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Mexican War of Independence Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jenny Homer

Jenny has masters' degrees in public health and public administration.

In this lesson, find out how New Spain became the Mexican Empire. Learn how Mexico was affected by different events around the world and what happened during the Mexican War of Independence.

New Spain

In the early 1500s, a Spanish explorer named Cortes conquered the powerful Aztec Empire, where Mexico is today. Spain set up a colony named New Spain and put a ruler called a viceroy in charge.

Back then, other countries, like France and Britain, were exploring this part of the world. The exact lands controlled by Spain, France, and Britain changed over time.

It would be 300 years before Mexico would become independent in the Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821). This war was not like many other wars, with constant fighting and two known armies. Different events eventually led to independence.

Mexican Empire declares independence in 1821
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Europe in the 1700s

We can't understand what happened in New Spain without talking about Europe first. The 1700s in Europe was a time when people came up with many discoveries and ideas. New tools for farming and mining moved to Mexico. In 1776, America declared its independence from Britain. A revolution in France in 1789 pushed out the king and set up a new government. Then in 1808, the ruler of France took over Spain and put the king in jail. People in Spain began demanding more freedoms for themselves. Soon, these ideas began spreading to the colonies.

The Grito de Dolores

A priest named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla was living in a town called Dolores in New Spain. On September 16, 1810, Hidalgo gave a famous speech called the Grito de Dolores (meaning the 'Cry of Dolores' in English). He wanted people to be treated fairly; this message appealed to those whose families were not from Spain. He also called for Spain to stop ruling Mexico. Today, Mexican Independence Day is on September 16 because of this important event, which began the Mexican War of Independence.

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla
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Hidalgo went to fight with his followers in Guanajuato, a center for mining. Soon, his army became wilder and harder to control. The viceroy wanted to stop this rebellion before it spread to other areas. Hidalgo was captured in March 1811. At the end of July 1811, he was killed for rebelling.

Even though Hidalgo died, he inspired others. More rebellions began happening throughout New Spain.

The Army of the Three Guarantees

By 1814, the king of Spain was back in power. He did not like that people had gained additional freedoms while he was in jail, so he took those rights away. In 1820, the people in Spain rebelled to get their freedoms back.

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