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December 6, 2014

Pancho Villa

The Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa was born in 1878, in San Juan del Rio, Durango. After his father's death when Villa was only 15 years old, he became the head of the household. He shot a man who was harassing one of his sisters in 1894 and fled, spending six years on the lam in the remote mountains. While there, he fell in with the wrong crowd as they say, and he joined a group of fugitives and became a bandit. Details are sparse concerning what occurred in Villa's life during this time, but it is known that he worked as a miner in Chihuahua in addition to selling stolen cattle. But the aspiring bandit soon added more serious crimes to his dossier. In 1910, Pancho Villa joined Francisco's Madero successful rebellion against Mexican dictator Porfirio Díaz. It wasn't smooth sailing under the new government, as Madero's position as leader was challenged by yet another rebellion, and the new rebels ordered Villa's execution. Villa avoided the executioner, but did time in prison.

After a daring escape, Villa teamed up with a former ally, to overthrow the new president. As an experienced revolutionary leader, Villa controlled much of northern Mexico military forces. Most of Villa's battles were on the northern border of Mexico and brought the revolutionary into the spotlight. Villa became quite well-known in the States. Villa loved the attention and signed a contract with a film company to have several of his battles filmed. The U.S. initially supported Villa as Carranza rose to power in 1914. Well, guess what? A rebellion broke out yet again, with Villa joining forces supported by Woodrow Wilson to overthrow Carranza. Carranza strategically made a move towards democracy and Wilson withdrew his support of Villa the following year. This led to Villa kidnapping and killing 18 Americans in January of 1916. Only months later, Villa led several rebels in a raid of Columbus, New Mexico, where they ravaged the small town and killed 19 more people.

Wilson retaliated by sending General Black Jack Pershing to Mexico in order to capture Villa. Two hunts for Villa failed to produce any results.

In 1920, Carranza was assassinated and a senor named De la Huerta became the president of Mexico. In an effort to restore peace to the unstable nation, De la Huerta negotiated with Villa for his cessation of hostilities. Villa agreed and retired as a revolutionary in 1920. As with most revolutionaries, it didn’t end well for Villa. He was assassinated three years later on July 20, 1923, in Parral, Mexico when the car he was riding in was riddled with bullets. Villa has since gone on to become a folk hero among many.