Flores Magón, Ricardo (1873–1922)

By: W. Dirk Raat

Type: Biography

Published: September 1, 1995

Updated: August 2, 2020

Ricardo Flores Magón, revolutionist, journalist, and dramatist, son of D. Teodoro Flores and Margarita Magón, was born in San Antonio Eloxochitlán, Oaxaca, September 16, 1873. His father, an Indian, was a veteran of the War of the Reform and the French Intervention; his mother, a mestiza, provided him with the simple life of rural Oaxaca, including elements of communal living. His younger brother, Enrique, born in 1877, was a lifetime supporter of Ricardo. Due to his mother's influence, Ricardo studied in the nation's capital, first at the Escuela Nacional Superior, and then at the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria. In 1893 he began the study of law in the Escuela Nacional de Jurisprudencia, and although he remained there for three years he never completed law school. On August 7, 1900, with his brother Jesús, he founded the newspaper Regeneración, an "independent organ of combat" to oppose the centralism and autocracy of the government of Porfirio Díaz. Later, at the Liberal Congress held in San Luis Potosí in 1901, he publicly denounced the Díaz administration as "a den of bandits." After being arrested on May 22, 1901, Jesús and Ricardo were held at Belén prison without a trial until April 30, 1902, when, with the suppression of Regeneración, he became a writer for Daniel Cabrera's El Hijo del Ahuizote, a position he held until the paper's demise in February 1903. He was arrested again, imprisoned in Belén until October 1903, and prohibited from publishing in Mexico. In January 1904 he and his brother Enrique crossed the border into Laredo, Texas, and went to San Antonio, where they renewed the publication of Regeneración on November 5, 1904. At this time Flores Magón met Tejanos such as Aniceto Pizaña who later conducted border raids during the Mexican Revolution. Regeneración fueled a "Floresmagonista" movement in Texas. At the same time other anti-Díaz publications, such as 1810 and El Mensajaro, were begun at Del Rio. After a local incident led to the arrest of Enrique, the Floresmagonistas set up shop in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1905–06. Sometime in September 1906 Ricardo traveled back to Texas and met with Mexican Liberal party factions in El Paso to coordinate an uprising in Mexico. Persecutions forced the brothers to abandon St. Louis and in 1907 the Liberal party established its publication in Los Angeles. Flores Magón was arrested again in August 1907, held in the Los Angeles County Jail for several months, and then transferred to Tombstone, Arizona, where he was found guilty of conspiracy to violate the neutrality laws and sentenced to eighteen months in the territorial prison. While he was incarcerated, his newspaper was published under the name Revolución. After his release from the Florence penitentiary in August 1910, Flores Magón ushered in Regeneración's third epoch and started plans for a Baja California revolt and an anarchist manifesto. The Baja revolt led to his formal separation from Francisco I. Madero and the Maderista movement, and he was once again arrested in 1911. When World War I erupted in 1914, Flores Magón, as an anarcho-communist and pacifist, was its foremost critic in the United States. Ironically, though his writings had a direct influence on Texas border troubles and the Plan of San Diego, he had no personal involvement in the struggles. He thought that the Plan of San Diego was a "bourgeois" invention and denied the existence of any Texas-Mexican conspiracy. He largely ignored the border raids and viewed them not as anarchist uprisings but acts of self-defense against Anglo exploiters. Flores Magón was arrested on March 22, 1918, on a charge of sedition and eventually found guilty of violations of the Espionage Act of 1917. Under that act he was accused of conspiracy to write and publish false statements that tended to interfere with the operation of the military and naval forces of the United States. He was sentenced to twenty years at McNeil Island (Washington state) and transferred in November 1919 to Leavenworth penitentiary. Throughout his career he had been aided by his lifetime companion and common-law wife, María Talavera. In 1907 she was instrumental in developing socialist support for Floresmagonistas in the Los Angeles County Jail, and in 1918 she too was tried by a federal court in Los Angeles for violations of the Espionage Act. On the morning of November 21, 1922, Flores Magón died at Leavenworth. Although several radical scholars claim that he was murdered, he probably died of natural causes, likely of a heart attack. On May 1, 1945, his remains were reburied in Dolores Cemetery in Mexico city.

Ward S. Albro III, Ricardo Flores Magón and the Liberal Party: An Inquiry into the Origins of the Revolution of 1910 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Arizona, 1967). Roderic A. Camp, Mexican Political Biographies, 1884–1935 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1991). Diccionario Histórico y Biográfico de la Revolución Mexicana (Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Estudios Históricos de la Revolución, 1990-). W. Dirk Raat, Revoltosos: Mexico's Rebels in the United States, 1903–1923 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1981). James Sandos, Rebellion in the Borderlands: Anarchism and the Plan of San Diego, 1904–1923 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992).

  • Journalism
  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Military
  • Mexican Revolution
Time Periods:
  • Progressive Era

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

W. Dirk Raat, “Flores Magón, Ricardo,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 07, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/flores-magon-ricardo.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995
August 2, 2020

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: