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Hidalgo The Patriot, And The Grito De Dolores
by [?]

In the last quarter of the eighteenth century ideas of revolution were widely in the air. The people were rising against the tyranny of the kings. First in this struggle for liberty came the English colonies in America. Then the people of France sprang to arms and overthrew the moss-grown tyranny of feudal times. The armies of Napoleon spread the demand for freedom through Europe. In Spain the people began to fight for their freedom, and soon the thirst for liberty crossed the ocean to America, where the people of the Spanish colonies had long been oppressed by the tyranny of their rulers.

The citizens of Mexico had been deeply infected by the example of the great free republic of the north, and the seed of liberty grew for years in their minds. Chief among its advocates was a farmer’s son named Miguel Hidalgo, a true scion of the people and an ardent lover of liberty, who for years longed to make his native Mexico independent of the effete royalty of Spain. He did not conceal his views on this subject, though his deeper projects were confided only to a few trusty friends, chief among whom was Ignacio Allende, a man of wealth and of noble Spanish descent, and a captain of dragoons in the army. These men, with a few intimates, consulted often and matured their plans, confident that the desire for liberty was strong in the country and that the patriot people needed only a leader to break out into insurrection.

Hidalgo’s eager desire for liberty, long smouldering, burst into flame in 1810, when the Spanish authorities attempted to arrest in Queretaro some revolutionists who had talked too freely. Warned of their danger, these men fled or concealed themselves. News of this came quickly to Hidalgo and taught him that with his reputation there was but one of two things to do, he must flee or strike. He decided to strike, and in this he was supported by Allende, whose liberty was also in danger.

The decisive step was taken on the 15th of September, 1810. That night Hidalgo was roused from slumber by one of his liberty-loving friends, and told that the hour had come. Calling his brother to his aid and summoning a few of those in the secret, he led the small party of revolutionists to the prison, broke it open, and set free certain men who had been seized for their liberal ideas.

This took place in the early hours of a Sunday. When day broke and the countrymen of the neighboring parish came to early mass the news of the night’s event spread among them rapidly and caused great excitement. To a man they took the side of Hidalgo, and before the day grew old he found himself at the head of a small band of ardent revolutionists. They at once set out for San Miguel le Grande, the nearest town, into which marched before nightfall of the day a little party of eighty men, the nucleus of the Mexican revolution. For standard they bore a picture of the Holy Virgin of Guadalupe, taken from a village church. New adherents came to their ranks till they were three hundred strong. Such was the movement known in Mexico as the “Grito de Dolores,” their war-cry, the Grito, being, “Up with True Religion, and down with False Government.”

Never before had an insurrection among the submissive common people been known in Mexico. When news of it came to the authorities they were stupefied with amazement. That peasants and townspeople, the plain workers of the land, should have opinions of their own about government and the rights of man was to them a thing too monstrous to be endured, but for the time being they were so dumfounded as to be incapable of taking any vigorous action.