Bio of the Month Pancho Villa
BIOGRAPHY®: PANCHO VILLA
- Every culture has its own folklore and mythology. What is folklore? Did Mexican folklore affect the true story of Pancho Villa?
- Pancho Villa has been called the "Mexican Robin Hood," comparing him to the legendary hero of Sherwood Forest. Why? Do you think this is an accurate comparison?
- People in different social and economic categories in Mexico have differing views of Pancho Villa. What are some of the factors that you think would influence someone's opinions or assessments of Pancho Villa? Discuss.
- Pancho Villa has been described by some as a hero, and by others as a ruthless murderer. Which of these descriptions do you think is most accurate, and why? Of which other historical can you ask the same question?
- Pancho Villa's real name was Doroteo Arango. Why did he change his name? Do you think his name change added to his reputation as an outlaw? Discuss.
- How would you describe a "revolutionary"? What was Pancho Villa's first act as a revolutionary? What event precipitated this act?
- What is a civil war? How is a civil war different than other wars? How do you think the civil war in Mexico affected the nation overall?
- Why do you think so many people were drawn to Pancho Villa as a revolutionary leader? Did he follow through on his promises? Discuss.
- Discuss the changes in military technology that occurred during Villa's lifetime.
- How did barbed wire help to defeat Villa?
- In 1916, Villa and his followers attacked the New Mexico town of Columbus. Why did he attack the United States?
- How would you describe Pancho Villa's overall legacy?
- Ask students to construct a timeline of the major events of Pancho Villa's life as well the most significant battles and campaigns of the Mexican Revolution. They can use photographs, historical documents, and illustrations to highlight Villa's role in this historic civil war.
- Pancho Villa was a man shrouded by myth. Ask students to choose another legendary historical figure (i.e. Che Guevara, Hernando Cortez, Alexander the Great etc.) who has reportedly engaged in controversial behavior in order to achieve an ultimate goal. Write a 3-5 page compare and contrast paper, discussing similarities and differences between Pancho Villa and a historical figure of their choice.
- During Pancho Villa's era, considerable tensions arose between the United States and Mexico. Struggles over territory around the borders between these two nations continued. Ask students to locate a map of Mexico and the United States from this era and discuss the geographical boundaries between the two nations. Then, ask them to research the ways these borders had changed in the previous century. Students should then write a short essay describing how these boundaries changed, from the early 1800s through the end of the Mexican Revolution. Students may also present their findings in a visual presentation such as a timeline or a series of maps.