83. Aberdeen [Miss.] Prairie News, July 1, 1858, quoted in Percy Lee Rainwater, "Eco nomic Benefits of Secession: Opinions in Mississippi in the 1850's," fSH, 1 (1935), 462.

er's third expedition sailed from Mobile in December 1858, but their ship hit a reef and sank sixty miles from the Central American coast. Depite the humiliation of returning to Mobile in the British ship that rescued them, the filibusters received their customary tumultuous welcome.

But Walker's act was growing stale. When he set out again to recruit support for a fourth try, the crowds were smaller. Walker wrote a book about his Nicaraguan experiences, appealing to "the hearts of Southern youth" to "answer the call of honor."84 A few southern youths answered the call. Ninety-seven filibusters traveled in small groups to a rendezvous in Honduras where they hoped to find backing for a new invasion of Nicaragua. Instead they found hostility and defeat. Walker surrendered to a British navy captain, expecting as usual to be returned to the United States. Instead the captain turned him over to local authorities. On September 12, i860, the grey-eyed man met his destiny before a Honduran firing squad.

His legacy lived on, not only in Central American feelings about gringoes but also in North American feelings about the sectional conflict that was tearing apart the United States. When Senator John J. Crittenden proposed to resolve the secession crisis in 1861 by reinstating the 36° 30' line between slavery and freedom in all territories "now held, or hereafter acquired," Abraham Lincoln and his party rejected the proposal on the ground that it "would amount to a perpetual covenant of war against every people, tribe, and State owning a foot of land between here and Tierra del Fuego."85

This was only a slight exaggeration. Having begun the decade of the 1850s with a drive to defend southern rights by economic diversification, many southerners ended it with a different vision of southern enterprise—the expansion of slavery into a tropical empire controlled by the South. This was the theme of a book published in 1859 by Edward A. Pollard, a Virginia journalist and future participant-historian of the Confederacy. "The path of our destiny on this continent," wrote Pollard, lies in . . . tropical America [where] we may see an empire as powerful and gorgeous as ever was pictured in our dreams of history . . . an empire . . . representing the noble peculiarities of Southern civi

84. Walker, The War in Nicaragua, 278.

lization . . . having control of the two dominant staples of the world's commerce—cotton and sugar. . . . The destiny of Southern civilization is to be consummated in a glory brighter even than that of old.86

Another Virginian, George Bickley, put this fantasy on an organized basis with his Knights of the Golden Circle, founded in the mid-18 50s to promote a "golden circle" of slave states from the American South through Mexico and Central America to the rim of South America, curving northward again through the West Indies to close the circle at Key West. "With this addition to either our system, the Union, or to a Southern Confederacy," wrote Bickley in i860, "we shall have in our hands the Cotton, Tobacco, Sugar, Coffee, Rice, Corn, and Tea lands of the continent, and the world's great storehouse of mineral wealth."87 Thus had Thomas Jefferson's Empire for Liberty become transmuted by i860 into Mississippi Congressman L. Q. C. Lamar's desire to "plant American liberty with southern institutions upon every inch of American soil."88 But the furor over this effort to plant the southern version of liberty as slavery along the Gulf of Mexico took a back seat to the controversy sparked by the effort to plant it in Kansas.

86. Pollard, Black Diamonds (New York, 1859), 52-53, 108-9.

87. May, Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire, 150.

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