Virreinato de Nueva España (The Viceroyalty of New Spain) was officially founded in 1535 CE under the auspices of the Spanish empire. The American territory included a good portion of North America, south of Canada then south to the border with Panama. At one time, the Eastern border was the Mississippi River plus Florida. The capital city was Tenochtitlan renamed Ciudad de México (Mexico City). The area was ruled by a viceroy on behalf of the crown of Castile.
The greater history of Nueva España is an important and turbulant one. I don’t have the space here to do it justice. I will mention that the history of Nueva España and later Mexico is one of revolutions and Juntas. The beginning of the first of the major struggles is celebrated as Mexican Independence Day.
Discontent had been simmering and sometimes boiling ever since the early years of Nueva España. This discontent and thirst for revolution began to receive influence and help from France and the United States in the early 1800s. With the Spanish conflict versus Napoleon’s France, Mexican Independence groups became more emboldened. One of the most vocal and active of these groups was headed by the ultra-progressive priest, Father Miguel Hidalgo from the town of Dolores.
Hidalgo and his compatriots had been planning their revolution for late Autumn of 1810. Unfortunately, word of the independence movement reached Spanish authorities in Mexico City. Officials issued orders for the arrest of Hidalgo and his co-conspirators. When Hidalgo heard of the danger to him, he and fellow members of the junta force the sheriff to release the pro-independence inmates.
Hidalgo rang the church bell to call together his congregation late in the night of September 15th and early morning of the 16th in 1810. During the political rally, Hidalgo called on Mexicans to fight the good fight. His speech became known as “Grito de Delores” (Cry of Dolores).
Sketchy accounts of the speech claim that Hidalgo asked “Will you be slaves of Napoleon or will you, as patriots, defend your religion, your hearths, and your rights?” At the end of the speech Hidalgo exclaimed, “Viva México” and “Viva la Independencia”. These two phrases have been rallying slogans for Mexican patriots ever since then.
The first major clash of the insurgents with Spanish forces was four days later during the Siege of Guanajuato. The rebel’s first major defeat was in January of 1811 when Spanish forces fought the Battle of the Bridge of Calderón. Hidalgo and most of the revolutionaries were captured. Hidalgo was eventually executed by hanging.
After Hidalgo’s death the revolutionary forces were headed by José María Morelos. Under his leadership, the Congress of Chilpancingo was convened in 1813 and the first official independence document was signed. In 1815, Morelos was captured by colonial authorities then tried and executed for treason.
Following Morelos death, the revolution continued as guerrilla skirmishes. Guadalupe Victoria and Vicente Guerrero eventually picked up the banner. The war continued for another ten years. The war was complicated by a successful coup in Spain against King Ferdinand VII. Independence finally was won when Royalist colonists headed up by Colonel Agustín de Iturbide, rose up against the forces of the Spanish revolutionist forces in Mexico.
Iturbide and Guerrero joined together and consolidated all the rebel forces. With rebel victory a certainty, the viceroy resigned. August 24, 1851, Iturbide and Spanish royal representatives signed the Treaty of Cordoba which recognized Mexico as an independent nation.
The Blue Jay of Happiness hopes this clears up any confusion that Mexican Independence Day on September 16th is different than the day celebrated on May 5th, Cinco de Mayo. Please read: https://bluejayblog.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/cinco-de-mayo/