We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Plan de San Diego

Tejano Rebellion, Mexican Intrigue

Louis R Sadler

Publication Year: 2013

The Plan of San Diego, a rebellion proposed in 1915 to overthrow the U.S. government in the Southwest and establish a Hispanic republic in its stead, remains one of the most tantalizing documents of the Mexican Revolution. The plan called for an insurrection of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and African Americans in support of the Mexican Revolution and the waging of a genocidal war against Anglos. The resulting violence approached a race war and has usually been portrayed as a Hispanic struggle for liberation brutally crushed by the Texas Rangers, among others.

The Plan de San Diego: Tejano Rebellion, Mexican Intrigue, based on newly available archival documents, is a revisionist interpretation focusing on both south Texas and Mexico. Charles H. Harris III and Louis R. Sadler argue convincingly that the insurrection in Texas was made possible by support from Mexico when it suited the regime of President Venustiano Carranza, who co-opted and manipulated the plan and its supporters for his own political and diplomatic purposes in support of the Mexican Revolution.

The study examines the papers of Augustín Garza, a leading promoter of the plan, as well as recently released and hitherto unexamined archival material from the Federal Bureau of Investigation documenting the day-to-day events of the conflict.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (3.0 MB)
pp. C-ii

Title Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (31.4 KB)
p. iii-iii

Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (33.7 KB)
pp. iv-vi


pdf iconDownload PDF (42.6 KB)
p. vii-vii

List of Illustrations

pdf iconDownload PDF (45.6 KB)
p. viii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (55.5 KB)
pp. ix-xii

There appeared in South Texas in January 1915 a most remarkable document— the Plan de San Diego. Ostensibly written in the small town of San Diego in Duval County, it called for nothing less than a Hispanic uprising designed to achieve the independence of the Southwest as a Hispanic republic. The Plan proclaimed a genocidal war without quarter...


pdf iconDownload PDF (219.2 KB)
pp. xiii-xx

read more

1. The Plan de San Diego

pdf iconDownload PDF (73.5 KB)
pp. 1-5

The most extraordinary indictment ever handed down in an American court was issued in Laredo, Texas, on May 13, 1915, charging nine individuals with conspiring “to steal certain property of the United States of America, contrary to the authority thereof, to wit, the states of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and California.”1 Their ...

read more

2. The Plan Surfaces

pdf iconDownload PDF (109.9 KB)
pp. 6-20

The Plan de San Diego came to light on January 23, 1915, at the town of McAllen in Hidalgo County, Texas, with the arrest of one Basilio Ramos Jr. He was a Mexican citizen, single, twenty-four years old, five feet eleven inches tall, with dark hair and black eyes, weighing about 140 pounds, and having a mole on the upper left corner of his mouth and a small one on his nose. He had two suitcases filled with expensive...

read more

3. The Magonistas

pdf iconDownload PDF (68.4 KB)
pp. 21-25

Magonistas wrote the Plan de San Diego, as is readily apparent from the Plan itself and especially from the “Manifesto to the Oppressed Peoples of America.” General Victoriano Huerta and his followers never showed much interest in social justice issues or in the plight of Hispanics in the United States, much less that of American blacks. The ...

read more

4. The Mexican Connection

pdf iconDownload PDF (78.8 KB)
pp. 26-32

As George Crile noted in his extraordinary book on the war against the Russians in Afghanistan, an insurgent movement simply can’t survive unless it has a sanctuary for its fighters.1 Despite some historians’ assertions that the Plan was a liberation movement led by Tejano chieftains Luis de la Rosa and Aniceto Pizaña and was entirely a homegrown...

read more

5. The “Bandit War” Begins

pdf iconDownload PDF (114.4 KB)
pp. 33-48

What is important about the Plan de San Diego is how it was used, and this is what some writers who subscribe to the “liberation struggle” interpretation fail to address. Since the magonistas wrote the Plan it was foredoomed to failure. And Huerta’s attempt to regain power in Mexico collapsed with his arrest in El Paso on June 27, 1915. Whether...

read more

6. The “Bandit War” Intensifies

pdf iconDownload PDF (145.0 KB)
pp. 49-71

On August 6, 1915, a band of fourteen heavily armed Mexicans (Lon Hill claimed there were twenty-five or thirty) appeared at the village of Sebastian. They robbed a saloon, crossed the railroad track to Alexander’s store, which contained the post office, and looted that establishment. Some of the raiders then proceeded to the granary near...

read more

7. The “Bandit War” Peaks

pdf iconDownload PDF (97.0 KB)
pp. 72-83

Twelve mounted and armed Mexicans rode into La Palpa ranch, about twenty miles north of Mission, on September 23, 1915, at about 8 a.m. They remained about an hour and departed with a considerable amount of ranch property, including horses, mules, rifles, and ammunition. The ranch manager, Francisco Guerra, promptly notified the army at...

read more

8. The “Bandit War” Winds Down

pdf iconDownload PDF (123.1 KB)
pp. 84-101

Meanwhile, on the diplomatic front Carranza’s strategy succeeded brilliantly. On October 19, 1915, the United States formally extended diplomatic recognition to First Chief Venustiano Carranza as the de facto president of Mexico. The immediate benefit to Carranza was securing permission to rush seven thousand troops on American railroads from...

read more

9. The Plan de San Diego Collapses

pdf iconDownload PDF (89.0 KB)
pp. 102-111

Once Carranza withdrew his support the Plan de San Diego movement collapsed. Benjamin Johnson observes that almost overnight the sediciosos “were too busy avoiding the Constitutionalist regulars to continue their campaign in Texas.” But Johnson can’t explain why Constitutionalist regulars, who had been supporting and participating...

read more

10. Intelligence Gathering

pdf iconDownload PDF (68.0 KB)
pp. 112-116

Agent Louis Mennet had been assigned solely to investigating the Plan de San Diego,1 but the bureau’s meager resources were urgently needed to investigate other Mexican revolutionary movements such as the felicistas, the followers of Porfirio Díaz’s nephew General Félix Díaz, who were busily plotting in Laredo and Brownsville. There were also...

read more

11. The Plan de San Diego, Phase Two

pdf iconDownload PDF (102.1 KB)
pp. 117-129

As the year 1916 opened, the secretary of war, Lindley Garrison, inquired of Secretary of State Robert Lansing whether “in view of the improved conditions in Mexico and on the border,” it was feasible to withdraw “any or all of the troops now on the border from the duty on which they have been engaged and returning them to their permanent...

read more

12. An Improbable Operation

pdf iconDownload PDF (97.3 KB)
pp. 130-139

In furtherance of the grand design, León Caballo began expanding his network. Garza dispatched to the city of Puebla one Gerardo Garza González, who began sounding out General Marciano González and his staff regarding recruitment for the Texas enterprise. Gerardo Garza González was a real firebrand— at least on paper. He wrote to Agustín...

read more

13. The Morín Affair

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.3 MB)
pp. 140-155

The Hispanic uprising that was to support the planned sedicioso offensive collapsed as a result of the Morín affair. The key figure in uncovering this conspiracy was William Martin Hanson. He had been appointed U.S. marshal for the Southern District of Texas in 1902; he was reappointed in 1906 but resigned. In 1911 he was a private detective...

read more

14. The Bureau Investigates

pdf iconDownload PDF (94.2 KB)
pp. 156-166

As these events were unfolding in the spring of 1916, the Mexican situation was deemed so serious that the bureau chief Bruce Bielaski hurried to San Antonio to coordinate the agency’s operations. Bielaski met with the special agent in charge in San Antonio, Robert Barnes, and with J. B. Rogers, the agent stationed in Brownsville. Bielaski...

read more

15. New Raids

pdf iconDownload PDF (106.5 KB)
pp. 167-180

The ill-considered invasion plan had been shelved, and on June 13 the Mexican Foreign Office formally notified the American representative in Mexico City that de la Rosa had been captured, this news based on a telegram from the military commandant in Tamaulipas.1 But Carranza fully intended to continue exerting pressure on the United ...

read more

16. The War Crisis

pdf iconDownload PDF (123.2 KB)
pp. 181-198

Historian Joseph A. Stout Jr. poses the question: “How close did the two countries come to war in 1916?” Contrary to those historians who believe that war was imminent, Stout maintains that there was no war crisis, for Wilson and Carranza were just “sparring for diplomatic and political advantage in their respective countries.”1...

read more

17. Aftermath

pdf iconDownload PDF (72.7 KB)
pp. 199-204

In the aftermath of the war crisis, General Zuazua moved from Piedras Negras to Monterrey, leaving there on July 20 for Mexico City.1 Esteban Fierros moved into the Hotel del Centro in Monterrey, occupying room 13, across the hall from Agustín Garza.
Fierros said he was in dire financial straits. He dispatched José María Zuazua, General Zuazua’s brother, to Mexico City with a letter to General...

read more

18. Informants

pdf iconDownload PDF (86.0 KB)
pp. 205-213

Although the Bureau of Investigation remained interested in the Plan de San Diego players, information was not always easy to come by. Agent W. A. Wiseman wrote from San Antonio in July 1916 that he had arranged to send a Mexican informant to Monclova. Unfortunately, the man had backed out, saying he didn’t feel he’d be safe in Mexico....

read more

19. Further Investigation

pdf iconDownload PDF (89.6 KB)
pp. 214-223

The bureau continued to rely on a stable of informers, some of whom were less than enthusiastic. Agent Mennet had tried to persuade one Amado Cavazos, who had operated a store in Santa María on the Rio Grande and was now living in Nuevo Laredo, to cross into Laredo and tell what he knew of the San Diego movement, but Cavazos refused,...

read more

20. Later Careers

pdf iconDownload PDF (126.2 KB)
pp. 224-242

After the Plan de San Diego withered away, things did not go well for most of the main protagonists.
The exception seems to have been Basilio Ramos. Unfortunately, we have only isolated glimpses of his later career. In 1917 he was connected with a customs brokerage firm in Nuevo Laredo. In 1919 he again...

read more

21. A Question of Numbers

pdf iconDownload PDF (96.7 KB)
pp. 243-252

Frank Cushman Pierce, a Brownsville native and attorney, wrote a history of the lower Rio Grande valley in which he stated that “The author cannot let pass this opportunity to say that during the bandit raids of 1915 many evil influences were brought to bear to clear the country of the Mexicans. To his knowledge more than one was forced to flee and ...

read more

22. Some Interesting Interpretations

pdf iconDownload PDF (72.2 KB)
pp. 253-258

A great deal of attention has been devoted to analyzing the Plan de San Diego itself. These exercises in textual criticism have produced some notable examples of innovative interpretation.
James T. Bratcher has the distinction of producing the most imaginative interpretation. He examines the religious, historic, cultural, and...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (61.8 KB)
pp. 259-264

As the prophet Hosea warned, “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” What were they thinking? Were the sediciosos too naive to realize that proclaiming— and trying to implement— a genocidal war without quarter wouldn’t have serious— and unpleasant— consequences? You didn’t have to be a college graduate...


pdf iconDownload PDF (208.4 KB)
pp. 265-312


pdf iconDownload PDF (74.7 KB)
pp. 313-320


pdf iconDownload PDF (111.2 KB)
pp. 321-339

E-ISBN-13: 9780803264847
E-ISBN-10: 0803264844
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803264779

Page Count: 416
Illustrations: 23 photographs, 3 maps, 1 appendix
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Plan de San Diego.
  • Insurrections -- Texas -- History -- 20th century.
  • Subversive activities -- Texas -- History -- 20th century.
  • Mexico -- History -- Revolution -- 1910-1920 -- Diplomatic history.
  • Mexico -- History -- Revolution, 1910-1920 -- Social aspects.
  • Mexican Americans -- Texas -- History -- 20th century.
  • Texas -- Relations -- Mexico.
  • Mexico -- Relations -- Texas.
  • Texas -- History -- 1846-1950.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access