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Pedro Alcántara Herrán

This name uses Spanish naming customs; the first or paternal family name is Herrán and the second or maternal family name is Martínez.
Pedro Alcántara Herrán
1st Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Colombia to Costa Rica
In office
President Manuel María Mallarino
Preceded by Office Created
Succeeded by Antonio María Pradilla
2nd Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Colombia to the United States
In office
20 June 1855 - 3 March 1863 –
December 7, 1847 - August 16, 1849
President Manuel María Mallarino
Preceded by José María Salazar
Succeeded by Manuel Murillo Toro
7th President of the Republic of the New Granada
In office
1 April 1841 – 1 April 1845
Vice President Domingo Caycedo
Preceded by José Ignacio de Márquez
Succeeded by Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera
Personal details
Born (1800-10-19)19 October 1800
Bogotá, Viceroyalty of the New Granada
Died 26 April 1872(1872-04-26) (aged 71)
Bogotá, Cundinamarca, United States of Colombia
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Amelia Mosquera Arboleda
Religion Roman Catholic

Pedro Alcántara Herrán Martínez de Zaldúa was a Colombian general and statesman who served as President of the Republic of the New Granada between 1841 and 1845.[1] As a general he served in the wars of independence of the New Granada and of Peru.

Biographic data

Alcántara was born in Bogotá, Viceroyalty of the New Granada, on October 19, 1800.[2] He died in Bogotá on April 26, 1872.[3]

He was also the son-in-law of Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera.

Early life

Alcántara initiated his education in the Colegio Mayor de San Bartolomé in Bogotá, but he dropped out of school at the age of 14 to join the revolutionary army in 1814.[2]

Military career

Alcántara enlisted in the revolutionary army of General Simón Bolívar as a teenager. He fought in several battles, and in the battle of Cuchilla del Tambo he was captured by the Spanish forces. He was court-martialed and sentenced to death by the military court. His death sentence was commuted in exchange for serving in the Spanish Army, which he did for five years. Later, he escaped and rejoined the revolutionary army of General Antonio José de Sucre with the rank of captain.[2]

Alcántara joined the armies of the southern campaigns in Nueva Granada and Perú. He fought in the battles of “Bomboná” (April 7, 1822), “Battle of Junín” (August 6, 1824), and “Ayacucho” (December 9, 1824), the last of the greatest battles of the independence war against Spain. Because of his valor and heroic actions in combat, General Bolívar promoted him to the rank of General in 1828. Later, he was commissioned as Military Chief of the province of Panamá.[2]

Alcántara’s best military performance was during the war of 1839, defending the government of José Ignacio de Márquez against the revolt of General José María Obando, due to the administration’s closure of the Catholic convents in the city of Pasto. This victory propelled him to the political arena and he was nominated as presidential candidate by President Márquez.[2]

Diplomatic career

Alcántara also served as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States, Ecuador, the Holy See, and Costa Rica.

Political career

As stated above, Alcántara was proclaimed as a presidential candidate by President Márquez. He faced two opponents, Eusebio Borrero and Vicente Azuero. However none of the three obtained a majority of the popular vote, and thus the election of a President was left to Congress . In 1841, Congress elected General Alcántara as President and General Domingo Caycedo as Vice-President.[2]

The Presidency

Alcántara was elected President by Congress in 1841, for a four years period, but he was not able to be inaugurated as he was still commanding the government troops in the war against the southern revolt. He was supposed to be inaugurated on April 1, 1841, as provided by the Constitution, but in his place the Vice-President Domingo Caycedo was inaugurated.[4]

Due to the fact that the civil war that started in 1839 had escalated and spread to the Northern provinces, General Alcántara commissioned General Caycedo to lead the government troops in the northern campaign. Thus, Juan de Dios Aranzazu, President of the “Consejo de Estado” assumed the presidency from July 5, until October 19, 1841, when General Caycedo returned to the presidency. General Alcántara returned triumphant to Bogotá on May 19, 1842, and is sworn in as President.[4]


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