Biography of José Trinidad Cabañas

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  • 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 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 term as president, he maintained that: “It is not a question of founding the Republic of some, if not the Republic of all . In his statue erected in the Parque “La Mercedes”, in Tegucigalpa, it can be read: “To the Heroic Soldier of the Central American Union. To the warrior model of perseverance, honesty and courage” .


    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 baptismal certificate is found on folio 98 of the Ecclesiastical Registry of the Parish Church of San Miguel de Tegucigalpa and it is registered 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, with 22 years of age, 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 are my three children 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 to be a Deputy of the Constituent Assembly in 1830.

    Cabañas’ first military experience was at 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 at the Site of La Soledad, in the vicinity of Tegucigalpa, and then was defeated by the same general on January 31, 1840 in Los Llanos del Potrero.

    After the liberal defeat of 1840, Cabañas and General Francisco Morazán withdrew from Guatemala and went into exile in Panama. Then Cabañas 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 Morazán… that would be a crime towards Central America … », then he returned to El Salvador where he lived for several years and collaborated in the government of the 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 education, agriculture and mining, as well as significant efforts to improve coffee cultivation and Public Instruction. He was the first promoter of the railroad, coffee and junk crafts. He was an educating president, who imposed export taxes on cattle and timber to establish the first 50 public schools paid for by the national treasury.

    While Trinidad Cabañas was residing in the city of San Miguel, he was communicated 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 Decree of Election as Constitutional President of Honduras, he gave the promise of Law and took office on March 1, 1852.

    In order to reestablish 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 this 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 Interoceanic Railroad of Honduras, to communicate Omoa with Amapala, a project that had been brewing since 1590 but that 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 it gave up and the project was carried out under the government of José María Medina.

    Achievements of the presidency of José Trinidad Cabañas

    War with Guatemala

    In 1853, Cabañas appointed José Francisco Barrundia, Minister Plenipotentiary in Washington. During this year, the Guatemalan President, General Rafael Carrera, harassed General Cabañas. For this reason, Cabañas deposited 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’ 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 López, 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 renounce the presidency and take refuge in El Salvador. General Juan López called on Vice President José Santiago Bueso Soto to take office as Executive, on October 18 of the same year.

    Immediately upon arriving in El Salvador , Cabañas traveled to Nicaragua to request support to regain the presidency of Honduras from Nicaraguan President Patricio Rivas, who did not provide it due to alleged influences of 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 William Walker in Central America, then he was appointed by the administration of President José María Medina as Intendant of the Trujillo Customs . Cabañas passed away on January 8, 1871, at the age of 65.

    After his death, the government of Honduras granted him the title of “Soldier of the Nation” and the Republic of El Salvador named Cabañas to one of its departments, in his honor. His remains rest in the Church of San Sebastián de Comayagua.

    Also about José Trinidad Cabañas

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