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Antonio López de Santa Anna was a 19th century Mexican military officer who acted as the country’s president and dictator at different periods.
Antonio López de Santa Anna Pérez de Lebrón, on February 21, 1794, at Jalapa, Vera Cruz, Mexico, son of Antonio López de Santa Anna and Manuela Pérez de Lebrón. He was born in the Americas to Spanish parents, a criollo making his status different from children born in Spain, peninsulares. Antonia Sr. was a sub-delegate for the Spanish province of Vera Cruz.
Marriages and Children
Santa Anna was married twice, both for what appear to be political reasons. His first wife was María Inés García, and they were married in 1825. Antonio and Inés had four (some sources say five) children together - some sources record their names as María de Guadalupe (born circa 1829), María del Carmen (born circa 1834), Manuel (born circa 1836), and Antonio López de Santa Anna y García. Antonio Jr died at the age of five years old. His first wife Inés passed away in 1844, and in that same year (two months later) he married María de los Dolores de Tosta. Antonio and María de los Dolores de Tosta had no children together. It was also well known that he had several women with whom he had relations outside of marriage, and he even acknowledged several of the children from these relationships in his will: Paula, María de la Merced, Petra, and José López de Santa Anna. Biographers have apparently identified three more: Pedro López de Santa Anna, and Ángel and Augustina Rosa López de Santa Anna.
In June 1810, at the age of 16, Santa Anna became a cadet in the Fijo de Vera Cruz infantry regiment . Mexico was engaged in it’s War of Independence from Spain. During the war years he remained loyal to Spain, battled insurgents, policed the Indian tribes, was wounded, served in Texas against the Gutiérrez-Magee Expedition, at the Battle of Medina and was promoted several times. In 1821 he held the rank of brevet lieutenant colonel. 
11 years after the beginning of his career, in March 1821, Santa Anna shifted sides and joined the rebels led by Agustín de Iturbide. He was advanced to the rank of brigadier general. Santa Anna was given command of the port of Vera Cruz, but Iturbide then removed Santa Anna from the post. So in December 1822, Santa Anna rebelled against Iturbide. As other joined the rebellion against Iturbide, Santa Anna was no longer a key figue.
Over the course of the next years, as Mexico attempted to stabilize it’s government , Santa Anna sometimes supported and sometimes rebelled against the existing parties and factions. Spain invaded Tampico attempting to regain control but was defeated. Santa Anna emerged a hero, styling himself as "The Victor of Tampico" and "The Savior of the Motherland". and "The Napoleon of the West."
“He was elected president of Mexico as a liberal in 1833, but in 1834 he stated that Mexico was not ready for democracy and emerged as an autocratic Centralist.” The rebellions that followed included the Texas Revolution.
After being returned to Mexico, Santa Anna retired to his estates at Manga de Clavo, but returned to military life during the 1838 “Pastry War” against France. He lost a leg in battle and once again became a hero.
Santa Anna was acting president in 1839, helped overthrow the government of Anastasio Bustamante in 1841, and was dictator from 1841 to 1845. Once again he was overthrown and exiled to Havana.
During the Mexican-American War, Santa Anna negotiated with both sides, the United States permitting him to get back into México, and the Mexican president allowing him in for his military experience. Once back in México, he reneged on his promises, declared himself president and tried to fight off the U.S. invasion, without success. He made his exiled home in Kingston, Jamaica.
“In 1853 he was recalled by the Centralists, but again power turned his head. To help meet expenses he sold the Mesilla Valley to the United States as the Gadsden Purchase and was overthrown and banished by the liberals in 1855.”
Santa Anna made further attempts to return to México, but rebuffed and unsuccesful until in 1874, he took advantage of a general amnesty. Crippled and almost blind from cataracts, he returned to México.
21 June 1876, age 82, he died at his home in Mexico City, and is buried in the Panteón del Tepeyac Cemetery.
What did Santa Anna have to do with chewing gum and Staten Island? Read about this and other little known facts at 6 Things You May Not Know About Santa Anna
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