William Walker

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    I enjoyed your article on William Walker at [url=https://www.welovecostarica.com/members/1552.cfm]Costa Rica Declared War On This American Man[/url]

    However, I felt it left out some key elements that show, regardless of some of his misguided actions, what a truly remarkable individual he was.

    He graduated from the University of Tennessee at the age of 14. He studied at both the University of Edinburgh and the University of Heidelberg ultimately returning to University of Pennsylvania to obtain his medical degree at the age of 19. Not happy with that, He studied law, and became a lawyer, in New Orleans a few years later.

    His “surrender” to the US Navy out of Nicaragua was heavily negotiated and he was returned to New York to something of a hero’s welcome.

    His second expedition was foiled after being intercepted by the US Coast Guard and, again, he was returned to US. The British obtained his surrender in the Gulf only after promising him that, they too, would return him to the US. They lied, of course, and handed him over to the Hondurans who had grown quite weary of Walker’s Central American antics. I guess “men in uniform” doesn’t always equate to “men of honor.”

    Being shot by the Hondurans at the tender age of 36, he still led a quite a remarkable life.

    I also sort of felt like you understated the involvement of Cornelius Vanderbilt, who was nearly singlehandedly responsible for rallying the Guatemalans and Costa Ricans against Walker. Going so far as to have his spies and mercenaries develop strategies and battle plans for the northern and southern opposing forces. So, the conflict for which Juan Santamaria gained such fame was actually a conflict between William Walker and Cornelius Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt merely used Costa Rican and Guatemalan lives as his proxy since it left him with little to lose. Classic political maneuver … identify a problem … make people afraid of it … and tell them who to blame for it! Vanderbilt finally found his equal in John D Rockefeller who felt that his work was “ordained by God” after having just missed a train that would have surely ended his life.

    Though the “legend” of Juan Santamaria has grown larger than life itself, the truth is often a bit more down to earth.

    Do you know what Teddy Roosevelt and Winston Churchill shared in common ?

    They were both war correspondents !

    So, when you read of that valiant charge that Teddy Roosevelt made, leading the Rough Riders up San Juan Hill, there is one key element that it is important to remember …

    Teddy wrote that !

    You must always remember that it is the winner that gets to write the history books and rarely do they do it in such a way as to show themselves in a disparaging light.


    Great feedback BillNew and thanks for sharing more fascinating information about this story…



    When I was going to primary school in San Jose, there was a joke going around that the reason Juan Santamaria volunteered to burn the filibusters out of their meson de guerra or stronghold, was because the other soldiers in the line took a step backwards. Costa Rican’s can be proud that they had in one man a hero that stood against the forces of slavery. By the same token, I hope they also have the courage to filter gringo “democracy” and the “American Way.”


    Juan Santamaría has also been called ‘el empujado” the one who has been pushed forward. Be carefull about saying that in Alajuela.


    How fascinating Orcas0606…. Is this said amongst the general population or a specific segment?


    Mostly among the “Pachuco” element, I think.

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