Lucas Alamán y Escalada, politician and historian, son of Juan Vicente Alamán and María Ignacia Escalada, was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, in 1792. He obtained his primary education in his hometown, the wealthiest mining site of the colonial period. When still a young man, he narrowly escaped the Alhondiga de Granaditas massacre during the Mexican war of independence against Spain in 1810. It was an experience he never forgot, and he condemned the "tumultuous" character of that early movement. He went to Mexico City and attended the Real Seminario de Minería; later he studied at Freyburg, Göttingen, and Paris. When the Constitution of 1812 was reestablished in Spain, he was elected as representative from Mexico to the Cours (parliament) in the metropolis. There, he participated in an attempt to divide the empire into three kingdoms, each one headed by a Spanish prince. Witnessing, however, the lack of interest of the peninsular politicians, he became convinced of the need for independence; therefore, he went back to Mexico and served in some of the newly established administrations. Alamán was minister of foreign affairs in the provisional government established after the failure of Agustín de Iturbide's empire, and then with the first Republican president, Guadalupe Victoria. He resigned, however, a few months later over political differences within the cabinet. In the following years he occupied himself as agent of the British-financed Compañía Unida de Minas.
In 1830 Alamán returned to politics, once again as minister of foreign affairs. Through tight control this administration straightened out the finances of the federal government. In order to promote the development of the textile industry through government loans, Alamán established the Banco de Avío. In combination with these efforts he reacted towards Manuel de Mier y Terán's warnings about foreigners in Texas by trying to direct the Texas cotton crop to Mexican factories. He established a trade network with Galveston and other Texas ports. Other sections of this law, commonly known as the Law of April 6, 1830, prohibited any further immigration from the United States into Texas. The bill favored colonization by other nationalities and proved controversial among the colonists. Finally, this restriction was derogated once Alamán was out of office in 1833. In the administration of 1830–32 he signed a treaty of limits with the United States, which ratified the borders established in the Adams-Onís Treaty in 1819. Although it is probable that Alamán was involved in the centralization of Mexico in 1835–36, no evidence as yet proves it. In 1840, as member of the Council of Government, and clearly reacting to British advice, he recommended the recognition of Texas independence in order to have a stable border and to avoid any further conflict.
Five years later, as the annexation of Texas was completed, Alamán participated in a monarchist conspiracy that could have brought European support to Mexico, both to fight American expansionism and to stop the internal political turmoil. Though he and the Spanish minister, Salvador Bermúdez de Castro, preferred a pacific solution to the Texas question, the military leader that they chose opted for a bellicose demonstration against the United States. Indeed, Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga accused President José Joaquín de Herrera of being a traitor for trying to avoid a "glorious and necessary war." Thus, their plot became intrinsically connected to an open confrontation with the northern neighbor, as their newspaper El Tiempo expressed it. As it turned out, once the military defeats of the Mexican army began, Bermúdez decided to conclude the monarchist project; as a result of this Mexico fought-and lost-the war with the United States alone. With a strong mood of defeat, between 1849 and 1852, Alamán published his famous five-volume Historia de México, which condemned the early movement for independence of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and José María Morelos y Pavón. It was also a petition for help from European powers to ensure Mexico's survival.
Alamán was a strong advocate of the Spanish inheritance of Mexican society, as he argued extensively in his Disertaciones (1844). With José Fernando Ramírez, he profusely annotated William Prescott's Conquest of Mexico and became a member of various academic institutions, among them the Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadística and the Massachusetts Historical Society. He also reorganized the Archivo General de la Nación in Mexico. His complex thought clearly exemplifies the serious contradictions of Mexican monarchists. Even though they favored the economic development of the country through industrialization, they opposed the redistribution of church property. Thus, they specifically called for a prince who would maintain the social and economic privileges of the Catholic Church. As Maximilian's adventure proved, these expectations were misleading and unreal, since no European ruler was willing to grant such privileged status to the clergy. Alamán died on June 2, 1853.