Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla was born at the Corralejo Hacienda in Pénjamo, Guanajuato, on May 8, 1753.
He was sent to Valladolid (now Morelia) to study at the San Nicolás Obispo College, where he later taught theology, philosophy and ethics, and eventually became college rector. In 1792, he was ordained (he became a priest) and after working a different parishes, came to practice his ministry at the Parish of Dolores.
Of liberal ideas, he joined a group of patriots,
who in 1810, conspired in Querétaro in favor of the Independence of
Mexico. Although the armed movement was planned to start in October
of that year, the conspiracy was discovered and several of its members
were arrested. After receiving a warning sent by the wife of the magistrate
of Querétaro, Doña Josefa Ortíz de Domínguez, Hidalgo joined
with Aldama, Allende, Abasolo and others, and decided to begin
the uprising immediately. Thus, at dawn on September 16, 1810, the
residents of the village of Dolores, potters, carpenters, blacksmiths
and peasants, responded to the summons of father Miguel Hidalgo y
Costilla to begin the Independence struggle.
Faced by the insurgent army, the Spaniards took refuge with their families and goods in the Alhóndiga de Granaditas corn exchange in the city of Guanajuato. However, after a bloody struggle in which the furious crowd massacred its defenders, the fortress was finally taken. From Guanajuato, Don Miguel Hidalgo headed towards Valladolid and took the city on October 17, 1810, without a fight. He then stayed in the city for several days to organize his troops before leaving for the viceregal capital, Mexico City.
On August 30, Hidalgo won an outstanding victory at Monte de las Cruces in the outskirts of Mexico, when he defeated Trujillo (a Royalist colonel). Unfortunately, Hidalgo did not take advantage of his victory; instead of sending his troops to take Mexico City and capitalize on the confusion his victory has caused among the Spanish ranks, he ordered his army to retreat to Ixtlahuaca, on the road to Toluca. At Puente de Calderón, near Guadalajara, the insurgent army faced the royalist troops commanded by general Félix Calleja; Hidalgo and his men suffered a terrible defeat and were forced to retreat northwards.
On May 21, 1811, when Hidalgo, Allende and 27 other comrades reached Acatita de Baján, they were treacherously ambushed by Ignacio Elizondo and taken prisoner. They were brought to Chihuahua, where on June 16, 1811, Allende, Aldama and Jiménez were shot. Just one month later, on July 30 of the same year, Hidalgo was also executed.
The viceregal government was convinced that after the execution of its leaders in Chihuahua, the insurgent movement would be ended. However, this was not so.
Ignacio López Rayón had remained in Saltillo; he managed to escape from the enemy and marched to the province of Michoacán, where he and his troops would receive help from the local population. Unfortunately for the royalists, military genius José María Morelos was fighting in the southern mountains, in support of the victorious campaigns led by the Galeana and Bravo brothers, Mariano Matamoros and many others.
By 1821, the ideals fought for by Miguel Hidalgo and many other Mexicans for over eleven years were finally attained; Mexico was free and independent.