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Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (1753 - 1811)


iguel Hidalgo y Costilla, known as the Father of the Nation, was born on the Corralejo hacienda in Guanajuato on May 8, 1753. His father, a Creole, was the hacienda administrator. Miguel Hidalgo, who learned French while at school and was influenced by the ideas of the French Revolution, was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1778.

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (1753 - 1811)


               In 1803, he became the parish priest of Dolores, Guanajuato. During his time there, he promoted economic activities for his parishioners, starting a pottery factory and workshops for carpentry, harness-making, blacksmithing, weaving and brickmaking. He also planted mulberry trees for silkworms, vineyards and olive groves.

               While in Dolores, Hidalgo becomes an active conspirator against Spanish rule with Ignacio Allende and others. They plan an uprising for December, 1810, but they are discovered by viceregal authorities. Rather than go into hiding, Hidalgo launches the rebellion with his famous “Grito (call) de Dolores” at dawn on the morning of September 16. With several hundred followers, he captures the town of San Miguel. They march on, their ranks swelling, through Celaya, Guanajuato, Valladolid and Toluca, taking all of the towns in a series of easy victories over the course of two weeks. Hidalgo, with no military training, has become the leader of a new “army” with no experience or equipment. He adopts the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe for his banner.

               Instead of following up on his victories and continuing to Mexico City, Hidalgo turns away and the tide turns against the rebels: they are defeated at Aculco in the state of Mexico by Royalist General Félix María Calleja. In March 1811, Hidalgo, Allende and other revolutionaries are ambushed, captured by the Spaniards and executed shortly thereafter.

               The viceregal government believed it had dealt a fatal blow to the rebellion by executing its leaders. However, that was not so. Ignacio López Rayón and his troops received help from the local population in Michoacán and José María Morelos, who became known as a military genius, continued the fight in the southern mountains as well. By 1821, Mexico was free and independent.

               Today, Hidalgo is known as the “Father of the Nation” for beginning the war of Independence. Independence day in Mexico is celebrated on September 16th. Every year, on the night of September 15th, the Mexican president reenacts the Grito de Dolores from the balcony of the National Palace in Mexico City and mayors do the same in every city and town in Mexico.




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