The Plan De San Diego: Tejano Rebellion, Mexican Intrigue

By Young, Elliott | The Journal of Southern History, November 2014 | Go to article overview

The Plan De San Diego: Tejano Rebellion, Mexican Intrigue


Young, Elliott, The Journal of Southern History


The Plan de San Diego: Tejano Rebellion, Mexican Intrigue. By Charles H. Harris III and Louis R. Sadler. The Mexican Experience. (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2013. Pp. [xx], 338. Paper, $45.00, ISBN 978-0-8032-6477-9.)

The 1915 Plan de San Diego that called for a guerrilla army to retake the U.S. Southwest for Latinos, blacks, Japanese, and Apaches has been debated from the time the manifesto was discovered. Some have argued that the movement was orchestrated by different factions in the Mexican Revolution; others see it as the work of exiled Mexican anarchist magonistas; and still others situate the raids in the context of politics in South Texas. Charles H. Harris III and Louis R. Sadler take on a bevy of historians, asserting that the Plan de San Diego was financed, organized, and orchestrated by Mexican president Venustiano Carranza in order to gain political recognition from the United States.

The Carranza theory is not new, and, as the authors acknowledge, it was put forth by Charles Cumberland in a 1954 article. What is new in The Plan de San Diego: Tejano Rebellion, Mexican Intrigue is a mountain of evidence, though mostly circumstantial, for this theory. The Machiavellian Carranza, according to the authors' argument, organized the movement in 1915, then promptly shut it down after the United States recognized Carranza de facto, then revived the attacks after the United States invaded Mexico to chase Pancho Villa in 1916, shut it down again when Carranza blinked in the face of a potential war with the United States, and then toyed with the idea of reviving the raids in 1919. In the first instance, the authors assert that Carranza wanted to provoke the cross-border raids to force the United States to recognize his regime so that he could better enforce law and order on the border. …

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