Venustiano Carranza Biography

Venustiano Carranza, a prominent leader of the Mexican Revolution, played a crucial role in the Mexican Civil War and served as the president of Mexico. Known as the “Primer Jefe” of the Constitutionalists, Carranza initially became the governor of Coahuila under Francisco I. Madero’s administration. Following Madero’s assassination in 1913, Carranza devised the Plan de Guadalupe to overthrow Victoriano Huerta. However, his relationship with fellow revolutionaries Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa deteriorated, leading Carranza to suppress them later on. From 1915 to 1917, he held the position of head of state in Mexico and was elected as the president after the declaration of the new Mexican constitution in 1917. Despite his intentions to replace himself with Ignacio Bonillas, Carranza faced a rebellion led by Álvaro Obregón under the Plan of Agua Prieta. Tragically, Carranza met his demise while en route to Mexico City.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: José Venustiano Carranza de la Garza
  • Died At Age: 60
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Virginia Salinas (m. 1882)
    • Father: Jesús Carranza Neira
    • Mother: María de Jesús Garza
    • Siblings: Jesús Sebastian Carranza
    • Children: Jesús Carranza Hernández, Leopoldo Carranza Salinas, Rafael Carranza Hernández, Venustiano Carranza Hernández, Virginia Carranza
  • Born Country: Mexico
  • Presidents
  • Political Leaders
  • Height: 6’4″ (193 cm), 6’4″ Males
  • Died on: May 21, 1920
  • Place of death: Tlaxcalantongo
  • Cause of Death: Assassination

Childhood & Early Life

Venustiano Carranza was born José Venustiano Carranza de la Garza on December 29, 1859, in Cuatro Ciénegas, a town in the state of Coahuila, Mexico. He was born into an upper middle-class ranching family, with his father, Jesús, being a rancher and mule driver. Jesús also fought in wars and was associated with Benito Juárez. Carranza was the 11th of 15 children and received his education at the Liberal school ‘Ateneo Fuente’ and the ‘Escuela Nacional Preparatoria’ in Mexico City.

Association with Madero

After completing his studies, Carranza returned to Coahuila to work on his farm due to an eye disease that prevented him from becoming a doctor. His family’s wealth helped him become the mayor of his hometown in 1887. In 1893, Carranza joined a revolt against a corrupt governor and became acquainted with Bernardo Reyes, a close friend of Porfirio Díaz. Carranza climbed the political ladder and became a congressman and then a senator. He eventually joined Francisco I. Madero’s movement and became the minister of war in Madero’s cabinet.

Rebellion against Huerta

After Madero was overthrown and assassinated by Victoriano Huerta, Carranza launched a rebellion against Huerta’s government. He formed the ‘Plan de Guadalupe’ and became the “Primer Jefe” (“First Chief”) of the ‘Constitutionalist Army’. Carranza fought against Huerta’s forces and eventually marched into Mexico City.

As the President of Mexico

After Huerta’s fall, Carranza formed a government and declared himself the head. He passed new laws and minted money. However, he clashed with his previous associates Villa and Zapata. Carranza faced political unrest and opposition, but he officially became the constitutional president of Mexico in May 1917. Despite expectations of significant reform, Carranza did not bring about many changes.

Clash with Obregón

Obregón, who wished to run for president, became Carranza’s opponent. Carranza launched a campaign against Obregón, but his forces were eventually defeated. Carranza was forced to retreat and was later attacked and killed in May 1920.

Family & Personal Life

Carranza was married to Virginia Salinas Balmaceda and had two daughters and a son with her. He later married Ernestina Hernández and had four sons. Carranza was often referred to as “the billy goat” by his enemies due to his long beard.

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