Biography of Lucas Alamán y Escalada (1792-1853)

Historian, politician and diplomat, son of Juan Vicente Alamán and María Ignacia Escalada, was born in Guanajuato on 20 October 1792. In the birth certificate figure as"Spanish", since his father was natural of the Valley of Salazar (Navarra) and his mother, descendant of the family busts, came from seat (Burgos) Valley. Juan Vicente had come to new Spain in 1770 and settled in Guanajuato, attracted by the fame of its silver mines.

Made their first letters in the Belén school and his tutor Francisco Cornelio Diosdado, praised "clear ingenuity from Lucas, who in a just year studied minimal, minor and medium, and in the ten months following learned perfectly older, working out to translate the Epistles of Saint Jerome, Cornelio Nepote, Quinto Curcio, Virgil, Horace and Ovid, whose authors introduced review", in a public ceremony on 6 September 1805 ". Few months earlier had visited, in the company of their parents, the capital of the Viceroyalty. Completed studies of latin studied mathematics and soon, as the own Alaman, "my father I applied to mining, taking me every day to learn the benefit of metals", in various estates of his property.

To be fifteen years old, his parents sent him to Nuevo Santander, where he/she was Governor his political brother don Manuel Iturbe, and the death of his father, occurred April 29, 1808, he/she moved with his mother to the city of Mexico where came "when I had just happen the viceroy Iturrigarayprison, at the end of September". In the capital, Al became interested in learn drawing, which had begun to practice in Guanajuato and studied French at an Academy in which is read books entered from smuggling in the Viceroyalty. He/She returned to his hometown at the end of 1809 loaded with books, which formed his first personal library.

In Guanajuato, he/she helped his mother, but he/she went on to study by itself, especially in mathematics, drawing and music, without forgetting the reading of the classics and French practices. He/She took part in the gatherings of the Mayor Juan Antonio de Riaño, marine illustrated that dominated social and political life of Guanajuato during two decades. For the young Alaman, Riano was a master of the thinking and with it learned to love languages, music, the painting and the natural sciences.

Few months later, in September 1810, has lived in Guanajuato the bloody events of the uprising and the assault of the Priest Hidalgo, which, from the town of Dolores, approached the city, determined to capture and sacrifice the Riaño Intendente and the influential "gachupines" who took refuge in the Alhóndiga de Granaditas. Alaman family, intimate the Riaño, suffered the tragedy of his death and only the personal intervention of father Hidalgo and Ignacio Allendecaptain, allowed them to save the life, when the popular hosts tried to set fire to his house. After the liberation of the city by the forces of general Calleja, who replied to the cruelty of Hidalgo with similar ferocity, Alaman family left Guanajuato in early December to return to the capital. In the city of Mexico remained don Lucas until his departure with destination to Europe, at the beginning of 1814.

He took advantage of these years to the study of chemistry and Mineralogy at the Royal Seminary of mining and met the children and friends of the bookseller Manuel de el Valle, in French and English courses. But it incurred the suspicions of the Inquisition, who questioned him for several weeks, trying to explain the reason for his readings of books prohibited or suspicious of Jacobinism. It is assumed that the intervention of his brother Juan Bautista Arechederreta allowed him to stay free of suspicion.

At this time his passion for painting led him to treat don Rafael Jimeno, director of the Academy of San Carlos, who suggested him to make a tour of Europe in search of works and the most famous masters. It is said that this decision was influenced by the reading of the 17 volumes of the journey through Spain, the monumental work of Antonio Ponz. The sea in the spring of 1814 was heading to Cádiz, where he/she arrived on 30 May. Their stay in the peninsula, which toured following the wise guidance of Ponz, lasted until the end of September and, after spending a month in Cadiz, Seville and Cordoba visited to get to Madrid at the end of July. Here, from the hand of his Mexican friends, don Pablo key and especially don Miguel de Santa María, distinguished liberal activist, attended the gatherings of the Marquis of Villafranca. He/She left Madrid on September 27.

After a long journey of more than two months, entered the capital imperial days of December and there he/she met Fray Servando, who had just arrived from London and introduced him in the circle of the Abbé Grégoire. Also related to the baron of Humboldt and met the Duke of Montmorency, who took him in great appreciation and introduced him to Madame Récamier, Madame de Staël, Benjamín Constant and the own Chateaubriand. He/She attended the courses of the College of France, in which illustrious scholars of the time taught and sessions of the Ateneo, where it started in the knowledge of German.

But to return Napoleon and resumed the war, left Paris on April 13 to move to England in the company of Fray Servando, as he/she later said "to not let it perish in Paris, where he/she had no resources none". The British capital was rife with refugees and American and Spanish visitors, and very soon related to the Mexican Brothers Fagoaga, family of miners like him and, through Fray Servando, with José María Blanco White, after closing the Spanish, living in Oxford. ALaman recalls that "it was who led me to see all the scientific establishments of that famous University". He/She remained in London until the end of the year, in which it decided together with his friend Francisco Fagoaga, the realization of a special European tour.

Committed Fagoaga family in the preparation of the expedition to new Spain's Javier Mina, whom Alaman attempted carefully in his history of Mexico, both friends, were found in Rome. ALaman went again through Paris, where resumed their contacts and studies, but Professor Delametaire, who taught Mineralogy at the College of France, invited him to that travel together to explore the treasures of Italy. In his company he/she met Turin, Genoa, Pavia and fields of Marengo, the city of Milan, Parma, Bologna and Florence, which was delayed a few days, before arriving in Rome on July 26. francisco Fagoaga came to Rome at the end of November.

Both friends were an illustrated young couple, and during most of the year 1817 toured Italy, Switzerland and Germany, stopping at the most famous places: Venice, Mantua, Milan, Lake Como, Geneva, Lucerne and Chamonix, the sources of the Rhine and finally Mainz and Frankfurt. At the end of October, Fagoaga returned to Paris while Alaman remained in Germany, with the intention of knowing the latest developments in the exploitation of the mines of Freyberg, near Dresden. A month later he/she visited Berlin, where he/she met the naturalist von Buch and the Spanish Sage Agustín de Liaño, added to the Royal Library of the capital. In Prussia, he/she met mines of lead, copper and iron in the upper Harz and later the silver of the lower Harz, before continuing trip to Göttingen and Marburg, and back to Frankfurt, visited Cologne and Aix la Chapelle. Subsequently it followed trip to Rotterdam, the Hague, Amsterdam and Brussels, ending this journey in Paris on 21 March 1818.

In Paris the beginning of his love of history, lived throughout a year, delivered to the study, the practice of languages, the frequentation of the College of France, talks on the most famous halls and living with Francisco Fagoaga, which had opened in the town house. However, at the end of two years, to receive the news of the crisis of the family business, decided to return to Mexico. It prepared its return carefully and with his obsession for the future of the Mexican mining, collected the information seemed to him to be useful for the treatment and section of silver and gold; It passed by Madrid to request the permission of the Council of the Indies; He/She requested to be portrayed by the painter don José Madrazo (had Alaman 27 years and were captured in the fabric as a perfect Byronic type) and December 15, 1819 embarked at Le Havre, together with Fagoaga family, back to Veracruz.

When he/she arrived in the city of Mexico, learned of the triumph of the revolution of irrigation and the restoration of the Constitution of Cadiz, his life changed radically. Called by the viceroy Juan Ruiz de Apodaca to be part of a newly installed "Board of health", became interested in politics and was elected member for the province of Guanajuato. For this reason returned to Spain in February 1821, embarking in Veracruz with one score of members of Parliament, many of whom would be political popularity years later. He/She attended in the company of his friend José Francisco Fagoaga, Lorenzo de Zavala and José María Michelena, the ordinary courts in 1821 and the extraordinary to be inicaron at the end of September, developing an intense parliamentary activity: presented initiatives of industrial and scientific interest, but also he/she was chosen by his companions to write a policy proposal on the situation in New Spain, as a result of the Treaty of Cordoba and the actions of the viceroy don Juan O' Donojú.

Failed efforts, the majority of MEPs returned to Mexico in mid-1822, making Alaman Fagoaga and poet Manuel Eduardo de Gorostiza, later famed diplomat, via Irún and Paris, where again delayed, to acquire new methods on the tillage of the mines, the creation of a commercial company with English capital and the extension of his studies in mineralogywithout neglecting the visit of friends and the halls more crowded. He/She embarked with Fagoaga and, before passing through Martinique, recommended reached by the French Minister Polignac, in the middle of March 1823 they disembarked at Veracruz. Coinciding with the fall of Emperor Agustín de Iturbide and the triumph of the revolution, Alamán was going to start a political career of more than three decades.

Lived along them, triumphs and political failures, stages of persecution and controversy, moments of exaltation and others of shame, in a never-ending string of proposals, plans and projects that were half. It dominated the Mexican political scene with resolution and elegance intellectual, passionate defender of the monarchy and conservatism, in search of the best formula for the development of industry and Agriculture and the reconstruction of a country that was completely shattered after the turmoil of independence-turned.

He was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the first executive branch formed after the fall of Emperor Iturbide and this Ministry returned frequently throughout the next three decades, with various Governments. His policy was always characterized by elevation of goals, the most rigorous intellectual argument, obsession for modernization and progress in Mexico, fighting for its complete autonomy and independence, within the framework of international relations. From the first moment he/she tried to negotiate the best formula so that Spain recognized the independence of the new Nations, seeking American support and that of England.

It soon became the center of activity and balance of the Government, as a brand that would accompany him throughout his career. He/She knew how to contain the American ambition in Texas, at the time that favoured the independence of Guatemala and was opposed from the outset those who advocated federalism. Before the first outbreaks of antiespanola xenophobia, he/she hid the remains of cuts and defended the statue of Carlos IV, the famous "caballito" of today. But at the same time, it approved the exhumation of the remains of the leaders of the independence, including Javier Mina, who are buried in 1823 at the foot of the high altar of the Cathedral.

In the economic field, he/she was convinced that mining was one of the most influential factors of national wealth, along with the rational exploitation of agriculture, the introduction of machinery and the application of new crops. In particular, tried to exploit some of the best-known mines, supported in his company's mines, which had concluded with the English Brothers Hullet.

In 1824, before and after the election of President Guadalupe Victoria, returned to occupy the same position, insisting the Spanish recognition issues, relations with England and support the independence of the island of Cuba, in which Spain had accumulated military personnel. Chairman victory became a key figure in his Cabinet and in 1825 got England to recognize the new country, while hardened American pressure, which sent the PoinsettAmbassador to Mexico. For his part, Alaman prompted the convening of the Congress of Panama, which was held in 1826, in an attempt to establish, in accordance with Bolivar, the Federation of Latin American Nations. While in domestic politics is hardened the positions of the groups initially called Scottish and Yorker, which ended up as conservative and liberal parties, their enmity with Poinsett who supported the yorkino party, forced him to resign in September.

Began a long period of four years, in the course of which the Yorker in power tried to indict him with all kinds of excuses, systematically rejected by the Senate. On the other hand, took advantage of this time to devote himself to his most beloved work: the industrialization of the country, promoting the mining activity, but also the textile industrialisation, through the creation of a factory in Celaya, equipped with more modern looms brought from England. In July 1826 the Duke of Monteleone, a descendant of cuts, appointed him representative of their property in Mexico, activity deployed until the end of his life. It was becoming to serious losses and great promoter of agricultural development of the Bajio, irregular, leaving mines company, due to its confrontation with English partners economic successfully your personal finance.

At the end of 1829 the country was on the verge of institutional failure, while the differences between the two parties is confirmed and Alaman appeared as undisputed leader of the conservative party. He/She supported the coup d ' état of Vice President Bustamante, was unable to prevent the assassination of the former President Vicente Guerrero for two years, formulated and carried out a political project centralist and unifying, in order to restore the confidence and trust of citizens. Although it remained in the shade, alternately away but omnipresent, Alaman always maintained the best relations with general Santa Anna, the permanent presidential.

Among his achievements in these years, appointed Minister of Interior and exterior by Bustamante, contain and limit the activities of its opponents, it focused on recognition of independence by the Cabinet of Madrid, ordering Gorostiza, Minister in London, which sought the support of England, to get rid of the danger of a new invasion. Something similar was occurring with respect to United States, arriving Ambassador Anthony Butler to replace Poinsett, claimed the acquisition of Texas. As a counterpart, Alaman set out to establish an ambitious plan of recolonization, who could never achieve.

Alaman Congress in 1830 and 1831, reports are basic documentary pieces that allow to know the significance of their plans: drove industrialism, health and education at all levels; inventoried resources of the Republic; He/She ordered the lifting of a general geographical Charter and a national plan of meteorology; He/She formulated the project of a Bank of Avio, investor and promoter of trade and industry, ready to purchase European machinery; launched the Industrial Company of Celaya; It fostered the progress of the sugar mills; It established new tariffs and planned a comprehensive reform of the National Treasury, which accompanied a bill of distribution of installments, incipient agrarian reform which was not carried out. He/She ordered the lifting of a census of population which at more than six million the number of inhabitants of the nation.

Mid-1831 the political storm and the bitterness of opposition groups reached unsuspected limits through campaigns of press, distribution of pamphlets, military uprisings and uproar citizens, who accused Alaman of having ordered the execution of Guerrero, claim to the establishment of the monarchy, reject federalism and State autonomy, encourage corruption, override the freedom of the press and all the ills of the country. Decided Santa Anna to support the military uprising, Alaman resigned in the middle of March, 1832.

For two years, accused by a grand jury of the Congress, he/she hid and was pursued across the country, dedicated to write his defence, document legal and impartial examination of the administration of... Anastasio Bustamante, written politician of great ideological encouragement. According to his biographers, was now a deep analyst, a brilliant thinker, soon become historian and moralist of the national reality. In 1834, accessing general Santa Anna to the Presidency of the Republic, and in response to a heartfelt letter from Alaman, suspended the proceedings guilt and allowed their return to the family home. Defended before Congress by Carlos María Bustamante, was acquitted March 17, 1835.

During an entire decade, dedicated to industrial development and to the promotion of new business enterprises, both in Celaya and Cocolapan and to the production of tobacco in Orizaba, dealing with the administration of the property of the Duke of Monteleone. He/She accepted the proposal of the President, who appointed him member of the Academy of history and of the Academy of the language, which was recently created, spent long periods of residence in his hacienda de Trojes and occupied his time in designing a new yarn plant in Orizaba. By then, it was said that you remained in the shadow of the power of Santa Anna, who professed him deep admiration.

They were dark and difficult years, including the defeat of general Santa Anna is located in San Jacinto, when Alaman not dribbled his collaboration with Executive power, writing reports and programmes and accepting his appointment as a member of the Governing Council, a new power chair established in the reforms to the Constitution. The next few years, until their integration into the industry Development Board created in 1840, saw the materialization of their industrial development projects and functioning at full performance of personal companies (Cocolapan, Celaya and Orizaba). During these years he/she collaborated with the Ministers Gorostiza and Guadalupe Victoria, responsible for negotiating the dispute with the United States. At the end of 1839 his enemies returned to accuse you of conspiring for the restoration of the monarchy in Mexico.

Called by President Bravo to draft a plan for the development of the national industry, in 1842 where he/she intended to coordinate the State with private entrepreneurs, was appointed director of industry, dedicating his enthusiasm to the promotion of new productions, establish a system of seed selection, promote the cultivation of flax and cotton, the importation of modern ploughs and appliances for the distillation of spirits and the opening of new factories. In the course of a year had only 56 promotion boards to be established in States.

Age 50 years, Member of the newly created Ateneo de Mexico, in 1844 he/she proposed a plan for the study of the national history, from the conquest by the Spaniards until our days, in this Center approved by the Board of partners, allowed him to start a cycle of lectures, that he/she was reading every Sunday of the year and they concluded in the publication of the first two volumes of a book bearing the same name.

However, new political turmoil forced him to return to political activity. Had appeared a new generation, the heirs of independence, and in the country formed two irreducible blocks, which became the conservative and Liberal parties. In 1845 the uprising general Paredes y Arrillaga and the publication of the time, inspired by the ideology of alamanista, called the elements of order and the bureaucratic establishment, forming a block against the so-called military party gathered around the liberal ideology. Curators at the time proclaimed: "we want a representative monarchy... to extend the borders of civilization, which are regressing to barbarism. We want a stable Government that will inspire confidence to Europe and provide us alliances abroad to fight with the United States, if they insist on destroying our nationality".

However, the conservative dominance lasted very little and even though he/she was appointed Chairman of the higher Board of finance and was appointed him member of the Chamber of Deputies, the fall of Paredes y Arrillaga, a liberal government, happened which forced to leave the capital and to retire to his ranch Trojes, giving up all his public offices. Months later he/she returned to Mexico, but remained locked up at home, at the time of initiating the drafting of the first volume of the history of Mexico, his most famous work, which had as its main source a handwritten original of his half-brother Arechederreta, entitled historical notes of the revolution in the Kingdom of new Spain.

At the outbreak of the war with the United States in 1847, Alaman confronted the called side of war and witnessed the bombing from his home and city, who left in August, while the general doing their entry Winfield Scott, friend and protector of Javier Mina in 1816. The Mexican Government had been installed in Queretaro. Months later returned to his home in the Centre of the capital, to continue the drafting of new chapters and dissertations in the history of Mexico. In November 1848, he/she wrote the biography of Carlos María Bustamante, who died a few months earlier. Mexico lived now mired in defeat and failure, after the capitulation and surrender to United States of half the national territory.

But despite his illness and dejection, it was still capable of guiding the new Conservative Party, led by the alamanismo hawks, ideologically willing to the conquest of the municipalities, as a first step to dominate national politics. In the elections of July 1849, with the effective support of the El Universal newspaper, Alamán was elected President of the City Council of the city of Mexico, with a broad program of reforms and development plans in all aspects: finance, health, education, transport, driving waters, etc. However, his enemies arreciaron in their campaigns of defamation and denunciation, forcing him to give up the Municipal Presidency five months later. They accused him of unpatriotic, enemy of independence, borbonista and absolutist, ensuring that you wrote the history of Mexico to prepare for the restoration of the Empire. He/She left this position in January 1850, simultaneously to his resignation to the Chamber of Deputies.

Replacement of their ailments, was strong enough to keep writing the volumes IV and V of the history of Mexico, published in 1851 and 1852, collaborate with the moderate Government and deal with the acute national crisis that culminated in the civil war of 1853. Consequence of this conflict was the return from exile of general Santa Anna, making his triumphal entry into the city of Mexico on April 20. Immediately, the Government of the country gave to don Lucas Alaman, Minister of relations for the last time.

While a new Constitution is written, Alaman presented some basis for the administration of the Republic, that showed imaginative and creative: founded the Ministry of development, colonization, industry and trade; established the Council of State; He/She proposed a law of printing based on "order, obedience and morality"; reorganized the diplomatic corps; revised customs tariffs, etc. Meanwhile, opponents declared that the choice of Alaman frustrated all hopes of a progressive Mexico.

But while the alamanismo in power was maintained until end of the Government of Santa Anna, the disease was going to kill it. Their ailments are exacerbated on May 27 and expired at dawn of June 2, 1853. Their funerals were an impressive demonstration of popular grief.


José C. Valadés. ALaman, statesman and historian. Ancient library Robredo. José Porrúa and sons. Mexico, 1938

Antonio Ferrer del Río. D. Lucas Alamán, his life and his writings. Editorial Jus. Mexico, 1942.

Moisés González Navarro. The political thought of Lucas Alaman. The College of Mexico. Mexico, 1952

Jorge Gurria Lacroix. The monarchic ideas of D. Lucas Alamán. Institute of history. Mexico, 1951

Manuel Ortuño