|President of the Republic of Nicaragua|
July 12, 1856 –May 1, 1857
|Preceded by||Patricio Rivas|
|Succeeded by||Máximo Jerez and Tomás Martínez|
|1st President of the Republic of Sonora|
January 21, 1854 –May 8, 1854
|Preceded by||Office established|
|Succeeded by||Office abolished|
|1st President of the Republic of Lower California|
November 3, 1853 –January 21, 1854
|Preceded by||Office established|
|Succeeded by||Office abolished|
|Born||May 8, 1824|
|Died||September 12, 1860 36) (aged|
|Cause of death||Firing squad|
|Resting place||Old Trujillo Cemetery, Trujillo, Colón, Honduras|
|Political party||Democratic (Nicaragua)|
|Alma mater|| University of Nashville |
University of Edinburgh
University of Pennsylvania
William Walker (May 8, 1824 –September 12, 1860) 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.
Walker was born in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1824 to James Walker and his wife Mary Norvell. His father was an English immigrant.His mother was the daughter of Lipscomb Norvell, an American Revolutionary War officer from Virginia. One of Walker's maternal uncles was John Norvell, a Senator from Michigan and founder of The Philadelphia Inquirer . William Walker was engaged to Ellen Martin, but she died of yellow fever before they could be married, and he died without children.
William Walker studied lawand graduated summa cum laude from the University of Nashville at the age of fourteen. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh and University of Heidelberg before receiving his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania at the age of 19. He practiced briefly in Philadelphia before moving to New Orleans to study law.
He practiced law for a short time, then quit to become co-owner and editor of the New Orleans Crescent. In 1849, he moved to San Francisco, where he was a journalist and fought three duels; he was wounded in two of them. Walker then conceived the idea of conquering vast regions of Latin America and creating new slave states to join those already part of the United States.These campaigns were known as filibustering or freebooting.
William Walker first gained national attention after his duel with William Hicks Graham on January 12, 1851, in San Francisco.Walker was the editor of the San Francisco Herald while Graham was a clerk in the employ of Judge R. N. Morrison. Walker criticized Graham and his colleagues in the newspapers, which angered Graham and prompted him to challenge Walker to a duel. Graham was a notorious gunman and duellist in his time, having taken part in a number of duels and shootouts in the Old West. Walker on the other hand, had experience dueling with single-shot pistols at one time, but his duel with Graham was fought with revolvers.
The combatants met at Mission Dolores and each was given a Colt Dragoon with five shots. They stood face-to-face at ten paces, and at the signal of a referee aimed and tried to fire. Graham managed to fire two bullets, hitting Walker in his pantaloons and his thigh, seriously wounding him. Walker, though he tried a number of times to shoot his weapon during the duel, failed to fire even a single shot and Graham was left unscathed. The duel ended when the wounded Walker conceded. Graham was arrested but was quickly released. The duel was recorded in The Daily Alta California .
In the summer of 1853, Walker traveled to Guaymas, seeking a grant from the government of Mexico to create a colony. He said the colony would serve as a fortified frontier, protecting US soil from Indian raids. Mexico refused, and Walker returned to San Francisco determined to obtain his colony, regardless of Mexico's position.
He began recruiting American supporters of slavery and Manifest Destiny doctrine, mostly inhabitants of Kentucky and Tennessee. His plans then expanded from forming a buffer colony to establishing an independent Republic of Sonora, which might eventually take its place as a part of the American Union as the Republic of Texas had done. He funded his project by "selling scrips which were redeemable in lands of Sonora."
On October 15, 1853, Walker set out with 45 men to conquer the Mexican territories of Baja California Territory and Sonora State. He succeeded in capturing La Paz, the capital of sparsely populated Baja California, which he declared the capital of a new Republic of Lower California , with himself as president and his former law partner, Henry P. Watkins,as vice president. He then put the region under the laws of the American state of Louisiana, which made slavery legal.
Fearful of attacks by Mexico, Walker moved his headquarters twice over the next three months, first to Cabo San Lucas, and then further north to Ensenada to maintain a more secure position of operations. Although he never gained control of Sonora, less than three months later, he pronounced Baja California part of the larger Republic of Sonora.Lack of supplies and strong resistance by the Mexican government quickly forced Walker to retreat.
Back in California, he was put on trial for conducting an illegal war, in violation of the Neutrality Act of 1794. Nevertheless, in the era of Manifest Destiny, his filibustering project was popular in the southern and western United States and the jury took eight minutes to acquit him.
Since there was no inter-oceanic route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans at the time, and the transcontinental railway did not yet exist, a major trade route between New York City and San Francisco ran through southern Nicaragua. Ships from New York entered the San Juan River from the Atlantic and sailed across Lake Nicaragua. People and goods were then transported by stagecoach across a narrow strip of land near the city of Rivas, before reaching the Pacific and ships to San Francisco. The commercial exploitation of this route had been granted by Nicaragua to the Accessory Transit Company, controlled by shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt.
In 1854, a civil war erupted in Nicaragua between the Legitimist Party (also called the Conservative Party), based in the city of Granada, and the Democratic Party (also called the Liberal Party), based in León. The Democratic Party sought military support from Walker who, to circumvent U.S. neutrality laws, obtained a contract from Democratic president Francisco Castellón to bring as many as three hundred colonists to Nicaragua. These mercenaries received the right to bear arms in the service of the Democratic government. Walker sailed from San Francisco on May 3, 1855,with approximately 60 men. Upon landing, the force was reinforced by 110 locals. With Walker's expeditionary force was the well-known explorer and journalist Charles Wilkins Webber as well as the English adventurer Charles Frederick Henningsen, a veteran of the First Carlist War, the Hungarian Revolution, and the war in Circassia.
With Castellón's consent, Walker attacked the Legitimists in the town of Rivas, near the trans-isthmian route. He was driven off, but not without inflicting heavy casualties. In this First Battle of Rivas a school teacher called Enmanuel Mongalo y Rubio (1834–1872) burned the Filibuster headquarters. On September 3, during the Battle of La Virgen, Walker defeated the Legitimist army.On October 13, he conquered the Legitimist capital of Granada and took effective control of the country. Initially, as commander of the army, Walker ruled Nicaragua through provisional President Patricio Rivas. U.S. President Franklin Pierce recognized Walker's regime as the legitimate government of Nicaragua on May 20, 1856, and on 3 June the Democratic national convention expressed support of the effort to "regenerate" Nicaragua. However, Walker's first ambassadorial appointment, Colonel Parker H. French, was refused recognition. On 22 September, Walker repealed the laws prohibiting slavery, in an attempt to gain support from the Southern states.
Walker's actions in the region caused concern in neighboring countries and potential American and European investors who feared he would pursue further military conquests in Central America. C. K. Garrison and Charles Morgan, subordinates of Cornelius Vanderbilt's Accessory Transit Company, provided financial and logistical support to the Filibusters in exchange for Walker, as ruler of Nicaragua, seizing the company's property (on the pretext of a charter violation) and turning it over to Garrison and Morgan. Outraged, Vanderbilt dispatched two secret agents to the Costa Rican government with plans to fight Walker. They would help regain control of Vanderbilt's steamboats which had become a logistical lifeline for Walker's army.
Concerned about Walker's intentions in the region, Costa Rican President Juan Rafael Mora Porras rejected Walker's diplomatic overtures and began preparing the country's military for a potential conflict.Walker organized a battalion of four companies, of which one was composed of Germans, a second of Frenchmen, and the other two of Americans, totaling 240 men placed under the command of Colonel Schlessinger to invade Costa Rica in a preemptive action. This advance force was defeated at the Battle of Santa Rosa on March 20, 1856.
The most important strategic defeat of Walker came during the Campaign of 1856–57 when the Costa Rican army, led by President Juan Rafael Mora Porras, General José Joaquín Mora Porras (the president's brother), and General José María Cañas (1809–1860), defeated the Filibusters in Rivas, Nicaragua on April 11, 1856 (the Second Battle of Rivas).It was in this battle that the soldier and drummer Juan Santamaría sacrificed himself by setting the Filibuster stronghold on fire. In parallel with Enmanuel Mongalo y Rubio in Nicaragua, Santamaría would become Costa Rica's national hero. Walker deliberately contaminated the water wells of Rivas with corpses. Later, a cholera epidemic spread to the Costa Rican troops and the civilian population of the city of Rivas. Within a few months nearly 10,000 civilians had died, almost 10 percent of the population of Costa Rica.
From the north, President José Santos Guardiola sent Honduran troops under the leadership of the Xatruch brothers, who joined Salvadoran troops to fight Walker.[ citation needed ] Florencio Xatruch led his troops against Walker and the filibusters in la Puebla, Rivas. Later, because of the opposition of other Central American armies, José Joaquín Mora Porras was made Commandant General-in-Chief of the Allied Armies of Central America in the Third Battle of Rivas (April 1857).
During this civil war, Honduras and El Salvador recognized Xatruch as brigade and division general. On June 12, 1857, after Walker surrendered, Xatruch made a triumphant entrance to Comayagua, which was then the capital of Honduras. The nickname by which Hondurans are known popularly still today, Catracho, and the more infamous nickname Salvadorans are known today, "Salvatrucho," are derived from Xatruch's figure and successful campaign as leader of the allied armies of Central America, as the troops of El Salvador and Honduras were national heroes, fighting side by side as Central American brothers against William Walker's troops.
As the general and his soldiers returned from battle, some Nicaraguans affectionately yelled out "¡Vienen los xatruches!" ("Here come Xatruch's boys!") However, Nicaraguans had trouble pronouncing the general's Catalan name, so they altered the phrase to "los catruches" and ultimately to "los catrachos."
A key role was played by the Costa Rican Army in unifying the other Central American armies to fight against Filibusters. The "Campaign of the Transit" (1857), is the name given by Costa Rican historians to the groups of several battles fought by the Costa Rican Army, supervised by Colonel Salvador Mora, and led by Colonel Blanco and Colonel Salazar at the San Juan River. By establishing control of this bi-national river at its border with Nicaragua, Costa Rica prevented military reinforcements from reaching Walker and his Filibuster troops via the Caribbean Sea. Also Costa Rican diplomacy neutralized U.S. official support for Walker by taking advantage of the dispute between the magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt and William Walker.
Walker took up residence in Granada and set himself up as President of Nicaragua, after conducting a fraudulent election. He was inaugurated on July 12, 1856, and soon launched an Americanization program, reinstating slavery, declaring English an official language and reorganizing currency and fiscal policy to encourage immigration from the United States.Realizing that his position was becoming precarious, he sought support from the Southerners in the U.S. by recasting his campaign as a fight to spread the institution of black slavery, which was the basis of the Southern agrarian economy. With this in mind, Walker revoked Nicaragua's emancipation edict of 1821. This move increased Walker's popularity in the South and attracted the attention of Pierre Soulé, an influential New Orleans politician, who campaigned to raise support for Walker's war. Nevertheless, Walker's army was weakened by massive defections and an epidemic of cholera, and was finally defeated by the Central American coalition led by Costa Rican President Juan Rafael Mora Porras (1814–1860).
On October 12, 1856, Guatemalan Colonel José Víctor Zavala crossed the square of the city to the house where Walker's soldiers took shelter. Under heavy fire, he reached the enemy's flag and carried it back with him, shouting to his men that the Filibuster bullets did not kill.
On December 14, 1856, as Granada was surrounded by 4,000 troops from Costa Rican, Honduran, El Salvador, Guatemala, along with independent Nicaraguan allies Charles Frederick Henningsen, one of Walker's generals, ordered his men to set the city ablaze before escaping and fighting their way to Lake Nicaragua. When retreating from Granada, the oldest Spanish colonial city in Nicaragua, he left a detachment with orders to level it in order to instill, as he put it, "a salutary dread of American justice". It took them over two weeks to smash, burn and flatten the city; all that remained were inscriptions on the ruins that read "Aqui Fue Granada" ("Here was Granada").
On May 1, 1857, Walker surrendered to Commander Charles Henry Davis of the United States Navy under the pressure of Costa Rica and the Central American armies, and was repatriated. Upon disembarking in New York City, he was greeted as a hero, but he alienated public opinion when he blamed his defeat on the U.S. Navy. Within six months, he set off on another expedition, but he was arrested by the U.S. Navy Home Squadron under the command of Commodore Hiram Paulding and once again returned to the U.S. amid considerable public controversy over the legality of the navy's actions.
After writing an account of his Central American campaign (published in 1860 as War in Nicaragua), Walker once again returned to the region. British colonists in Roatán, in the Bay Islands, fearing that the government of Honduras would move to assert its control over them, approached Walker with an offer to help him in establishing a separate, English-speaking government over the islands. Walker disembarked in the port city of Trujillo, but soon fell into the custody of Commander Nowell Salmon (later Admiral Sir Nowell Salmon) of the British Royal Navy. The British government controlled the neighboring regions of British Honduras (now Belize) and the Mosquito Coast (now part of Nicaragua) and had considerable strategic and economic interest in the construction of an inter-oceanic canal through Central America. It therefore regarded Walker as a menace to its own affairs in the region.
Rather than return him to the US, for reasons that remain unclear, Salmon sailed to Trujillo and delivered Walker to the Honduran authorities, together with his chief of staff, Colonel A. F. Rudler. Rudler was sentenced to four years in the mines, but Walker was sentenced to death, and executed by firing squad, near the site of the present-day hospital, on September 12, 1860.William Walker was 36 years old. He is buried in the "Old Cemetery", Trujillo, Colón, Honduras.
William Walker convinced many Southerners of the desirability of creating a slave-holding empire in tropical Latin America. In 1861, when U.S. Senator John J. Crittenden proposed that the 36°30' parallel north be declared as a line of demarcation between free and slave territories, some Republicans denounced such an arrangement, saying that it "would amount to a perpetual covenant of war against every people, tribe, and State owning a foot of land between here and Tierra del Fuego."
Before the end of the American Civil War, Walker's memory enjoyed great popularity in the southern and western United States, where he was known as "General Walker"and as the "gray-eyed man of destiny". Northerners, on the other hand, generally regarded him as a pirate. Despite his intelligence and personal charm, Walker consistently proved to be a limited military and political leader. Unlike men of similar ambition, such as Cecil Rhodes, Walker's grandiose scheming ultimately failed against the union of Central American people.
In Central American countries, the successful military campaign of 1856–1857 against William Walker became a source of national pride and identity,and it was later promoted by local historians and politicians as substitute for the war of independence that Central America had not experienced. April 11 is a Costa Rican national holiday in memory of Walker's defeat at Rivas. Juan Santamaría, who played a key role in that battle, is honored as one of two Costa Rican national heroes, the other one being Juan Rafael Mora himself. The main airport serving San José (in Alajuela) is named in Santamaría's honor.
To this day, a sense of Central American "coalition" among the "catracho" nations of Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, along with independent Nicaraguan allies, is remembered and celebrated as a unifying shared history.
Walker's campaigns in Lower California and Nicaragua are the subject of a historical novel by Alfred Neumann, first published in German as Der Pakt (1949), and translated in English as Strange Conquest (a previous UK edition was published as Look Upon This Man).Walker's campaign in Nicaragua has inspired two films, both of which take considerable liberties with his story: Burn! (1969) directed by Gillo Pontecorvo, starring Marlon Brando, and Walker (1987) directed by Alex Cox, starring Ed Harris. Walker's name is used for the main character in Burn!, though the character is not meant to represent the historical William Walker and is portrayed as British. On the other hand, Alex Cox's Walker incorporates into its surrealist narrative many of the signposts of William Walker's life and exploits, including his original excursions into northern Mexico to his trial and acquittal on breaking the neutrality act to the triumph of his assault on Nicaragua and his execution.
In Part Five, Chapter 48, of Gone with the Wind , Margaret Mitchell cites William Walker, "and how he died against a wall in Truxillo", as a topic of conversation between Rhett Butler and his filibustering acquaintances, while Rhett and Scarlett O'Hara are on honeymoon in New Orleans.
A poem written by far left Nicaraguan Catholic priest and "minister of culture" from 1979-1987 during the Sandanista period Ernesto Cardenal, Con Walker En Nicaragua, translated as With Walker in Nicaragua,gives a far left historical treatment of the affair.
The villain of the Nantucket series by Science Fiction writer S. M. Stirling is a modern American adventurer named William Walker - who leads a kind of Time Traveling filibuster force to invade Mycenaean Greece, dethrone and kill King Agamemnon , make himself King and introduce machine guns to the Trojan War.
The first natives in Costa Rica were hunters, and gatherers, and Costa Rica served as an intermediate region between Mesoamerican and Andean native cultures.
Juan Rafael Mora Porras was President of Costa Rica from 1849 to 1859.
Juan Santamaría was a drummer in the Costa Rican army, officially recognized as the national hero of his country. A national holiday in Costa Rica, Juan Santamaría Day, is held every April 11 to commemorate his death.
Patricio Rivas, a wealthy Nicaraguan lawyer, was Acting President of Nicaragua from June 30, 1839 to July 27, 1839 and from September 21, 1840 to March 4, 1841. Later he served as a President of one of the several competing governments of Nicaragua from October 30, 1855 to June 24, 1857. However, he was merely a puppet president; rule was held by William Walker. He belonged to the Democratic Party.
In the 19th century, Nicaragua was beset by political problems, allowing William Walker, an American Southerner seeking to establish English-speaking slavery states in Latin America, to ascend to the Nicaraguan presidency.
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.
Manuel Argüello Mora was born in San José, Costa Rica in 1834. He is one of the foremost Costa Rican authors, and with 1888's Misterio, was its first novelist. He obtained his education at the University of Santo Tomás in Costa Rica and the Universidad de San Carlos in Guatemala, where he obtained a degree in law. Orphaned at a young age, he was brought up by his uncle Juan Rafael Mora Porras, the president of Costa Rica between 1849 and 1859, and his historical novel La trinchera recounts Mora Porras' campaign against William Walker's forces in Nicaragua in 1856. After Mora Porras was deposed, he followed his uncle into exile in Europe in 1859. He returned in 1860 during Mora Porras' attempt to regain power, and was spared from the firing squad which executed the former president. Between 1860 and 1902 he served on the Costa Rican Supreme Court and was the rector of the University of Santo Tomás. Along with writing within a number of genres, he also founded the weekly newspaper La Reforma. He died in San José in 1902.
Florencio Xatruch was a general who led the Honduran expeditionary force against William Walker in Nicaragua in 1856.
Rivas may refer to:
José María Cañas Escamilla was a Costa Rican military figure. He was born in Suchitoto, El Salvador.
Hondurans are people inhabiting in, originating from, or having significant heritage from Honduras. Most Hondurans live in Honduras, although there is also a significant Honduran diaspora, particularly in the United States, with smaller communities in other countries around the world. There are also people living in Honduras who are not Hondurans, because they were not born or raised in Honduras, nor have they yet gained citizenship.
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.
Máximo Jerez Tellería was a 19th-century Nicaraguan politician, lawyer and military leader.
Florentino Alfaro Zamora was a Costa Rican politician.
John Edward Hollenbeck was an American businessman and investor who was involved in the 19th century development of Nicaragua and the city of Los Angeles, California.
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.
The Battle of La Virgen occurred on the 3rd of September, 1855, at La Virgen, Nicaragua. It was part of the Legitimist efforts to resist the newly arrived force of William Walker, who had the support of the fierce opponents of the Legitimists, the Democrats. After a hard-fought but one-sided skirmish, Walker's forces emerged victorious, giving the cause of the invading Filibuster army legitimacy, and inspiring many new volunteers to join his force.
The Battle of Masaya took place in the small town of Masaya, northwest of William Walker’s filibuster capital, Granada. It was part of Walker’s efforts to dislodge the resurgent Allied Central American Army from its fortifications in Masaya, which lay within a day’s march of his capital. After significant initial filibuster advances were made, Walker’s army was forced to retreat towards Granada after receiving notice that the city was under attack.
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|Wikisource has the text of a 1900 Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography article about William Walker .|