Skip to main content

Cabañas, José Trinidad (1805–1871)

Cabañas, José Trinidad (1805–1871)

José Trinidad Cabañas (b. 9 June 1805; d. 8 January 1871), military figure and president of Honduras (1852, 1853–1855). Born a creole, the son of José María Cabañas and Juana María Faillos, Cabañas was a Liberal politician whose role in Honduran history dates from his participation in the civil war of 1826–1829 as a follower of Francisco Morazán. In 1844 he defended León, Nicaragua, against Francisco Malespín's forces. In 1845 he led Salvadoran forces against the same Malespín. He served as constitutional president from 1 March 1852 to 28 October 1852 but was deposed by Conservatives in Guatemala (and within Honduras). When war resumed between Honduras and Guatemala, he led Honduran forces to triumph at Chiquimula and Zacapa, in southeast Guatemala, in July 1853 but was unable to hold these positions. Guatemala's capture of the castle of Omoa on 24 August 1853 removed Honduras from the conflict.

Cabañas returned to power as constitutional president from 31 December 1853 to 6 October 1855. Among the important accomplishments of his second presidency were the ratification of a railroad contract with Ephraim George Squier and the formation of the Ferrocarril Interoceánico de Honduras (Interoceanic Railway Company) on 28 April 1854. Interference in Guatemalan affairs led to his overthrow once again, and this time he fled to El Salvador.

A prominent general as well as a politician, Cabañas took to the battlefield again. He was defeated by Guatemalan forces under Rafael Carrera (1814–1865) at the Battle of Masagua on 6 October 1855. Although his successor, Santos Guardiola, was a Conservative, Cabañas remained active in Central American affairs and participated in a Salvadoran uprising in 1865. (In 1860 he had been connected with an abortive attempt by William Walker to return to Central America.) His presidencies faced not only Guatemalan opposition but other challenges, such as British efforts to colonize the Bay Islands and frustrated attempts to reunite the Central American federal government. A unionist movement failed when a constituent assembly dissolved shortly after his first presidential term on 10 November 1852.

See alsoHonduras .


Medardo Mejía, Trinidad Cabañas, soldado de la república federal (1971).

Luis Mariñas Otero, Honduras, 2d ed. (1983).

José Reina Valenzuela, José Trinidad Cabañas: Estudio biográfico (1984).

Additional Bibliography

Cabañas, José Trinidad. Pensamiento social y político: Edición conmemorativa del bicentenário de su nacimiento (1805–2005). Tegucigalpa: Alcaldía Municipal del Distrito Central, 2005.

Montúfar, Lorenzo, and Raúl Aguilar Piedra. Walker en Centroamérica. Alajuela, Costa Rica: Museo Histórico Cultural Juan Santamaría, 2000.

                                  Jeffrey D. Samuels

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Cabañas, José Trinidad (1805–1871)." Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. . 24 Apr. 2019 <>.

"Cabañas, José Trinidad (1805–1871)." Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. . (April 24, 2019).

"Cabañas, José Trinidad (1805–1871)." Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. . Retrieved April 24, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.