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On Friday, the Associated Press reported that an ex-Green Beret recently led a failed coup against Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro.

Jordan Goudreau, a former medic in the U.S. Army special forces and three-time Bronze Star recipient for bravery in Iraq and Afghanistan, led a cadre of 300 heavily armed but poorly trained volunteers to raid military bases across Venezuela. Goudreau had hoped to ignite a popular revolution to oust the admittedly unpopular Maduro.

To the shock of no one, Goudreau’s coup was quickly quelled, but left us all wondering “bro, are you good?”

If upon reading that you felt a sense of déjà vu, don’t worry. You’re not alone. In one of the more bizarre tales in the annals of American history, a rogue filibuster by the name of William Walker attempted to conquer not one, not two, but three Latin American nations.

Born to well-to-do parents in Nashville, Tennessee in 1824, Walker—in his short 36 years on Earth—became a doctor, lawyer, and newspaper editor before trying his hand at becoming a military dictator.

Taking the concept of Manifest Destiny a touch too far, in 1853 Walker, who was all of 5’2” and 120 pounds soaking wet, appointed himself a colonel and sailed from San Francisco to northwestern Mexico with 45 recruits. Why 45 versus 50? We may never know.

In the wake of the Mexican-American War in which Mexico ceded the territories of what would become the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah, plus parts of Wyoming and Colorado, the notion of land grabbing was not novel. What was novel was trying to do it with 45 men.

Walker and his soldiers landed in the Mexican town of La Paz in Baja California. After capturing the territorial governor, Walker proclaimed Baja “the Republic of Lower California” and anointed himself president.

Buoyed by his success and backed by more reinforcements from San Francisco, Walker seized the nearby town of Ensenada. Soon the invaders encountered Mexican forces who managed to capture Walker’s ship and kill several of his soldiers. Wildly undaunted, Walker moved on to the neighboring province of Sonora, but failed to conquer the region.

In May of 1854, Walker and 34 of his men fled to the U.S. border with the recalcitrant “colonel” declaring, “I am Colonel William Walker. I wish to surrender my force to the United States.”

That October Walker was charged under the Neutrality Act which forbids Americans from invading other nations. In San Francisco, however, his case induced little more than an eyeroll and a smirk. The jury, after a mere eight minutes of deliberation, acquitted Walker.

Emboldened, Walker set his sights on Nicaragua, a vulnerable nation beset by decades of civil war between the Legitimists and the Liberals. Walker had cut a deal with the Liberals—if he fought for them, the Liberals would, in return, give him land grants.

Walker had learned from his previous mistakes, and in May of 1855 he sailed to Nicaragua with a whopping 57 men.

Linking up with Liberal soldiers, the coalition launched a surprise attack on Granada, and to the surprise of many, succeeded.

Walker, writes author Peter Carlson, “set up a new Nicaraguan government, naming himself commander of the army and appointing a local politician his puppet president.” But that wasn’t enough for Walker, and in “June 1856, he staged a bogus presidential election and declared himself victor. On inauguration day, he paraded through Grenada as a band played ‘Yankee Doodle.’ ”

Walker swiftly legalized slavery and began seizing land owned by “enemies of the state.” He also took possession of the Accessory Transit Company, which so happened to belong to Cornelius Vanderbilt, the richest man in America.

An incensed Vanderbilt paid a local agent $40,000 in gold to overthrow Walker, which, with the backing of neighboring Costa Ricans, he did in quick succession. Vanderbilt 1, Walker 0.

In October 1858, the United States once again charged Walker with violating the Neutrality Act. And once again Walker walked free. The trial ended in a hung jury and federal prosecutors opted not to re-try. 

In his final hurrah, the obstinate Walker set his sights on conquering Honduras. He didn’t get far.

On August 5, 1860, the British warship Icarus intercepted Walker and his 91 filibusters near the coastal town of Trujillo, Honduras. Instead of being turned over to the Americans, the British handed Walker to the Hondurans.

Naturally, the nation’s people didn’t take too kindly to the attempted coup, and on September 12, 1860, Walker was walked through a jeering crowd and lined up against a wall. The American who had twice slipped through the U.S. judicial system now awaited Honduran justice—a firing squad.