Paper Money of Sonora

.. by Simon Prendergast

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Home The History The Estado de Sonora notes


The Estado de Sonora notes

In 1913 the governor of Sonora, José María Maytorena, had so little faith in armed opposition to Huerta that he asked for six months’ leave of absence and left for the United States. On 5 March the state legislature chose Ignacio Pesqueira as acting governor, pledged allegiance to Carranza and appointed Alvaro Obregón chief of military operations. In the next two months the Constitutionalists took control of almost all of the state. In May Obregón defeated the federal General Ojeda outside Guaymas but did not follow up his victory and Guaymas remained in federal hands. There Ojeda huddled, under the protection of his gunboats, showing somewhat more skill and resolution in defending a fixed point than in sallying forth into the hostile countryside.

On 5 April 1913 Doctor Samuel Navarro, a member of Carranza’s junta, reported that Sonora was trying to set up a bank of issue, with its notes guaranteed by the Tesorería del Estado, but that some felt that it would be better if the issue came from the Primer Jefe, was obligatory throughout the territory dominated by the Constitutionalists, and guaranteed by the future federal government, as the first step on the road to a single state-owned bank of issueAIF, F9-70-23. This, no doubt, contributed to Carranza decreeing his first issue, on 26 April 1913. The next month Francisco S. Elías, a wealthy Constitutionalist, announced that a Sonoran state bank would be established with a capitalisation of $1,000,000, with the Calles family subscribing $400,000. Calles was to become president of the institution that would be based at Nogales, Sonora and proposed to issue $1,000,000 in paper currency backed by a gold depositAlbuquerque Journal, 13 May 1913; El Paso Morning Times, 27 May 1913. Elias was a wealthy cattleman with a ranch in Arizpe. He served for the greater part of the revolution as financial and purchasing agent, frequently advancing his own money, and served as Carranza’s consul general at New York (Tucson Daily Citizen, 8 January 1916). Elias finally achieved his dream in February 1918 when the Compañía Bancaria Mercantil y Agrícola de Sonora, S. A. opened at Hermosillo, with a capital of $200,000 gold. Elias was president and Ygnacio Soto of the International Commission company, formerly assistant cashier of the First National Bank, was vice president. Enigmento Ybarra, formerly manager of the Banco Mercantil at Cananea, was cashier (Tucson Daily Citizen, 14 February 1918).

Maytorena returned in July. Most of the military commanders objected since he had displayed weakness and had also misappropriated state funds but they allowed him to return out of a respect for legality. Once installed in the statehouse, he wasted no time in building up his own power and party. An ambitious move to depose Calles and Bonillas was thwarted but subsequent measures, designed to revamp the state’s fiscal machinery, place it in gubernatorial hands and thus undermine the frontier brokers were more successful. In order to finance the fight against Huerta he resorted to the issue of bonds and of paper currency.

A decree (núm. 13) of 27 August 1913El Estado de Sonora, 29 August 1913 authorised the Tesorería General del Estado to issue two million pesos in paper currency. The notes were to be in ten series, A to J, each series being 200,000 pesos in five different denominations thus:

40,000 25c $10,000
40,000 50c $20,000
20,000 $1 $20,000
15,000 $5 $75,000
7,500 $10 $75,000

The decree specified the design (including the two portraits of the martyred president and vice-president, Madero and Pino Suárez), colours, text and signatures that the definitive issue (see Definitive issue) ultimately carried, but they took almost two years to arrive.

This issue was to be guaranteed by the state's revenue, so it was expected that this would widen the breach between the two political factions in Sonora, as the Pesqueira party practically controlled the entire receipts of import and export duties of the border ports. In other words, Maytorena was issuing the money, but it was to be redeemed by receipts of the opposing political factionDouglas Daily Dispatch, 6 September 1913.