Mexican War of Independence | History, Causes & Effects

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Mexico Independence (1810 – 1821 History)

Independence of Mexico: Process of liberation of the colonial territory of New Spain, which took place between 1810 and 1821.

What was the Independence of Mexico?

It is known as Independence of Mexico to the process of liberation of the colonial territory of New Spain.

This process lasted 11 years, since it began on September 16, 1810, with the Grito de Dolores, and ended in 1821, after Vicente Guerrero and Agustín de Iturbide signed the Plan of Iguala and the Trigarante Army triumphantly entered into Mexico City.

During those 11 years, the independentistas had to fight a lot of combats against the royalist army, which was supported by many Creoles, who feared that the war for Independence would turn into a social war.

Mexican Independence Mural

Detail of a representative mural of the Independence of Mexico, made by the Mexican painter Juan O’Gorman. It is located in the Castle of Chapultepec.

Stages of the Independence of Mexico

The process of Independence of Mexico can be divided into 4 stages: initiation, organization, resistance and consummation.

  1. Initiation (1810-11): This stage began on September 16, 1810, with the Grito de Dolores, and culminated on July 30, 1811 with the execution of Miguel Hidalgo, the initiator of the fight. Hidalgo‘s program contemplated the declaration of Independence, the abolition of slavery, and the return of the land to the indigenous people.
  2. Organization (1811-15): During this phase the great protagonist was the priest José María Morelos, who came to dominate much of southern New Spain. In 1813, Morelos summoned the Congress of Chilpancingo, during which Independence was declared and the Constitution of Apatzingán was sanctioned. In 1815 Morelos was captured and executed by the royalists.
  3. Resistance (1815-1820): This stage is marked by the amnesty policy put into practice by the viceroy of New Spain Juan José Ruiz de Apodaca. While some insurgents laid down their arms, other groups sustained the fight. The main leaders of the resistance were Vicente Guerrero and Guadalupe Victoria.
  4. Consummation (1821: The consummation of Independence took place in 1821, when a former royalist, Agustín de Iturbide, made a pact with the insurgents and proclaimed the Plan of Iguala, a document that declared Mexico an independent state. Shortly after, patriots and royalists signed the Treaties of Córdoba, by which the Captain General of New Spain, Juan O’Donojú, recognized Mexico as a sovereign and independent nation.

Causes and Consequences of the Independence of Mexico

Causes of the Mexican War of Independence

The causes of the Independence of Mexico can be divided into internal and external:

External Causes of the Independence of Mexico

Among the main external causes are:

  • The Independence of the United States, which was a model to be imitated by the patriots of New Spain.
  • The influence of the ideas spread by the French Revolution, especially those of liberty, equality before the law and brotherhood among peoples.
  • The problems of the Spanish Crown to maintain fluid communication with New Spain after the destruction of a large part of its fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar, in 1805.
  • The Napoleonic invasion of Spain during 1808. This event put the Spanish monarchy in crisis and created a power vacuum in the colonial Empire in America.
  • The liberal revolution led by General Rafael de Riego in 1820 against the restoration of the absolutism of King Fernando VII. The fear of depending on a liberal metropolitan government led the Mexican royalists to agree to the Independence of Mexico with the local patriots.

Internal Causes of the Independence of Mexico

Among the main internal causes are:

  • The preference of the Spanish Crown for the peninsular to occupy the most important positions in the colonial administration. This preference, which was accentuated during the Bourbon Reforms, provoked the resentment of the Creoles.
  • The great social inequality that affected most of the inhabitants of New Spain, especially indigenous and mestizos. These sectors were the ones that accompanied the movements led by Hidalgo and Morelos.
  • The discovery of the Querétaro conspiracy, in which the magistrate Miguel Domínguez, Ignacio Allende, Juan Aldama and Miguel Hidalgo participated. The aim of the conspiracy was to form a governing board to replace the Spanish viceroy. The arrest of several of the conspirators prompted Hidalgo to start an insurrection against the viceregal authorities.

Consequences of the Independence of Mexico

Among the main consequences of the Independence of Mexico are:

  • The end of the Spanish colonial domination, which was reflected in the Treaties of Córdoba, signed on August 24, 1821. In 1822, the Spanish government ignored this recognition.
  • The writing of the Act of Independence of Mexico, on September 28, 1821.
  • The proclamation of the First Mexican Empire, with Agustín de Iturbide as emperor. This lasted only two years, since in 1823 it was replaced by the Republic of Mexico.
  • The signing of the Treaty of Santa María-Calatrava, on December 28, 1836, by which Spain finally recognized Mexico as a sovereign and independent country.

Key Personnel of the Independence of Mexico

Among the most prominent protagonists of the Independence of Mexico, are:

  • Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (1753-1811): Initiator of the independence process by starring in the Grito de Dolores. He was captured by the royalists and shot in 1811.
  • José María Morelos y Pavón (1765-1815): Mexican religious who promoted the second stage of the struggle for Independence. He was captured and shot by the royalists in 1815.
  • Ignacio Allende (1769-1811): Spanish soldier who joined the independence project and fought alongside Miguel Hidalgo. It was captured by the royalists and put to arms in 1811.
  • Juan Aldama (1774-1811): Mexican patriot who supported Miguel Hidalgo in the first stage of the War for Independence. He was shot in 1811.
  • Vicente Guerrero (1782-1830): Mexican politician who supported the independence project during the resistance with the famous phrase “The Homeland is first.” He was one of the protagonists of the Abrazo de Acatempan, which sealed the reconciliation between insurgents and royalists.
  • Agustín de Iturbide (1783-1824): Soldier who was part of the royalist army, but later proclaimed the Plan of Iguala and signed the Treaties of Córdoba. He was the first emperor of Mexico.
  • Guadalupe Victoria (1786-1843): independence politician and military man who was elected the first president of the Republic of Mexico for the period 1825-1829.
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