The Mexican movement for independence from Spain was inspired by the American and French revolutions of the late 18th century. Spain had been governing the territory now known as Mexico for over 300 years, but by the early 1800s many of the educated elite that were born in Mexico no longer felt the same loyalty to the Spanish crown, resulting in a call for independence.
The war officially began on September 16, 1810 when Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest, sent out a battle cry known as the Grito de Dolores. This occurred in the small town of Dolores in central Mexico when the priest rang the bell of his church and gave out a call to arms.
The war against Spain lasted 11 years and Mexico finally gained its independence in 1821 with the signing of the Treaty of Córdoba allowing Mexico to become an independent constitutional monarchy. Today, Mexicans celebrate September 16 as Mexican Independence Day. It is a very patriotic holiday marked by parades, concerts, marching band and songs.