Paper Money of Chihuahua

.. by Simon Prendergast

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This section contains a selection of documents from Durango, mainly concerning the use of Chihuahua notes within that state during the revolution but others referring to the state's own issues.

Durango is remarkable for the number of different state issues made during the Revolution, partly a function of the different factions in the state, and the manner that issues seem to overlap. The notes also enjoyed widespread usage through the northern states, even down to Mexico City, complementing the other revolutionary issues.

Within a month of Madero’s assassination in February 1913, rebels led by Calixto Contreras and Domingo Arrieta already controlled rural Durango. Three months later they occupied the state capital and were poised to launch an offensive against Torreón that would mark the beginning of the end for the Huerta government far away in Mexico City. The young civil engineer Pastor Rouaix was appointed governor.

In the beginning the rebels extorted forced loans from merchants and other well to do citizens, many of whom had all their wealth in lands and buildings. As these properties could not be readily sold, a group of businessmen, who called themselves Asociación Durangueña, on 29 July 1913 agreed a contract with Manuel del Real Alfaro, the Director General de Rentas del Estado, for an issues of bonos. On 13 September, because of the shortage of small change, Rouaix agreed that the Association could replace $5.000 in $5 notes with a similar amount in 20c notes, so there were four different values. A second issue of 20c, 50c and one peso notes was decreed on 3 October 1913.

The first Estado de Durango notes were issued in accordance with a decree of 12 December 1913. On 27 December 1913 Pastor Rouaix told Carranza’s agent, Rafael Zubarán, in Hermosillo that his government had just issued paper money guarantied with future tax receipts which it reckoned it could do in the face of the normal costs of war.  However, the unexpected withdrawal from Torreón had made his government hesitate to take on responsibility for redeeming its notes without a guarantee. Zubarán replied that Carranza invited Rouaix to issue paper money which would be redeemed with a special law once order had been restored. So, in the next issue, dated January 1914, one value had a specific guarantee whilst the others had a more general, indefinite backing. Obviously more fractional notes were needed as 10c and 50c notes were issued in March 1914.

On 2 June Carranza authorised Pastor Rouaix to issue $1,500,000, in addition to the $1,000,000 already issued with his approval. Then on 24 June, Carranza confirmed his authorization to Durango to issue up to $2,000,000 in vales.

Because of personal animosities Domingo Arrieta and his brothers aligned themselves nationally with Venustiano Carranza rather than Pancho Villa. However, they also coveted political power at the state level and as commanders of the military forces that garrisoned Durango City in the summer of 1914 openly fought with Pastor Rouaix for control of the state government. In early August 1914 Arrieta forced Rouaix's resignation and assumed the governorship. That month there was another issue of $5 and $50 notes, with the same design and with Carranza’s authorization still on the reverse, but with the signatures of Arrieta as governor. On 22 September Carranza, perhaps retroactively, authorized Arrieta to issue up to a million pesos for the forces under his command.

Two other issues cannot be definitely located as to time and place. The first was four similar denominations (50c, $1, $5 and $10), Series F, dated December 1914, ordered through General Enrique Nájera and printed by the firm of J. M. Iguiniz of Guadalajara, Jalisco. The other issue, a $5 dated December 1914 and a $5 and $10 dated March 1915 are very primitive, with simple typefaces, handwritten numbers and a validating seal on a blank back. Possible reasons are that these makeshift issues were due to a failure of the Guadalajara firm to deliver, or to the primitive resources Arrieta found at his disposal.

The Villista Emiliano G. Saravia took over as provisional governor on 14 November 1914. He produced $1 notes dated October 1914 and January 1915, with his signature together with Antonio Gaxiola  as secretary and J.M.Olargaray as Director General. M. Gomez also produced a 50c note, dated December 1914 with the same three signatories.

There is no indication of the date of a series of three pasteboard cartones (5c, 10c and 20c) though a later note refers to (some of) them as a Saravia issue, and they will still being issued in September and October 1915.

The last Villista Governor of Durango, from August to October 1915, was General Máximo García. When Gaxiola met with Villa in Torreón in March he had discussed an issue which the state was about to launch, but it seems to have taken until September. García’s signature appears on a series of notes. These were printed by M. Gomez and complement Saravia’s last $1 note. All are dated September 1915.

In contrast to the relative calm of the Villista Durango, the Carrancista era which began when pursuing Carrancista military forces invaded the state from every direction in the autumn of 1915 was experienced by nearly everyone as a time of war, famine, and pestilence. Unlike the Villista armies, the Carrancista forces that invaded Durango were foreign armies of occupation with no local ties, affiliations, or loyalties, except in Durango City and in the towns of western Durango that continued to be garrisoned by Arrieta forces, nominally loyal to Carranza. As a result the people of Durango were more Villista than ever in 1916.

For ease of navigation I have had scroll buttons but the selection is not meant to be considered complete.

 

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