Biography of José María Morelos y Pavón (1765-1815)

Religious, politician and hero Mexican born 30 September 1765 in Valladolid (today Morelia) of "good reputation and ancient Christian" parents and dead shot in San Cristóbal Ecatepec on 22 December 1815.

He was the son of Manuel Morelos, Carpenter of Indian descent and Juana María Pérez Pavón, Creole, whose father had been a school teacher in the city. For fourteen years, in addition to letters that his mother taught him only know that it helped in what he/she could for the support of the family. The death of the father in 1779, however, meant an important change. Entrusted to the custody of his uncle, Felipe Morelos, moved to a farm near Apatzingan (Michoacan) and was devoted, first tillage and shortly after to lead carrier as a recua of mules, which his uncle devoted to carrying rich cargoes of goods between the port of Acapulco, terminal of the Manila Galleons, and the city of Mexico. This activity provided a regular income, which the young Morelos invested in buy mules and support his mother and sister.

Thus he/she lived to the age of 25, "invigorating body and gaining knowledge of the Earth hot, scene of their insurgent activities". In 1790, at the insistence of her mother wished for his entry into an ecclesiastical career, with the illusion that accede to a Chaplaincy or benefit left by his mother bisabuleo, separated from his uncle Felipe and returned to Valladolid to enter in the colegio de San Nicolás. There he/she had the opportunity to meet the rector Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, which coincided during two years, although any historian dares to point out the existence of a special relationship between teacher and disciple. He/She studied grammar and latin and two years later expanded these studies in the Tridentine Seminary in the same city, receiving instruction in rhetoric and philosophy. The 28 April 1795 he/she received the degree of Bachelor of Arts in the city of Mexico.

Shortly after he/she requested the hierarchy of Valladolid who are you confiriesen the clerical tonsure, the four minor orders and the subdiaconato, what you got at the end of that same year. In April 1796, it accepted an offer of the cure of Uruapan to teach grammar and rhetoric to place children, after receiving the corresponding license. It was his first paid intellectual activity. After some years of practice, on December 20, 1797, 32 years old of age, he/she was promoted to the priesthood, giving licenses to celebrate mass, hear confessions and preaching in Uruapan and neighbouring curatos.

Thus began a long priestly career that led him to work as parish priest, first in a district of Churumuco "hottest and perhaps the most miserable of the villages of Michoacán", returning from which her mother died in Patzcuaro, before arriving at Valladolid. Morelos remained at Churumuco for little more than one year, until in March 1799 he/she was transferred to Carácuaro parish, about 50 miles away, just as poor as the previous but much more populous. In Carácuaro lived Morelos an entire decade, administering the parish and live from the contributions of its filigreses, which resisted by all means to pay Church taxes.

It is known, meanwhile, maintained and improved a business of cattle that had begun in the time of carrier, given the legacy of his mother, transferred his sister the family house, currently House of Morelos in the city of Morelia, and had two illegitimate sons. Later, during the revolutionary period, he/she had two more children. In 1807, he/she bought a house in Valladolid to which increased another floor in 1809, without having it less certain that news that he/she was preparing a revolution reached him. It is true that historians point out the growing dissatisfaction and in any case the frustration of Morelos, accumulated over many years of parish priest.

In October 1810, connoisseur of the rising of Miguel Hidalgo, who had been its rector in San Nicolás, and to have news of the edict by which be excommunicated him, "awoke his curiosity to such an extent, that he/she felt driven to go to Hidalgo and talk to him". Apparently, he/she meant the offer as a chaplain, but once carried out this meeting on 20 October, Hidalgo convinced him to accept a Commission more important. He/She wrote this letter: "commissioned in due form to Mr don José María Morelos, priest in Carácuaro, as my Lieutenant and I ordered to go to the South coast to train troops and to comply with verbal orders which I have given you". These instructions included the taking of the port of Acapulco, Morelos knew very well. On October 25, Morelos, accompanied by a score of poorly armed volunteers, departed from Cuaracaro towards the hot lands of the South (see: cry of Dolores).

Insurgent activity in Morelos lasted five years, along which it was able to develop four military campaigns attributed the historians, as well as a political, doctrinal and administrative work which includes an advanced, innovative and popular and social sense-laden thought to. It is recognized a budding genius military strategist, ruthless and cruel sometimes, able to confront and subdue repeatedly to the realistic superior armies in number, under the command of the fearsome Félix María Calleja.

The first campaign, in October 1810 to August 1811, allowed him to organize and constitute a body of troops disciplined and well-armed, with the occupation of Acapulco which tried unsuccessfully in February 1811. Unable to achieve it withdrew with his forces to Tecpan, from which prepared the Chilpancingo assault on 24 May and the taking of Tixtla (today Ciudad Guerrero) two days later. In the course of this campaign joined brothers Miguel and Victor Bravo, born in the hacienda of Chichihualco; Vicente Guerrero, a native of Tixtla and the brothers Galeana, Tecpan. At this time it counted with the collaboration of the American Perter Ellis Bean, adventurer and cosmopolitan and manufacturer of gunpowder, which produced in large quantity for the insurgent troops.

Unfortunately, June 1811 were executed in Miguel Hidalgo and his main aides, though he/she succeeded him in the direction of motion Ignacio López Rayón who retired to Zacatecas and was interned in Michoacan, as it matured and sealed a political ideology that give coherence and unity to the initiatives that have emerged throughout the country. Together with José María Liceaga, years later teammate Javier Mina and José Sixto Verduzco, sent de Morelos, Rayon established the Supreme National Board of America in August this year. The greatest objection that Morelos put to this meeting was declared compliance to Fernando VII, defended by Rayon as a measure of prudence and moderation. This was, therefore, the first nucleus of the insurgent Government, which attracted the sympathy of intellectuals and Creole landowners who wished to establish a system of Boards similar to the implanted in the provinces of Spain. In the city of Mexico began, at this time, the formation of a secret society called the Guadalupes.

In August 1811 Morelos had, in his own words, "with four battalions on war footing: one to protect the ports on the coast;" another in El Veladero, outside Acapulco; a third in Tixtla and the latter in Chilpancingo, in charge of the supply of gunpowder." From the first moment Morelos leaned by proclamation of some revolutionary principles, taken from his conversations with Hidalgo. Aguacatillo, on 17 November 1810, he/she had announced the establishment of a new Government and this Decree included the abolition of slavery (which would confirm with solemnity at the beginning of 1813), tributes and the treasuries of the communities. This Decree is considered one of the most important documents in the social history of Latin America. As justification for its lifting, he/she said that "since Spain was in the hands of the French and the gachupines conspiring with Napoleon to perpetuate their power, all Americans should unite in defense of the country and the religion".

The second campaign of Morelos, after a few months dedicated to the reorganization and preparation of their hosts, developed in November 1811 may 1812. Once taken Tlapa gathered all his forces in Chiautla to establish a new strategy: divided his army into three large sections, one under the command of Miguel Bravo, which would March towards the South and would try to conquer Oaxaca; the second led by Hermenegildo Galeana, who would attack and would dominate Taxco and the third, under the direction of the own Morelos, which would move northward, would enter Izúcar without fighting on 12 December, to attack Tenango and Tenancingo, before arriving in Cuautla (Morelos), occupied on Christmas day. Historians discuss why Morelos did not follow up to Puebla, whose conquest would have constituted the advance to the fall of the capital. On the other hand, leaving sheltered Cuautla, preferred running westward to join the Galeana troops stationed to Taxco. He/She was one of its most serious military mistakes.

Because both, Calleja, with a numerous Army Corps, besieged Zitácuaro (Michoacán), residence of the Board of Rayon, forcing its members to flee and disperse without offering resistance. This was the beginning of the decadence of Rayon and his followers and was a severe blow to the insurgent initial optimism.

To know the fall of Zitacuaro, Morelos returned to Cuautla, via Cuernavaca, willing to resist the announced assault of Calleja. The site of Cuautla, which lasted from February to may 1812, has been interpreted differently by the panegyrists of each of the sides. Initially Morelos managed to defeat Calleja, but reinforced this refresh troops, while the insurgents were unable to organize a foreign force that attacked the realistic head in the back, the depletion of food, lack of water and the harassment of the epidemics, they decimated the numbers of Morelos and they forced him to organize an exit risky, culminating with notable success. Both the insurgents and the own Calleja is attributed the triumph over their opponents, but the siege of Cuautla, in any case, constituted a model of resistance limit, which undermined and tempered the triumphalism of the viceroy.

The third campaign, from June 1812 to August 1813, is the busiest and most resounding success of Morelos stage. Regrouped his forces in Chiautla, Galeana and Bravo, for a few months he/she dominated shaft Chiautla-Tehuacán, filed various actions with the realistic forces and tried to prevent communications between the capital and the port of Veracruz. But arriving in November decided to take the city of Oaxaca, which got the 25th of this month. It's one more bright military actions of Morelos, which had the support of Mariano Matamoros and Miguel Bravo, managing to defeat the troops of the Spanish general González Saravia. "The brilliant victory of Morelos in Oaxaca much reinforced the fate of insurgents, raised his personal prestige and produced a lot of material benefits." Morelos wrote to Rayon: "this beautiful province deserves your attention and it I have by the way that we founded the conquest of all the Kingdom [...] the resources that encloses of useful men, mining, tobacco, ports and sprinkles that we become rifles".

For several weeks, Oaxaca was the headquarters of Morelos, which strengthened and extended his mastery of the area at the time who intensified their administrative work and management of the insurgency. He/She created the intendance of the province and the City Council, issued regulations concerning the commercial times, the carrying of arms, the curfew and the use of a personal identification badge. Also created a Board of protection and public safety, responsible for the order and safety of the people. At the party's compliance with the Supreme Board, arose wearing a new uniform, with the logo of captain general, which symbolized the Summit of his military career.

At that time, it was doubtful if penetrate into the Valley of Mexico, as they asked their followers of the capital, partners in the grouping of the Guadalupes, or yield to the instinct that pointed out you need to seize a sea port, to strengthen its relations with the United States and facilitating the arrival of aid from abroad. Tipped by this second option, he/she left Oaxaca on January 9, 1813, he/she crossed the cordillera performing marches incredible and, from April, established the siege of Acapulco, which lasted for several months until August 20 it got its capitulation. Most commentators believe that, with this decision, Morelos lost seven precious months, which had been able to tilt the outcome of the insurgency. Anyway, with the conquest of Morelos, Acapulco he/she controlled a territory that stretched from Guatemala to Colima, including most of the current States of Oaxaca and Guerrero, as well as the South of Veracruz, Puebla, Mexico and Michoacan. In the city of Oaxaca, along almost all the year 1813 was published, on the initiative of Morelos, South of American mail, newspaper insurgent.

In the meantime, some developments had occurred in the political arena. Connoisseur Morelos of the intentions of Rayon enact an American Constitution, delayed reply and when did, few days before conquering Oaxaca, expressed major objections: had to definitely exclude the mention of Fernando VII, limit the number of Directors of State and accept that the choice of the proposed Generalissimo of the Republic was in for life, no more limits to "disability, disease, or the age of sixty years". Rayon not signed into law its planned Constitution, among other reasons, because in the city of Mexico has been published and publicly resisted the new Spanish Constitution enacted in Cádiz (veae: Spanish Constitution of 1812).

Mediated the month of may, while he/she was besieging Acapulco, occurred in Morelos the idea of convening a National Congress of provincial representatives, in response to the initiatives of Rayon. After you apply this to meet the members of its Council in Chilpancingo, where "would be re-elected or deposed," he/she directed a decree to the provinces so they appoint electors who should meet on September 8, with the purpose of electing a new Congress. When the time comes, drafted the text known as the feelings of the nation, which served as the basis for the deliberations of the gathered. In fact, the majority of the proposals, speeches and proclamations of Chilpancingo, were written by Carlos María Bustamante, faithful follower of Morelos.

He is considered his last campaign, more political content that military, was developed precisely from September 1813 and reaches its fall prisoner in Temeslaca, in November 1815. Installed in Chilpancingo, Morelos, he/she formulated a plan of Government composed of 59 articles, practically a draft Constitution. He/She recognized the principle of the separation of powers, proposed that the Executive exercising it a Generalissimo elected in perpetuity and with the right to propose legislation that considers necessary. The legislature would be in the hands of a Congress of Deputies, whose people would be declared sacred and inviolable, keeping the existing judiciary at the moment. Article 17 declared independence from Spain, without reference to any monarch. The ex officio members of the Congress included members of the Supreme Board of Rayon.

On 14 September, once the Congress, Morelos read a speech and members began the consideration of the proposals contained in the feelings of the nation. The next day he/she was elected General by acclamation, with all the powers and the power to appoint their lieutenants, charges that went to Mariano Matamoros and Manuel Muñíz. We had to wait for more than one month to arrive Rayon, Bustamante, Liceaga and Cos, but in November held regular sessions and the 6th Congress approved a declaration of independence, drafted by Bustamante. Thus began: "the Congress of Anáhuac [...] solemnly declares the presence of the Lord God, referee moderator of Empires [...] which by the present circumstances of Europe, has recovered the exercise of its sovereignty usurped; that such a concept is broken forever ever, and dissolved the dependence of the Spanish throne [...] "."

Eager to conquer Valladolid, because he/she understood the need for a city in which to settle, Morelos decided his assault, coming to besiege it from December 22, 1813. But the realists, reinforced in the last few months with the arrival of important contingent of troops sent by Viceroy Calleja, forced to Morelos to retire in confused rout, which decimated and discouraged his followers. Thus began the military and political decline of the insurgent leader, forced to retreat and to obey the orders of the Congress of Chilpancingo, period that lasted nearly two years.

Felix María Calleja, appointed viceroy of new Spain, took advantage of this situation to put pressure on all fronts, advancing on Chilpancingo, which forced the Congress to engage in a relentless March, that would eventually lead him to the city of Apatzingan, heading to Jalisco, where eventually discussed and proclaimed the constitutional text on October 22, 1814. Morelos, meanwhile, resigned as the Executive Branch and ceased to exercise military command any, except the troops of his escort. Back to Acapulco, lived moments very painful, to learn of the death of their most loyal fans such as Matamoros and Galeana, executing arms from its military strategy: "Acabaronse my arms, already I am not", he/she said.

Running from one place to another, means hidden and surrounded by a small troop contingent, repelled the forces sent to capture him, participated in the work of the Congress with admirable fidelity, maintained their principles and discussed some of the measures that sought to take the leaders of the insurgency. In the middle of 1814 he/she requested of his collaborator Peter E. Bean who moved to the United States, demand for aid and weaponry. Bean did so, he/she met Joseph a. Humbert French and, through this, contacted José Álvarez de Toledo, sought refuge in New Orleans after his failure of Texas. In May 1815 Toledo wrote to Congress, received an appointment of general insurgent abroad signed by Morelos, and volunteered to organize an expedition in support of independence. When José Manuel Herrera, Member of Parliament who had been President of the Congress in Chilpancingo, moved to New Orleans along with Toledo, a window was opened to insurgent hope.

Congress, meanwhile, abandoned Apatzingan and settled in Uruapan, while he/she chose the new tripartite Executive composed of Morelos, Cos and Liceaga. Bound by their desire to get closer to a sea port that would allow her to receive long-awaited foreign aid, but also by dissensions and confrontations of their leaders, decided his transfer to Tehuacán, ordering Morelos escort and defend the members of the legislature. With the addition of Nicolás Bravo, the military contingent consisted of a thousand soldiers, half of them armed. However, at Tesmalaca, six miles beyond the Mezcala River (near the current Iguala), a realistic detachment under the command of Colonel of the shell fell on the convoy and apprehended Morelos, while Bravo was able to escape, protecting the convoy until your arrival to Tehuacán.

Led to the city of Mexico, 22 November 1815 was the first of the series of trials to which he/she was subjected, since military, ecclesiastical and civil authorities disputed the right to condemn it. Instituted quickly, the first trial ended the day 23 and then arose the prisoner the frightening Court of the Inquisition, which also by abandonment of the Church's doctrines and heresies of malignant authors adopting, condemning him for"heretic apostate, materialistic, Deist, libertine, implacable enemy of Christianity and the State, seductive vile, hypocritical and traitorous". The ruling handed down by the consultation of faith agreed to make a car of public faith, followed by its degradation, the confiscation of all their property and, if the viceroy forgave the life, their expulsion from America to suffer prison perpetua in an African prison.

Apparently, as a good Catholic, deeply concerned about the salvation of his soul, together with the impressive argumentation of the Court, overcame their resistance and forced him to reveal extensively detailed civil and military information over the course of the five years of insurgency. The auto de fe, held on November 27, "was a terrible spectacle. The prisoner came into the room with penitential habits, knelt at the ceremony of reconciliation while they sang the miserere and gave him a friendly plamadas of purification". The State trial was held the following day and his statement, recorded and annotated by the own Morelos, is one of the most valuable sources of information on the independence movement.

Decreed his death, the viceroy delayed it for a few weeks, perhaps to wait for a reaction that would capture or the delivery of other insurgent leaders. Finally, on 22 December, led by a platoon of soldiers and in the company of a priest, he/she was taken to San Cristóbal Ecatepec, where is fusiló him and buried. There should remain his remains, until his transfer solemn Cathedral of Mexico, according to Decree of the Congress of July 23, 1823. In 1910, as well as other leaders of the independence, they were placed in the crypt of the independence column, erected that same year in the Paseo de la Reforma.


Tile ZABRE, A. life of Morelos. UNAM. Life of Morelos and Mexico, 1945. Austral collection. Espasa Calpe. Madrid, 1946

LEMOINE VILLICAÑA, E. Morelos, his revolutionary life through his writings. UNAM. Mexico, 1965

HEEMESDORF. R. Morelos, Mexico vital man. Editorial Grijalbo. Mexico, 1958

DE LA TORRE VILLAR, E. The independence of Mexico. Editorial Mapfre. Madrid, 1992

TIMMONS, W. H. Morelos, priest, soldier, statesman. Fondo de Cultura Económica. Mexico, 1963


Manuel Ortuño