Mexico – José María Morelos

Mexico 20 peso 1973 banknote
José María Morelos is featured on the Mexico 20 peso 1973 banknote
Mexico 20 peso 1973 side 2
Temple of Quetzalcoatl also known as Temple of the Feathered Serpent in Teotihuacan is featured on the Mexico 20 peso 1973 side 2

Jose Maria Morelos was born of parents mulatto and mestizo,1 into a society in which one’s future was measured out by blood proportions, ethnic history, and skin tone. 18th century Mexico, or, “New Spain”, as the Spanish peninsulares2preferred, was obsessed with class, caste and classifications based upon blood, birthplace and ethnicity. Among pure breeds, Morelos was a mutt. In other words, he was fcuked,3 more than either of his parents, before he was even born. And yet, the name, Jose Maria Morelos, is carved in the Annals of The Heroes of The People of Mexico, Immortal, Beloved Forever. The names of the others are forgotten.

The little baby was born September 30, 1765, into the world of the poor. To outsiders, the scene may have been, almost, Dickensian4, a portrait of poverty; mother, father, she, the mulatto freed slave,5he, the mestizo wage-earning carpenter, both clothed in garments years past the time others would have discarded them, huddling, over, a box confiscated from the barn containing, their baby. We know this story. We have the data, and the statistics. Experts have developed models and provided projections; and we can be pretty sure that the rest of the story includes a mother’s tears, a father’s humiliation, a son’s hardship, and then, an end, a neat end.

But who can say what really passed between those parents and the infant in that scene? The insiders are no longer with us; and all we have are these monuments, lots of them, monuments, all over the place, some over a hundred feet tall. Perhaps, those parents looked upon their infant in wonder, and in the oneness of a fresh marital love, the awareness of their poverty disappeared in irrelevance. Giggling, one, picking up the thread of an ongoing conversation, suggests, “Jose Maria”, and then, “Why Not?” The other laughing, says, “But”, and grins, blushing. The little one looking up, incapable of nothing other than belief, locks eyes with mama, and then papa. They knew the beauty of this scene. And so, papa Jose Manuel and mama Joanna Maria agreed. His name shall be Jose Maria Morelos. And so they named him after the parents of the best hope they new, not Joseph, not Mary, but Joseph and Mary. And then, in the sing song voice that every parent knows, they looked upon this tiny human being, and said, “Hello Jose Maria.”

The Mule Driver

History next records that he was a muleteer, a task often given to boys when they became somewhere around ten years old. And so Jose Maria entered into the hearty outdoor life of the working class poor. He wouldn’t know, of course, he couldn’t know, that the lessons learned behind that mule would prepare him for the generalling of Mexico’s war of independence; he just knew that mama and papa said it was important that he do this work, and that it was good work, and that they encouraged him, and advised him, to a job well done. “Remember”, they’d remind him, “It is the mule who is doing the work, so respect him, and his strength, and make sure he has the food and water he needs.” “Mules are as different from one another as people,” they’d say; “so be kind.”6 “To plow a straight line, keep your attention fixed on your goal, the end of the row, not your feet or the mules feet.” “A well trained mule makes the plowman’s job easier.”7 “A horse may be faster and flashier, but a mule is stronger and more precise for plowing.”8 And so he learned from the mules, how to get things done, from dawn till dusk, year after year, until the opportunity arose to become a cowhand.


The Vaquero

Cowhands in Mexico were known as vaqueros; vaca being the Spanish word for cow. Vaqueros were the original cowboys of America. Their skills and deeds were the stuff of legends and numerous Hollywood movies. It was the vaqueros who taught their northern trade-brethren in Texas, and Colorado, and Montana, how to move a herd, how to cut cows from that herd, and how to rope a stray at full gallop. Long hours in the saddle in harsh environments, shaped a vaquero into a formidable being; independent, capable, empathetic, and, when needed, dangerous. Routinely living off the land for months at a time, the vaquero would deliver new born calves, nurse the injured, and rain fire and fury on a predator, be they man or beast. The sight and sound of vaqueros, flying down the mountainside, screaming with ropes reeling and bull whips cracking, was like thunderbolts from the angry gods. It was the vaqueros who would become the backbone, and the muscle, of the army that won Mexico’s independence. Morelos would have been about 14 or 15 years old when he was noticed and brought on to a ranch as a helper to the vaqueros; about the same time Nature was outfitting him with the physique he’d be needing.

He’d have started with simple tasks, helping the vaqueros with their saddles and ropes, feeding and watching their horses. And then he’d learn to make his own ropes, and to use them; and he’d learn to ride, and to train horses, the vaquero way. And, as he learned to ride, he’d be given the job of watching for stragglers, following the herd, riding in the rear, eating their dust all day long. And then one day the lead vaquero yells out, “Hey Vaquero, Go get that cow!”, and you, the helper, were the nearest. You perform, expertly cutting through the brush this way, heading off the calf that way, and bringing him home to safety. That evening, around the fire, a vaquero singing in the distance to calm the herd for the night, everyone laughing and no one needs say a thing; everyone saw it and knew it; you, have become a Vaquero. And so he learned that the open range doesn’t care if you are mulatto or European, mestizo or indios. And there he’d make lifelong friends.

It’s been said, that life on the range was the great equalizer. What mattered was survival and getting the job done; what didn’t matter was your looks, your likes, and certainly your ethnic history. Respect was given where respect was earned. Jose Maria thrived. And he watched others thrive too; pardos, mullatos, indios; it didn’t matter; their personalities, which, in town, around the gachupines, were often concealed, shielded, protected, around the campfire broke forth in the wonderful cacophony of life. When, in later years, as a diplomat, Jose Maria spoke to the social order of his country, in words that foreshadowed Martin Luther King centuries later, he said, “May slavery be banished forever, together with the distinction between castes, all remaining equal, so Americans may only be distinguished by vice or virtue.”9 10

At night they’d sing the songs that calmed the herd. And in those evenings of calm and in those mornings of work, lifetime bonds of respect and friendship were cemented.

It may be considered an indicator of the respect and friendship formed that, twenty years later, when he called for men to form an army, men rallied to him with little question.

The Student

By all reports, the young Jose Maria loved school. But the growing family had some problems, as families do; and the problems had financial ramifications, as problems do; and young Jose Maria began to go less and less to school and more and more to work. Then his father died,11 and Jose Maria became the main provider for his mother and sister; and school became an unfinished memory.

But through all those hard years, as muleteer and vaquero, the love of learning was never extinguished. Perhaps it connected him to his lost father, perhaps it maintained the happy memory childhood family dreams, we don’t know; but we do know that he determinedly saved up some money,12 and, at age 25, with encouragement from his family, the seasoned cowhand enrolled in San Nicolás College in Valladolid. From reports of his professors, he seized upon his studies as enthusiastically as any 10 year old schoolboy.13

There Jose Maria resumed his studies of Latin and History. Then he advanced to Rhetoric and Theology, and then, next, to Philosophy. It is there, in Philosophy class, in all likelihood, that Morelos encountered Hidalgo. Miguel Hidalgo, who would become known as the Father of Mexico, whose ringing of the church bells of Dolores, and whose Sunday morning sermon, El Grito de Dolores, would be known as the founding acts of Mexican Independence, was steeped in the literature of the Enlightenment, and, was rector of the college at Valladolid. As a teacher, he was bold, and he was brilliant. He had little use for the doctrine of the divine right of kings, and not much more for the authority of popes. But he was luminescent with the literature of the enlightenment, holding forth on the rights of man, the restrictions to the rights of kings, the blessings of limited government, and the expansiveness of the dignity of man. As stunning to the authority of Popes as was the Reformation’s 95 theses two centuries before; so was the Enlightenment’s Declaration of Independence in this generation to the divine right of kings. “All men a created equal”, Hidalgo read to them, “and endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights”, Hidalgo taught them. And he reminded his students of what was happening in the United States to the North of them; and he informed them of what was beginning in France across the Atlantic, and Haiti nearby.

It must have been wonderful what Jose Maria felt as he listened to Hidalgo, and learned of the Enlightenment. His experience of equality on the open range would have been fully affirmed. His education was installing pillars beneath his already held beliefs, and laying intellectual foundations beneath his instincts. His intellect and conscience communed. His intuition that his experienced equality should not be something extraordinary, but was the right basis for all human relations, was fully confirmed. Like someone who is authoritatively told they are right, when so much of the world had been telling them for so long that they were wrong, Jose Maria awoke. He accelerated his education and continued with confidence scoring soaring marks and acclaim from his professors.


The Priest

His mother’s grandfather was prominent in the Catholic Church and had left a patrimony for an heir. Juan Maria lobbied hard for this for her son while he completed his education. Upon completion, a position was offered to Jose Maria which represented a rapid promotion for so recent a graduate, however it was in a location remote and undeveloped and considered to be of low prestige. There are indications that his mother and sister were opposed to the assignment, perhaps because it meant their relocation with Jose Maria from Vallodolid, known as the Garden of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, to a place called Tierra Caliente, an impoverished location worthy of its name, hot with little rainfall. on the other hand it represented a rapid promotion for Jose Maria which was a flattering acknowledgement of his talents. It’s been suggested that he promotion was due to his evident talents but the location, one of little prestige, was due to his ethnicity. We do know that Jose Maria accepted the position in January 1797, the family moved in February, the mother became ill in August, was sent to for treatment, and in January 1798 passed away without Jose maria by her side, just 12 months after accepting the position.

The parish consisted of about 3000 Indios spread among one hundred little towns and two churches. Jose Maria would have spent a great deal of time in the saddle, performing the duties of the church and observing the land with the eye of a vaquero, learning its ways and its seasons, its high grounds, slow points, gullies and quicksands. And as he rode, he sang. He sang as the vaqueros sang, and the old priests too. He sang to prepare his epistles, he sang to calm his horse and he sang to calm his soul. he had received commendations from professors in school for the quality of his singing of the epistles after the form of the old priests. and as he rode from village to village, no doubt his singing in preparation for the next mass, brought to mind his life among the vaqueros when they would sing to calm the herd. and he’d remember the egalitarian camaraderie, the equal respect given and received whether Pardo or Mestizo, Indio or Black or Spaniard. and he’d remember the lessonf of Hidalgo and the equalr rights of man and the expriment by the United States up North. And he’d sing while riding and calm himself too.

a sadness as broad and dry as the desert through which he strode daily of horseback. he assisted them in their fsrms. he helped them in their farms. and all the while performing his duties for the church.

and at times he’d wonder what happened to this life. a childhood with trouble, a happy vaquero, a thrilling education and a devotion to god in the priesthood. but his mama died, and here he was in tierra caliente, without mother without father, a priest in the backside of the desert.

and as he rode year after year, the baking in the desert, the memories baked and the lessons baked and baked and baked until one dayuntil one day the bells pf dolrores rang bakd

he was assigned as priest to he parishes cucumauro and churamaco in tierra caliente, a region worthy of the name, hot and rmote. south of low rainfall and hot client, and some have suggested because of his mixed heritage, was quite a change from vallodolid, th garden of [efn-note]“Valladolid was the seat of a bishop and of the government of the colonial Intendency of Valladolid. It was known as the “Garden of the Viceroyalty of New Spain” because of its prosperity.” wikipedia, Jose Maria Morelos[/efn_note]

Mother and Father were both from towns very near o Vllaodolid. 14

Jose Maria Morelos was ordained December 21, 1797, 32 years old.15 The following month he was appointed as an interim priest in a difficult region.16 The region was known as tierra hot and about 150 miles south of valladolid where the Morelos family had lived for several generations. the choce presened the family with an honor of a raid high appointment into an area that required a family move and lacked prestige. there is a suggestion that the kmother, who was ambitious for her son’s adcancement was opposed to the move. what we know is the move was made, and sisx months later Juana Maria was ill nd sent to a physician out of town, and 6 months after that she died alone.

Juana Maria died January 5, 179917

threr he realized the difference between ambition and achivement, home and this, family and that. three thousand souls spread across a hudred towns were his district. doubtless many hours were spend in the saddle tarversing the countryside, leaseeing and then learning and then memorizing the lay of the land. it must have reminded him of his days as a cow hand, especially when he’d sing the episles to he flok in the tradional way of the old priets

for ten yars he rode the range in that circuit, likening it to his vaquero days, making friends, winning the people, ruminating on the lessons of school, and no doubt missing his mom.

his mama died there. and there th heat baked into his body that which had been baking in his mind for many years. Things were not right in the world, there was a new spirit within, on th rhorizon, within hearing, already animating the north and he east, it was coming it was here it was imminent. and so he continued to sing he sang his episles to his congregation of mulattoes.

we know very little about his pastorate except that is was one not coveted by others. It lacked prstife and comfort of other assignments. in the poorest areas and the hottest, and while there his mama, who was with him then, passed away. but we can imagine hi might have been the most remarkanl;e priest the people had ever known. as rough as any vaquero hey had ever known, equal to any vaquero they had ever mt, , and not using his position in the assertion of any superiority, who was this man, evidently superior to them physically, mentally and even spiritually, and yet who served them. no doubt they wept when he lft them for his next field of srvice. and no doubt they followed him too. we’re told that many tried to join his amy but he advised them to continue to work the fields as that was service to, to fed the army.

and there he was, sitting in the saddle, between the Church writ large and the churches small and tiny, between God and reality of his senses, between god and man, without father without mother, a mind full of light, a heart full of people, and a soul full of trouble, in the midst of a waste howling wilderness. he was commended for singing his epistles in school and one can . its not farfetcehed to imagune him singing his epistels o his paishioners now, on the range the vaqueros did to calm the herd, and noe jose maria dod it ostensibly in service of he churchbut alsp to nourish his own nerves. year by year he rode that circuit in the baked, and baked, and baked, until done.

then one day, the church bells of dolores were sent ringing by Miguel Hidalgo

Bong …… went the bell. Bong …… went the church bells again. Bong.….. came the news from Dolores. Jose Maria looked up from his despair. Jose Maria, without father without mother, but with a soul full of people, looked up; and he knew, perhaps as much as any man ever knew, that the bells tolled for him. Across the many miles of open range, between Dolores and Tierra, without words, Hidalgo and Morelos communed. morelos looks up wondering i hope of future, hidalog looks down wondering about support

th pastorate was intense. it was hot. it was poor, the rump of mexico which was the rump of new spain. his mama died. but his spirit sand and he sang the epistles and gospels in the manner of the prest of the day, and he reived marks extraordinary for the quality he brought to th epeopel. but he may hav wondred whre all of this was leading ehen, on day, he heard the bells toll. news arrivd from dolores that hidalgo wa sleading thousands to independence. i do not have n eyewitness accound, but i suspectthatit did not take an hour for morelos to dcide he would see morelos, his old tacher.

The Warrior Statesman – Morelos Answers the Call and Leads the Nation

Miguele Hidalgo was three weeks into the revolution when Morelos appeared like an apparition from heaven. on September 16, the chirch bells were rung and he called the people to revolution. the response was overwhelming. in the past three weeks his followers had swelled from 600 followrs to 60,000, adefinitely an army. two things wer obvious to hidalgo, the time ws rihgt for revolution and two, he was not an effective leader, he needed help. Like a meteor from the heavens; arriving in an explosive flash that yanks every eye upward, roaring across the sky that can only be watched breathlessly, then disappearing in a flash, that cements the apparition in the memory of every witness forevermore, so Morelos entered national stage of history.

Like an apparition, Jose Maria Morelos emerged from the desert lands of tierra caliente and presented himself to the leader of the revolution Miguel Hidalgo. There was perhaps never a man more unexpectedly prepared nor more fully equipped, then was this man, for the task at hand. They had wine and the conversation began, The pupil said to his teacher, “What are you doing? They told me to announce your excommunication.” With a slight head shake, and a sigh, he replies, “I am doing exactly what I told you we would do those many years ago. I have not changed, and the world has not changed; so, now, we change the world.” The next day, they talked some more; and then Jose Maria Morelos asked, “What would you have me to do?” Came the answer, “Go South, Raise an army, March on Acapulco. I will continue to the gates of the capital. We shall meet afterwards. And if we die, we die proud.”

Historians tell us that Morelos, at the beginning of this meeting with Hidalgo, offered to serve as a chaplain to the army; but Hidalgo commissioned rather him to raise an army and go to battle. The steep challenge posed by this alternate commission, was captured by a recent writer, with the following dialogue between two bystanders:

Who’s this priest that is supposed to raise this army?” I had asked her at the time. She said his name was Jose Maria Morelos, a forty-five year old priest who had been born into poverty. He’d been a muleteer and vaquero until the age of twenty five, when he began his studies for the priesthood. Since becoming a priest, he had curacies in small, unimportant places, administering to peons. “How does the padre (Miguel Hidalgo) know that this man can raise an army and fight a war? I had asked. I was a caballero — the best shot and best horseman in the whole colony– and I couldn’t raise and lead an army.”

Nevertheless, Morelos did exactly that. Within a month he had fought and won his first battle; and every day, more people rallied to him and he trained them. Farmers, from regions he had pastored, came to him to join the fight. He told them”The army needs to eat as well as fight. You are equal warriors by raising food for the army. Go back to your farms and their fight for your country.” By the nine month since his commission by Hidalgo, Morelos achieved twenty two straight victories, destroying three separate royalist armies in the process. We have this excerpt from from a letter he wrote a this time to the Spanish Viceroy: On the fourth day of the present month I have taken possession of the town of Cuernavaca, do not send troops or orders because the troops will be defeated and the orders disobeyed.….these troops in whatever number they attack don’t leave the action until they are victorious.18

Following the capture and execution of Hidalgo in 1811, the responsibilities of Morelos continued to grow. In 1813 he called for the Congress of Chipancingo to drafte a consitution. At this time he presented the sentiments of a nation, a document in 23 points laying the foundation of the society America is free and independent of Spain and all other nations, governments, or monarchies. That prohibit slavery forever, as the distinction of caste, being all equal and only vice and virtue distinguish an American from the other. Sovereignty emanates from the people and is placed in a Supreme National American Congress, made up of representatives from the provinces in equal numbers. of an independent contrywas given larger coHidalgo had recently been captured and executed and command of the southern army became Morelos and then in due timeHidalgo was catured and exectuted, and the provisional government placed Morelos in supreme command Marhch 1812. in 1813 he issued directions for the foundaion fo the nation. in 1814 he reached out to James Madison 4th president of the Unied Dtates saying……

In 1815, he was charged with protecting the incipient conhressin its relocaion. here he was ambused and ovderhwlemd, sending he congress to dafyet and then saying everyman for himself, exssentially allowing himself to be capured.

In the book Aztec Rage, part of a series of 6 books, author Gary Jennings relates the following dialogue. While not purported to be a recording, as a historical fiction, but it gives the sense that this author derived from research, a sense which I share, “Who’s this priest that is supposed to raise this army?” I had asked her at the time. She said his name was Jose Maria Morelos, a forty-five year old priest who had been born into poverty. He’d been a muleteer and vaquero until the age of twenty five, when he began his studies for the priesthood. Since becoming a priest, he had curacies in small, unimportant places, administering to peons. “How does the padre (Miguel Hidalgo) know that this man can raise an army and fight a war? I had asked. I was a caballero — the best shot and best horseman in the whole colony– and I couldn’t raise and lead an army.” He has fire in his belly,” Marina said, “and Christ’s love in his eyes.” page 381, 382 Aztec Rage, Gary Jennings

following th execution of hidaldo, morelso did not flinch

Upon the execution of Hidalgo, Morelos received command of the southern Mexico portion of the revolution.19

And the, at age 45, the gods opened the final chapter of .Jose Maria commenced wriing that final chapter of his lifeStatue of Liberty erected to eternally memorialize the mulatto mestizo magnificent Morelos20

With the execution of Hidalgo, the Powers that be may have hoped that thought they had quenched the revolution. But Morelos took up the cause.21



Morelos called for a Congress at Chilpantro at t=which was made a declaration of independence. they also drafted a constitution which called for the establishment of a republican form of govrnment, the abolition of slavery and then and all caste systems22

defending and death

Jose Maria sought equality for all23

he fought to achieve it. he fought to defend it.24

Morelos was tried and executed, shot, on December 22, 1815. The victory of independence was delayed five years, and, when achieved, would preserve the social inequities, injustices, and even the monarchy. he was executed on the eve of Christmas25

the trial was a very sad affair for all lovers of liberty. first there was the defrocking by the catholic church, designed to humiliate him and puncture, if possible, his conscience. then there was the trial, designed to exemplify to the public that the cause was lost. the scene was almost kangaroo to outsiders.

But who can say exacly what transpired at that trial. the outsiders are no longer with us and we have monuments, massive and plentiful and centuries of subsquent history. perhaps the gods looked down upon that man with pride. and in their unified admiration the direness of his situation faded in irrelavena,e only accentuating their admiration. with grinning one looks at the others and they know there is unanimity of intent, the order is given to the winged messenger, GO.

Jose Maria Morelos had flashed through like a meteor, picking up the baton of Hidalgo’s inspired but disorganized movement, organizing an army in a tring of significant victorues over the spaniards, elevating the discourse to independence and freedom . one imagines a scene on Mount Olympus, the gods huddled together, watching the courtroom drama, waiting, marveling, looking upon that man in wonder. They knew the beauty of this scene. Smiling at one another, sharing unspoken agreement, the order is given to the winged messenger sanding by. “Go,” and, in an instant, Mercury, stood, felt, but unseen, in the courtroom of men. Ignoring the judge and all the high officials, his attention fixed on the prisoner. Jose Maria, sensing something but seeing nothing, confined and capable of only belief, locks eyes on the void where stands the Winged Messenger, and feels confirmed. Mercury speaks, unheard but obeyed, “Come up hither”, and vanishes. Immediately the trial proceeds, the judge gavels the guilty verdict and it is done. The execution is swift and death came as ordered from above. He was buried in a nondescript grave in a small church.


The Spaniards, of course, hoped this was the end, and the people, of course, feared this was the end, but it was not, not even almost, not was it the end of he beginning, it was more like the the beginning of the beginning. was not the end of the war; nor was it the last of the son of Jose Manuel and Joanna Maria”. The war wound its circuitous course for six more years until, in 1821, Mexico at last was independent of Spain. A couple of years later, by direction of the new government, the remains of Morelos wre discovrd and recovdered and removed with respect to the Altar of the Kings in the Cathedral of Mexico. A few years later, he was removed again to a mausoleum on the Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City.”26

in time memorials were given, monuments created, honors issued, and in 1918 the 100 foot monument, the statue of liberty of mexico, the talles monument in latin america, in celebration of Joseph Maria.

In 2002 and 2006 two satellites were launched into orbit bearing the names Morelos 1 and Morelos 2. And just now, more than two hundred years later, you, are hearing his story.

The End


Charrer’a Mexicana: An Equestrian Folk Tradition, Kathleen M. Sands. “Jose Maria Morelos, the war’s military genius and a political and social reformer, had been a vaquero for many years.” page 55. Charrer’a Mexicana: An Equestrian Folk Tradition, Kathleen M. Sands.

Charrer’a Mexicana: An Equestrian Folk Tradition, Kathleen M. Sands. page 56 “Accustomed to long hours in the saddle in civilian life, they had great endurance and were already familiar with the hardships of life in the open. What distinguished the chicanos from other cavalrymen, although both were armed with lances and sabers, was the use of the rope as an offensive weapon. They disdained firearms, which were considered unmanly, and rode down and roped enemy soldiers, preferring to outwit their enemies. They employed guerrilla tactics like dropping nooses over enemy horsemen from ambush, either knocking the rider off his horse or hanging him. … also captured enemy guns and artillery pieces with their ropes.

Charrer’a Mexicana: An Equestrian Folk Tradition, Kathleen M. Sands. speaking about the vaqueros in general in the war, not specifically Morelos, “Their success was due to their superb horsemanship, which allowed them to penetrate mountains and ride ‘through the most intricate sites, by trails or making an opening through forest or mesquite.’ “(quoting Valero)Charrer’a Mexicana: An Equestrian Folk Tradition, Kathleen M. Sands. speaking about the vaqueros in general in the war, not specifically Morelos. “During the course of the war the chicanos faced large formations of troops loyal to Spain, but their superior horsemanship, guerilla tactics, and knowledge of the terrain allowed them to prevail. Even the soldiers of the Spanish expedition who fought them were fascinated by how adroitly they handled their horses.” page 56.

was 25 years old, driving a mule29 and working as a cowhand, he learned the skills of physical labor, to maximize the day, to leverage ones strength, to respect the land and let the land work for you, to respect the the beast of burden. to maximize the sto

the working cowhand in Mexico was known as a vaquero. thse are the originals who developed skills as the went and made their own cothing and gear30 as required by the task and the terrain and the temperature. following the mexican war with the U.S., many vaqueros became employed in the new US southwest, and what became glorified as the american cowboy of the wst was born. but the vaqueros of mexico wre the oiginal.31 History records that Jose Maria was a working vaquero, when the opportunity for advanced education arrived, in his 25th year. so it is likely he bgan this profession when h was 17 or 18 years oldit was aneeded skill and a rough profession and a trade requiring exacting talents. and it bcame obvious withing a few days whtehr a man was riding a horse or the horde rifing him. uero. The stories tell us that he was laboring as a cowhand when the opportunity for further education arose. The vaqueros, the original of what would beome the cowboy of hollywood fam, originatd in Meixoc, and there the rules of the trade and the skills of the trade were developed and perfected. Morelos rode from dawn till dusk with his peers, participating in all the communla lable and demostrating individual strengths capacities and resp0onsibilitus without which and then we’re told he labored as a cowhad, a vaqueor, the original of that yrade and skill which became known as the cowboy after the trade spread to no one would be worthy of the title vaqueros. he learned the land, its hills its watering holes, its rocky mounts and soft sands, the entanglicg underbrushe and the soptty cacti, he learned to maneuver through the land like the back of his hand. we have reason to believe he excelled in the environment, was respected for his skills pehaps even admired by a few, for not too many years later, when he would call for volunteers to risk their lives in the cause of the independence of Mexico, an army readily gathered to him. he wa thrifty and excelled. he was twenty five when the call for education came. we may surmise that either he had a benefactor, or saved sufficienty,32 or more likely, entered into the educatio with the proise to enter the preiesthood following and thus it was financed.

A leader of the independence movement, he was born in Valladolid, Michoacán. From 1779 to 1790, he worked at the sugar cane farm of Tahuejo at Apatzingán, perhaps as a clerk or accountant. In 1790, he entered San Nicolás Obispo College in Valladolid, where he studied Latin grammar, rhetoric, philosophy, and ethics. In 1795, at the Tridentino Seminary in the same city, he studied moral theology and philosophy. On April 28, Morelos traveled to Mexico City to take his exams for a bachelor of arts degree at the Real and Pontificia University. On December 13, he received the first shearing and the four minor orders of Valladolid and six days later, he became a sub deacon. In early 1796, he moved to Uruapan as an auxiliary priest and headed the teaching of grammar and rhetoric. In September of that year, he was ordained as a deacon in Valladolid, and on December 21, 1779, he was ordained as a priest in the same city.34 and, at age 25, the seasoned cowhand enrolled in San Nicolás College in Valladolid, and seized upon his studies as enthusiastically as any 8 year old schoolboy.35

meeting morelos and hidalgo at charo

Obverse IO: “Franciso P. de Mendoza 1934 The priest José Marí Morelos y Pavón reaches the priest Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in the town of Charo, Mich., Who marches with his insurgent troops over Toluca and places himself at the service of Independence. Mr. Hidalgo welcomes him with joy and together they march to Indeparapeo where he dispatches his Colonel’s office with instructions to return to the south and organize his contingents and march on Acapulco- October 1810. ” Reverse: “Meeting of Hidalgo and Morelos, in Charo, Michoacán”, “5318”. Stamp: “LA FOTO MADERO 42”. Note: October 20 Saturday. Valladolid Cathedral. Valladolid. Late in the morning, Hidalgo leaves Valladolid for Acámbaro. In Charo he is reached by José María Morelos y Pavón, who offers himself as an army chaplain, but Hidalgo invites him to be one of its commissioners with military rank, on the southern coast, the main task being the taking of Acapulco, with the instruction that “the government and weapons be commissioned and received by all the places that pass that they existed “, leaving the creoles in command and removing the Europeans, who also” seized their property for the promotion and payment of troops. ” They arrive at Indaparapeo at lunchtime and then say goodbye. Hidalgo stays overnight in the place. Reference:, (date of consultation: 18-04-2013).

Mexico’s Independence Route in Michoacán

Charo and Indaparapeo [ edit ]

The neighboring towns of Charo (Michoacán) and Indaparapeo are located in a valley northeast of Morelia, among other towns they are part of the route of the old Camino Real Morelia-Mexico City that operated during the Spanish colonial era and the 19th century. This royal road was a site that Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and José María Morelos y Pavón traveled on their military expeditions.

In October 1810, Hidalgo and Morelos met in the towns of Charo and spent the night at the Indaparapeo El Nazareno inn, where they planned the formation of the liberating army and the military campaigns in the north and south of the country. In that city, on October 20, 1810, Hidalgo named Morelos Chief of the Army of the South and confirmed the rank of general. Indaparapeo has been improperly considered the “Cradle of the Mexican Army”.

Carácuaro [ edit ]

OCTOBER 20, 1810. I fully commission my lieutenant, José María Morelos and Pavón Cura de Carácuaro, to raise troops on the south coast and hot land, proceeding according to the verbal instructions that I have entrusted to him. MIGUEL HIDALGO Y COSTILLA

OCTOBER 25, 1810 Morelos commissioned the parish of Carácuaro and accompanied by about twenty poorly armed volunteer men, he left for the southern hot lands as lieutenant of Hidalgo.

  • September 16. At 2 a.m. Hidalgo and Allende were awakened by Aldama and advised that the conspiracy was in danger of being quashed by the government. Meeting with other conspirators, they decided to initiate the revolt immediately. In the early morning Hidalgo rang the church bells, assembled his followers to worship, and made a speech, the “grito” or Cry of Dolores, which set in motion the Mexican War of Independence. Hidalgo affirmed support for King Ferdinand VII and demanded the end of economic abuses by peninsulares. Accounts differ as to whether he called for the full independence of Mexico from Spain. Hidalgo and his followers, 500 to 800 men, took over Dolores and advanced southward. By nightfall, they took control of San Miguel de Allende, home town of Allende and Aldama. Along the way Hidalgo raised a banner with an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, who became the symbolic leader of the insurgency.[10]
  • September 19. Outside the city of Celaya, Hidalgo and Allende sent a letter to the city government threatening to “cut the throats of seventy-eight Europeans” held prisoners if the insurgent army was fired upon.[11]
  • September 24. The Bishop of Michoacan excommunicated Hidalgo, Allende, Aldama, and Mariano Abasolo.[12]
  • September 28. Conquering cities and gathering more men as he marched, Hidalgo and his army of 25,000, primarily indigenous people and mestizos, defeated the defenders of Guanajuato City, storming the fortified granary (Alhóndiga de Granaditas). They sacked the city and slaughtered many inhabitants.[13]
  • Statue of Hidalgo and the church of the “grito.”
  • Ingnacio Allende
  • Juan Aldama
  • Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez.
  • The banner carried by Hidalgo.
  • The granary (center) in Guanajuato.
  • Félix Maria Calleja.
  • October 25. In support of Hidalgo, a mestizo priest, José María Morelos, started a military campaign to expel the Spaniards from the state of Guerrero. This came to be called “Morelos’ First Campaign.” Initially he had only 25 men, but he quickly added many more as he progressed.[14] Unlike Hidalgo, Morelos invested time and effort in training his men. He imposed strict discipline and forbade looting.[15]
  • October 30. Marching toward Mexico City with a disorganized army of 60 to 80 thousand men, Hidalgo defeated a much smaller royalist army in the Battle of Monte de las Cruces. With his army in the outskirts of Mexico City, Hidalgo inexplicably ordered a retreat. The insurgent army had suffered heavy casualties in the battle and many desertions afterwards and failed to gain much support from the Criollos, indigenous people, and mestizos in and near the capital city.[16]
  • November 7. With an army reduced to about 40,000 men, Hidalgo was defeated by a royalist army of 7,000 at Aculco.[17]
  • November 9. José Antonio Torres, a mestizo, secured the surrender of Guadalajara, the second city of Mexico, to insurgent forces.[18]
  • November 19. Ignacio Allende proposed to Hidalgo that the insurgents concentrate their forces in Guanajuato. He said that the royalist forces were advancing and public opinion “may shortly be converted into a hatred for us and for our government.” Hidalgo ignored Allende’s recommendation and advanced toward Guadalajara.[19]
  • November 24. Allende and his soldiers were forced by royalist pressure to abandon Guanajuato. After his departure a mob killed 138 peninsulares who had earlier been taken prisoner.[20]
  • November 26. Hidalgo and 7,000 followers entered Guadalajara in triumph, the entry to the city prepared by Torres. Hidalgo began setting up the machinery of government in Guadalajara and appealed to criollos, mestizos, and indigenous people to support the insurgency. During December, Hidalgo dropped the fiction that the insurgency supported ousted Spanish king Ferdinand VII and openly declared that the goal was complete independence for Mexico.[21]
  • December 12. Suspecting a plot against his rule, Hidalgo ordered the execution of at least 350 Spanish-born peninsulares in Guadalajara. Allende, who had joined Hidalgo in Guadalajara, contemplated poisoning Hidalgo to “end the evil he was doing.”[22]

The bishop of MichoacánManuel Abad y Queipo, excommunicated the insurgents. Hidalgo y Costilla and his army marched on to Valladolid, where the locals feared that the slaughter of Guanajuato would be repeated, prompting many people to abandon the region, particularly elites. Valladolid was taken peacefully on October 17, 1810.

In Tacámbaro Hidalgo y Costilla was proclaimed general, and Allende captain general. Hidalgo ordered a rest for his troops in Indaparapeo, where a few minutes before their departure, Morelos, who had read about his excommunication and his triumphs, found him.

Morelos had heard of the revolt in October 1810 and determined to join it.[9] Hidalgo asked his former student to recruit troops in the south of the colony and capture the port of Acapulco, the west coast port for the Pacific trade to the Philippines, also a Spanish colony.[10] Unlike Hidalgo, who was a poor tactician leading a huge and undisciplined following, Morelos quickly demonstrated military skills, gathering and training a small core of fighters. He sought allies in the region, and obtained cannon and other war materiel.[10]

Morelos’s hopes for the rebellion called for the creation of a republican government that “all Mexican people would participate, the abolition of slavery, and the elimination of divisions between races and ethnicities.”[11] Morelos saw the suffering of the poor at the ends of the Church and the elites, and believed that these things must be changed in order to achieve the full participation of the people in the new government. Morelos also called for the end of the Church’s special privileges and the redistribution of large estates among the people. These principles demonstrated the rebellion’s desire to achieve both independence and justice for the poor.

In early October 1810, Morelos heard the news of Hidalgo’s uprising and on the nineteenth of that month left to find him. He caught up with Hidalgo the next day and spoke with him at Charo e Indaparapeo. Morelos was put in charge of raising arms on the south coast. On November 13, Morelos and his troops engaged the enemy for the first time, facing the royalist forces of Luis Calatayud at El Veladero. On November 17, Morelos issued an edict suppressing slavery, castes and community funds. His activities worried the viceroy, who sent Francisco París to fight him. París engaged him on December 8 at El Veladero but was rebuffed.


  1. Britannica: “Generally, he is characterized as having been a pardo—that is, the progeny of mixed European, Native American, and African heritage.”
  2. referring to the Iberian peninsula, the European landmass where resided Spain. The peninsulares were, not only pure blood Spanish, but also were physically born on the Iberian peninsula in Europe. These, the peninsulares, through no fault, much less merit, of their own, were at the top of the stultifying classist pyramid.
  3. the brand name of the French Connection UK based clothing company, whose products occupied many airport giftshop shelves a few years ago, garnering lots of attention in the form of double-takes, here utilized as a past participle, just for the fcuk of it
  4. Reminiscent of the environments commonly portrayed in the writings of Charles Dickens, especially the poverty and social injustice of Victorian England.
  5. Jose Maria Morelos, profile, NNDB
  6. here.
  7. Mules have smaller hooves. Properly trained and commanded, they can walk within inches of the row of growing plants, making the plowman’s work
  8. here
  9. “May slavery be banished forever together with the distinction between castes, all remaining equal, so Americans may only be distinguished by vice or virtue.”Biography of Jose Maria Morelos,
  10. “Though the industry generally treated black men equally to white men in terms of pay and responsibilities, discrimination persisted, though to a lesser extent than in other industries of the time”Black Cowboys, wikipedia.
  11. “His father died while he was still a youth, and, being left destitute., he worked…”Catholic Encyclopedia, Jose Maria Morelos
  12. “In 1790 Morelos, with money he had saved and the barest rudiments of an education, enrolled at San Nicolás College in Valladolid” José María Morelos Facts
  13. This commendation from his Latin teacher expresses both the enthusiasm of Jose Maria and his excellence as best in class. It is translated from the Spanish by google, and although rough, gives the sense. I would appreciate a better translation. “I certify and swear …, as Don Joseph María Morelos has studied under my direction the classes of minima and minors [of Latinity] in which he has proceeded with so much judgment and irreproachable customs …. , carrying out the office of decurion with such a particular application, that by this he managed to see himself almost overexalted to all his other classmates, that in view of his use and right conduct I had the good to confer on him as a consequence of all his referred merits That he be awarded the last meritorious opposition in the general classroom, with which it is observed to reward the students of this class, which he performed with universal applause from all attendees.”
  14. “His father was José Manuel Morelos y Robles, a carpenter originally from Zindurio, village a few kilometers west of Valladolid. His mother was Juana María Guadalupe Pérez Pavón, originally from San Juan Bautista de Apaseo, also near Valladolid.” wikipedia, Jose Maria Morelos
  15.  ordained priest, to the 32 years of age, on December 21, 1797, in the chapel of Bishop Fray Antonio de San Miguel, in front of an image of Guadalupana, painted by Cabrera.
  16. The answer far exceeded expectations, since on January 31, 1798 he received appointment as interim priest of Churumuco and La Huacana, a fact that honored him, despite being a difficult and remote region,
  17.  Juana María Guadalupe Pérez Pavón died on January 5, 1799, without the consolation of having José María by his side.
  18. letter from Jose Maria Morelos to viceroy of Spain
  19. Britannica
  20. photo and caption of statue in 1936 issue of Popular Science
  21. Britannica
  22. Britannica: Congress of Chilpancingo
  23. Minster, Christopher. “Biography of Jose Maria Morelos, Mexican Revolutionary.” ThoughtCo. (accessed July 1, 2020).
  24. Morelos fought a rearguard action allowing most of the revolutionary government to escape.Britannic
  25. here
  26. JOSÉ MARÍA MORELOS Y PAVÓN (1765-1815)
  27. letter to President James Madison seeking recognition on he independence of Mexico[/efn-note]

    27letter to Spanish viceroy about his victories

  28. learning from a mule, small farmer’s journal
  29. “These vaqueros became excellent riders and ropers who skillfully made much of their own equipment. Indigenous and mestizo vaqueros modified Spanish equipment and riding techniques according to the needs imposed by their local conditions.”
  30. Vaqueros had been herding and driving cattle and wild horses for hundreds of years by the time they became part of the Texas ranching landscape.”The Vaqueros’ Story”
  31. “In 1790 Morelos, with money he had saved and the barest rudiments of an education, enrolled at San Nicolás College in Valladolid to begin training for a career in the Church. Hidalgo was rector of the college during Morelos’s 2 years of residence there. After further study at the Seminario Tridentino in Valladolid, Morelos in 1795 journeyed to the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico to take his final examinations and receive a bachelor of arts degree. In 1797 he was ordained a priest and 2 years later was assigned to the parish of Carácuaro, in the heart of the tierra caliente, where he remained until 1810.”<a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="http://José María Morelos” target=”_blank”>your dictionary
  32. Jose Maria Morelos, Banco de Mexico[/efn/note]

    letter about victories here

    But through all those hard years as a young man, the love of learning was not extinguished. Perhaps it was attached to the memory of a happy childhood and an intact family; we don’t know, but we do know that he managed to save up some money,33“In 1790 Morelos, with money he had saved and the barest rudiments of an education, enrolled at San Nicolás College in Valladolid” José María Morelos Facts

  33. This commendation from his Latin teacher expresses both the enthusiasm of Jose Maria and his excellence as best in class. It is translated from the Spanish by google, and although rough, gives the sense. I would appreciate a better translation. “I certify and swear tact pectore et in verbo sacerdotis, as Don Joseph María Morelos has studied under my direction the classes of minima and minors [of Latinity] in which he has proceeded with so much judgment and irreproachable customs that he was never creditor to use with him of any punishment, and on the other hand, carrying out the office of decurion with such a particular application, that by this he managed to see himself almost overexalted to all his other classmates, that in view of his use and right conduct I had the good to confer on him as a consequence of all his referred merits That he be awarded the last meritorious opposition in the general classroom, with which it is observed to reward the students of this class, which he performed with universal applause from all attendees.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.