Antonio Rodríguez, a twenty-year-old Mexican ranchhand from Las Vacas, Mexico, was the victim of a lynching in Rocksprings, Texas. He was charged with shooting and killing Mrs. Lem Henderson at her ranch home near Rocksprings on November 2, 1910. He was captured and arrested by a posse the next day at a neighboring farm, whence he was taken to Rocksprings and jailed. On the afternoon of November 4 a mob took him from his cell and burned him at the stake. His immediate and brutal execution without due process provoked immediate charges of racism and caused anti-American reactions all over Mexico, just as that country teetered on the brink of its revolution. Mobs raged through the streets of Mexico City and through towns along the Texas-Mexico border, attacking dozens of American businesses, assaulting and insulting American citizens, destroying the American flag, and making angry speeches that denounced all North Americans. El Diario del Hogar, a Mexico City daily, called the people of the United States "giants of the dollar, pygmies of culture and barbarous Whites of the north." Francisco León de la Barra, Mexican ambassador to the United States, presented a claim for reparations to the United States Department of State. Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson of the United States retaliated by calling the riots a disgrace to Mexico City and to the Mexican people, and accused the Mexican government of doing little to head off the riots although advance warnings had been given. Then an unofficial and unconfirmed report was circulated that Antonio Rodríguez had really been born in New Mexico, which if true would have canceled Mexico's demand for reparation and made the United States the aggrieved party in the anti-American demonstrations. After arresting scores of rioters, the Mexican government announced that it would start conducting its own independent investigation of the Rodríguez affair through its consul at Eagle Pass. United States secretary of state Philander Chase Knox requested that Texas governor Thomas M. Campbell give Mexican diplomatic officials his full protection and support, while instigating a thorough investigation by the Texas authorities as well. Meanwhile, as both governments hastened to resolve the dispute as swiftly as possible, northern Mexico began seething in revolt, and the intense political conflicts that had been building between Francisco I. Madero's followers and those of President Porfirio Díaz finally exploded into the Mexican Revolution, which laid Mexico waste for more than a decade.
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Arnoldo De León, They Called Them Greasers: Anglo Attitudes Toward Mexicans in Texas, 1821–1900 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983). Houston Daily Post, November 4, 10, 13, 1910, José E. Limón, "El Primer Congreso Mexicanista de 1911," Aztlán 5 (Spring, Fall 1974).
Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
Victims of Mob Violence and Police Brutality
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Rebeca Anne Todd Koenig,
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 22, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
June 1, 1995
Most Recent Revision Date:
January 19, 2021
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: