Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez
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Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón (Spanish pronunciation: [anˈtonjo ˈlopes ðe sant(a)ˈana]; 21 February 1794 – 21 June 1876), often known as Santa Anna or López de Santa Anna, was a Mexican politician and general who fought to defend royalist New Spain and then for Mexican independence. He greatly influenced early Mexican politics and government, and was an adept soldier and cunning politician, who dominated Mexican history in the first half of the nineteenth century to such an extent that historians often refer to it as the “Age of Santa Anna”. He was called “the Man of Destiny”, who “loomed over his time like a melodramatic colossus, the uncrowned monarch.” Santa Anna first opposed the movement for Mexican independence from Spain, but then fought in support of it. Though not the first caudillo (military leader) of modern Mexico, he “represents the stereotypical caudillo in Mexican history,” and among the earliest. Conservative historian, intellectual, and politician Lucas Alamán wrote that “The history of Mexico since 1822 might accurately be called the history of Santa Anna’s revolutions…. His name plays the major role in all the political events of the country and its destiny has become intertwined with his.”
An enigmatic, patriotic and controversial figure, Santa Anna had great power in Mexico; during a turbulent 40-year career, he served as general at crucial points and served twelve non-consecutive presidential terms over a period of 22 years.[a] In the periods of time when he was not serving as president, he continued to pursue his military career. A wealthy landowner, he built a firm political base in the major port city of Veracruz. He was perceived as a hero by his troops; he sought glory for himself and his army, and independent Mexico. He repeatedly rebuilt his reputation after major losses. Historians and many Mexicans also rank him as perhaps the principal inhabitant even today of Mexico’s pantheon of “those who failed the nation.” His centralist rhetoric and military failures resulted in Mexico losing just over half its territory, beginning with the Texas Revolution of 1836, and culminating with the Mexican Cession of 1848 following its defeat by the United States in the Mexican–American War.
His political positions changed frequently in his lifetime; “his opportunistic politics made him a Liberal, Conservative, and uncrowned king.” He was overthrown for the final time by the liberal Revolution of Ayutla in 1854 and lived most of his later years in exile.