…Lejos de estimar que caía en delito de alta traición, lo etimaba de alta lealtad…
While today is not a national holiday in Mexico, it is an important day in San Miguel and will be celebrated with a parade. On 21 January 1769 Ignacio Allende y Unzaga was born in the house which is now El Museo Casa de Allende. His father was a trader and his family of the Criollo caste in San Miguel el Grande as it was then known.
Castes in the Spanish Colonies
Criollos were locally-born people of pure or mostly Spanish ancestry (a Criollo could have up to 1/8 Amerindian ancestry). They ranked below Iberian Peninsulares (commoners born in Spain), who were permanently resident colonists. Spain had established the caste system for its overseas colonies in the 16th century. Thus Criollos were higher in status than all other castes — people of mixed descent, Amerindians, and enslaved Africans.
In various parts of the Spanish empire, Criollos and Peninsulares came into conflict as Madrid changed its policies regarding its colonies. Criollo political and economic strength grew and the colonies began to grow away from both Spain and each other. As evidenced by men such as Ignacio Allende, Criollo nationalists were the main supporters of the wars of independence from Spain.
In 1776 (American War of Independence), Ignacio Allende was 7 years old and he was 20 years old in 1789 (French Revolution). By 1802 he had joined the Viceregal Army of New Spain in which he rose to the rank of captain.
Seeds of Revolution
By 1809 he was involved with plotting for independence from Spain. Miguel Domínguez, the mayor of Querétaro, and his wife Josefa Ortíz de Domínguez invited him to their home to discuss plans for independence. Allende met the charismatic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and his captain Juan Aldama at one of these meetings.
Allende and Aldama were to have led the insurgency jointly, but the movement was discovered and warrants were issued for the leaders’ arrests. On 15 September 1810 Hidalgo read the famous Grito de Dolores, and the revolution was on.
On September 22, 1810, Hidalgo y Costilla was made captain general of the Revolutionary army and Allende, lieutenant general.
Rebels Win Early Battles
The rebel army quickly captured the town of Dolores, and Allende and Hidalgo found themselves leading an angry mob that then marched on San Miguel, where the mob murdered Spaniards and looted their homes.
United in their views of independence, Allende and Hidalgo disagreed on much else. Allende. a professional soldier. disapproved of the looting and the execution of all Spaniards. The charismatic Hidalgo believed that violence was necessary and without the promise of the spoils of war, most of their army would desert.
The town of Celaya surrendered without a shot, At Guanajuato the insurgents and loyalists fought five hours before the rebels overran the Alhóndiga de Granaditas (public granary) and massacred everyone inside and then sacked the city. At the end of October 1810 at Monte de las Cruces near Mexico City, the insurgents defeated an army of 1,500 royalists. Capturing Mexico City appeared possible, and Allende suggested to Hidalgo that they do so, but Hidalgo, who controlled the masses of peasants and Indians (the bulk of the insurgent army), overrode Allende and they retreated towards Guadalajara.
Losses to General Calleja
Near Aculco the insurgents encountered an army led by General Calleja, Allende’s former commander in the Viceregal Army. Hidalgo continued to Guadalajara with the peasants and Indians while Allende went to Guanajuato with the Creole army regiments who were professional soldiers. Despite having fortified Guanajauato, Allende and his troops were driven from there by Calleja and Allende retreated to Guadalajara where he rejoined Hidalgo’s forces.
The relationship between the two had deteriorated to the point that Allende tried to poison Hidalgo. However, they decided to make a stand at the Calderon Bridge and their forces were in command of the battle when a Spanish cannonball struck the insurgents’ munitions cache. This caused panic among the undisciplined rebels and they lost the battle.
The revolutionary army leadership demanded Hidalgo’s replacement. Allende removed him from command and arrested him.
Allende then marched the army north towards the United States, where he hoped to gather money, weapons and troops.
March 1811: Betrayal and Capture
An insurgent commander, Ignacio Elizondo, betrayed the rebels and they were ambushed at the Wells of Baján (Norias de Baján). The rebel leaders were captured and tried in the city of Chihuahua: Allende, Juan Aldama and Mariano Jimenez were executed by a firing squad on 26 June 1811 and Hidalgo late in July. Their bodies were decapitated and the heads taken to the Alhóndiga de Granaditas in Guanajuato where they were shown to the public.
The war for independence continued for another ten years and eventually Mexico had its independence.
In 1824 Allende’s remains were buried in the cathedral of Mexico and just over a century later they were moved to the Independence Column in Mexico City. The municipality of Allende in Chihuahua and its municipal seat, Valle de Allende, are named for Ignacio Allende. The name of the city San Miguel el Grande was changed to San Miguel de Allende.