Antonio López de Santa Anna
February 21, 1794 - June 21, 1876
Antonio López de Santa Anna, the leading villain of Texas history, was born in Jalapa, Vera Cruz, Mexico on February 21, 1794, the son of Antonio López de Santa Anna and Manuela Pérez de Lebrón. His family belonged to the criollo middle class, and his father served at one time as a subdelegate for the Spanish province of Vera Cruz. Like most criollo officers in the Royalist army, he remained loyal to Spain for a number of years and fought against the movement for Mexican independence. He received his first wound, in 1811, an Indian arrow in his left arm or hand. In 1813 he served in Texas against the Gutiérrez/Magee expedition, and at the battle of Medina he was cited for bravery. In the aftermath of the rebellion the young officer witnessed Royalist General Joaquin Arredondo's fierce counterinsurgency policy of mass executions, and historians have speculated that Santa Anna modeled his policy and conduct in the Texas Revolution on his experience under Arredondo.
As a young military officer, he supported Emperor Agustin de Iturbide, and later married the emperor's sister. He rebelled against the government and in 1833 was elected president of Mexico, but soon determined that Mexico was not ready for democracy and pronounced himself dictator. Santa Anna was remembered as a particularly ruthless opponent by the Texans. Despite this, he was allowed to return to Mexico after his capture at the Battle of San Jacinto. He remained the most powerful individual in Mexico until 1853, when his sale of millions of acres in what is now southern Arizona and New Mexico to the United States, known as the Gadsden Purchase, united liberal opposition against him. He was soon deposed, and exiled from Mexico and never again returned to political office. From 1867 to 1874 he lived in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Nassau. During this time he finally abandoned politics and wrote his memoirs. In 1874 he was allowed to return to Mexico City, where he lived in obscurity until his death on June 21, 1876. He was buried at Tepeyac Cemetery, near Guadalupe Hidalgo. Santa Anna was married twice, to Inés García in 1825, and, a few months after the death of his first wife in 1844, to María Dolores de Tosta, who survived him.
Santa Anna fought more battles than Napoleon and George Washington combined, eleven times President and Dictator of the second largest country in the world prior to 1836, captured and caused the loss of half of Mexican territory (one million square miles) beginning on the battlefield of San Jacinto in 1836, released to become President and Dictator of Mexico 7 times more over 40 more years, periodically exiled for a total of 20 years