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Lucas Ignacio Alamán y Escalada (Guanajuato, New Spain, October 18, 1792 – Mexico City, Mexico, June 2, 1853) was a Mexican scientist, conservative politician, historian, and writer. He has been called the "arch-reactionary of the epoch...who sought to create a strong central government based on a close alliance of the army, the Church and the landed classes."[1] Alamán was "undoubtedly the major political and intellectual figure of independent Mexico until his death in 1853...the guiding force of several administrations and an active promoter of economic development."[2]

Viceroyalty of New Spain

Alamán's father immigrated from Navarre and accumulated a fortune in mining. His mother held the title of the fifth marchioness of San Clemente.[3] Alamán's father was his mother's second husband after her first husband, Brigadier Gabriel de Arechederreta, died. Alamán had an older half-brother, Juan Bautista Arechederreta. A formative event in Alamán's life, which he wrote about in his autobiography, was his witnessing the sack of Guanajuato during the revolt by Miguel Hidalgo in 1810 where an Indian and mixed race mob captured the city granary (alhondiga) and killed those taking refuge inside.[4][5] This experience may have influenced his lifelong devotion to conservative politics and his nostalgia for monarchic rule for Mexico.

Alamán enjoyed a good education and demonstrated a cosmopolitan outlook. After attending an amiga nursing school in Guanajuato during the 1790s, he became involved in his family’s mining business. Afterwards, he studied at the Real Colegio de Minas de la Nueva España, in the Viceroyalty of New Spain (colonial México). In 1814 Alamán traveled to Spain and began touring other European nations shortly thereafter, studying German mining techniques as well as chemistry in Paris. Upon his return to Mexico, the viceroy appointed him to direct the health services provided by the Junta de Sanidad. As the Marquis of San Clemente, Alamán undoubtedly dreamed of becoming a minister in the court of a Mexican Bourbon monarch. He frequently traveled on his credentials as a scientist and diplomat, becoming one of the most educated men in Mexico.[6]

In 1821 Alamán was a deputy to the Cortes of Cádiz, the Spanish national parliament, for the Province of Nueva Galicia (included present day Jalisco, Nayarit, Sonora, Sinaloa) in Viceroyalty of New Spain.

Independent Mexico


After Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, Alamán returned to Mexico and became one of the most influential politicians in the nascent country. He was a co-founder and lifelong member of the Mexican Conservative Party, and he consistently defended the centralist organization of Mexico. Under the junta that governed Mexico after the fall of Iturbide, Alamán served from 1823 to 1825 in the powerful post of Minister of Interior and Exterior Relations (Ministro de Relaciones Interiores e Exteriores, combining the duties of a foreign minister, interior minister and minister of justice). In his cabinet role, Alamán successfully attracted British capital to Mexico.[7]

He was part of the group of conservatives who ousted insurgent general Vicente Guerrero, who himself came to power by coup in 1829. Alamán was a member of the junta that briefly governed Mexico in 1829 after the Plan de Jalapa with the aim of installing conservative Anastasio Bustamante as president. Alamán was the leading figure of the conservatives as the regime change unfolded.[8] Guerrero was captured by a merchant ship captain Picaluga paid 50,000 pesos for the deed, in January 1831, summarily tried in a court-martial, and executed a month later. Alamán viewed the execution of Guerrero as saving Mexico from "dissolution."[9] Many Mexicans, however, saw Guerrero as a martyr and his execution was deemed by the liberal newspaper El Federalista Mexicano "judicial murder." The two conservative cabinet members considered most culpable for Guerrero's execution, Alamán and Secretary of War José Antonio Facio "spent the rest of their lives defending themselves from the charge that they were responsible for the ultimate betrayal in the history of the first republic, that is, that they had arranged not just for the service of Picaluga's ship but specifically for his capture of Guerrero."[10] Alamán published a tract defending himself.[11]


Alamán returned to the post of Minister of Interior and Exterior Relations in 1830–1832 under the Bustamante government. It was in this capacity that he named Manuel Victoria the Governor of Alta California on March 8, 1830. In October 1830, he created the Banco Nacional de Avío, the first bank in Mexico, which provided the country with the financial infrastructure necessary for its burgeoning economy.[12] Through this government investment bank, Alamán's plans to revive the textile industry, which took hold and prospered in Puebla and Veracruz even when Alamán was not part of the government.[13]

After what he saw as the disaster of Texas independence from Mexico in 1836, Alamán largely retired from politics, though he continued to promote what he saw as the interests of the country by serving as Director de la Junta de Fomento de la Industria (Directorate for the Promotion of Industry) from 1839 until his death in 1853.

During the same period Alamán negotiated a deal with the United States to the north fixing the national borders of the two nations which held right up to the time of the Mexican–American War 1846–1848. He also promoted colonizing the northern provinces in order to stave off U.S. expansionism.


For most of the 1840s, he devoted himself primarily to writing the history of Mexico from the perspective of a conservative. His three-volume work Disertaciones sobre la Historia de la Republica mexicana (Mexico, 1844–1849) and his five-volume Historia de México, desde los primeros movimientos que prepararon su independencia en el año de 1808, hasta la época presente (Mexico, 1849–1852), stand as the major intellectual productions of the Conservative Party in nineteenth-century Mexico, and the only histories produced by a Mexican author of his era to view the Spanish presence in his country favorably.

Among his more important actions are the creation of the Natural History Museum in Mexico City and the foundation of Mexico's General National Archive. The latter has been very important for learning about the historical events in Mexico and understanding the political processes of the Mexican Republic. He also founded and ran a mining company, established the first metal foundry in independent Mexico in 1825, administered the estates of the descendants of Hernán Cortés, and served as president of the Mexico City ayuntamiento (city council) in 1849.

Although Alamán was in general anti-American, he was dismayed by the withdrawal of the U.S. Army, which had protected the property against "bandits and rebels."[14]


Santa Anna and Lucas Alamán were in correspondence during Santa Anna's exile following the debacle of the Mexican American War. Alamán helped pave the way for Santa Anna's return to power with conservative support "if he agreed to a program of cessation of political activity against the Church and security for the holders of large propertied interests."[15] Alamán returned to national public service in March 1853, when Santa Anna appointed him Minister of Foreign Relations. Alamán served until his death from pneumonia on June 2, 1853.

Published works

  • Canción patriótica en celebridad de los días de nuestro augusto y deseado monarca. Mexico city: Oficina de Ontiveros 1812.
  • Defensa del ex-ministro de relaciones D. Lucas Alamán, en la causa formada contra él y contra los ex-ministros de guerra y justicia del vice-presidente D. Anastasio Bustamante, con unas noticias preliminares que dan idea del origen de esta. Escrita por el mismo ex-ministro, que la dirige á la nación. Mexico City: Imprenta de Galván á cargo de M. Arévalo 1834.
  • Historia de Méjico. 5 vols. Mexico City 1968–69.
  • Memorias, la verdadera historia de esta república desde el año 1808 (1840)
  • Liquidación general de la deuda esterior de la República Mexicana hasta fin de diciembre de 1841. Mexico City: Impreso por I. Cumplido, 1845.
  • Disertaciones 3 vols. Mexico 1969.
  • Documentos diversos. 4 vols. Mexico 1946.
  • Ensayo sobre la decadencia de la minería en la Nueva España.

Archival materials

Ynsfran, Pablo Max. "Catalogo del Archivo de Don Lucas Alamán que se Conserva en la Universidad de Texas, Austin" Historia Mexicana Vol. 4, No. 2 (Oct. – Dec. 1954), pp. 281–316




Further reading

In English:

  • Anna, Timothy E. Forging Mexico, 1821–1835. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press 1998.
  • Arroyo García, Israel. "Lucas Alamán" in Encyclopedia of Mexico. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn 1997, pp. 35–37.
  • Green, Stanley C. The Mexican Republic: The First Decade, 1823–1832. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press 1987.
  • Hale, Charles A. Mexican Liberalism in the Age of Mora. New Haven: Yale University Press 1968.
  • Potash, Robert A. Mexican government and industrial development in the early republic: the Banco de Avío. Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press, 1983.

In Spanish:

  • Bazant, Jan. "Los bienes de la familia de Hernán Cortés y su venta por Lucas Alamán" Historia Mexicana Vol. 19, No. 2 (Oct. – Dec. 1969), pp. 228–247
  • Calderón, Francisco. "El pensamiento económico de Lucas Alamán" Historia Mexicana Vol. 34, No. 3 (Jan. – Mar. 1985), pp. 435–459
  • Ferrer de Río, Antonio. Lucas Alamán: Su vida y escritos. Mexico City: Jus 1942.
  • González Navarro, Moisés. El pensamiento político de Lucas Alamán. Mexico City: El Colegio de México 1952.
  • Noriega, Alfonso. El pensamiento conservador y el conservadurismo mexicano. Mexico: UNAM 1972.
  • Ota Mishima, María Elena. Alamán ilustrado. Mexico: UNAM 1963.
  • Quintanilla, Lourdes. El nacionalismo de Lucas Alamán. Guanajuato: Gobierno del Estado de Guanajuato 1991.
  • Valadés, José C. Alamán Estadista e Historiador. Mexico: Antigua Librería Robledo, José Porrúa e Hijos 1938.


  1. ^ D.A. Brading, The First America: The Spanish Monarchy, Creole Patriots, and the Liberal State, 1492–1867. New York: Cambridge University Press 1991, p. 642.
  2. ^ Charles A. Hale, Mexican Liberalism in the Age of Mora, 1821–1853. New Haven: Yale University Press 1968, pp. 16–17.
  3. ^ Bancroft, Hubert Howe (1888). History of Mexico Volume VI 1861-1887. The Bancroft Company. pp. 157–158.
  4. ^ Stanley C. Green, The Mexican Republic: The First Decade. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press 1987, p.11
  5. ^ Lucas Alamán, "Autobiografía de D. Lucas Alamán" in Lucás Alamán Obras de D. Lucas Alamán: Documents diversos (inéditos y my raros). Ed. Rafael Aguay Specer. Mexico City: Editorial Jus, 1945–47, 4:14.
  6. ^ Alamán, Juan Bautista (1854). Apuntes Para La Biografia del exmo. Sr. D. Lucas Alaman (in Spanish). J.M. Lara.
  7. ^ Jan Bazant, "The Aftermath of Independence" in Mexico Since Independence, Leslie Bethell, ed. New York: Cambridge University Press 1991, p. 8.
  8. ^ Stanley C. Green, The Mexican Republic: The First Decade 1823–1832. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press 1998, p. 174.
  9. ^ Green, The Mexican Republic, p. 209.
  10. ^ Timothy E. Anna, Forging Mexico, 1821–1835. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press 2005, pp. 242–43.
  11. ^ Defensa del ex-ministro de relaciones D. Lucas Alamán, en la causa formada contra él y contra los ex-ministros de guerra y justicia del vice-presidente D. Anastasio Bustamante, con unas noticias preliminares que dan idea del origen de esta. Escrita por el mismo ex-ministro, que la dirige á la nación. Mexico City: Imprenta de Galván á cargo de M. Arévalo 1834.
  12. ^ Robert A. Potash, El Banco de Avío de México: el fomento de la industria, 1821–1846. Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1959.
  13. ^ Bazant, "The Aftermath of Independence," p. 13.
  14. ^ Bazant, "The Aftermath of Independence," p. 27.
  15. ^ J. Lloyd Mecham, Church and State in Latin America, revised edition. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press 1966, p. 358.
  16. ^ Nov. Veg. Descr. [La Llave & Lexarza] 2(Orchid. Opusc.): 31 1825 (IK)
  17. ^ Biol. Cent.-Amer., Bot. 2: 255. 1881 (GCI)
  18. ^ Linnaea 34: 207. 1865 (IK)
  19. ^ Gen. Hist. 2: 37. 1832 (IK)
  20. ^ IPNI.  Alamán.

External links