Cordero y Bustamante, Manuel Antonio (1753–1823)

By: Jack D. L. Holmes

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: October 23, 2019

Manuel Antonio Cordero y Bustamante, governor of Coahuila and acting governor of Texas, was born in Cádiz, Spain, in 1753. He became a cadet in the Spanish army on December 1, 1767, and he held the same rank in America on September 6, 1771. He served in the Zamora Infantry, the Dragoons of Spain and Mexico, and the presidial companies of Janos and San Buenaventura. Between 1777 and 1790 he fought in twenty-five campaigns in the Provincias Internas, four of them as subordinate and the rest as commander. He captured or killed 472 enemies and rescued six prisoners. He signed a peace treaty with the Mimbreños and Gileños in 1787. For ten months during 1790 and 1791 he had military command of Nueva Vizcaya, where he chased marauders and punished rebelling Indians who threatened the ranches. In a four-month campaign during 1794 he again subjugated the Gileña and Mimbreña Apaches who rose against the Presidio of Janos. In 1795 he directed an expedition against the Mescaleros at Presidio del Norte. On December 27, 1796, he became commander of troops operating on the Coahuila frontier. During the years 1795 to 1800 he built up the defenses of Coahuila and founded numerous towns and settlements. From March 27, 1797, until December 1798 he was interim governor of Coahuila. He then served as governor until 1817.

Cordero became assistant governor of Texas in 1805 and held the office of acting governor of Coahuila and Texas until November 7, 1808. Tensions were high during his tenure in Texas because of the Louisiana Purchase. In September 1805 he arrived at San Antonio with orders to reinforce the posts of Orcoquisas, Nacogdoches, and Adaes. Until 1810 he remained in Texas, with the intention of establishing settlements on the Trinity, Brazos, Colorado, San Marcos, and Guadalupe rivers. Only San Marcos de Reve on the San Marcos and Santisíma Trinidad de Salcedo on the Trinity were established. Cordero also established Palafox Villa in 1810. He encouraged immigration from the interior provinces of Mexico and attempted to bar North American colonists. He ordered all slaves entering Texas from Louisiana to be freed. Zebulon Pike described him as "five feet ten inches in height...fair complexion, and blue eyes...wears his hair turned back, and in every part of his deportment was legibly written 'The Soldier.'...Well-read and introspective, with a bachelor's fearlessness for his personal safety, he was one of the ablest Spanish military commanders on the frontier." In 1814 Cordero married Juan Ignacio Pérez's twenty-four-year-old daughter Gertrudis. Cordero became commandant general of the Western Interior Provinces in 1822 and was promoted to field marshal general, a position he held until his death in Durango in the spring of 1823.

Vito Alessio Robles, Coahuila y Texas en la época colonial (Mexico City: Editorial Cultura, 1938; 2d ed., Mexico City: Editorial Porrúa, 1978). Nettie Lee Benson, "Texas Failure to Send a Deputy to the Spanish Cortes, 1810–1812," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 64 (July 1960). Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–58; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). Jack D. L. Holmes, "Showdown on the Sabine: General James Wilkinson vs. Lieutenant-Colonel Simón de Herrera," Louisiana Studies 3 (Spring 1964). Zebulon Montgomery Pike, An Account of Expeditions to the Sources of the Mississippi and through the Western Parts of Louisiana (Philadelphia: Conrad, 1810).

Time Periods:
  • Spanish Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Jack D. L. Holmes, “Cordero y Bustamante, Manuel Antonio,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 23, 2019

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