Skip to content

Biography of José Trinidad Cabañas

José Trinidad Cabañas Fiallos was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras on June 9, 1805 and died in Comayagua, Honduras on January 8, 1871, he was a Honduran military man and politician who was President of the Republic of Honduras (1852-1855) and a defender of the liberal ideas that supported the union of Central America.

He is considered a hero and one of the most honored people in the history of Honduras. During his period as president he maintained that: «It is not about founding the Republic of some, but the Republic of all» . In the statue of him erected in the “La Mercedes” Park, in Tegucigalpa, one can read: “To the Heroic Soldier of the Central American union. To the model warrior of perseverance, honesty and courage».

Biography of José Trinidad Cabañas
Bust of José Trinidad Cabañas, considered the most upright and honorable president of Honduras.


José Trinidad Cabañas was born in Tegucigalpa on June 9, 1805. He is the son of José María Cabañas Rivera and Juana Fiallos. He was baptized by Father Juan Francisco Márquez on the same day of his birth, his baptism certificate is found on page 98 of the Ecclesiastical Registry of the Parish Church of San Miguel de Tegucigalpa and records him as Spanish.

At the Colegio Tridentino de Comayagua , he studied Latin grammar, theology, and philosophy.

Military life

In 1827 when the forces of Justo Milla invaded and located Comayagua and overthrew the Government of Dionisio de Herrera, Cabañas, at the age of 22, lent his cooperation in defense of the government; He appeared before Dionisio de Herrera with his three children and said:

«Lord, the weight of my years does not allow me to accompany you to the battlefield but here you have my three sons who can do what I should do, ready to shed their blood at the foot of the flag that you defend».

This is how he entered the army of the Federal Republic of Central America, where he was a lieutenant of General Francisco Morazán and became a general of the federal Army, gaining political and military leadership, which earned him deputy of the Constituent Assembly of 1830.

Cabañas’ first military experience was in the Battle of La Trinidad on November 11 of the same year. He also participated in the battles of San Salvador, Las Charcas, and also stood out in the Battle of the Holy Spirit and in the Battle of San Pedro Perulapán —carried out in Salvadoran territory—, which occurred on April 6 and September 25, 1839, respectively.

On November 13 of this same year, he defeated the forces of General José Francisco Zelaya y Ayes, in the Battle of the Sitio de la Soledad, in the vicinity of Tegucigalpa, and was later defeated by the same general on January 31, 1840. in Los Llanos del Potrero.

Following the liberal defeat of 1840, Cabañas and General Francisco Morazán withdrew from Guatemala and went into exile in Panama. Cabañas then traveled to Costa Rica.

Cabañas established a loyal friendship with General Francisco Morazán, whom, as General Luis Maldonado says, he called «My Beloved General» in his correspondence. After his death, in Costa Rica on September 15, 1842, General Cabañas expressed his discontent: «It is not possible. They can shoot us, but not General Moazán … that would be a Costa Rican to Central America… », then he returned to El Salvador where he lived for several years and collaborated in the government of Salvadoran presidents Eugenio Aguilar and Doroteo Vasconcelos. He was Minister of War in December 1850 and was defeated in the Battle of the Siege of San José, de la Arada, on February 2, 1851.


During his term, with José Santiago Bueso Soto as Vice-President, Cabañas carried out important works to promote public instruction, agriculture and mining, as well as significant efforts to improve coffee cultivation and Public Instruction. He was the first promoter of the railway, coffee and reed crafts. He was an educational president, imposing export taxes on cattle and lumber to establish the first 50 public schools paid for by the national treasury.

While Trinidad Cabañas lived in the city of San Miguel, he was informed by a Commission of Senators formed by Francisco López, Vicente Vaquero and León Alvarado, of the results of the elections held in Honduras at the end of 1851, in which he had been elected. as President of Honduras. The Legislative Assembly of Honduras sent him the Decostaricaeto of Election as Constitutional President of Honduras, he gave the promise of Law and took office on March 1, 1852.

With the aim of reestablishing the Federation, Cabañas was appointed as Vice Head of State by the Constituent Assembly of Central America, meeting in Tegucigalpa on October 13, 1852. However, Cabañas rejected said position and stated: «I am not prepared for such a high position , I am a soldier, I have no knowledge of public administration”, so Vice President Pedro Molina assumed the tasks of holding assemblies in El Salvador and Nicaragua.

On June 23, 1853, he signed the first contract for the Construction of the Honduran Interoceanic Railway , to connect Omoa with Amapala, a project that had been in the making since 1590 but was shelved by the Council of the Indies and carried out in Panama. As this idea required loans from foreign banks, Cabañas saw this option as a danger to alienation and loss of national sovereignty, so he gave up and the project was carried out in the government of José María Medina.

Achievements of the presidency of José Trinidad Cabañas

  • Modified the capacity rate
  • He tried to promote public education
  • He maintained by all possible means peace in the State
  • Attempted to rebuild the Central American Federation
  • He defended National Sovereignty and took up arms against the President of Guatemala Rafael Carrera on several occasions.
  • Encouraged agriculture
  • Provided facilities for the mining industry
  • He celebrated the Peace Treaty of Esquipulas I, celebrated with the sister Republic of Guatemala, a treaty that Rafael Carrera never respected.
  • He conceived the idea of the construction of the interoceanic railway, in 1853 he made the contract with Mr. Geo Squier, but this project was intended to unite the Atlantic coast with the Pacific. Currently the dream of Cabañas has not yet been realized in the country.

War with Guatemala

In 1853, Cabañas appointed José Francisco Barrundia as Minister Plenipotentiary in Washington. During this year, the Guatemalan President, General Rafael Carrera, harassed General Cabañas constantly. For this reason, Cabañas placed the presidency of the country in General José Francisco Gómez y Argüelles during the period from May 9 to December 31, 1853, to personally lead the military campaign against Guatemala and installed his headquarters in Gracias.

He returned to the presidency on January 1, 1854 and faced difficult political conditions. In July of that same year he sent a military column to Nicaragua under the leadership of General José Francisco Gómez y Argüelles, who died of cholera on July 25, 1854, without achieving the objectives of imposing the supporters of the old Federation. Due to Cabañas’s attempts to reestablish the Central American Federation and his conflicts with the conservative government of Rafael Carrera, he declared that his objective in Honduras was to overthrow General José Trinidad Cabañas, which he achieved by supporting the Honduran conservatives, who, led by General Juan Lopez, invaded the country and defeated Cabañas in the battle of Masaguara, in the plains of Santa Rosa and Gracias on October 6, 1855, forcing him to resign the presidency and take refuge in El Salvador. General Juan López called the Vice President José Santiago Bueso Soto to carry out the leadership of the Executive, on October 18 of the same year.

Cabañas immediately after arriving in El Salvador, traveled to Nicaragua to request support to recover the presidency of Honduras, from Nicaraguan President Patricio Rivas, who did not provide it due to alleged influences from the adventurer William Walker. So he returned to El Salvador, where he lived for many years and during his stay he served as minister and civil and military governor of San Miguel in the government of his friend Gerardo Barrios (1858-1863).

Last years

During the last years of his life, General Cabañas retired from politics and was able to return to Honduras in 1867 and settle in Comayagua. In Honduras, he began a campaign against the presence of the William Walker in Central America, then was appointed by the administration of President José María Medina as Trujillo Customs Intendent. Cabañas died on January 8, 1871, at the age of 65.

After his death, the Honduran government awarded him the title of «Soldado de la Patria» and the Republic of El Salvador named one of its departments Cabañas, in his honor. His remains rest in the Church of San Sebastián de Comayagua.

Also about José Trinidad Cabañas

Más Artículos