Visual History of the World
The Modern Era
1789 - 1914
In Europe, the revolutionary transformation of the ruling systems
and state structures began with a bang: In 1789 the French
Revolution broke out in Paris, and its motto "Liberte, Egalite,
Fraternite"—Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood—took on an irrepressible
force. A fundamental reorganization of society followed the French
Revolution. The ideas behind the revolution were manifest in
Napoleon's Code Civil, which he imposed on many European nations.
The 19th century also experienced a transformation of society from
another source: The Industrial Revolution established within society
a poorer working class that stood in opposition to the merchant and
trading middle class. The nascent United States was shaken by an
embittered civil war. The economic growth that set in following that
war was accompanied by the development of imperialist endeavors and
its rise to the status of a Great Power.
Liberty Leading the People,
allegory of the 1830 July revolution that deposed the French
with Marianne as the personification of liberty,
contemporary painting by Eugene Delacroix.
When Napoleon occupied the Iberian Peninsula, the Spanish and
Portuguese colonies in Latin America saw the defeat of the European
metropoles as an opportunity for self-determination. In the next two
decades, most of the South American states were able to gain
independence under the leadership of the native Creoles—the descendents
of Spanish colonists. Brazil was the only country to free itself from
its motherland without military battles, however. Civil wars and
internal political struggles shaped events in most of the states of
Latin America for a long time after independence. The political
organization of the states alternated between 1
monarchies, dictatorships, and republics.
Mexico in the 19th Century
Mexico won its fight for independence. Under alternating
monarchies and republics, the gradual liberalization and development of
the economy took place.
In New Spain (Mexico), the demand for independence and
self-determination grew as it did in the rest of Spanish America. In
1810 a village priest, Miguel Hidalgo ó Costilla. called upon the people
to fight the Spaniards. The declaration of independence was proclaimed
in 1813 and a republican constitution decreed. The country did not
officially become independent, however, until the military leader of the
1 Agustin de Iturbide, allied with the leader of the
rebellion, Vicente Guerrero, and proclaimed a monarchy in 1821.
Creole upper class and the higher clergy had joined with Guerrero to
prevent the acceptance of a liberal Spanish constitution.
reigned for a short period as Emperor Agustin I of Mexico, until he was
toppled by 2 Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna in 1823.
A republican and federal constitution was adopted in 1824. and Guadalupe
Victoria was elected president. The young republic was divided by
conflicts between the proponents of a centralized state and those of a
federalist system. Victoria was ousted by Santa Anna in 1833, who long
maintained influence over politics in the country. The United States of
Central America, which included most of the present Central American
countries, seceded from the republic of Mexico in 1838-1839.
After a war against the US, Mexico was forced to cede its territory
north of the Rio Grande in 1848. The US also intervened in its internal
politics, supporting the liberal Benito Juarez against conservatives. As
president, Juarez had plans to develop the country and sought to
default on interest payments to foreign lenders. Upon
hearing this, the countries concerned—Great Britain, Spain, and
France—invaded Mexico City in 1863 and appointed the Austrian archduke
Maximilian as emperor.
reconquered the country and had 3 Maxmilian shot in 1867 under martial
Through a coup d'etat, the liberal General 4
Porfirio Diaz came to power
in 1876 and furthered internal peace and economic development.
1 Agustin de Iturbide, 2 Antonio
Lopez de Santa Anna, 3 Emperor Maximilian, 4 Porfirio Diaz
4 Execution of the Emperor Maximilian, painting by
resentment of the landless peasants exploded in the Mexican Revolution
of 1910 under the leadership of Emiliano Zapata, Francisco Villa, and
Following the revolution's success, Carranza
became president of Mexico and adopted a liberal constitution in 1917.
Emiliano Zapata, Francisco Villa, Venustiano Carranza
The Mexican Revolution
After the reelection of Diaz, a revolution led by politicians broke out
in 1910. Before long, however, this developed into an uprising of the
peasants (campesinos) who had lost property due to Diaz's policies.
In the south they fought under Zapata for the recovery of
their lands; in the north under Villa, they fought for
the independence of small agricultural undertakings.
After a number of conflicts among the leaders, Carranza
defeated the others and installed himself as president. In
office he enacted agrarian reforms.
(1910–20), a long and bloody struggle among several factions in
constantly shifting alliances which resulted ultimately in the end of
the 30-year dictatorship in Mexico and the establishment of a
constitutional republic. The revolution began against a background of
widespread dissatisfaction with the elitist and oligarchical policies of
Porfirio Díaz that favoured wealthy landowners and industrialists. When
Díaz in 1908 said that he welcomed the democratization of Mexican
political life and appeared ambivalent about running for his seventh
reelection as president in 1910, Francisco Madero emerged as the leader
of the Antireeleccionistas and announced his candidacy. Díaz had him
arrested and declared himself winner after a mock election in June, but
Madero, released from prison, published his Plan de San Luis Potosí from
San Antonio, Texas, calling for a revolt on November 20. The revolt was
a failure, but it kindled revolutionary hope in many quarters. In the
north, Pascual Orozco and Pancho Villa mobilized their ragged armies and
began raiding government garrisons. In the south, Emiliano Zapata waged
a bloody campaign against the local caciques (rural political bosses).
In the spring of 1911 the revolutionary forces took Ciudad Juárez,
forced Díaz to resign, and declared Madero president.
Madero’s regime faltered from the start. Zapata turned against him,
angered at his failure to effect the immediate restoration of land to
dispossessed Indians. Orozco, initially a supporter of Madero, was also
dissatisfied with the slow pace of reform under the new government and
led a revolutionary movement in the north. The U.S. government then
turned against Madero as well, fearing that the new president was too
conciliatory to the rebel groups and concerned about the threat that
civil war in Mexico was posing to American business interests there.
Tensions reached a peak when yet another faction of rebel forces, led by
Félix Díaz (the former dictator’s nephew), clashed with federal troops
in Mexico City under the command of Victoriano Huerta. On February 18,
1913, after the ninth day of that melee (known as La Decena Trágica, or
“The Ten Tragic Days”), Huerta and Díaz met in the office of U.S.
Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson and signed the so-called “Pact of the
Embassy,” in which they agreed to conspire against Madero and to install
Huerta as president. Huerta assumed the presidency the following day,
after arresting Madero, who was assassinated a few days later.
Opposition to Huerta’s drunken and despotic rule grew in the north,
and an uneasy alliance was formed between Pancho Villa, Álvaro Obregón,
and Venustiano Carranza, whose Plan de Guadalupe called for Huerta’s
resignation. In the spring and summer of 1914, the rebel forces
converged on Mexico City, forcing Huerta into exile. Carranza declared
himself president on August 20, over Villa’s objections. A state of
anarchy and bloodshed ensued until Villa, Obregón, and Zapata held a
convention at which it was agreed that the rivalry between Villa and
Carranza made order impossible, and they elected Eulalio Gutiérrez
interim president. Villa retained the support of Zapata and backed
Gutiérrez. Obregón, however, re-allied himself with Carranza and routed
Villa in a bloody battle in April 1915 at Celaya. Thereafter, both
Zapata and Villa lost ground, and Villa, blaming his defeat on U.S.
President Woodrow Wilson’s support of Carranza, launched a vendetta
against Americans in Mexico and in U.S. border towns. He executed about
17 U.S. citizens at Santa Isabel in January 1916; and his raid on
Columbus, New Mexico, two months later, which claimed the lives of some
17 Americans, prompted President Woodrow Wilson to order General John J.
Pershing into the Mexican hills in futile pursuit.
Carranza, president again, presided over the writing of the
Constitution of 1917, which conferred dictatorial powers on the
president but gave the government the right to confiscate land from
wealthy landowners, guaranteed workers’ rights, and limited the rights
of the Roman Catholic church. Carranza remained in power by eliminating
those who opposed him (Zapata was assassinated in 1919), but in 1920
opposition reached a climax when he tried to break up a railroad strike
in Sonora. Deserted by virtually all his supporters, including Obregón,
he was killed attempting to flee the capital on May 21. Adolfo de la
Huerta became interim president until Obregón was elected in November.
Many historians regard 1920 as the end of the revolution, but
sporadic violence and clashes between federal troops and various rebel
forces continued until the reformist president, Lázaro Cárdenas, took
office in 1934 and institutionalized the reforms that were fought for
during the revolution and were legitimized in the Constitution of 1917.
+1 Mexican revolutionary
born August 8, 1879, Anenecuilco, Mexico
died April 10, 1919, Morelos
Mexican revolutionary, champion of agrarianism, who fought in guerrilla
actions during and after the Mexican Revolution (1910–20).
Zapata was the son of a mestizo peasant who trained and sold horses. He
was orphaned at the age of 17 and had to look after his brothers and
sisters. In 1897 he was arrested because he took part in a protest by
the peasants of his village against the hacienda that had appropriated
their lands. After obtaining a pardon, he continued agitation among the
peasants, and so he was drafted into the army. He served for six months,
at which point he was discharged to a landowner to train his horses. In
1909 his neighbours elected him president of the board of defense for
their village. After useless negotiations with the landowners, Zapata
and a group of peasants occupied by force the land that had been
appropriated by the haciendas and distributed it among themselves.
Francisco Madero, a landowner of the north, had lost the elections in
1910 to the dictator Porfirio Díaz and had fled to the United States,
where he proclaimed himself president and then reentered Mexico, aided
by many peasant guerrillas. Zapata and his friends decided to support
Madero. In March 1911 Zapata’s tiny force took the city of Cuautla and
closed the road to the capital, Mexico City. A week later Díaz resigned
and left for Europe, appointing a provisional president. Zapata, with
5,000 men, entered Cuernavaca, capital of the state of Morelos.
Madero entered Mexico City in triumph. Zapata met Madero there and
asked him to exert pressure on the provisional president to return the
land to the ejidos (the former Indian communal system of landownership).
Madero insisted on the disarmament of the guerrillas and offered Zapata
a recompense so that he could buy land, an offer that Zapata rejected.
Zapata began to disarm his forces but stopped when the provisional
president sent the army against the guerrillas.
The Plan of Ayala
Madero was elected president in November 1911, and Zapata met with him
again but without success. With the help of a teacher, Otilio Montaño,
Zapata prepared the Plan of Ayala, which declared Madero incapable of
fulfilling the goals of the revolution. The signers renewed the
revolution and promised to appoint a provisional president until there
could be elections. They also vowed to return the stolen land to the
ejidos by expropriating, with payment, a third of the area of the
haciendas; those haciendas that refused to accept this plan would have
their lands expropriated without compensation. Zapata adopted the slogan
“Tierra y Libertad” (“Land and Liberty”).
In the course of his campaigns, Zapata distributed lands taken from
the haciendas, which he frequently burned without compensation. He often
ordered executions and expropriations, and his forces did not always
abide by the laws of war. But underneath his picturesque
appearance—drooping moustache, cold eyes, big sombrero—was a passionate
man with simple ideals that he tried to put into practice. The
Zapatistas avoided battle by adopting guerrilla tactics. They farmed
their land with rifles on their shoulders, went when called to fight,
and returned to their plows at the end of a battle or skirmish.
Sometimes Zapata assembled thousands of men; he paid them by imposing
taxes on the provincial cities and extorting from the rich. Their arms
were captured from federal troops.
When General Victoriano Huerta deposed and assassinated Madero in
February 1913, Zapata and his men arrived at the outskirts of Mexico
City and rejected Huerta’s offer to unite with him. This prevented
Huerta from sending all his troops against the guerrillas of the north,
who, under the direction of a moderate politician, Venustiano Carranza,
had organized the Constitutionalist Army to defeat the new dictator.
Huerta was forced to abandon the country in July 1914.
Zapata knew that Carranza’s Constitutionalists feared him. He
attracted some intellectuals from Mexico City, among them Antonio Díaz
Soto y Gama, who became his theorist and later established an agrarian
party. When Huerta fell, Zapata invited the Constitutionalists to accept
his Plan of Ayala and warned them that he would continue fighting
independently until the plan was put to practical use.
In October 1914 Carranza called an assembly of all the revolutionary
forces. Pancho Villa, who commanded the most important part of the army
of the north, refused to attend the meeting because he considered Mexico
City as enemy ground. The assembly was moved to Aguascalientes, where
both the Villistas and the Zapatistas attended. These two groups
constituted a majority, and the convention agreed to appoint General
Eulalio Gutiérrez as provisional president. Carranza rejected this
decision and marched with his government to Veracruz.
War broke out between the moderates (Carrancistas) and the
revolutionaries (Conventionists). On November 24 Zapata ordered his army
(now called the Liberation Army of the South and numbering 25,000 men)
to occupy Mexico City. The people of the capital watched in astonishment
as the peasants went from door to door humbly asking for food and drink,
instead of assaulting palaces and violating women.
Two weeks later Zapata and Villa met on the outskirts of the capital
and then visited the National Palace. The two leaders promised to fight
together until they put a civilian president in the palace, and Villa
accepted the Plan of Ayala.
Zapata created agrarian commissions to distribute the land; he spent
much time supervising their work to be sure they showed no favouritism
and that the landowners did not corrupt its members. He established a
Rural Loan Bank, the country’s first agricultural credit organization;
he also tried to reorganize the sugar industry of Morelos into
cooperatives. In April 1915 U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s personal
representative in Mexico met with Zapata; Zapata asked that Wilson
receive his delegation, but Wilson had recognized the Carranza
government (the convention’s government under Gutiérrez had dispersed).
Meanwhile, the war continued. Zapata occupied the city of Puebla and
won various battles, advised by some professional soldiers who had
joined his side. In 1917 Carranza’s generals defeated Villa and isolated
Zapata. Carranza then called together a constitutional convention but
did not invite Zapata; the convention approved and passed a constitution
and elected Carranza as president of the republic.
A new U.S. envoy, William Gates, visited Zapata and then published a
series of articles in the United States; he contrasted the order of the
Zapata-controlled zone with the chaos of the constitutional zone and
said that “the true social revolution can be found among the
Zapatistas.” When these articles were read to Zapata, he said, “Now I
can die in peace. Finally they have done us justice.”
Soon afterward General Pablo González, who directed the government
operations against Zapata, had Colonel Jesús Guajardo pretend to want to
join the agrarians and contrive a secret meeting with Zapata at the
hacienda of Chinameca in Morelos. There Zapata was ambushed and shot to
death by Carrancista soldiers. His body was carried to Cuautla and
byname of Francisco Villa, original name Doroteo Arango
born June 5, 1878, Hacienda de Río Grande, San Juan del Río, Mexico
died June 20, 1923, Parral
Mexican revolutionary and guerrilla leader, who fought against the
regimes of both Porfirio Díaz and Victoriano Huerta and after 1914
engaged in civil war and banditry.
Villa was the son of a field labourer and was orphaned at an early
age. In revenge for an assault on his sister, he killed one of the
owners of the estate on which he worked and was afterward forced to flee
to the mountains, where he spent his adolescence as a fugitive.
In 1909 Villa joined Francisco Madero’s uprising against the dictator
of Mexico, Porfirio Díaz. During the rebellion, Villa, who lacked a
formal education but had learned to read and write, displayed his
talents as soldier and organizer. Combined with his intimate knowledge
of the land and the people of northern Mexico, these gifts enabled him
to place at Madero’s disposal a division of trained soldiers under his
command. After the success of the revolution, Villa remained in the
In 1912, during the rebellion of Pascual Orozco, Villa aroused the
suspicion of General Victoriano Huerta, who condemned him to death, but
Madero ordered a stay of execution and sent Villa to prison instead.
Villa escaped from prison in November and fled to the United States.
After Madero’s assassination in 1913, Villa returned to Mexico and
formed a military band of several thousand men that became known as the
famous División del Norte (Division of the North). Combining his force
with that of Venustiano Carranza, Villa revolted against the
increasingly repressive and inefficient dictatorship of Huerta, once
again revealing his military talents by winning several victories. In
December 1913 Villa became governor of the state of Chihuahua and with
Carranza won a decisive victory over Huerta in June 1914. Together they
entered Mexico City as the victorious leaders of a revolution.
Rivalry between Villa and Carranza, however, soon led to a break
between the two, and Villa was forced to flee Mexico City with the
revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata in December 1914. Badly defeated by
Carranza in a series of battles, he and Zapata fled to the mountains of
the north. But in order to demonstrate that Carranza did not control
northern Mexico, Villa executed some 17 U.S. citizens at Santa Isabel in
January 1916 and two months later attacked Columbus, New Mexico, killing
about 17 Americans. President Woodrow Wilson then sent an expedition
under General John J. Pershing to that area, but, because of Villa’s
popularity and intimate acquaintance with the terrain of northern Mexico
and because of the Mexican government’s dislike of Pershing’s presence
on Mexican soil, it proved impossible to capture Villa.
Villa continued his guerrilla activities as long as Carranza remained
in power. After the overthrow of Carranza’s government in 1920, Villa
was granted a pardon and a ranch near Parral, Chihuahua, in return for
agreeing to retire from politics. Three years later he was assassinated
on his ranch.
president of Mexico
born December 29, 1859, Cuatro Ciénegas, Mexico
died May 20/21, 1920, Tlaxcalantongo
a leader in the Mexican civil war following the overthrow of the
dictator Porfirio Díaz. He became the first president of the new Mexican
Republic. A moderate who was tainted by his association with Díaz and
his alliance with newer forces of economic exploitation, Carranza
opposed the sweeping changes that followed the revolution.
The son of a landowner, Carranza became active in local and state
politics in 1877. In 1910, as governor of Coahuila, he joined the
struggle of Francisco Madero against Díaz and in 1913 led the forces
against Victoriano Huerta, who had assassinated Madero. After Huerta
fled in 1914, Carranza’s Constitutionalist Army began to splinter.
Rebels under the leadership of Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata opposed
his provisional government, demanding immediate social reforms. He
secured his position as provisional president, however, when his army,
led by General Alvaro Obregón, defeated the forces of Villa at Celaya in
Carranza favoured political, but not social, reform. Only reluctantly
did he accept the provisions of the 1917 constitution establishing basic
reforms in landownership, control of natural resources, and labour and
social legislation. When he became the constitutional president on May
1, 1917, he did little to effectuate those provisions. His term was
marked by continued difficulties with Villa and Zapata, serious
financial problems, and general social unrest brought on by his
reluctance to institute far-reaching reforms.
Carranza was an ardent nationalist and was involved in serious
controversies with the United States. Earlier (April 1914) he had
opposed the U.S. occupation of Veracruz, even though it was aimed at his
enemy, Huerta; in March 1916 he had prevented the military expedition
led by the U.S. general John J. Pershing from capturing Villa, who had
raided Columbus, New Mexico; and he angered the United States by his
efforts (1918) to bring his country’s oil industry under Mexican
control. He was instrumental in keeping Mexico neutral in World War I.
When Carranza’s term as president was due to end in December 1920, he
attempted to force the election of his chosen successor, Ignacio
Bonillas, despite opposition from his more radical generals. Obregón led
an armed rebellion in April 1920, and Carranza fled the capital. When he
headed for Veracruz with government records and treasure, his train was
attacked. With a few followers, he fled on horseback into the mountains.
On the night of May 20/21 he was betrayed and murdered.
Brazil in the 19th Century
Brazil was the only country of Latin America to gain its
independence peacefully, separating from Portugal in 1822.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Brazil was the place of refuge
for the Portuguese king John VI, under British naval escort, after he
had been expelled by Napoleon.
He made Rio de Janeiro the capital of
the Portuguese kingdom.
Rio was opened to international trade.
Ministries and many other organs of government were established. Rio saw
the construction of hospitals, theaters, libraries, naval and military
academies, and a school of medicine.
After the Congress of Vienna, 5
returned to Europe in 1821 to rule in Lisbon, while his son
6 Pedro I
remained behind as regent.
However, Pedro resisted the plans of
Portugal's parliament to turn Brazil into a colony once again and put
himself at the head of the Brazilian independence movement. This was
influenced by autonomist movements and liberal ideas from all over the
On September 7, 1822, he declared independence on the banks
of the River Iparanga in Sao Paulo and in the same year was crowned
Pedro I, emperor of Brazil.
He was a constitutional monarch. After a
campaign against Portuguese forces, in which a British admiral, Lord
Cochrane, commanded the newly-formed Brazilian fleet, the Portuguese
were forced to evacuate Bahia and in 1825 Portugal recognized Brazil's
After a war with Argentina between 1825 and 1827, Brazil lost the
province north of Rio de La Plata—later Uruguay—in the Peace of
Montevideo in 1828. This external failure, as well as conflicts with the
parliament and the leading social classes, forced Pedro I to abdicate in
Under the liberal government of 7 Pedro II after 1840. the country
John VI, 6 Pedro I, 7 Pedro II
The economy developed well, with a high rate of European
immigration and the growth of 8 coffee fanning, particularly in the south
The biggest internal problem was 9 slavery.
8 Coffee farming in Brazil
9 A slave being whipped in Brazil, by
10 Manuel Deodoro da
influential group of opponents demanded its abolition, Pedro II outlawed
it in 1888, but without compensating the slave owners. He thereby drove
this powerful group into the republican camp.
After an uprising by the
garrison of Rio de Janeiro in 1889, under General 10 Manuel Deodoro da
Fonseca in 1889, Brazil became a republic. Fonseca ensured he was the
In 1891, an assembly decided on a new constitution for the United States
of Brazil. Fonseca was deposed the same year by Floriano Peixotos, and a
series of dictators followed. Up until the First World War. the
territory of Brazil expanded due to treaties made with neighboring
states. During the course of the war, industrialization began as new
markets opened and the country's infrastructure was strengthened.