On September 16, 1916, on the British Caribbean colony of St. Kitts, a boy was born. This boy was named Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw and would go on to become of the heroes of his tiny country. Bradshaw would go on to become the minister of finance of the short-lived West Indies Federation – a conglomeration of British colonies in the Caribbean based in Port-of-Spain in modern Trinidad and Tobago. When the Federation dissolved in 1962, Bradshaw returned to St. Kitts and started working towards gaining independence for his homeland. Five years later, in 1967, he became the first premier of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla. The three islands were granted full internal autonomy from the British, though their foreign policy was still controlled in London. Bradshaw’s policies encouraged hard work and self-sufficiency and let to the eventual full independence for St. Kitts and Nevis in 1983.
On May 3, 1855, William Walker, a Tennessee-born lawyer and mercenary, set sail from San Francisco with a small army of 60 men. His goal was to create an Americanized colony in Nicaragua under his personal leadership. Walker was the perhaps the most well-known of a group of American men known as filibusters – individuals who undertook unauthorized military expeditions against foreign lands. This practice was particularly prevalent in the pre-Civil War era of American history, that is, the period during which the national dream of manifest destiny was at its peak.
In the 1850s, Nicaragua was undergoing a revolution and Walker saw an opportunity. He set sail from San Francisco, avoiding federal authorities who had attempted to keep him from sailing, since the invasion of a foreign country by an American civilian violated American neutrality laws. Upon arrival in Nicaragua, Walker and his men succeeded in winning several military engagements which led to Walker’s installment as Nicaragua’s president in 1856. His rule, effectively a dictatorship, lasted approximately one year when he deposed. After some time fighting the new Nicaraguan government, the former “president” was captured by government forces. On September 12, 1860, William Walker was executed by firing squad.
In October of that year, the New York Times ran the following passage:
I yesterday sent to Charleston “news” of the execution of WILLIAM WALKER at Truxillo [sic]
on the 12th inst. [September]. WALKER,it appears, was not permitted to have any communication with any of his followers previous to his execution. He marched from his cell to
the place of execution with a steady step and unshaken mien. A chair had been placed for him with its back towards the Castle. Having taken his seat, he was blindfolded. Three soldiers stepped forward to within twenty feet of him and discharged their muskets. The balls entered his body, and he leaned a little forward; but, it being observed he was not dead, a fourth soldier mercifully advanced so close to the suffering man that the muzzle of the musket almost touched his forehead, and being there discharged, scattered his brains and skull to the winds. Thus ends the life of the “Gray-eyed man of Destiny.”