William Walker:


Born May 8, 1824, in Nashville, Tennessee, William Walker grew to both fame and notoriety through his exploits in Central America. Moving to California in 1849, Walker began to form a plan to fulfill his ideas of Manifest Destiny, namely, to take control of parts of Mexico for the United States. He first hired a band of mercenaries, and led them into Lower California, declaring it an independent republic. He then attempted to annex the nearby Mexican state of Sonora, naming himself president. However, Mexican forces, unwilling to accept this incursion, began attacking this new nation, forcing Walker out in 1854. He surrendered to American forces, after which he was found innocent by a sympathetic jury, and allowed to resume his law practice.

Walker Expedition:

In 1855, However, walker gained another chance to acquire territory. Sailing in 1855, using a request for air from a Nicaraguan rebel faction to circumvent U.S. neutrality laws, walker led a mercenary group into Nicaragua, siezing the capital, Grenada, on October 13, after defeating a national army. He then proceeded to set up a puppet government, eventually holding a fixed election to make himself president in 1856. He planned to eventually subjugate all of Middle America.
However, as disease began to take a toll on walker’s men, south American forces rose up to end his rule. He then surrendered to a U.S. navy, who rescued and returned him to New York in 1857. Despite being initially hailed as a hero, his denouncement of the U.S. navy began to turn the populous against him.

Northern Perspective:


The U.S. government supported Walker’s rule, recognizing his control of Nicaragua a legitimate nation. However, a northern enemy of walker’s, Cornelius Vanderbilt, angered at Walker’s Nicaraguans’ interference with his shipping, financed men to oppose Walker’s administration. The North, however, would have most likely opposed the admission of his territories as states, as it would have upset the free/slave balance.

Southern Perspective:


The South supported Walker’s government, due to the fact that Nicaragua, as well as any other territory walker would have conquered, would have been ideal lands for slavery to take root, bolstering the south’s power in congress. Walker, seeking southern support, even going so far as to revoke Nicaragua’s emancipation proclamation. Had Walker’s administration succeeded, the outcome of the civil war could have turned out much differently. These new states could have bolstered the manpower and resources of the confederacy, as well as providing a useful line of ports to communicate and trade with Europe and surrounding colonies.


After several attempts to reclaim Nicaragua, Walker mounted a new attack, approaching from Honduras. However, he was stopped in Honduras by British authorities, who turned him over to the Honduran government, who tried and executed him.


This incident would be rated a one out of five concerning its impact on the upcoming America Civil War. Had Nicaragua entered the union as another slave state, the south would have taken more authority and representation in congress, but there was very little chance this would happen. In the event that Nicaragua had joined the confederacy in any way though, this may have proved devastating for the north. The South’s superior leadership combined with more supplies and manpower from Nicaragua may have spelled demise for the north. But for all of these situations, there was very low chance of anything really happening, so the Walker expedition really plays a smaller role in the Civil War.

Works Cited:

"William Walker." NNDB. 15 May. 2009. 17 May. 2009. <http://www.nndb.com/people/125/000049975/>.

"William Walker." San Francisco Musuem. 2009. 17 May. 2009. <http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist1/walker.html#TOP>.

"William Walker." Wikipedia. 15 May. 2009.<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Walker_(soldier)>.