When Did Mexico Gain Independence?

Mexico celebrates Independence Day on September 16th each year.
Mexico celebrates Independence Day on September 16th each year.

Mexico declared independence from Spain on September 16, 1810. It was then known as New Spain and was largely populated by the Native Americans, Mestizo, Criollo, Mulatto, and a small population of African descent. The Criollos owned much of the land and political power. The declaration of independence led to the Spanish War for Independence that lasted for 11 years. On August 24, 1821, Spain accepted the independence of Mexico by agreeing to the terms of the Treaty of Córdoba. Most countries celebrate Independence Day to commemorate independence after a struggle, but Mexico celebrates Independence Day to mark the beginning of the struggle for freedom.

The Path To Independence

The Mexican War of Independence began on September 16, 1810, when Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla declared independence in the town of Dolores. Hidalgo amassed a large but unruly army of children, women, the elderly, and livestock to revolt against the Spanish rule. The revolution was quickly subdued, and many of the members went back to work in their fields. Hidalgo was ousted from his position and beheaded for revolting against the government. His head was publicly displayed in Guanajuato. Several religious leaders took up the mantle of revolution, but most were beheaded.

In 1821, Spanish soldier Agustín de Iturbide decamped and joined the Mexican movement. He led troops in capturing Mexico City and declared it independent. Iturbide drafted a political promise “Plan of Iguala” that sought to free Mexico from Spanish rule, ensure equality among citizens, and solidify Roman Catholicism in the country. He instead set up a monarchy-style system and declared himself the emperor. Iturbide spent the country's wealth enriching himself, a vice that angered the military leaders. He has overthrown by Guadalupe Victoria who became the first president of the newly formed democratic state.

Despite the Mexican declaration of independence and self-rule, Spain continued to hold and control the port of Veracruz until November 23, 1825. On December 28, 1836, Spain legitimized the independence of Mexico by signing the María–Calatrava Treaty. By doing so, Mexico became the first Spanish colony to declare sovereignty.

Remembering The First Revolt

Mexicans do not acknowledge Iturbide as “the father of independence” but instead recognize Hidalgo as the person who dared the Spanish and initiated a revolution. On September 16 of every year, Mexico marks Independence Day. It is a tradition for the president to honor Hidalgo by reenacting the famous speech from the Presidential Palace in Mexico City.


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