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RAMOS, BASILIO, JR.

RAMOS, BASILIO, JR. (ca. 1890–?). According to his own account, Basilio Ramos, Jr., was born around 1890 in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. He later attended high school in Norman, Oklahoma. Ramos was a primary figure in the Plan of San Diego, a plot that called for an armed rebellion of non-whites against the United States to begin on February 20, 1915, at two o’clock in the morning. 

In 1914 Ramos had been jailed in Mexico for supporting Victoriano Huerta, a Mexican revolutionary who was supported by the military and business interests. Authorities released him on May 29 on the condition that he leave Mexico immediately and not return. After crossing the border, Ramos found a job in San Diego, Texas, for the Royal Brewing Company of Kansas City. He soon returned to Mexico, and on December 29, 1914, he was arrested and incarcerated in Monterrey. According to Ramos’s sworn statement later given to Hidalgo County officials, during this stint in jail, an unknown associate of Ramos allegedly created the Plan of San Diego and smuggled it into his cell around January 6, 1915. Ramos, along with eight others, signed the document. According to Ramos’s own account, only two weeks elapsed between his first knowledge of the plot and his arrest in Texas.  

In January 1915 the deputy sheriff of Hidalgo County, Tom Mayfield, arrested Ramos in McAllen. Ramos was then going by the alias B. R. Garcia and had apparently approached a man named Andres Villareal in Hidalgo County and asked for support for the rebellion, but Villareal immediately alerted the authorities. Among the many papers Ramos had in his possession, authorities discovered one titled the “Plan of San Diego, Texas.” The document called for Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and California to break away from the United States and form an independent nation to be annexed by Mexico in the future. Rebels would attain six other adjacent U.S. states for the purpose of creating an independent nation for blacks, and the manifesto promised to return ancestral lands to Native American groups (and specifically named the Apaches of Arizona) in exchange for their support of the cause. Perhaps most shocking was the plan’s call for the execution of all prisoners taken during the rebellion, along with all Anglo males over the age of sixteen. The document appointed Ramos to establish juntas in the five southwestern states that were to be liberated. After the discovery of the plan, United States Marshal T. P. Bishop and Special Agent Frank J. McDevitt transported Ramos to Brownsville, where E. C. Breniman of the Department of Justice charged him with conspiracy against the United States. Authorities held Ramos in the Cameron County jail on charges of sedition, and he was unable to pay the $5,000 bond the judge had set for his release.

By May 1915 the judge reduced this bond payment to $100 and stated that Ramos “ought to be tried for lunacy, not conspiring against the United States.” Ramos made bail and fled to Mexico. Although he had left the country, his actions continued to have significant ramifications in South Texas during 1915. Ramos’s arrest and the discovery of the plan significantly exacerbated racial tensions in South Texas. A series of raids in July and August of 1915 and the deaths of several Anglos, purported to have been carried out by Mexican nationals and their Mexican American sympathizers, resulted in indiscriminate violence aimed at Tejanos. Anglo citizens and law enforcement officials alike did not simply strike back against those suspected of participating in the raids, but against any Tejanos they saw as “bad Mexicans.” After nearly every major raid in 1915, civilian vigilante groups, the Texas Rangers, and others targeted ethnic Mexicans. Lynchings often took place regardless of guilt. 

Little is known of Ramos’s life after he returned to Mexico. In December 1916 a U.S. military intelligence officer reportedly spoke to him in Monterrey and stated that Ramos expressed disillusionment with the revolutionary movement and planned to go Laredo to visit his family. There is no record of Ramos’s activities after this point, and the date and cause of his death is unknown.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

William M. Hager, "The Plan of San Diego: Unrest on the Texas Border in 1915," Arizona and the West 5 (Winter 1963). Charles H. Harris III and Louis R. Sadler, The Plan de San Diego: Tejano Rebellion, Mexican Intrigue (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2013). Benjamin Heber Johnson, Revolution in Texas: How a Forgotten Rebellion and Its Bloody Suppression Turned Mexicans into Americans (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005). Miriam Elizabeth Villanueva, "Oppression and Violence along the Border: The Plan of San Diego as Reported in 1915 Newspapers," The Journal of South Texas 24 (Spring 2011).

Ethan Rice

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Handbook of Texas Online, Ethan Rice, "Ramos, Basilio, Jr. ," accessed December 16, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fralv.

Uploaded on July 26, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.