and military training of creoles might be a prescription for imperial suicide. One school of thought stressed the creation of a professional army in New Spain, with creole sons given at least junior commissions, and trained and inspired by the cadre of European professionals. Creating a new class of creole military pro- fessionals would create a new mentality; obedient to orders from their supreme commander, thinking in terms of imperial security and welfare, they would out- grow the old bad habits that had made New Spain so vulnerable. The other school of thought doubted the wisdom and feasibility of superimposing a Euro- pean military institution onto the complex, delicately balanced social structure of New Spain, and it emphasized the organization of an effective colonial militia which would be cheaper, would be larger, and would fit more readily into colo- nial society than a professional army.
For more than forty years after 1763 the military establishment of New Spain grew steadily. But within the steady increase of numbers there was con- tinual oscillation between the professional and the militia concepts of military organization.31 The professional concept was confronted by the disinclination of the population to become professional soldiers. The regular officer corps of the new army was dominated by Europeans, and creoles did not want to serve under the hated peninsulares. The regular regiments thus recruited heavily from non- white dregs of society, in effect creating a small army dangerously alienated from the elite of the society it was supposed to defend. Only the militia concept could attract creoles. As militia officers they acquired a new status, especially the privilege of being exempt from civil legal jurisdiction, and there was no dif- ficulty in inducing young creoles to accept commissions in the provincial militia regiments. Whether those regiments were effective military units, however, was another matter. Regular officers sent to inspect the militia reported that militia officers were ignorant and inattentive, that the men were poorly trained and armed, and in some cases that the organization existed only on paper. Creole eagerness to become militia officers seemed to have little connection with the defense of New Spain; the new army, despite its impressive growth, never satis- fied anyone. But it effectively "militarized" a key segment of Mexican society. 32
The Napoleonic invasion of Spain in 1808 and its destruction of central authority within the Spanish empire shaped the consequences of these earlier military changes in New Spain. There had been no colonial tradition of military intervention in politics, but the inevitable contest between Spaniards and creoles for control of New Spain from 1808 onward inevitably dragged the new military establishment into the political arena. An unexpected social revolution in 1810, of Indian masses led by the enlightened creole priest Hidalgo, threw Spaniards and creoles back together. The post-1763 reforms had given the white minority the organized armed force needed to smash the Hidalgo revolt, and then to win a protracted, bloody, counterrevolutionary war against the oppressed non-white majority. But full mobilization in that war of the creole-dominated militia gave a preponderance of power to the creoles in their continuing struggle with Span-