Forgotten Empire: US Manifest Destiny Expansion by Sea, 1848-1860


ACLS Fellowship Program




This study traces the history of the US empire that was built in Central America in the 1850s by William Walker and his band of approximately 10,000 settler colonists. While most of the colonists were US natives, many other were Europeans who had recently migrated to the United States. Walker’s empire engendered much hostility in Latin America and Europe. However, Walker was backed by many Central Americans who deemed his empire more democratic that their own nation-state. Drawing on research in US, Latin American, and European archives, this project brings non-US peoples and trans-Atlantic connections to the study of US ‘Manifest Destiny’ expansion and explicates its parallels with European liberal imperialism. Largely forgotten, Walker’s empire produced one of the first anti-US moments in world history.