The Journal of San Diego History
Winter 1999, Volume 45, Number 1
Richard W. Crawford, Editor

by Lawrence D. Taylor

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The military campaign carried out in Baja California during the first half of 1911 by groups of rebels under the direction of Ricardo Flores Magon and the Partido Liberal Mexicano represents one of the most curious and controversial episodes of the Mexican Revolution. Although Mexicans in general now recognize Flores Magon as an important precursor and ideologist of this great upheaval, his overall reputation as a revolutionary leader has been damaged owing to circumstances related to the Liberal offensive in this region.

Several writers, many of them of Mexican nationality, have claimed that the Magonista operations in the peninsula constituted a filibuster project, the object of which was to establish an independent socialist republic in the region. They have also asserted that the rebels were backed by powerful U.S. economic interests which were interested in loosening Mexico’s grip on the peninsula so that it might be later annexed to the U.S.2

A more or less cursory review of the Baja California campaign leaves one with the impression that, as in the case of their previous efforts at rebellion in Mexico, in the years 1906 and 1908, the Magonistas suffered from a more or less chronic shortage of arms and ammunition. This lack of armament was a factor which, together with the almost complete absence of a unified military command on the part of the PLM’s controlling junta or council, as well as recurrent unstable conditions within the fighting forces themselves, ultimately led to the latter’s defeat.

This article aims to explore the failure of the Magonista military effort in this region in the light of the PLM’s financial situation throughout the struggle.

It particularly seeks to determine the nature and the amount of the monetary resources at the party’s disposal, as well as the purposes to which they were dedicated. It also endeavors to examine the question of whether the PLM, or the members of its fighting forces, did indeed attempt, as their detractors insist, to forge links with foreign business interests in an attempt to achieve victory in Mexico.

Financing a new struggle

The Magonista revolutionary movement began in 1905 with the establishment of the Partido Liberal Mexicano and the publication in the following year of a program, which had as its object the overthrow of the Diaz government and the institution in Mexico of a series of moderate economic and social reforms.3 From 1907 to 1911, the PLM gradually transformed itself into a movement with anarchist objectives which sought to effect a thoroughgoing transformation of the Mexican economy and society. The progressive radicalization in the political philosophy of the group of Mexican liberals headed by Ricardo Flores Magon was the product of their years in exile in the U.S., their almost constant persecution at the hands of the Porfirian and U.S. authorities, as well as their contacts in that country with leftist groups — socialists, anarchists and radical labor organizations — which sympathized with their ideas.4

In the very same year of the publication of their program, the PLM initiated a series of revolts in Mexico. The Instrucciones generales (General Instructions) which the rebel junta distributed to the leaders of its focos, or groups, in the various Mexican states declared that the party would attempt to supply them with contraband armament across the border, but that these bands would largely have to live off the lands over which they came into control5 The attacks launched in the last week of September and at the beginning of October 1906 by small Liberal parties against the towns of Jimenez, Coahuila, Camargo, Tamaulipas, Acayucan and other communities in Veracruz, were easily defeated by the Porfirian forces.6 The defeats in each of these areas were due to the lack of recruits, money and weapons, as well as the efficiency with which U.S. detective agencies and police, at the request of the Porfirian government, were able to arrest and jail many of the junta members. Ricardo Flores Magon attributed the defeat principally to a lack of ammunition, which he claimed need not have been the case if only a few of the more wealthy liberals, such as Francisco I. Madero, had contributed money. “Only money is needed,” he declared in a letter written after the campaign to companero Antonio de Pio Araujo, “since there are plenty of people to take up arms.”7 Another series of assaults launched at the end of June and the beginning of July 1908 against the northern towns of Las Vacas and Viesca, Coahuila, and Palomas, Chihuahua, failed for similar reasons. In the case of the 1908 attacks, an additional complication arose from the fact that four of the principal junta members — Ricardo Flores Magon, Antonio I. Villareal, Librado Rivera and Manuel Sarabia — had been imprisoned since August 1907 and were obliged to communicate with their followers in the field through friends who paid them visits while they served out their jail terms.8

Upon their release from prison at the beginning of August 1910, Ricardo Flores Magon, Antonio Villarreal and Librado Rivera returned to Los Angeles, their former base of revolutionary operations.9 Although the PLM was virtually bankrupt following its leaders’ long incarceration, it promptly began raising funds and planning a new series of revolts in Mexico. A meeting held by the Socialist Party to honor their return brought in 414 dollars, which enabled the junta to open up an office and begin publishing again the weekly journal Regeneracion, the party’s chief propaganda tool.10

Although the PLM did not form an alliance with the Anti-Reelectionists led by Francisco I. Madero, it took advantage of the general uprising scheduled by the latter to begin on November 20, 1911, in order to launch its own rebellion. Although the Magonista revolt did not begin on the date contemplated, Liberal groups conducted operations in Sonora, Chihuahua, Tamaulipas, Sinaloa, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Jalisco, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Tabasco, Oaxaca and Yucatan throughout the winter months of 1910-1911. Only in Chihuahua did the PLM have some success, but its forces in that region were soon obliged to join the much larger groups of Anti-Reelectionist rebels which also operated in the state.11 As in the case of the 1906 and 1908 rebellions, Magonista combat groups were generally small in all the regions in which they fought. Recruitment among the local populace did not yield the expected results. The Anti-Reelectionists, on the other hand, possessed not only a superior system of organization, but also greater financial resources with which to procure arms and other equipment.12

In the meantime, the junta had been preparing its principal assault, which was to be directed against the peninsula of Baja California. In addition to the proximity to Los Angeles, a campaign in this area had a chance of succeeding due to its relative isolation from the rest of Mexico, as well as the fact that it was weakly garrisoned by federal troops. There was also no evidence to indicate that the PLM’s principal revolutionary rivals, the Anti-Reelectionists, were already operating in the region.13

From an economic standpoint, the Magonista campaign in Baja California differed from others which the junta had conducted in Mexico in that there was more money available. Not only was Baja California close to the PLM headquarters and destined to form its principal theater of operations, but the general excitement produced in Mexico and the U.S. border region by the outbreak of the 1910 insurrection resulted in a greater interest among Mexicans in the Liberals’ activities and their journal Regeneracion.14 Even though Flores Magon and Madero had parted ways in the period following the rebellion of 1906, many persons believed that the Magonistas and Anti-Reelectionistas were fighting for the same ideals.15 In addition, and this was to prove particularly important as the campaign in Baja California progressed, the control of the PLM over certain regions in the northern district of the peninsula, particularly in the case of Mexicali, was of a fairly long duration in comparison with other areas in Mexico occupied by rebel groups, whether Liberal or Anti-Reelectionista.

In launching its campaign, the PLM had a number of financial sources to draw on, which supplied them with income in varying quantities.

A significant sum of money was obtained by way of subscriptions to Regeneracion, which, at the time of the Baja California campaign, had a circulation of about 27,000 copies.16 With subscription rates of $2.00 per year or $1.10 per six months, the income derived from this source was in the nature of approximately $1,000 per week. Once printing and staff costs were deducted, it still left several hundred dollars which could be devoted to revolutionary projects.17

Some individuals and organizations sent in additional sums of money to help further the cause. Various socialist and anarchist organizations in the U.S. and other countries contributed funds, as did local branches of workers’ unions, particularly the International Workers of the World, the most radical and militant of U.S. labor groups.18 Some money was also raised by Magonista agents who were sent out by the junta to speak personally to gatherings of Mexican and socialist sympathizers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities. In February 1911, for example, meetings in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego brought in some $300 to $400.19 Although some prosperous persons contributed to the cause — often not realizing very clearly what that was — most contributors were laborers who could only donate small sums of money. Cumulatively, however, such contributions may have totalled $1,000 or more per month.20

The U.S. socialists and members of more moderate labor organizations, such as the American Federation of Labor (AFL), who contributed money, saw the Liberals as persons who were fighting for improvements in the condition of the Mexican workers. This was a goal which they themselves could identify with in their struggle to improve the lot of the U.S. working man. Both the directors and members of these organizations were ignorant of the Magonistas’ growing anarchist tendencies. The Socialist Party decided to support the Magonistas essentially owing to the initiative shown by the Mexican Revolutionists Defense League in Los Angeles, which was instrumental in gathering enough contributions to cover the legal costs of defending the junta leaders in the years from 1907-1910.21 Some U.S. socialists who sympathized with the PLM, such as John Murray, John Kenneth Turner and his wife Ethel Duffy, Ralph Chaplin, as well as the wealthy Boston socialite Elizabeth Darling Trowbridge, collaborated directly in the party’s activities in Los Angeles.22 In the case of one group of sympathizers, that of the IWW, the links of solidarity became even closer during the insurrection of 1910-1911, when dozens of “wobblies”, or IWW men, crossed the border to join the Liberal forces in Baja California.23

A third source of revenue consisted of the contributions which the Liberals had specified that the PLM recruits and members were to send as part of their membership obligations.24 The Instrucciones generales issued to the focos operating in Mexico stipulated that all individuals and groups who answered the call to arms were to send monthly contributions to the junta offices in accordance with their means and as they saw fit. The money was to be used to aid those liberal combatants whose families were poor or whom the Diaz government had jailed or dispossessed of their property, as well as those funcionarios who had lost their positions by confronting the regime and its policies.25 It is not known how much money was eventually sent in to the junta from the focos and their members, since few were well-off or had money to spare. Being obliged to largely fend for themselves while fighting in the field, they were also inclined to use whatever resources might come their way for their own uses.

New sources of income

Once the Baja California campaign got under way with the capture of Mexicali on January 29, 1911, the PLM was able to avail itself of additional sources of income. Upon taking the town, the occupation force under Jose Maria Leyva and Simon Berthold found approximately $200 in customs revenues in the aduana, or customhouse. An irregular duty was then set on products which passed through the town’s aduana as well as that of Algodones, to the east.26 Taxes and license fees were also imposed on commercial establishments, many of which were cantinas. Those who refused to pay were fined $285 dollars.27 The money resulting from all of these sources amounted to between $400 and $1,000 per month, which was sent by messenger to the junta in Los Angeles.28

The Instrucciones generales had ordered the liberal focos to respect both the persons and property of the local inhabitants in exchange for cooperation with regard to food, arms, lodging and other forms of aid. Initially, following the capture of Mexicali, the Liberals had issued receipts for requisitioned property.29

Circumstances soon forced a change in that policy. After February 12, U.S. military surveillance in the Calexico area put an end to the purchase of supplies in that region. Prior to that date, the Liberal occupiers had been able to smuggle fairly substantial quantities of provisions, including arms, across the line.30 Within a month after the closure of the border, the reserves of food had become nearly exhausted.31 Ammunition and additional rifles for new recruits still had to be obtained by smuggling,32 but other means had to be employed for obtaining food, clothes and other necessities.

To solve this problem, the Liberals began to resort to a system of forced tribute levied on land and other types of property in the Mexicali Valley.33 This practice became particularly onerous for the property owners of the region after Caryl Ap Rhys Pryce, a Welsh soldier of fortune, assumed command of the Foreign Legion contingent of the rebel force, following the death in combat of its previous commander, Stanley Williams. Pryce and his men justified such involuntary contributions by arguing, much in the way that Ricardo Flores Magon had explained in a letter to his brother Enrique in 1908, that the capitalists had expropriated or robbed this property and money and that the PLM was only trying to get back to the people what had rightfully belonged to them in the first place.34 Members of the Legion raided ranches on both sides of the line, and, when owners resisted their demands, either threatened compliance or drove them off their property.35 While it is not known how much money was obtained by way of tribute and expropriated property, it is possible that it may have reached, during peak periods, between $500 and $1000. This money was also forwarded to the junta.36

Pryce, due to his considerable military experience, soon rose to a position of predominance in the Liberal forces, which had become composed principally of foreigners. During the first week of May, the Welshman led the bulk of the Liberal forces — which had become the so-called “Second Division” of the Liberal “army” in the peninsula — in a march on Tijuana. Following a hard-fought battle on the morning of May 9, 1911, the town fell and a period of looting followed, mainly by visitors from across the line.37

Once a semblance of order had been restored, Pryce and his men instituted the same regime of taxes, license fees and customs duties as had been levied on Mexicali. During the period of occupation, customs revenues amounted to between $300 and $500 per month.38

Pryce also opened the town to tourism, charging twenty-five cents admission per visitor. The saloons and gambling houses were reopened, featuring faro and poker games, and new concessions were granted. The Magonistas received 25 per cent of the money taken in by these establishments.39 Curio shops formed another of Tijuana’s principal businesses. In one case, C.R. Anguisola, an employee of the curio shop belonging to Jorge Ibs and Alejandro Savin, cut a deal with Pryce whereby, in return for allowing the shop to stay open, the Liberals received 50 per cent of the profits to be used in the war effort.40 There was also a lucrative business in postcard sales. Photographers arrived on the scene after the battle and, as a result of their activities, thousands of postcards were produced to be sold in the Tijuana curio shops and at the newstands of San Diego.41

The capture of Tijuana resulted in the raising of more funds for the Magonista war effort outside of Mexico. Shortly after the fall of the town, the anarchist Emma Goldman visited Los Angeles and San Diego, where she made speeches in order to gather money for the Magonista cause.42 According to the labor activist Mother Jones, the Liberals also received funds during this period from anarchist groups in Spain and Italy.43

While it is impossible to calculate the total amount received by the PLM from all sources, U.S. Bureau of Information agents believed, during the peak period of the campaign in the peninsula, that is, in the months of April and May of 1911, it stood at approximately $5,000 per month.44 This indicated that the junta had an appreciable amount of money available to devote to furthering the revolutionary struggle in Mexico. However, the events which transpired during the remaining weeks of the Baja California campaign would reveal this to be an illusion.

The period of desperation

The question of the Magonista’s military needs, and of the financial resources required to fulfill them, came to a head in the period following the capture of Tijuana. Any offensive would require more arms, particularly machine guns and cannons, as well as additional recruits and provisions. That, in turn, required money. Pryce sent messengers on two occasions to the Los Angeles junta with the proceeds he had raised in Tijuana, which totalled some $850, with the urging that the money be used to purchase arms and equipment for his troops.45

At the end of May, Pryce, accompanied by his adjutant C.W. “Melbourne” Hopkins, left for Los Angeles to find out why the PLM had not sent him the armament he had requested. On arriving there, he proposed three alternative courses that the junta could follow in regards to the war in Mexico: 1) recognition of the interim national government headed by Francisco Leon de la Barra in exchange for some sort of recompense for military services rendered by the Magonista soldiers in the war against the Diaz government, 2) attempt to forge an alliance between the Liberals and the insurrecto groups led by the brothers Ambrosio and Francisco Figueroa in Guerrero, the principal rebel leaders in that state, with the purpose of fighting together against the Madero government, and 3) the disbandment of the Magonista soldiers in Baja California and elsewhere. Pryce considered this third option the most advisable, given the fact that the victory of the Anti-Reelectionist forces in the rest of Mexico had already resulted in the resignation of Diaz and the overthrow of his government. In addition to requesting armament, he asked that a commission be sent to Baja California to investigate the situation first-hand.46

Flores Magon and the rest of the junta members were resolved to continue with the war. On May 24, 1911, one day prior to President Diaz’s resignation, they issued a manifesto in which they refused to accept the Treaty of Ciudad Juarez, which had put a formal end to hostilities between the Maderista and government forces. They exhorted their followers, the ex-rebel soldiers and the Mexican people in general, to continue the struggle to achieve a truly economic and social revolution in Mexico.47 Flores Magon agreed to Pryce’s request for an investigative commission, but, when he failed to give him any assurances concerning armament, the Welshman resigned.48

In Pryce’s absence, the “Second Division” promptly split into different factions. The Division had been left under the overall command of Capt. L.W. Tamlyn, a U.S. volunteer, pending Pryce’s return. Upon receiving the rumor that Pryce had quit, Tamlyn was elected “general” of the Division, with the tentative provision that John R. (alias Jack) Mosby, who had rejoined the Division after recuperating in the U.S. from a wound received in a skirmish with the federals near Tecate at the beginning of May, would automatically become the commander should the rumor be true. Two other officers of the Division, Capt. Curtiss and Capt. Steve “Shorty” O’Donnell, also aspired to be elected as commander. Another aspirant was Capt. Paul Schmidt, a German soldier of fortune who headed a group of some fifty scouts guarding the pass in the hills to the south of Tijuana.49

Some of the Division’s members, especially those men who had participated in the rebel operations in the Mexicali and El Alamo regions, shared the junta‘s desire to continue the struggle and march on Ensenada. Other soldiers in the division preferred to wait and see what the Madero government would offer them. Among those who wished to fight on was a young official named Captain Louis James. James believed that Madero would not be willing to negotiate favorable terms with them, and that, in any case, the country seemed destined to break up into a series of independent republics.

At this point in time, the more die-hard members of the Second Division possessed at least one contact across the border who could perhaps help them to fulfill their ambitions of continuing with the struggle. This contact was the Los Angeles promoter Richard “Dick” Ferris. Ferris’s interest in Baja California dated from some years prior to the Magonista revolt. His friend Harry Stewart, Thomas S. Phelps, Jr., a retired U.S. navy official, and Max Ihmsen of Los Angeles Examiner had informed him concerning the natural resources of the region and their significance for U.S. economic interests. They had also commented on the strategic importance of the territory, especially in view of the fact that the Panama Canal was nearing completion. After having made several trips to some of the towns in the peninsula, such as Tijuana, Ensenada and the El Alamo mining district, Ferris had concluded that “a government established down there along the right lines would attract hundreds of thousands of young Americans.”50

Ferris had already gained a certain notoriety in connection with the Baja California revolt in early February 1911, when he had proposed to president Diaz the purchase of the peninsula. He claimed to have the backing of several U.S. financiers and businessmen, and that, if Diaz refused to accept, he would seize the region with a force of 1000 men.51 Diaz had refused to give in to such blackmail and rejected the offer.52 Investigation later carried out by the U.S. Department of Justice maintained that Ferris did not intend to carry out his project and was only using the episode as a publicity stunt in connection with his work as a promoter for the future Panama-California Exposition to commemorate the completion of the Panama Canal.53

In early May, Ferris was sent to San Diego by the Panama-California Exposition Company to take charge of matters related to the event’s inauguration ceremonies scheduled to take part in that city. Shortly after the fall of Tijuana to the Magonistas, he crossed over to Tijuana accompanied by a reporter from San Diego Union. Ferris questioned Pryce concerning his plans and relationship with the PLM. He also expressed his own dislike of the Los Angeles junta.

Over the following weeks, Ferris made several visits to Tijuana. He struck up friendships with Pryce and Hopkins, as well as other members of the Second Division. It is possible that it was Ferris who gave Pryce the idea of opening casinos in Tijuana, since he himself had made a proposal in February that the peninsula ought to be transformed into a “sporting republic”.54 It is also possible that it was Ferris who suggested to Pryce a notion similar to the one which the Welshman had expressed in the presence of a San Diego Union reporter in the sense of establishing an independent republic in the peninsula. Such an idea coincided with that of Ferris himself, who believed that Baja California was destined to be governed by the “white man.”55 Ferris counselled the men of the Second Division that, if they were willing to forget about socialist and anarchist principles and think about establishing an “adequate” form of government in the peninsula, they could win over the sympathy and economic support of the American people, and “the better class of Mexicans.”56

Ferris was not alone among his compatriots in favoring the annexation of Baja California to the U.S. Though U.S. expansionist sentiment had favored the absorption of the peninsula along with other parts of Mexico in the negotiations concerning the treaty which ended the war of 1846-1848, the territory had not been included in the agreement’s final draft. The U.S. government had shown interest in acquiring it during the negotiations which led to the Gadsden Purchase of 1853, but it was dissuaded by potential complications. The filibusterer William Walker had attempted to conquer it with a small band of followers during the early 1850’s.57 During the Porfiriato, foreign investors, chiefly U.S., had bought up large tracts of land in the northern part of the peninsula, taking advantage of the territory’s proximity to California and its markets. Hundreds of U.S. colonists — miners, ranchers, and farmers — resided in the Mexicali and Tijuana regions, as well as along the Pacific coastal areas. Many of the U.S. ranchers in the Mexicali Valley who owned lands on both sides of the border had agitated in favor of the purchase by the U.S. of that portion of the Colorado River delta which belonged to Mexico. In addition, proposals had also arisen from time to time in U.S. government and business circles in regards to the purchase and acquisition of the entire peninsula.58

James believed that Ferris’s proposal to Diaz could be put before Madero, but this time it would have the backing of the Second Division, which, with adequate financial backing, could succeed in conquering the rest of the peninsula. The Mexican and foreign members of the division had heard of certain rumors that the Standard Oil Company had donated great sums of money to finance the Anti-Reelectionist rebels in return for future concessions, once the Maderistas had seized power.59 They evidently believed that they could also find financial backers in the U.S.

Ferris informed James that the conquest of the peninsula would require a considerable quantity of money and, according to the promoter, James had immediately mentioned the name of John D. Spreckels, the wealthy San Diego magnate and builder of the San Diego and Arizona Railway.60 The purpose of the new rail line was to connect San Diego and northern Baja California with Yuma and the eastern U.S., as well as provide port facilities on the Pacific for the agricultural areas in the Imperial and Mexicali Valleys. President Diaz had permitted Spreckels to construct a portion of the line, some 45 miles, in Mexican territory, to the east of Tijuana, in order to circumvent topographical obstacles on the U.S. side. By 1911, the railway extended to a point situated approximately 75 kilometers to the east of Tijuana.61 Ferris told James that he himself could not approach Spreckels or any other industrialist concerning financial aid, but that James, as a rebel soldier in a foreign country, could do so. According to Ferris’s later testimony before the Senate Investigation of Mexican Affairs, James suggested the idea to Spreckels, but the latter rejected it when James indicated that, in case Spreckels refused to cooperate, his men would confiscate or do damage to his railroad’s property in Mexico.62

Whether investors would be willing to give financial support to a group of men who were at that moment fighting in the ranks of a Mexican radical revolutionary party, in the hope that it would lead to the peninsula being annexed to the U.S., was a question which apparently eluded men such as James and others of the division who wished to continue the fight. Their credulity in this matter becomes more comprehensible, however, when one considers the situation of the Second Division at this critical moment.

The departure of Pryce, the scarcity of money and arms, as well as the period of inactivity following the capture of Tijuana, had led to a lack of confidence in the junta and its direction of the campaign.63 Many men deserted. There were also incidents of violence among the rank and file, including the murder of one of the camp’s guards, a German named Otto Sontag, by an unidentified insurrecto soldier, and that of the Mexican volunteer Francisco Pacheco by another Mexican, Tony Vega.64

During this period there were constant reports in the press to the effect that the Second Division was receiving shipments of war material that had been sent from San Diego by boat and unloaded at some point along the coast to the south.65 There were also stories concerning the acquisition and construction by the rebels of field guns to be used in the march on Ensenada.66 The press even circulated rumors which claimed that, shortly before Pryce’s departure, the Division had even received a wireless telegraphy outfit and had set up a station manned by three men in preparation to use in conjunction with the planned offensive.67 These reports proved erroneous. During this time, the Second Division received a few arms and some ammunition, as well as other supplies, smuggled across the border by the men of the Second Division themselves or by sympathizers.68 In the weeks which followed the capture of Tijuana, however, the PLM itself sent no further weapons or ammunition to the Second Division.69

At the beginning of the campaign in the peninsula, the junta had designated some money for the purchase of armament. As late as April 18, 1911, Pryce received a shipment of 4000 rounds of ammunition, which the PLM had sent via the IWW local in Holtville, near Calexico. The Welshman divided the munitions among his own men in the Foreign Legion and the Mexican troops under the command of Francisco Vazquez Salinas. A case of rifles had also arrived as part of this shipment. Pryce kept these for his own men, and gave the old weapons to Vazquez Salinas.70

By and large, however, the junta left the Magonista forces to their own devices as far as the procurement of war material and provisions was concerned. Little money was spent on armament and medical supplies. In the course of the campaign, some of the foreign volunteers left for Los Angeles in order to get the junta‘s approval for the purchase of a machine gun. Although the junta gave its approval, the machine gun was never acquired.71 The purchase of one or more of these rapid-fire weapons would have helped to elevate the quality of the rebel armament in comparison with that of the federal forces, which were equipped with modern Mauser rifles and Colt machine guns. The same lack of attention applied to the insurrecto medical services, which were virtually non-existent. The seriously wounded had to be sent across the line to receive adequate medical attention, while doctors who lent their services did not receive payment in return. One, Dr. William Fawcett Smith, complained that he had been unable to obtain reimbursement from the junta for $31.50 of his own money that he had spent on medicines, gauze and bandages during the campaign.72

Most of the PLM funds were spent on propaganda. In addition to publishing and distributing Regeneracion, the junta distributed books and journals on anarchism throughout the U.S. and Latin America. It is probable that the funds were spent a little at a time, as it came in, since it appears that the PLM never had enough sums on hand for the purchase of armament in sufficient quantity, nor for more expensive weaponry, such as machine guns. There is some evidence to indicate that a good part was simply wasted owing to the financial incompetence of the junta, especially by Enrique Flores Magon, the party treasurer.73 It is also probable that some of the money was embezzled. In one diatribe published in Regeneracion in June 1911, Ricardo Flores Magon made a scathing denunciation of Rosalio Bustamante, one of the two original vocales (vocals) of the junta and who had subsequently joined the Anti-Reelectionists, as having made off with thousands of pesos of the party’s funds.74

On June 2, following Ferris’s return to the U.S., James held a meeting among those members of the rebel garrison on hand at that moment — about a third of the men — and, following a vote, proclaimed the “Republic of Baja California” with Ferris as president. The young officer immediately proceeded to Ferris’s office in San Diego and urged the promoter to accept the leadership of the new republic. The latter refused on the pretext of having to go to Los Angeles on business, as well as his unwillingness to violate U.S. neutrality laws. As his later testimony to the Senate Investigation of Mexican Affairs indicated, he did not relish living in Mexico and knew that the Baja California revolt would inevitably be defeated. He agreed, however, to design a new emblem for the republic, consisting of a series of red and white stripes on a blue background with a white star in the center. Having drawn a sketch on paper, he then gave it to his tailor, Kabierski, to sew up a flag.

Possibly with the notion of enjoying a little longer the publicity he had received up until then, Ferris indicated to the press that he was seriously considering the offer which a Los Angeles manufacturing company had made to him in regards to contributing $12,000 in support of the new republic, a quantity, the promoter indicated, that would be greatly increased by money from other sources. The Mexican government, Ferris claimed, would be obliged to recognize the new republic, which would be called the “Republic of Madero” in exchange for a payment of $15,000,000. He also declared that he would try to hire Pryce as commander in chief of the armed forces of the new entity, given that the Welshman still enjoyed the loyalty of the soldiers of the Second Division.75

Shortly after Ferris’s arrival in Los Angeles, James visited him once again in order to urge that he accept the new position. Ferris stoutly refused, reiterating his determination not to violate the neutrality laws. He gave James a letter addressed to the members of the Second Division, explaining his reasons for the refusal.76

In the meantime, the junta had sent a commission to Tijuana headed by Antonio Pio Araujo in order to assess the situation in the rebel camp. Even though some members of the division had become distrustful of the junta since it had not sent supplies or taken a more determined action in the peninsular campaign, the antics of Ferris had angered the Wobblies, as well as the Mexican and Indian rebel soldiers. The Wobblies believed Ferris to be a “rich capitalist”, while Flores Magon made a similar denouncement when he referred to the promoter as the “millionaire Ferris.”77

Those members of the Division who sided with the junta helped the commission to court-martial both Pryce and Hopkins. Pryce’s remarks to the junta members in Los Angeles concerning the convenience of disbanding the army had evidently convinced them that he was no longer the man to spearhead the Liberal forces in Baja California. In an election held on June 3, 1911, Jack Mosby, an IWW member and soldier of fortune — but also a man loyal to the junta — won out over the freebooter Paul Schmidt and Curtiss, who had been a supporter of Pryce.78

James, in the meantime, spent a couple of days in Los Angeles in an effort to convince Pryce to return to Tijuana and also to search for possible sources of money and arms. Failing in these efforts, he planned, upon his return to Tijuana, to compete with Jack Mosby in another election to determine who would command the Second Division. He also planned to inform the soldiers of the imminent arrival of new recruits, ammunition, and some cannons. He would also advise them, in view of the fact that the junta had abandoned them, that their only alternative was to confide in the “powerful men” who would soon come to their aid.79

Neither Ferris nor James possessed contacts of this nature.

The Senate Investigation of Mexican Affairs found no evidence to indicate that Ferris was a wealthy man, or that he was connected with the PLM in any way. It was rumored that Ferris had given Pryce on different occasions cheques for several thousands of dollars in order to purchase armament and provisions. Once again, the Senate Investigation could find no evidence to that effect.80 It is doubtful that Ferris had helped the Second Division in any material way.

In response to a report published in the San Diego Union that he had, while motoring to Tijuana with his wife and some friends, smuggled several cases of cartridges into the border town hidden in his auto, the promoter replied, jokingly, that he had only taken a bottle of beer across the line.81

Nor did Ferris, despite rumors to the contrary, have any business contacts with Californian magnates Harrison Gray Otis and his son-in-law Harry Chandler, both of whom possessed large landholdings in the Mexicali Valley. Otis and Chandler detested Ferris and cooperated with the U.S. government in actions against the publicity seeker.82 Even though the PLM’s anarchist aims were not to be announced officially until the publication of their Manifesto of September 23, 1911, several articles published in Regeneracion during the latter part of 1910 and early 1911 revealed its increasingly radical leftist philosophy.83 Considering the danger that a Magonista triumph in Mexico would represent for their investments and property in that country, U.S. magnates and businessmen had strong reasons for curtailing the activities of the rebels instead of promoting them. Otis, for example, had been an enemy of the labor movement in California since October 1910, when a portion of the Los Angeles Times building had been destroyed by a bomb planted by two extremists belonging to the AFL.84 He was also an enemy of the Magonistas, on account of the latter’s association with the California labor groups. In the course of the Baja California revolt, Otis had also attempted, unsuccessfully, to persuade the U.S. government to intervene militarily in the peninsula in order to crush the rebels.85 Chandler, for his part, spent thousands of dollars in defense of his properties in Baja California against the rebels.86

Nor was it true, as rumors asserted, that the rebels had received any aid from Spreckels’ San Diego and Arizona Railway project. Having examined the operations of the Shearer Company, the Los Angeles based contractors hired by Spreckels to construct the railway, the Senate Investigation of Mexican Affairs could find no evidence that the company had aided the insurrectos in any way. Instead, the latter, believing that agents of the railway had supplied the federals at Tijuana with rifles and ammunition, obstructed traffic on the line on several occasions. At one point, they threatened to blow up a tunnel on the line and confiscated railway supplies for their men’s needs.87 Such tactics were in keeping with James’s alleged threat to Spreckels in case the latter refused to give the rebels any support.

Nor did the Magonistas receive aid from other business sectors. It was rumored that certain gun shops and ammunition firms in Los Angeles, such as the Hoegee Company on Main Street, had supplied the rebels with arms. The Senate Investigation proved this to be unfounded. The one piece of evidence uncovered revealed that A.G. Rogers, a printer of Socialist papers, had purchased on behalf of John Kenneth Turner, who provided the money, fifty antiquated 1903 model U.S. Army Springfield rifles from the Hamburger dry-goods store at two dollars apiece. These had been smuggled across the line early in the struggle in boxes variously marked “agricultural machinery” and “electrical equipment”.88

When James returned to Tijuana on June 4, the day after the election in the Liberal camp, he was arrested by soldiers of the Second Division. The flag of the new republic was torn off the automobile which he was driving and burnt in the street. Several of the soldiers demanded that James be executed, but the young officer’s followers intervened and it was decided to expel him from Tijuana with the warning that he would be killed if he ever returned. Ferris was also declared persona non grata and threatened with expulsion as well should he return to Baja California.89 The re-establishment of the junta‘s control over the Tijuana garrison and of the campaign in Baja California in general put an end to whatever hopes had existed among members of the Second Division for obtaining funding from outside sources. Mosby, the Division’s new commander, attempted other methods of raising money to carry on the struggle. With the purpose of restoring discipline, which had been marred by the incidents of violence among his men, he closed the saloons and casinos.90 In order to raise funds for the purchase of armament, Mosby and his men mounted a Wild West type of Sunday spectacle for tourists.91 The shows were accompanied by the sale of postcards and small souvenirs — spent cartridges, for example — from the campaign. These were practically the only souvenirs of Tijuana that could be had since the curio stores no longer had stocks of merchandise to sell. Nevertheless, the money raised by these means proved inadequate to resupply the Magonista troops.92

Under such circumstances, the defeat of the Liberal forces was inevitable. On June 17, the rebel “First Division” at Mexicali, under the command of general Francisco Quijada, whom the PLM had designated as commander of the Liberal forces in substitution of Vazquez Salinas on account of the latter’s problems with Pryce, surrendered to a Maderista peace commission sent to make terms with the rebels in the region. A few days later, on June 22, 1911, Mosby’s contingent, numbering less than 200 men, met on the outskirts of Tijuana a force of some 600 federal troops and volunteers, equipped with six machine guns, led by Colonel Celso Vega, which had in the meantime marched north from Ensenada. After a three-hour combat, the small Liberal force, outnumbered and outmaneuvered by the federals, was routed. The foreigners, including their leader, surrendered to the U.S. military authorities upon crossing the border, while the majority of the Mexicans and Indians took refuge in the countryside.93 With the defeat of the Second Division, the formal Magonista campaign in Baja California came to an end, even though armed Liberal parties continued to stage cross-border raids into the territory up until early 1914.


While the earlier Magonista efforts at revolt in 1906 and 1908 had suffered from a lack of money for the purchase of arms and supplies, by 1910 that situation had changed with the outbreak of the revolution in November of that year. The interest and enthusiasm generated by the conflict was reflected in the upsurge in sales and subscriptions to Regeneracion, which reached a peak during the Baja California campaign, as well as the contributions which the junta received from various individuals and organizations.

The conquest and occupation of certain towns and districts in Baja California resulted in additional sources of income. The relatively prolonged occupation of Mexicali and Tijuana allowed the occupying forces to tap not only the revenues generated by the customhouses of these towns, but also money from taxes and license fees which they imposed upon business and commercial establishments. Cut off from sources of provisions in the U.S., the Magonistas also resorted to a system of tribute, which resulted in theft and abuses being committed against property owners in these regions. Following the capture of Tijuana in early May, Pryce, as the town’s commander, also capitalized on the tourist trade, which brought in further sums of money.

Though the Liberal commanders in the field periodically sent in money to the junta for the purchase of armament, the latter chose to ignore the deficiencies of its forces in this respect, preferring to invest the money in its propaganda campaign. When the problem of arms and munitions became especially acute after the capture of Tijuana, a portion of the men of the Second Division, led by Louis James, saw outside help in the form of powerful business interests as the only solution to being able to continue the struggle. In this they were deluded, since neither James, nor Ferris, whom they saw as their principal contact man in this sense, possessed any sort of ties or influence of this nature. With the failure of this effort, the defeat of the Magonista forces in the peninsula was inevitable, given the much greater resources in men and arms which the federal forces could bring to bear upon the weakened Liberal garrison in Tijuana.


1. This article is a revised and corrected version of a paper presented as part of the American Historical Association Pacific Coast Branch Ninety-First Annual Meeting, at the University of San Diego, San Diego, California, August 6-9, 1998.

2. See Romulo Velasco Ceballos, Se apoderara Estados Unidos de America de Baja California?: la invasion filibustera de 1911 (Mexico: Imprenta Nacional, 1920); Enrique Aldrete, Baja California heroica: episodios de la invasion filibustera-magonista de 1911 narrados por el Sr. Enrique Aldrete, testigo presencial (Mexico: Frumentum, 1958), 16-21; and Maria Luisa Melo de Remes, Alerta, Baja California! (Mexico: Editorial Jus, 1964), 13-30, 99-103, to name only a few examples. Regarding the opinion of foreign writers in this sense, see Carleton Beals, Porfirio Diaz: Dictator of Mexico (Philadelphia, Pa.: L.B. Lippincott Company, 1932), 428-429; Ellen Howell Myers, “The Mexican Liberal Party, 1903-1910,” (Ph.D. diss., University of Virginia, 1970), 342-343, 347-348; Jean Revel Mouroz, “La frontera Mexico-Estados Unidos: mexicanizacion e internacionalizacion,” Estudios Fronterizos, 1 (May-August/ September-December 1984):11-29.

3. “Programa del Partido Liberal y Manifiesto a la Nacion,” 1 de julio de 1906, en Manuel Gonzalez Ramirez, ed., Planes politicos y otros documentos (Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Economico, 1954), 3-29; Florencio Barrera Fuentes, Ricardo Flores Magon: el apostol cautivo (Mexico: Instituto Nacional de Estudios Historicos de la Revolucion Mexicana, 1973), 89-90.

4. Diego Abad de Santillan, Ricardo Flores Magon, el apostol de la Revolucion Mexicana (Mexico: Ediciones Antorcha, 1988), 15; W. Dirk Raat, Revoltosos,: Mexico’s Rebels in the United States, 1903-1923 (College Station, Tex.: Texas A & M University Press, 1981), 21, 42; Ethel Duffy Turner, Ricardo Flores Magon y el Partido Liberal Mexicano,(Mexico: Partido Revolucionario Institucional/Comision Nacional Editorial del CEN, 1984), 70, 76; James D. Cockcroft, Precursores intelectuales de la Revolucion Mexicana, 1900-1913 (Mexico: Secretaria de Educacion Pœblica/Siglo Veintiuno Editores, 1985), 113, 115, 117-118, 147, 156.

5. “Instrucciones generales a los revolucionarios,” in Isidro Fabela and Josefina Fabela, eds., 27 vols. Documentos historicos de la Revolucion Mexicana (Mexico: Editorial Jus/Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1960-1973), X:36-41.

6. Raat, Revoltosos,, 17, 37, 92-199; Salvador Hernandez Padilla, El magonismo: historia de una pasion libertaria, 1900-1922 (Mexico: Ediciones Era, 1984), 93-95, 124.

7. Ricardo Flores Magon to Antonio Pio Araujo, June 6, 1907, in Ricardo Flores Magon, Epistolario y textos, Manuel Gonzalez Ramirez, ed. (Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Economica/CREA, 1984), 107-110 (author’s translation).

8. “Procedimientos contra Ricardo Flores Magon: documentos, 1907-1909,” in Flores Magon, Epistolario y textos, 119-161; Thomas Furlong, Fifty Years a Detective: Thirty-Five Real Detective Stories (St. Louis, Mo.: C.E. Barnett, 1912), 137-148; Abad de Santillan, Ricardo Flores Magon, 56-76; Hernandez Padilla, El magonismo, 133-135; Ethel Duffy Turner, Ricardo Flores Magon y el Partido Liberal Mexicano,(Mexico: Partido Revolucionario Institucional, Comision Nacional Editorial del C.E.N., 1984), 163, 172-176.

9. Manuel Sarabia, the fourth prisoner, had been released due to illness from tuberculosis. Following his release under bail, he fled to Europe. Enrique Flores Magon, who took part in the attack on Palomas, Chihuahua, rejoined his brother in Los Angeles. Turner, Ricardo Flores Magon, 173-175; Ricardo Flores Magon and Sol Kaplan, Peleamos contra la injusticia, 2 vols. ((Culiacan, Sin.: Universidad Autonoma de Sinaloa, 1986), II:21-38.

10. Florencio Barrera Fuentes, Historia de la Revolucion Mexicana: la etapa precursora, 2da. ed. (Mexico: Instituto Nacional de Estudios Historicos de la Revolucion Mexicana, 1970), 297; Flores Magon and Kaplan, Peleamos, II:47-48; Abad de Santillan, Ricardo Flores Magon, 76.

11. Exchange of correspondence between Madero and liberal leaders Lazaro Alanis, Luis A. Garcia, Jose C. Parra, Jose Ines Salazar, Leonides Zapata and Tomas Loza, Apr. 16-17, 1911,

in Heliodoro Olea Arias, De Bachiniva a Ciudad Juarez: apuntes historicos de la Revolucion de 1910-1911 (Chihuahua, Chih.: ALFFER Offset, 1961), 87-89; Miguel A. Sanchez Lamego, Historia militar de la Revolucion Mexicana en la epoca maderista, 3 vols. (Mexico: Instituto Nacional de Estudios Historicos de la Revolucion Mexicana, 1976-1977), II: 13-15; Abad de Santillan, Ricardo Flores Magon, 68-73.

12. Declaration by Ricardo Flores Magon, included in the statements of Mr. Dudley L. Robinson, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California, and Mr. A.I. McCormick, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California, and A.I. McCormick, in Revolutions in Mexico: Hearing Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, 62nd. Congress, 2nd. Session (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1913), 247; Lowell L. Blaisdell, The Desert Revolution: Baja California, 1911 (Madison, Wisc.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1962), 20. Regarding Maderista financial resources, see Raat, Revoltosos,, 223-224.

13. Enrique de la Sierra, the Mexican consul in Calexico, Cal., to the Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores in Mexico City, Feb. 22, 1911, in Fabela and Fabela, Documentos historicos, X:153-154; Statements of Robinson and McCormick, in Revolutions, 234; Jose Maria Leyva, “La cuestion del filibusterismo en la Baja California,” La Prensa, Los Angeles, Cal., Oct. 11, 1931, in Biblioteca del Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, Mexico, D.F., Fondo Ethel Duffy Turner, manuscritos nos. 1190, 1193, respectively (hereafter cited as BINAH/FEDT, followed by the number of the manuscript in question).

14. Blaisdell, Desert Revolution,, 97.

15. Antonio V. Lomeli, the Mexican consul in El Paso, Tex., to the Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores in Mexico City, Nov. 25, 1910, in Fabela and Fabela, Documentos historicos, V:101-103; Manuel Gonzalez Ramirez, ed., Manifiestos politicos, 1892-1912 (Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1957), 376-390; Manuel Gonzalez Ramirez, La revolucion social de Mexico, 3 vols. (Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1960), I:431-446; Juan Gomez-Quinones, Las ideas politicas de Ricardo Flores Magon (Mexico: Ediciones Era, 1977), 59-60; Raat, Revoltosos,, 24-25, 204-206, 210-214; Turner, Ricardo Flores Magon, 210; Cockcroft, Precursores intelectuales, 69, 116-117, 147-149, 153, 157; Santiago Portilla, Una sociedad en armas: insurreccion antirreeleccionista en Mexico, 1910-1911 (Mexico: El Colegio de Mexico, 1995), 290-300.

16. Extract from a text written by William G. Owen, the British anarchist editor of the English language section of the weekly, published originally in the newspaper Freedom and reproduced in Rafael Carrillo Azpeitia, Ricardo Flores Magon: esbozo biografico (Mexico: Centro de Estudios Historicos del Movimiento Obrero Mexicano, 1976), 50-51; as well as Abad de Santillan, Ricardo Flores Magon, 91. See also Ethel Duffy Turner, Revolution in Baja California: Ricardo Flores Magon’s High Noon, Rey Devis, ed. (Detroit, Mich.: Blaine Ethridge, 1981), 37; as well as Flores Magon and Kaplan, Peleamos, II:49.

Regeneracion had a fairly large readership in Los Angeles. Gomez-Quinones, Las ideas politicas, 45-49; Pedro G. Castillo and Antonio Rios Bustamante, Mexico en Los Angeles: una historia social y cultural, 1781-1985 (Mexico: Alianza Editorial Mexicana/Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1989), 189-192. The number of subscribers did not indicate the numbers of readers who had access to the paper by other means, or those who, being unable to read, listened to other persons reading aloud from portions of the paper. See Jesús Silva Herzog, Una vida en la vida de Mexico (Mexico: Secretaria de Educacion Pœblica/Siglo XXI, 1986), 21, for an interesting comment concerning this aspect of the Regeneracion readership.

17. Not all subscription money sent in to the junta arrived at its destination. Often funds sent from Mexico were intercepted and confiscated by Mexican officials. Regeneracion, Jan. 28, 1911; Blaisdell, Desert Revolution,, 45. Also, as Enrique Flores Magon pointed out, the PLM could, when it chose, exercise some flexibility in regards to the subscription rates. Some of the poorer subcribers sent in 25 cents, while more affluent ones sent in cheques for $100. Flores Magon and Kaplan, Peleamos, II:49.

18. Testimony of William Gates, in United States. Senate, Investigation of Mexican Affairs: Preliminary Report and Hearings of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Pursuant to Senate Resolution 106, Directing the Committee on Foreign Relations to Investigate the Matter of Outrages on Citizens of the United States in Mexico, 2 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1920), II: 2830; Statements of Robinson and McCormick, in Revolutions, 189, 200, 234.

19. Regeneracion, Feb. 11, 1911; San Diego Sun, Feb. 27, 1911.

20. San Diego Sun, June 15, 1911; Statements of Robinson and McCormick, in Revolutions, 189, 231.

21. Lazaro Gutierrez de Lara and Edgcomb Pinchon, The Mexican People: Their Struggle for Freedom (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1914), 343; Cockcroft, Precursores intelectuales, 120-121; Ward S. Albro, Always a Rebel: Ricardo Flores Magon and the Mexican Revolution (Fort Worth, Tex.: Texan Christian University Press, 1992), 113-115.

22. Raat, Revoltosos,, 32, 40-41, 47-54, 167, 193; Turner, Ricardo Flores Magon, 142-145, 153-159, 171-175; Albro, Always a Rebel, 81-96.

23. “I.W.W. in Legion”, article published in Truth, Los Angeles, Feb. 22, 1911, in Archivo Historico “Genaro Estrada”, Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores, Mexico, D.F., Ramo: Revolucion Mexicana (hereafter cited as AHGE/RM, followed by the number of the legajo or volumen, expediente (file) — if any — , and hoja or leaf in question), in either L-E-631 exp. 1, h. 74; L-E-635, exp. 1, h. 107; or L-E-641, exp. 1, h. 87; Paul F. Brissenden, The I.W.W.: A Study of American Syndicalism, 2da. ed., (New York, N.Y.: Russell & Russell, 1920), 366; Industrial Workers of the World. The I.W.W.: Its First Seventy Years (1905-1975). The History of an Effort to Organize the Working Class (Chicago, Ill.: Industrial Workers of the World, 1976), 50.

24. “Cupon de adhesion,” in Fabela and Fabela, Documentos historicos, X:40-41.

25. “Instrucciones generales,” in Fabela and Fabela, Documentos historicos, X:39-40.

26. The amount which the Liberals obtained from this source on a weekly or monthly basis is not known, but it must have been considerable, given the amount of cross-border traffic, even in that period. Statements of Robinson and McCormick, in Revolutions, 230.

27. New York Times, 31 January 1911; Los Angeles Herald, 31 January 1911; Los Angeles Times, 18 June 1911.

28. New York Times, 31 January 1911; Los Angeles Times, 18 June 1911, 6 June 1912; Statements of Robinson and McCormick, in Revolutions, 230-231.

29. While the Liberals issued receipts, the federals obtained a portion of their supplies in the valley by outright confiscation. U.S. rancher Lee Little complained that his ranch had been raided by the retreating federals led by Col. Celso Vega, whose column of approximately 100 men had been defeated by the Magonistas on February 15, 1911, in an engagement which took place on a portion of his property. Los Angeles Times, Feb. 18, 1911.

30. Telegram from Luis Emeterio Torres, commander of the First Military Zone, Torin, Sonora, to Hiram W. Johnson, the governor of California, included in a communication of Johnson to the U.S. president, Feb. 13, 1911; Huntington Wilson to the Governor of California, Feb. 14, 18, 1911; all in U.S. Department of State, Record Group 59, file 812.00, Records of the Department of State Relating to the Internal Affairs of Mexico, 1910-1929, Microcopy 274, National Archives and Records Service, Washington, D.C., document no. 781 (hereafter cited as NA/RG 59, 812.00, followed by the number of the document in question); The New York Times, Feb. 12, 14, 1911; Los Angeles Times, Feb. 15, 18, 1911.

31. Calexico Chronicle, Feb. 14, 1911; Los Angeles Herald, Feb. 15, Mar. 15, 1911.

32. Los Angeles Times, Feb. 18, 1911.

33. Los Angeles Times, Feb. 18, June 15, 1911; Calexico Chronicle, May 1, 1911.

34. Ricardo Flores Magon to his brother Enrique and Praxedis Guerrero, June 13, 1908, in Flores Magon, Epistolario y textos, 202-209; Statement of Pryce to newsman Peter B. Kyne, in Peter B. Kyne, “The Gringo as Insurrecto,” Sunset Magazine, 27 (September 1911), 261-262. For Flores Magon’s attitude to these raids, see his letter to Pryce, April 23, 1911, in Velasco Ceballos, Se apodera…de Baja California?, 117-118; Regeneracion, May 6, 1911.

35. Los Angeles Times, Apr. 16, May 28, 1911; Calexico Chronicle, Apr. 27-28, May 8, 1911; Los Angeles Herald, Apr. 30, 1911; San Diego Union, June 10, 1911. The C. & M. Ranch, or California Mexico Land and Cattle Company, reported some $100,000 worth of livestock, saddles, food and other materials stolen by the Liberals, who also destroyed crops in some areas. Los Angeles Times, Apr. 23, 1911.

36. Los Angeles Times, June 15, 1911; San Diego Union, Sept. 28, 1911.

37. San Diego Union and San Diego Sun, 10, 12 de mayo, 1911; Interview with Andres Ramos Castillo, conducted by Raul Rodriguez Gonzalez, 1977, in the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California, Fondo: Historia Oral de Baja California, Entrevista no. 36; Margaret L. Holbrook Smith, “The Capture of Tijuana,” in Oscar J. Martinez, ed., Fragments of the Mexican Revolution: Personal Accounts from the Border (Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico, 1983), 100-101.

38. The amount was less than that in the case of Mexicali, due to the smaller rate of cross-border traffic, which was mainly connected with tourist excursions from San Diego. Statements of Robinson and McCormick, in Revolutions, 231.

39. Establishments equipped with various games of chance had existed in both Mexicali and Tijuana since 1907. Newsclippings from San Francisco Call, May 9, 1911; San Diego Union, May 10, 14, 1911; San Francisco Examiner, May 10, 1911, in AHGE/RM, L-E-690, exp. 1, hs. 3-4, 44; L-E-686, exp. 1, h. 40; L-E-657, h. 163; San Diego Union, May 15, 29, 1911; San Diego Evening Tribune, May 15, 1911; El Pais, Mexico City, May 29, 1911.

40. Thomas C. Langham, Border Trials: Ricardo Flores Magon and the Mexican Liberals (El Paso, Tex.: Texas Western Press, University of Texas at El Paso, 1981), 40-41.

41. Paul Vanderwood, “Writing History with Postcards: Revolution in Tijuana,” Journal of San Diego History, 34 (Winter 1988), 48-49.

42. Regeneracion, May 13, 1911; San Diego Union, May 9, 1911; Emma Goldman, Living My Life (New York, N.Y.: A.M.S. Press, 1970), 478-480. Goldman made another series of speeches in favor of the Mexican revolutionary anarchists as well as those of other countries in the late summer of 1911. See New York Times, Aug. 27, 1911.

43. Mother Jones to Manuel Calero, Secretario de Justicia del gobierno de Mexico, Oct. 25, 1911, in Archivo General de la Nacion, Mexico, D.F., Fondo: Revolucion Mexicana, caja 1, carpeta 1, document no. 75.

44. It was estimated that, during an eighteen month period from September 1910 until June 1912, the PLM income from all sources totalled approximately $25,000. Los Angeles Times, June 23, 25, 1911.

45. Letter from C.W. “Melbourne” Hopkins to a friend, James Dunn, June 1, 1911, in Revolutions, 197; Los Angeles Times, June 7, 1912.

46. San Diego Union, June 1, 3, 1911.

47. Manifiesto de la junta Organizadora del Partido Liberal Mexicano, a los soldados maderistas y a los mexicanos en general, signed by Ricardo Flores Magon, Antonio Pio Araujo, Librado Rivera, Anselmo L. Figueroa and Enrique Flores Magon, Los Angeles, May 24, 1911, in Sanchez Lamego, Historia militar, II:15-20.

48. P.O. de Subrio, of the Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores in Mexico City, June 12, 1911, in AHGE, exp. 9-9-18; San Francisco Chronicle, June 17, 1911; Kyne, “Gringo as Insurrecto,” pp. 266-267; Los Angeles Times, June 7, 1912.

49. Schmidt had served as interim commander of the foreign contingent of the Magonista forces on two previous occasions: immediately after the death of Stanley Williams as a result of the second battle of Rancho Little on April 8, 1911, and in mid-May of the same year, when Pryce had been jailed briefly by the U.S. army after having crossed over to San Diego to visit John Kenneth Turner. Turner, in addition to aiding the Magonistas in many other ways, also acted as a kind of laison between the junta and the foreigners in the insurrecto forces. San Diego Union, San Diego Evening Tribune, and San Diego Sun, June 1-2, 1911.

50. Statement of Dick Ferris, in Revolutions, 373-375, 385-386.

51. San Diego Sun, Feb. 5, 1911; San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 6-7, 14, 16, 1911; New York Times, Feb. 14, 1911; Newsclippings from New York Herald, Feb. 14, 1911, and San Francisco Call, June 10, 1911, in AHGE/RM, L-E-636, exp. 1, h. 52, and L-E-665, exp. 99, h. 51.

52. San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 9, 1911; Newsclipping from San Francisco Call, Feb. 9, 1911, in AHGE/RM, L-E-634, h. 56.

53. Reports filed by Clayton Herrington, Ganor and Simmons, Justice Department officials in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Cal., Feb. 21-22, Mar. 10-30, 1911, in U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Record Group 65, National Archives and Records Service, Washington, D.C., Investigative Case Files of the Bureau of Investigation, 1908-1922 (M1085), roll 1, General Section 12 (hereafter cited as NA/RG 65, ICFBI, followed by the number of the roll — r — and General Section — GS — in question); Manuel de Zamacona, the Mexican ambassador in Washington, D.C., to Attorney General George W. Wickersham, May 27, 1911, in U.S. Department of Justice, General Records of the Department of Justice, Record Group 60, National Archives and Records Service, Washington, D.C., 90755A, Section 2, document no. 961 (Box 722C) (hereafter cited as NA/RG 60, followed by the numbers of the file and document in question).

54. San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 20, 1911.

55. San Diego Union, May 19, 21, June 1, 1911; Francisco Leon de la Barra, provisional president of Mexico, and Manuel de Zamacona, the Mexican ambassador in Washington, D.C., May 23, 27, 1911, in NA/RG 60, 90755A, Section 2, doc. 961 (Box 722C); Report filed by an agent of the Bureau of Investigation in San Diego, June 17, 1911, in NA/RG 65, ICFBI, r. 2, GS 22; Statements by Robinson and McCormick, as well as that of Dick Ferris, in Revolutions, 198, 377-378, respectively.

56. Testimony of Dick Ferris, in Revolutions, 378-379.

57. Blaisdell, Desert Revolution,, 23-24; Charles Harvey Brown, Agents of Manifest Destiny: Lives and Times of the Filibusters (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina, 1980), 147-218.

58. Blaisdell, Desert Revolution,, pp. 29-37.

59. The rumors, which had begun in early March 1911, particularly in British newspapers, subsequently proved to be without foundation. Kenneth J. Grieb, “Standard Oil and the Financing of the Mexican Revolution,” California Historical Quarterly, 50 (March 1971), 60, 68.

60. Spreckels, a San Diego resident, belonged to the powerful San Francisco family of the same name which had made its fortune in the refinement of sugar. After transferring some of the family’s investment operations to San Diego, Spreckels had acquired ownership of both The San Diego Union and San Diego Evening Tribune. Blaisdell, Desert Revolution,, 26.

61. San Diego Union, Sept. 14, 1906; Jan. 2, 22, 1911.

62. San Diego Evening Tribune, June 2, 1911; Testimony of Dick Ferris, in Revolutions,

378, 382.

63. San Diego Sun, June 1, 3, 1911; San Diego Union, June 1, 3, 1911; San Diego Evening Tribune, June 1, 2, 1911.

64. San Diego Sun, May 22, June 14, 1911; San Diego Union, May 22, 29, June 3, 6, 10, 15, 1911; San Diego Evening Tribune, May 31, June 2, 5, 1911; El Paso Herald, May 31, 1911; El Paso Morning Times, June 3, 1911; El Tiempo, Mexico, D.F., June 3, 1911. There had been previous incidents of violence during the campaign. One of these involved the wounding of W.E. Clark, an IWW volunteer, by a Yaqui Indian, and the murder of a Mexican in retaliation by “Wild Bill” Hatfield, during the period of inaction following the first battle of the Little Ranch, on February 15, 1911, in which the Liberals had repulsed a federal force from Ensenada led by Col. Celso Vega. El Imparcial, Mexico City, Feb. 25, 1911; San Diego Union, Feb. 25, 1911.

65. El Pais, Mexico City, May 28, 1911.

66. San Diego Union, May 14, 1911; Kyne, “Gringo as Insurrecto,” 262.

67. San Diego Union, May 29, June 4, 1911. As a variation in these reports, San Diego Sun of June 2, 1911 reported that the apparatus in question was a heliographic signalling device. See San Diego Sun, June 2, 1911.

68. It was reported, for example, that Mrs. Ferris, Mrs. Bradley, Captain James and a chauffeur smuggled some arms and ammunition into Tijuana using Dick Ferris’ car. Turner, Revolution, 49. In another instance, Paul Schmidt, Jack Gordon and Joe Reed, of the Second Division, were arrested by U.S. authorities on a charge of smuggling horses across the line. San Diego Union, June 6, 1911.

69. Hopkins to Dunn, June 1, 1911, in Revolutions, 197.

70. Declaration of Fred F. Rico, secret agent in the service of the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles, May 8, 1911, in Pablo L. Martinez, El magonismo in Baja California (documentos) (Mexico: Editorial “Baja California”, 1958), 18-20; Los Angeles Times, Apr. 23, 1911.

71. Evidences submitted to A.I. McCormick, federal attorney for the Southern California Judicial District, to be used against Ricardo Flores Magon, Enrique Flores Magon, Antonio I. Villareal, Librado Rivera, Anselmo L. Figueroa and others, accused of having violated U.S. neutrality laws, signed by J.W. McKinley and W.S. Van Pelt, Jan. 16, 1911, in AHGE/RM, L-E-933, hs. 120-121; Kyne, “Gringo As Insurrecto,” 259-261; Statements of Robinson and McCormick, in Revolutions, 230.

72. Letter from Dr. William Fawcett Smith to Ricardo Flores Magon, May 12, 1911, in Revolutions, 230.

73. When Los Angeles authorities raided the offices of the junta in the wake of the arrest of its members, the publications seized filled an entire wagon. In contrast, no arms were found on the premises. Hopkins to Dunn, June 1, 1911, in Revolutions, 197; San Diego Sun, June 15, 1911; Text written by William Owen, in Carrillo Azpeitia, Ricardo Flores Magon, 50-51; and Santillan, Ricardo Flores Magon, 91-92; Blaisdell, Desert Revolution,, 99, 184-185.

74. Regeneracion, June 10, 1911.

75. San Diego Union, June 3, 1911; El Tiempo, June 3, 5, 1911; Statement of Dick Ferris, in Revolutions, 378-379; Turner, Revolution, 49; Pablo L. Martinez, Historia de Baja California (La Paz, B.C.S.: Patronato del Estudiante Sudcaliforniano, Direccion Estatal de Educacion/Consejo Editorial del Gobierno del Estado de B.C.S., Secretaria de Bienestar Social, 1991), 495-496, 511.

76. This letter later became known as the “red, white and blue letter” for the colors of the projected republic’s flag. San Diego Union, June 6, 1911; Statement of Dick Ferris, in Revolutions, 379, 384.

77. Extract of the radical journal Industrial Worker, June 6, 1911, in Blaisdell, Desert Revolution,, 160-161; Regeneracion, June 10, 1911.

78. The San Diego Union and San Diego Sun, June 2-6, 1911; Martinez, Baja California, 496-497.

79. James also divulged to the press a rumor that Pryce was on his way to Washington to speak with the president and that he had on his person a telegram from Taft. However, he refused to show it to anyone or indicate its contents. San Diego Evening Tribune, June 5, 1911; The Mexican Herald, June 6, 1911; New York Times, June 6, 1911.

80. According to Ferris and Pryce’s own statements to the Subcommittee, the promoter had only sent a new set of clothes to the Welshman during the period when the latter, while on a visit to San Diego to meet with John Kenneth Turner, had been detained by the U.S. authorities from May 17-20, 1911. He had also lent him the services of his own lawyer, E.H. Lamme. Statements of Robinson and McCormick, as well as that of Ferris, in Revolutions, 231-233, 381-382; San Diego Union, May 20, June 17, 1911.

81. San Diego Union, June 3, 15, 1911.

82. Newsclipping from Los Angeles Tribune, Sept. 23, 1911, in AHGE, exp. 9-9-20; Statements of Robinson and McCormick, in Revolutions, 255. Ethel Duffy Turner, the wife of John Kenneth Turner, claimed that Ferris had links with Otis, Chandler and William Randolph Hearst, but offered no proof in support of her affirmation. See Ethel Duffy Turner, “Dick Ferris, Filibuster,” in BINAH/FEDT, ms. 57; and Turner, Ricardo Flores Magon, 227.

83. Ricardo Flores Magon, “A los proletarios” and “Libertad politica,” Regeneracion, Sept. 3, Nov. 12, 1910, reproduced in Armando Bartra, ed., Regeneracion, 1900-1918: la corriente mas radical de la Revolucion Mexicana de 1910 a traves de su periodico de combate (Mexico: Ediciones Era, 1982), 230-233; and Ricardo Flores Magon, Semilla libertaria, 2da. ed. (Mexico: Liga de Economistas Revolucionarios de la Repœblica Mexicana, 1975), 86-91; Extract from Regeneracion, Nov. 26, 1910, reproduced in Abad de Santillan, Ricardo Flores Magon, 67; Ricardo Flores Magon, “Tierra” and “La revolucion,” Regeneracion, Oct. 1, Nov. 19, 1910, reproduced in Flores Magon, Semilla libertaria, 51-55, and Ricardo Flores Magon, Articulos politicos: 1910 (Mexico: Ediciones Antorcha, 1990), 94-97; Extract from Regeneracion, Dec. 10, 1910, reproduced in Abad de Santillan, Ricardo Flores Magon, 68-69; Ricardo Flores Magon, “Para despues del triunfo,” Regeneracion, Jan. 28, 1911, reproduced in Ricardo Flores Magon, Articulos politicos: 1911 (Mexico: Ediciones Antorcha, 1980), 12-15.

84. Ira B. Cross, A History of the Labor Movement in California (Berkeley, Cal.: University of California Press, 1935), 282-283; Robert Glass Cleland, California in Our Time, 1900-1940 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1947), 67-87; Walt Anderson, “The Times Dynamiting Case,” American History, 2 (February 1968), 47-48.

85. Exchange of correspondence between the U.S. Department of State and the Mexican Embassy in Washington, and between the Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, concerning the defense of the Colorado River delta irrigation works in Mexico, Feb. 12-June 1, 1911, in U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States: 1911 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1912), 556-565; San Diego Union, Feb. 25, 1911; James Morton Callahan, American Foreign Policy in Mexican Relations (New York: Macmillan, 1932), 465-469; Blaisdell, Desert Revolution,, 174.

86. Statements of Robinson and McCormick, in Revolutions, 255; Frank A. Gerome, “United States-Mexican Relations During the Initial Years of the Mexican Revolution” (Ph.D. diss., Kent State University, 1968), 52, 58; Francisco Duenas Montes, Datos para la historia de Baja California: el asalto a Mexicali en 1911 (Mexicali, B.C.: Talleres Graficos de la Editorial del Magisterio, Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educacion, 1978), 88, 101; Richard Griswold del Castillo, “The Discredited Revolution: The Magonista Capture of Tijuana in 1911,” Journal of San Diego History 26 (Autumn 1980), 265; Raat, Revoltosos,, 15.

87. In one instance, the rebels had induced to join their ranks 32 members of a 51 member railway labor crew. Statements of Robinson and McCormick, in Revolutions, 233. See also Adalberto Walther Meade, Tecate: cuarto municipio (Mexicali: Universidad Autonoma de Baja California, 1985), 64-65; James Robert Moriarty, III, and Blaine P. Lamb, “The Railroad and Revolutionaries,” unpublished manuscript in the Research Archives of the San Diego Historical Society, 2-13. The Moriarty paper is based upon the memoirs of W.G. McCormick, the conductor of the railroad’s construction train.

88. Statements of Robinson and McCormick, in Revolutions, 233.

89. San Diego Sun, June 5, 1911; San Diego Union, June 6, 9, 13, 1911. Some days after Mosby’s election as leader of the division, rumors circulated in the press concerning efforts by James and Ferris in the U.S. to recruit men in order to stage a counter coup in Tijuana. San Diego Sun, June 8-9, 1911; San Diego Union, June 9, 1911; Alvey A. Adee, Acting Secretary of State, to Gilberto Crespo y Martinez, the Mexican ambassador in Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 1911; Agustin Ansorena, Oficial Mayor (Chief Clerk) de la Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores, to the Secretaria de Gobernacion, with a transcription of a report from the Mexican consul in San Diego, Cal. Aug. 9, 1911; Subsecretario de Guerra y Marina to the Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores, Aug. 10, 1911, and Federico Gonzalez Garza, subsecretario de Gobernacion, to the Secretaria de Guerra y Marina, Aug. 17, 1911, all in Fabela and Fabela, Documentos historicos, X:312, 325-327, 331-332. Such rumors proved unfounded, since there is no evidence that the two men were engaged in such activities at the time.

90. San Diego Union, June 8, 11, 1911.

91. This activity did provide the men with some ideas and experience which they could later use once their period of service with the Magonista forces ended. Following the defeat of the Second Division in late June, one of the ex-volunteers, a man named Lawson, who had held the rank of Lieutenant in the Division, went up to Los Angeles to try to arrange with a motion-picture company the filming of a movie of the initial capture of Tijuana by Pryce and his men, with ex-volunteers as the protagonists and extras. They also tried to convince the organizers of the Panama-California Exposition that they could participate in a Wild West show or stage an “insurrecto encampment” scene as part of the inaugural celebrations. San Diego Union, June 26, 1911.

92. San Diego Union, June 11, 12, 21, 1911; Los Angeles Herald, June 20, 1911.

93. A large proportion of the federal volunteers were Mexicans who had arrived at Ensenada by steamer from Los Angeles. Reports, communications and sundry other documents related to the battle of Tijuana, June 22, 1911, in Archivo de la Secretaria de la Defensa Nacional, Mexico, D.F., Ramo: Historia, Seccion XI, 481.5, exp. 11, hs. 220-230, 232-233, 235, 240-247, 254-271, 321-353; Report from F.A. Wilcox, commander and captain of the 30a. Infantry Company, to the Adjutant General of the U.S. Army, Department of California, San Ysidro, Cal., June 23, 1911, in NA/RG 59, 812.00/2216; Marion Ethel Hamilton, “Insurrecto Prisoners Captured by Uncle Sam,” Overland Monthly 62 (November 1913), 432-435; Herbert C. Hensley, “The I.W.W. Insurrection of 1911: compiled from newspaper accounts, interviews and personal observation on the scene,” Manuscript no. 1946, San Diego History Center, Research Archives, 57-63; Los Angeles Herald, June 23, July 2, 1911; San Diego Union, June 24, 26, 1911 (especially the first-hand narrative of Magonista combatant Fred V. Williams, published in these two newspapers).


Lawrence D. Taylor received his Ph.D in history from El Colegio de Mexico, Mexico City, in 1990. He is currently a researcher with the Departamento de Estudios Culturales, at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte. His research interests include the history of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands region, the Mexican Revolutionary period from 1910-1920, as well as contemporary and cultural aspects of cross-border relationships in North America. He is an active member of the Association of Borderlands Scholars.