Latin American Leaders


Dom Pedro I

Since Brazil had been ‘discovered’ by the Portuguese in the 16th century, the governing of this land had, largely, been up to this European nation. Of course, other nations (such as France) tried to gain military and political power but had been largely unsuccessful. Since 1808, King Dom João VI had been residing in Brazil, having made it one of the Kingdoms of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and Algarves. In 1820, Portugal experienced the Constitutional Revolution, which was initiated by the liberal constitutionalists. This revolution led to the Constituent Assembly’s meeting and deciding to create the first constitution of the Kingdom and to demand the return of King Dom João VI from Brazil. The assembly is also known as the Cortes. On 26 April 1821, the king left Brazil in the hands of his son, the newly elected Prince Regent, Dom Pedro, and returned to Portugal.

How he helped

  1. Dom Pedro I (English: Peter I; 12 October 1798 – 24 September 1834), nicknamed "the Liberator", was the founder and first ruler of the Empire of Brazil.

  2. As King Dom Pedro IV, he reigned briefly over Portugal, where he also became known as "the Liberator" as well as "the Soldier King". Pedro I was the fourth child of King Dom João VI of Portugal and Queen Carlota Joaquina, and thus a member of the House of Braganza. When their country was invaded by French troops in 1807, he and his family fled to Portugal's largest and wealthiest colony, Brazil.

  3. Pedro I invaded Portugal at the head of an army in July 1832. Faced at first with what seemed a national civil war, he soon became involved in a wider conflict that enveloped the Iberian Peninsula in a struggle between proponents of Liberalism and those seeking a return to Absolutism. Pedro I died of tuberculosis on 24 September 1834, just a few months after he and the liberals had emerged victorious. He was hailed by both contemporaries and posterity as a key figure who helped spread the liberal ideals that allowed Brazil and Portugal to move from Absolutist regimes to representative forms of government.

How he is remembered

In 1972, on the 150th anniversary of Brazilian independence, Pedro I's remains (though not his heart) were brought to Brazil—as he had requested in his will—accompanied by much fanfare and with honors due to a head of state. His remains were reinterred in the Monument to the Independence of Brazil, along with those of Maria Leopoldina and Amélie, in the city of São Paulo. He was best remembered as the man who declared Brazil's independence from Portugal in 1822.

MIDDLE AMERICA LEADER Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla

Napoleon’s invasion and occupation of Spain from 1808 to 1813 heightened the revolutionary fervor in Mexico and other Spanish colonies. On September 16, 1810, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, who is a highly respected Catholic priest issued a passionate rallying cry known as the “Grito de Dolores” or the“Cry of Dolores” that amounted to a declaration of war against the colonial government. So named because it was publicly read in the town of Dolores, the Grito called for the end of Spanish rule in Mexico, the redistribution of land and a concept that the criollos’ earlier plans had deliberately omitted: racial equality. Though a criollo himself, Hidalgo extended his call to arms to mestizos and people of indigenous descent; their significant contribution of manpower changed the tenor of the revolt.

What Hidalgo Helped

  1. Hidalgo led his growing militia from village to village en route to Mexico City, leaving in their wake a bloodbath that he later came to deeply regret. Defeated at Calderón in January 1811, Hidalgo fled north but was captured and executed by firing squad in Chihuahua. Others took the helm of the rebellion, including José María Morelos y Pavón, Mariano Matamoros and Vicente Guerrero, who all led armies of indigenous and racially mixed revolutionaries against the Spanish royalists. Known as the Mexican War Of Independence, the conflict dragged on until 1821, when the Treaty of Córdoba established Mexico as an independent constitutional monarchy under Agustín de Iturbide.

  2. Fearing his arrest, Hidalgo commanded his brother Mauricio, as well as Ignacio Allende and Mariano Abasolo to go with a number of other armed men to make the sheriff release the inmates there on the night of 15 September. They managed to set eighty free.

  3. On the morning of 16 September, Hidalgo called Mass, which was attended by about 300, including hacienda owners, local politicians and Spaniards. There he gave what is now known as the Grito de Dolores (Cry, or Shout, of Dolores), calling the people of his parish to leave their homes and join with him in a rebellion against the current government, in the name of their King.

How he is remembered today

Every year on the night of 15–16 September, the president of Mexico re-enacts the Grito from the balcony of the National Palace. This scene is repeated by the heads of cities and towns all over Mexico.