BECK index

Caribbean & Central America 1845-65

by Sanderson Beck

Haiti and Santo Domingo 1845-65
Puerto Rico, Cuba & West Indies Colonies 1845-65
El Salvador, Honduras & Union 1845-65
Costa Rica and Guatemala 1845-65
Nicaragua 1845-65
Panama 1845-65

Haiti and Santo Domingo 1845-65

Haiti, Santo Domingo & West Indies

      Conservatives governing the Dominican Republic included Tomás de Bobadilla who favored the Church and those who supported the French. Their constitution based on the United States Constitution had been adopted on 6 November 1844. They elected General Pedro Santana president, and he appointed a cabinet on the 13th. They discovered a conspiracy and executed the leaders on 27 February 1845.
      The 86-year-old President Philippe Guerrier governed Haiti by decree with a Council of State for the established mulâtres from May 1844 until he died on 15 April 1845. The Council of State replaced him with Jean-Louis Pierrot who was 83. He made Cap-Haïtien the capital, and in February 1846 he ordered his troops to march against the Dominicans. He alienated the Council and the army by promoting his followers and peasants to officers, and he was removed on the first of March. Eleven days later the popular leader Louis Jean-Jacques Acaau killed himself, and the illiterate 65-year-old black General Jean-Baptiste Riché became President. He died on 27 February 1847 from an overdose of cantharides which were believed to be an aphrodisiac.
      Meanwhile the ruin of the Catholic Church led to Vodou (voodoo) becoming the folk religion of Haiti. On 1 March 1847 the Senate of Haiti elected the 64-year-old black General Faustin Soulouque president. He ordered General Similien to suppress the rebels, and Soulouque aroused the blacks and zinglin leaders to arrest opposing mulâtres. On April 9 he dismissed his mulâtre cabinet and proclaimed himself President for life. Many mulâtres and some blacks gathered at the palace and sent Céligny Ardouin to the President who had him arrested. Similien ordered the mulâtres to put down their guns and then had soldiers fire. Firing squads executed resisters. On April 23 President Soulouque led an army that killed hundreds of mulâtres in disloyal towns. He returned to the capital on August 15 and prohibited anyone from leaving Haiti without his permission. Santana resigned on August 4, and War Minister Manuel Jimenes became President of the Dominican Republic on September 8. On the 26th he decreed amnesty for the political exiles so that they could return. France made a provisional peace treaty with them and recognized the independence of the Dominican Republic.
      Haitians suspected that the French intended to occupy Samaná Bay. On 15 March 1849 President Soulouque led 15,000 troops east, and on April 30 they attacked the Dominicans and had several hundred killed. The Haitians retreated and looted and burned towns as they fled. Soulouque declared victory as he returned to the capital on May 6. The Dominican Congress nullified the decree of Jimenes discharging Santana whose forces then besieged Santo Domingo on May 17, and Jimenes left the country on the 29th. Santana called elections for July 5, and his favored candidate won but resigned. Congress then held elections on August 5, and Santana’s recommended Congressman Buenaventura Báez was elected Dominican President. He was inaugurated on September 24 and quickly mobilized the army and navy for the war against Haiti. Negotiations with Britain, France, and the United States led to a friendship and trade treaty with Britain on 10 September 1850. Báez protected those persecuted by Santana, and he worked to improve church relations. Santana was elected the next President, and in March 1853 he took office and accused Archbishop Tomás de Portes of inciting rebellion. On 3 July he charged Báez with serious crimes and expelled him. In February 1854 Santana got a new constitution that greatly increased the power of the presidency and allowed him to serve two consecutive terms. The constitution limited the Congress to seven Senators and would only let it meet three months a year, and it was passed on 23 December. After US President Franklin Pierce tried to lease land on the Samaná Peninsula for a navy base, Spain on 18 February 1855 signed a peace treaty with the Dominican Republic.
      On 26 August 1849 the Haitian Senate crowned Soulouque Emperor Faustin, and on 20 September a constitution recognized his monarchy. He gave 400 persons titles of nobility including 4 princes, 59 dukes, and 215 barons. Faustin studied voodoo and used it to assert power. Piquets used roadblocks in the South to rob people, and Soulouque’s zinglins did that in other places. The Emperor had so much money printed that the value of gourde notes fell to a quarter of their previous value. Faustin led another attack on Santo Domingo in December 1855, but they were repelled and turned north. On 24 January the Dominicans defeated them at Savana Larga, and Faustin left Santo Domingo.
      Civil resistance persuaded Dominican President Santana to resign on 26 May 1856, and he was succeeded by Vice President Manuel de Regla Mota. He did not have funds to pay soldiers and discharged many. The Spanish consul Segovia arranged for Báez to return from exile, and he was made Vice President and then President after Mota resigned on 6 October.
      Former Dominican President Santana was accused of crimes in January 1857 and was sent into exile. President Buenaventura Báez favored liberal policies, and he replaced the Senators and other officials. He had 18 million more pesos printed, and his favorites used money to buy tobacco and gold in Cibao before the exchange rate changed. Military leaders in Santiago rejected Báez on 7 July, and they installed General José Desiderio Valverde as President. People in Cibao supported them and marched on Santo Domingo. Civil war broke out, and General Santana returned on 27 August and gained command on 18 September. Báez printed nearly 60 million pesos in one year, and the Cibao government put out 20 million, causing the national peso to fluctuate around 4,000 per dollar. In Cibao’s city Moca they wrote a new constitution that was promulgated on 19 February 1858 and allowed every citizen to vote. Santana’s troops outside the capital persuaded Báez to negotiate his departure that let him take the wealth he had stolen from Cibao. After he left, Santana and his troops opposed the Cibao liberals and took control on 27 July demanding restoration of the Constitution of December 1854 which Santana decreed on 27 September.
      A world depression in 1857-58 affected the sale of coffee and cotton, and Haiti was bankrupt again. On 20 December 1858 Fabre Geffrard, his son, and two friends escaped from Port-au-Prince, and two days later a revolutionary committee declared Haiti a republic under the Constitution of 1846. The next day Geffrard became President, and he was supported by the Artibonite department and the North. Soulouque marched north, and his imperial navy bombarded St. Marc, but two days later Faustin withdrew to Port-au-Prince. He abdicated on 15 January 1859 and left on a British ship one week later.
      Fabre Geffrard was inaugurated as President of Haiti on 23 January 1859. The first thing he did was reduce the army from 30,000 men to 15,000. In June he founded a national law school, and he improved the medical school. On 18 July the Constitution of 1846 was reinstated, and Geffrard was made President for life. Soulouque’s Interior Minister Guerrier Prophète had gone over to Geffrard and retained his office. Geffrard organized secret police who discovered that Prophète was conspiring against him, and he was sent into exile on 3 September. On the 12th they caught the murderer Timoléon Vanon who named 900 accomplices including 70 who were in prison. They convicted 23 conspirators, and 16 were shot in public.
      The Dominican Republic’s President Pedro Santana had nearly 40 million pesos printed in 1860. On 18 March 1861 he gave Santo Domingo back to Spain’s Queen Isabella II, and he became its Governor-General. An insurgency broke out, and Haiti provided sanctuaries for the guerillas in May. Geffrard also sent his Tirailleurs as volunteers to fight against the Spanish army. In July a Spanish squadron appeared offshore of Port-au-Prince, and Admiral Rubalcava demanded that Haiti close the frontier to Dominican rebels, pay an indemnity of $200,000, apologize, and give the Spanish flag a 21-gun salute. Consul Byron mediated and reduced the indemnity to $25,000, and Geffrard agreed. Santana suffered poor health and resigned on 6 January 1862.
      The United States and President Lincoln recognized the independence of Haiti and Liberia on 5 June 1862. That year Haiti made a treaty of friendship and trade with Liberia, and they began diplomatic relations in 1864. During the US Civil War Geffrard allowed the United States Navy to use a coaling-station at Cap-Haïtien for its West India Squadron. Because of that war Haiti’s cotton exports went from $144,000 in 1861 to $2,892,000 in 1864; but after that crops failed, and Haiti went back to truck-farming. Haiti’s deficit was 2 million gourdes in 1859, but in 1865 it was four times that. Haiti printed more paper money, and some of it was taken by high officials.
      On 14 January 1862 Spain issued a Royal Order evicting Haitians from the border land. While Dominicans led by Santiago Rodríguez were rebelling against Spain in 1863, President Geffrard dissolved Haiti’s legislature on June 3. On October 10 he revived the colonial corvée so that citizens would be required to help build roads. He purchased three small steamboats for the government and five merchant coasters as a public subsidy for a Haitian company. The new legislators raised the President’s salary to $50,000 a year, and they gave Geffrard two plantations. Uprisings were suppressed in Gonaïves in November 1861, near Torbeck in May 1862, in the Artibonite in June 1863, at Port-au-Prince’s arsenal in April 1864, and the piquets began a persistent insurrection in 1865 in the Plaine des Cayes. On 7 May 1865 Dominicans crossed the frontier, took over the garrison at Ouanaminthe, and were welcomed in the Cap-Haïtien. On the 15th government troops fought them at Puilboreau, and General Morisset was wounded. The government spent 100 million gourdes suppressing the revolt at the Cap. The Dominican war to restore independence from Spain was successful as all the Spanish troops left by July 15.

Puerto Rico, Cuba & West Indies Colonies 1845-65

Haiti, Santo Domingo & West Indies
Puerto Rico and Cuba

      The British Aberdeen Act abolished the African slave trade in 1845. Captain General Juan Prim governed Puerto Rico 1847-48, and in May 1848 he learned of slave revolts on the islands of Martinique and Saint Thomas. He decreed the harsh Black Code with the death penalty for any African slave who threatens with a gun (even if justified) a white person, and a free African was to have the right hand cut off. Article 1 put all blacks under military jurisdiction, and Article 5 gave masters the right to kill slaves. In July slaves in Ponce planned to revolt. An informer was given freedom; three leaders were shot, and 13 were sentenced to ten years in prison.
      Governor Juan de la Pezuela replaced Prim in December 1848 and was instructed to suspend the Black Code. He reduced the number of lashes punishing slaves from 100 to 25, and he allowed infant slaves who were baptized to be freed. Pezuela also enforced the strict libreta (license) system in 1849 that led to the arrests and deportation of many Creoles including the abolitionist Julio L. Vizcarrondo and the liberal playwright Alejandro Tapia. Pezuela banned popular horse races, private dances, and annual festivities. Governor Fernando de Norzagaray (1852-55) shut down the newspaper El Ponceño in July 1854 for publishing Daniel Rivera’s poem “Agüeybaná El Bravo” about an Indian chief who told Spaniards to go back to Spain. In 1859 Governor Fernando Cotoner (1857-60) banished two Creole physicians for organizing a secret abolitionist society.
      In 1857 the Puerto Rican abolitionist Julio L. Vizcarrondo, who had lived in New York for 4 years, founded the El Mercurio newspaper, and he started the Spanish Abolitionist Society in 1864. Abolitionists pointed out that the 1860 census showed that only 10,000 of the 41,000 slaves were workers, and Puerto Rico had 70,000 other workers who were more productive than slaves.

      In 1845 Cuba agreed to outlaw the slave trade. In 1841 Cuba had 1,007,624 people including about 436,500 slaves. Joaquín de Agüero had freed his slaves in 1843 and was forced to leave Cuba, but he returned in 1849 and founded La Sociedad Libertadora de Puerto Príncipe. He led about forty men who demanded independence; but their revolt lasted only a few days, and he and three others were executed on 12 August 1851. On 19 May 1850 Narciso López had directed 600 American filibusters who landed at Cardenas, but they were forced to depart after a few hours. López led another invasion of Cuba in August 1851, but he and some others were captured and executed. Some politicians in the United States wanted to annex Cuba as a slave state, but they could not agree on a deal. After this effort failed, some prominent Creoles organized the Havana Reform Club to work for political improvement. Chinese began immigrating in 1844, and Cuba had 34,834 Asians by 1861. In 1856 Cuba produced more than 13% of the world’s sugar (including from beets in Europe) and nearly three times as much as the United States which ranked second among nations. By 1860 of 1,365 mills in Cuba they had 55 modern machines and produced one-fifth of the sugar. From 1856 to 1860 Cuba imported 90,000 African slaves. In 1861 Cuba had 1,396,530 people with 370,553 slaves.
      The Creoles organized the Havana Reform Club to work for political improvement and tried to work with Captain-General Francisco Serrano (1859-62) and Captain-General Domingo Dulce (1862-66) even though the martial laws did not permit political parties. The reformist newspaper El Siglo was begun in 1862 and lasted six years. Cuba formally ended its slave trade in 1862. In 1865 Dulce authorized the reformists to send a letter with 24,000 signatures to General Serrano in Madrid. The United States Civil War with the Union blockade of southern ports followed by emancipation drastically reduced Cuba’s participation in the slave trade in the 1860s.

      In 1847 Sweden liberated the last 600 slaves on the island of St. Barthelémy.
      The Dutch had stopped participating in the slave trade in 1818, but they did not abolish slavery in Surinam until 1863.
      Denmark’s royal edict in 1847 promised the end of slavery in 12 years, but this soon led to a slave rebellion. In July 1848 slaves in the Danish Virgin Islands revolted for three weeks, and on 22 December the Danish government accepted the Emancipation Proclamation. In June 1851 Danish planters petitioned the Danish Parliament for compensation, and they received 5.5 million francs.
      The Emancipation Proclamation of 1848 freed the slaves in the French West Indies. France gave colonists 126 million francs which was 430 francs per slave in Martinique, 470 in Guadeloupe, and 618 in French Guiana. In 1859 Martinique had 6,748 East Indians. Cannabis sativa was brought to the Caribbean from India about 1850.
      In 1845 Ordinance 4 regulated indentured service by immigrants.        Between 1846 and 1848 British Guiana imported more than 11,000 people from India and 10,000 from the Madeira islands west of Africa. So many died that immigration from Madeira was suspended. They banned Portuguese immigration in 1848, though some was allowed from 1850 to 1882. In 1851 Britain revived immigration from India by providing a loan of £200,000, and 238,960 indentured Indians would come to British Guiana by 1917.
      The British colonies of Guiana, Trinidad, and Jamaica absorbed about 110,000 East Indians between 1851 and 1870. The creole James Sayers Orr organized meetings in Georgetown, Guiana and criticized the Catholic Church. On 15 February 1856 Governor Wodehouse prohibited meetings in Georgetown. Orr had meetings in a suburb and was arrested. Angry Africans reacted by attacking the Portuguese and looting shops. In 1859 William G. Sewell visited the British West Indies and reported in the New York Times that freed slaves were making material and moral progress owning land, paying taxes, and voting. Using statistics he showed that in most colonies they were contributing more to the economy than they had before as slaves.

El Salvador, Honduras & Union 1845-65

Central America & Confederation 1817-34
Central America 1835-44

      On 24 January 1845 Francisco Malespín led the allied army that plundered Leon in Nicaragua, committing many atrocities. In San Salvador on February 15 a speech in the Assembly by Joaquín Eufrasio Guzmán led to Malespín being deposed, and they chose Guzmán to be president. Honduras and Salvador agreed to a treaty at Chinameca on April 18; but Honduras did not ratify it, and they invaded Salvador which allied with Guatemala. Hondurans attacked San Salvador on August 15 but lost two-thirds of their force. Nicaragua mediated a peace treaty made between Honduras and Salvador on November 27 that forbade Malespín and Espinosa from entering Salvador.
      El Salvador’s presidential election once again did not give any candidate a majority, and in January 1846 the Assembly chose Eugenio Aguilar who believed in constitutional government. Bishop Viteri aroused people against him in July and demanded that Aguilar resign, but people upheld his authority, causing Viteri to flee to Guatemala. Malespín attacked Chalatenango, and Viteri hailed him as the providential defender of Salvadorans. Malespín tried to preach religion, but he was unpopular and was defeated by 800 men led by General Nicolás Angulo. Malespín fled to Honduras where he was killed at San Fernando on 25 November 1846. Bishop Viteri moved to Nicaragua, and Pope Pius IX assigned him to that diocese.
      In early 1848 Lindo of Honduras and Guerrero in Nicaragua agreed with Salvador to form a Central American union with a diet at Nacaome. Guatemala refused to join. Costa Rica sent deputies to Nacaome but later declared itself an independent state. In November 1849 commissioners from Honduras, Salvador, and Nicaragua met at Leon and agreed on a union, and it went into effect on 9 January 1851. The national constituent congress met at Tegucigalpa on 9 October 1852. They elected Trinidad Cabañas supreme chief, and the executive also included Pedro Molina as vice chief, four senators, and two ministers of state. Fear of dictatorship led the assemblies of Salvador and Nicaragua to declare their independence.
      Liberals elected Doroteo Vasconcelos president of El Salvador, and his term began on 7 February 1848. He hoped to reunite the Central American nations, but opposition rose with the revolution in Guatemala in August. Bishop Zaldaña of Antigua was given the diocese of Salvador. The constitution did not allow the President to be re-elected; but his friends re-elected Vasconcelos anyway in 1850, and this divided the liberals. In 1852 Francisco Dueñas was elected President of El Salvador. He managed to resolve differences with Guatemala, and he aided Carrera against Honduras. José María San Martín became president in 1854 and kept the peace, but San Salvador was destroyed by an earthquake on April 16 that was followed by cholera, hunger, and locusts.
      In 1850 El Salvador had only 201 schools for boys with 6,696 students out of a population of 372,815. El Salvador’s Code of Commerce was published in 1855, and Salvadoran trade increased greatly in the 1850s and 1860s.
      Rafael Campo was President of El Salvador 1856-58, and he supported Nicaragua against the American filibuster Walker in 1857. Isidro Menéndez compiled Salvadoran laws into a code of civil and criminal procedure in 1857. A Chilean Code written by Andres Bello based on 1848 Spanish law influenced a new Salvadoran civil and criminal code that was promulgated in 1860.
      Senator Gerardo Barrios led a coup d’état against Campo’s brief successor in early February 1858. Salvador had a series of four presidents until the Assembly met in January 1859 and accepted President Barrios in March. They amended the constitution to increase his term to six years and deputies’ to four years. Barrios was elected president in 1860, the year that El Salvador’s population reached 424,000. Salvador allied with Honduras; but Guatemala and Nicaragua defeated them on the Santa Rosa plains on 16 June 1863, and that summer revolts against Barrios led to several departments proclaiming Dueñas provisional president. Guatemala’s Carrera supported him and defeated the army led by General Santiago Gonzalez on July 3. Barrios held out in San Salvador for four months but departed on October 26. On 18 February 1864 the Assembly deposed Barrios and recognized Dueñas as President. They adopted a conservative constitution, and Dueñas was elected president. Barrios tried to raise a force in Nicaragua, but he was captured, extradited, and executed on 29 August 1865.

      Francisco Ferrera had been President of Honduras most of the time since 1841, and he defeated an attempted revolt in December 1844. After another election with no majority candidate the Assembly chose Ferrera; but he declined, and they selected Juan Lindo as president in January 1847. While the United States was fighting in Mexico, he issued manifestos on 1 and 2 June opposing the US. A constituent assembly created a new Charter that was adopted at Comayagua on 4 February 1848 that gave all residents born in Central America citizenship and allowed foreigners to be naturalized. Literate citizens could vote, and only the Catholic religion was allowed. President Lindo reported that they were at peace on 10 June 1849, though he recognized party divisions. General Santos Guardiola was influenced by aristocrats in Guatemala and the British Chatfield, and his announcement at Tegucigalpa on 12 February 1850 persuaded President Lindo to flee and ask for help from Salvador and Nicaragua. Guardiola had little foreign assistance, and on March 25 he submitted to Lindo’s government.
      During this era Belize was called British Honduras, and the people there abolished slavery on 1 August 1840. They exported 20,000 tons of mahogany per year, but it was declining. In October 1849 a British warship at Trujillo demanded that Hondurans pay $111,061, and a force occupied the town’s fort. The Honduran commandant raised $1,200, and the British commander accepted this on account. The British also seized various islands. On 29 December 1849 Felipe Jáuregui claiming to be a commissioner for Honduras agreed to a convention with British envoy Chatfield at San Jose, Costa Rica; but the government of Honduras disavowed the treaty. Honduras appointed a commissioner, and on 27 March 1852 they agreed to a debt for $80,000.
      On 1 March 1852 the liberal Trinidad Cabañas became President of Honduras which had good relations with its neighbors except for Guatemala. General Guardiola got aid from Guatemala’s Carrera, and General Juan López backed their revolt with 700 men. They forced Cabañas into exile in October. Cabañas had fought in the civil war (1826-29) and led the Honduras army in July and August 1852. He came back on 31 December 1853 until they overthrew him on 6 October 1855. Cabañas found refuge in Salvador. The ill Vice President Bueso let Senator Francisco Aguilar take charge. Guardiola was elected and became president on 17 February 1856, and he came back from fighting Walker in Nicaragua. Considered a tool of Carrera, he made peace with Guatemala, and he settled issues with the British.

            After years of disputes and negotiations Honduras agreed to a treaty with Britain regarding the Bay Islands, the Mosquito Indians, and the claims of British subjects on 28 November 1859. Guardiola was re-elected and served until he was assassinated on 11 January 1862. Vice President Victoriano Castellanos was in El Salvador. He returned and later made an alliance with Salvador’s Barrios. Castellanos governed during turmoil and died on December 11. José Francisco Montes continued the alliance with Salvador in opposition to Guatemala and Nicaragua until troops from those two countries helped the serviles overthrow him on 21 June 1863. They made Senator José María Medina provisional president, and he outlawed Montes. On 15 February 1864 the election favored Medina. A constituent assembly met and reformed the constitution by September 19. They appointed Medina provisional president on October 29 and adjourned. They also decreed amnesty for all political offenses committed since February 1848.

Costa Rica and Guatemala 1845-65

Central America & Confederation 1817-34
Central America 1835-44

      Francisco María Oreamuno was briefly Costa Rica’s provisional chief; but he had resigned on 26 November 1844 and was succeeded by the Senate President Rafael Moya Murillo until 30 April 1845 when his senatorial term ended. Then the Chamber of Deputies elected Senator José Rafael Gallegos. When four regiments mutinied in June, José Alfaro Zamora once again resumed power as Gallegos returned to being President of the Senate. The elections made Alfaro chief and José María Castro vice chief.
      The Constituent Assembly met in September and completed the constitution that was promulgated on 7 March 1847. On 30 August 1848 President Castro declared the Republic of Costa Rica an independent nation. Juan Rafael Mora Porras became President on 26 November 1849. He granted amnesty for political offenses, but to prevent revolts he exiled prominent citizens. Costa Rica was the first Central American nation to be recognized by Spain on 10 May 1850. Costa Rica made a concordat with Pope Pius IX on 7 October 1852 and treaties with the United States and several Latin American nations and major European countries. Mora was re-elected President on 3 May 1853. People were happy with peace, and he was made captain-general.
      Owners of property, merchants, and the army in Costa Rica opposed President Juan Rafael Mora, and they removed him on the night of 14 August 1859 and set up a provisional government. Mora and his family were sent to Salvador where he introduced coffee cultivation.
      A Constituent Assembly elected the provisional president José María Montealagre with wealthy Vicente Aguilar as vice president as well as Minister of the Treasury and of War. His ruthless power was resented, and Costa Rica was divided by two parties both claiming law and order. The Constituent Assembly met on 16 October 1859 and promulgated a new constitution with 142 articles on December 27. Human rights were protected except that only the Roman Catholic religion was tolerated. After an election the Congress met in April 1860 and declared Montealagre president of the republic. Some men persuaded the deposed Mora that he would be welcomed back to Costa Rica. He landed in September at Puntarenas with some friends and gathered about 350 men, but the government’s army defeated them at La Angostura on the 28th. Two days later Mora surrendered. He had claimed that Aguilar owed his family $200,000, but the Minister of War had Mora and General J. M. Cañas executed by a firing squad. Aguilar also confiscated Mora’s property but died of a heart attack on 26 April 1861. Costa Rica’s economy was improving. In the next election in May 1863 the compromise candidate Jesús Jimenez was elected president, and he maintained peace and prosperity through his term that ended in May 1866. In 1820 Costa Rica had only 63,000 people, and by 1860 the population had grown to 115,000. Costa Rica had per capita income more than four times that of the rest of Central America.

      On 11 December 1844 the Guatemala Assembly elected Lt. General Rafael Carrera president to protect the elites as well as the natives. In January 1845 he took a leave of absence to visit his estates, and on February 2 conservative politicians and army officers led a revolt in the capital; but his brother Sotero Carrera fined the capital 20,000 pesos to pay his native troops. On 23 May 1846 the British consul-general Chatfield lectured Rafael Carrera on foreign policy and urged him to restrain the hostility to Europeans by General Pais, and he removed Pais.
      On 21 March 1847 Guatemala declared its independence, and President Carrera issued a manifesto explaining the reasons why. The caudillo José Lucio López challenged Carrera and was found and killed, but on October 16 the Lucios who followed him plundered Carrera’s estate at Palencia. In February 1848 Carrera was persuaded not to resign. France was the first European nation to make a treaty with Guatemala on March 8. Carrera’s brother Sotero was killed, and his friends defected to the enemies. In August creoles in the Oriente united with Los Altos to oppose Carrera, and they allied with the guerrilla Francisco Carrillo. On August 15 Carrera asked the Assembly to protect the natives who work the land, and he left for Mexico. In early 1849 he went to Los Altos and helped indigenous people rise up against the creole government. In August he was welcomed back to Guatemala as commander-in-chief to pacify the rebellions.
      On 19 October 1851 Guatemala elected Rafael Carrera President again under a conservative constitution that centralized the government. His term began on 1 January 1852, and in October he made a concordat with Pope Pius IX that gave him patronage over the church. On 23 May 1854 he was proclaimed President for life.
      President Rafael Carrera had led the Guatemalan army in wars against El Salvador and Honduras in 1851 and 1853, and he did so again against the American filibuster Walker in Nicaragua in 1856-57 and with Salvador in 1863. Also he put down a revolt at Quezaltenango in 1856. By 1860 Guatemala had 951,000 people. Carrera died 14 April 1865.

Nicaragua 1845-65

Central America & Confederation 1817-34
Central America 1835-44

      Nicaragua’s civil war ended with Leon being sacked a second time in January 1845. That year Nicaragua spent $146,000 on the army and had a deficit of $100,102. (Dollars were equal to pesos at that time.) While the government was in San Fernando, General J. Trinidad Muñoz supervised the elections, helping the conservative José León Sandoval gain a plurality. On April 4 the Assembly declared him elected Supreme Director. He moved the capital from Leon to Granada. Nicaragua allied with El Salvador on May 6. Revolutionaries in Managua were arrested, and Muñoz subdued a revolt in Leon on June 24. In late July about 200 revolutionaries led by José M. Valle took over the town of Chinandega, and on the 26th Muñoz defeated in Leon those that Sandoval called robbers and assassins. The Nicaraguan government then moved to Managua.
      In August 1846 the British ship Daphne blockaded the port of El Realejo to demand that Nicaragua pay claims to three British citizens, and the government pledged to use funds from its tobacco monopoly. After the next election José Guerrero became Supreme Director on 6 April 1847, and he moved the government to Leon on July 20. Along the Mosquito coast of Nicaragua the British had planted the colony Belize, and on 12 August 1841 its superintendent Macdonald had brought a king of the Mosquitos to San Juan del Norte. Three days later British officers arrested the commandant and revenue officer, Lt. Col. Quijano. Most American nations protested except the chief Ferrera of Honduras who was influenced by Guatemala and consul Chatfield and recognized the Mosquito nation on 16 December 1843. In January 1848 two British warships occupied the San Juan port and replaced Nicaraguan officials with Englishmen serving the Mosquito King. Nicaragua sent a force but had to yield to returning British warships in March.
      In 1849 the George Gordon expedition started transporting foreigners across Nicaragua from the San Juan River to Lake Nicaragua and then overland to El Realejo. On 19 April 1850 the United States and Britain agreed to the Clayton-Bulwer treaty which claimed dominion over Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito Coast or any other part of Central America so that they could build a canal and railroads. Spain made a commercial treaty with Nicaragua on July 25 and recognized its independence. The British withdrew their control over San Juan. Later an altercation with Solon Borland, the US minister to Nicaragua, provoked US Commander Hollins to bombard San Juan on 13 July 1854, and marines burned the town.
      Norberto Ramírez became Supreme Director of Nicaragua on 1 April 1849, and he sent a force led by General J. T. Muñoz that defeated Bernabé Somoza who had captured Rivas. Somoza was arrested at San Jorge and was convicted and executed on 17 June 1849. José Luareano Pineda became Director in 1851, and Muñoz led a revolt and arrested Pineda and his ministers Castellón and F. Diaz Zapata. Honduras sent troops to assist the Nicaraguan army, and Muñoz surrendered on 10 November 1851. A national constituent assembly proposed a new constitution on 13 October 1852, but the legislative Assembly rejected it on 30 April 1853.
      A new constituent assembly met on May 13, and on 28 February 1854 they decreed a constitution with a president as the chief executive. On April 7 they declared themselves a temporary legislature, and they chose Fruto Chamorro, who got the most votes, to be provisional president until 1 March 1855, but only Granada and a few towns recognized his government. Liberals led by Castellón, Máximo Jerez, and Mariano Salazar tried to bring about a revolution in Leon, but the Managua government defeated this and banished the leaders. They gained support from President Trinidad Cabañas of Honduras and invaded Leon, Chinandega, and other towns that proclaimed Castellón provisional director which he accepted on 11 June 1854. Chamorro retreated to Granada which was then besieged for several months. After deadly battles Chamorro’s party regained Managua, Masaya, and Rivas. Chamorro died on 12 March 1855 and was succeeded by José María Estrada, but this was temporarily ratified by only 14 members of a constituent assembly. The civil war continued as military forces in Nicaragua and from Honduras gathered. On May 17 they defeated the liberals at Tecuaname, and two weeks later Estrada’s government decreed an amnesty for soldiers.
      In August 1854 Nicaraguan Liberals began discussions with the American Byron Cole, and on December 28 he made a contract with Castellón promising that 300 American soldiers would fight under the command of William Walker with the Liberals. On 4 May 1855 Walker with 58 men sailed from San Francisco, and they landed at El Realejo on June 16 and were welcomed by Lt. Col. Félix Ramírez. Walker refused to serve under General Muñoz at Leon, but he was made a colonel in Nicaragua’s army. With a hundred natives led by Ramírez they went to Rivas where they were dispersed and fled, the natives into Costa Rica. Walker and his men retreated to El Realejo. He led another expedition with 50 foreigners and 120 natives led by Valle that landed at San Juan del Sur on August 29. Guardiola commanded 500 men at Rivas, but after attacking Walker’s better equipped men at La Virgen on September 4 they dispersed and returned to Rivas. Two days earlier Castellón died of the cholera that infected many.
      Walker had about 80 Americans and 250 natives when they captured Granada on October 13. President Estrada and his ministers fled. Walker freed about a hundred political prisoners who joined his army. On the 28th Nicaragua’s government dissolved itself. Three days later the provisional president Patricio Rivas arrived at Granada, and he appointed General Ponciano Corral minister of war and Walker chief of the army. Rivas obeyed Walker and appointed a cabinet of democrats that included Máximo Jerez. Corral did not trust Walker and sent secret letters to Honduras. Corral was caught, court-martialed, and then executed on November 8.
      Walker persuaded President Rivas to revoke the charter of the Accessory Transit Company on 18 February 1856, and they seized the company’s property because of a debt of $412,489 to Nicaragua’s government. Costa Rica’s President Mora declared war on Walker on the first of March, and Mora led the Costa Rican army of 3,000 men that defeated 500 North Americans at Santa Rosa on the 20th. Then on April 10 a force led by Walker himself fought a bloody battle and then retreated. Both sides suffered from cholera afterwards. The Costa Rican army took over the transit route at Virgin Bay and Rivas and held it for two months. On April 20 at Matagalpa some officers led by General Fernando Chamorro recognized Estrada as the legitimate president, but Chamorro was defeated and went to Honduras. The Costa Ricans left Rivas, and Walker punished some in the town in early May. On the 20th US President Franklin Pierce recognized Walker’s government in Nicaragua.
      Walker moved his government to Leon, and on June 10 he summoned a congress. On the 25th President Rivas declared Walker a usurper and an enemy. Walker deposed Rivas, and on the 29th Walker won an election for the presidency with 15,835 votes in the region of Granada, Masaya, and Rivas. On July 3 Rivas sent letters asking the Central American nations for help. On the 12th Walker read his inaugural address in English. The American minister Wheeler recognized Walker as president, but he had little Nicaraguan support. About 800 Salvadoran troops arrived in Leon on the 12th, and a few days later they were joined by more than 500 Guatemalans while 600 Hondurans were approaching. On July 18 those three nations at Guatemala City formed an alliance for independence and recognized Rivas as the head of Nicaragua’s government. On September 12 the Liberals and Conservatives agreed to unite to save Nicaragua’s independence from Walker’s adventurers. Two days later 160 Nicaraguan troops led by General Estrada defeated Walker’s 300 filibusters by San Jacinto ranch. Walker decreed slavery legal on September 22. In October the allies drove Walker’s forces out of Managua, and they retreated to Granada.
      Walker had an army of 1,200 men who were mostly Americans with the rest Europeans, and they suffered from cholera and the climate. A Costa Rican army led by General Cañas occupied San Juan del Sur in early November. On the 18th Walker decided to evacuate Granada, and he ordered the city burned. Six days later the allies saw the fire, and some skirmished with the enemy and were defeated. The allied armies closed in on the filibusters, and Walker with 115 men on December 13 left on one of the steamships they used on the lake.
      As 1857 began in Nicaragua, Walker’s army held only the town of Rivas and from San Juan del Sur to Virgin Bay. The allied armies besieged them, and Walker surrendered on May 1. He was transported to the United States with about 400 of his men. Walker attempted another invasion of Nicaragua but was arrested at Punta de Castilla and sent back by the US Commodore Paulding on December 8. Walker’s last expedition landed at Trujillo on 6 August 1860, but he was captured there by the British Navy and was turned over to Honduras where he was tried by court martial and executed by firing squad on September 12.
      Nicaragua was governed by the Liberal Máximo Jerez and the Conservative Tomás Martínez as bipartisan executives from 24 June 1857 to October 19. On that day Costa Rica declared war against Nicaragua, and Jerez and Martínez both resigned to lead the military defense. On November 8 a Constituent Assembly met in Managua, and one week later they elected Martínez president. The treasury had less than $100, and soldiers had not been paid during the war. Nicaragua and Costa Rica made peace on 16 January 1858, and on April 15 in a treaty they agreed on their boundary. On August 19 Nicaragua promulgated a new constitution with representative government. In 1860 Nicaragua’s population was estimated at 278,000.
      Nicaragua and Guatemala made a treaty on 20 September 1862 and were allies in the war against El Salvador and Honduras. President Martínez was re-elected on 1 March 1863, and Congress declined his offer to resign. He declared revolutionaries traitors, but amnesty was granted to all but the leaders on 20 April 1864.

Panama 1845-65

Panama 1817-44

      On 12 December 1846 the Mallarino-Bidlack Treaty gave the United States the right to move across the Isthmus of Panama usually between Colón on the Caribbean side and Panama City by the Pacific Ocean.
      News of gold discovered in California in 1848 spread gradually at first, but United States President Polk mentioned it in his state-of-the-union address on December 5. In 1848 only 735 people traveled across the isthmus, but in 1849 about 31,500 would cross, and by 1860 the total crossings were about 416,500. Those crossing in the 1850s had to wait for a ship on the Pacific side, and many suffered from diseases. A bridge over the Chagres River was completed on 26 November 1853. A locomotive was brought to Panama City in January 1854, and the railway from Colón began operating on 28 January 1855. An American company charged $25 to take passengers from one port to the other in under four hours.
      In 1848 General José Hilario López of the Liberal Party was elected President of New Granada, and he served four years from April 1849. In March 1850 a white American killed a black man in Panama City, and the Liberal Governor Manuel María Díaz let him go free. The angry blacks of Arrabal called “Arrabaleños” came into the conflict with elite residents of San Felipe in Panama City on May 18. The Conservative newspaper El Vijilante warned there would be a caste war, and in 1851 Conservatives rebelled with arms against the coming emancipation of the remaining 500 slaves including 50 in Panama City that went into effect on 1 January 1852. The Liberals also ratified a radical constitution in 1853 that allowed all men to vote regardless of race or property.
      On 26 January 1854 the consuls of the United States, France, Britain, Brazil, Portugal, Denmark, Peru, and Ecuador complained that the governor of Panama was not protecting those passing across the Isthmus even though they had to pay a $2 tax. Justo Arosemena proposed a Federal State of Panama to unite the provinces on the isthmus, and he was elected its first chief executive; but he served only two months in the summer of 1855. The State of Panama was proclaimed on September 17, and Conservative Francisco Fábrega became the chief executive on October 4. He tried to resolve the financial troubles by getting a loan from a bank in the United States. The Liberal Pedro Goytia proclaimed himself Governor of the Azuero province, and on 14 January 1856 Fábrega learned that Goytia was leading a revolt.
      On 15 April 1856 a drunken sailor from the United States refused to pay for a slice of watermelon, and a fight with other drunken men broke out. A crowd gathered, and they attacked the American immigrants. All but two of the 17 killed were citizens of the United States who had arrived that day. This “incidente de la tajada de sandía” (incident of the slice of watermelon) became a significant historical event as the beginning of the Panamanian national struggle against the imperialism of the United States.
      In the election on 15 August 1856 the whites claimed that the conservative Bartolomé Calvo was elected by 4,000 votes; but the blacks believed that Manuel María Díaz was chosen. On September 18 the legislature declared Calvo the constitutional governor for two years with Fábrega as vice governor.
      In 1858 José de Obaldía was popularly elected governor of Panama, and during his term whites and blacks fought twice. On 1 October 1860 Santiago de la Guardia was elected over the opposition of the liberal black voters, and he moved the capital to Santiago de Veragua. After his departure the blacks chose Manuel Díaz provisional governor, and in a skirmish on 19 August 1862 liberals attacked towns and killed Guardia and two or three others. They drafted a new constitution ratified on 8 May 1863, and the Isthmus became a part of the United States of Colombia. They banned the death penalty and cruel punishment and made ten years the maximum sentence. The constituent assembly chose Pedro Goytia to be president of the state; but he was forced to resign, and on August 13 he was replaced by General Peregrino Santacolonia. He was soon sent as a delegate to the national congress at Bogotá, and Vice President José Leonardo Calancha was chief executive; but he was unpopular and was deposed and replaced on 9 March 1865 by Gil Colunje.

Copyright © 2018, 2020 by Sanderson Beck

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South America 1845-65
Caribbean & Central America 1845-65
Mexico and Civil Wars 1845-65
Polk and the US-Mexican War 1845-49
US of Taylor, Clay & Fillmore 1849-52
US of Pierce & Kansas Conflicts 1853-56
US Western Expansion & Indians 1845-65
Black Americans & Abolitionists 1845-65
United States & Buchanan 1857-59
United States Dividing 1860-61
Lincoln’s War for Union in 1861
Lincoln’s War for Union in 1862
Lincoln’s War for Emancipation in 1863
Lincoln’s War for Emancipation in 1864
United States Victory in 1865
Canada and British Provinces
US Peacemakers & Women Reformers 1845-65
American Literature 1845-56
Preventing United States Civil War
Summary & Evaluating America 1845-1865

World Chronology to 1830
Chronology of America to 1865

BECK index