Mexico: key historical events


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Pancho Villa 1878-1923

Mexican War 1846-48



decolonialisation movements


Click Here for maps of growth of Mexico City from 1700, shrinkage of Lake Texcoco from 1519

Click Here for map of Mexico City 1932 (source, p.59, Great City Maps, ed S Atkinson, Dorling Kindersley, 2016)


19/12/1994, A financial meltdown began in Mexico, unleashing the ‘Tequila Crisis’ on world markets.  The Clinton administration bailed out Mexico with US$50,000 billion.

22/4/1992, Gas leaked into sewers in Guadalajara, Mexico, then exploded, killing 230.

19/11/1984, An explosion at the PEMEX chemical plant at Ecatepec, Mexico, killed 540.

27/12/1951, Ernesto Zedillo, President of Mexico, was born.

7/7/1946, M|iguel Aleman, a civilian, was elected as President of Mexico. This led to closer ties between the US and Mexico.

1938, PEMEX, Petroleos Mexicanos, was created by President Lazaro Cardenas. He seized the assets of foreign (mainly British) companies to create PEMEX, the companies being compensated in Mexican Government Bonds, after they failed to implement a Mexican wage agreement. PEMEX was virtually autonomous within Mexico until the 1982 Debt Crisis.

2/3/1937, Mexico nationalised the oil industry.

2/7/1934, Lazaro Cardenas was elected President of Mexico.

17/7/1928, Alvaro Obregon, newly-elected President of Mexico, was assassinated before taking office. Congress appointed Emilio Portes Gil as successor.

27/9/1924, Following Mexican elections, Plutarcho Calles became President of Mexico. He took office on 1/12/1924.

10/7/1923, Francisco ‘Pancho’ Villa, Mexican revolutionary leader, born 1878, son of a farm worker, was shot dead. His killers were members of the Herrera family, four of whom Pancho had executed during the Revolution.

1/12/1920, Alvaro Obregon became President of Mexico, bringing stability after a decade of civil conflict.

5/9/1920, Alvaro Obregon was elected President of Mexico; he took office on 1/12/1920.

21/5/1920, Venustiano Carranza, President of Mexico, was assassinated; in response the USA suspended diplomatic relations. Adolfo de la Huerta became provisional President.

16/1/1916, Supporters of  Pancho Villa in Mexico killed 16 US citizens near Chihuahua.

2/7/1915, Porfirio Díaz, 29th President of Mexico (born 1830) died.

13/6/1914, Pancho Villa defeated President Huerta’s troops at Zacatecas.

2/1/1914, The Battle of Ojinaga. An estimated 1,000 casualties were reported as the battle moved into its second day, with Pancho Villa’s troops under the command of Gen. Toribio Ortega Ramírez slowly gaining against defending Federal troops in Ojinaga, Mexico in spite of constant artillery bombardment. Many Federal troops deserted and crossed the U.S. border into Presidio, Texas where the United States Army assisted the Red Cross in setting up a mobile hospital to treat wounded while at the same time disarming and turning away hundreds of others.

15/11/1913, In Mexico, rebel leader Pancho Villa took Ciudad Juarez.

3/11/1913, The US demanded the removal of General Huerta from Mexico.

23/2/1913, Madero, the deposed President of Mexico, was assassinated.

18/2/1913, In Mexico the army commander, Victoriano Huerta, joined rebel soldiers and forced President Madero to resign. Huerta declared himself President; civil war broke out, and the US refused to recognise Huerta.

3/3/1912, Mexican General Pascual Orozco, who had helped Francisco I. Madero win the revolution of 1911 and become President of Mexico, declared a revolt against the Madero government after having been denied a major role. Orozco and his followers, the "Orozquistas", then assisted Victoriano Huerta in overthrowing Madero.

6/11/1911, Madero made himself President of Mexico.                                                                         

25/5/1911, The Mexican dictator Portofirio Diaz was ousted after 45 years rule.

11/5/1911, The Mexican rebel Francisco Madero established a new capital at Ciudad Juarez.

8/8/1879, Emiliano Zapata, Mexican revolutionary, was born.

5/6/1878, Pancho Villa, Mexican revolutionary, was born.

19/6/1867, Emperor Maximillian of Mexico was executed by firing squad, despite international appeals for clemency. Born in Vienna, brother of Emperor Francis Joseph and Archduke of Austria, he became Emperor of Mexico in 1864, following France’s invasion of Mexico in 1862. Mexicans opposed his rule, and further resentment arose from Maximillian’s lavish lifestyle, and the corruption and inefficiency of his regime. In October 1866 he fled Mexico, intending to abdicate, but was persuaded to return, then arrested and court-martialled.

21/6/1867, Santa Anna, Mexican leader, died.

15/5/1867, Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico, surrendered to Juarez’s forces.

11/1/1867, Mexican President Benito Juarez returned to Mexico City following the defeat of French forces.

12/2/1866. Invoking the Monroe Doctrine, the USA called for the withdrawal of French troops from Mexico. Maximilian, having failed to secure recognition of his regime from the US, now sought help from Napoleon III and the Pope, but his cause was hopeless.

12/6/1864, Maximilian arrived in Mexico City. French troops helped him drive Juarez’s forces over the border into the USA.

10/4/1864, Maximillian, an Austrian archduke, was made Emperor of Mexico.

7/6/1863, French forces occupied Mexico City.

5/5/1862. A French army was defeated at Puebla, Mexico. Napoleon III of France had maintained a military presence in Mexico after the withdrawal of Spanish and British troops, and had hoped to establish a Mexican Empire for France.

8/4/1862, British and Spanish troops were withdrawn from Mexico as it became clear that Napoleon III intended to set up a French Catholic Empire there.

1848, The Republic of Yucatan, which had maintained independence from the rest of Mexico since 1841, rejoined the country – but not before considering following Texas in seceding from Mexico and joining the USA>

2/2/1848. Mexico finally collapsed after nearly 2 years of war with the USA, in which 13,000 US soldiers were killed. Under the Treaty of Hidalgo, signed at Vera Cruz, Mexico surrendered Texas, New Mexico, and California for a payment of US$15million. The size of the USA was thus increased by nearly a third. The Mexicans feared US occupation of their own country and had no money left to fund the war.

14/9/1847. US troops stormed and captured Mexico City, ending the US war with Mexico. With US forces capturing Texas, New Mexico and California, Mexico lost a third of its territory.

18/4/1847, US troops under General Winfield Scott defeated Mexican forces under Santa Anna at Cerro Gordo.

See also USA for Mexican War 1846-48

23/2/1847, US forces under General Zachary Taylor defeated the Mexicans under Santa Anna at Buena Vista. The US had ambitions to occupy the entire North American continent (the Manifest Destiny), including possibly Mexico itself. The US had taken what is now New Mexico and California (Upper California to Mexico).

7/1846, Santa Anna became President of Mexico again, in a revolution against Paredes. Paredes was suspected of wanting to import a foreign, European, monarch to make Mexico a Kingdom. Then, he hoped, the European powers would join to crush back the resurgent USA.

9/5/1846, Battle of Resaca de la Palma. Mexico was heavily defeated, and withdrew across the Rio Grande.

8/5/1846, Battle of Palo Alto. US General Zachary Taylor defeated a Mexican force of 6,000 soldiers with his 2,000 troops.

13/1/1846, US troops were directed to advance to the Rio Grande, in anticipation of the failure of negotiations with Mexico.

12/1845, General Paredes, backed by the military, overthrew Herrera. Herrera had become despised for his willingness to negotiate with the USA. However Paredes proved to be too autocratic and he soon became unpopular.

8/1845, General Herrera was elected President of Mexico by an overwhelming majority.

29/5/1845, Under an amnesty, Santa Anna was allowed to depart from Mexico for Cuba, with his wife and daughter. A provisional government was established under General Herrera. Mexicans rejoiced in the streets at Anna’s departure.

29/3/1845, The UK and France laid proposals before Mexico, that Texas should become independent but should not seek to ally with any other country; they were concerned about the rapid growth of the US (see 1/3/1845)

28/3/1845. Mexico severed relations with the USA following America’s ratification of the annexation of Texas on 1/3/1845, after an almost unanimous vote in favour by the Texas electorate. On 29./12/1845 Texas became the 28th state of the USA.

4/1/1845, Santa Anna was deposed as President of Mexico in a coup by Paredes. Santa Anna attempted to flee towards the coast but was captured at the village of Jaco, to be arrested and held at Jaco.

1/1844, The Mexican Congress agreed to pay 4 million dollars for President Santa Anna’s effort to reconquer Texas. Santa Anna, however, asked for 10 million dollars, a sum rejected by Congress as they feared it would be wasted on government favouritism and nepotism. Santa Anna then retired from the Presidency to his estate at Manga de Clavo; his friend Don Valentin Canalizo stepped in as interim President.                                      

21/10/1842, The US returned Monterrey to Mexico, Commodore Jones having concluded that the threat to the Californias was untrue.

19/10/1942, Commodore Jones, in the frigate United States, along with Captain Stribling in the Cyane, arrived at Monterrey, Mexico. They demanded the surrender of Monterrey to the US; this was in response to events of 5/9/1842.

7/9/1842, Commodore Jones set sail for Mexico.

5/9/1842, Rear Admiral Thomas, British, set sail from Callao in the Dublin with secret orders. Commodore Jones of the  US believed he was going to Panama to link up with troops from the West Indies to take possession of the Californias, as reported in the Boston media, 19/4/1842.

19/4/1842, The New Orleans Advertiser asserted that Mexico had offered to cede the Californias to England in return for seven million dollars. See 5/9/1842.

25/8/1837. The Government in Washington refused to admit Texas to the Union. The US was anxious to maintain its neutrality in the dispute between Texas and Mexico, and did not want to, therefore, take the step of admitting one of the belligerents to the Union.

20/8/1837, The US President demanded reparations from Mexico for alleged incursions and damages. By 1840 these damages had been quantified by the US at just over US$ 2 million.

2/10/1835, Texan-Americans started their campaign for independence from Mexico by starting an armed rebellion against the government of Antonio de Santa Anna in the town of Gonzales. Americans had settled the area from 1825, when Texas was largely undeveloped and there was little interference from the Mexican Government. However the current administration was changing Mexico from a federation of states into a centralised state.

8/1835, US President Jackson, seeking to ensure the US had a Pacific Coast presence and usage by the US Navy of San Francisco Bay, began to attempt to force Mexico to cede territory east of the Rio Grande, also north of 37 latitude, so as to give California to the US.

1833, The Mexican state of Texas, having been promised a separate constitution in May 1824 if it applied for one, now did apply but was refused by the Mexican Government.

6/7/1832, Emperor Maximillian, Austrian Archduke and Emperor of Mexico, was born in Vienna, the half-brother of Franz Joseph. He was made Emperor of Mexico by the French.

26/6/1832, Mexico began to assert a more authoritarian rule over the US colonists in its territory of Texas. On this day the US colonists rebelled, and captured the Mexican Army fort of Velasco.

6/4/1830, Mexico passed a law forbidding further settlement by immigrants from the US.

4/10/1824, Mexico became a republic.

8/1824, Mexico passed a General Colonisation Law permitting foreign settlement in Coahuila and Texas.

18/2/1823, Permission for the colony in what is now Texas (see 17/1/1821) was withdrawn by Mexico, following the accession of Iturbide.

25/7/1822, Agostin de Turbide was crowned Emperor of Mexico. He wanted to use military force to bring other newly-independent Latin American states into his empire.

27/9/1821, Mexico achieved independence under General Iturbe, who proclaimed himself Emperor as Augustin I.

24/2/1821, Augustin de Iturbide, an officer in the Mexican Army, published his plan for an independent Mexico.

17/1/1821, Mexico granted permission for emigrants from the US east coast to found a colony in what is now Texas. See 18/2/1823.

1819, The US concluded a treaty with Spain substituting the River Sabine (present day boundary between Louisiana and Texas) for the Rio Grande as boundary between them. Spain/Mexico thereby gained the right to govern what is now Texas.

6/11/1813. Jose Maria Morelos proclaimed Mexican independence from Spain at the Congress of Chilpancingo.

16/9/1810, The Mexican Revolution, a campaign for independence from Spain, began.

21/2/1794, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the Mexican revolutionary who freed his country from Spanish rule, was born.

1605, The indigenous population of central Mexico, which had stood at 25 million when Cortez landed, but had shrunk to 6 million in 1550, now stood at just 1 million. New diseases brought in by Europeans to which the indigenous population had no resistance, were mainly to blame. The Europeans saw this decimation as a judgement of God against non-Christians.

2/12/1547, Hernando Cortez, Spanish conqueror of Mexico in 1521, died near Seville.

1480, The last Aztec Emperor, Montezuma II, was born.

1425, Mayan domination of the Guatemala region began.

1469, Axayactl became Aztec ruler, until 1481.

13/3/1325, The founding of Tenochtitlan on a small island in Lake Texcoco by the Mexica empire at the dawn of the day. The Aztec capital became Mexico City in 1521.

29/7/615,  Queen Sal K’uk was succeeded by her son Pacal the Great as ruler of the Maya city state Palenque (Mexico). He began a building program at his capital that produced some of Maya civilization's finest art and architecture.

550, The Toltec people overran the Teotihuacan culture on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.

350. Mayan cities, which emerged around 200 BC, were at the peak of their power.

200 BCE. Urban centres emerged in the Maya region of Mexico. See 350 AD.

1,200 BCE, Olmec rule began in western Mexico. Chavin culture emerged in the Andes.

3,372 BCE, First date in the Mayan calendar.


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