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Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla
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    (May 8, 1753-July 30, 1811)
    Born in Penjamo, Mexico
    Roman Catholic priest
    Led an army of farmers and civilians in a rebellion against Spanish rule in Mexico (1810-11)
    Captured and executed by a firing squad
    Decapitated with his head placed on display with those of three other leaders of the rebellion
    His full name was the unwieldly Miguel Gregorio Maria Antonio Ignacio Hidalgo-Costilla y Gallaga Mandarte Villaseñor.
    He was dismissed as treasurer of the Colegio de San Nicolas for mismanaging school funds (and for studying forbidden Enlightenment works).
    He had five children with two mistresses.
    He was excommunicated for challenging Church doctrine on papal authority, the virgin birth and clerical celibacy.
    He had trouble maintaining discipline over his army, which had a tendency to loot captured towns and to mass desertions when events turned against them.
    When he was assigned to a rural parish, he was shocked by the poverty he found.
    He tried to make the local Indians and mestizos more self-reliant by teaching them grape cultivation, beekeeping, leather tanning, and making bricks and pottery.
    The authorities ordered him to stop because he was violating colonial policies that promoted imports from Spain.
    He was a charismatic leader.
    At his execution he said, 'Though I may die, I shall be remembered forever. You all will soon be forgotten.'
    He was declared the father of his country, and the day he rallied his supporters (September 16) is celebrated as Mexican Independence Day.

Credit: C. Fishel

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