University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

José Félix Aldao (1785-1845)

Biographical Information

Ordained a Dominican priest, Aldao was appointed by José de San Martín as chaplain of the Army of the Andes in 1814. During the army's campaign to free Chile from the Spanish, Aldao joined the military ranks, forever leaving his clerical orders behind. The Andes receded at his back as he and compatriots successfully fought their way to Santiago de Chile and the Pacific Ocean. As the war of independence moved to Peru, he was given command of a guerrilla force in order to harass the royalist troops in the Andes.

At the end of the independence campaigns, Aldao returned to his native Mendoza in western Argentina as a hero. He quickly established complete control of the province overseeing the defense of the homeland and controlling all civil institutions. Aldao became the archetypal caudillo of provincial Argentina. He provided security, ruled on local disputes, and helped the poor in return for absolute unquestioning loyalty.

Domingo Sarmiento in his epic Facundo harshly portrayed Aldao as a tyrant whose thirst for violence and alcohol exemplified the barbarian element that devastated the Argentine interior. Unlike his two brothers who died in combat, José Félix died of natural causes in his native land after a long reign.

Return to top of page

Description of Archival Collection (MSH/SCH 4014-1 and 4007-02)

Letter from Aldao to Dr. Rudecindo Albanao, November 18, 1831.

Letter from Facundo Quiroga to Rudecindo Alvarado asking him to treat with consideration General Félix Aldao, who had fallen prisoner of the forces of General Paz during the war between Unitarians and Federalists. Quiroga also asks for Alvarado's help to give some food to the prisoner, July 28, 1831.

Return to top of page