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When and how did the Mexican Revolution end?

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The exact date that the Mexican Revolution ended is hard to pin down.  The fighting did not end abruptly.  Rather, it sort of petered out long after the winning side in the Revolution had created the Constitution of 1917 and set up a new government.

The Mexican Revolution began as a way to try to oust the government of Porfirio Diaz, who had held autocratic power over the country for roughly 35 years when the Revolution started in 1910.  There were many different revolutionary leaders and the revolutionary movement was not always united.  This can be seen in the fact that, although Diaz was overthrown in 1911, the fighting did not end for years.  After Diaz left office, Francisco Madero took over.  He ruled only briefly and was ousted in a coup and then murdered in early 1913.  Victoriano Huerta became the next president, only to be overthrown himself in 1914.  At that point, Venustiano Carranza became president. 

The fighting did not stop after Carranza took power.  Instead, other would-be leaders like Emiliano Zapata and Francisco “Pancho” Villa continued to vie for power.  As time went by, Carranza’s military wore down the forces of the other leaders.  This led to the creation of the Constitution of 1917, which was something of a consensus between the leaders.  Some people say that the Revolution ended with the creation of the Constitution.

Others place the ending of the Revolution in 1920.  This was the year in which Villa officially stopped fighting and gave up his attempt to gain leadership of the country.  While some violence continued for years, this was the end of major military conflict.

So, we can say that the Mexican Revolution ended in either 1917 or 1920.  It ended with the installation of a new government under the Constitution of 1917.  This government  would rule Mexico as a virtual one-party state until Vicente Fox won the election of 2000.

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How did the Mexican Revolution end?  

The Mexican Revolution did not end in a “clean” way; that is, there was no clear end to the revolution, like a final battle or the signing of a peace treaty. Instead, the revolution sort of sputtered to an end. Historians do not all agree as to when the revolution ended. Let us look at two answers they might give:

First, we could say that the revolution ended in 1920. It was at this point that the main violence of the revolution ended. 1920 was the year in which the last revolution-related assassination or execution of a president occurred. In 1920, Venustiano Carranza was president. He lost support and ended up being assassinated. He was eventually replaced by Alvaro Obregon, who served a full term as president. In a sense, you could say Carranza's and Obregon's election marked the end of the revolution.

We could also say the revolution did not end until 1934, when Lazaro Cardenas became president of Mexico. He was the first truly reformist president to come to power after the revolution. He instituted many of the reforms that the revolution was supposed to address. He was also, in a sense, a founder of the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) that ruled Mexico until the election of 2000. This can be seen as the end of the revolution, as there was no real organized violence after this year and because Cardenas’s rise to power marked the beginning of the time when the government was really working towards the revolution's goals.

We can say, then, that the revolution ended either with the death of Carranza or when Cardenas became president.

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