Juan Almonte

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Juan Nepomuceno Almonte
Juan Nepomuceno Almonte.jpg
President of the Regency of Mexico
In office
11 July 1863 – 10 April 1864
Preceded by Agustín de Iturbide
Succeeded by Monarchy abolished
Regent of the Mexican Empire
with José Salas and Antonio de Labastida
In office
11 July 1863 – 10 April 1864
Monarch Maximilian I of Mexico
Succeeded by Maximilian I of Mexico
Personal details
Born May 13, 1803(1803-05-13)
Michoacán, Mexico
Died March 21, 1869(1869-03-21) (aged 65)
Paris, France
Nationality Mexican
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) María Dolores Quesada
Children María de Guadalupe Almonte
Occupation Military officer, diplomat
Religion Roman Catholic
Military service
Allegiance Mexican conservatives
Rank General
Battles/wars Battle of the Alamo, Texas Revolution; Mexican-American War; War of Reform

Juan Nepomuceno Almonte (May 15, 1803 – March 21, 1869) was a 19th-century Mexican official, soldier and diplomat. He was a veteran of the Battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution. Almonte was also a leader of Mexico's Conservatives in the 1860s and served as regent after the Second Mexican Empire was established by Napoleon III of France.

Early life[edit]

José María Morelos, the alleged father of Almonte.

Almonte was born in Nocupétaro, Carácuaro district, in the state of Michoacán. He was allegedly the son of José María Morelos, a Roman Catholic priest who led the insurgents in the Mexican War of Independence from 1811 to 1815.[1] His mother, Brígida Almonte, was said to be of pure Amerindian ancestry. On August 9, 1814, his father appointed him a brigadier general.[citation needed] In 1815 Almonte was sent to New Orleans, Louisiana, where he was educated and learned fluent English.[1] While there, he worked as a clerk for hardware merchant Puech & Bein. His time in the United States 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 in Texas and then was sent as a part of the Mexican delegation to London. Almonte assisted Ambassador José Mariano Michelena in negotiating a commercial and amity treaty with England. 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 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 María Dolores Quesada on March 1, 1840 in Mexico City[2] and they had a daughter named María de Guadalupe Anastacia Aleja Brígida Saturnina.[3]

Texas Revolution[edit]

In 1834 Vice President Valentín Gómez Farías appointed Almonte and Col. José María Díaz Noriega to make an inspection tour of Texas and write a status report on what they witnessed. In late January 1836 Almonte was appointed aide-de-camp to Antonio López de Santa Anna 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. As the Mexican army occupied the city, Texian 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.[4]

Almonte is said to have had the role in saving Susannah Dickinson. 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.[5]

On April 21, 1836, Almonte, at the head of part of the Guerrero battalion, surrendered to Texian Thomas J. Rusk at the Battle of San Jacinto. 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. 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 and Sam Houston, Almonte, accompanied by Texas Vice-President Lorenzo de Zavala and Bailey Hardeman was sent along with Santa Anna to Washington, D.C., where they had several meetings with U.S. President Andrew Jackson. 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[edit]

Juan Almonte in full military regalia.

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. 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 to the United States, Almonte packed his bags on March 6 and returned to Mexico via Veracruz. Almonte favored the installation of Gen. Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga at this time. But while stopping in Havana as minister to 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. 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.

After the war, Almonte served as senator from Oaxaca 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. In 1858, Benito Juárez 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 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 is named after Almonte, to commemorate the general's futile resistance against the United States. It is the only town in Ontario named after a Mexican general.[6]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Todish, Timothy J.; Todish, Terry; Spring, Ted (1998), Alamo Sourcebook, 1836: A Comprehensive Guide to the Battle of the Alamo and the Texas Revolution, Austin, TX: Eakin Press, ISBN 978-1-57168-152-2 

Further reading[edit]

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

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Félix María Zuloaga
Supreme Chief of the Nation
1862–1863
Succeeded by
Regency
Preceded by
himself as Supreme Chief of the Nation
Regent of Mexico
with Juan Bautista de Ormaechea and José Mariano Salas
1863–1864
Succeeded by
Maximilian I
(Emperor of Mexico)