Mexico and Central America Independence
From World History Wiki
The slave revolt in Haiti frightened creoles in Spanish America. Although they wanted power themselves, most had no desire for economic or social changes that might threaten their way of life. In 1810, however, a creole priest in Mexico, Father Miguel Hidalgo, rasied a cry for freedom that would echo across the land.
El Grito de Dolores
Father Hidalgo presided over the poor rural parish of Dolores. On September 15, 1810, he rang the church bells summoning the people to prayer. When they gathered, he startled them with an urgent appeal. We do not know his exact words, but his message is remembered: "My children, will you be free? Will you make the effort to recover the lands stolen from your forefathers by the hated Spaniards 300 years ago?" After Father Hidalgo made this speech made the Mexicans fight for "Inependence and Liberty." A ragged army of poor mestizos and Native Americans rallied to Father Hidalgo and marched to the outskirts of Mexico City. At first, some creoles supported the revolt. However, they soon rejected Hidalgo's call for an end to slavery and his plea for reforms to improve conditions for Native Americans. They felt that these policies would cost them power. After some early successes, the rebels faced growing opposition. Less than a year after he issued the "Grito," Hidalgo was captured and executed, and his followers scattered.
Another priest picked up the banner of revolution. Father Jose Morelos was a mestizo who called for wide-ranging social and political reform. He wanted to improve conditions for the majority of Mexicans, abolish slavery, and give the vote to all men. For four years, Morelos led rebels forces before he, too, was captured and shotin 1815. Spanish forces, backed by conservative creoles, hunted down the surviving guerrillas. They had almost succeeded in ending the rebel movement when events in Spain had unexpected effects on Mexico.
In Spain in 1820, liberals forced the king to issue a constitution. This move alarmed Aqustin de Iturbide a conservative creole in Mexico. He feared that the new Spanish government might impose liberals reformson the colonies as well. Iturbide had spent years fighting Mexicans revolutionaries. Suddenly in 1821, he reached out to them. Backed by creoles, mestizos, and Native Americans, he overthrew the Spanish viceroy. Mexico was independent at last. Iturbide took the title Emperor Agustin I. Soon, however, liberal Mexicans toppled the would-be monarch and set up the Republic of Mexico. Although Mexico was free of Spanish rule, the lives of most people changed little. Military leaders dominated the government and ruled by force arms. The next 100 years would see new struggles to improve conditions for Mexicans.
New Republics in Central America Spanish-ruled lands in Central America declared independence in the early 1820s. Iturbide tried to add these areas to his Mexican empire. After his overthrow, local leaders set up a republic called United Provinces of Central America. The union was short-lived. It soon fragment into the separate republics of Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Costa Rica. Like Mexico, the new nations faced many social and economic problems.