Mexican Independence Day is NOT Cinco de Mayo

Instead it is September 16 when

a proclamation by Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla on September 16th 1810, in the village of Dolores, near Guanajuato called for an end to Spanish rule in Mexico, encouraging rebellion and insurrection against the Spanish.

The Spanish Empire had been broken by Napoleon’s invasion of Spain, and imperial rule had been replaced by “juntas” in both Spain and the American colonies, while King Fernando VII was being held hostage by Napoleon.

The Proclamation of Dolores

Hidalgo ordered that the church bell be rung to gather his congregation, then called for insurrection and ended by calling out, Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe! Viva Fernando VII! Abajo el mal gobierno! [Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe! Long live Fernando VII! Down with the bad government!].

There are various accounts of what Hidalgo was reputed to have actually said. While the proclamation has gained national status, in reality, it is unlikely that Hidalgo disowned the King as he is supposedly said to have done.

Following his speech, Father Hidalgo raised an army and attempted to overthrow the Junta government, but he was eventually defeated. As his struggle against the establishment continued, he began to demand the full independence of all the Spanish American colonies, and the exile or arrest of all Spaniards within Mexico.

It was only after a ten year long War of Independence that Mexico’s independence was finally acknowledged by the Spanish viceroy on September 27th 1821.

Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration held on May 5, which commemorates the anniversary of Mexico’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Led by General Ignacio Zaragoza, the victory of a smaller, poorly equipped Mexican force against the larger and better-armed French army was a morale boost for the Mexicans. Zaragoza died months after the battle from an illness, and a larger French force ultimately defeated the Mexican army at the Second Battle of Puebla and occupied Mexico City.

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