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A statue of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in front of the church in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato.

The Grito de Dolores ("Cry of Dolores") was the battle cry of the Mexican War of Independence also known as El Grito de la Independencia("Cry of Independence"), uttered on September 16, 1810 by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Roman Catholic priest from the small town of Dolores, near Guanajuato.

Contents

The event

Hidalgo and several educated criollos were involved in a planned revolt against the Spanish colonial government, and the plotters were betrayed. Fearing his arrest,[1] 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 pro-independence inmates there on the night of 15 September. They managed to set eighty free.[2] Just before midnight on September 15, 1810, Hidalgo ordered the church bells to be rung and gathered his congregation. Flanked by Allende and Juan Aldama, he addressed the people in front of his church, encouraging them to revolt:


My children: a new dispensation comes to us today. Will you receive it? Will you free yourselves? Will you recover the lands stolen three hundred years ago from your forefathers by the hated Spaniards? We must act at once… Will you defend your religion and your rights as true patriots? Long live our Lady of Guadalupe! Death to bad government! Death to the gachupines! [3]


Hidalgo’s Grito did not condemn the notion of monarchy or criticize the current social order in detail, but his opposition to the events in Spain and the current viceregal government was clearly expressed in his reference to bad government. The Grito also emphasized loyalty to the Catholic religion, a sentiment with which both Creoles and Peninsulares (native Spaniards) could sympathize; however, the strong anti-Spanish cry of “Death to the Gachupines” (Gachupines was a name given to Peninsulares) probably had caused horror among Mexico’s elite.[1]

The Battle of Guanajuato, the first major engagement of the insurgency, occurred 4 days later. Mexico's independence would not be recognized by the Spanish crown until September 27, 1821, after a decade of war.

Remembrance

Municipal president giving the "grito" of "¡Viva México!" at the commencement of Independence Day festivities at 11 pm 15 Sept 2008 in Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo.

This event has since assumed an almost mythic status.[4][5] Since the late 19th century, Hidalgo y Costilla’s "cry of independence" has become emblematic of Mexican independence. Each year on the night of September 15, the President of Mexico rings the bell of the National Palace in Mexico City. He repeats a cry of patriotism (a Grito Mexicano) based upon the "Grito de Dolores" from the balcony of the palace to the assembled crowd in the Plaza de la Constitución, or Zócalo, one of the largest public plazas in the world. This event draws up to half a million spectators. On the dawn of September 16, or Independence Day, the national military parade starts in the Zócalo, passes the Hidalgo Memorial and ends on the Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City’s main boulevard.

A similar celebration occurs in cities and towns all over Mexico. The mayor (or governor, in the case of state capitals), rings a bell and gives the traditional words. In the 19th century, it became common practice for Mexican presidents in their final year in office to re-enact the Grito in Dolores Hidalgo, rather than in the National Palace. President Calderón is expected to officiate the Grito in Dolores Hidalgo as part of the bicentennial celebrations in 2010.

The following day, September 16 is Independence Day in Mexico and is considered a patriotic holiday, or fiesta patria (literally, holiday of the fatherland).


Cinco de Mayo confusion

It is a common misconception among the non-Mexican community in the United States to mistake Cinco de Mayo, or May 5th, with the Mexican Independence Day, which occurs on September 16th; Cinco de Mayo actually commemorates the victory of the Mexican Army over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, during the French invasion of Mexico.

Notes

  1. ^ a b Kirkwood, Burton (2000). History of Mexico. Westport, CT, USA: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated. ISBN 9780313303517.
  2. ^ Sosa, Francisco (1985) (in Spanish). Biografias de Mexicanos Distinguidos-Miguel Hidalgo. 472. Mexico City: Editorial Porrua SA. pp. 288-292. ISBN 968 452 050 6.
  3. ^ Meyer. Michael, et al (1979): The Course of Mexican History, page 276, New York, New York USA Oxford University Press ISBN 9780195024135
  4. ^ The Hidalgo Revolt: Prelude to Mexican Independence. University of Florida Press. 1966. ISBN 0-8130-2528-1. 
  5. ^ Knight, Alan (2002). Mexico: The Colonial Era. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-5218-9196-5. 

References

Fernández Tejedo, Isabel; and Carmen Nava Nava (2001). "Images of Independence in the Nineteenth Century: The Grito de Dolores, History and Myth title,¡Viva Mexico! ¡Viva la independencia!: Celebrations of September 16". Silhouettes: studies in history and culture series. Margarita González Aredondo and Elena Murray de Parodi (Spanish-English trans.). Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources. pp. 1–42. ISBN 0-8420-2914-1. OCLC 248568379. 

External links

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