The earliest evidence of human inhabitants of modern day Chihuahua was discovered in the area of Samalayuca and
Rancho Colorado. Clovis points have been found in northeastern Chihuahua that have been dated from 12,000 BC to 7000 BC. It is thought that these inhabitants were hunter gatherers. Inhabitants of the state later developed farming with the domestication of corn. An archeological site in northern Chihuahua known as Cerro Juanaqueña revealed squash cultivation, irrigation techniques, and ceramic artifacts dating to around 2000 BC.
Between AD 300 and 1300 in the northern part of the state along the wide, fertile valley on the San Miguel River the Casas Grandes (Big Houses) culture developed into an advanced civilization. The Casas Grandes civilization is part of a major prehistoric archaeological culture known as Mogollon which is related to the Ancestral Pueblo culture. Paquimé was the center of the Casas Grandes civilization. Extensive archaeological evidence shows commerce, agriculture, and hunting at Paquimé and Cuarenta Casas (Forty Houses).
La Cueva De Las Ventanas (The Cave of Windows), a series of cliff dwellings along an important trade route, and Las Jarillas Cave scrambled along the canyons of the Sierra Madre in Northwestern Chihuahua date between AD 1205 and 1260 and belong to the Paquimé culture. Cuarenta Casas is thought to have been a branch settlement from Paquimé to protect the trade route from attack. Archaeologists believe the civilization began to decline during the 13th century and by the 15th century the inhabitants of Paquimé sought refuge in the Sierra Madre Occidental while others are thought to have emigrated north and joined the Ancestral Pueblo peoples. According to anthropologist current natives tribes (Yaqui, Mayo, Opata, and Tarahumara) are descendants of the Casas Grandes culture.
During the 14th century in the northeastern part of the state nomad tribes by the name of
Jornado hunted bison along the Rio Grande; they left numerous rock paintings throughout the northeastern part of the state. When the Spanish explorers reached this area they found their descendants, Suma and Manso tribes. In the southern part of the state, in a region known as Aridoamerica, Chichimeca people survived by hunting, gathering, and farming between AD 300 and 1300. The Chichimeca are the ancestors of the Tepehuan people.
Nueva Vizcaya (New Biscay) was the first province of northern New Spain to be explored and settled by the Spanish. Around 1528, a group of Spaniard explorers, led by Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, first entered the territory of what is now Chihuahua. The conquest of the territory lasted nearly one century and encountered fierce resistance from the
Conchos tribe, but the desire of the Spanish Crown to transform the region into a bustling mining center led to a strong strategy to control the area.
In 1562 Francisco de Ibarra headed a personal expedition in search of the mythical cities of Cibola and Quivira; he traveled through the present-day state of Chihuahua. Francisco de Ibarra is thought to have been the first European to see the ruins of Paquimé. In 1564
Rodrigo de Río de Loza, a lieutenant under Francisco de Ibarra, stayed behind after the expedition and found gold at the foot of the mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental; he founded the first Spanish city in the region, Santa Barbara in 1567 by bringing 400 European families to the settlement. A few years later in 1569 Franciscan missionaries led by Fray Agustín Rodríguez from the coast of Sinaloa and the state of Durango founded the first mission in the state in Valle de San Bartolomé (present-day Valle de Allende). Fray Agustín Rodríguez evangelized the native population until 1581. Between 1586 and 1588 an epidemic caused a temporary exodus of the small population in the territory of Nueva Vizcaya.
Santa Bárbara became the launching place for expeditions into New Mexico by Spanish conquistadors like Antonio de Espejo,
Antonio Gutiérrez de Umaña,
Francisco Leyba de Bonilla, and Vicente de Zaldívar. Several expeditions were led to find a shorter route from Santa Barbara to New Mexico. In April 1598, Juan de Oñate found a short route from Santa Barbara to New Mexico which came to be called El Paso del Norte (The Northern Pass). The discovery of El Paso Del Norte was important for the expansion of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (The Inner Land Royal Road) to link Spanish settlements in New Mexico to Mexico City; El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro facilitated transport of settlers and supplies to New Mexico and Camargo.
An 18th century colonial aqueduct built in Chihuahua City
Juan Rangel de Biezma discovered a rich vein of silver and subsequently established San Jose del Parral near the site. Parral remained an important economic and cultural center for the next 300 years. On December 8, 1659 Fray García de San Francisco founded the mission of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Mansos del Paso del Río del Norte and founded the town El Paso Del Norte (present day Ciudad Juárez) in 1667.
The Spanish society that developed in the region replaced the sparse population of indigenous peoples. The absence of servants and workers forged the spirit of northern people as self-dependent, creative people that defended their European heritage. In 1680 settlers from Santa Fe, New Mexico sought refuge in El Paso Del Norte for twelve years after fleeing the attacks from Pueblo tribes, but returned to Santa Fe in 1692 after Diego de Vargas recaptured the city and vicinity. In 1709,
Antonio de Deza y Ulloa founded the state capital Chihuahua City; shortly after, the city became the headquarters for the regional mining offices of the Spanish crown known as 'Real de Minas de San Francisco de Cuéllar' in honor of the Viceroy of New Spain, Francisco Fernández de la Cueva Enríquez, Duke of Alburquerque and the Marquee of Cuéllar.
Mexican War of Independence
During the Napoleonic Occupation of Spain, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest of progressive ideas, declared Mexican independence in the small town of Dolores, Guanajuato on September 16, 1810 with a proclamation known as the "Grito de Dolores". Hidalgo built a large support among intellectuals, liberal priests and many poor people. Hidalgo fought to protect the rights of the poor and indigenous population. He started on a march to the capital, Mexico City, but retreated back north when faced with the elite of the royal forces at the outskirts of the capital. He established a liberal government from Guadalajara, Jalisco but was soon forced to flee north by the royal forces that recaptured the city. Hidalgo attempted to reach the United States and gain American support for Mexican independence. Hidalgo reached Saltillo, Coahuila where he publicly resigned his military post and rejected a pardon offered by Viceroy Francisco Venegas in return for Hidalgo's surrender. A short time later, he and his supporters were captured by royalist Ignacio Elizondo at the Wells of Baján (Norias de Baján) on March 21, 1811 and taken to the city of Chihuahua. Hidalgo forced the Bishop of Valladolid, Manuel Abad y Queipo, to rescind the excommunication order he had circulated against him on September 24, 1810. Later, the Inquisition issued an excommunication edict on October 13, 1810 condemning Miguel Hidalgo as a seditionary, apostate, and heretic.
Hidalgo was turned over to the Bishop of Durango, Francisco Gabriel de Olivares, for an official defrocking and excommunication on July 27, 1811. He was then found guilty of treason by a military court and executed by firing squad on July 30 at 7 in the morning. Before his execution, he thanked his jailers, Private Soldiers Ortega and Melchor, in letters for their humane treatment. At his execution, Hidalgo placed his right hand over his heart to show the riflemen where they should aim. He also refused the use of a blindfold. His body, along with the bodies of Allende, Aldama and José Mariano Jiménez were decapitated, and the heads were put on display on the four corners of the Alhóndiga de Granaditas in Guanajuato. The heads remained there for ten years until the end of the Mexican War of Independence to serve as a warning to other insurgents. Hidalgo's headless body was first displayed outside the prison but then buried in the Church of St Francis in Chihuahua. Those remains would later be transferred in 1824 to Mexico City.
El Templo de San Francisco
Hidalgo's death resulted in a political vacuum on the insurgent side until 1812. The royalist military commander, General Felix Calleja, continued to pursue rebel troops. Insurgent fighting evolved into guerrilla warfare, and eventually the next major insurgent leader, Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon, who had led rebel movements with Hidalgo, became head of the insurgents.
Hidalgo is hailed as the Father of the Nation even though it was Agustin de Iturbide and not Hidalgo who achieved Mexican Independence in 1821. Shortly after gaining independence, the day to celebrate it varied between September 16, the day of Hidalgo's Grito, and September 27, the day Iturbide rode into Mexico City to end the war. Later, political movements would favor the more liberal Hidalgo over the conservative Iturbide, so that eventually September 16, 1810 became the officially recognized day of Mexican independence. The reason for this is that Hidalgo is considered to be "precursor and creator of the rest of the heroes of the (Mexican War of) Independence." Hidalgo has become an icon for Mexicans who resist tyranny in the country. Diego Rivera painted Hidalgo's image in half a dozen murals. José Clemente Orozco depicted him with a flaming torch of liberty and considered the painting among his best work. David Alfaro Siqueiros was commissioned by San Nicolas University in Morelia to paint a mural for a celebration commemorating the 200th anniversary of Hidalgo's birth. The town of his parish was renamed Dolores Hidalgo in his honor and the state of Hidalgo was created in 1869. Every year on the night of September 15–16, the president of Mexico re-enacts the Grito from the balcony of the National Palace. This scene is repeated by the heads of cities and towns all over Mexico. The remains of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla lie in the column of the Angel of Independence in Mexico City. Next to it is a lamp lit to represent the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for Mexican Independence.
In the constituent legislature or convention, the conservative and liberal elements formed using the nicknames of Chirrines and Cuchas. The military entered as a third party. The elections for the first regular legislature were disputed, and it was not until May 1, 1826, that the body was installed. The liberals gained control and the opposition responded by fomenting a conspiracy. This was promptly stopped with the aid of informers, and more strenuous measures were taken against the conservatives. Extra powers were conferred on the Durango governor, Santiago Baca Ortiz, deputy to the first national congress, and leader of the liberal party.
Opponents continued to plot against the new government. In March 1827, Lieutenant J.M. González proclaimed himself comandante general, arrested the governor, and dissolved the legislature. General Parras was sent to suppress the movement. Comandante general J. J. Ayestarán was replaced by José Figueroa. When elections failed, the government intervened in favor of the Yorkino party, which had elected Vicente Guerrero to the presidency.
Because of the general instability of the federal government during 1828, the installation of the new legislature did not take place until the middle of the following year. It was quickly dissolved by Governor
Santiago de Baca Ortiz, who replaced it with a more pronounced Yorkino type. When Guerrero's liberal administration was overthrown in December, Gaspar de Ochoa aligned with Anastasio Bustamante, and in February 1830, organized an opposition group that arrested the new governor, F. Elorriaga, along with other prominent Yorkinos. He then summoned the legislature, which had been dissolved by Baca. The civil and military authorities were now headed by J. A. Pescador and
The general features of the preceding occurrence applied also to Chihuahua, although in a modified form. The first person elected under the new constitution of 1825 was
Simón Elías Gonzalez, who being in Sonora, was induced to remain there.
José Antonio Arcé took his place as ruler in Chihuahua. In 1829, González became general commander of Chihuahua, when his term of office on the west coast expired. Arcé was less of a yorkino than his confrere of Durango. Although unable to resist the popular demand for the expulsion of the Spaniards, he soon quarreled with the legislature, which declared itself firmly for Guerrero, and announcing his support of Bustamante's revolution, he suspended, in March 1830, eight members of that body, the vice-governor, and several other officials, and expelled them from the state. The course thus outlined was followed by Governor
José Isidro Madero, who succeeded in 1830, associated with
J. J. Calvo as general commander, stringent laws being issued against secret societies, which were supposed to be the main spring to the anti-clerical feeling among liberals.
Durango and Bustamante
The anti-clerical feeling was widespread, and Durango supported the initial reaction against the government at Mexico. In May 1832, José Urrea, a rising officer, supported the restoration of President Pedraza. On July 20, Governor Elorriaga was reinstated, and Baca along with the legislative minority were brought back to form a new legislature, which met on September 1. Chihuahua showed no desire to imitate the revolutionary movement and Urrea prepared to invade the state. Comandante-general J.J.Calvo threatened to retaliate, and a conflict seemed imminent. The entry of General Santa Anna into Mexico brought calm, as the leaders waited for clarity.
Bishop José Antonio Laureano de Zubiría of Durango was banished for resisting the law relating to priests and other encroachments on the church; another joined the western states in a short lived coalition for sustaining the federal system. Chihuahua adopted the Plan of Cuernavaca in July 1834 while President Valentín Gómez Farías was in power. Because the plan was not enforced, commanding officer, Colonel
J.I. Gutiérrez, declared the term of the legislature and governor expired on September 3.
At a convention of citizens called to select a new provisional ruler, Gutierrez obtained the vote, with
P. J. Escalante for his deputy, and a council to guide the administration. Santa Anna ordered the reinstatement of Mendarozqueta as comandante general. Gutiérrez yielded, but Escalante refused to surrender office, demonstrations of support ensued, but Escalante yielded when troops were summoned from Zacatecas. A new election brought a new legislature, and conforming governors. In September 1835 José Urrea a federalist army officer came into power.
Comandante general Simón Elías González, was nominated governor and military command was given to Colonel J.J. Calvo, whose firmness had earned well-merited praise. The state was in the midst of a war with the Apaches, which became the focus of all their energy and resources. After a review of the situation, Simón Elías González declared that the interests of the territory would be best served by uniting the civil and military power, at least while the campaign lasted. He resigned under opposition, but was renominated in 1837.
The state seemed at relative calm compared to the rest of the country due to its close ties to the United States until 1841. In 1843 the possibility of war was anticipated by the state government and it began to reinforce the defense lines along the political boundary with Texas. Supplies of weapons were sent to fully equip the military and steps were taken to improve efficiency at the presidios. Later, the Regimen for the Defenders of the Border were organized by the state which were made up of: light cavalry, four squads of two brigades, and a small force of 14 men and 42 officials at the price of 160,603 pesos per year. During the beginning of the 1840s, private citizens took it upon themselves to stop the commercial caravans of supplies from the United States, but being so far away from the large suppliers in central Mexico the caravan was allowed to continue in March 1844. Continuing to anticipate a war, the state legislature on July 11, 1846 by decree enlisted 6,000 men to serve along the border; during that time
Ángel Trías quickly rose to power by portraying zealous anti-American rhetoric. Trías took the opportunity to dedicate important state resources to gain economic concessions from the people and loans from many municipalities in preparation to defend the state; he used all the money he received to equip and organize a large volunteer militia. Ángel Trías took measures for state self-dependence in regards to state militia due to the diminishing financial support from the federal government.
The United States Congress declared war on Mexico on May 13, 1846 after only having a few hours to debate. Although President José Mariano Paredes's issuance of a manifesto on May 23 is sometimes considered the declaration of war, Mexico officially declared war by Congress on July 7. After the American invasion of New Mexico, Chihuahua sent 12,000 men led by Colonel Vidal to the border to stop the American military advance into the state. The Mexican forces being impatient to confront the American forces passed beyond El Paso del Norte about 20 miles (32 km) north along the Rio Grande. The first battle that Chihuahua fought was the battle of El Bracito; the Mexican forces consisting of 500 cavalry and 70 infantry confronted a force of 1,100–1,200 Americans on December 25, 1846. The battle ended badly by the Mexican forces that were then forced to retreat back into the state of Chihuahua. By December 27, 1846, the American forces occupied El Paso Del Norte. General Doniphan maintained camp in El Paso Del Norte awaiting supplies and artillery which he received in February 1847.
On February 8, 1847, Doniphan continued his march with 924 men mostly from Missouri; he accompanied a train of 315 wagons of a large commercial caravan heading to the state capital. Meanwhile, the Mexican forces in the state had time to prepare a defense against the Americans. About 20 miles (32 km) north of the capital where two mountain ranges join from east to west is the only pass into the capital; known as Sacramento Pass, this point is now part of present-day Chihuahua City. The Battle of Sacramento was the most important battle fought in the state of Chihuahua because it was the sole defense for the state capital. The battle ended quickly because of some devastating defensive errors from the Mexican forces and the ingenious strategic moves by the American forces. After their loss at the Battle of Sacramento, the remaining Mexican soldiers retreated south, leaving the city to American occupation. Almost 300 Mexicans were killed in the battle, as well as almost 300 wounded. The Americans also confiscated large amounts of Mexican supplies and took 400 Mexican soldiers prisoners of war. American forces maintained an occupation of the state capital for the rest of the Mexican–American War.
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed on February 2, 1848, by American diplomat Nicholas Trist and Mexican plenipotentiary representatives Luis G. Cuevas, Bernardo Couto, and Miguel Atristain, ended the war, gave the U.S. undisputed control of Texas, and established the U.S.–Mexican border of the Rio Grande. As news of peace negotiations reached the state, new call to arms began to flare among the people of the state. But as the Mexican officials in Chihuahua heard that General Price was heading back to Mexico with a large force comprising several companies of infantry and three companies of cavalry and one division of light artillery from Santa Fe on February 8, 1848, Ángel Trías sent a message to Sacramento Pass to ask for succession of the area as they understood the war had concluded. General Price, misunderstanding this as a deception by the Mexican forces, continued to advance towards the state capital. On March 16, 1848 Price began negotiations with Ángel Trías, but the Mexican leader responded with an ultimatum to General Price. The American forces engaged with the Mexican forces near Santa Cruz de los Rosales on March 16, 1848. The Battle of Santa Cruz de los Rosales was the last battle of the Mexican–American War and it occurred after the peace treaty was signed. The American forces maintained control over the state capital for three months after the confirmation of the peace treaty. The American presence served to delay the possible succession of the state which had been discussed at the end of 1847, and the state remained under United States occupation until May 22, 1848.
During the American occupation of the state, the number of Indian attacks was drastically reduced, but in 1848 the attacks resumed to such a degree that the Mexican officials had no choice but to resume military projects to protect Mexican settlements in the state. Through the next three decades the state faced constant attacks from indigenous on Mexican settlements. After the occupation the people of the state were worried about the potential attack from the hostile indigenous tribes north of the Rio Grande; as a result a decree on July 19, 1848, the state established 18 military colonies along the Rio Grande. The new military colonies were to replace the presidios as population centers to prevent future invasions by indigenous tribes; these policies remained prominent in the state until 1883. Eventually the state replaced the old state security with a state policy to form militias organized with every Mexican in the state capable to serve between the ages of 18 and 55 to fulfill the mandate of having six men defending for every 1000 residents.
, a large area that was claimed by the state of Chihuahua.
The frontier counties of the state along the border with the United States expected federal protection from the federal government under Herrera and Arista, but were soon disappointed by the federal government's decision to deploy military forces to other areas of the country due to internal challenges in the state of Jalisco.
Ángel Trías led a rebellion to successfully depose the unpopular conservative Governor Cordero at the end of 1852.
Despite the efforts of strong political forces led by Ángel Trías in the state could not stop President Santa Anna from selling La Mesilla as part of the Gadsden Purchase on December 30, 1853 for 15 million USD. It was then ratified in the United States on April 25, 1854 and signed by President Franklin Pierce, with final approval action taken by Mexico on June 8, 1854. The citizens of the area held strong anti-American sentiments and raided American settlers and travelers across the area.
The Reform War and the French Intervention
The state united behind the Plan of Ayutla and ratified the new constitution in 1855. The state was able to survive through the Reform War with minimal damage due to the large number of liberal political figures. The 1858 conservative movement did not succeed in the state even after the successful military campaign of the conservative Zuloaga with 1,000 men occupied the cities of Chihuahua and Parral. In August 1859, Zuloaga and his forces were defeated by the liberal Orozco and his forces; Orozco soon after deposed the state governor, but had to flee to Durango two months later. In the late 1860s the conservative General
Cajen briefly entered the state after his campaign through the state of Jalisco and helped establish conservative politicians and ran out the liberal leaders Jesús González Ortega and
José María Patoni. Cajen took possession of the state capital and established himself as governor; he brooked no delay in uniting a large force to combat the liberal forces which he defeated in La Batalla del Gallo. Cajen attained several advantages over the liberals within the state, but soon lost his standing due to a strong resurgence of the liberal forces within the state. The successful liberal leaders
José María Patoni of Durango and
J.E. Muñoz of Chihuahua quickly strengthened their standing by limiting the political rights of the clergy implementing the presidential decree. The state elected General Luis Terrazas, a liberal leader, as governor; he would continue to fight small battles within the state to suppress conservative uprisings during 1861.
Museo Casa Juárez
, a 19th-century building in downtown Chihuahua city, that served as the de facto
National Palace of Mexico.
In consequence to the Reform War, the federal government was bankrupt and could not pay its foreign debts to Spain, England, and France. On July 17, 1861, President Juárez decreed a moratorium on payment to foreign debtors for a period of two years. Spain, England, and France did not accept the moratorium by Mexico; they united at the Convention of the Triple Alliance on October 31, 1861 in which they agreed to take possession of several custom stations within Mexico as payment. A delegation of the Triple Alliance arrived in Veracruz in December 1861. President Juárez immediately sent his Foreign Affairs Minister, Manuel Doblado, who is able to reduce the debts through the
Pacto de Soledad (Soledad Pact). General Juan Prim of Spain persuaded the English delegation to accept the terms of the Pacto de Soledad, but the French delegation refused.
The liberal political forces maintained strong control over the state government until shortly after the French Intervention which turned the tables in favor to the conservative forces once again. The intervention had serious repercussions for the state of Chihuahua. President Juárez, in an effort to organize a strong defense against the French, decreed a list of national guard units that every state had to contribute to the Ministry of War and the Navy; Chihuahua was responsible for inducting 2,000 men. Regaining power, Governor Luis Terrazas assigned the First Battalion of Chihuahua for integration into the national army led by General Jesús González Ortega; the battalion was deployed to Puebla. After the defeat of the army in Puebla, the Juárez administration was forced to abandon Mexico City; the president retreated further north seeking refuge in the state of Chihuahua.
Under threat from the conservative forces, Governor Terrazas was deposed, and the state legislature proclaimed martial law in the state in April 1864 and established
Jesús José Casavantes as the new governor. In response,
José María Patoni decided to march to Chihuahua with presidential support. Meanwhile, Maximilian von Habsburg, a younger brother of the Emperor of Austria, was proclaimed Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico on April 10, 1864 with the backing of Napoleon III and a group of Mexican conservatives. Before President Benito Juárez was forced to flee, Congress granted him an emergency extension of his presidency, which would go into effect in 1865 when his term expired, and last until 1867. At the same time, the state liberals and conservatives compromised to allow the popular
Ángel Trías take the governorship; by this time the French forces had taken control over the central portions of the country and were making preparations to invade the northern states.
Overview of military actions
The French forces tried to subdue and capture the liberal government based in Saltillo. On September 21, 1864, José María Patoni and Jesús González Ortega lost against the French forces at the Battle of Estanzuelas; the supreme government led by President Juárez was forced to evacuate the city of Saltillo and relocate to Chihuahua. Juárez stopped in Ciudad Jiménez, Valle de Allende, and Hidalgo de Parral, in turn. He decreed Parral the capital of Mexico from October 2–5, 1864. Perceiving the threat from the advancing French forces, the president continued his evacuation through Santa Rosalía de Camargo, Santa Cruz de Rosales, and finally Chihuahua, Chihuahua. On October 12, 1864, the people of the state gave President Juárez an overwhelmingly supportive reception, led by Governor Ángel Trías. On October 15, 1864 the city of Chihuahua was declared the temporary capital of Mexico.
After running imperial military affairs in the states of Coahuila and Durango, General Agustín Enrique Brincourt made preparations to invade the state of Chihuahua. On July 8, 1865 Brincourt crossed the Nazas River in northern Durango, heading toward Chihuahua. On July 22 Brincourt crossed the banks of Río Florido into Ciudad Jiménez; one day later he arrived at Valle de Allende where he sent Colonel Pyot with a garrison to take control of Hidalgo del Parral. Brincourt continued through Santa Rosalia de Camargo and Santa Cruz de Rosales. President Juárez remained in the state capital until August 5, 1865 when he left for El Paso del Norte (present-day Ciudad Juárez) due to evidence that the French were to attack the city. On the same day, the President named General
Manuel Ojinaga the new governor and placed him in charge of all the republican forces. Meanwhile, General Villagran surprised the imperial forces in control of Hidalgo de Parral; after a short two-hour battle, Colonel Pyot was defeated and forced to retreat. At the Battle of Parral, the French lost 55 men to the Republican forces. On August 13, 1865, the French forces with an estimated 2,500 men arrived at the outskirts of Chihuahua City, and on August 15, 1865, General Brincourt defeated the republican forces, taking control of the state capital. Brincourt designated
Tomás Zuloaga as Prefect of Chihuahua. Fearing the French would continue their campaign to El Paso del Norte, President Juárez relocated to El Carrizal, a secluded place in the mountains near El Paso del Norte, in August 1865, . It would have been easy for the French forces to continue in pursuit of President Juárez across the border, but they feared altercations with American forces. General François Achille Bazaine ordered the French troops to retreat back to the state of Durango after only reaching a point one days travel north of Chihuahua City. General Brincourt asked for 1,000 men to be left behind to help maintain control over the state, but his request was denied. After the death of General Ojinaga, the Republican government declared General Villagran in charge of the fight against the Imperial forces. The French left the state on October 29, 1865. President Juárez returned to Chihuahua City on November 20, 1865 and remained in the city until December 9, 1865 when he returned to El Paso del Norte. Shortly after the president left Chihuahua City, Terrazas was restored as governor of the state on December 11, 1865.
Maximilian was deeply dissatisfied with General Bazaine's decision to abandon the state capital of Chihuahua and immediately ordered
Agustín B. Billaut to recapture the city. On December 11, 1865, Billaut with a force of 500 men took control of the city. By January 31, 1866 Billaut was ordered to leave Chihuahua, but he left behind 500 men to maintain control. At the zenith of their power, the imperialist forces controlled all but four states in Mexico; the only states to maintain strong opposition to the French were: Guerrero, Chihuahua, Sonora, and Baja California.
President Juárez once again based his government in the state of Chihuahua and it served as the center for the resistance against the French invasion throughout Mexico. On March 25, 1866, a battle ensued in the Plaza de Armas in the center of Chihuahua City between the French imperial forces that were guarding the plaza and the Republican forces led by General Terrazas. Being completely caught off guard, the French imperial forces sought refuge by bunkering themselves in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Our Lady of Regla, and St Fancis of Assisi and made it almost impossible to penetrate their defenses. General Terrazas then decided to fire a heavy artillery barrage with 8 kg cannonballs. The first cannon fired hit a bell in the tower of the church, instantly breaking it in half; soon after, 200 men of the imperial army forces surrendered. The republican forces had recovered control over the state capital. The bell in the church was declared a historical monument and can be seen today in the Cathedral. By April 1866, the state government had established a vital trading route from Chihuahua City to San Antonio, Texas; the government began to replenish their supplies and reinforce their fight against the Imperial forces.
General Aguirre moved to the deserts of the southeastern portion of the state and defeated the French forces in Parral, led by Colonel Cottret. By the middle of 1866, the state of Chihuahua was declared free of enemy control; Parral was the last French stronghold within the state. On June 17, 1866, President Juárez arrived in Chihuahua City and remained in the capital until December 10, 1866. During his two years in the state of Chihuahua, President Juárez passed ordinances regarding the rights of adjudication of property and nationalized the property of the clergy. The distance of the French forces and their allies allowed the Ministry of War, led by General Negrete, to reorganize the state's national guard into the Patriotic Battalion of Chihuahua, which was deployed to fight in the battle of Matamoros, Tamaulipas against the French. After a series of major defeats and an escalating threat from Prussia, France began pulling troops out of Mexico in late 1866. Disillusioned with the liberal political views of Maximilian, the Mexican conservatives abandoned him, and in 1867 the last of the Emperor's forces were defeated. Maximilian was sentenced to death by a military court; despite national and international pleas for amnesty, Juárez refused to commute the sentence. Maximilian was executed by firing squad on June 19, 1867.
Monument to Benito Juárez in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua
President Benito Juárez was re-elected in the general election of 1867 in which he received strong liberal support, especially in Chihuahua. Luis Terrazas was confirmed by the people of Chihuahua to be governor of the state. But soon after the election, President Juárez had another crisis on his hands; the Juárez administration was suspected to be involved in the assassination of the military chief José María Patoni executed by General Canto in August 1868. General Canto turned himself over to Donato Guerra. Canto was sentenced to death, but later his sentence changed to 10 years imprisonment. The sense of injustice gave rise to a new rebellion in 1869 that threatened the federal government. In response, the Juárez administration took drastic measures by temporarily suspending constitutional rights, but the governor of Chihuahua did not support this action. Hostilities continued to increase especially after the election of 1871 which was perceived to be fraudulent. A new popular leader arose among the rebels, Porfirio Díaz. The federal government was successful in quelling rebellions in Durango an Chihuahua. On July 18, 1872, President Juárez died from a heart attack; soon after, many of his supporters ceased the fighting. Peace returned to Chihuahua and the new government was led by Governor Antonio Ochoa (formerly a co-owner of the Batopilas silver mines) in 1873 after Luis Terrazas finished his term in 1872.
But the peace in the state did not last long, the elections of 1875 caused new hostilities. Ángel Trías led a new movement against the government in June 1875 and maintained control over the government until September 18, 1875 when Donato Guerra the orchestrator of the Revolution of the North was captured. Donato Guerra was assassinated in a suburb of Chihuahua City where he was incarcerated for conspiring with Ángel Trías. During October 1875 several locations were controlled by rebel forces, but the government finally regained control on November 25, 1875.
Porfirio Díaz in military uniform
After the death of the president Benito Juárez in 1872, the first magistracy of the country was occupied by the vice-president Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada, who called for new elections. Two candidates were registered; Lerdo de Tejada and General Porfirio Díaz, one of the heroes of the Battle of Puebla which had taken place on May 5, 1862. Lerdeo de Tejada won the election, but lost popularity after he announced his intent to run for re-election. On March 21, 1876, Don Porfirio Díaz rebelled against President Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada. The Plan of Tuxtepec defended the "No Re-election" principle. On June 2, 1876 the garrisons in the state of Chihuahua surrendered to the authority of General Porfirio Díaz; Governor
Antonio Ochoa was arrested until all the Lerdista forces were suppressed throughout the state. Porfirio Díaz then helped Tíras regain the governorship of the state of Chihuahua allowing for the Plan of Tuxtepec to be implemented. The victory of the Plan of Tuxtepec, gave the interim presidency to Jose Maria Iglesias and later, as the only candidate, the General Porfirio Díaz assumed the presidency on May 5, 1877.
During the first years of the Porfiriato (Porfirio Díaz Era), the Díaz administration had to combat several attacks from the Lerdista forces and the Apache. A new rebellion led by the Lerdista party was orchestrated from exile in the United States. The Lerdista forces were able to temporarily occupy the city of El Paso del Norte until mid-1877. During 1877 the northern parts of the state suffered through a spell of extreme drought which were responsible for many deaths in El Paso del Norte.
Palacio de Alvarado is the house of
Pedro Alvarado Torres, one of the richest silver barons of Mexico during the Porfiriato.
The officials in Mexico City reduced the price of corn from six cents to two cents a pound. The northern portion of the state continued to decline economically which led to another revolt led by G. Casavantes in August 1879; Governor Trías was accused of misappropriation of funds and inefficient administration of the state. Casavantes took the state capital and occupied it briefly; he was also successful in forcing Governor Trías to exile. Shortly afterwards, the federal government sent an entourage led by Treviño; Casavantes was immediately ordered to resign his position. Casavantes declared political victory as he was able to publicly accuse and depose Governor Trías. At the same time the states of Durango and Coahuila had a military confrontation over territorial claims and water rights; this altercation between the state required additional federal troops to stabilize the area. Later a dispute ensued again among the states of Coahuila, Durango, and Chihuahua over the mountain range area known as Sierra Mojada, when large deposits of gold ore was discovered. The state of Chihuahua officially submitted a declaration of protest in May 1880 that shortly after was amicably settled. Despite the difficulties at the beginning, Díaz was able to secure and stabilize the state, which earned the confidence and support of the people.
During the 1880s, the Díaz administration consolidated several government agencies throughout Mexico to control credit and currency by the creation of the Institution of Credit and Currency. Because Díaz had created such an effective centralized government, he was able to concentrate decision making and maintain control over the economic instability.
The City Hall of Chihuahua is an example of the neoclassical architecture that was erected during the presidency of Porfirio Díaz.
The Díaz administration made political decisions and took legal measures that allowed the elite throughout Mexico to concentrate the nation's wealth by favoring monopolies. During this time, two-fifths of the state's territory was divided among 17 rich families which owned practically all of the arable land in Chihuahua. The state economy grew at a rapid pace during the Porfiriato; the economy in Chihuahua was dominated by agriculture and mining. The Díaz administration helped Governor Luis Terrazas by funding the Municipal Public Library in Chihuahua City and passing a federal initiative for the construction of the railroad from Chihuahua City to Ciudad Júarez. By 1881, the Central Mexican Railroad was completed which connected Mexico City to Ciudad Juárez. In 1883 telephone lines were installed throughout the state, allowing communication between Chihuahua City and Aldama. By 1888 the telephone services were extended from the capital to the cities of Julimes, Meoqui, and Hidalgo del Parral; the telecommunication network in the state covered an estimated 3,500 kilometers. The need of laborers to construct the extensive infrastructure projects resulted in a significant Asian immigration, mostly from China. Asian immigrants soon become integral to the state economy by opening restaurants, small grocery stores, and hotels. By the end of the Terrazas term, the state experienced an increase in commerce, mining, and banking. When the banks were nationalized, Chihuahua became the most important banking state in Mexico.
Under Governor Miguel Ahumada, the education system in the state was unified and brought under tighter control by the state government, and the metric system was standardized throughout the state to replace the colonial system of weights and measures. On September 16, 1897, the Civilian Hospital of Chihuahua was inaugurated in Chihuahua City and became known among the best in the country. In 1901 the Heroes Theater (Teatro de los Héroes) opened in Chihuahua City. On August 18, 1904, Governor Terrazas was replaced by Governor Enrique C. Creel. From 1907 to 1911, the Creel administration succeeded in advancing the state's legal system, modernizing the mining industry, and raising public education standards. In 1908 the Chihuahuan State Penitentiary was built, and the construction on the first large scale dam project was initiated on the Chuviscar River. During the same time, the streets of Chihuahua City were paved and numerous monuments were built in Chihuahua City and Ciudad Juárez.
The government palace built during the early 20th century now a museum.
Díaz created an effective centralized government that helped concentrate wealth and political power among the elite upper class, mostly criollo. The economy was characterized by the construction of factories, roads, dams, and better farms. The Díaz administration passed new land laws that virtually unraveled all the rights previously recognized and the land reforms passed by President Benito Juárez. No peasant or farmer could claim the land he occupied without formal legal title.
Quinta Carolina is an hacienda owned by the Terrazas family.
A handful of families owned large estates (known as haciendas) and controlled the greater part of the land across the state while the vast majority of Chihuahuans were landless. The state economy was largely defined by ranching and mining. At the expense of the working class, the Díaz administration promoted economic growth by encouraging investment from foreign companies from the United Kingdom, France, Imperial Germany and the United States. The proletariat was often exploited, and found no legal protection or political recourse to redress injustices.
Despite the internal stability (known as the paz porfiriana), modernization, and economic growth in Mexico during the Porfiriato from 1876 to 1910, many across the state became deeply dissatisfied with the political system. When Díaz first ran for office, he committed to a strict “No Re-election” policy in which he disqualified himself to serve consecutive terms. Eventually backtracking on many of his initial political positions Díaz became a de facto dictator. Díaz became increasingly unpopular due to brutal suppression of political dissidents by using the Rurales and manipulating the elections to solidify his political machine. The working class was frustrated with the Díaz regime due to the corruption of the political system that had increased the inequality between the rich and poor. The peasants felt disenfranchised by the policies that promoted the unfair distribution of land where 95% of the land was owned by the top 5%.
The end of the Porfiriato came in 1910 with the beginning of the Mexican Revolution. Díaz had stated that Mexico was ready for democracy and he would step down to allow other candidates to compete for the presidency, but Díaz decided to run again in 1910 for the last time against Francisco I. Madero. During the campaign Díaz incarcerated Madero on election day in 1910. Díaz was announced the winner of the election by a landslide, triggering the revolution. Madero supporter Toribio Ortega took up arms with a group of followers at Cuchillo Parado, Chihuahua on November 10, 1910.
In response to Madero's letter to action, Pascual Orozco (a wealthy mining baron) and Chihuahua Governor Abraham González formed a powerful military union in the north, taking military control of several northern Mexican cities with other revolutionary leaders, including Pancho Villa. Against Madero's wishes, Orozco and Villa fought for and won Ciudad Juárez. After militias loyal to Madero defeated the Mexican federal army, on May 21, 1911, Madero signed the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez with Díaz. It required that Díaz abdicate his rule and be replaced by Madero. Insisting on a new election, Madero won overwhelmingly in late 1911, and he established a liberal democracy and received support from the United States and popular leaders such as Orozco and Villa. Orozco eventually became disappointed with the Madero's government and led a rebellion against him. He organized his own army, called "Orozquistas"—also called the Colorados ("Red Flaggers")—after Madero refused to agree to social reforms calling for better working hours, pay and conditions. The rural working class, which had supported Madero, now took up arms against him in support of Orozco.
In March 1912, in Chihuahua, Gen. Pascual Orozco revolted. Immediately President Francisco Madero commanded Gen. Victoriano Huerta of the Federal Army, to put down the Orozco revolt. The governor of Chihuahua mobilized the state militia led by Colonel Pancho Villa to supplement General Huerta. By June, Villa notified Huerta that the Orozco revolt had been put down and that the militia would consider themselves no longer under Huerta's command and would depart. Huerta became furious and ordered that Villa be executed. Raúl Madero, Madero's brother, intervened to save Villa's life. Jailed in Mexico City, Villa fled to the United States. Madero's time as leader was short-lived, ended by a coup d'état in 1913 led by Gen. Victoriano Huerta; Orozco sided with Huerta, and Huerta made him one of his generals.
On March 26, 1913, Venustiano Carranza issued the Plan de Guadalupe, which refused to recognize Huerta as president and called for war between the two factions. Soon after the assassination of President Madero, Carranza returned to Mexico to fight Huerta, but with only a handful of comrades. However, by 1913 his forces had swelled into an army of thousands, called the División del Norte (Northern Division). Villa and his army, along with Emiliano Zapata and Álvaro Obregón, united with Carranza to fight against Huerta. In March 1914 Carranza traveled to Ciudad Juárez, which served as rebellion's capital for the remainder of the struggle with Huerta. In April 1914 U.S. opposition to Huerta had reached its peak, blockading the regime's ability to resupply from abroad. Carranza trying to keep his nationalistic credentials threatened war with the United States. In his spontaneous response to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson Carranza asked "that the president withdraw American troops from Mexico.”
The situation became so tense that war with the United States seemed imminent. On April 22, 1914, on the initiative of Felix A. Sommerfeld and Sherburne Hopkins, Pancho Villa traveled to Juárez to calm fears along the border and asked President Wilson's emissary
George Carothers to tell "Señor Wilson" that he had no problems with the American occupation of Veracruz. Carothers wrote to Secretary William Jennings Bryan: "As far as he was concerned we could keep Vera Cruz [sic] and hold it so tight that not even water could get in to Huerta and . . . he could not feel any resentment". Whether trying to please the U.S. government or through the diplomatic efforts of Sommerfeld and Carothers, or maybe as a result of both, Villa stepped out from under Carranza’s stated foreign policy.
Bronze statue of Villa in Chihuahua, Chihuahua
The uneasy alliance of Carranza, Obregón, Villa, and Zapata eventually led the rebels to victory. The fight against Huerta formally ended on August 15, 1914, when Álvaro Obregón signed a number of treaties in Teoloyucan in which the last of Huerta's forces surrendered to him and recognized the constitutional government. On August 20, 1914, Carranza made a triumphal entry into Mexico City. Carranza (supported by Obregón) was now the strongest candidate to fill the power vacuum and set himself up as head of the new government. This government successfully printed money, passed laws, etc.
Villa and Carranza had different political goals causing Villa to become an enemy of Carranza. After Carranza took control in 1914, Villa and other revolutionaries who opposed him met at what was called the Convention of Aguascalientes. The convention deposed Carranza in favor of Eulalio Gutiérrez. In the winter of 1914 Villa's and Zapata's troops entered and occupied Mexico City. Villa was forced from the city in early 1915 and attacked the forces of Gen. Obregón at the Battle of Celaya and was badly defeated in the bloodiest battle of the revolution, with thousands dead. With the defeat of Villa, Carranza seized power. A short time later the United States recognized Carranza as president of Mexico. Even though Villa's forces were badly depleted by his loss at Celaya, he continued his fight against the Carranza government. Finally, in 1920, Obregón—who had defeated him at Celaya—finally reached an agreement with Villa end his rebellion.
Public opinion pressured the U.S. government to bring Villa to justice for the raid on Columbus, New Mexico; U.S. President Wilson sent Gen. John J. Pershing and some 5,000 troops into Mexico in an unsuccessful attempt to capture Villa. It was known as the Punitive Expedition. After nearly a year of pursuing Villa, American forces returned to the United States. The American intervention had been limited to the western sierras of Chihuahua. Villa had the advantage of intimately knowing the inhospitable terrain of the Sonoran Desert and the almost impassable Sierra Madre mountains and always managed to stay one step ahead of his pursuers. In 1923 Villa was assassinated by a group of seven gunmen who ambushed him while he was sitting in the back seat of his car in Parral.
On February 6, 2010, former Governor José Reyes Baeza proposed to move the three State Powers (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial) from Chihuahua to Ciudad Juárez in order to face the insecurity problems in Ciudad Juárez, but that request was rejected by the State Legislature on February 12.