William Walker, a Scotch-American, 29 years old, of strong personal characteristics and adventurous nature, after a varied career, conceived, about 1853, the idea of forming independent republics in certain districts of Mexico, the remoteness and sparse settlement of whose districts made the plan seem feasible. He was impelled, no doubt, largely by an emulative spirit of jealousy toward the dashing French Count, Raoul Raousset, whose operations in northwestern Mexico had a somewhat similar purpose.
This Walker, of unbounded and misdirected ambition, balked in his first tentative efforts to further hid project by deception and cajolery of the Mexican government, renewed the enterprise in San Francisco, where, cloaking his scheme under the guise of humanity and patriotism, he readily enlisted a little army of hardy and reckless men, mostly of the adventurer type. Escaping by a ruse from the attempted interference of Hitchcock, then military commander, on October 15, 1853, Walker, on board the Caroline, with a large number of armed men, and a nepotist staff of secretaries, etc., for a cabinet, sailed from San Francisco, and on November 3 landed at La Paz, where he captured the chief government representatives, seized upon the archives, and, after several skirmishes of little importance, hauled down the Mexican flag and substituted his own, declaring La Baja a new republic, proclaiming himself president, and appointing his ” staff officers ” to their respective positions. On Jan-nary 18, 1854, this organization was remodeled, Lower California and Sonora being declared one government, and called the Republic of Sonora. Walker shortly rejoined his confederate, Watkins, who had clandestinely left San Francisco with some 100 more armed men, and he now issued his orders and decrees broadcast, written in true filibustering style, and dated now from Santo Tomas, now Tia Juana, La Gorulla, La Ensenada, or San Vicente. He met, however, considerable opposition from the Lower Californians; and the Commandant Melendez with his soldiers particularly hard-pressed the audacious invader on his return to Santo Tomas, after heading an expedition to the Colorado to capture Sonora. This expedition resulted very disastrously to the command, and so to Walker’s prospects. He therefore made haste to “evacuate Lower California,” and to retire across the border, where Major McKinstry and Captain Burton, United States military officers stationed at San Diego, received his surrender and parole, on May 6, 1854. The invasion was ended by the dispersion of the band at San Diego. Walker reported for trial to General Wool at San Francisco, but the arraignment of himself and his officers came to naught, as nothing was proved against them. Walker devoted himself to journalism until the Nicaragua scheme, a year or two later.