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Independence Day in Mexico

Independence Day ( Día de la Independencia) is a Mexican holiday to celebrate the “cry of independence” on September 16, 1810, which started a revolt against the Spaniards. It follows from the day of the Cry of Dolores (El Grito de Dolores), on September 15.


Celebrate Independence Day

Mexicans celebrate their country’s Independence Day with fireworks, parties (fiestas), food, dance and music on September 16. Flags, flowers and decorations in the colors of the Mexican flag – red, white and green – are seen in public areas in cities and towns in Mexico. Whistles and horns are blown and confetti is thrown to celebrate this festive occasion. “Viva Mexico” or “Viva la independencia” are shouted amidst the crowds on this day.

Public Life

Independence Day is a national public holiday in Mexico. Banks, schools, government offices and many businesses are closed. Some streets and roads may be closed or restricted in major cities to make way for large celebrations. People intending on travelling via public transport in Mexico should check with public transit authorities on any timetable or route changes.

About Independence Day

Independence Day celebrates the day Miguel Hidalgo is believed to have made the cry of independence ( El Grito de la Independencia) in the town of Dolores, in the north-central part of the Mexican state of Guanajuato. Hidalgo was one of the nation’s leaders during the War of Independence in Mexico.

There is no scholarly agreement on what was exactly said by Hidalgo, but his speech, also known as the cry of Dolores ( el Grito de Dolores), was made on September 16, 1810 to motivate people to revolt against the Spanish regime. Hidalgo’s army fought against the Spanish soldiers in the fight for independence, but he was captured and executed on July 30, 1811. Mexico’s independence was not declared until September 28, 1821.

Did You Know?

Miguel Hidalgo was a priest but was also known to have lived outside the parameters of celibacy. He was believed to have fathered children, including 2 daughters.

Independence Day Observances

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday Type

An Overview of the Actual Causes of the Mexican War of Independence

Encouraged by the voyages of the famous Christopher Columbus, many European explorers forayed into the ‘New World’, i.e., the Americas. Incidentally, the name ‘America’ comes from the name of another such explorer, Amerigo Vespucci. Hernán Cortés, a Spanish conquistador eliminated the incumbent powers in central America, primary among which were the Aztecs, and established Spanish rule in 1521. The political and social structure established by the Spanish Viceroy was one that heavily favored the Spanish population. Spanish-born peninsulares and American-born Spaniards, criollos held the higher positions, and the mestizos, born of mixed parentage, and the indigenous people were given low-level, labor jobs. The social paradigm, always unbalanced with respect to the demographics, was bound to fail at some point. Mexico gained independence from the oppressive Spanish rule in 1821, exactly 3 centuries after the fall of the Aztec empire.

Conspiracy of the Machetes

There had been an attempt, 11 years before the start of the actual war of independence, to eradicate the Spanish from Mexico. A poor criollo worker Pedro de la Portilla and his friends and relatives had planned to free convicts from jails and, with their help, ransack the Viceregal offices, capturing important officials and Spanish funds. However, a cousin of Portilla, not coming to terms with the explosive plan, ratted on the company to the authorities and all of them were arrested. Some died in prison, but Portilla survived to see an independent Mexico. This failed attempt, called the conspiracy of the machetes was the first spark of Mexico’s independence.

In a speech, now famously known as
Political upheavals in Spain – Napoleon had installed his brother Joseph on the throne of Spain, usurping the traditional Spanish Monarch Ferdinand VII – resulted in an unstable Mexico, divided between loyalties towards the Viceroy and Ferdinand VII. The peninsulares succeeded in banishing the existing Viceroy to Spain and installing a retired Spanish general, Pedro Garibay, on the post. The uncertain government, combined with the heavy taxes levied upon the people of Mexico, resulted in nationwide unrest and, ultimately, the war of Independence. The war was brought about by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Roman Catholic priest, on 16 September 1810. Grito de Dolores (The Cry of Dolores), he passionately urged the gathered masses to fight for Mexico’s freedom. The army, mostly made up of untrained native Indians, sacked the important mining town of Guanajuato and killed many Spaniards and criollos there. The massacre did not go down well with several of Hidalgo’s colleagues, and Ignacio de Allende, a co-conspirator, left Hidalgo with a part of the army. Despite winning a few skirmishes, neither Hidalgo nor Allende could make a decisive move against the Spanish. Both were captured – separately – and executed. Their heads were hung in Guanajuato as a warning to the rebels.

The execution of Hidalgo did not deter the Mexicans from fighting for their freedom. The leadership was taken over by Jose Maria Morelos, another Roman Catholic priest. Under his leadership, the rebels captured the cities of Oaxaca and Acapulco. It was Morelos who declared the official document of independence, which emphasized on equal rights to the native-born Mexicans. He was captured and suffered the same fate as that of Hidalgo and Allende on December 22, 1815. Morelos is one of the revolutionary rebel leaders considered to be the national hero of Mexico.

The efforts of Hidalgo and Morelos were carried forward by Vicente Guerrero and Guadalupe Victoria. These revolutionary guerrillas fought from Oaxaca and Puebla, respectively. In the year 1820, the Viceroy of New Spain, Juan Ruiz de Apodaca, ordered Agustin de Iturbide, a conservationist Creole, to defeat these revolutionaries and put an end to the Mexican freedom struggle.

At the same time, the monarch of Spain, King Ferdinand VII, was forced to sign a liberal Spanish constitution with republic values and practices. Iturbide felt that it might affect the status of the Creoles in Mexico and also realized that if Mexico achieved freedom from Spain, the Creoles might get a chance to rule the country. This made him join forces with the revolutionaries and he came up with the ‘Plan of Iguala’, also known as the ‘Plan of the Three Guarantees’.

The Plan of Iguala was based on three main principles that would lay the foundation of independent Mexico. The plan read that Mexico would get its freedom from Spain; Roman Catholicism would be its official religion; and the peninsulares and the criollos in Mexico would gain equal status. In reality, Iturbide only intended to shift the seat of power from Spain into Mexico. His intention was to have the now-weakened Ferdinand VII come to Mexico. However, the unknowing masses, having been promised independence, largely favored the plan.

The Viceroy, knowing that a rebel victory was inevitable, resigned from his post. The Treaty of Cordoba was signed between Iturbide and the representatives of the Spanish Empire, declaring Spain as an independent monarchy to be ruled by a European king or a local criollo.

However, Mexican freedom benefited only the elite classes, i.e., the Spanish born in Mexico. When Ferdinand VII or any other monarch refused to take up the rule of Mexico, Iturbide crowned himself as the Emperor of Mexico. Nevertheless, his rule was short-lived. He was dethroned a year later and the rule was taken over by the Congress, headed by the triumvirate of Guadalupe Victoria, Nicolas Bravo and Pedro Celestino Negrete.

Mexico celebrates its Independence day on September 16, the day when Hidalgo summoned his followers to join him in the freedom fight. This day is celebrated with great pomp and delight in every town of Mexico. The celebrations start on September 15, when a member of the government announces the grito or ‘cry of independence’ as announced by Hidalgo. The Independence Day celebration is a way for people to remember and honor the heroes of the war who fought for the freedom of their future generations.

Mexican War of Independence begins – Sep 16, 1810 – HISTORY.com

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest, launches the Mexican War of Independence with the issuing of his Grito de Dolores, or “Cry of Dolores,” The revolutionary tract, so-named because it was publicly read by Hidalgo in the town of Dolores, called for the end of 300 years of Spanish rule in Mexico, redistribution of land, and racial equality. Thousands of Indians and mestizos flocked to Hidalgo’s banner of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and soon the peasant army was on the march to Mexico City.

In the early 19th century, Napoleon’s occupation of Spain led to the outbreak of revolts all across Spanish America. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla-“the father of Mexican independence”-launched the Mexican rebellion with his “Cry of Delores,” and his populist army came close to capturing the Mexican capital. Defeated at Calderón in January 1811, he fled north but was captured and executed. He was followed by other peasant leaders, however, such as José María Morelos y Pavón, Mariano Matamoros, and Vicente Guerrero, who all led armies of native and racially mixed revolutionaries against the Spanish and the Royalists.

Ironically, it was the Royalists-made up of Mexicans of Spanish descent and other conservatives-who ultimately brought about independence. In 1820, liberals took power in Spain, and the new government promised reforms to appease the Mexican revolutionaries. In response, Mexican conservatives called for independence as a means of maintaining their privileged position in Mexican society.

In early 1821, Agustín de Iturbide, the leader of the Royalist forces, negotiated the Plan of Iguala with Vicente Guerrero. Under the plan, Mexico would be established as an independent constitutional monarchy, the privileged position of the Catholic Church would be maintained, and Mexicans of Spanish descent would be regarded as equal to pure Spaniards. Mexicans of mixed or pure Indian blood would have lesser rights.

Iturbide defeated the Royalist forces still opposed to independence, and the new Spanish viceroy, lacking money, provisions, and troops, was forced to accept Mexican independence. On August 24, 1821, Spanish Viceroy Juan de O’Donojú signed the Treaty of Córdoba, which approves a plan to make Mexico an independent constitutional monarchy. In 1822, as no Bourbon monarch to rule Mexico had been found, Iturbide was proclaimed the emperor of Mexico. However, his empire was short-lived, and in 1823 republican leaders Santa Anna and Guadalupe Victoria deposed Iturbide and set up a republic, with Guadalupe Victoria as its first president.

Germany resumes unrestricted submarine warfare – Feb 01, 1917 – HISTORY.com

On this day in 1917, the lethal threat of the German U-boat submarine raises its head again, as Germany returns to the policy of unrestricted submarine warfare it had previously suspended in response to pressure from the United States and other neutral countries.

Unrestricted submarine warfare was first introduced in World War I in early 1915, when Germany declared the area around the British Isles a war zone, in which all merchant ships, including those from neutral countries, would be attacked by the German navy. A string of attacks on merchant ships followed, culminating in the sinking of the British ship Lusitania by a German U-boat on May 7, 1915. Although the Lusitania was a British ship and it was carrying a supply of munitions-Germany used these two facts to justify the attack-it was principally a passenger ship, and the 1,201 people who drowned in its sinking included 128 Americans. The incident prompted U.S. President Woodrow Wilson to send a strongly worded note to the German government demanding an end to German attacks against unarmed merchant ships. By September 1915, the German government had imposed such strict constraints on the operation of the nation’s submarines that the German navy was persuaded to suspend U-boat warfare altogether.

German navy commanders, however, were ultimately not prepared to accept this degree of passivity, and continued to push for a more aggressive use of the submarine, convincing first the army and eventually the government, most importantly Kaiser Wilhelm, that the U-boat was an essential component of German war strategy. Planning to remain on the defensive on the Western Front in 1917, the supreme army command endorsed the navy’s opinion that unrestricted U-boat warfare against the British at sea could result in a German victory by the fall of 1917. In a joint audience with the kaiser on January 8, 1917, army and naval leaders presented their arguments to Wilhelm, who supported them in spite of the opposition of the German chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, who was not at the meeting. Though he feared antagonizing the U.S., Bethmann Hollweg accepted the kaiser’s decision, pressured as he was by the armed forces and the hungry and frustrated German public, which was angered by the continuing Allied naval blockade and which supported aggressive action towards Germany’s enemies.

On January 31, 1917, Bethmann Hollweg went before the German Reichstag government and made the announcement that unrestricted submarine warfare would resume the next day, February 1. The destructive designs of our opponents cannot be expressed more strongly. We have been challenged to fight to the end. We accept the challenge. We stake everything, and we shall be victorious.

Sitting Bull killed by Indian police – Dec 15, 1890 – HISTORY.com

After many years of successfully resisting white efforts to destroy him and the Sioux people, the great Sioux chief and holy man Sitting Bull is killed by Indian police at the Standing Rock reservation in South Dakota.

One of the most famous Native Americans of the 19th century, Sitting Bull (Tatanka Iyotake) was a fierce enemy of Anglo-Americans from a young age. Deeply devoted to the traditional ways, Sitting Bull believed that contact with non-Indians undermined the strength and identity of the Sioux and would lead to their ultimate decline. However, Sitting Bull’s tactics were generally more defensive than aggressive, especially as he grew older and became a Sioux leader. Fundamentally, Sitting Bull and those associated with his tribe wished only to be left alone to pursue their traditional ways, but the Anglo settlers’ growing interest in the land and the resulting confinement of Indians to government-controlled reservations inevitably led to conflicts. Sitting Bull’s refusal to follow an 1875 order to bring his people to the Sioux reservation directly led to the famous Battle of the Little Bighorn, during which the Sioux and Cheyenne wiped out five troops of Custer’s 7th Cavalry.

After the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Sitting Bull and his followers fled to Canada for four years. Faced with mass starvation among his people, Sitting Bull finally returned to the United States and surrendered in 1883. Sitting Bull was assigned to the Standing Rock reservation in present-day South Dakota, where he maintained considerable power despite the best efforts of the Indian bureau agents to undermine his influence. When the apocalyptic spiritual revival movement known as the Ghost Dance began to grow in popularity among the Sioux in 1890, Indian agents feared it might lead to an Indian uprising. Wrongly believing that Sitting Bull was the driving force behind the Ghost Dance, agent James McLaughlin sent Indian police to arrest the chief at his small cabin on the Grand River.

The Indian police rousted the naked chief from his bed at 6:00 in the morning, hoping to spirit him away before his guards and neighbors knew what had happened. When the fifty-nine-year-old chief refused to go quietly, a crowd gathered and a few hotheaded young men threatened the Indian police. Someone fired a shot that hit one of the Indian police; they retaliated by shooting Sitting Bull in the chest and head. The great chief was killed instantly. Before the ensuing gunfight ended, twelve other Indians were dead and three were wounded.

The man who had nobly resisted the encroachment of whites and their culture for nearly three decades was buried in a far corner of the post cemetery at Fort Yates. Two weeks later, the army brutally suppressed the Ghost Dance movement with the massacre of a band of Sioux at Wounded Knee, the final act in the long and tragic history of the American war against the Plains Indians.