“More than half a tempestuous century has passed since, in this humble dwelling, in the breast of a humble old man, the great word “independence” rang out, resounding like thunder from one ocean to the other… This word, which flashed through the night like lightning, woke a whole nation from ceaseless slumber to liberty and emancipation; but all great things and all that is destined to endure is achieved with difficulty and takes time.”
These were some of the words from a speech by Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg on September 15, 1864 in the city of Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato when he established for the first time and for posterity the celebration of the Cry of Independence.
Reportedly, the Emperor was dressed in charro Mexican cowboy costume, while the Empress wore a traditional local dress.
Having been persuaded to accept the title Emperor of Mexico, Maximilian entered the capital of the country on June 12, 1864 following an arduous journey from Veracruz that involved two whole weeks traveling in a horse-drawn carriage.
Once installed as Emperor in Chapultepec Castle, Maximilian undertook his first official trip with aim of visiting the department of Guanajuato some 400 kilometers to the north, but also, it is said to demonstrate to Europe that all was calm in the Mexican Empire and that the emperor could tour it at no risk to himself.
Maximilian left Chapultepec on the morning of Wednesday, August 10, 1864, but didn’t reach Dolores until September, as he’d taken time along the way to get to know various places in the Bajío, such as Cuautitlán, Tepeji, Arroyozarco, San Juan del Río, Querétaro, Celaya, Salamanca and Irapuato, where, for reasons of health, he was unable to continue directly on to Guanajuato as he had intended. Instead, after a two-week delay he headed to Chamacuero, then San Miguel and finally to Dolores, where he established the official celebration of the Cry of Independence.