U.S. Intervention in the Mexican Revolution: A Mistake Fueled by the Need for Imperialism


U.S. Intervention in the Mexican Revolution:

A Mistake Fueled by the Need for Imperialism

The Mexican Revolution, a time of political mayhem in the early 1900’s, affected not only Mexico, but the U.S. as well. The U.S. in the 1900’s sought to have economic control over Latin America, and in some cases, political control too. Mexico was one example of how our imperialist attitudes came into play, and ultimately led to the U.S. having less political, social, and economic control over Mexico than it did before the revolution. Imperialism and an imperialist attitude are when a country attempts to control all political, social, and economic aspects of another country, generally one that is weaker (Merriam-Webster Online). In the Mexican Revolution, the United States government decided to interfere in order to maintain the control they had over Mexico. The U.S. first got involved in the revolution when General Victoriano Huerta came into power. President Wilson did not like Huerta’s government, so he refused to recognize it, and instead looked for an opportunity to act against Huerta. In April of 1914, a few of Huerta’s policemen arrested a group of Americans in Tampico, Mexico. They were quickly released, but Wilson jumped on the opportunity, and sent Marines to occupy one of Mexico’s important ports, Veracruz. The second time that the U.S. decided to intervene in Mexico’s revolution was in 1916 after two Mexican rebels, Francisco Villa and Emiliano Zapata, shot a group of American engineers in the U.S (Military History Online). Overall, the U.S.’s involvement in the Mexican Revolution was a mistake fueled by our government’s imperialist attitude.

A part of imperialism is controlling the other country’s economy. In early 20th century Mexico, most of the oil wells, mines, railroads, and ranches were owned by Americans. There were some wealthy Mexicans, but they were typically only the politicians, some landowners, and foreign investors (Military History Online). Basically, Mexico’s economy was dependent on those American’s that owned large shares of the things that brought Mexico the most money. Besides Mexico’s reliance on the American’s who owned so much of their main aspects of their economy, they also relied on their exports. After the incident in Tampico, Wilson sent in troops causing the death of multiple people from both sides, as well as threatened a blockade and to remain occupied in Veracruz, which would’ve delivered a blow to their economy. This just goes to show how much the U.S. affected the outcome of the Mexican Revolution. If Wilson had not invaded during the incident at Tampico, then Huerta would’ve remained in power, and the rest of the revolution would’ve carried on without interruption from neighboring countries. Although Tampico wasn’t the last time that the U.S. invaded Mexico during their revolution, it became clear after the incident that the U.S. was only in involved because they wanted to remain in control of Mexico’s economy, a very imperialist reason.

The U.S. sought to control some political aspects of Mexico, as well as their economy. When Wilson refused to acknowledge the Huerta government, it ultimately led to the U.S. invading Mexico during the revolution, thinking it was a justified act by the Roosevelt Corollary. The Roosevelt Corollary was a document that corresponded to the Monroe Doctrine, and stated that the U.S. was able to use force to protect its economic interests in Latin America (World War I and the Jazz Age). Because of this document, Wilson thought that intervening in Mexico’s political affairs was completely justified. The American’s invasion of Veracruz ultimately led to the collapse of the Huerta government, which meant that they had thrown off the course of the revolution. The American government tried to extend their political system through armed intervention, whereas they shouldn’t have intervened in the first place. Once a country’s revolution has begun, it should be able to run its course fully, without other countries interfering. The U.S. defied this and risked gaining an enemy, which they did because later on in the revolution rebels Villa and Zapata had some of their followers kill a group of Americans that were coming to work in Mexico, simply because of their imperialist attitudes and need for political and economic control over a country.

The American’s intervention in the Mexican Revolution was not only to maintain economic and political control, but social control as well. A part of imperialism is having control over all aspects of the other country, so having social control is important as well (Merriam-Webster Online). Before the revolution American’s owned a large share of the mines, railroads, oil wells, and ranches in Mexico, which meant that a smaller portion of those things were owned by wealthy Mexicans. Although there were a few wealthy Mexicans, all of them being politicians, foreign investors, and landowners, most of the people in Mexico were extremely poor (Military History Online). They didn’t have as many opportunities to rise up because the Americans owned and controlled so much of the things that made people rich. The Americans involvement in the Mexican Revolution only caused the common peoples hatred for us to grow, simply because we were not only stealing their opportunities, but oppressing their attempts to rebel against the government we liked in Mexico. Our involvement only caused us to gain more enemies, including the common people of Mexico. During the revolution we stopped at nothing to achieve a government that would cooperate with the standards we had for Mexico, those standards being that we remain in control of many political, social, and economic aspects of their country, even though it was not our country.
The act of controlling all aspects, social, political, and economic, of a country is known as imperialism (Merriam-Webster Online). When the U.S. decided to intervene in Mexico’s political affairs, they did it based on imperialist ideas, and the need to control Latin America. It was wrong for the U.S. to intervene in another country’s political affairs, especially since their only reason for doing so was to remain and imperialist country over Latin America, and Mexico more specifically.


Neeno, Timothy. "The Mexican Revolution and US Intervention 1910-1917." Military History Online. 1 Aug. 2010. Web. 7 Oct. 2010. http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/20thcentury/articles/mexicanrevolution.aspx

Roosevelt, Theodore. "The Roosevelt Corollary." World War I and the Jazz Age. Woodbridge, CT.: Primary Source Microfilm, 1904. CRSN. Gale. Tamalpais High School Library. 14 Oct. 2010

"Imperialism - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary."                          Merriam-Webster Online. Web. 15 Oct. 2010. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/imperialism>.