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This effort at invasion proved a mere flash in the pan. No support awaited him and his deluded followers, and in two weeks' time he found it judicious to surrender once more to the naval authorities of the United States ; this time to Commodore Paulding, who took him to New York with his followers, one hundred and thirty-two in number.
His fiasco stirred up something of a breeze in the United States. President Buchanan had strongly condemned the invasion of friendly territory in his annual message, but he now sent a special message to Congress in which he equally condemned Commodore Paulding for landing an American force on foreign soil. He decided that under the circumstances, the government must decline to hold Walker as a prisoner, unless he was properly arrested under judicial authority. At the same time Buchanan strongly deprecated all filibustering expeditions.
The result of this was that Walker was again set free, and it was not long before he had a new following, there being many of the adventurous class who sympathized warmly with his enterprising efforts. This was especially the case in the South. Thither Walker proceeded, and, inspired by his old enthusiasm, he soon organized another company, which sought to leave the country in October, 1858. He was closely watched, however, and the whole company was arrested at the mouth of the Mississippi on the steamer on which passage had been taken.
President Buchanan had issued a proclamation forbidding all such expeditions, and Walker was now
put on trial before the United States Court at New Orleans. But the case against him seemed to lack satisfactory evidence, and he was acquitted.
Desisting for a time from his efforts, Walker occupied himself in writing an account of his exploits, in a book entitled “The War in Nicaragua." But this was far too tame work for one of his stirring disposition, and in June, 1860, he was off again, this time making Honduras the scene of his invading energy. Landing at Truxillo on the 27th, he seized that town and held it for eight weeks, at the end of which time he was ordered to leave the place by the captain of a British man-of-war. The president of Honduras was rapidly approaching with a defensive force. Walker marched south, but his force was too small to cope with the president's army, and he had not gone far before he found himself a captive in the hands of the Honduran government. Central America had by this time more than enough of William Walker and his methods, and five days after his capture he was condemned to death and shot at Truxillo.
Thus ended the somewhat remarkable career of the chief of filibusters, the most persistent of modern invaders of foreign lands, whose reckless exploits were of the mediæval rather than of the modern type. A short, slender, not especially demonstrative man, Walker did not seem made for a hero of enthusiastic adventure. His most striking feature was his keen gray eyes, which brought him the title of “the gray-eyed man of destiny."
MAXIMILIAN OF AUSTRIA AND
HIS EMPIRE IN MEXICO.
It is interesting, in view of the total conquest and submission of the Indians in Mexico, that the final blow for freedom in that country should have been made by an Indian of pure native blood. His name was Benito Juarez, and his struggle for liberty was against the French invaders and Maximilian, the puppet emperor, put by Louis Napoleon on the Mexican throne. In the words of Shakespeare, " Thereby hangs a tale.”
For many years after the Spanish colonies had won their independence the nations of Europe looked upon them with a covetous eye. They would dearly have liked to snap up some of these weak countries, which Spain had been unable to hold, but the great republic of the United States stood as their protector, and none of them felt it quite safe to step over that threatening bar to ambition, the “Monroe Doctrine." "Hands off,” said Uncle Sam, and they obeyed, though much against their will.
In 1861 began a war in the United States which gave the people of that country all they wanted to do. Here was the chance for Europe, and Napoleon III., the usurper of France, took advantage of it to send an army to Mexico and attempt the conquest of that country. It was the overweening ambition of Louis Napoleon which led him on. It was his scheme to found an empire in Mexico which, while having the name of being independent, would be under the control of France and would shed glory on his reign.
At that time the President of Mexico, the Indian we have named, was Benito Juarez, a descendant of the Aztec race, and, as some said, with the blood of the Montezumas in his veins. Yet his family was of the lowest class of the Indians, and when he was twelve years old he did not know how to read or write. After that he obtained a chance for education, and in time became a lawyer, was made governor of his native state, and kept on climbing upward till he became secretary of state, president of the Supreme Court, and finally president of Mexico.
He was the man who had the invaders of his country to fight, and he fought them well and long. But the poor and undisciplined Mexicans were no match for the trained troops of France, and they were driven back step by step until the invaders were masters of nearly the whole country. Yet Juarez still had a capital and a government at San Luis Potosi, and all loyal Mexicans still looked on him as their president.
When Napoleon III. found himself master of Mexico, he looked around for a man who would serve him as a tool to hold the country. Such a man he found in Ferdinand Joseph Maximilian, the brother of the emperor of Austria, a dreamer rather than a man of action, and a fervent believer in the “divine right of kings.” This was the kind of man that the French usurper was in want of, and he offered him the position of emperor of Mexico. Maximilian was taken by surprise. The proposition was a startling one. But in the end ambition overcame judgment, and he accepted the lofty but perilous position on the condition that France should sustain him on the throne.
The struggle of the Mexicans for freedom was for the time at an end, and the French had almost everywhere prevailed, when in 1864 the new emperor and his young wife Carlotta arrived at Vera Cruz and made their way to the city of Mexico. This they entered with great show and ceremony and amid the cheers of many of the lookers on, though the mass of the people, who had no love for emperors, kept away or held their peace.
The new empire began with imperial display. All the higher society of Mexico were at the feet of the new monarchs. With French money to pay their way and a French army to protect them, there was nothing for Maximilian and Carlotta to do but enjoy the romance and splendor of their new dignity. On the summit of the hill of Chapultepec, two hundred feet above the valley, stood the old palace which had been ruined by the American guns when Scott invaded Mexico. This was rebuilt by Maximilian on a grand scale, hanging gardens were constructed and walled in by galleries with marble columns, costly furniture was brought from Europe,