Grateful American® Foundation

What is the origin of filibustering?

January 18th

Januar 18, 1854 — Filibuster William Walker proclaimed the Republic of Sonora in New Mexico today.

Residence_of_Gen._William_Walker,_Granda_cph.3a00914An American physician, lawyer, journalist and mercenary, Walker (May 8, 1824 – September 12, 1860) organized several private military expeditions into Latin America, with the intention of establishing English-speaking colonies under his personal control.

The enterprise became known as “filibustering,” and Walker usurped the presidency of the Republic of Nicaragua in 1856 and ruled until 1857. He was defeated by a coalition of Central American armies, and executed by the government of Honduras in 1860.

Image: Walker’s house in Granada. On October 12, 1856, during the siege of Granada, Guatemalan officer José Víctor Zavala ran under heavy fire to capture the flag and bring it back to the Central American coalition Army trenches shouting Filibuster bullets don’t kill! Zavala came out unscatched of this adventure.

Words of Wisdom

How many Californians today realize that this state was the rendevous par excellence for daring bands of filibusters, who, whether in pursuit of mere individual wealth and adventure or in furtherance of what seemed to them an ideal, risked their lives in bold invasions of Hispanic lands? [The story of Filibuster William Walker was] more than romance. It is the necessary background of a living vital issue.

— Dr. C.E. Chapman, Assistant Professor of Hispanic American History, University of California

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