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Wheelan Collection of Mexican Revolution Photographs

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This may well be the most famous action photograph of Pancho Villa. Certainly it is a characteristic pose. An expert horseman, he was showing off for photographers while a column of his famous cavalry the Dorados passed by, extending seemingly into infinity. Versions of this picture, some cropped to concentrate on Villa, others revealing the entire panorama, have been reproduced in dozens of publications. This print, possibly dating back to 1913, is just one of over 300 photographs that comprise the John Davidson Wheelan Collection located in the Texas A&M University Archives.

Wheelan was one of a legion of newspaper and magazine reporters and photographers who covered the Mexican Revolution. He probably arrived in Northern Mexico early in the winter of 1913-1914. The main attraction was General Francisco (Pancho) Villa, who held Ciudad Juarez, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. By this time Villa had the reputation of being the most able military commander among the Constitutionalists, a coalition of revolutionaries in rebellion against the provisional government of General Victoriano Huerta. In February, 1913, Huerta had conspired in the overthrow of the constitutionally elected government of President Francisco Madero. Villa, a devout supporter of Madero, was one of several leaders in Northern Mexico who were fighting for the restoration of constitutional government and for revolutionary reforms.

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