"The heads were displayed in cages on the four walls of the Alhondiga de Granaditas, where the Spaniards of Guanajuato had been massacred. There they remained for ten years until Mexico won its independence in 1821" (Krauze, Mexico, Biography of Power). Hidalgo led the first battles in Mexico's war of Independence until Spaniards captured and killed him, and then placed his head along with those of his three closest aides in public display as a message to terrorize the insurgents. Despite the buzzing flies swarming around the decaying caged heads hung on the city walls, the War continued under the command of Morelos and his ragtag groups of parish priests, mostly mestizos.
By leading the earliest revolts, Hidalgo became the George Washington of Mexico. These two revolutionary giants shared courage and leadership, yet their differences shine brightly on how the foundations of the two countries contrast in culture and ideologies.
Once Hidalgo gained popularity, he allowed his followers to treat him as royalty. "He lavishly made official appointments; he lived surrounded by guards; he would walk arm in arm with a lovely young woman and allow himself to be addressed with the title Most Serene Highness" (Enrique Krauze, Mexico, Biography of Power).
Hidalgo replaced the pomp of King Joseph Bonaparte (one of the last Spanish kings to rule over Mexico) with his own. Many considered him the Sun King. Hidalgo showed a dubious interest in religion despite hisbeing a priest. Nevertheless he used the image of the Virgin Mary, the most powerful religious symbol in Mexico, as his military standard in an opportunistic ploy to garner a fervent militia, ready to die for their ardent devotion to Her Lady.
Hidalgo's military successor, Morelos, was a passionate believer in the Virgin as protector of his cause, attributing his victories to the Empress of Guadalupe, as the Zappatistas would do a century later. He used the emblem of the Virgin of Guadalupe as the seal of the Congress of Chilpancingo to which he stated: "New Spain puts less faith in its own efforts than in the power of God and the intercession of its Blessed Mother,"that had come to comfort us, defend us, visibly be our protection." As they did to Hidalgo, the Spanish crushed Morelos, forcing his crumbling rebellion into guerilla warfare.
As a sign of hard times, today's downtrodden peons are showing more faith in the Holy Death (Santa Muerte) than in the Virgin for the same sort of intercessions, only more tailored to fit the needs of the poor, the alienated, the street hookers, criminals, and drug traffickers.
Mexico Founded on Conservative Religion -- U.S. Founded on Progressive Elitism