A filibuster or freebooter, in the context of foreign policy, is someone who engages in an (at least nominally) unauthorized military expedition into a foreign country or territory to foment or support a revolution. The term is usually used to describe United States citizens who fomented insurrections in Latin America, particularly in the mid-19th century (Texas, California, Cuba, Nicaragua, Colombia). Filibuster expeditions have also occasionally been used as cover for government-approved deniable operations.
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Latin America is a group of countries and dependencies in the Western Hemisphere where Romance languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, and French are predominantly spoken; it is broader than the terms Ibero-America or Hispanic America. The term "Latin America" was first used in an 1856 conference with the title "Initiative of the America. Idea for a Federal Congress of the Republics", by the Chilean politician Francisco Bilbao. The term was used also by Napoleon III's French government in the 1860s as Amérique latine to consider French-speaking territories in the Americas, along with the larger group of countries where Spanish and Portuguese languages prevailed, including the Spanish-speaking portions of the United States Today, areas of Canada and the United States where Spanish, Portuguese and French are predominant are typically not included in definitions of Latin America.
Plausible deniability is the ability of people to deny knowledge of or responsibility for any damnable actions committed by others in an organizational hierarchy because of a lack of evidence that can confirm their participation, even if they were personally involved in or at least willfully ignorant of the actions. In the case that illegal or otherwise disreputable and unpopular activities become public, high-ranking officials may deny any awareness of such acts to insulate themselves and shift blame onto the agents who carried out the acts, as they are confident that their doubters will be unable to prove otherwise. The lack of evidence to the contrary ostensibly makes the denial plausible; that is, credible, although sometimes it merely makes it unactionable. The term typically implies forethought, such as intentionally setting up the conditions to plausibly avoid responsibility for one's (future) actions or knowledge. In some organizations, legal doctrines such as command responsibility exist to hold major parties responsible for the actions of subordinates involved in heinous acts and nullify any legal protection that their denial of involvement would carry.
Filibusters are irregular soldiers who normally act without official authority from their own government, and are generally motivated by financial gain, political ideology, or the thrill of adventure. The freewheeling actions of the filibusters of the 1850s led to the name being applied figuratively to the political act of filibustering in the United States Congress.
Irregular military is any non-standard military component that is distinct from a country's national armed forces. Being defined by exclusion, there is significant variance in what comes under the term. It can refer to the type of military organization, or to the type of tactics used. An irregular military organization is one which is not part of the regular army organization. Without standard military unit organization, various more general names are often used; such organizations may be called a "troop", "group", "unit", "column", "band", or "force". Irregulars are soldiers or warriors that are members of these organizations, or are members of special military units that employ irregular military tactics. This also applies to irregular troops, irregular infantry and irregular cavalry.
A filibuster is a political procedure where one or more members of parliament or congress debate over a proposed piece of legislation so as to delay or entirely prevent a decision being made on the proposal. It is sometimes referred to as "talking a bill to death" or "talking out a bill" and is characterized as a form of obstruction in a legislature or other decision-making body. This form of political obstruction reaches as far back as Ancient Roman times and could also be referred to synonymously with political stonewalling. Due to the often extreme length of time required for a successful filibuster, many speakers stray off topic after exhausting the original subject matter. Past speakers have read through laws from different states, recited speeches, and even read from cookbooks and phone books.
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the Federal Government of the United States, and consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. Both senators and representatives are chosen through direct election, though vacancies in the Senate may be filled by a gubernatorial appointment. Congress has 535 voting members: 435 representatives and 100 senators. The House of Representatives has six non-voting members representing Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia in addition to its 435 voting members. Although they cannot vote in the full house, these members can address the house, sit and vote in congressional committees, and introduce legislation.
Unlike a mercenary, a filibuster works for himself, whilst a mercenary leader works for others.
A mercenary, sometimes known as a soldier of fortune, is an individual who takes part in military conflict for personal profit, is otherwise an outsider to the conflict, and is not a member of any other official military. Mercenaries fight for money or other forms of payment rather than for political interests. In the last century, mercenaries have increasingly come to be seen as less entitled to protections by rules of war than non-mercenaries. Indeed, the Geneva Conventions declare that mercenaries are not recognized as legitimate combatants and do not have to be granted the same legal protections as captured soldiers of a regular army. In practice, whether or not a person is a mercenary may be a matter of degree, as financial and political interests may overlap, as was often the case among Italian condottieri.
The English term "filibuster" derives from the Spanish filibustero, itself deriving originally from the Dutch vrijbuiter, "privateer, pirate, robber" (also the root of English "freebooter"). The Spanish form entered the English language in the 1850s, as applied to military adventurers from the United States then operating in Central America and the Spanish West Indies.
English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and eventually became a global lingua franca. It is named after the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that migrated to the area of Great Britain that later took their name, as England. Both names derive from Anglia, a peninsula in the Baltic Sea. The language is closely related to Frisian and Low Saxon, and its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by other Germanic languages, particularly Norse, and to a greater extent by Latin and French.
Spanish or Castilian is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.
The Spanish term was first applied to persons raiding Spanish colonies and ships in the West Indies, the most famous of whom was Sir Francis Drake with his 1573 raid on Nombre de Dios. With the end of the era of Caribbean piracy in the early 18th century "filibuster" fell out of general currency.
The West Indies is a region of the North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean that includes the island countries and surrounding waters of three major archipelagos: the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles, and the Lucayan Archipelago.
Nombre de Dios is a city and corregimiento in Santa Isabel District, Colón Province, Panama, on the Atlantic coast of Panama in the Colón Province. Founded as a Spanish colony in 1510 by Diego de Nicuesa, it was one of the first European settlements on the Isthmus of Panama. As of 2010 it had a population of 1,130 people.
The era of piracy in the Caribbean began in the 1500s and phased out in the 1830s after the navies of the nations of Western Europe and North America with colonies in the Caribbean began combating pirates. The period during which pirates were most successful was from the 1660s to 1730s. Piracy flourished in the Caribbean because of the existence of pirate seaports such as Port Royal in Jamaica, Tortuga in Haiti, and Nassau in the Bahamas. Piracy in the Caribbean was part of a larger historical phenomenon of piracy, as it existed close to major trade and exploration routes in nearly all the five oceans.
The term was revived in the mid-19th century to describe the actions of adventurers who tried to take control of various Caribbean, Mexican, and Central-American territories by force of arms. In Sonora, Mexico, there were the French Marquis Charles de Pindray and Count Gaston de Raousset-Boulbon and the Americans Joseph C. Morehead and Henry Alexander Crabb. The three most prominent filibusters of that era were Narciso López and John Quitman in Cuba and William Walker in Baja California, Sonora, and lastly Nicaragua. The term returned to American parlance to refer to López's 1851 Cuban expeditions.
Sonora, officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sonora, is one of 31 states that, with Mexico City, comprise the 32 federal entities of United Mexican States. It is divided into 72 municipalities; the capital city is Hermosillo. Sonora is bordered by the states of Chihuahua to the east, Baja California to the northwest and Sinaloa to the south. To the north, it shares the U.S.–Mexico border primarily with the state of Arizona with a small length with New Mexico, and on the west has a significant share of the coastline of the Gulf of California.
Charles Rene Gaston Gustave de Raousset-Boulbon was a French adventurer, filibuster and entrepreneur and, by some accounts a pirate, and a theoretician of colonialism.
Narciso López was a Venezuela-born adventurer and Spanish Army general, best known for his expeditions aimed at liberating Cuba from Spanish rule in the 1850s. His troops carried a flag that López had designed, which later became the flag of modern Cuba.
Several Americans were involved in freelance military schemes, including Aaron Burr, William Blount (West Florida), Augustus W. Magee (Texas), George Mathews (East Florida), George Rogers Clark (Louisiana and Mississippi), William S. Smith (Venezuela), Ira Allen (Canada), William Walker (Mexico and Nicaragua), William A. Chanler (Cuba and Venezuela) and James Long (Texas).Gregor MacGregor was a Scottish filibuster in Florida, Central, and South America.
Although the American public often enjoyed reading about the thrilling adventures of filibusters, Americans involved in filibustering expeditions were usually in violation of the Neutrality Act of 1794 that made it illegal for a citizen to wage war against another country at peace with the United States. For example, the journalist John L. O'Sullivan, who coined the related phrase "Manifest Destiny", was put on trial for raising money for López's failed filibustering expedition in Cuba.
In the 1850s, American adventurer William Walker attempted a filibustering campaigns with a strategy involving his leading a private mercenary army. In 1853, he successfully established a short lived republic in the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California. Later, when a path through Lake Nicaragua was being considered as the possible site of a canal through Central America (see Nicaragua canal), he was hired as a mercenary by one of the factions in a civil war in Nicaragua. He declared himself commander of the country's army in 1856, and soon afterward President of the Republic. After attempting to take control of the rest of Central America and receiving no support from the U.S. government, he was defeated by the four other Central American nations he tried to invade and eventually executed by the local Honduran authorities he tried to overthrow.
In the traditional historiography by historians in both the United States and in Latin America, Walker's filibustering]] represented the high tide of antebellum American imperialism. His brief seizure of Nicaragua in 1855 is typically called a representative expression of Manifest destiny with the added factor of trying to expand slavery into Central America. Historian Michel Gobat, however, presents a strongly revisionist interpretation. He argues that Walker was invited in by Nicaraguan liberals who were trying to force economic modernization and political liberalism. Walker's government comprised those liberals, as well as Yankee colonizers, and European radicals. Walker even included some Rich Blacks, local Catholics, indigenous peoples, Cuban revolutionaries, and local peasants. His coalition was much too complex and diverse to survive long, but it was not the attempted projection of American power, concludes Gobat.
Prior to the American Civil war, many Confederate Army officers and soldiers, such as Chatham Roberdeau Wheat, of the Louisiana Tigers, obtained valuable military experience from filibuster expeditions. The author Horace Bell served as a major with Walker in Nicaragua in 1856. Colonel Parker H. French served as Minister of Hacienda and was appointed as Minister Plenipotentiary to Washington in 1855.
In the 19th-century Philippines, the Spanish filibustero gained connotations significantly different from those of the English derivative. The title of the highly influential novel El Filibusterismo by Philippine national hero José Rizal could literally be translated as "filibustering", but could also mean "subversion".
William Walker's filibusters are the subject of a poem by Ernesto Cardenal.
In the 19th century, manifest destiny was a widely held belief in the United States that its settlers were destined to expand across North America. There are three basic themes to manifest destiny:
The Pike Expedition was a military party sent out by President Thomas Jefferson and authorized by the United States government to explore the south and west of the recent Louisiana Purchase. Roughly contemporaneous with the Lewis and Clark Expedition, it was led by United States Army Lieutenant Zebulon Pike, Jr. who was promoted to captain during the trip. It was the first official American effort to explore the western Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains in present-day Colorado. Pike contacted several Native American tribes during his travels and informed them of the new US rule over the territory. The expedition documented the United States' discovery of Pikes Peak. After splitting up his men, Pike led the larger contingent to find the headwaters of the Red River. A smaller group returned safely to the US Army fort in St. Louis, Missouri before winter set in.
William Walker was an American physician, lawyer, journalist and mercenary who organized several private military expeditions into Latin America, with the intention of establishing English-speaking colonies under his personal control, an enterprise then known as "filibustering". Walker usurped the presidency of the Republic of Nicaragua in 1856 and ruled until 1857, when he was defeated by a coalition of Central American armies. He returned in an attempt to reestablish his control of the region and was captured and executed by the government of Honduras in 1860.
John Louis O'Sullivan was an American columnist and editor who used the term "manifest destiny" in 1845 to promote the annexation of Texas and the Oregon Country to the United States. O'Sullivan was an influential political writer and advocate for the Democratic Party at that time and served as US Minister to Portugal during the administration of President Franklin Pierce (1853–1857), but he largely faded from prominence soon thereafter. He was rescued from obscurity in the twentieth century after the famous phrase "manifest destiny" was traced back to him.
Walker is a 1987 American-Spanish historical/satirical film directed by Alex Cox and starring Ed Harris, Richard Masur, René Auberjonois, Peter Boyle, Miguel Sandoval, and Marlee Matlin. The film is based on the life story of William Walker, the American filibuster who invaded and made himself president of Nicaragua. It was written by Rudy Wurlitzer and scored by Joe Strummer, who has a small role as a member of Walker's army.
Juan Rafael Mora Porras was President of Costa Rica from 1849 to 1859.
The Second Battle of Rivas occurred on 11 April 1856 between Costa Rican militia under General Mora and the Nicaraguan forces of William Walker. The lesser known First Battle of Rivas took place on the 29 June 1855 between Walker's forces and the forces of the Chamorro government of Nicaragua.
The Filibuster War was a military conflict between filibustering multinational troops stationed in Nicaragua and a coalition of Central American armies.
General José María Yáñez was a Mexican hero of the war of independence from Spain and the invasions by France and the United States.
The Republic of Sonora was a short-lived, unrecognized federal republic ruled by filibuster William Walker in 1854. It was based in Baja California and also claimed Sonora. Walker's exploits generated interest back in San Francisco, where bonds for the Republic of Sonora were sold, and its flag was even raised in places. His enterprise, however, suffered from a lack of supplies and discontent from within; resistance by the Mexican government quickly forced Walker to retreat.
The Spanish–American War is considered to be both a turning point in the history of propaganda and the beginning of the practice of yellow journalism.
Nicaragua – United States relations are bilateral relations between Nicaragua and the United States.
The First Battle of Rivas occurred on June 29, 1855, as part of the struggle to resist William Walker, an American filibuster, adventurer and soldier of fortune who arrived in Nicaragua with a small army of mercenaries in June 1855 in support of the Liberal democratic government of General Castellon in the Nicaraguan civil war. His army, with local support, was able to defeat the Legitimist party (Aristocratic) and conclude the Nicaraguan civil war.
The Republic of Baja California was a proposed state from 1853 to 1854, after American private military leader William Walker failed to invade Sonora from the Arizona border. Walker wanted to appropriate Sonora, and his claims had the support of tycoons and some government complacency in the United States.
Henry Lawrence Kinney was an American politician, military officer, and later filibuster known for founding what became the city of Corpus Christi, Texas. Born in Pennsylvania, Kinney moved to Texas in 1838 and settled near present-day Brownsville. He served in both houses of the Texas Legislature. He was killed in a gunfight in Mexico in 1862. Kinney County, Texas is named for him.
Between 1665 and 1857, Caribbean pirates and filibusters operated in Lake Nicaragua and the surrounding shores. The Spanish city of Granada, located on the lake, was an important trading centre for much of its early history so it was a prime target for pirates such as Henry Morgan and freebooters like William Walker.
In the Walker affair an American named William Walker briefly invaded Nicaragua in 1855 with a small army. He seized control of the country by 1856, but was ousted the following year.
Filibuster Camp is the historic locale of a camp along the Gila River route of the Southern Emigrant Trail in Yuma County, Arizona, named in memory of a failed filibuster expedition to Sonora that began there in 1856.