September 16, 1810. Mexican priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla urges his congregation to rise up against the Spanish and push for independence in a speech known as ‘El Grito de Dolores’, or ‘Cry of Dolores’, after the town where the famous speech was made. The Grito is regarded as the start of the Mexican War of Independence, and the date is celebrated every year as a public holiday.
The exact wording of the Grito is disputed, but essentially it was a call to action against perceived bad government. Since then, Mexican presidents have repeated a Grito each year, either in Mexico City or dolores Hidalgo itself. The speeches, usually given to crowds of up to half a million people, culminate in the words ‘Viva Mexico!’ being said three times, followed by the national anthem.
The civil war that followed Hidalgo’s Grito pitted insurgents made up of Mexican-born Spaniards, indigenous populations and people of mixed heritage against colonialists loyal to the Spanish King. After 11 years of conflict, Mexican independence was achieved by the Treaty of Cordoba signed on August 24, 1821.
Also on September 16: The Mayflower leaves England carrying 102 pilgrims bound for North America (1620); Papua New Guinea becomes independent of Australia (1975); the Sabra and Shatila massacre takes place in Lebanon (1982); The Pound Sterling leaves the European Exchage rate Mechanism on ‘Black Wednesday’ (1992).
Born on Septmeber 16: King Henry V of England (1386), Lauren Bacall (1924), B.B. King (1925), Peter Falk (1927), Oskar Lafontaine (1943), Alexander Vinokourov (1973), Katie Melua (1984).