Anastasio Somoza was born on February 1, 1896, in San Marcos, Nicaragua. When Anastasio was a youth, he was sent to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to live with relatives while attending the Pierce School of Business Administration. Following his schooling, he went home to Nicaragua, but was unsuccessful in business. He joined the Liberal revolution in 1926.
When the U.S. Marines entered the country, he rose through the ranks of a constabulary force organized by them. After fighting General Augusto Sandino and his forces from 1927 to 1933, the marines evacuated the country and left Somoza in charge of the newly formed National Guard. He ordered the successful assassination of General Sandino in 1934. Somoza then overthrew the elected Nicaraguan government in 1936 and became the country's dictator in 1937. Somoza ruled until 1956, when he was shot to death by an assassin.