Christmas, Lee (1863–1924)

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Christmas, Lee (1863–1924)

Lee Christmas (b. 22 February 1863; d. 24 January 1924), North American soldier of fortune in Honduras. Christmas was probably the most famous of a generation of North American adventurers and filibusters who migrated to Central America from the 1890s until World War I. He left New Orleans in 1894 and got a job railroading on the north Honduran coast. From then until his return to the United States after World War I, he was involved in the political turmoil of Honduras and Guatemala. He served as national police chief of Honduras, fought in the Honduran-Nicaraguan war of 1907, and plotted with former Honduran president Manuel Bonilla and Guy "Machine-Gun" Molony to restore Bonilla to power, a plan that culminated in the attack on La Ceiba in January 1911. Christmas was rewarded with a sinecure at Puerto Cortés, and Sam "The Banana Man" Zemurray gained valuable concessions for his Cuyamel Fruit Company on the north Honduran coast. In 1915 Christmas lost favor with the Honduran regime and joined Manuel Estrada Cabrera's secret service in Guatemala. He returned virtually penniless to the United States in March 1922 and died of tropical sprue.

See alsoFilibustering; Honduras.


Hermann Deutsch, The Incredible Yanqui: The Career of Lee Christmas (1931).

Additional Bibliography

Acker, Allison. Honduras: The Making of a Banana Republic. Boston: South End Press, 1988.

Cáceres Lara, Víctor. El golpe de estado de 1904. Tegucigalpa: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras, Editorial Universitaria, 1985.

Garcia Buchard, Ethel. Poder político, interés bananero e identidad nacional en Centro América: Un estudio comparativo: Costa Rica (1884–1938) y Honduras (1902–1958). Tegucigalpa: Editorial Universitaria, 1997.

                                    Lester D. Langley