Hidalgo, Miguel, (1753-1811), a Mexican priest, is called "The Father of Mexican Independence." He led his followers in a revolt against their Spanish rulers.
Hidalgo was born on May 8, 1753, in the state of Guanajuato and was educated in Valladolid (now Morelia) and Mexico City. In 1803, he went to the parish of Dolores. There, he introduced silk manufacturing, brickmaking, vineyards, and other industries to help the Mexican peons (laborers).
In the early hours of Sept. 16, 1810, Hidalgo rang the bells of his church in the little village of Dolores. When the church members had gathered, Hidalgo shouted the famous Grito de Dolores (cry of Dolores), in which he called for independence.
Hidalgo encouraged his people to drive out the foreign rulers and led his untrained soldiers against Spanish troops. For a short time, Hidalgo's forces were successful, but they could not stand up against the well-trained and well-equipped Spaniards. In 1811, the Spaniards captured Hidalgo and put him to death on July 31. Mexico won independence from Spain in 1821.
Mexico now celebrates September 16 as Independence Day. Each year, late on the night of September 15, the president of Mexico rings a bell in Mexico City and repeats the Grito de Dolores to usher in the celebration. Most towns have a Hidalgo monument or a “Sixteenth of September” street.