May 15, 1803 - March 21, 1869
Juan Nepomuceno Almonte served in many governmental capacities - military leader, diplomat, politician - from Mexico's early years of independence through the period of French intervention in the late 1850s and early 1860s.
Born in 1803, Almonte was the illegitimate son of a Spanish priest, José María Morelos, who was an important leader in Mexico's War for Independence, Almonte first gained military experience as a youth fighting for his father. In 1815 he was sent to study in New Orleans, where he learned English fluently. After Mexico won its independence, Almonte served as a member of a delegation that forged a trade agreement with Great Britain, Mexico's first treaty with a foreign nation. He later served as Mexico's representative to the South American republics and the Empire of Brazil.
In 1834 Almonte conducted an inspection of Texas and authored a report of his findings, detailing for the Mexcan government the grievances of Anglo-American colonists. When the separatist revolt in Texas broke out the following year, Almonte took part in the campaign to subdue the rebels, serving as an aide to Santa Anna. He fought at the Battle of the Alamo and was later captured at the Battle of San Jacinto. He accompanied Santa Anna to the United States in 1836, where he met with U.S. President Andrew Jackson in Washington, D.C.
Returning to Mexico, Almonte continued to play a major role in the public life of the new nation, serving as secretary of war and, from 1842-45, as minister plenipotentiary to the United States. When the U.S. Congress voted to annex Texas in late February 1845, Almonte demanded his passports, thus severing diplomatic relations between Mexico and the United States.
On the eve of the war with the United States, Almonte participated in a military coup to oust president José Joaquín Herrera, whose efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis had cost him political support. Twice appointed secretary of war in 1846, Almonte sought to organize Mexican defenses against the U.S. invasion. In February 1847 he participated in the unsuccessful Polkos revolt, a conservative coup against acting president Gómez Farías.
After the U.S-Mexico War, Almonte served as governor of Oaxaca for four years, and again as Mexico's minister to Washington. Posted to Europe in 1856, he conspired to bring about foreign intervention in Mexico. Now a monarchist, he supported the French invasion to collect unpaid debts in 1862, and the establishment of Maximilian's Second Empire two years later. When Maximilian's empire collapsed in 1867, Almonte was on a diplomatic mission to Paris. He remained in exile until his death in 1869.
Almonte, Juan, and Texas State Historical Association. Almonte's Texas: Juan N. Almonte's 1834 Inspection, Secret Report, and Role in the 1836 Campaign. Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 2003.
Cosentino, Frank. Almonte: The Life of Juan Nepomuceno Almonte. Eganville, Ont.: Silent Praise, 2000.
Harris, Helen. "The public life of Juan Nepomuceno Almonte." Ph.D Dissertation, Austin: University of Texas at Austin, 1935.