Posted by: Ed Darrell | September 16, 2013

Mexican Independence Day celebrated September 16: Grito de Dolores!

It’s almost painful how much residents of the U.S. don’t know about our neighbor to the south, Mexico.

No, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day.

That would be September 16.

Dolores Hidalgo Church at night.

Dolores Hidalgo Church at night. Wikipedia image

But just to confuse things more, Mexico did not get independence on September 16.

September 16 is the usual date given for the most famous speech in Mexico’s history — a speech for which no transcript survives, and so, a speech which no one can really describe accurately. A Catholic priest who was involved in schemes to create an armed revolution to throw out Spanish rule (then under Napoleon), thought his plot had been discovered, and moved up the call for the peasants to revolt. At midnight, September 15, 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla declaimed the need for Mexicans to rise in revolution, from his church in the town of Dolores, near Guanajuato. The cry for freedom is known in Spanish as the Grito de Dolores.

Hidalgo himself was hunted down, captured and executed. Mexico didn’t achieve independence from Spain for another 11 years, on September 28, 1821.

To commemorate, usually the President of Mexico repeats the speech at midnight, in Mexico City, or in Dolores. If the President does not journey to Dolores, some other official gives the speech there. Despite no one’s knowing what was said, there is a script from tradition used by the President:

Mexicans!
Long live the heroes that gave us the Fatherland!
Long live Hidalgo!
Long live Morelos!
Long live Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez!
Long live Allende!
Long live Galena and the Bravos!
Long live Aldama and Matamoros!
Long live National Independence!
Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico!

 

Political history of Mexico is not easy to explain at all.

Hidalgo’s life was short after the speech, but the Spanish still feared the power of his ideas and names. In his honor, a town in the Texas territory of Mexico was named after him, but to avoid provoking authorities, the name was turned into an anagram: Goliad.

In one of those twists that can only occur in real history, and not in fiction, Goliad was the site of a Mexican slaughter of a surrendered Tejian army during the fight for Texas independence. This slaughter so enraged Texans that when they got the drop on Mexican President and Gen. Santa Ana’s army a few days later at San Jacinto, they offered little quarter to the Mexican soldiers, though Santa Ana’s life was spared.

Have a great Grito de Dolores Day, remembering North American history that we all ought to know.

Check out earlier posts on the Grito, for a longer and more detailed explanation of events, and more sources for teachers and students.

Father Hidalgo:  Antonio Fabres, Miguel Hidalgo, oil on canvas, image taken from: Eduardo Baez, military painting in the nineteenth century Mexico, Mexico, National Defense Secretariat, 1992, p.23.  Wikipedia image

Father Hidalgo: Antonio Fabres, Miguel Hidalgo, oil on canvas, image taken from: Eduardo Baez, military painting in the nineteenth century Mexico, Mexico, National Defense Secretariat, 1992, p.23. Wikipedia image

More:

This post is mostly borrowed from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, with express permission from the author and editor.

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Responses

  1. Thanks for keeping my link in there…

    • Thank you for the information, and for keeping the history alive.


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