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Sept. 27, 1821: Rebel army enters Mexico City to declare independence

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The Spaniards began their conquest of what is now Mexico in 1519, when Hernán Cortés arrived with his first boatloads of conquistadores. Over the next 200 years, they overtook the country (aided by smallpox, which killed many of the native people) and ran it as a colony for the benefit of the mother country.

In the early 1800s, insurgents began fighting against Spanish rule, starting with priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla’s Sept. 16, 1810 rousing call for independence against a government that oppressed the poor. Mexico now celebrates Independence Day on Sept. 16 in honor of his proclamation, but at the time the battle was just beginning.

Rebels signed their own "Solemn Act of the Declaration of Independence of Northern America" in 1813. In 1821, some Spanish soldiers joined local fighters, making the army strong enough to force Spanish representatives to sign the Treaty of Córdoba and the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire. The Army of the Three Guarantees (named for the principles under which the country would be based — independence, equality and the Catholic religion) marched into Mexico City on Sept. 27 to officially declare the country’s independence, which they did the next day. The army’s leader, general Agustín de Iturbide, became the new country’s first political leader.

Spain’s presence in Mexico wasn’t entirely negative: The combination of Spanish and indigenous influences gave us much of modern Mexico’s distinct national personality. Spanish influence led to the country’s language, cuisine, music and even tequila.

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