|Mexican War of Independence: Part I-
Father Hidalgo’s March of 1810
In the early 1800’s there were 5 types of people: At the top were those that were born in Spain and came to New Spain (Mexico); they were the most powerful, even though they had fewest people. Next were the creoles, they were people of Spanish blood that had been born in the colony. Next were the mestizos, they were people of mixed blood – Spanish/Native American. Next were the Native Americans, and finally were the slaves . The people that were from Spain had the most power, and the creoles had some power - - the rest had none, even though they had the most people..
A man named Father Miguel Hidalgo, a Catholic priest is the man that started the movement for independence from the Spanish. He was a priest in the small town of Dolores, New Spain. When he first arrived in 1803, he could not believe how poor the people were there. All of the people there worked in the mines, they were all Native Americans and mestizos. He convinced them to plant olives and grapes in the fertile soil of the fields that surrounded the town to make more money.
However, when the Spanish found out that the people were planting grapes and olives, they cut down and burned all of the fields. When Father Hidalgo asked the Spanish why they did this, the Spanish told him that grapes and olives were grown in Spain, and that if the people of Dolores wanted them they would have to buy them from the Spanish, at a much higher price of course. Father Hidalgo realized that the people of New Spain would never be able to stop being so poor as long as the Spanish were in control.
In 1810, he climbed the steps of the church in Dolores and gave a famous speech called “The Cry of Dolores”. He convinced the Native Americans and mestizos to fight for independence from Spain. He began a march towards Mexico City, along the way people from all over joined his march. They brought with them weapons from their farms and mines and killed all of the Spanish they saw along the way.
When they arrived in Mexico City, Father Hidalgo’s army had grown to 90,000 people, mostly Native Americans and mestizos. They greatly outnumbered the 6,000 Spanish troops defending the city, but the Spanish had rifles and cannons and scared the army away. The Spanish eventually caught Father Hidalgo and killed him. They put his head in a cage to scare away others from trying to gain independence.
Even though Father Hidalgo’s march did not end in independence, it was clear that many people of New Spain wanted independence, and that Father Hidalgo’s march was not the end of the fight… just the beginning.
1.) What do you think was unfair about who had all of the power in the colony of New Spain? Explain.
2.) The Spanish would not allow the people of Dolores to grow their own olives and grapes because they wanted the colonists to buy those things from them at a higher price. Compare this economic system to what the British did to the 13 colonies.
3.) From what you read, do you think that Father Hidalgo’s march was a failure or a success? Explain.
The Mexican War of Independence:
Part II 1811-1821
When Father Hidalgo was killed by the Spanish, the lower classes of New Spain (mestizos, Native Americans and slaves) were not discouraged about getting their independence. But, even though the Spanish armies were outnumbered, they were much better trained and had better weapons had those seeking independence. Also, the Spanish had the creoles on their side, creoles were people that were of Spanish blood, but had been born in the colony.
After Father Hidalgo, another priest named Jose Morelos led the armies of independence. He was a mestizo and won many battles, but eventually his army was beaten by the better Spanish and creole troops, and like Father Hidalgo, he was captured and killed in 1815.
When Father Morelos was defeated the independence fighters had to hide in New Spain’s mountains, the Sierra Madres. They would come down and make sneak attacks against the Spanish, but this type of fighting would not discourage the Spanish from holding on to their wealthy colony that had so many valuable raw materials.
The tide turned again in 1820 when a creole military commander, Agustin de Iturbide secretly switched sides. Iturbide had fought with the Spanish against Hidalgo and Morelos, but he switched sides because he did not see an end to the independence movement, and he saw the chance to gain great power for himself.
He wrote the Plan of Iguala. The plan said that he would be emperor, all people of Mexico would be equal and it abolished (ended) slavery. This won the approval of the bottom four groups, the creoles because they would now be the most powerful and wealthy in Mexico if the Spanish left, and the mestizos, Native Americans and slaves because they would be equal and free.
Of course, the Spanish rejected his plan and vowed to fight Iturbide. Iturbide took his great creole, mestizo, Native American and slave army and surrounded the Viceroy of New Spain. The Viceroy was the Spanish man in charge of all of New Spain. When the Viceroy saw the great army he had no choice but to give up and agree to the plan.
The Spanish left Mexico an independent country in 1821.
Do you think that Iturbide was a man who truly believed in freedom for all, or a man that just wanted power? Explain.
In a paragraph, compare and contrast the Plan of Iguala with the Declaration of Independence.