Sunday, February 13, 2005

Walker's Expeditions

Walker's Expeditions - Describes William Walker's military campaigns, 1855-60, with overview of US and British interests in Nicaragua at that time. Be sure to turn on your pop up blocker for this site!

From the site:

British and United States interests in Nicaragua grew during the mid-1800s because of the country's strategic importance as a transit route across the isthmus. British settlers seized the port of San Juan del Norte--at the mouth of the Río San Juan on the southern Caribbean coast--and expelled all Nicaraguan officials on January 1, 1848. The following year, Britain forced Nicaragua to sign a treaty recognizing British rights over the Miskito on the Caribbean coast. Britain's control over much of the Caribbean lowlands, which the British called the Mosquito Coast (present-day Costa de Mosquitos), from 1678 until 1894 was a constant irritant to Nicaraguan nationalists. The start of the gold rush in California in 1849 increased United States interests in Central America as a transoceanic route, and Nicaragua at first encouraged a United States presence to counterbalance the British.

The possibility of economic riches in Nicaragua attracted international business development. Afraid of Britain's colonial intentions, Nicaragua held discussions with the United States in 1849, leading to a treaty that gave the United States exclusive rights to a transit route across Nicaragua. In return, the United States promised protection of Nicaragua from other foreign intervention. On June 22, 1849, the first official United States representative, Ephraim George Squier, arrived in Nicaragua. Both liberals and conservatives welcomed the United States diplomat. A contract between Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, a United States businessman, and the Nicaraguan government was signed on August 26, 1849, granting Vanderbilt's company--the Accessory Transit Company--exclusive rights to build a transisthmian canal within twelve years. The contract also gave Vanderbilt exclusive rights, while the canal was being completed, to use a land-and-water transit route across Nicaragua, part of a larger scheme to move passengers from the eastern United States to California. The westbound journey across Nicaragua began by small boat from San Juan del Norte on the Caribbean coast, traveled up the Río San Juan to San Carlos on Lago de Nicaragua, crossed Lago de Nicaragua to La Virgen on the west shore, and then continued by railroad or stagecoach to San Juan del Sur on the Pacific coast. In September 1849, the United States-Nicaragua treaty, along with Vanderbilt's contract, was approved by the Nicaraguan Congress.

1 comment:

Mike H said...

My name is Michael Harris. I have an interest in the role American expatriates played in southern Nicaragua civil and political life in San Juan del Norte (Greytown) between 1851 and the end of William Walker's expeditions in that country.

Of particular interest to me is any information you may have run across about a black American physician, David J. Peck who is alleged to have arrived in Greytown in the early 1850s. Anecdotal history says that he was named "port physician". He is also supposed to have helped organize the mestizo and black people of Greytown in opposition to the British and other interests in the area.

I have been looking for documentation that places Peck in country since 1992. I suppose it is possible that log books of ships that visited Greytown might contain this kind of information or it might appear in the so-called "despatches" from British or US "consular" officials to their respective foreign offices.

Any help you can offer will be greately appreciated