Mexico: Random Facts and Trivia

Some random facts and trivia for the country of the world Mexico, biography of Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and Emiliano Zapata, U.S. conflict over Texas, the Treaty of Guadalupe.

MEXICO

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Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (1753-1811), parish priest of a village 100 mi. northwest of Mexico City, was known for his scholarship and good works. He taught his Indian parishioners to raise silkworms, and established a tannery, a brickyard, and a pottery works. In addition he read widely and was much influenced by French philosophy and the French Revolution. Discovering that nearby Creoles were plotting a revolt, he actively participated. When the Spanish authorities discovered his plot, Father Hidalgo moved quickly to arm his parishioners. With some 55,000 men, under the banner of the Lady of Guadalupe, on September 16, 1810, they began a march on the nearby cities, ravaging and killing as they went. In Guadalajara, Father Hidalgo received the title of Serene Highness. However, driven out by Spanish troops, and having lost most of his army due to desertion or death, Father Hidalgo was captured by trickery in March, 1811. Tried and convicted by a military court, he died before a firing squad on July 10, 1811. September 16, the day the uprising began, is celebrated as Mexico's Independence Day, although true independence was not achieved until 1821, 11 years after Hidalgo's revolt.

With the recognition by the U.S. of Texas in 1836, considerable bad feeling developed between the U.S. and Mexico. In 1845, Texas was annexed outright, and the U.S. also had its eye on California and the rest of the Southwest. U.S. offers to buy the area were rejected by the Mexicans, still outraged at the annexation of Texas. The U.S., fearing British intervention in the situation, cast aside diplomacy and sent forces into the debated area. To the Mexicans, this constituted an invasion, and so they attacked, whereupon the U.S. Congress declared war in 1846.

The Mexicans, crippled by poor arms and internal divisions, could not fend off the invaders, and by late 1847 the Mexican Government conceded victory, establishing a peace commission. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (February 2, 1848) gave Mexico $15 million, but cost it about half of its national domain-Texas, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, California, and part of Colorado. The loss hurt Mexico economically, and an enduring resentment of the U.S. may be traced to this.

Emiliano Zapata (1883-1919), a Mexican revolutionist of Indian birth who was born in poverty, 1st found work as a stable hand on a large hacienda. Legend has it that he was radicalized through reflecting on the difference between his own dirt-floored hovel and the clean, tiled stables assigned to his master's horses. In 1911, Zapata eagerly joined the revolution proclaimed by Francisco Madero, and began a rebellion of his own. However, he did not support President Madero, whose agrarian reform program was too moderate. He led his forces against local landholders, burning their haciendas during the counterrevolution of Huerta, and, with Pancho Villa, continued to support measures more radical than those proposed by President Venustiano Carranza. He was assassinated on April 10, 1919, after Carranza put a price on his head. He is now recognized as the great champion of agrarian reform, and his name has been inscribed in gold in the Chamber of Deputies.

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