Great Powers Manuver Among Factions in Mexico; Greco-Bulgarian Clash

  • Woodrow Wilson takes the oath of office for hi...

    Woodrow Wilson takes the oath of office for his first term of the Presidency in Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Edmond Perreyon of France set a new record for highest altitude in an airplane, reaching 19,281 feet.

  • The last civil suits arising from the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of March 25, 1911. Building owners Max Blanck and Isaac Harris paid $75 apiece for each dead woman or girl whose family had brought a wrongful death suit.
  • The new capital of Australia was christened in a ceremony that saw the unveiling of three pillars of a memorial column by Governor-General Denman, Prime Minister Fisher, and Minister for Home Affairs King O’Malley. At noon, Lady Denman opened a gold cigarette case, withdrew the paper inside, and announced “I name the Capital of Australia ‘Canberra’.” “Canberra”, which among almost 1,000 suggestions submitted to the federal government, had first been used in 1826 by J. J. Moore in an application to purchase land in what would become the Australian Capital Territory. Other suggestions had been Kangaremu, Blueducks, Eucalypta, Myola, Gonebroke, Swindleville and Cooeeoomoo, and the second most popular proposal had been Shakespeare.
  • Plans were announced by the British Prime Minister to reform the House of Lords, taking away its veto power and abolishing the hereditary succession
  • Film stuntman and daredevil Rodman Law, who billed himself as “The Human Bullet”, attempted to become the first passenger in a manned rocket flight. Law constructed a 44 foot long steel missile, set it up on a vacant lot in Jersey City, set the angle at 45 degrees and aimed the craft at Elizabeth, New Jersey, twelve miles away. Wearing a parachute, he then climbed into a seat on the rocket and told his assistant, fireworks factory manager Samuel Serpico, to light the fuse to ignite of 900 pounds of gunpowder. Law told the crowd that his plan was to bail out when he reached an altitude of 3,500 feet, but the rocket exploded on the launchpad. Law was only slightly injured in the blast, and no spectators were hurt, and he “continued to perform stunts, though never again in a rocket”.
  • Dr. Simon Flexner announced to an audience of physicians at Johns Hopkins University that he had discovered the germ that caused infantile paralysis (polio). The germ proved to be a virus, although Flexner’s discovery that antibodies, yet to be discovered, could successfully attack the disease would send research in the direction of finding a means of developing the immunization against the poliomyelitis virus.
  • Born: William J. Casey, 13th Director of Central Intelligence for the American CIA (1981-1987), in New York City

The New York Time reportage on events in Mexico has become almost a parody of itself.  At the top of the list is the NYT article on reportage in the British press on Mexico.  Says the London Daily Mail, “That does not surprise us, because the New York Times has always expounded the doctrine that the American trusts can do no wrong”.  “Trust” was the term a century ago for what we would call today a large conglomerate corporation.

The generally vulgar tone of the writing, the unthinking parroting of every wild rumor, the promulgation of disinformation and outright lies, and above all the eagerness with which the reportage strains to hope for the best for the bloody anti-constitutional military coup government of Victoriano Huerta and Felix Diaz is genuinely shocking when viewed a century on.  British reportage comes across as a refreshing breath of fresh air in comparison;  the difference is appalling.

However already signs appear in the reports that the new Administration of Woodrow Wilson will not support Huerta.  There will be an opportunity to investigate Wilson’s motives in future posts.

Note also that J. PowerPoint Morgan, the great American banking tycoon, and the deposed President Porfirio Diaz share a cruise on the liner Adriatic in the Mediterranean.  One would love to be the fly on the  wall!

In the Balkans, an there is an armed incident between Bulgarian and Greek forces near Thessaloniki, a harbinger of the near future.



Huerta Moves Against Carranza; Pancho Villa Enters Mexico Against Huerta

  • Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, who had been living at the Hotel Roma in El Paso, Texas under the alias “Doroteo Arango“, crossed the Rio Grande back into Mexico, along with eight companions, to rebuild his army and to overthrow Mexican President Victoriano Huerta. By year’s end, Villa would have control of the state of Chihuahua, which served as his base for anti-government raids.


    Pancho Villa (3rd from right)

  • The tercentenary of the reign of the Romanov dynasty was celebrated across the Russian Empire, although on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia and 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar used in the rest of the world, the date was February 21. Tsar Nicholas II, the last of the dynasty, would be deposed less than five years later.

Contrary to the tone of faux confidence of the Anglo-American press, Victoriano Huerta faced increasing armed opposition to the stabilization of his rule.  Venustiano Carranza had immediately begun to organize a resistance to the Huerta-Diaz coup from his base in Coahuila state in North Mexico.  Carranza was joined by the arrival of Pancho Villa in Chihuahua state from the United States, to where he had fled in 1912 to escape execution by Huerta when he was at the head of the Federal armies under the Madero presidency.  Here Villa was to reorganize the famous Division del Norte, at its maximum consisting of up to 50,000 soldiers.  Despite their alliance,  Carranza and Villa came from completely different social origins:  Carranza was the son of wealthy ranchers from Coahuila state, politically a liberal of the Francisco Madero type, and would be the key force behind the Constitution of 1917.  Villa, from Durango state, was the son of peones de hacienda,  essentially a post-feudal sharecropping economic institution that could also include mining and ranching operations.  Many were owned by the Catholic Church, explaining the hostility to the Church in the Revolution.  The hacienda system was legally abolished in 1917.  Villa’s army led the expropriation of land for redistribution to  peasants, going beyond the liberalism of Madero and Carranza at that time.


Taft’s Mexico Policy Ends in a Bloodbath

  • U.S. Secretary of State Philander Knox proclaimed that the Sixteenth Amendment had been ratified by the necessary three-fourths of the states, officially making a federal income tax part of the Constitution.

The Huerta coup in Mexico has become, as the English say, “Bollocksed”, with the double murder of the President and

English: Francisco I Madero arriving on the fi...

English: Francisco I Madero arriving on the first day of the Decena Tragica Febrary 1913 author unknown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vice-President, Francisco Madero and Pino Suárez.  This was a huge public international embarrassment for United States foreign policy, producing expressions of shock and disgust throughout the “civilized” world, however much these expressions were hypocritically and racially projected upon the Mexicans themselves.

It is now a matter of historical fact, based on the record of official telegraph communications between the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City and Washington D.C., that Taft’s U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Henry Lane Wilson, had been up to his neck in a direct conspiracy with both Huerta and Diaz to “peacefully” remove Madero and his Cabinet.  The fly in the ointment proved to be the “dreamer” Madero’s insistence on carrying out the duties of the executive office that he had been democratically elected to and had sworn an oath to defend.  This act of resistance prompted much angst in the embassies of the “civilized” states of Western Europe and the U.S., who showed their respect for “democracy and the rule of law” by incongruously blaming Madero for the bloodshed and demanding that he resign in the face of a lawless armed coup, acting as if the Ambassadors of the U.S., Britain, France and (interestingly enough) Germany were the true electors of Mexico rather than the Mexican people themselves.

Decena_trágicaAs the Wikipedia article on La Decena Tragica puts it, on the 18th of February “Félix Díaz, the leader of the mutiny, Victoriano Huerta, the commander of Madero’s forces, and the American Ambassador, spent the next three hours in conference in the smoking room of the American embassy, framing up a plan for a new government to succeed that of the betrayed and imprisoned President Madero. Díaz pressed his claims for the presidential office, on the grounds that he had fought the battle. But Huerta’s claims were stronger, for in truth, if he had not turned, the revolt could not have succeeded. (At this time, also, Huerta had command of more troops than Díaz.) Three times they were on the verge of parting in anger, said Ambassador Wilson, but his labors kept them together and they finally worked out what was represented as a compromise: Huerta would become the “Provisional President,” but would call for an election in October and support Díaz for the permanent presidency. A cabinet was agreed on, Ambassador Wilson taking a leading part in this matter. The Ambassador approved the appointment of Enrique Zepeda as Governor of the Federal District, and stipulated for the release of Madero’s ministers. Ambassador Wilson made no stipulation concerning the President and the Vice President”.

One should not wonder too much why the outgoing U.S. President Howard Taft and his Ambassador would want to back a coup in Mexico right before the incoming President, Woodrow Wilson, assumed office; the presentation of fait accomplis to the next President as problems to be handled has been de rigueur for quite some time in the U.S. system, continuing up to this day, as with the 2008 TARP swindle handed off by Hank Paulson to Barak Obama – with Obama’s full support, of course – at the end of the Bush Presidency.


Fall of Madero, Ships Set Sail by Night

  • U.S. President Taft assured Mexican President Madero that the U.S. had no plans to intervene in the Mexican Revolution other than to protect U.S. citizens

    Francisco I. Madero, former Mexican president ...

    Francisco I. Madero, former Mexican president (front row, with papers in his pocket) with rebel leaders. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • After fighting against the rebels, federal troops in Mexico arrested President Francisco I. Madero and Vice-President José Pino Suárez. General Aureliano Blanquet ordered his soldiers to enter the palace and arrest the President and his cabinet. The President and Vice-President both resigned at 10:24 pm, and Foreign Minister Pedro Lascuráin, second in line for succession, became the interim President. When the Mexican Congress confirmed General Victoriano Huerta as the new leader, President Lascuráin resigned at 11:20 pm, having served for 56 minutes.
  • Raymond Poincaré was inaugurated as President of France.
  • Born: Artur Axmann, German leader of the Hitler Youth from 1940 to 1945, in Hagen, Germany
  • Gustavo A. Madero, brother of the deposed President, was executed on orders of General Félix Díaz. Gustavo was “subjected to the ‘fugitive law'”, where prisoners were released and given a chance to flee while guns were fired at them



Street Battles in Mexico City

Official photograph of the victors of the Batt...

Official photograph of the victors of the Battle of Ciudad Juárez. Madero is seated in center, Orozco on the far right, and Villa is standing on the far left. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As promised, clips for the first time from the New York Times on the Mexican Revolution, after sorting out some technical problems.  Judging from the tone of its reportage, it is apparent that Madero had committed the crime of defending the constitution of Mexico with armed force.  The Orozquistas (Colorados) and their leader, Pascual Orozco, whose family were Basques from Chihuahua involved in mining in the north of Mexico, adjoining Texas and New Mexico, were beginning their realignment with the forces of Victoriano Huerta.  Orozco together with Pancho Villa had been instrumental in the downfall of the Diaz dictatorship in 1910, however Madero had appointed  Venustiano Carranza, a wealthy landowner like Madero to be Ministerio de Guerra rather than Orozco. He also refused to move against the Zapatistas as Madero had commanded.  By March 1912 imagesOrozquistas  were in armed rebellion against the Madero government.  Madero sent Huerta to command a Federal force against the Orozquistas that captured Cuidad Juarez and forced Orozco to take refuge in the U.S. where he spent some months in Los Angeles with relatives.  Orozco was able to return to Mexico in exchange for support for Huerta’s Presidency.

  • Mary Harris Jones, the 83 year old labor activist remembered as “Mother Jones“, was arrested in Charleston, West Virginia after leading a group of miners to confront Governor Transported to an area of Charleston that was under martial law because of confrontations between striking coal miners and company police, Jones would be tried by a military court in March, on charges of conspiracy to commit murder. Convicted on the charges, she would be sentenced to three years imprisonment, but released by the new Governor after 85 days.
  • Outgoing U.S. President Taft vetoed the Burnett-Dillingham Immigration Bill, that would have turned away immigrant heads of families who were unable to pass a literacy test. The veto would survive an attempt at an override; a historian would note later that, “Following his conscience and the advice of Charles Nagel, [Taft] defended his long-standing belief that immigration was an economic boon to the country and that Southern and Eastern Europeans could asimilate as readily as Northern and Western Europeans… Taft left the gates of America open for many immigrants as he left the White House.”
  • Born: Jimmy Hoffa, American Teamsters Union leader, in Brazil, Indiana (disappeared 1975)


The “Bandit” Zapata

Español: Emiliano Zapata

Español: Emiliano Zapata (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Count Gombei Yamamoto became the new Premier of Japan. The new premier, 60 years old, was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, one of the Class of ’77.
  • Turkey requested the Great Powers to intervene to end the Balkan War.

The events of the Decena Tragica in Mexico hold center stage for the time being despite the renewal of hostilities in the


Morelos (Photo credit: alexmontjohn)

Balkans.  For this purpose, “real time” clippings from the New York Times will be introduced for the first time. As expected the NYT slant differs little from that of the Times of London, although a difference in a certain coarseness of language can be noticed between the two sides of the North Atlantic.  Thus for example we are immediately introduced to the “Morelos bandit”, even “murderous bandit” (this being the aforementioned American twist), Emiliano Zapata.   The general sense of is of contempt for the “vain dreamer” Francisco Madero, and irritation at the fact that Madero at least mounted a military defense of the Presidency and Constitution, as this was seen as only extending the crisis of the “inevitable” transition to the brother of the deposed dictator Porfirio Diaz, Félix Díaz together with his military allies, Bernardo Reyes and Victoriano Huerta.  Said the NYT, “Mexico required ‘strong central government'”.

The NYT has the advantage in bringing a close-up of the battle in Mexico City as it unfolds.  We also see more details of an extensive military mobilization of ships and troops, in preparation for a possible military intervention, undertaken by the outgoing Taft Administration.

Needless to say, the “revolutionists” described herein are actually the counterrevolutionaries seeking to restore some part of the status quo ante.