Benjamín G. Hill (1874-1920) was a military man who fought in the Mexican Revolution fought in Mexico between 1910 and 1917. He held important positions during the armed conflict, including that of Governor of the Mexican State of Sonora, as well as Minister of War and Navy of Mexico.
He participated in military campaigns that brought several presidents to power, but Hill did not hesitate to defend a fight that he considered fair, at a time in Mexico’s history characterized by bloody dictatorships and conditions of extreme poverty that led his people to rise up in arms. .
Benjamín Guillermo Hill Pozos was born on March 31, 1874 in San Antonio, State of Sinaloa. His parents were Benjamín R. Hill Salido and Gregoria Pozos.
Since childhood, Benjamin received a careful education in different cities of Mexico and the world. At the age of seven he was transferred from San Antonio to Culiacán in the same state of Sinaloa, where he completed his primary studies.
Later he attended secondary school in Hermosillo, to later travel to Europe, stay a few months in Germany and finally settle in Rome, where he attended a military school.
Back to mexico
Not much information is known about its activities in Europe. The next information that is known about Hill is that she returned to Mexico to settle in Navojoa, Sonora, where she worked in the fields.
In 1908 he was appointed Alderman of the Navojoa City Council and he would soon begin to take the steps that led him to participate in the armed conflict that was about to begin in his country.
Mexican revolution in context
This historical event began on November 20, 1910 during the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz (1830-1915), who by that time had already served four presidential terms at different times and this last term had already reached 26 uninterrupted years.
One of the events that started the Mexican Revolution was Díaz’s announcement not to attempt a new reelection and to withdraw from power at the end of his most recent presidential term.
With this announcement, the opposition to the government saw the opportunity for a change and from this group emerged Francisco Ignacio Madero (1783-1913) who launched his candidacy for the presidency by making tours throughout the country in search of followers to create a political party.
Finally Porfirio Díaz did not fulfill his promise, he relaunched his candidacy for a fifth presidential term and people like Madero were arrested. It would still be seven years before the promulgation of the 1917 Constitution, which for some historians would mark the end of the Mexican Revolution.
Benjamín Hill joins the Madero campaign
In 1909 Hill was attracted to the movement started by Madero and joined his presidential campaign, publicly opposing President Porfirio Díaz.
He widely promoted the reading of Madero’s book: The Presidential Succession (1908), which Hill called a “radiance of democracy.” For this reason, he distributed two hundred copies of the work in Valle del Mayo and Álamos.
In 1910 he created clubs for the anti-reelectionist cause in Nogales and Alamos, in addition to offering to accompany Madero on his tour of Sonora in order to serve as his guide and support him in transmitting his message.
This action upset the governor of Sonora, Luis Emeterio Torres, who at the end of that year ordered the imprisonment of Hill in the Hermosillo penitentiary.
Support for the Mexican Revolution
In April 1911, Hill was rescued from prison by Madero’s forces who had increased their numbers during his months in prison. The experience of expressing his opinion had changed him, generating in Hill an even deeper rejection of the system that had imprisoned him.
He immediately joined the armed movement against Porfirio Díaz, participating in the emblematic capture of the Navojoa square in favor of the Maderista cause.
In May 1911, his military campaign was momentarily halted as a result of the Ciudad Juárez treaties, which eventually led to the resignation of Porfirio Díaz and the holding of elections, in which Madero emerged victorious as the new president.
Hill’s support for the revolution was immediately rewarded by Madero, who in May 1911 granted him the rank of colonel and the position of Chief of Military Operations of Sonora.
Being on the side of the victors brought its benefits. In 1912, Hill was appointed prefect of the Arizpe District, Sonora, a position he held until February 1913.
Hill then occupied the prefecture of Hermosillo, a city that he had to defend from the rebellion of the revolutionary leader Pascual Orozco (1882-1915) who rose up against the Madero government.
Despite his efforts, the rebellion against Madero prospered and the president was assassinated, with Victoriano Huerta (1850-1916) taking his place.
From then on, Hill joined the constitutionalist army that emerged after the coup against Madero, fighting in the northwestern division under General Álvaro Obregón (1880-1928).
In this period he served as Chief of Operations in southern Sonora and participated in the occupation of the Plaza de Álamos, which occurred on April 17, 1913.
In September of that year, he was appointed Brigadier General and in 1914 he returned to the State of Sonora to take charge of the Headquarters of Military Operations in Naco.
That same year the battles of the Constitutionalist Army bore fruit, achieving the resignation of Victoriano Huerta to the presidency.
Governor of Sonora
After Huerta’s departure, the presidency was occupied by the Chief of the Constitutionalist Army, Venustiano Carranza (1859-1920) who soon had serious clashes with other revolutionary leaders such as Francisco Villa (1878-1923).
Hill maintained his loyalty to Carranza by fighting on his behalf and was rewarded for it by being appointed Governor and Military Commander of the State of Sonora in August 2014.
Back to the battlefield
The revolution continued and Hill continued to fight in defense of the Carranza government. In Naco he resisted the Villar attacks for three months and participated in the Bajío campaign together with his former commander Álvaro Obregón.
Hill was promoted to Major General after the Battle of Trinidad and appointed Chief of the Garrison of the Plaza de la Ciudad de México.
By 1920, Carranza’s performance made Hill stop following him and support the Agua Prieta plan, a manifesto unknown to the leadership of the constitutionalist commander.
He traveled to the State of Morelos where he obtained the support of the Zapatista general Genovevo de la O (1876-1952) and continued to fight in the military rebellion that ended with the assassination of Carranza in May of that year and the appointment of Álvaro Obregón as the new president.
Obregón did not forget Hill’s contribution to the cause and on December 1, 1920, he appointed him Minister of War and Navy.
Hill spent less than fifteen days in office, since he died on December 14 in Mexico City at 46 years of age.
Although some historians point out that Hill was ill with cancer, the most widely shared hypothesis was that he died of poison after attending a dinner.
They claim that the military’s rapid rise had drawn so much attention that some saw him as a future presidential candidate. The military’s relatives blamed Plutarco Elías Calles, who assumed the presidency four years after Hill’s death, for his death.
Hill’s military achievements continue to be valued to this day, especially in the State of Sonora, where a municipality was baptized with the name of the Sinaloa soldier, in honor of his contribution to the Mexican Revolution.
- Sedena Historical Archive. (2010) Division General Benjamin Hill. Taken from filehistorico2010.sedena.gob.mx
- Héctor Aguilar Camín. (2017). The nomadic frontier: Sonora and the Mexican Revolution. Taken from books.google.co.ve
- Government of Mexico. Secretary of National Defense. (2019). General of Div. Benjamin G. Hill. Taken from gob.mx
- Navojoa history. (2019). Taken from Navojoa.gob.mx
- Benjamin Hill City Hall. (2019). History. Taken from benjaminhill.gob.mx