Texas Governor Manuel Salcedo and the Court-
Martial of Padre Miguel Hidalgo, z8io-zi8i
FILIX D. ALMARAZJR.*
IN THE ANNALS OF BORDERLANDS HISTORY, THE COURT-MARTIAL OF
Padre Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, charged with inciting a rebellion
against Spanish authority in 181o, is a landmark of Mexican national
awareness. Equally important, yet less known, was the pivotal role Lt.
Col. Manuel Maria de Salcedo, governor of Texas, performed as presid-
ing judge of the tribunal that convicted the curate of Dolores. Although
the protagonist and antagonist in that tumultuous drama met only
briefly, their encounter symbolized a conflict of values and philosophies.
The young governor struggled to defend the integrity of a regional com-
ponent of the Spanish empire in North America. In contrast, the priest
advocated a Mexican homeland governed by American-born leaders.
Such deeply rooted ideals naturally clashed at the proceedings conduct-
ed in the Villa San Felipe el Real de Chihuahua.
The circumstances leading up to the court-martial originated in the
second half of the eighteenth century. Following the end of the French
and Indian War (known as the Seven Years' War in Europe), Spanish
officials reevaluated the level of frontier defenses in North America.
With the elimination of France as a colonial power on the continent, the
remaining contenders, England and Spain, divided the territory at the
Mississippi River. In the negotiations for the Peace of Paris in 1763,
Spain received important concessions west of the river plus the city of
New Orleans, while England incorporated the territory on the eastern
bank, extending north beyond the Great Lakes. To assess the scope of
the newly acquired territory, as well as to appraise the effectiveness of
existing frontier presidios in repelling Indian aggression, the Spanish
* The author gratefully acknowledges the support of the Summerlee Foundation in the re-
search and composition phases of this essay. The extraordinary assistance of UTSA graduate stu-
dent Robert D. Kinnally Jr. and of Dr. Marc Simmons of Cerrillos, New Mexico, is happily
celebrated. This paper was presented as the presidential address at the March 996 annual meet-
ing of the TSHA.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/. Accessed December 12, 2013.