Juan Almonte
Juan Nepomuceno Almonte was a 19th century Mexican
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 official, soldier and diplomat. He was a veteran of the Battle of the Alamo
Battle of the Alamo
The Battle of the Alamo was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar . All but two of the Texian defenders were killed...

 during the Texas Revolution
Texas Revolution
The Texas Revolution or Texas War of Independence was an armed conflict between Mexico and settlers in the Texas portion of the Mexican state Coahuila y Tejas. The war lasted from October 2, 1835 to April 21, 1836...

. Almonte was also a leader of Mexico's Conservatives in the 1860s and served as regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

 after the Second Mexican Empire
Second Mexican Empire
The Second Mexican Empire was the name of Mexico under the regime established from 1864 to 1867. It was created by Napoleon III of France, who attempted to use the Mexican adventure to recapture some of the grandeur of earlier Napoleonic times...

 was established by Napoleon III of France
Napoleon III of France
Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte was the President of the French Second Republic and as Napoleon III, the ruler of the Second French Empire. He was the nephew and heir of Napoleon I, christened as Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte...


Early life

Almonte was born in Nocupétaro, Carácuaro district, in the state of Michoacán
Michoacán officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Michoacán de Ocampo is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 113 municipalities and its capital city is Morelia...

. He was allegedly the son of José María Morelos
José María Morelos
José María Teclo Morelos y Pavón was a Mexican Roman Catholic priest and revolutionary rebel leader who led the Mexican War of Independence movement, assuming its leadership after the execution of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in 1811...

, a Roman Catholic priest who led the insurgents in the Mexican War of Independence
Mexican War of Independence
The Mexican War of Independence was an armed conflict between the people of Mexico and the Spanish colonial authorities which started on 16 September 1810. The movement, which became known as the Mexican War of Independence, was led by Mexican-born Spaniards, Mestizos and Amerindians who sought...

 from 1811 to 1815. His mother, Brígida Almonte, was said to be of pure Amerindian ancestry. On August 9, 1814, his father appointed him a brigadier general
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

. In 1815 Almonte was sent to New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. The New Orleans metropolitan area has a population of 1,235,650 as of 2009, the 46th largest in the USA. The New Orleans – Metairie – Bogalusa combined statistical area has a population...

, where he was educated and learned fluent English. While there, he worked as a clerk for hardware merchant Puech & Bein. His time in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 was cut short when his father was executed on December 22, 1815 in the village of San Cristóbal Ecatepec.

Between 1822 to 1824, Almonte was on the staff of insurgent rebel leader José Félix Trespalacios
José Félix Trespalacios
José Félix Trespalacios was the first governor of Coahuila y Texas as part of the United Mexican States.Trespalacios was a member of the militia in Chihuahua but then in 1814 was charged with organizing rebellion and was sentenced to death. His sentence was reduced to ten years in prison, but he...

 in Texas and then was sent as a part of the Mexican delegation to London. Almonte assisted Ambassador José Mariano Michelena
José Mariano Michelena
José Mariano Michelena was a Spanish military officer in New Spain and Spain, a precursor of Mexican independence, and a politician in independent Mexico...

 in negotiating a commercial and amity treaty with England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. This was Mexico's first treaty as a new nation. In 1830, while serving in Mexican Congress, Almonte became an object of government attention as editor of "El Atleta". He accused President Anastasio Bustamante
Anastasio Bustamante
Anastasio Bustamante y Oseguera was president of Mexico three times, from 1830 to 1832, from 1837 to 1839 and from 1839 to 1841. He was a Conservative. He first came to power by leading a coup against president Vicente Guerrero...

 of allowing foreign intervention in national affairs. Because of his stance, Almonte's arrest was ordered on April 16, 1830. He was forced to seek refuge in New Orleans due to government pressure, and the paper collapsed due to heavy fines levied by Bustamante’s government. Later, Bustamante relented and appointed Almonte secretary of the Mexican Legation Extraordinary in 1831. His new job was to represent Mexico in the Republics of South America and the Empire of Brazil. Almonte married Dolores Quesada in 1840 and they had a daughter named Guadalupe.

Texas Revolution

In 1834 Vice President Valentín Gómez Farías
Valentín Gómez Farías
Valentín Gómez Farías was several times acting President of Mexico in the 1830s and 1840s.Gomez Farias was one of the more important political figures in early Mexico. The first presidency of Santa Anna from 1833 to 1836 was a temporary victory for the Mexican Liberals...

 appointed Almonte and Col. José María Díaz Noriega to make an inspection tour of Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 and write a status report on what they witnessed. In late January 1836 Almonte was appointed aide-de-camp
An aide-de-camp is a personal assistant, secretary, or adjutant to a person of high rank, usually a senior military officer or a head of state...

 to Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón , often known as Santa Anna or López de Santa Anna, known as "the Napoleon of the West," was a Mexican political leader, general, and president who greatly influenced early Mexican and Spanish politics and government...

 and accompanied him to Texas in an attempt to quell the rebellion there.

Santa Anna led his army directly for San Antonio de Bexar, where a small group of Texians was garrisoned at the former Alamo Mission
Alamo Mission in San Antonio
The Alamo, originally known as Mission San Antonio de Valero, is a former Roman Catholic mission and fortress compound, site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, and now a museum, in San Antonio, Texas....

. As the Mexican army occupied the city, Texan co-commander James Bowie sent Green B. Jameson to speak with Santa Anna. Instead, Jameson met with Almonte. According to Almonte, the Texians asked for an honorable surrender but were informed that any surrender must be unconditional.

Almonte is said to have had the role in saving Susannah Dickinson
Susannah Dickinson
Susanna Wilkerson Dickinson was one of two American survivors of the 1836 Battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution, where her husband, Captain Almaron Dickinson, and 182 other defenders were killed by the Mexican Army...

. According to some interviews she gave a Mexican officer intervened to spare her and her daughter's life. This officer was presumed to be either an English mercenary named Black, or Almonte. Then, she said she was taken before Santa Anna, who was talked out of imprisoning her by Almonte.

On April 21, 1836, Almonte, at the head of part of the Guerrero battalion, surrendered to Texan Thomas J. Rusk at the Battle of San Jacinto
Battle of San Jacinto
The Battle of San Jacinto, fought on April 21, 1836, in present-day Harris County, Texas, was the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. Led by General Sam Houston, the Texian Army engaged and defeated General Antonio López de Santa Anna's Mexican forces in a fight that lasted just eighteen...

. Almonte led the last organized resistance of the panicked army. On the following day Santa Anna also was taken prisoner. Almonte stayed with Santa Anna during his imprisonment acting as interpreter and negotiator. Almonte accompanied Santa Anna during his incarceration on Galveston Island
Galveston Island
Galveston Island is a barrier island on the Texas Gulf coast in the United States, about 50 miles southeast of Houston. The entire island, with the exception of Jamaica Beach, is within the city limits of the City of Galveston....

. Then they were taken up the Brazos river to the Phelps plantation, about 30 miles from Velasco, and kept there during the summer and autumn of 1836. While staying there the rumors spread that there were plans to rescue the prisoners. When an escape plot was later discovered, Almonte and Santa Anna were each forced to wear a heavy ball and chain for 52 and 53 days respectively. Finally, through the efforts of Stephen F. Austin
Stephen F. Austin
Stephen Fuller Austin was born in Virginia and raised in southeastern Missouri. He was known as the Father of Texas, led the second, but first legal and ultimately successful colonization of the region by bringing 300 families from the United States. The capital of Texas, Austin in Travis County,...

 and Sam Houston
Sam Houston
Samuel Houston, known as Sam Houston , was a 19th-century American statesman, politician, and soldier. He was born in Timber Ridge in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, of Scots-Irish descent. Houston became a key figure in the history of Texas and was elected as the first and third President of...

, Almonte, accompanied by Texas Vice-President Lorenzo de Zavala
Lorenzo de Zavala
Manuel Lorenzo Justiniano de Zavala y Saenz was a 19th-century Mexican politician. He served as finance minister under President Vicente Guerrero. A colonizer and statesman, he was also the interim Vice President of the Republic of Texas, serving under interim President David G...

 and Bailey Hardeman was sent along with Santa Anna to Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, where they had several meetings with U.S. President Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

. After eight days in Washington, they left the U.S. on January 31, 1837. The party returned to Mexico in February. By then, Santa Anna had been replaced as President of Mexico and went into retirement. Almonte, though, continued his diplomatic and military career and eventually rose to the rank of major general. He published a book on geography in late 1837.

Political life

In January 1838, Almonte became a member of the Junta Directiva, which governed the Normal School of the Army. In March 1838 he was appointed secretary of the Mexican legation to London. In June 1839 Almonte headed the Mexican legation to Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

. From July 1839 to October 1841, he was secretary of war and marine under President Bustamante. Almonte was later appointed minister plenipotentiary to Washington in 1841-1845 under President José Joaquín de Herrera. With the annexation of the Republic of Texas
Republic of Texas
The Republic of Texas was an independent nation in North America, bordering the United States and Mexico, that existed from 1836 to 1846.Formed as a break-away republic from Mexico by the Texas Revolution, the state claimed borders that encompassed an area that included all of the present U.S...

 to the United States, Almonte packed his bags on March 6 and returned to Mexico via Veracruz
Veracruz, formally Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave , is one of the 31 states that, along with the Federal District, comprise the 32 federative entities of Mexico. It is divided in 212 municipalities and its capital city is...

. Almonte favored the installation of Gen. Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga at this time. But while stopping in Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

 as minister to France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Almonte re-joined forces with the exiled former president and general Santa Anna and together they traveled back to Mexico.

When the Mexican-American War broke out, José Mariano Salas was ad interim president for Santa Anna and Almonte served as Secretary of War until he was replaced with Valentín Canalizo
Valentín Canalizo
Valentín Canalizo was a Mexican general and conservative politician. He was a supporter of a centralist national government and an obedient follower and confidante of General Antonio López de Santa Anna...

. In February 1847 Almonte and a few other Mexican generals tried to oust Gómez Farías from power, but failed. They were arrested and jailed for a time in the convent of Santiago Tlatelolco
Tlatelolco (Mexico City)
Tlatelolco is an area in the Cuauhtémoc borough of Mexico City, centered on the Plaza de las Tres Culturas, a square surrounded on three sides by an excavated Aztec archaeological site, a 17th century church called Templo de Santiago, a former convent, and office complexes that used to belong to...


After the war, Almonte served as senator
Senate of Mexico
The Senate of the Republic, constitutionally Chamber of Senators of the Honorable Congress of the Union After a series of reforms during the 1990s, it is now made up of 128 senators:...

 from Oaxaca
Oaxaca , , officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Oaxaca is one of the 31 states which, along with the Federal District, comprise the 32 federative entities of Mexico. It is divided into 571 municipalities; of which 418 are governed by the system of customs and traditions...

 for four years, then served as Mexico's representative to the U.S. under President Santa Anna (his last time as president). In 1856 he was appointed minister to England, France and Spain. Once overseas, Almonte became involved in the promotion of foreign intervention and monarchical schemes for Mexico. He envisioned himself on the throne of Mexico. His machinations culminated in the French intervention in Mexico
French intervention in Mexico
The French intervention in Mexico , also known as The Maximilian Affair, War of the French Intervention, and The Franco-Mexican War, was an invasion of Mexico by an expeditionary force sent by the Second French Empire, supported in the beginning by the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Spain...

. In 1858, Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez born Benito Pablo Juárez García, was a Mexican lawyer and politician of Zapotec origin from Oaxaca who served five terms as president of Mexico: 1858–1861 as interim, 1861–1865, 1865–1867, 1867–1871 and 1871–1872...

 was elected president of the United Mexican States to defend the Constitution established on February 5, 1857. After much internal struggle, Juárez was re-elected in 1861. Because of financial instability, Congress suspended foreign debt repayment for two years.

Almonte was a signatory of the Mont-Almonte Treaty with Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 in 1859. The treaty saw Mexico pay debts to the Spaniards in exchange for economic aid against the Mexican Liberal Party.

He was also appointed lieutenant of the empire by Maximilian in April 1864, and some weeks later marshal of the empire. He adhered to the fortunes of his imperial patron throughout his short reign, and, when Maximilian was executed, he fled to Europe, spending his last days in exile.

The town of Almonte, Ontario
Almonte, Ontario
Almonte is a Canadian exurb and former mill town located in Lanark County, in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario, Canada. Formerly a separate municipality, Almonte is now a ward of the town of Mississippi Mills, which was created on January 1, 1998 by the merging of Almonte with Ramsay and...

 is named after Almonte, to commemorate the general's resistance against the United States. It is the only town in Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 named after a Mexican general.

See also

  • History of Mexico
    History of Mexico
    The history of Mexico, a country located in the southern portion of North America, covers a period of more than two millennia. First populated more than 13,000 years ago, the country produced complex indigenous civilizations before being conquered by the Spanish in the 16th Century.Since the...

  • Timeline of the Texas Revolution
    Timeline of the Texas Revolution
    This is a timeline of the Texas Revolution, spanning the time from the earliest independence movements of the area of Texas, over the declaration of independence from Spain, up to the secession of the Republic of Texas from Mexico....

Further reading

  • Jackson, Jack & Wheat, John; Almonte's Texas; Texas State Historical Association; ISBN 0-87611-191-6

External links

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