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Mexican War for Independence

The Mexican War of Independence was a political, social and military process which ended the rule of Spain in New Spain. The war had its beginnings in the French invasion of Spain in 1808 and the weakening of the Spanish crown at the exact moment that tensions were rising among the colonists throughout the Americas. The combat proper in Mexico extended from the revolutionaries cry for independence, the ‘Grito de Dolores’, on September 16, 1810 to the entrance of the Army of the Three Guarantees in Mexico City in 1821 that ended Spanish domination. The rebel movement was inspired in part by the Age of Enlightenment and the liberal revolutions of the last few decades. There were distinct differences among the various factions, however, as to what type of government an independent Mexico would have, and upper classes took pains to ensure the lower classes would not dominate. Ten years of warfare, at times between armies but more often between garrisons and guerrilla groups, preceded the final acts in which the independence of Mexico was consummated on September 27, 1821. Spain, under the rule of Isabella II, finally recognized the independence of Mexico in 1836.

Timeline 1810 - 1821 (Background Information 1799–1829)
Grades 6–12
Characters 27
Number of Timeline Events 107
Duration 2 weeks to 1 semester

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Sample Timeline Events
(1810 to March 21, 1811)

Canning Preserves Food! A New Age!

(1810)

In 1795 the French military offers a cash prize of 12,000 francs for a new method to preserve food. Nicolas Appert suggests canning, and the process is first proven in 1806 in tests conducted by the French navy. Appert is awarded the prize in 1810 by Count Montelivert, a French government minister on behalf of the Emperor Napoleon. Canning is a method of preserving food in which the food is processed and sealed in an airtight container. Canning provides a shelf life typically ranging from one to five years, although under specific circumstances it can be much longer. The packaging prevents microorganisms from entering and proliferating inside.

War in Iberia Grows And Intensifies!

(1810)

Napoleon takes pains this year to subdue the rebel forces in Spain as well as the British-supported regency in Portugal. One large French army invades Andalusia in southwest Spain in February, crushing and ending the government of the Supreme Junta, and commences a two year siege of the rebel capital and its new government (the Cortes) at Cadiz. Another large army invades Portugal in August and drives the Anglo-Portuguese back into Lisbon by October, beginning a six month siege. With the fate of the old mother countries in dire jeopardy, the American colonies continue their striving for independence.

Father Hidalgo Makes His 'Grito de Dolores'!

(September 16, 1810)

Early this morning, Father Miguel Hidalgo calls together the congregation of his town, Dolores in Guanajuato in north central Mexico. He has, for some time, been a member of a secret society intent on a revolt against the colonial government. Feeling that the authorities are about to make a move against the conspiracy, Hidalgo makes his move and issues a declaration from his pulpit to hundreds of parishioners. It is an exhortation for independence and becomes known as the 'Grito de Dolores' or Cry of Dolores. The war for independence has begun! Respond in character to this event (in an essay of about 150 words, describing how you reacted to this news and what your thoughts and feelings are moving forward from it. After posting this response to your timeline, write an in-character comment on at least two other characters' pages about the event. Finally, comment on at least two additional characters' written responses to this event.

Hidalgo's Army Destroys Royalist Force in First Battle!

(September 28, 1810)

Father Hidalgo and Ignacio Allende, the military leader of the insurrection, direct their ever-growing army southwards toward Mexico City. The first large town they come to is Guanajuato, the provincial capital. The rebels number 30,000 and the garrison of Spanish regulars and forced supporters is only a little over 500. The royalists barricade themselves in a public granary but are quickly overwhelmed when a poor miner creeps forward and sets fire to the large wooden doors, allowing the rebels to enter. Nearly all of the defenders are killed. The rebels march on southward, their strength growing by the day.

Hidalgo and Rebels Crush Last Royalists Standing Before Mexico City!

(October 30, 1810)

Having grown to over 90,000 men (albeit poorly armed -- many with pikes and bows and arrows) the rebel army under Allende and Hidalgo reaches the outskirts of the capital district. A small royalist army under General Torcuato Trujillo comes out to meet them in the rugged, hilly, forested region between the capital and Toluca. The Spaniards have good defenses, artillery and muskets. Three times the rebels assault. The first two are beaten back but the rebels have the royalists surrounded. Hidalgo sends emissaries to work out a royalist surrender; instead, the Spaniards kill the emissaries. Enraged, the rebels assault and overrun their enemies, killing over 2000 of the 2,500 defenders. After this Battle of Monte de las Cruces, the way to Mexico City is open. Hidalgo, however, hesitates and pulls back to the north towards Guadalajara. His own army has lost 3000 killed. Perhaps he does not want to see more bloodshed in the capital and wishes to negotiate.

Republic of West Florida Annexed into the USA!

(December 10, 1810)

Having proclaimed its independence from Spain on September 23rd, the short-lived republic is absorbed into the Louisiana territory today. Most of the settlers are Americans and British, who chafed under Spanish rule. The leaders of the republic would like to negotiate to join the US as a separate state; but President Madison does not recognize the republic and immediately annexes the western portion as he believes they are part of the original Louisiana Purchase. The eastern will be annexed in 1813. The two districts, Baton Rouge and Mobile, lie west of present Florida (which remains in Spanish hands, for now).

Rebels Routed at Bridge of Calderon!

(January 17, 1811)

After the rebels withdraw northwards from the environs of Mexico City, the Spanish Viceroy Francisco Venegas directs a pursuit by the marshaling royalist garrisons. General Felix Maria Calleja leads 6000 men after Hidalgo's and Allende's main rebel army. Calleja defeats smaller forces enroute, including retaking Guanajuato on November 25th. Finally, he comes upon the main army of 100,000 defending the important bridge across the Calderon River that controlled the entry to Guadalajara. The rebels have the upper hand initially but a lucky artillery shell from Calleja strikes a rebel munitions wagon, causing it to explode. The rebels are demoralized and the royalists swiftly roll to victory against seemingly overwhelming odds. The insurgents flee north towards Zacatecas, and Allende replaces Hidalgo as supreme leader. Calleja, meanwhile, captures Guadalajara on the 21st.

South American Revolutionary Events of the Year!

(1811)

A Congress in Caracas declares the independence of Venezuela and enacts a Constitution. Revolutionaries in New Granada divide themselves into 'centralists' and 'federalists.' The Junta of Chile makes liberal reforms. Francisco Javier de Elío is designated viceroy by the Juntas of Cádiz, and Montevideo the capital of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. Elío declares war against the Junta of Buenos Aires, but gets sieged by the surrounding cities. Mariano Moreno resigns from the Primera Junta, and dies at sea while traveling to Europe. Nevertheless, disputes between Saavedrist and Morenist groups in Buenos Aires continue. Paraguay becomes independent. The Army of the North is defeated in Huaqui and the revolutionaries lose Upper Peru and its mines. The Junta Grande of Buenos Aires is replaced by the First Triumvirate.

Insurgency Spreads to Coahuila and Tejas!

(January 22, 1811)

After the rebels withdraw northwards from the environs of Mexico City, the Spanish Viceroy Francisco Venegas directs a pursuit by the marshaling royalist garrisons. General Felix Maria Calleja leads 6000 men after Hidalgo's and Allende's main rebel army. Calleja defeats smaller forces enroute, including retaking Guanajuato on November 25th. Finally, he comes upon the main army of 100,000 defending the important bridge across the Calderon River that controlled the entry to Guadalajara. The rebels have the upper hand initially but a lucky artillery shell from Calleja strikes a rebel munitions wagon, causing it to explode. The rebels are demoralized and the royalists swiftly roll to victory against seemingly overwhelming odds. The insurgents flee north towards Zacatecas, and Allende replaces Hidalgo as supreme leader. Calleja, meanwhile, captures Guadalajara on the 21st.

Regency! Britain's King George Replaced by His Son!

(February 5, 1811)

A militia officer, Juan Bautista de las Casas, leads a revolt against the royalist Governor of Tejas, Manuel Salcedo, and unseats him. Troops from the capital, San Antonio, support Casas. Meanwhile, in neighboring Coahuila, a rebel army of 8000 forces that province's Governor Bustamente to surrender his capital. After the battle of Calderon Bridge, though, the royalists regain strength and spirit. In mid-March they reclaim both capitals and wrest control from the rebels.

Rebel Leaders Captured through Treachery at Wells of Bajan!

(March 21, 1811)

The military leader of Nueva Leon, General Ignacio Elizondo, invites the leaders of the rebellion to meet him at the Wells of Bajan in Coahuila. Elizondo has vacillated between supporting the royalists and rebels in the previous months as he marched his troops through Tejas, Nuevo Santander and Coahuila. He informs Hidalgo, Allende and other rebel leaders that he will provide them with arms from the US when they meet him at the Wells. Instead, when they arrive, he seizes them in an ambush and makes them prisoner. He has decided he will support the royalist cause, after all. Elizondo sends his prisoners to Chihuahua for capital trial.


Unit Personas

1. Anastasio Bustamante 15. Josefa Dominguez Ortiz
2. Augustin De Iturbide 16. José Joaquín de Arredondo
3. Bernardo O'Higgins 17. José Morelo
4. Felix Calleja 18. Juan Aldama
5. Ferdinand VII 19. Juan O’Donoju
6. Francisco Javier Mina y Larrea 20. Juan Ruiz de Apodaca
7. Francisco Javier Venegas 21. Leona Vicario
8. Gertrudis Bocanegra 22. Lorenzo de Zavala
9. Guadalupe Victoria 23. Mariano Matamoros
10. Ignacio Allende 24. Miguel Hidalgo
11. James Madison 25. Santa Anna
12. James Monroe 26. Simon Bolivar
13. José de Iturrigaray 27. Vicente Guerrero
14. Jose de San Martin


Each Discourse unit provides an interactive, social media platform and accompanying curriculum to create a collaborative and entertaining educational experience.

Each unit includes the following:

  • Unit overview
  • 30-40 characters for students to role-play
  • Timeline Events that not only focus on the relevant events of the unit in study, but also encompass the cultural and broader events of the time period, thus providing context for the unit
  • Breaking News events with original source documents
  • Profile information about each character (teacher only)
  • Page for students to determine their relationships to each other character in the unit (auto-graded)
  • Period-relevant items for students to Like or Dislike based on their character (auto-graded)
  • Opportunity for students to create events and send private messages while role-playing their character
  • Advertisements appropriate for the time period; some include original video or music
  • Grading matrix for the role-playing (auto-completed as applicable)
  • A game-like trophy system that awards student progress
  • Teacher product instructions
  • Student use instructions
  • Teachers have access to the Discourse unit and students’ work for one year after the initial set-up date.
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