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Food History

William Walker, part 2

William Walker made himself President of Nicaragua in July 1856 but served only 10 months. He made two tactical errors. He badly needed money to pay his army of mercenaries, so he seized the assets of Accessory Transit Company which belonged to Wall Street tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt . Second, he invaded Costa Rica to add that nation to the new states he hoped to have annexed by the U.S.

Enraged, Vanderbilt midwifed a coalition of other Central American countries and supplied them with arms, money and training. Vanderbilt also persuaded President Buchanan to revoke diplomatic recognition of Walker's government. Meanwhile, Walker had been defeated at the Battle of Rivas, now celebrated as a national holiday in Costa Rica. His power crumbling, President Walker again escaped by surrendering, this time to the U.S. Navy. He returns to New Orleans as a prisoner but is a hero to the American public. Again, a jury finds him not guilty.

Walker raised another army and sailed from Mobile, Ala. This time, the U.S. Navy stopped him en route. He did not give up his master plan. In November 1857, he lands in Punta Arenas, Nicaragua, but Navy Commodore Pauling, arrests him before he can do any harm. While he is awaiting trial, Walker writes a widely read best seller &

The War In Nicaragua.&

He travels widely, giving lectures &

and recruiting more adventurers for his next campaign.

In June 1860, William Walker set out with a small force from New Orleans, heading for Nicaragua. This time, the British Navy bars him from landing. They are negotaiting with Honduras over some islands both claim. Walker&

s fertile brain hatches a new plot. He will foment a revolution in Honduras. While the British and Americans are busy, trying to restore order, he will march overland to invade Nicaragua. He lands in Trujillo, Honduras, in late August and immediately issues a proclamation, calling on the people to rebel against their government. The Hondurans do not respond. Instead, they force him to evacuate the city.

Having failed to foment a revolution and surrounded by hostile forces, on Sept. 3, 1860, Walker surrendered to Captain Salmon, commander of HMS Icarus, thinking he would find safety aboard a British warship. But Salmon gives him a taste of his own medecine. He had doublecrossed President Rivas for his own benefit. Now, to protect British interests, Salmon gives his captive to the Hondurans.

The Hondurans had had enough of the meddling Yankee. On Sept. 11, he was court-martialed and sentenced to death. Walker asked for a priest to hear his confession. &

I am resigned to die. My political race is finished.&

He was executed at eight the next morning. The Honduran government marked the spot with a plaque:

Willian Walker

12 Septiembre 1860

The Hondurans misspelled his given name, Willian instead of William, but their message came through loud and clear. Fusilado is usually translated as &

shot by a firing squad.&

The brilliant, enigmatic man who had come close to altering the history of the United States died bravely, shot by 10 soldiers in a sunbaked courtyard in Trujillo.

Chili-Avacado Casseroles are common everywhere in Central America. They are tasty and filling, but best of all they take only a few minutes to prepare. Warm the chili slightly, which makes it easier to spread.

Chili-Avacado Casserole

— ripe avocados peeled and cut in half

— 15 oz cans chili with beans

1/2 pound mild Cheddar cheese, shredded

Place avocado halves in shallow casserole, hollow side up. Fill holes and spread chili evenly over fruit. Sprinkle with grated cheese, bake at 300 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until cheese is melted and chili warmed. Tastes best if served with corn bread.