local and state levels. They were more than willing to work with local bosses, some of whom were left over from the Díaz era, in order to consolidate their power. This was true of even the most radical revolutionaries like Felipe Carrillo Puerto in Yucatán.20

Ideologically, the victors were more compatible with the old elite than with the agrarians or workers. For the most part, the new elite was made up of capitalists with firm belief in private property. They had participated in the revolution in order to obtain their fair share of the spoils of economic development and politics. New and old elite would prove useful allies in preserving and protecting their respective property and privileges.

In the prevalent unstable economic and political situation, the old elite resisted the radical aspects of the revolution with every resource at its disposal, and forced the revolutionaries to compromise. Members of the elite employed several strategies including violence, legal maneuvering, fraud, cooptation, bribery, and exertion of pressure through interest group associations. Violence, in fact, was endemic in the Mexican countryside throughout the period from 1920 to 1940. Landowners hired private armies, variously called guardias blancas, guardias municipales, militias, or rurales, which murdered agrarian leaders and terrorized rural populations. In Veracruz, General Guadalupe Sanchez armed these irregulars, financed by the landowners.21 The governor of Guanajuato used the state militia in 1926 to kill peasants who had the effrontery to ask for higher wages.22 In Michoacán, hacendados used the militias to suppress and intimidate “incipient local reforms.23 As often as not, mayhem was committed by or with the tacit agreement of local, state, and/or federal authorities. Many state governors during the 1920s were notoriously opposed to agrarian reform: the Figueroas in Guerrero, for example, provided troops to protect landowners.24 And federal troops were actually stationed on the Hacienda de Cantabria near Naranja, Michoacán.25

The old elite also used the law—especially the new agrarian laws—to resist. Its members fought expropriations in the courts; countless writs of amparo were obtained to forestall land takeovers by landless campesinos. In one district of Veracruz alone, 20 landowners got amparos from 1929 to 1931. The elite cleverly divided its lands to fall within prescribed acreage limitations.26 Pepe Landero, the owner of the Hacienda de Hueyapán in Hidalgo, subdivided all his properties in 1925 and 1926 among his sisters, nieces, and friends of the family, but continued to operate the hacienda as one unit.27 The proprietor of the Hacienda de la Primavera in Aguascalientes was another of those who divided their lands to avoid expropriation.28

Other landholders sold or leased their properties to avoid their seizure. Porfirio Rubio, the long-time boss of Pisaflores, Hidalgo, for example, sold off his property to tenants or other farmers so as to sidestep the land reform.29 Pepe Landero also sold off bits of his land to tenants.30 Selling land to tenants or other small landholders in advance of the land reform was a proven, successful strategy, for it not only yielded some financial return but created a vigorous group of opponents of future reforms. These small owners bitterly fought the agrarians to protect what was now their own property.

According to Gilbert Joseph, Yucatán’s old landed elite employed passive-aggressive resistance. They bribed local agrarian reform officials, laid off workers, paid workers in scrip, and removed fields from production and did not replant.31

Beginning in the late 1920s, the old elite, often allied with the new revolutionary hacendados, exerted pressure through various organized interest groups like the Chamber of Commerce, cattlemens associations, and Chamber of Mines. These organizations lobbied state and national governments to block detrimental legislation and adopt favorable measures. In addition, the old elite financed local and state political opposition to the revolutionary regime; later it would found the Partido Acción Nacional.

Chihuahua presents an instructive case for studying the old elites strategies for survival in revolutionary Mexico. Its Porfirian elite, headed by the Terrazas-Creel family, was the strongest and most homogeneous state elite in Mexico. The Mexican Revolution began in Chihuahua, and won its first victories there. Some historians maintain that the initial revolutionaries fought more against the Terrazases than against dictator Porfirio Díaz: perhaps more than any other group this family symbolized the old order against which the revolutionaries stood. Revolutionary Chihuahuenses deeply resented the Terrazas clan. Moreover, one of the leading revolutionary leaders, Pancho Villa, waged nearly a decade-long campaign against them. If the family and its henchmen retained even a semblance of their old power, what conclusions can we draw about the revolution?

Like the nineteenth-century Conservatives who had collaborated with the French, the great Porfirian bosses and their families were now completely discredited politically. They could not hold public office, except on the local level in isolated communities. This did not mean, however, that they lost all their influence. To the contrary, they exercised enormous economic influence, to assure themselves of a say in public affairs. In many instances, they formed alliances, often through marriages with members of the revolutionary elite, which in the factionalized politics of Chihuahua during the 1920s could not be scornful of potential allies. Through much of the decade, revolutionary officials had to negotiate the best possible deal with entrenched local leaders and other repentant or unrepentant Porfiristas. This, of course, limited the possibilities for profound change on the state or local level.

The chaos of state politics and the depression of the economy created an environment well suited for the survival of key families of the Porfirian elite. The 1920s in Chihuahua were, in many respects, a throwback to the tumultuous days before the Porfiriato. State politics were torn by factional rivalries and rebellion. Proximity to the United States border made Chihuahua a hotbed of conspirators of every persuasion, and Villas presence, until he was assassinated in 1923, made the region potentially even more explosive.32 Economically, in 1920 Chihuahua was in ruins. It had lost two-thirds (and perhaps more) of its cattle since 1910. Exports of cattle were a small fraction of prerevolutionary levels.33 Mining, though it had regained its 1910 level of production in 1920, had changed drastically in character, concentrated almost entirely in the hands of large U. S. companies.34 Agriculture was further set back by three years of drought and crop failures in 1920, 1921, and 1922. Chihuahua had to import food from elsewhere in Mexico to feed itself. It was not until middecade that harvests returned to normal and the livestock population began to rise again.35 Buoyed by high world market prices for silver, lead, and zinc, the state’s mining industry “flourished” in 1924, 1925, and 1926.36 Good harvests continued until 1929. However, mineral prices began to drop in 1926, and by 1930 Chihuahua was once again in full depression.37 The old Porfirian elite with their still substantial resources—capital, local political influence, family connections—were able to withstand economic downturns better than most, and they took advantage of both economic circumstances and the weakness of the revolutionary regime to survive and prosper.

The history of the Terrazas-Creel family from 1910 to 1930 fits the general outline for the survival of the Porfirian elite, and provides some instructive illustrations of elite strategies. While the Terrazas-Creels never regained their political omnipotence, they managed to reorganize and eventually expand their economic interests. Given the circumstances of the 1910 revolution in Chihuahua and the subsequent ten years in which they were constant targets of the revolutionaries, theirs is a remarkable story.

The political and economic empire of the Terrazas-Creel family was unparalleled in Porfirian Mexico. Family members or close allies filled nearly every important political office in state government. The Terrazas-Creels owned 15 million acres of land in Chihuahua; were the nation’s leading cattle exporters; controlled a nationwide banking enterprise with assets of 200 million pesos (one peso = 0.50 dollar); and owned innumerable mining, industrial, and commercial concerns. They also had a stranglehold on crucial areas of the state’s economy such as meatpacking, flour milling, public utilities, and local transportation.38

The Terrazas clan used a wide range of strategies to maintain its empire during and after the revolution. In the initial stages, the Terrazas-Creels played a double game of conciliation and resistance, taking advantage of business and kinship ties with the Madero family, while at the same time fighting the revolutionary governorship of Abraham González in Chihuahua and backing the rebellion of Pascual Orozco against Francisco Madero in 1912. According to Marion Letcher, the U.S. consul, the “Terrazas organized, directed, and financed the Orozco rebellion.”39 With the failure of the Orozquista revolt, most of the family fled to the United States. Alberto Terrazas, the youngest son of Luis Terrazas, stayed to lead an army of counterrevolutionaries until he was badly wounded in 1914. Luis Terrazas (hijo), remained to look after the family’s vast estates until he was captured, held for ransom, and tortured by Villa. He was freed only after his father paid Villa 850,000 U.S. dollars.40 The family supported the regime of General Victoriano Huerta. One grandson, Federico Sisniega, was reported to be “conspicuously active” in his support.41 After Huertas defeat and exile, Enrique Creel was one of those who journeyed to Spain in 1915 to persuade the general to return. He helped back an aborted rebellion by Huerta and Orozco that ended in the death of both in 1915.42 General Terrazas, on his part, lived in El Paso, Texas until 1919, when after losing his wife and suffering a stroke, he joined Creel and the rest of the clan in Los Angeles.

The experience of the Terrazas family thus differed from the general chronology, because earlier than elites elsewhere, they had to deal with revolutionary reforms. Unlike most of their contemporaries, the Terrazases had to fight—and did—almost from the beginning of the Madero regime. Moreover, the revolution took a heavy toll on the Terrazases’ economic empire. Villa expropriated the family’s landholdings, banks, houses, mines, and personal effects in 1913.43 The Constitutionalist government gutted the family’s flagship bank, the Banco Minero de Chihuahua, first in 1914 with forced loans totaling a million pesos, and later in 1916 by confiscating its reserves.44 Enrique C. Creel estimated his losses in the revolution at 5.5 million pesos, half of which represented the value of his stock in the Banco Minero.45 All, however, was not lost.

The history of the Terrazases’ landholdings sheds considerable light on the strategies employed by the old elite to maintain itself, and also explains a great deal about how the revolutionary elite regarded the issues of property and the relations between old and new ruling groups. It says much, too, about the limits of the revolution. After Villa expropriated the family’s land in 1913, the Villista governor of Chihuahua, Fidel Ávila, awarded it to the Division of the North, and handed over the most prosperous Terrazas haciendas to Villista Generals Máximo Márquez and Porfirio Ornelas. Other properties were administered by the Agencia de Confiscaciones.46 In an effort to avoid expropriation, the family sold the hacienda La Cañada in 1913.47 In 1919, General Terrazas nearly regained his estates, reaching agreement with the Carranza government, but the deal was never consummated because the First Chief was overthrown before it could be implemented.48 At that point, Carranza was desperate for allies and looked to the Porfirian hacendados for backing.

Two years later, Luis Terrazas arranged to sell most of his landholdings to a U. S. mining entrepreneur, Arthur J. McQuatters, who was to improve the land and then resell it in small parcels. Initially, both state and federal governments enthusiastically welcomed the transaction. Governor Ignacio C. Enríquez, a close ally of President Obregón, signed the contract and defended it as beneficial to Chihuahua. Obregón wrote in December 1921 that he welcomed “the noble efforts which you and your group . . . are putting forth . . .” and that the government proposed “to impart the greatest facilities possible to you, offering its entire moral support and, besides, the most ample guarantees conceded by our laws.”49 McQuatters was to pay a peso per acre, and made an initial deposit. The deal hit a snag when it was made contingent on the exemption of the Terrazas estate from the new agrarian law then pending in the state legislature.50 At first, the legislature seemed willing to go along, but a growing number of deputies opposed selling to a foreigner and soon the popular outcry against the sale forced rejection.51 Governor Enríquez campaigned hard both in Chihuahua and Mexico City for acceptance of the transaction.52 In April 1922, Obregón ended the controversy by expropriating all of the Terrazas landholdings not then under cultivation.53 Luis Terrazas then sued to prevent the expropriation.54 In June, a settlement was reached whereby Luis Terrazas was to sell all his land (6.6 million acres), except Quinta Carolina, to the Caja de Préstamos. McQuatters was to be reimbursed for his expenses plus 900,000 pesos. The government was to pay 2 million pesos in cash and the rest in guaranteed bonds. The total price was 13.6 million pesos.55 Despite protests that the deal was illegal and that the Terrazases were overpaid, the affair was settled.56

The deal with McQuatters was brilliantly adjusted to the circumstances of national and state politics and economics. The estates had virtually no livestock left after years of Villista plundering. Three years of drought rendered much of the semiarid pasture land worthless, especially since there was little hope of restocking the range quickly. It would be decades before the family would need this pasture again. Selling to a foreigner ensured that Obregón would have to proceed very carefully. The president was reluctant to expropriate property of foreign landholders, fearing that this would discourage foreign investment which was badly needed for economic recovery.57 At least in the beginning, the project was an attractive addition to the Obregonista reconstruction program. Nearly a decade later, Enríquez still defended the McQuatters sale in these terms.58

The most remarkable aspect of the Terrazas strategy, however, lay ahead. During the 1920s, the family repurchased the best of its landholdings. The estate of Luis Terrazas bought San Isidro, San Ignacio, and five other haciendas in the southern region of the state, and parts of Encinillas and El Carmen in the northern part. In addition, Amanda Terrazas de Sisniega bought the Hacienda de Aguanueva. The total of the repurchases was nearly 500,000 hectares (1,235,000 acres), or a little less than 20 percent of the original landholdings. It was approximately the same amount of land from the Terrazas estate that had been granted to agricultural colonies and ejidos combined by 1930. The family paid somewhat more per hectare for the land than it had received, but it bought back the best land.59

Since resale to the Terrazases was handled through the Caja de Préstamos, an organization administered by the federal government, it is clear that it was national policy to allow the clan to return as large landowners in order to reconstruct the Chihuahuan cattle business. That this was a high priority of the Obregón and Calles governments is made clearer by the fact that 1.6 million of the 2.7 million hectares of the Terrazas estate was still not distributed by 1930, and only 20 percent of the land was distributed to ejidos or colonias agrícolas. It is indicative, too, that at least one governor during the 1920s, Luis L. León, obtained land from the Terrazas estate held by the Caja de Préstamos, in his case 100,000 acres.60

The enormous urban properties of both the Terrazas estate and Enrique C. Creel were untouched by Obregón’s expropriation decree. Before the revolution, each had owned hundreds of lots and buildings in Ciudad Chihuahua alone. When the state’s economy began to recover in 1924, the Terrazas estate began investing in new construction and remodeling and repairing existing properties. The United States consul reported in 1926 that the current upturn in the state’s lumber industry was due to the new investments by the Terrazas estate.61 These holdings were so extensive that one citizen complained to President Calles that the Terrazas family was “determined to bring ruin and desolation to the state,” and “continued their wicked work without respect to society and its laws.”62

The Terrazas economic comeback was led by Luis Terrazas’s grand-children, Ing. Miguel Márquez, Salvador Creel, Luis Laguette, Carlos Sisniega, and Federico Sisniega. Márquez, Laguette, and the Sisniega brothers emerged as leading cattlemen in the late 1920s and early 1930s.63 Márquez was also the head of one of the state’s biggest construction companies.64 Salvador Creel was president of both the Compañía Eléctrica y de Ferrocarriles de Chihuahua and the Compañía Rastro de Torreón.65 Federico Sisniega was also a prominent lawyer.66 The family based its economic activities on old strengths—landowning and cattle raising, real estate, textiles, banking, and utilities—to which they added a new business, construction.

The clan by no means had an entirely smooth road during the 1920s. There were still revolutionaries with long memories, who sought retribution for old abuses, especially in banking and insurance. The Terrazases were also vulnerable to fluctuations in the national economy, political instability, and the new militancy of workers. During the 1920s, at least two family members were investigated for alleged illegal banking activities,67 Other clan members were jailed over “an old matter” concerning “La Equidad,” an insurance company. Juan A. Creel, Enrique’s brother, could not return to Chihuahua for some time for fear of arrest in this affair. Enrique C. Creel finally settled the problem by buying the assets of the company and paying its policyholders.68 Meanwhile, the Terrazas’ textile interests were struck hard by both downturns in the economy and labor difficulties. The Fábrica Río Florido, for example, was closed in 1921, reopened, struck by labor troubles in middecade, and then closed by the depression at the end of the decade.69 Their La Amistad factory in Durango was closed in 1926.70

A final ignominy took place in 1926, when Alberto Terrazas was mistakenly apprehended in Ciudad Juárez and badly beaten by police. He was quickly released when the “error” was discovered. Alberto died only six months later.71

Clearly, no Terrazas family member could hold public office in the 1920s. Instead, the clan exerted influence in indirect ways. Enrique Creel returned from exile during the Obregón administration, and became an important advisor on monetary policy. He had enough influence on a personal level, at least, to gain the release of his nephew from prison in the United States through the intervention of Obregón.72 Even more importantly, family members took active part in important interest groups, particularly the state’s cattlemen’s association, the Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Chamber of Mines.73 The cattlemen’s group was especially active and successful as a lobbying organization. In 1927, its protests led to a substantial reduction in the proposed increase in cattle export taxes, for example.74

Despite their notoriety, the Terrazases thus returned to Chihuahua during the 1920s and began to rebuild. Damaged as they were, their economic power remained formidable. Even Obregón felt compelled to placate them. Blessed with a talented new generation of leaders, the clan emerged from the decade as a potent force.

The Lujáns, Zuloagas, and Falomirs, all part of the Terrazas-Creel extended family, likewise survived the revolution’s violent years and struggled, for the most part successfully, to reestablish their old wealth and prominence in the 1920s. A distinguished family of legislators, magistrates, congressmen, local government officials, and governors, the Lujáns in 1910 owned .5 million acres in the state. Along with those of their relatives, the Terrazases, their lands were expropriated by Pancho Villa in 1913. Carranza would then restore most of their property. Not everything went smoothly, however, for Ramón F. Luján, probably the family’s largest landowner, who fought unsuccessfully to keep his land, the Hacienda de Salaices. By 1924, he was in a state of “ruin and desperation” in his attempt to defend it against the onslaught of local agrarians. His property had been intervened by various revolutionary governments since 1913; he regained possession only in the early 1920s. In order to try to save Salaices, he had been forced to sell off extensive holdings in the Comarca Lagunera in Torreón, Coahuila at what he claimed to be a 750,000 peso loss. Luján claimed to have an enormous mortgage, contracted just before the revolution to upgrade the hacienda’s irrigation system and to divide the land for colonization by small holders. A million pesos investment was in ruin. At any rate, by 1927 he had either lost Salaices by foreclosure or had given up trying to operate it himself and leased it out.75 At that time, the hacienda’s sharecroppers had occupied the property after being expelled by the new management.76 Less economically diversified than the Terrazases, Luján suffered proportionately more from the revolution’s land reform.

Aside from Ramón Luján’s unsuccessful struggle, family members were active in the local Chamber of Commerce and in community public service. Their widespread family connections in Jiménez district in southern Chihuahua—they were related to the Acostas, Maynezes, Mendozas, Chávezes, Sotos, and Villegases—assured them extensive influence in local politics. Through these branches, the family participated in state and local government.77

The Zuloagas were among Chihuahua’s oldest and most prominent families. They had been the state’s leading political and military figures of the first half of the nineteenth century, gaining fame as Indian fighters. At midcentury, they led the Conservatives in Chihuahua. Discredited by collaboration with the French, the family quietly exerted influence through its familial and financial alliance with Luis Terrazas. The Zuloagas were, after the Terrazases, the largest native landowners in Chihuahua, with more than a million acres in 1910. In the early 1920s, the family fought expropriation on the ground that it had not yet divided the land among the heirs of Carlos Zuloaga. The agrarian law could not apply until the division was carried out.78 When pressures from agrarians grew so strong that expropriation looked inevitable, the Zuloagas sold their largest hacienda, Bustillos, to the Mennonites.79 Like the Terrazases, the Zuloagas thus followed a strategy of fighting hard to keep their land through the courts and manipulation of the law, then sold to foreigners. This gave the family at least temporary respite and they kept most of their lands.80 Like the Terrazases, too, the Zuloagas were related to virtually every important family in Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Durango, and this assured them of continued standing.

The Falomirs were large landowners, important businessmen, and local political officials during the Porfiriato, who worked in close association with the Terrazases. Villa expropriated their land in 1913, but like many of their contemporaries, they reacquired a large part of their properties from 1916 to 1919 under Carranza. Family members had long been associated with the Terrazas banking enterprises. Under the revolutionary regime, Jesús J. Falomir was manager of the Banco de México in Ciudad Chihuahua. To their great advantage, the family intermarried with one of the rising postrevolutionary entrepreneurial families, the Vallinas.81

From the experiences of the extended Terrazas family we can thus see a pattern of strategy of survival similar to that found elsewhere in Mexico. The old elite used the courts and law to stall agrarian reform as long as possible. When expropriation of at least part of their lands became unavoidable, they would sell off a large part to foreigners. In the cases of the Terrazases and Zuloagas, the strategy worked well. The estate of Luis Terrazas obtained 13 million pesos, which it used to later buy back some of the property. The Zuloagas sold to the Mennonites property that was under siege. All four families used marriage and blood ties to maintain their influence in local politics and society. The most successful survivors, finally—the Terrazases—were the most economically diversified.

Perhaps the best example of an old elite family that resuscitated its influence through intermarriage with the new revolutionary elite was the Samaniegos of Ciudad Juárez. Dr. Mariano Samaniego was the political boss of Ciudad Juárez from the 1860s until his death in 1905. He served 11 terms in the state legislature, and was interim governor on numerous occasions. Dr. Samaniego was Luis Terrazas’s most important and loyal subregional ally. His son-in-law, Inocente Ochoa, was, in his time, the richest man on the border. While the family lost its main landholding, the Hacienda de Samalayuca, to the revolution, its political influence was undiminished, for five jefes or presidentes municipales of Ciudad Juárez after 1920 were family members: Benjamín Castillo, José Velarde Romero, Arturo N. Flores Daguerre, Gustavo Flores Daguerre, and Teófilo Borunda.82

The southwestern mining districts of Chihuahua were the least likely to be affected by the revolution during the 1920s because of their geographic isolation. The local bosses and their families in two of these areas, Uruachic and Urique, retained their power through the end of the decade. The Rascóns were the political bosses, leading mineowners, and most important merchants of Uruachic from the late eighteenth century. During the 30 years preceding the revolution, they came to own virtually every mining claim of any value in the region, as well as its largest haciendas. The family dominated local politics to such an extent that in 1908 its members held eight of the ten seats on the ayuntamiento. Family patriarchs Enrique C. and Ignacio Rascón acted as state legislators and jefes políticos during much of the Porfiriato. They allied themselves with Luis Terrazas, from the time they joined him in opposition to Porfirio Díaz in the 1870s. The Rascóns emerged from the revolution with their mining and commercial interests and much of their political power intact. Like the Terrazases, they had backed the Orozquistas in 1912, but evidently had not been forced into exile. During the 1920s, the family dominated the local ayuntamiento once again. As late as 1931, one of them, Edmundo Rascón, was presidente municipal of Uruachic.83

The Becerras ruled Urique during the Porfiriato much as the Rascóns had Uruachic. Juan N. Becerra moved to the region in the early years of the nineteenth century, becoming an important mineowner and local political official. His sons Buenaventura and José María expanded the family’s economic holdings. Buenaventura, in particular, grew rich selling mines to foreign companies, dying a millionaire in 1907. The brothers briefly tried to obtain statewide office in 1877, when José María ran in and lost the gubernatorial election. Thereafter they allied themselves with the Terrazases. Marriage linked them to foreigners who operated their mining enterprises and to local political officials. After the start of the revolution, one family member was jefe político during the revolutionary governorship of Abraham González, so that they apparently played both sides during the years of upheaval. The Becerras continued to mine and ranch in Urique through the 1920s. Relatives served in the state legislature from western districts. The family’s political rule was challenged in 1924, when angry opponents ran local boss and clan member Alfredo S. Monge and his son from town. The family strengthened its position, however, when Susana Nesbitt Becerra married Governor Jesús Antonio Almeida in 1925.84

The Almeidas were most representative of the new, revolutionary elite both in Chihuahua and in the rest of the nation. Jesús Antonio flirted briefly with the Orozquistas in their rebellion against Madero in 1912. He gained prominence in 1917, when he joined the defensas sociales, or local militia, to battle Pancho Villa. Shrewdly, he sided with Obregón against Carranza in 1920. During the governorship of Ignacio Enríquez, Jesús Antonio rose through the ranks to head the defensas sociales. Almeida used this as a springboard to run, with the backing of Enríquez, for governor in 1924. As governor, he displayed little sympathy toward either worker or campesino: his energies were applied primarily to building a political and economic empire for his family. The Almeidas became major lumber operators and ranchers, often blatantly using their political standing to further economic gain. A coup led by the chief of military operations for Chihuahua, General Marcelo Caraveo, ousted Jesús Antonio in 1927. Late revolutionaries, opportunists, capitalists, or as Warman has called those of similar characteristics, “freebooters,” the Almeidas were indicative of the rising, postrevolutionary elite that found it politically, economically, and socially advantageous to cooperate with the remnants of the old elite.85

Several circumstances thus sustained the Porfirian elite during the 1920s. First, especially in the cases of the Terrazases and of dominant families in isolated regions, their economic resources were formidable. Much of their land was returned during the latter years of Carranza’s administration. Others generated money through land and mine sales and leases. With Mexico in the throes of a severe economic crisis that lasted most of the decade, the old elite’s business and agricultural expertise was badly needed. Obregón, for example, was unwilling to go very far beyond political expediency in expropriating land. Second, given the unsettled political situation in much of Mexico, the old elites, where they had survived the violent revolution, were valuable potential allies for competing state factions as well as the national government. If the price of the old elite’s cooperation was protection of its property, the new elite found the alliance was worth the cost. The Porfirian elite of the western mining communities of Chihuahua was additionally protected by the difficulty of transport and communication into the region. Third, the old elite was bolstered by old and newly acquired family ties. As in the cases of the Lujáns and Samaniegos especially, if one branch of the family was discredited, another went forward or a new one was added. It was a tried and true method that worked for the benefit of the revolutionary leaders too, giving them social status, instant allies, and economic support. Fourth, the new revolutionaries, like the Almeidas, were not radicals. They believed in private property and were not comfortable with expropriations. Many had taken land and riches during the revolution and sought to protect their new wealth—a goal shared with the old elite. Finally, the Porfirian elite proved enormously resourceful and capable. They adapted to shifting situations with innovative strategies, taking advantage of the weaknesses of the new regime.

At the end of the 1920s, changes in the political and economic equation began to emerge. New loci of political power, like labor unions, campesino organizations, businessmen’s groups, and political parties, came forth. The corporation, not the family, would be the new instrument of obtaining wealth. The old elite would, too, have to deal with a new wave of radicalism during the 1930s. New strategies and alliances would have to be formed. But as the decade of the 1920s came to a close, the Porfirian elite in Chihuahua had made a place for itself in the new order.


El Correo de Chihuahua, Oct. 6, 1925, p. 1, Oct. 7, 1925, p. 1.


Albert Soboul, The French Revolution, 1787-1799. From the Storming of the Rastille to Napoleon, Alan Forrest and Colin Jones, trails. (New York, 1975), 9, 15, 553-556.


Arno J. Mayer, The Persistence of the Old Regime: Europe to the Great War (New York, 1981), 4.


See, for example, Frans J. Schryer, The Rancheros of Pisaflores: The History of a Peasant Bourgeoisie in Twentieth Century Mexico (Toronto, 1980), 3.


Arturo Warman, We Come to Object: The Peasants of Morelos and the National State, Steven Ault, trans. (Baltimore, 1980), 134, 142, 152.


Roger D. Hansen, The Politics of Mexican Development (Baltimore, 1971), 37.


Beatriz Rojas, La destrucción de la hacienda en Aguascalientes, 1910-1931 (Zamora, Michoacán, 1981); Ian Jacobs, Ranchero Revolt: The Mexican Revolution in Guerrero (Austin, 1982); Schryer, Pisaflores; Paul Friedrich, Agrarian Revolt in a Mexican Village (Chicago, 1977); Warman, We Come to Object; Alexander M. Saragoza, “The Formation of a Mexican Elite: The Industrialization of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, San Diego, 1978); Dudley Ankerson, Agrarian Warlord: Saturnino Cedillo and the Mexican Revolution in San Luis Potosí (DeKalb, 1984); Alan M. Kirshner, Tomás Garrido Canabal y el movimiento de las Camisas Rojas (Mexico City, 1976); Gilbert M. Joseph, Revolution from Without: Yucatán, Mexico, and the United States, 1880-1924 (New York, 1982).


Warman, We Come to Object, 134.


Heather F. Salamini, Agrarian Radicalism in Veracruz, 1920-1938 (Lincoln, 1978), 132. Hacendado Manuel Parra created a large force of gunmen that protected his property until his death in 1943, after which the government expropriated his land.


Nora Hamilton, The Limits of State Autonomy: Post-Revolutionary Mexico (Princeton, 1982), 307-316.


Salamini, “Caciquismo and the Mexican Revolution: The Case of Manuel Peláez,” presented to the VI Conference of Mexican and United States Historians, Chicago, IL, Sept. 1981.


See, for example, William H. Beezley, “Madero: The Unknown President and His Failure to Organize Rural Mexico,” in Essays on the Mexican Revolution: Revisionist Views of the Leaders, George Wolfskill and Douglas W. Richmond, eds. (Austin, 1979), 1-24.


Rojas, Aguascalientes, 122-123.


Friedrich Katz, The Secret War in Mexico: Europe, the United States, and the Mexican Revolution (Chicago, 1981), 531-538.


Hans-Werner Tobler, “Las paradojas del ejército revolucionario: Su papel social en la reforma agraria mexicana, 1920-1935,” Historia Mexicana, 21:1 (July 1971), 38-79.


Salamini, Agrarian Radicalism, 36.


Friedrich, Agrarian Revolt, 56.


Joseph, Revolution from Without, 265.


Linda Hall, “Alvaro Obregón and the Politics of Mexican Land Reform, 1920-1924,” HAHR, 60:2 (May 1980), 213-238.


Joseph, “The Fragile Revolution: Cacique Politics and the Revolutionary Process in Yucatán,” Latin American Research Review, 15:1 (1980), 41-64.


Salamini, Agrarian Radicalism, 36-37.


Eyler Simpson, The Ejido, Mexico’s Way Out (Chapel Hill, 1937), 349.


Friedrich, Agrarian Revolt, 56.


Jacobs, Ranchero Revolt, 116.


Friedrich, Agrarian Revolt, 103.


Salamini, Agrarian Radicalism, 96.


Edith B. Couturier, La hacienda de Hueyapán, 1550-1936 (Mexico City, 1976), 177-178.


Rojas, Aguascalientes, 122.


Schryer, Pisaflores, 82.


Couturier, Hueyapán, 177.


Joseph, Revolution from Without, 255.


William P. Mitchell, U.S. consul, Chihuahua City, “Economic Report for the Chihuahua Consular District, January to April 1923,” May 31, 1923; “Review of Commerce and Industry for the Quarter Ending September 30, 1924,” Oct. 18, 1924; “Report on Commerce and Industry for Quarter Ending September 30, 1927,” Nov. 7, 1927, all in United States National Archives, Department of State, Record Group 84, Correspondence of the American Consulate, Chihuahua [City], Mexico (hereafter USNA/ACCC).


There is some disagreement over the extent of the loss of livestock during the revolution and the rate of subsequent recovery. Estimates for 1910 vary from 900,000 to 1.2 million head of cattle. Thereafter the estimates vary even more widely:

  • 1921 60,000

  • 1923 96,184/15,000

  • 1926 397,975/150,000/100,000

  • 1930 685,000/300,000

The discrepancies may lie in the fact that some of the lower numbers are for the Chihuahua consular district, which did not include Benito Juárez, Guerrero, and Galeana districts, and thereby excluded major cattle ranches like Bavícora, Corralitos, and part of the Terrazas estate.

See J. B. Stewart to secretary of state, Feb. 17, 1922 in United States National Archives, Records of the Department of State, Record Group 59, Decimal Files, Internal Affairs of Mexico, 1910—1929 (hereafter USNA [RG 59] followed by the file number), 812.52T2/6; Manuel A. Machado, The North Mexico Cattle Industry, 1910-1975, Ideology, Conflict and Change (College Station, TX, 1981), 31-32; Lorenzo Meyer, Historia de la Revolución Mexicana: Período 1928-1932, El conflicto social y los gobiernos del Maximato (Mexico City, 1971), 288; Pedro Saucedo Montemayor, Historia de la ganadería en México (Mexico City, 1984), 94.


“Report on the Mineral Deposits and Industries in Chihuahua for the Year Ending Dec. 31, 1922,” Feb. 27, 1924, USNA/ACCC; Stewart, U.S. consul, Chihuahua, “Report on the Mineral Deposits and Industry of Chihuahua for the Year Ending December 31, 1921,” USNA (RG 59), 812.63/637.


U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, Supplements to Commerce Reports, 1921-1922 (Washington, 1922), 20-23.


Thomas McEnelly, “Review of Commerce and Industry for the Quarter Ending September 30, 1924,” Oct 18, 1924, USNA/ACCC.


McEnelly to Department of State, Nov. 18, 1926, USNA/ACCC; Review of Commerce and Industry for the Quarter Ending September 30, 1927,” Nov. 7, 1927, USNA/ ACCC; John W. Dye, “Annual Report of Ciudad Juárez,” Mar. 17, 1928, USNA, Record Group 84, Correspondence of the U. S. Consulate, Ciudad Juárez; Engineering and Mining Journal, 129 (Feb. 8, 1930), 144.


Mark Wasserman, Capitalists, Caciques, and Revolution: The Native Elite and Foreign Enterprise in Chihuahua, Mexico, 1854-1911 (Chapel Hill, 1984), 43-70.


Letcher to secretary of state, Feb. 21, 1914, USNA (RG 59), 812.00/11043; Katz, The Secret War in Mexico, 536; Michael C. Meyer, Mexican Rebel: Pascual Orozco and the Mexican Revolution, 1910-1915 (Lincoln, 1967), 56-57. Letcher also maintained that the first anti-González demonstration was fomented by Terrazas family member Antonio Horcasitas, the brother of Enrique Creel's son-in-law. Letcher to secretary of state, Mar. 20, 1912, USNA (RG 59), 812.00/3424.


Secretary of War Lindley M. Garrison, to secretary of state, Dec. 17, 1913, USNA (RG 59), 812.00/10241 and Dec. 18, 1913, USNA (RG 59), 812.00/10247; G. C. Carothers to secretary of state, USNA (RG 59), 812.00/10820; Letcher to secretary of state, Mar. 21, 1914, USNA (RG 59), 812.00/11234 and June 3, 1914, USNA (RG 59), 8 12.00/12147; Walter M. Brodie to secretary of state, June 5, 1914, USNA (RG 59), 812.00/12163; Letcher to secretary of state, Sept. 30, 1930, USNA (RG 59), 812.00/13351; Morris B. Parker, Mules, Mines, and Me in Mexico, 1895-1932, James M. Day, ed. (Tucson, 1979), 114-115. For the clan's activities during the revolution see box 83 in the Ramo Gobernación, Revolución of the Archivo General de la Nación (hereafter AGNGR) in Mexico City.


Letcher to secretary of state, Feb. 21, 1914, USNA (RG 59), 812.00/11043.


Charles C. Cumberland, Mexican Revolution: The Constitutionalist Years (Austin, 1972), 206.


Lindley Garrison to secretary of state, Dec. 17, 1913, USNA (RG 59), 812.00/10241; Letcher to secretary of state, Dec. 21, 1913, USNA (RG 59), 812.00/10301.


McEnelly, “Review of Commerce and Industry for the Quarter Ending September 30, 1923.” Oct. 19, 1923, USNA/ACCC; Myers, U.S. consul, to Juan A. Creel, manager of the Banco Minero, Jan. 8, 1929, USNA/ACCC.


“Negocios de Enrique C. Creel,” from the papers of Enrique C. Creel. I am indebted to Eduardo Creel and Harold D. Sims for permitting me to see a photocopy of this document.


Berta Ulloa, Historia de la Revolución Mexicana, 1914-1927: La encrucijada de 1915 (Mexico City, 1979), 212-213; David P. Barrows to Benjamin I. Wheeler, July 25, 1915, USNA (RG 59), 812.00/15595; Friedrich Katz, “Agrarian Changes in Northern Mexico in the Period of Villista Rule, 1913-1915,” in Contemporary Mexico. James W. Wilkie, Michael Meyer, and Edna Monzón de Wilkie, eds. (Berkeley, 1976), 259-273.


The buyer was Francisca M. viuda de Prieto. The property was subject to considerable conflict thereafter between Sra. Prieto and the Caja de Préstamos. Francisca M. viuda de Prieto to President Obregón, Apr. 30, 1923, Archivo General de la Nación, Ramo de Presidentes, Obregón-Calles (hereafter AGN-OC), 802–P–28.


Katz, The Secret War, 536; AGNGR, box 83, exp. 32.


For the quote see Obregón to Arthur J. McQuatters, Franklin Remington, and James G. McNary, Dec. 10, 1921, enclosure to chargé d’affairs, Mexico City, to secretary of state, Dec. 13, 1921, USNA (RG 59), 812.52T27. USNA (RG 59), files 812.52T27/1-40 concern the McQuatters-Terrazas transaction. See also AGN-OC, 806-T. Machado, Cattle Industry, 40-48 has a summary of the affair.


James B. Stewart, U.S. consul, to secretary of state, Feb. 7, 1922, USNA (RG 59), 812.52T27/1. Under the new agrarian law nearly all of the estate was to be seized by the government. U.S. consul, Ciudad Juárez, to secretary of state, Feb. 9, 1922, USNA (RG 59), 812.52T27/2.


Stewart to secretary of state, Feb. 15, 1922, 812.52T27/4; Stewart to secretary of state, Feb. 17, 1922, 812.52T27/5; Stewart to secretary of state, Feb. 25, 1922, 812.52T27/8; Stewart to secretary of state, Apr. 8, 1922, 812.52T27/10, all in USNA (RG 59); Obregón to Enríquez, Mar. 6, 1922, AGN-OC, 806-T-1.


Stewart to secretary of state, Apr. 10, 1922, USNA (RG 59), 812.52T27/13; Enríquez to Obregón, Mar. 3, 1922, AGN-OC, 806-T-1.


Stewart to secretary of state, Apr. 18, 1922, USNA (RG 59), 812.52T27/14.


U.S. consul, Ciudad Juárez, to secretary of state, Apr. 28, 1922, USNA (RG 59), 812.52T27/16. Land under cultivation did not include that farmed by renters and share-croppers. They were allowed to continue working the land and were to get an opportunity to purchase it later. Claudel. Dawson, U.S. consul-general, to secretary of state, May 4, 1922, USNA (RG 59), 812.52T27/19.


U.S. consul, Ciudad Juárez, to secretary of state, June 17, 1922, 812.52T27/25; Stewart to secretary of state, July 7, 1922, 812.52T27/27 and July 11, 1922, 812.52T27/31; George T. Summerlin to secretary of state, Feb. 23, 1923, 812.52T27/38, all in USNA (RG 59).


Summerlin to secretary of state, Mar. 2, 1923, USNA (RG 59), 812.52T27/40.


Hall, “Land Reform.”


Letter to the editor, El Correo de Chihuahua, June 25, 1930, p. 1.


“Extracto del Informe General del Estado que guardan los terrenos que comprenden el latifundio Terrazas propiedad de la Caja de Préstamos para Obras de Irrigación y Fomento de la Agricultura, S.A.,” enclosure to Ing. Manuel Romero González, Banco Nacional de Crédito Agrícola, S. A., to President Ortiz Rubio, Nov. 7, 1930, AGN, Ramo de Presidentes, Ortiz Rubio (AGNOR), 24 (1930), 13564. See also Ing. Luis L. León to President Ortiz Rubio, Oct. 27, 1930, AGNOR, 24 (1930), 13187.




“Relación de las propiedades intervenidas que existen actualmente bajo el control de la Administración de Bienes Intervenidas en el estado de Chihuahua,” Mar. 31, 1919, box 88, item 32, AGNGR; Fernando Chávez to President Calles, Mar. 25, 1925, AGN-OC, 707-C-34; McEnelly, “Report on Commerce and Industry for the Quarter Ending December 31, 1924,” Jan. 27, 1925, USNA/ACCC; “Report on Commerce and Industry for the Quarter Ending September 30, 1927,” Nov. 7, 1927, and “Report on Commerce and Industry for the First Six Months of 1926,” July 8, 1926, USNA/ACCC.


Fernando Chávez to Calles, Mar. 25, 1925, AGN-OC, 707-C-34.


Francis H. Styles, U.S. consul, to secretary of state, Sept. 6, 1933 and Styles to W. D. Duke, Feb. 29, 1932, USNA/ACCC.


McEnelly to Thew J. Lovel Co., June 15, 1927 and Styles to Northwest Energy Co., Aug. 5, 1930, USNA/ACCC.


Salvador Creel to director, Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México, Sept. 6, 1928, AGN-OC, 802-C-107; Ing. Manuel O’Reilly, director general, Cía. Eléctrica y de Ferrocarriles de Chihuahua, to McEnelly, Aug. 24, 1924 and Oct. 3, 1924, and O’Reilly to Styles, July 13, 1931, USNA/ACCC.


List of prominent attorneys in Chihuahua, Sept. 21, 1928, USNA/ACCC.


McEnelly, “Review of Commerce and Industry for the First Six Months of 1926,” July 8, 1926, USNA/ACCC; El Correo de Chihuahua, July 24, 1925, p. 1, July 28, 1925, p. 1. Allegedly, Juan A. Creel and Jesús J. Falomir had illegally combined three family banks, the Banco Minero, the Caja de Ahorros de la República Mexicana, and the Banco Comercial Refaccionario.


El Correo de Chihuahua, Nov. 14, 1925, p. 1, Dec. 25, 1925, p. 1; Fernando Torreblanca (private secretary for the president) to governor of Chihuahua, Aug. 22, 1925 and J. A. Almeida to Torreblanca, Sept. 1, 1925, AGN-OC, 707–C–34. Martín Falomir, Jesús Falomir, Luis Creel, and Joaquín Cortázar were all jailed. Juan Creel escaped only because he was in the United States.


El Correo de Chihuahua, July 18, 1925, p. 1, July 19, 1925, p. 1.


Ing. Pastor Roauaix, gobernador interino de Durango, to President Ortiz Rubio, Nov. 11, 1931, AGN-OR, 8 (1931), 7515, leg. 21.


El Correo de Chihuahua, Jan. 30, 1926, p. 1. Interestingly, the newspaper, edited by Silvestre Terrazas, one of the original opponents of the family during the Porfiriato and the administrator of their expropriated estates under Villista rule, referred to Alberto as “well-regarded.”


Carlos Helmus had embezzled 62,000 U.S. dollars from a bank in El Paso, Texas. President Obregón appealed to President Warren G. Harding and obtained Helmus’s release from a five-year sentence. Obregón to Harding, Apr. 4, 1922, June 9, 1922; Harding to Obregón, May 5, 1922, Sept. 30, 1922, AGN-OC, 104–H–16.


Boletín Comercial (Ciudad Chihuahua), June 15, 1926, p. 5, Oct. 15, 1925, p. 23, Dec. 15, 1933, p. 21, July 15, 1928, p. 20; Chihuahua Ganadero, Mar. 1942, p. 23, Mar. 1940, p. 30; circular of the Cámara Nacional de Ganadería de Chihuahua, Apr. 21, 1933, USNA/ACCC; El Correo de Chihuahua, Apr. 24, 1930, p. 1, Mar. 25, 1930, p. 1; AGN-OC, 101–R2–H–1; AGN-OR, 137(1930), 6942.


Cámara Nacional de Ganadería del Estado de Chihuahua to Montes de Oca, secretario de hacienda y crédito público, Sept. 5, 1927, AGN-OC, 731–G–2.


Ramón F. Luján to Obregón, Mar. 3, 1922; Luján to F. A. Salido, May 10, 1924, Luján to Obregón, Feb. 20, 1924, AGN-OC, 818–S–95; Lie. Joaquín Ortega, Dirección General de Bienes Nacionales, to Obregón, Dec. 31, 1923, Fernando Brena Alatorre, memorandum on Salaices, May 1, 1921, AGN-OC, 805–L–29.


Aparceros de Salaices to president, Sept. 17, 1927, AGN-OC, 818–S–95.


El Periódico Oficial del Estado de Chihuahua (hereafter POC), Dec. 14, 1929, p. 6, Nov. 30, 1929, pp. 5-6, Jan. 12, 1929, p. 9; Chihuahua, Directorio general de municipios (Chihuahua, 1927), 365-367; AGN-OC, 202–CH–48; Boletín Comercial, Jan. 15, 1928, p. 7.


Testamentaria of Carlos Zuloaga to Obregón, Apr. 19, 1921; memorandum of Guillermo Porras on the application of the agrarian law of Chihuahua to the property of Carlos Zuloaga, AGN-OC, 818–Ch–23.


José Calles, auxiliar, procurador de pueblos, to Obregón, Jan. 15, 1924, AGN-OC, 818–Ch–23.


“Property in Chihuahua Belonging to Pedro Zuloaga,” Nov. 22, 1928, USNA/ACCC.


Chihuahua, Secretaría del Gobierno, Sección Estadística, Chihuahua, 1934, 79; Boletín Comercial, May 15, 1926, p. 19; El Correo de Chihuahua, May 24, 1930, p. 1, Aug. 29, 1930, p. 1, Aug, 22, 1925, p. 4, Mar. 25, 1930, p. 1; Martín Falomir to Juez Segundo de lo Civil, AGN-OC, 818–A–3.


POC, Dec. 14, 1929, pp. 11-13; Armando 13. ChávezM., Sesenta años de gobierno municipal: Jefes políticos del Distrito Bravos y presidentes municipales del Municipio de Juárez (Mexico City, 1959), 69-72, 95-98, 257-268, 269-284, 343-352; William Wallace Mills, Forty Years at El Paso (El Paso, 1962), 182-188; Francisco R. Almada, Gobernadores del Estado de Chihuahua (Mexico City, 1950), 338-342; Charles W. Kindrick, U.S. consul, Ciudad Juárez, to David J. Hill, assistant secretary of state, Dec. 9, 1898, USNA (RG 59), Consular Dispatches, Ciudad Juárez, 1850-1906; Siglo XX (Ciudad Chihuahua), Aug. 10, 1904, p. 4; POC, Aug. 5, 1882, p. 3, Feb. 24, 1883, p. 4.


Almada, Gobernantes del estado de Chihuahua (Chihuahua, 1929), 89-102; POC, Feb. 25, 1930, p. 7, Jan. 23, 1929, p. 11, Dec. 21, 1929, p. 5; Chihuahua, Secretaría del Gobierno, Sección Estadística, Boletín estadístico del estado de Chihuahua, 1925 (Chihuahua, 1927), 108-109, and Chihuahua, 1934, 178; Chihuahua, Directorio general de municipios, 463–465; Armando B. Chávez M., “Hombres de la revolución en Chihuahua,” unpub. ms., 226-227. I wish to thank Richard M. Estrada for locating the latter volume and alerting me to it.


Chihuahua, Directorio general de municipios, 463; Chihuahua, Secretaría del Gobierno, Sección Estadística, Chihuahua, 1934, 176; Chihuahua, Boletín Estadístico, 1925, 107–108; POC, May 10, 1924, p. 21; Chávez M., “Hombres,” 32; Almada, Gobernantes, 89-102; H. H. Taft to U.S. Consulate Chihuahua City, Dec. 3, 1924, USNA/ACCC. Only Alfredo S. Monge and his oldest son, Alfredo, were attacked. Another son, José, stayed and assumed office.


Almada, Gobernadores del Estado de Chihuahua (Mexico City, 1950), 559-561; Ernest Omening, Mexico and Its Heritage (New York, 1928), 410-412.

Author notes


The author wishes to thank the Tinker Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, the Research Councils of Northern Illinois University and Rutgers University, and the American Council of Learned Societies/Social Science Research Council Joint Committee on Latin American Studies for their generous support of the larger study of which this article is a part. My thanks also to Samuel L. Baily for his suggestions on the manuscript.