José Cecilo del Valle was born in Choluteca, Honduras. In his youth he moved to Guatemala City, where he later studied philosophy and law at the Universidad de San Carlos. He was admitted to the bar on September 1, 1803. He became known for his well reasoned arguements and decisions and was nicknamed "El Sabio" ("The Wise"). Del Valle was appointed a judge in 1806, and became a professor at San Carlos in 1812.
Del Valle authored the Central American Declaration of Independence, declared on 15 September, 1821. Central America was soon afterwards annexed to the Mexican Empire of Augustin de Iturbide, and del Valle was for a time imprisoned. When Mexico was declared a Republic, Del Valle was instrumental in getting Mexico to recognize Central American independence, which was again achieved in June of 1823. Del Valle was one of the drafters of the new nation's Constitution (which notably abolished slavery somewhat in advance of the international community). He served as president of the congress, then was elected the first constitutional President of the United Provinces of Central America, serving until April of 1825.
José Cecilo de Valle's death in 1834 was marked by national mourning and bells tolling throughout the Republic, as he was one of the few prominent figures respected by Liberals and Conservatives alike.
The Honduras Government awards a medal for distinguished service named in de Valle's honor, and there is a University named after him in Tegucigalpa.
See also: History of Central America