Juan Aldama (1764-1811) has a prominent place in Mexico’s history as a hero of independence. He was a rebel member of that movement and participated in conspiracies and secret meetings until he was betrayed. He witnessed the cry of Dolores, a historic event that sparked the war of independence. That’s why the Spanish authorities executed him. Would you like to learn more about this remarkable Mexican? This biography of Juan Aldama takes you on a historical tour!

Summary of Juan Aldama’s biography

The index

  • Origins in aristocracy

  • Conspiracies in the beginning

  • The beginning of independence

  • Juan Aldama’s defeat and death

Origins in aristocracy

Originally from San Miguel el Grande, Guanajuato, Juan Aldama González was born into an aristocratic family on January 3, 1764. Aldama was the ninth child born to Domingo Aldama Arechederra and María González Ribadeneira. As a member of the oligarchic caste, he was allowed to pursue a military career, reserved for the Iberian elite. As a captain of the Queen’s Militia Cavalry Regiment, he took part in meetings against the Crown when he reached the rank of captain.

As a member of the criollo aristocracy, Aldama understood the economic and political constraints the Spanish empire placed on his caste. The restrictions prevented them from holding certain political positions, which were only available to viceregal officials, and they could not trade their raw materials, but only through the empire. The invasion of Spain by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1807 led to his brother becoming monarch of Spain.

Due to this, conspiracies began to occur more or less simultaneously in all the American viceroyalties at the beginning of the 19th century. As a result of all of this, the Aldama family soon distinguished itself by their revolutionary fervor. Two of Juan Aldama’s nephews, Antonio and Mariano, were important figures in Mexico’s independence struggle.

First conspiracies

In America, the Creole liberals took advantage of the political instability caused by Spain’s collapse to fight for their independence. A meeting invitation disguised as a literary gathering was accepted by Juan Aldama in 1809 to plot against the viceroyalty. Besides Juan Aldama, other insurgents were present, such as Ignacio Allende and Mariano Abasolo. Merchants, middle-ranking soldiers, and low-ranking religious also attended the event.


Six municipalities in Mexico bear the name of Juan Aldama, as well as a city, a town, and a street in Mexicali, Baja California.

The Valladolid Conspiracy was the name given to these meetings. The desire for freedom continued even after the plot was discovered that same year. Because of this, the meetings spread to other places and reached Querétaro, led by the mayor José Miguel Domnguez. Likewise, Ignacio Aldama was in charge of San Miguel el Grande, and Miguel Hidalgo was in Dolores. Juan Aldama was a member of all those groups of enthusiastic conspirators for independence.

A number of insurgent groups announced their intention to rise up in arms in October 1810. It wasn’t long before the conspiracies were exposed. The first conspiracy to fall was that of Querétaro, due to treason, despite rumors of uprisings. It was on September 10 that Joaqun Arias confessed to his sedition for fear of being denounced by the government. Insurgents Miguel Hidalgo and Ignacio Allende even sent him communiqués.

The events precipitated from there. Upon learning of Arias’ betrayal, Juan Aldama arrived in Dolores on October 15 to report the fall of Querétaro. In Dolores, Aldama informed the priest Miguel Hidalgo about the latest developments along with Ignacio Allende.

The beginning of independence

It was an unprecedented morning; on August 16, Hidalgo rang the bells to call to arms, in what is known as the cry of Dolores. They urged the people to rebel against José I, Bonaparte’s brother, and the viceregal class. In San Miguel el Grande, they organized a government meeting and appointed Juan Aldama as president. On September 28, Aldama led the revolutionaries to Guanajuato, where they captured Alhóndiga de Granaditas after hours of fighting.

There were many more people who joined the independence army. In October 17, Aldama took Valladolid and Toluca de Lerdo without resistance. A battle between royalists and insurgents took place on the 30th of that month at Monte de las Cruces. As a result of Aldama’s leadership, one of the regiments crushed the enemy army.

Juan Aldama’s defeat and death

Victory would not always accompany them, however. As soon as they arrived in Mexico City, they demanded the surrender of Viceroy Francisco Xavier Venegas, but he refused. In order to take the capital, Hidalgo abandoned the claim. On November 7, the Spanish army caught up with them. In spite of the insurgents’ numerical superiority, the royalists were better armed and disciplined. Weapons and supplies were lost by Aldama and his people.


On Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City, the Monument to Independence rests the remains of Juan Aldama. In May 2010, the National Palace ordered the exhumation to verify the state of the remains and pay him a well-deserved tribute. The monument was reinstalled a year later.

Among the insurgents, the situation was getting worse. As a result of other minor failures, the two armies clashed again on January 17, 1811. Inexperienced and poorly armed soldiers were used by the leaders to devise a strategy. He thought the 100,000 rebels would deter the 6,000 Spanish soldiers, but it wasn’t to be. Viceregal soldiers devastated the revolutionaries over the course of six hours.

In order to obtain weapons, Aldama and various conspirators fled to the United States. Acatita de Baján, however, is where he was arrested. In 1811, the authorities tried and executed Aldama by firing squad. Also, the authorities displayed Juan Aldama’s head at the Alhóndiga de Granaditas in order to dissuade people from continuing the independence movement.

In addition to his three daughters and a son, Aldama was 37 years old at the time of his death. Among Sebastiana Aldama Acevedo’s siblings was her mother, Luisa Acevedo, his first wife. In the wake of her death, Juan Aldama married Mara Luisa Vallejo, whose children include Mara Petra, Mara Sebastiana, and Ignacio.

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