The Plan de San Diego: Tejano Rebellion, Mexican Intrigue

The Plan de San Diego: Tejano Rebellion, Mexican Intrigue

The Plan de San Diego: Tejano Rebellion, Mexican Intrigue

The Plan de San Diego: Tejano Rebellion, Mexican Intrigue


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 Augustine 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.


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 against Anglos. The most striking feature of this revolutionary manifesto was a call to kill all Anglo males over the age of sixteen. Predictably, attempts to implement the Plan produced a massive Anglo backlash, and during 1915– 16 conditions in the lower Rio Grande valley of Texas deteriorated to the point that a race war seemed imminent. The Plan de San Diego of course had no chance of succeeding, but it left a legacy of racial animosity that endures to the present day.

The Plan and its subsequent modifications remain controversial, both because of their racial aspects and because some events are still obscure. In discussing the Plan, the first question to be addressed is whether the manifesto should even be taken seriously. Especially among Hispanics, the answer is yes, focusing on the oppression endured by Hispanics in Texas. Second, was the insurrection in fact a homegrown Tejano liberation movement? Third, was there substantial involvement from Mexico, guiding, supplying, and manipulating the insurgents? If so, were revolutionary factions or the Mexican government involved? In this connection, some historians have attributed the Plan to the followers of the anarchist Ricardo Flores Magón, others to the followers of the exiled strongman General Victoriano Huerta, still others to the regime of President Venustiano Carranza. There is particular disagreement over whether Carranza himself was involved. The main things in dispute about the Plan de San Diego are who wrote it and when, where, and why it was written. Thus, the definitive study of the Plan has yet to appear.

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