Morelos y Pavón, José María [key], 1765–1815, Mexican leader in the revolution against Spain, a national hero. He was, like Hidalgo y Costilla, a liberal priest. Joining the revolution (1810), he conducted a brilliant campaign in the south and after the execution of Hidalgo he became insurrectionary chief. He defended Cuautla against Calleja del Rey for several months, and then cut through the siege. After taking Orizaba and Oaxaca (1812) in a brilliant engagement, Morelos captured Acapulco (1813). The Congress of Chilpancingo, convened in 1813 under his protection, elected him generalissimo with the powers of chief executive. Late in 1813 his forces were routed at Valladolid (later named Morelia in his honor) by Iturbide and were later again defeated. In 1815, Morelos was captured, degraded by the Inquisition, and shot. Only a few leaders, notably Guerrero and Guadalupe Victoria, were left to continue the revolution.
See biography by W. H. Timmons (2d ed. 1970).
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