- A term derived from Dutch ( vrijbuiter ) and Spanish ( filibustero ) expressions for “free booty.” It was commonly applied during the nineteenth century to the activities of American entrepreneur-adventurers who undertook small-scale military operations and insurrectionist activities against the governments of Latin American countries, often with the goal of drawing the United States into the conflict to thereby secure their own personal political or commercial interests.Among the more notorious filibusterers was William Walker (1824–1860), who, after leading a failed filibustering expedition to California in 1853, in 1855 exploited the outbreak of a civil war in Nicaragua to divide the country and establish himself as dictator. Walker, a Southerner, promptly issued a decree opening Nicaragua to slavery. A coalition of neighboring republics ousted him in 1857, but he immediately organized a new expedition. By this time he had become an embarrassment to U.S. foreign policy, specifically regarding the sensitive and strategically important question of the construction and control of a future interoceanic canal across the Central American isthmus. His expedition was therefore apprehended by the U.S. Navy. An expedition to Honduras in the 1860s finally saw him captured, convicted, and executed. Despite the common usage of the term in the United States, filibustering was hardly a uniquely American activity. In terms of its ambition and consequences, the Jameson Raid against the government of the Transvaal in 1896 is among the more spectacular examples.See also <
>, < >, < >.FURTHER READING:Danziger, Christopher. The Jameson Raid. Cape Town: Macdonald South Africa, 1978;Stephanson, Anders. Manifest Destiny: American Expansionism and the Empire of Right. New York: Hill & Wang, 1995.CARL CAVANAGH HODGE
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.