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Video:How Did Mexico Gain its Independence?

with Jonathan Stewart

Learn about the history and significance of Mexico's path to becoming an independent nation.See Transcript

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Transcript:How Did Mexico Gain its Independence?

The road to Mexico's independence was a long and arduous one. The revolution that officially started on September 16, 1810 continued for many years before the country and its citizens knew in their hearts that they were truly independent.

Background of Mexico's Independence Movement

Prior to 1810, the inhabitants of the area had lived under Spanish rule for nearly three centuries, after Spain conquered the Aztec Empire in 1521. During this time the country was known as New Spain. During the late 18th century in particular, however, there were many who wanted to be free of the oppressive control of Spain, but there was no formal organization to begin the fight.

The road to independence began more than anything as a peasant revolt, but eventually caught steam as a few distinctive individuals took the reins in shaping the rebellion. In 1810, a priest named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla set in motion what would become the Mexican War of Independence with an impassioned speech declaring independence from the Spanish crown.

Grito De Dolores Starts Mexico's Independence Movement

Though his fight would be relatively short-lived before his execution in 1811, he went down in history and is recognized today as the "Father of the Nation." His speech, which is known as Grito de Dolores, was filled with sayings such as "Viva Mexico" and "Viva la independencia," the same words that remain a part of today's Mexican Independence Day celebrations.

When he was finally caught and executed by firing squad, he thanked his jailers, refused a blindfold, and placed his hand over his heart to show the riflemen where to aim. Now that's conviction.

Difficult to Gain Mexico's Independence

Over the course of the next decade, there were others who would take over the leadership of the rebellion, not the least of whom were Jose Maria Morelos, Guadalupe Victoria, and Vicente Guerrero. But the road to independence remained a tough one: Morelos was caught and executed for treason, Victoria was forced to hide in the jungle for four years, but Guerrero was eventually able to strike an unlikely alliance that led to Mexico’s victory.

In 1821, Guerrero joined forces with the disgruntled ex-royalist, Agustin de Iturbide, and formed the Army of the Three Guarantees, bound by three ideals that united the populace – religion (specifically Catholicism), independence from Spain, and unity against future enemies.

End of Fight for Mexico's Independence

Later that year, Iturbide persuaded Spain to sign the Treaty of Cordoba during a point of military weakness. Though it was challenged for some time to come, this point in history -- September 27, 1821 -- marked the official beginning of the First Mexican Empire.

However, if you're looking to celebrate properly in Mexico, Independence Day is September 16, commemorating Hidalgo's speech that started it all. Viva Mexico.

I'm Jonathon Stewart, with About.com.
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