Miguel Hidalgo was born a Creole on May 8, 1753. His father was the administrator of a hacienda in theBajío (in the present state of Guanajuato). Miguel was trained briefly in a Jesuit school before the order was expelled from the empire in 1767. Later that year he matriculated in the diocesan Collegeof San Nicolás in Valladolid (now Morelia). Hidalgo was intellectually oriented and chose to remain part of the academic community long after he had earned degrees in theology and had been ordained. By1776 he was a member of the San Nicolás faculty and remained in Valladolid until 1792 as an academician, an exponent of the Enlightenment, and a Don Juan. In 1790 he became rector of the college, buthis advanced ideas and mismanagement of funds soon led to his ouster.
From 1792 until 1810 Hidalgo served as parish priest in a succession of curacies. While in San Felipe (1793-1803), he made hishouse a salon and promoted French theatrical works (which he translated), orchestral music, dances, and literary discussions. The Inquisition investigated his activities (1800-1801) but did not presscharges. On his arrival in Dolores near Guanajuato in 1803, Hidalgo turned to more socioeconomic interests. These he expressed through his development of local craft industries (ceramics, tanning,sericulture) for the benefit of the Indian and caste population.
Start of a Rebellion
With the Napoleonic invasion of Spain in 1808, Mexico's own crisis began. Hidalgo's search for intellectualcompanionship had brought him into contact with prominent Creoles throughout the Bajío, Michoacán, and adjacent areas. When the Creoles in Querétaro organized a plot to expel the dominant peninsular...