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Born in the state of Sonora, he entered politics in 1911 with his election as mayor of the town of Huatabampo. At the time, he supported President Francisco I. Madero against a revolt led by Pascual Orozco. When Madero was overthrown and murdered in the revolt led by Félix Díaz and General Victoriano Huerta (and supported by US Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson), Obregón joined Venustiano Carranza in revolt against Huerta's new government, and succeeded in forcing Huerta from power on July 14, 1914.
As a military commander, Obregón was a strong supporter of Carranza when he took office, and helped him, as Minister of War and the Navy, to repel rebel forces loyal to Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata. The armies of Obregón and Villa clashed in four battles. The first took place on April 6 and April 7, 1915, and ended with the withdrawal of the 'villistas'. The second in Celaya, Guanajuato took place between April 13 and April 15, when Villa attacked the city of Celaya but was repulsed. The third was the prolonged position battle of Trinidad and Santa Ana del Conde between April 29 and June 5, which was the definitive battle. Villa was again defeated by Obregón, who lost his right arm in the fight. Villa made a last attempt to stop Obregón's army in Aguascalientes, on July 10, but without success. All these battles are collectively known as the Celaya Battle, the largest military confrontation in Latin American history before the Falklands War of 1982.
In the political sphere, he adopted a radical line, and pushed through various changes to the new constitution of 1917, including the rights of workers to organize, strike, earn a minimum wage, and work a maximum number of hours. Once it was enacted, he retired from politics to pursue farming.
Obregón returned to politics in 1920, hoping to succeed Carranza as president. When it became apparent, however, that Carranza wanted to ensure that Ignacio Bonillas would succeed him, Obregón organized the military in a successful revolt against the president. Carranza was killed in the state of Puebla in an ambush led by General Rodolfo Herrera as he fled from Mexico City to Veracruz on horseback. For six months, from June 1, 1920 to December 1, 1920, Adolfo de la Huerta served as provisional president of Mexico, until elections could be held. When Obregón was declared the victor, de la Huerta stepped down and assumed the position of Secretary of the Treasury in the new government.
Obregón's four years in office were known for the agrarian and anticlerical reforms he instituted and for the cultivation of good relations with the United States, based on the sale of Mexican petroleum to the U.S. market. The greatest interruption to his term in office was a revolt by Adolfo de la Huerta, who regarded himself as the president's natural successor, while Obregón preferred Plutarco Elías Calles. Calles was elected and Obregón stepped down from office.
In 1928, Obregón ran again for office, winning a second term as president after a bitterly contested election. He returned to Mexico City to celebrate his victory, but was assassinated in a restaurant on July 17, 1928, by José de León Toral , a Roman Catholic seminary student opposed to Obregón's anticlerical platform.
Ciudad Obregón, in Gen. Obregón's home state of Sonora, was renamed in his honor; so was Álvaro Obregón borough in Mexico City, which contains the site of his assassination and a large monument to the fallen general.
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