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Omar Kinkaid

President Omar Kinkaid.

The 1875 Mexican elections took place in August 1875 for the purpose of choosing the President and Congress of the United States of Mexico. Incumbent President and Continentalist Party candidate Omar Kinkaid was able to take advantage of a split within the opposition Liberty Party to win a second term. This was the last democratic election to be held in the U.S.M. in the nineteenth century.

The 1869 Mexican elections had been poorly-organized, and President Kinkaid devoted his first term to building up the state-level Continentalist Party organizations and solidifying his hold on the party machinery in preparation for the 1875 elections. As a result, Kinkaid was renominated by acclimation at the national party caucus on 22 April 1875. The party platform praised Kinkaid as "a man of vision when others are blind," and called for "a continuation of prosperity and progress." The platform also spoke glowingly of ongoing work by Kramer Associates to build an interoceanic canal through Guatemala, "which will serve to bind our nation's peoples even more closely together than they are at present," and mentioned "our mission in the Caribbean."


Senator Carlos Concepción.

By contrast, the Liberty Party caucus displayed the deep divisions suffered by that party. Six years of increasing political control by the U.S.M.'s major corporations, Kramer Associates and Petroleum of Mexico, had further radicalized the Marxist class rhetoric of Mexicano Senator Carlos Concepción of Chiapas. Concepción had formed alliances with some of the more radical Indian tribes in Arizona and Mexico del Norte, and had begun to champion small farmers in California who were being victimized by K.A. He also denounced Guatemala's subordination to the U.S.M., comparing the relationship between the two countries to that of "thief and assassin." At the caucus, he declared, "If I am defeated at this caucus, it will be because of my race and the opposition of powerful interests opposed to the well-being of all Mexicans." He also spoke of "Mexico's wealth having fallen into the hands of a few, while the rest of the nation remains in chains." Sobel says that such remarks won Concepción much support among radical Libertarians, but alienated mainstream voters.

Although former Libertarian nominee Henry Colbert was an early favorite among the party's moderate wing, by the third day of the caucus Arizona Governor Thomas Rogers had gained the support of a majority of the delegates. As Governor of Arizona, Rogers had a strong record as a reformer, implementing mine-safety laws, and the U.S.M.'s first accident and unemployment compensation laws. Rogers was also a life-long opponent of slavery who vowed at the caucus to "destroy this evil, root and branch." He also pledged himself to "bring all Mexicans to full citizenship." Unlike Concepción, however, Rogers would not advocate attacks on the capitalist system itself, denoucing "those who would destroy, not create."

Thomas Rogers

Governor Thomas Rogers.

Rogers gained the Libertarian nomination on the second ballot, winning the support of the party's Anglos, moderate Mexicanos, some Indians, and most of the Hispanos. Immediately afterwards, he made the customary appeal for party unity, but Concepción had already walked out of the convention. The day after Rogers' nomination, Concepción announced that he would form a new party called the Workers' Coalition, and would oppose both Kinkaid and Rogers at the polls.

While campaigning that summer, Rogers stressed the same issues he had dealt with as Governor of Arizona, outlining a program of social insurance and aid to education. He also pledged to amend the Constitution to abolish slavery, investigate big business (by which he clearly meant Kramer Associates and Petroleum of Mexico), and "redirect our effort toward making a better Mexico, for all Mexicans." Rogers criticized Concepción for "having lost faith in our people, and substituting force for reason." He also denounced "the plutocracy of the Constitutionalists, and the hypocrisy of a President who is on a leash, but does not know it, or does not care."

As he had six years earlier, Kinkaid did little campaigning, relying instead on funding from K.A. and P.M. to hire an army of paid workers to gain the support of Mexican voters. These campaign workers told the crowds at political rallies to "vote for the man who has made Mexico great." Anglo voters in California and Jefferson were told that if they were "more content today than you were six years ago, the credit must go to President Kinkaid, and recognition of the fact should be made at the polls." A Kinkaid supporter in Jefferson said, "If Kinkaid loses, then it will no longer be safe for an Anglo to reside anywhere but in Jefferson and in parts of California. Our nation will be in flames. The work of a half century and more will be destroyed by either a half-crazed Mexicano or a well-meaning but lunatic reformer."

Concepción, for his part, refused to appear in areas of the U.S.M. controlled by Anglos, and called for a "union of Mexicanos against our oppressors" and the nationalization of Kramer Associates. By late July, he was giving most of his speeches in Spanish, and on one occasion called for the "removal of those who stole our country from us." Sobel states that it was clear in hindsight that Concepción had given up hope of winning the election, and was laying the groundwork for a revolutionary organization.

The 1875 Mexican Presidential Election
State Kinkaid votes Kinkaid % Rogers votes Rogers % Conc. votes Conc. % Total votes
Arizona 243,235 44.3 287,502 52.3 18,768 3.4 549,505
California 1,282,034 68.0 436,059 23.1 168,398 8.9 1,886,491
Chiapas 297,843 29.4 500,945 49.5 213,487 21.1 1,012,275
Durango 343,465 37.6 405,658 44.4 164,565 18.0 913,688
Jefferson 1,198,908 65.6 492,354 26.9 135,666 7.4 1,826,928
M.d.N. 205,398 47.4 210,303 48.5 18,003 4.2 433,704
U.S.M. 3,570,883 53.9 2,332,821 35.2 718,887 10.9 6,622,591

On election day, Rogers finished first in the states of Chiapas, Durango, Arizona, and Mexico del Norte, and received 35% of the votes. However, Kinkaid's leads in the more populous states of Jefferson and California allowed him to win an outright majority of 54% of the votes. Concepción, coming in third with 11% of the votes, declared the Workers' Coalition dead, replaced by a revolutionary movement called the Moralistas. He and his chief supporters then disappeared into the Sierra Madre Occidental and launched a guerilla campaign to overthrow the Mexican government.

Sobel's sources for the 1875 Mexican elections are Felix Lombardi's The Three-Cornered Hat: Conceptión, Kinkaid, Rogers, and the Election of 1875 (Mexico City, 1955); and Robert Kerr's Carlos Conceptión and the Birth of the New Radicalism (New York, 1960). Election results are from the U.S.M. Statistical Abstract, p. 112.

This was the Featured Article for the month of December 2014.

U.S.M. National Elections