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The Mexican Revolution:Rights of Peons
Transcript of The Mexican Revolution:Rights of Peons
In 1910 the Mexican Revolution began, with Madero's pro-democracy, anti-reeleccionista volunteers confronting Díaz's federal troops. As the revolution spread, Villa joined with Madero's forces and aided in winning the first Battle of Ciudad Juárez in 1911. All across Mexico, Madero's volunteers won victories, driving Díaz into exile. Villa, however, strongly disapproved of Madero's decision to name Venustiano Carranza (who had previously been a staunch supporter of Diaz until Diaz refused to appoint him as Governor of Coahuila in 1909 as his Minister of War.
In March 1861, Juárez was finally elected President in his own right under the Constitution of 1857. However, the Liberals' celebrations of 1861 were short-lived. The war had severely damaged Mexico's infrastructure and crippled its economy. While the Conservatives had been defeated, they would not disappear and the Juárez government had to respond to pressures from these factions. One of these concessions was amnesty to captured Conservative guerrillas who were still resisting the Juárez government, even though these same guerrillas were executing captured Liberals, which included Melchor Ocampo. In view of the government's desperate financial straits Juárez cancelled repayments of interest on foreign loans.
Spain, Britain and France, angry over unpaid Mexican debts, sent a joint expeditionary force that seized the Veracruz customs house in December 1861. Spain and Britain soon withdrew after realizing that the French Emperor Napoleon III intended to overthrow the Juárez government and establish a Second Mexican Empire with the support of the remnants of the Conservative side in the Reform War. Thus began the French intervention in Mexico in 1862. Mexican forces under Ignacio Zaragoza won an initial victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, celebrated annually as Cinco de Mayo (5 May).
On 17 February 1908, in an interview with the U.S. journalist James Creelman of Pearson's Magazine, Díaz stated that Mexico was ready for democracy and elections and that he would retire and allow other candidates to compete for the presidency. Without hesitation, several opposition and pro-government groups united to find suitable candidates who would represent them in the upcoming presidential elections. Many liberals formed clubs supporting the governor of Nuevo León, Bernardo Reyes, as a candidate for the presidency. Despite the fact that Reyes never formally announced his candidacy, Díaz continued to perceive him as a threat and sent him on a mission to Europe, so that he was not in the country for the elections.
Despite this, the election went ahead. Madero had gathered much popular support, but when the government announced the official results, Díaz was proclaimed to have been re-elected almost unanimously, with Madero gathering only a minuscule number of votes. This case of massive electoral fraud aroused widespread anger throughout the Mexican citizenry. Madero called for revolt against Díaz, and the Mexican Revolution began. Díaz was forced from office and fled the country for Spain on May 31, 1911
laborers (peons) having little control over their employment conditions. Peonage existed historically during the colonial period, especially in Latin America and areas of Spanish rule, as well as in the Southern United States after the American Civil War. Whites used the "Black Codes" and other systems to gain the forced labor of African Americans after slavery was abolished.
After the American Civil War, peonage developed in the Southern United States. Poor white farmers and freedmen who could not afford their own land would farm another person's land, exchanging labor for a share of the crops. This was called sharecropping and initially the benefits were mutual. The land owner would pay for the seeds and tools in exchange for a percentage of the money earned from the crop and a portion of the crop. As time passed, many landowners began to abuse this system. The landowner would force the tenant farmer to buy seeds and tools from the land owner’s store, which often had inflated prices. As sharecroppers were often illiterate, they had to depend on the books and accounting by the landowner and his staff. Other tactics included debiting expenses against the sharecropper's profits after the crop was harvested and "miscalculating" the net profit from the harvest, thereby keeping the sharecropper in perpetual debt to the landowner. Since the tenant farmers could not offset the costs, they were forced into involuntary labor due to the debts they owed the land owner.
Madero's vague promises of agrarian reforms attracted many peasants throughout Mexico. He received the support from them that he needed to remove Díaz from power and raised an army consisting mostly of ordinary farmers, miners, and other working-class Mexicans, along with much of the country's Indian population. Madero's army fought Diaz's forces with some success, and he attracted the forces of other rebel leaders like Pancho Villa, Ricardo Flores Magón, Emiliano Zapata and Venustiano Carranza, and they eventually joined together to fight Diaz. Diaz's army suffered several major defeats, and his administration started to fall apart..
After Madero defeated the Mexican federal army, on May 21, 1911 he signed the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez with Diaz. It stated that Díaz would abdicate his rule and be replaced by Madero. Insisting on a new election, Madero won overwhelmingly in late 1911. Some supporters criticized him for appearing weak by not assuming the presidency and failing to pass immediate reforms, but Madero established a liberal democracy and received support from the United States and popular leaders such as Orozco, Villa and Zapata.