El Grito de Dolores and source evaluation

Very shortly, Mexico and the Central American countries will be celebrating their independence from Spain. This year also marks the 200th anniversary of the “Grito de Dolores”, an impassioned speech made by Father Manuel Hidalgo to incite his parish in the city of Dolores, most of whom were indigenous or mestizos, to rebel against Spanish rule.  It marked the beginning of an 11-year struggle that culminated in the end of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and the creation of Mexico.

As an IB teacher, the event provides a great example of studying an event where there are limited materials. Indeed, no text of the sermon was published at the time so it has been left to others to either state the intention of Father Hidalgo or, in some cases, reconstruct it.  There were three contemporary reports of the event, but no concurrence on what exactly Father Hidalgo said.   Wikipedia provides the following quotation (from Michael Meyer et al., Course of Mexican history, 1979):

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!

As a teacher, how do we handle this?  It is not just a Wikipedia quotation, but one that comes from a text book.

The answer, is source evaluation.  In preparation for Paper 1 and the IA, teachers can use this effectively to teach source evaluation.  Using the phrasing of the third question on Paper 1, With reference to origins and purpose, assess the value and limitations of this source for historians studying Mexican independence.

When debriefing, explain to students that this is a reconstruction and ask them what that means for the value and limitations of this as a historical source.

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