Why Is Miguel Hidalgo Important?

Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla is known as the man who called upon Mexicans to revolt against their Spanish rulers in the town of Dolores in September 1810, a move which started Mexican independence. Hidalgo was killed less than a year later in northern Mexico after locals betrayed him to the Spanish.

Hidalgo hosted meetings in his hometown of Dolores, Mexico, during which he espoused the overthrow of unjust tyrants. The Roman Catholic priest's dispute with the Spanish crown was personal because the royal family's debt collectors ruined his own family's financial wealth. A conspiracy to overthrow the Spanish grew until authorities discovered the group of conspirators. Hidalgo famously rang the church bell in Dolores in order to call the people to revolt on Sept. 16, 1810.

The small army in Dolores numbered 600 people. In less than two weeks, the army grew to 30,000 people and they overwhelmed 500 Spanish overlords. By the end of October, Hidalgo's group was 80,000 strong when they reached Mexico City. Just as the army was to attack Mexico City, the priest mysteriously retreated, going against the wishes of his top military adviser, Ignacio Allende.

Despite Hidalgo's legendary status as the father of Mexican independence, Allende grew disenchanted with him and arrested Hidalgo in northern Mexico. A local insurrection betrayed Hidalgo and turned him over to the Spanish. After a civil trial, the priest was executed on July 30, 1811.