Mexico’s Independence Day – September 16:
Mexico celebrates its independence every September 16 with parades, festivals, feasts, parties and more. Mexican flags are everywhere and the main plaza in Mexico City is packed. But what’s the history behind the date of September 16?
Prelude to Mexican Independence:
Long before 1810, Mexicans had begun to chafe under Spanish rule. Spain kept a stranglehold on her colonies, only permitting them limited trade opportunities and generally appointing Spaniards (as opposed to native-born Creoles) to important colonial posts. To the north, the United States had won its independence decades before, and many Mexicans felt they could, too. In 1808, Creole patriots saw their chance when Napoleon invaded Spain and imprisoned Ferdinand VII. This allowed Mexican and South American rebels to set up their own governments and yet claim loyalty to the imprisoned Spanish King.
It was a dangerous business, however. There might have been chaos in Spain, but the mother country still controlled the colonies. In 1809-1810 there were several conspiracies, most of which were found out and the conspirators harshly punished. In Querétaro, an organized conspiracy including several prominent citizens was preparing to make its move at the end of 1810. The leaders included parish priest Father Miguel Hidalgo, Royal army officer Ignacio Allende, government official Miguel Dominguez, cavalry captain Juan Aldama and others. The date of October 2 was selected for the insurrection against Spain to begin.
El Grito de Dolores:
In early September, however, the conspiracy began to unravel. The plot had been found out and one by one the conspirators were being rounded up by colonial officials. On September 15, 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo heard the bad news: the jig was up and the Spanish were coming for him. On the morning of the 16th, Hidalgo took to the pulpit in the town of Dolores and made a shocking announcement: he was taking up arms against the tyrannies of the Spanish government and his parishioners were all invited to join him. This famous speech became known as “El Grito de Dolores,” Or the “Cry of Dolores.” Within hours Hidalgo had an army: a large, unruly, poorly armed but resolute mob.
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