The Mexican War of Independence was an armed conflict between the people of Mexico and the Spanish colonial government that started in 1810 and lasted for over 10 years. The main countries involved in Mexico’s independence movement were Spain, Mexico, and the United States.
– The Mexican War of Independence began in 1810 against Spanish rule.
– It was led by Mexican-born Spaniards, Mestizos, Amerindians, and others in Mexico who sought independence from Spain.
– Key events included Hidalgo’s revolt in 1810 and Jose Maria Morelos’ insurgency from 1810-1815.
– In 1821, Agustin de Iturbide and Vicente Guerrero unified insurgents and royalists under the Plan of Iguala for Mexican independence.
– Spain recognized Mexico’s independence in 1821 after Iturbide’s Army of the Three Guarantees defeated the royalists.
– The United States became involved when American settlers in Texas rebelled against the Mexican government in the Texas Revolution in 1835-1836.
Background on Spanish Colonial Rule
For around 300 years from the early 1500s to the early 1800s, Mexico was part of the Spanish Empire. Spain conquered the Aztec Empire in 1521 and the Viceroyalty of New Spain was established which included Mexico, Central America and territories in the Caribbean and North America. The Spanish extracted resources such as silver, food crops, and livestock from its colonies in Mexico to enrich the Spanish crown.
Under Spanish colonial rule, Peninsulares (colonists born in Spain) dominated the higher echelons of politics, business and religious life in Mexico. The Spanish crown also imposed high taxes, put constraints on trade with other empires, and limited opportunities for native-born Mexicans. This resulted in simmering discontent under colonial rule. Calls for independence from Spain began to grow from the end of the 18th century, inspired by the American Revolution in 1776 and the French Revolution in 1789.
Growing Discontent Fueled Independence Movement
Several factors fueled the growing calls for independence in Mexico:
– Unfair treatment: The Spanish-born elite in Mexico received the best political appointments, while Criollos (Mexicans of Spanish descent born in the Americas) were barred from higher positions.
– High taxes: The Spanish crown imposed high sales and church taxes which burdened the masses in Mexico.
– Trade constraints: Spain imposed strict controls over Mexico’s ports and external trade. This was deeply resented.
– Enlightenment ideas: The works of Voltaire, Rousseau and Thomas Jefferson inspired notions of liberty, freedom and independence.
So by the early 19th century, unrest was growing in the Mexican colonies controlled by Spain. The seeds were being sown for revolution and independence from Spanish imperial rule.
The War of Independence Lasted Over 10 Years
The Mexican War of Independence lasted over ten years from 1810 to 1821. It was a long struggle by various political and military leaders in different regions of Mexico. Some key phases and events were:
Hidalgo’s Revolt 1810
In 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla launched an uprising for independence in the town of Dolores. Along with Ignacio Allende and Juan Aldama, Hidalgo rallied peasants and Indigenous people to fight for liberty. Hidalgo’s peasant army numbered in the tens of thousands as it marched towards Mexico City. But it was eventually defeated by the Spanish royalists in 1811 and Hidalgo was executed.
Morelos’ Insurgency 1810-1815
From 1810 to 1815, the priest José María Morelos led a growing insurgency for independence. Morelos helped organize rebellions and create a constitution for an autonomous Mexican state. He won important military victories before he was executed by the Spanish in 1815. But the insurgency he helped inspire continued spreading.
Mina Expedition 1816-1817
In 1816, the Mina expedition led by Spanish liberal officer Francisco Javier Mina invaded Mexico with a force of around 300 volunteers to support the insurgency. But this expedition failed to turn the tide militarily.
Adams-Onís Treaty 1819
In 1819, the Adams-Onís Treaty between the US and Spain set the boundary between Mexico and the United States. This would eventually have implications when Mexico gained independence from Spain.
Plan of Iguala 1821
A turning point came in 1821 when insurgents and royalists formed a coalition under the Plan of Iguala. This plan was led by Agustin de Iturbide and Vicente Guerrero. It called for Mexico’s independence from Spain and the union of insurgents and royalists.
Treaties of Córdoba 1821
The Treaties of Córdoba in August 1821 ratified the Plan of Iguala. It established Mexico as an independent constitutional monarchy and brought together insurgents and royalists. Spanish Viceroy Juan O’Donojú officially recognized Mexico’s independence from Spain in these treaties.
Army of the Three Guarantees Occupies Mexico City 1821
In September 1821, Iturbide’s Army of the Three Guarantees marched triumphantly into Mexico City signaling the end of Spanish rule in Mexico. The army was formed by the unified insurgent and royalist forces. It derived its name from the three guarantees in the Plan of Iguala – independence, religion, and union. With this, Mexico successfully concluded its long struggle for independence from Spain.
The United States’ Involvement in Mexican Independence
The United States also played an indirect role in shaping Mexico’s independence from Spain:
US-Mexico Border Set in 1819
In 1819, the Adams-Onís Treaty between the US and Spain set the boundary between Mexico and the United States along the Sabine River, Red River, Arkansas River, and 42nd parallel. This treaty would have implications after Mexico became independent from Spain in 1821.
US Recognized Mexico’s Independence
In December 1822, the United States officially recognized Mexico’s independence from Spain. Both countries established diplomatic relations. The US was among the first nations to recognize Mexico’s independent status.
Texas Revolution in 1835-1836
In the 1830s, American settlers in Texas revolted against the Mexican government during the Texas Revolution. This led to the establishment of the Republic of Texas in 1836. The loss of Texas further weakened an independent Mexico struggling with political divisions and unrest.
So while the US was not directly involved in Mexico’s independence movement from Spain, its treaties with Spain and diplomatic recognition of Mexico demonstrated its support for an autonomous nation on its southern border. However, tensions between the US and Mexico emerged in later decades over American immigration into Mexican territory.
Key Figures in Mexico’s Independence Movement
Mexico’s independence from Spain was achieved through the efforts of various military and political leaders. Some of the key figures were:
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla
– Catholic priest based in Dolores
– Launched the revolt against Spanish rule with his Grito de Dolores speech in 1810
– Led the first stage of Mexico’s independence struggle with a peasant army
Jose Maria Morelos
– Priest and military leader based in southern Mexico
– Led the next phase of rebellion after Hidalgo’s defeat from 1810-1815
– Won key victories against royalist forces
Agustín de Iturbide
– Joined the royalist army before switching to the insurgency in 1820
– Drafted the Plan of Iguala proposing Mexican independence along with Vicente Guerrero
– Head of the Army of the Three Guarantees that occupied Mexico City in 1821
– Key insurgent military leader
– Helped draft the Plan of Iguala
– Briefly served as President of Mexico from 1829-1829
– Last Spanish Viceroy of New Spain
– Signed the Treaty of Córdoba in 1821 recognizing Mexico’s independence
These leaders through their various roles helped coordinate the political and military efforts that achieved Mexico’s independence from Spain after 11 years.
The Mexican War of Independence was an important historical conflict that established Mexico as an autonomous nation free from Spanish colonial rule. Lasting over ten years from 1810 to 1821, it was achieved through the sacrifices and leadership of figures like Hidalgo, Morelos, Iturbide and Guerrero. While Mexico drove the struggle, the support of other nations like the United States ultimately helped consolidate independence from Spain. This victory made Mexico the first sovereign nation to emerge from the Spanish colonies in the Americas. The day that Mexico gained its freedom – September 27, 1821 – is marked as Mexican Independence Day, a major national celebration.