by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary

Due to an injury, this commentary will be added later. Please check back, Thank you.  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2010 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 2635 Words ]

   

Quotations Related to Mail

“Independence did not mean chauvinism and narrow nationalism.”
— Said Musa

“Independence means you decide according to the law and the facts.”
— Stephen Breyer

“Independence is not a whim or an ambition. It is the necessary condition of our survival as an ethnic group.”
— Aslan Maskhadov

“In the progress of personality, first comes a declaration of independence, then a recognition of interdependence.”
— Henry Van Dyke

“In the late afternoons and early evenings, the crowd is easily over 1 million. That many people simply can’t fit in Independence Square. The demonstration spills in to the streets for several blocks.”
— Bob Schaffer

“In the Steven F. Austin Colony, which was the first colony, Texans first established a provisional government in 1835 with the intention of writing a declaration of independence soon after.”
— Michael McCaul

“In the over two centuries since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, millions of Americans have bravely served our nation in uniform so that all generations can continue to enjoy those same liberties.”
— Doc Hastings

“Independence I have long considered as the grand blessing of life, the basis of every virtue; and independence I will ever secure by contracting my wants, though I were to live on a barren heath.”
— Mary Wollstonecraft

 

Mexican Independence Day: September 16th

Coat_of_arms_of_Mexico_(1821-1823)_svg The Mexican War of Independence (1810–1821) was an armed conflict between the people of Mexico and the Spanish colonial authorities which started on 16 September 1810. The Mexican War of Independence movement was led by Mexican-born Spaniards, Mestizos and Amerindians who sought independence from Spain. It started as an idealistic peasants’ rebellion against their colonial masters, but finally ended as an unlikely alliance between Mexican ex-royalists and Mexican guerrilla insurgency.

It can be said that the struggle for Mexican independence dates back to the decades after the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, when Martín Cortés, son of Hernán Cortés and La Malinche, led a revolt against the Spanish colonial government in order to eliminate privileges for the conquistadors.

After the abortive Conspiracy of the Machetes in 1799, the War of Independence led by the Mexican-born Spaniards became a reality. The movement for independence was far from gaining unanimous support among Mexicans, who became divided between independentists, autonomists and royalists.

Beginning of the War

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, was a Mexican priest and member of a group of educated Criollos in Querétaro who met in tertulias (salons) and who in 1810 arrived at the conclusion that a revolt against the colonial government was needed because of the events of the Peninsular War. Hidalgo had already achieved notoriety- he gambled, fornicated, had children out of wedlock and didn’t believe in Hell. Most seriously, he encouraged his parishioners to illegally grow vines and olives. Originally Hidalgo worked closely with co-conspirator Ignacio de Allende, a nobel and member of the Basque society living in San Miguel. Hidalgo originally supported naming Allende head of the revolutionary military, but the two men quickly became rivals. Hidalgo seized control of the militia. The conspirators were betrayed by a member of the group and Hidalgo turned to his parishioners in the town of Dolores. Around 6:00 am of September 16th 1810 he declared independence from the Spanish crown, and war against the government in what was known as the Grito de Dolores. The revolutionary army decided to strike for independence and marched on to Guanajuato, a major colonial mining centre governed by Spaniards and criollos. There the leading citizens barricaded themselves in the granary. The rebel army captured the granary on 28 September, and most of the Spaniards and Criollos were massacred or exiled. Among the many dead were nobles who were co-conspirators like Allende, who never forgave Hidalgo for the massacre. Consequently, Allende refused to fight alongside Hidalgo, and the two divided forces were easily defeated.

On October 30, Miguel Hidalgo’s army encountered Spanish resistance at the Battle of Monte de las Cruces, fought them and achieved victory. However, the rebel army failed to defeat the large and heavily armed Spanish army in Mexico City. Rebel survivors of the battle sought refuge in nearby provinces and villages. The insurgent forces planned a defensive strategy at a bridge on the Calderón River, pursued by the Spanish army.

In January 1811, Spanish forces fought the Battle of the Bridge of Calderón and defeated the insurgent army, forcing the rebels to flee towards the United States-Mexican border, where they hoped to escape. However they were intercepted by the Spanish army. Hidalgo and his remaining soldiers were captured in the state of Coahuila at the Wells of Baján (Norias de Baján). He faced court trial of the Inquisition on 30 July 1811. His body was mutilated, and his head and Allende’s were displayed in Guanajuato as a warning to Mexican rebels.

Following the death of Father Hidalgo, the leadership of the revolutionary army was assumed by José María Morelos. Under his leadership the cities of Oaxaca and Acapulco were occupied. In 1813, the Congress of Chilpancingo was convened and on 6 November of that year, the Congress signed the first official document of independence, known as the "Solemn Act of the Declaration of Independence of Northern America". It was followed by a long period of war at the Siege of Cuautla. In 1815, Morelos was captured by Spanish colonial authorities, tried and executed for treason in San Cristóbal Ecatepec on 22 December.

Independence

From 1815 to 1821, most of the fighting by those seeking independence from Spain was done by isolated guerrilla bands. Out of these bands rose two men, Guadalupe Victoria (born José Miguel Fernández y Félix) in Puebla and Vicente Guerrero in Oaxaca, both of whom were able to command allegiance and respect from their followers. The Spanish viceroy, however, felt the situation was under control and issued a general pardon to every rebel who would lay down his arms.

After ten years of civil war and the death of two of its founders, by early 1820 the independence movement was stalemated and close to collapse. The rebels faced stiff Spanish military resistance and the apathy of many of the most influential criollos. The violent excesses and populist zeal of Hidalgo’s and Morelos’s irregular armies had reinforced many criollos’ fears of race and class warfare, ensuring their grudging acquiescence to conservative Spanish rule until a less bloody path to independence could be found. It was at this juncture that the machinations of a conservative military caudillo coinciding with a successful liberal rebellion in Spain, made possible a radical realignment of the proindependence forces.

In what was supposed to be the final government campaign against the insurgents, in December 1820, Viceroy Juan Ruiz de Apodaca sent a force led by a royalist criollo officer, Colonel Agustín de Iturbide, to defeat Guerrero’s army in Oaxaca. Iturbide, a native of Valladolid, had gained renown for the zeal with which he persecuted Hidalgo’s and Morelos’s rebels during the early independence struggle. A favorite of the Mexican church hierarchy, Iturbide was the personification of conservative criollo values, devoutly religious, and committed to the defense of property rights and social privileges; he was also disgruntled at his lack of promotion and wealth.

Iturbide’s assignment to the Oaxaca expedition coincided with a successful military coup in Spain against the monarchy of Ferdinand VII. The coup leaders, who had been assembled as an expeditionary force to suppress the American independence movements, compelled a reluctant Ferdinand to reinstate the liberal Spanish Constitution of 1812. When news of the liberal charter reached Mexico, Iturbide saw in it both a threat to the status quo and an opportunity for the criollos to gain control of Mexico. Ironically, independence was finally achieved when conservative forces in the colonies chose to rise up against a temporarily liberal regime in the mother country. After an initial clash with Guerrero’s forces, Iturbide switched allegiances and invited the rebel leader to meet and discuss principles of a renewed independence struggle.

While stationed in the town of Iguala, Iturbide proclaimed three principles, or "guarantees," for Mexican independence from Spain; Mexico would be an independent monarchy governed by a transplanted King Ferdinand, another Bourbon prince, or some other conservative European prince, criollos and peninsulares would henceforth enjoy equal rights and privileges, and the Roman Catholic Church would retain its privileges and religious monopoly. After convincing his troops to accept the principles, which were promulgated on February 24, 1821, as the Plan of Iguala, Iturbide persuaded Guerrero to join his forces in support of the new conservative manifestation of the independence movement. A new army, the Army of the Three Guarantees, was then placed under Iturbide’s command to enforce the Plan of Iguala. The plan was so broadly based that it pleased both patriots and loyalists. The goal of independence and the protection of Roman Catholicism brought together all factions.

Iturbide’s army was joined by rebel forces from all over Mexico. When the rebels’ victory became certain, the viceroy resigned. On August 24, 1821, representatives of the Spanish crown and Iturbide signed the Treaty of Córdoba, which recognized Mexican independence under the terms of the Plan of Iguala. On September 27 the Army of the Three Guarantees entered Mexico City and the following day Iturbide proclaimed the independence of the Mexican Empire, as New Spain was to be henceforth called. The Treaty of Córdoba was not ratified by the Spanish Cortes. Iturbide, a former royalist who had become the paladin for Mexican independence, included a special clause in the treaty that left open the possibility for a criollo monarch to be appointed by a Mexican congress if no suitable member of the European royalty would accept the Mexican crown. Half of all the government employees were Iturbide’s courtiers.

On the night of the May 18, 1822, a mass demonstration led by the Regiment of Celaya, which Iturbide had commanded during the war, marched through the streets and demanded that their commander-in-chief accept the throne. The following day, the congress declared Iturbide emperor of Mexico. On October 31 Iturbide dissolved Congress and replaced it with a sympathetic junta.

Grito de Delores

Dolores_hidalgo 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.

Hidalgo and several criollos were involved in a planned revolt against the Spanish colonial government, and the plotters were betrayed. 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 pro-independence inmates there on the night of 15 September. They managed to set eighty free. Around 6:00 am September 16, 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 by 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!

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 nickname given to Peninsulares) probably had caused horror among Mexico’s elite.

The Battle of Guanajuato, the first major engagement of the insurgency, occurred 4 days later. Mexico’s independence would not be effectively declared from Spain in the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire until September 27, 1821, after a decade of war.

Remembrance

GritoIxmiquilpan 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. Since the late 20th 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.

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.

    

References

Other Events on this Day:

  • In 1620…
    One hundred and two passengers set sail from Plymouth, England, aboard the Mayflower. On Nov. 21, the ship lands near the tip of Cape Cod, Mass.

  • In 1810…
    Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla issues the Cry of Dolores at his small parish church in Dolores, Mexico, encouraging a largely Indian and mestizo congregation to revolt against colonial Spanish rule. Independence will finally be won on Aug. 24, 1821, with the signing of the Treaty of Córdoba, but Sept. 16 is recognized as Mexican Independence Day.

  • In 1893…
    In one of the wildest land runs in history, about 100,000 settlers pour into a section of Oklahoma called the Cherokee Strip, to claim homesteads.

  • In 1908… 
    William Crapo “Billy” Durant founds General Motors in Flint, Michigan.

  • In 1919…
    Congress grants a national charter to the American Legion.

  • In 1940…
    President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Selective Service Training and Service Act, the first peacetime military draft in the United States.

  • In 1987…
    The Montreal Protocol is signed by two dozen countries in an attempt to save the Earth’s ozone layer by reducing harmful chemical emissions around the globe. Since then, more than 100 other nations have ratified the treaty and its subsequent revisions.

Dates and events based on:

William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)

Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Wikipedia: Mexican War of Independence…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican_War_of_Independence

Wikipedia: Grito de Delores…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grito_de_Dolores

Brainy Quote: Independence Quotes…
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/independence.html