Cuerpo de Ejército del Noroeste

Alvaro Obregón entered politics in 1911 with his election as municipal president of the town of Huatabampo, Sonora and became a supporter of Madero shortly after Madero became President of Mexico. In April 1912 he volunteered to join the local Maderista forces to oppose Pascual Orozco’s revolt and was quickly promoted through the ranks. On Madero’s assassination he offered his services to the government of Sonora in opposition to the Huerta regime. On 30 September 1913 Carranza appointed Obregón commander-in-chief of the Constitutional Army in the Northwest, with jurisdiction over Sonora, Sinaloa, Durango, Chihuahua, and Baja California.

In November 1913 Obregón’s forces captured Culiacán, the capital of Sinaloa, thus securing the supremacy of the Constitutionalist Army throughout the entire area of Northwestern Mexico. It was in Culiacán that Obregón authorized his first issue of currency, a series of notes ($5, $10, $20 and $50), dated 23 April 1914, that the Paymaster General would repay within a fortnight of that date.

These were followed by a further series ($1, $5, $10, $20 and $50) dated 1 May 1914 and now no longer giving a period in which they would be redeemed. The first series reportedly had a total value of 50,000 pesos whilst the amount of the second is unknown.

These notes bear more than a passing resemblance to the ones that Riveros had already issued in San Blas and Culiacán, and one can perhaps see a desire to impose a generally accepted template.

These notes had the printed signature of Obregón and the handwritten or stamped signature of Chief of Staff (Mayor Jefe de Estado Mayor) Francisco Roque Serrano Barbeytia. Serrano, a Sinaloan, was closely connected with the Sonoran revolutionaries headed by Obregón and Plutarco Calles. In 1927, after the Revolution, he was a candidate for the presidency against Obregón, who was seeking a second term. Serrano was arrested for plotting against Obregón, and on 3 October, along with several other prisoners, was murdered on Obregón’s orders.

A third issue, this time adding a 50c note to the $1, $5, $10, $20 and $50, and carrying the Series letter B, was issued from Tepic (in the future state of Nayarit) on 10 June 1914.

In early July, Obregón moved south to Jalisco, where his troops defeated the federal troops. He then moved on to the capital. On 11 August he signed the treaties that ended the Huerta regime and on 16 August his troops marched triumphantly into Mexico City.

In summary:

Date Denom Series Number from to Total value
23 April 1914 $5          
$10          
$20          
$50          
1 May 1914 $1          
$5          
$10          
$20          
$50          
10 June 1914 50c          
$1          
$5          
$10          
$20          
$50          

Use in other states

Chihuahua

When Luis Herrera took Parral in Chihuahua in November 1915 he included the notes amongst the issues he declared to be of forced circulationAMPar, Gobierno, Jefatura Política y Presidencia Municipal, Correspondencia, caja 71, exp 2.

Querétaro

On 9 January 1915 the Presidente Municipal of San Juan del Río, Enriquez Martínez Uribe, reported that a merchant had refused to accept a $50 note, issued by Obregón in CuliacánAQ, Fondo Poder Ejecutivo Sec 2ª Hacienda C-1 Año 1915 Exp. 144 telephone call to Secretario General, Querétaro, 9 January 1915.On 13 January the Secretaría de Hacienda in Mexico City told Querétaro that the issues were of forced circulationAQ, Fondo Poder Ejecutivo Sec 2ª Hacienda C-1 Año 1915 Exp. 144 telegram Secretario de Hacienda to Governor, Querétaro, 13 January 1915 and the message was passed on to San Juan del Río, the Administrador General de Rentas and the Tesorero General in Querétaro and the Presidente Municipal of Amealco (to be forwarded to the Presidentes Municipales of Cadereyta, Tolimán and JalpanAQ, Fondo Poder Ejecutivo Sec 2ª Hacienda C-1 Año 1915 Exp. 144.

In mid-March 1915 the governor of Querétaro told the public that, by order of the Secretaría de Hacienda, the notes issued by Obregón in Culiacán, in May 1914, were of forced circulation La Sombra de Arteaga, Tomo XLIX, Núm. 9, 18 March 1915.

Counterfeits

On 15 August 1914 the public in Guadalajara were warned that counterfeit 50c notes (billetes de 50 cs. expedidos por el Jefe de Cuerpo de Ejército del Noroeste, Gral. Alvaro Obregón, a later notice called them billetes falsificados de los que puso en circulación el Cuartel General en el Territorio de Tepic) were circulatingBoletín Militar, Tomo I, Núm. 27, 15 August 1914; El Reformador, Tomo I, Núm. 18, 21 August 1914 and a week later the government decided to call the notes in, prohibiting their circulation. Within ten days the government would exchange them for other notes of legal tender. Alvaro Obregón sent a special envoy from Mexico City with sufficient money to make the exchangeBoletín Militar, Tomo I, Núm. 33, 22 August 1914: México Libre, Núm. 11, 22 August 1914. Up until 10 September the notes were exchanged in the oficinas rentisticas, and thereafter in the Dirección General de RentasMéxico Libre, 24, 4 September 1914: México Libre, Año I, Tomo I, Núm. 31, 11 September 1914. Pedro Flores González, comissioned by the Jefatura de Hacienda, was in charge of the exchange (El Reformador, Tomo I, Núm. 34, 9 September 1914).

A similar General Order was made four days later in ColimaEl Popular, Colima, Epoca Tercera, Núm. 35, 25 August 1914.

Withdrawal

On 1 June 1915, in its circular núm. 28, Carranza’s Secretaría de Hacienda announced that since the reason for the fractional notes issued for the campaign needs of the Cuerpo de Ejército del Noroeste had passed, they would be exchanged in the Tesorería General de la Nación for fractional notes of legal tender or their equivalence in Constitutionalist notes.

On 18 September the Secretaría announced that until it had sufficient funds to exchange the notes issued by Obregón and Diéguez Carranza had decreed that these would continue to be of forced circulation. Two days later the Jefe de Hacienda in Guadalajara, Gabriel Vargas, stated that the notes still remained of legal, forced circulation, until they were exchanged in his Jefatura. In this respect these notes were in a better position than others that had to be deposited in the Jefaturas in exchange for receipts, to be redeemed at a later date.

On 14 October Manuel M. Diéguez, in Guaymas, Sonora listed as of forced circulation the Cuerpo de Ejército del Noroeste notes issued in Guadalajara but said that the earlier issues should be withdrawn as they were no longer in circulation.

On 28 April 1916, as part of his scheme to unify the currency, Carranza listed twenty different issues made by Constitutionalist commanders that the Tesorería General de la Nación, the Jefaturas de Hacienda and the Administraciones Principales del Timbre would receive on deposit before 30 June to be exchanged in a manner to be decided at a later date. After 1 July these issue would be null and void and anyone who tried to circulate them would be punished.
Among the issues listed were
(1)    Vales del Cuerpo de Ejército del Noroeste, emitidos en Tepic el 10 de junio de 1914, y firmados por Alvaro y F. R. Serrano.
(2)    Vales del Cuerpo de Ejército del Noroeste, emitidos en Tepic el 10 de julio de 1914, y firmados por Alvaro y F. R. Serrano.

On 24 July Carranza decreed that from 1 August they would exchange the notes listed in the decree of 28 April that had been deposited in the offices of Hacienda with infalsificables at a rate of ten to one. However, on 4 September 1917 Carranza expressly forbad speculation in the Tepic and Guadalajara notes (in a list that repeated all the acceptable issues), so they might have had quite a shelf life.