Today in history: the Mexican Revolution begins

When Francisco I. Madero called for an uprising against dictatorial Mexican president Porfirio Diaz on November 20, 1910, he triggered a revolution in Mexico that would last until 1920. To understand the situation that led up to this event, it’s helpful to take a look at Patrick McNamara’s book Sons of the Sierra: Juarez, Diaz, and the People of Ixtlan, Oaxaca, 1855-1920.

McNamara explores events in the Oaxaca district of Ixtlan, where Zapotec Indians supported the liberal cause and sought to exercise influence over statewide and national politics in the era following Mexico’s war with the United States in 1847. There were actually two Mexican presidents who had direct ties to Ixtlán district: Benito Juarez, who served as Mexico’s liberal president from 1858 to 1872, was born in the district, and Porfirio Diaz, president from 1876 to 1911, had led a National Guard battalion made up of Zapotec soldiers throughout the years of civil war. In Sons of the Sierra, McNamara examines the political culture of Diaz’s presidency and explores how Diaz, who became increasingly dictatorial over the course of his time in office, managed to stay in power for as long as he did.