Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Grito De Dolores

Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Grito De Dolores

Article excerpt

On the morning of September 16, 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the parish priest in the village of Dolores in central Mexico, rang the church bell to summon his poor, rural, indigenous congregation. When the townspeople had assembled, he proceeded to deliver what writers have referred to as a "fiery" speech, calling on the people to join him in a struggle against the rice regal government. Neither he nor anyone else present left a written copy of his sermon, so the exact text of this most famous of all Mexican speeches is not known, although a wide variety of "reconstructed" versions have been published over the past 200 years. Father Hidalgo's "Grito de Dolores" is remembered more for its intent and emotion than for its exact words, because it was this single act of defiance that initiated Mexico's wars of independence

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The historical circumstances that ignited the wars of independence throughout Spanish America, and to which Father Hidalgo responded, established the validity of what fragments of his speech are remembered. Napoleon's capture of Spanish King Ferdinand VII in 1808 and the French control of most of Spain led many throughout Spain and Spanish America to a conflictive sense of social dislocation. But the changes also meant tempting possibilities of freedom from traditional restraints. Initially, allegiance to King and Church was unquestioned in Spanish America, but local oppositions and conflicts intensified. The "Grito de Dolores" emphasized loyalty to Ferdinand VII and to a Catholic religion. Father Hidalgo grasped the banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe as his standard. His cry was against bad government and for death to the Gachupines (peninsular Spaniards). According to some versions, Father Hidalgo appealed to his people, saying: "my children, this day comes to us as a new dispensation. Are you ready to receive it? Will you be free? …

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