Print this pageHistorical Text Archive © 1990 - 2015
Benjamín Hill was devoted to fair elections and fought to
establish them. He was born in San Antonio, Sinaloa in 1874. He attended school
in Culiacán, Sinaloa and Hermosillo, Sonora. When he finished his secondary
studies he went to a military academy in Rome, Italy. He returned to Navojoa,
Sonora and farmed. When the Anti-Reelectionist Party was formed to oppose the
continual reelections of Porfirio
Díaz, he joined. When Francisco
I. Madero toured Sonora drumming up support, he traveled with him. Politics
excited him so he founded Anti-Reelectionist clubs in Navojoa and Alamos. He
recruited his uncle, Alvaro Obregón, a successful farmer and minor politician,
to the Anti-Reelectionist cause. Luis E. Torres, the governor had
him jailed for several months in Hermosillo. This stiffened Hill's resolve and
dislike of the Díaz regime. Nevertheless, he became regidor of Navojoa.
Hill's political and military fortunes improved when Díaz fell from power in the Spring of 1911. Hill played a role in the fighting in Sonora. Because of this, Madero named him chief of military operations in southern Sonora and making him a colonel. When Pascual Orozco turned on Madero in 1912, Hill fought his efforts to take Sonora. Hill became political prefect in the Arispe district from June 26, 1912 to February 10, 1913, and then became political prefect in Hermosillo. On February 26, 1913, he was named chief of military operations in the district of Alamos.
Victoriano Huerta's overthrow of President Madero in 1913 and his having him murdered led to uprisings against Huerta, most of them under the rubric of Constitutionalism. Venustiano Carranza named himself First Chief of the Constitutionalist Army and led the fight against Huerta. Hill, together with Obregón, fought for Carranza then as well as later when Carranza contested with Pancho Villa for control of Mexico. In the battle against Villa, he was chief of operations in northern Sonora. Hill became a brigadier general in April, 1913. He fought in central Mexico and, after the battle of Trinidad, Guanajuato, was promoted to Division General. Usually, his fighting was coordinated with that of his close relative, Obregón. Obregón, who was his commander, put him in charge the Army of the Northwest.
He became Governor and military commander of Sonora from August 12, 1914 to January 6, 1915. From April 16, 1916 to April 30, 1917, he was military commander in central Mexico. Carranza, who did not always trust him because if his closeness to Obregón, did name him as chief of military operations in the Valley of Mexico. When Obregón and other Sonorans decided to overthrow Carranza in 1920, Hill supported the move. He had some hopes of running for president in the elections of that year but deferred to Obregón. When Obregón became president, he named Hill his Minister of War and Navy, a gesture of kindness for Hill was very ill. He nominally held the post for fourteen days. He died on December 14, 1920, perhaps of arsenic poisoning.
See Juan López de Escalera, Diccionario Biográfico y de Historia de México. México, Editorial del Magisterio, 1964. pp.508-9.