So, I’ve been reading an obscene amount about the Filibuster War, both out of my own interest as well as to write this for the website. The Filibuster War, also known as the National Campaign (La Campana Nacional) and the American Intervention in Nicaragua, represents the screaming climax to Manifest Destiny. If the American Civil War, which it often is qualified as, represents the first “modern” war in regards to rapid fundamental alterations and developments in logistics and military tactics (By this point, the long-standardized volley fire was already seeing cracks due to new military technology), then the Filibuster War is its prelude. The Mexican-American War, held a decade prior, was already very clearly waged, even to those at the time, with the intent to force Mexico to cede lands as tribute to the ever-growing hunger of American exceptionalist and expansionist ideology. As it was coming to a close, however, there were a dissident number of voices, not only in the public arena, but within the higher-ups of Congress, to try and fully annex the country of Mexico. Because of many reasons, one of which being that the diplomats being sent to negotiate a treaty of surrender with Mexican leaders found this proposition absurd, this never came to be. Land was ceded, but the hunger kept growing–and even though the war machine was powerful, they could not justify a second armed conflict with Mexico to finish the job and annex it. On the other hand, Manifest Destiny’s crux was in racial ideology :-- propositions to annex the Anglo-Saxon Canada, justified with the same reasons given to expand the US’s land claims into Native American or Hispanic territories regarding a “promotion of liberty and democracy” and so on, saw little fanfare in comparison.

This left the United States with two options. First was the dream for Cuba. While Cuba had been the white whale of the country for almost half a century at that point, with presidents as early as Jefferson noting its geographic and potentially economic importance to the United States and vocally desiring its annexation in the wake of the sale of Spanish lands in the continental United States. In the lead-up to the Civil War, multiple presidents were elected on a platform either outright declaring their intent to annex Cuba or implicitly endorsing the idea. There were just a few issues with this, though. For one, Spain was not willing to sell. Which isn’t that bad, all things considered! They have a few options to wrest it from the hands of Spain. So, they try to post up a revolution with a Venezuelan resident of Cuba named Narciso Lopez, but it is very easily quelled. This is to the slight dismay of the United States, but they do not worry about it too much, expecting it to, in time, follow Latin America and spontaneously erupt into revolutionary independence–the United States is hopeful of this. In what has now become storied as the “Ostend Manifesto,” at the behest of Franklin Pierce at the beginning of his administration, three American diplomats (Buchanan, Soulé, and Marcy) converged in Ostend, Belgium, to pontificate on a potential strategy to Cuban annexation. Outlining a somewhat more uncompromising and worried approach to the Cuban Question, the three diplomats come to a three-pronged consensus:

  1. American envoys should be sent to European capitals to have their leaders pressure Spain to sell Cuba as a means of paying its debts

  2. The potential “Africanization” of Cuba, in the wake of the success of Haiti’s revolution against French colonists was of particular concern. It would be a disaster for the United States and any such idea was to be prevented at all costs, meaning that inevitable future independence movements cannot be left to their own devices or relied upon to provide an opportunity to annex the island–the result of these previous hopes being reassessed and turning to fear

  3. If Spain still, then, refuses to sell Cuba, the United States’ “obligation” to prevent Africanization would mean they have to go to war with Spain over it. However, this may result in France and Britain coming to Spain’s aid as a means of protecting Spanish sovereignty

These findings were written and sent to America. However, while the plan was for these diplomats to keep their meetings a secret, they–Soulé in particularwere very warmly open about what they were doing and saying, courting the European press, whose reaction and presentation of these meetings were rather neutral, if not, like a child watching their father work on their car, inquisitive and attentive in tone. Once these reports made it into the hands of American periodicals, however, a surge of domestic outrage came quickly and harshly, particularly from Northerners, who had become disillusioned with the belief of Manifest Destiny as many lands acquired in its name were intended to be admitted as slave states–not to mention Spain also becoming aware, through the heated scandal, of what was supposed to be at least somewhat covert of an operation. As such, direct negotiational efforts with Spain on the matter of Cuba were hardly, if ever, pursued for the rest of the Pierce administration and Buchanan tenure. This means two things: first, Manifest Destiny would need to find a new target. Second, the hopelessness of a spontaneous uprising or federal annexation meant that the only way for progress to be made was through unauthorized, extrajudicial adventurers.

Enter two people. One will be brought up now, and the other will be brought up later. The