Cabañas, José Trinidad (1805–1871)

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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

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