Born: 8 May 1824
Died: 12 September 1860
Birthplace: Nashville, Tennessee
Best known as: 19th century filibuster who set up his own republic in Lower California
William Walker was an American filibuster who gained fame for his wild-eyed military exploits south of the United States border in the mid-19th century. By the time he was 25 years old, William Walker had worked as a physician in Pennsylvania, a lawyer in Louisiana and a journalist in California. Taking the expansionist concept of Manifest Destiny to heart, Walker hired soldiers of fortune and between 1853 and 1860 made several attempts to take over territories in Mexico and Central America. He first invaded Lower California and declared it an independent republic; he then proclaimed the annexation of the nearby Mexican state of Sonora and dubbed it the Republic of Sonora, naming himself president in 1853. Forced out by Mexican attacks in 1854, he surrendered to United States forces and was tried for violating neutrality laws, but was acquitted by a sympathetic jury. Next he invaded Nicaragua and captured the city of Granada, where he set up a puppet government and named himself president in 1856. Run out by Costa Rican forces in 1857, Walker returned to the U.S. and was again acquitted of violating the law. He tried another invasion of Nicaragua a few months later, but was arrested again and sent back to the U.S. In 1860 he was arrested by the British in Honduras and turned over to Honduran authorities, who tried, convicted and executed him.
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