Filibustering was a term that referred to unofficial and irregular American efforts in the mid-nineteenth century to expand the empire of slavery into Central and Latin America. Figures such as William Walker, the "grey-eyed man of destiny," became celebrated in the South as heroes and vilified in the North as pirates for their various military exploits and adventures during the 1850s. (By Matthew Pinsker)
Date Event
Cuban adventurer Narciso López departs the United States on an expedition to liberate Cuba
Spanish authorities execute Narciso López in Havana
French filibuster Gaston Raoul Raousset arrives in the northern Mexican state of Sonora
French adventurer Gaston Raousset declares Sonora (Mexico) to be an independent republic
Mexican troops expel Gaston Raousset and his filibuster followers from the city of Hermosillo in northern Mexico
Gaston Raousset departs Mexico for San Francisco
William Walker and 45 followers invade Baja California, in northwestern Mexico
American filibuster William Walker proclaims himself president of an independent "Republic of Lower California"
William Walker and his fellow filibusters leave Baja California for Sonora
William Walker is driven from Mexico and taken into custody by the U.S. military
Gaston Raousset begins a second filibustering incursion into northern Mexico
Mexican General José María Yáñez captures French filibuster Gaston Raousset
A Mexican firing squad executes French adventurer Gaston Raousset in Guaymas, Sonora
American filibuster William Walker departs San Francisco for Central America
William Walker captures the Nicaraguan capital of Granada
U.S. recognizes new Nicaraguan government under the influence of William Walker
William Walker is elected president of Nicaragua
William Walker's filibuster government in Nicaragua repeals the abolition of slavery in that country
American adventurer Henry A. Crabb leads an expeditionary force across the Mexican border into Sonora
Mexican troops defeat the forces of American filibuster Henry A. Crabb
Henry A. Crabb and 57 of his followers are executed by a Mexican firing squad
William Walker and his followers surrender to an American naval squadron and are returned to the United States
American soldier of fortune William Walker is recaptured by the U.S. Navy
William Walker and his companions are indicted in New Orleans under the Neutrality Laws
Nicaragua and Costa Rica appeal to the European powers for protection against filibusters
John Anthony Quitman, Mexican War general and Mississippi advocate of secession, dies on his plantation in Natchez
William Walker launches another fillibustering attempt against Nicaragua from New Orleans
William Walker's latest filibustering attempt ends before it begins with arrest by U.S. Marshals
William Walker sails from New Orleans for Honduras on his last filibustering expedition
William Walker and his men capture Trujillo on the Honduran coast
In Trujillo, William Walker proclaims his support for the Honduran people against their government
In Honduras, the British Royal Navy orders American filibuster William Walker to leave Trujillo
In Honduras, American filibuster William Walker surrenders to the British Royal Navy
American filibuster William Walker is executed in Honduras
George W.L. Bickley, notorious Copperhead and founder of the the Knights of the Golden Circle, dies in Baltimore.
Date Title
Fayetteville (NC) Observer, “The Cuban Movement,” November 11, 1852
Boston (MA) Herald, "Workings of the Underground Railroad," July 25, 1855
Fayetteville (NC) Observer, “More Fillibusters [Filibusters],” January 7, 1856
New York Times, “The Chances for Walker,” March 14, 1857
New York Times, “Fillibustering Expedition Against Costa Rica,” April 3, 1857
New York Times, “Gen. Walker’s Letter,” September 23, 1857
Washington (DC) National Era, "Gen. Walker and the Administration," November 26, 1857
New York Herald, "The Slavery Question in Congress," January 5, 1858
New York Herald, "Kansas as a Slave State," January 7, 1858
Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Revolution in New Orleans,” June 6, 1858
New York Herald, “The Hon. Joshua R. Giddings vs. the Administration and the Slave Power,” June 27, 1858
New York Times, "The American Gold Fields," July 2, 1858
New York Times, “Letter from General William Walker,” July 6, 1858
New York Times, “General Walker’s New Project,” November 16, 1858
New York Herald, “Gen. Walker Submitting to a ‘Legal Experiment,’” November 19, 1858
New York Times, “The President and the Filibusters,” November 23, 1858
New York Times, “The Fillibusters [Filibusters] Again,” December 9, 1858
New York Times, “Who is President of Mexico?,” December 22, 1858
New York Herald, “The Presidential Question,” January 29, 1859
New York Times, “General Walker’s Conversion to Romanism,” February 9, 1859
Charleston (SC) Mercury, “The Gold Regions of the West,” February 24, 1859
San Francisco (CA) Evening Bulletin, “Filibusterism and Disunion,” April 1, 1859
San Francisco (CA) Evening Bulletin, “General Walker Off Again,” May 5, 1859
Fayetteville (NC) Observer, “Caught,” June 27, 1859
Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, “Another Filibuster Crusade,” October 4, 1859
New York Times, “Suspicious,” October 8, 1859
Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, “The Pirates,” October 10, 1859
New York Times, “A Shabby Trick,” October 11, 1859
Atchison (KS) Freedom’s Champion, “Walker vs. Brown,” December 3, 1859
Raleigh (NC) Register, “How Firmly United the Democracy Are,” February 22, 1860
Atchison (KS) Freedom's Champion, “Kansas and Cuba,” June 2, 1860
New York Herald, “The Whereabouts of Walker,” August 19, 1860
New York Times, “Walker Again,” August 22, 1860
Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, "What Walker's Success Means," August 29, 1860
New York Times, “Used Up,” September 12, 1860
Wiped Out
Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, “'Gen. Walker',” October 1, 1860
Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, “The Execution of Walker,” October 9, 1860
Chicago Style Entry Link
Ball, Durwood. "Filibusters and Regular Troops in San Francisco, 1851-1855." Military History of the West 28, no. 2 (1998): 161-183. View Record
Benz, Stephen. "William Walker and the Discovery of Central America." Secolas Annals 24 (1993): 96-105. View Record
Bringhurst, Newell G. "Sam Brannan's 1851 Hawaiian Filibustering Expedition: A 'Paradise Postponed.'" Californians 5, no. 5 (1987): 20-23. View Record
Brown, Charles Harvey. Agents of Manifest Destiny: The Lives and Times of the Filibusters. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980. View Record
Bruns, Roger, and Bryan Kennedy. "El Presidente Gringo: William Walker and the Conquest of Nicaragua." American History Illustrated 23, no. 10 (1989): 14-20, 46-48. View Record
Chaffin, Tom. "'Sons Of Washington': Narciso Lopez, Filibustering, and U.S. Nationalism, 1848-1851." Journal of the Early Republic 15, no. 1 (1995): 79-108. View Record
DeLaCova, Antonio Rafael. "Filibusters and Freemasons: The Sworn Obligation." Journal of the Early Republic 17, no. 1 (1997): 95-120. View Record
Freehling, William W. The Road to Disunion. Vol. 2, Secessionists Triumphant, 1854-1861. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. View Record
May, Robert E. "Antebellum Americans 'Meet' their Southern Neighbors." Reviews in American History 8, no. 3 (1980): 360-365. View Record
May, Robert E. "Reconsidering Antebellum U.S. Women's History: Gender, Filibustering, and America's Quest for Empire." American Quarterly 57, no. 4 (2005): 1155-1188. View Record
May, Robert E. "The Domestic Consequences of American Imperialism: Filibustering and Howard Pyle's Pirates." American Studies 46, no. 3 (2005): 37-61. View Record
May, Robert E. "Young American Males and Filibustering in the Age of Manifest Destiny: The United States Army as a Cultural Mirror." Journal of American History 78, no. 3 (1991): 857-886. View Record
May, Robert E. John A. Quitman: Old South Crusader. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985. View Record
May, Robert E. Manifest Destiny's Underworld: Filibustering in Antebellum America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002. View Record
May, Robert E. The Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire, 1854-1861. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1973. View Record
Scroggs, William Oscar. Filibusters and Financiers: The Story of William Walker and His Associates. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1916. View Record
Steward, Dick. "John Smith T and the Way West: Filibustering and Expansion on the Missouri Frontier." Missouri Historical Review 89, no. 1 (1994): 48-74. View Record
Swan, Jon. "William Walker's Manifest Destiny." MHQ: Quarterly Journal of Military History 13, no. 4 (2001): 38-47. View Record
Walker, William. The War in Nicaragua. Mobile: S. H. Goetzel & Co., 1860. View Record
How to Cite This Page: "Filibustering," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,