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Grant number like: FA-54152-08

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Michel Gobat
University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA 52242-1320)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products][Prizes]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2008 – 7/31/2009

Central America's Encounter with U.S. Manifest Destiny, 1848-1860

This project explores the rise and fall of the United States' first overseas empire, which was built in Central America by William Walker and his band of nearly 10,000 colonists. Walker's imperial venture eventually drove thousands of Central Americans to expel the intruders in the name of Catholic nationalism. Contrary to conventional wisdom, many other Central Americans supported Walker because they deemed his "empire of liberty" a more democratic polity than their own nation-state. By explaining why many Central Americans backed Walker's regime, even as most others sought to destroy it, this project illuminates the transnational nature of U.S. expansionism and its apparently democratic appeal. It also reveals religion's key role in forging the most successful anti-U.S. movement in Latin American history. This study elucidates a critical but overlooked moment in the history of pro- and anti-Americanism, a moment with profound implications for the meaning of those sentiments today.