Seizing an American Empire

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The United States formed an interest in the Caribbean island after the 1989 War. As a result, the planned Panama Canal became one of the United States' top priorities. The Canal's purpose was to enable ships to sail from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. The Panama Canal would thus cut the sailing distance between New York City and San Francisco by almost 8,000 miles (David and George, 668-669).
Panama, though being a small nation, became a source of concern for the United States in the late 1940s. The island was an important overland that linked the sea route of the goldfields in East Coast of California. However, the main obstacles to the constructions of the Panama Canal were the 1846 Bidlack Treaty, also known as the New Granada Treaty that the British signed with the Colombians and the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty (David and George, 668-669).
The two treaties were the greatest controversies facing the construction of the Panama Canal. In the 1950 Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, the British agreed to stop the acquisition of more territories in Central America (David and George, 668-669). The United States supported the treaty, agreeing to only to fortify the canal on mutual understanding only.
Another challenge was from Ferdinand de Leppes who led French Company that constructed the Suez Cana in Egypt and had dug almost a third of the Panama Canal at the cost of $300 million and 20,000 workers (David and George, 668-669). The built part was under the control of Columbians and America was required to pay for the partially completed canal which it accepted.
Though the United States Senate approved the payment of $10 million for the acquisition of zone six miles of the Canal, the Columbian Senate insisted on $25 million. President Roosevelt was enraged at the demand while the Panamanians revolted against the Columbian rule thus affecting the construction of the Panama Canal (David and George, 668-669).
To overcome the controversies some treaties came into place. Hay, the United States Secretary of Sates requested the British Ambassador Herran for consent to build the Canal, leading to the signing of a Hay-Pauncefote Treaty in 1901. Bunau-Varilla became a new Ambosodar from the Independent Panama to the United States. Bunau-Varilla signed an agreement that extended the Canal Zone from six to ten miles wide (David and George, 668-669).
In conclusion, despite the controversies, the United States signed some treaties and agreed to pay a $10 million as down payment and $250,000 annually and received the perpetual right to occupy, use and control the Panama Canal Zone. The United Sates’ acquisition of the Panama Canal resulted in much enmity between the United States and Latin America, but the most important aspect was the success of developing the Panama Canal.

Work cited

David, Shi and George Tinda, “America The Essential Learning Edition, Chapter 19 Seizing an American Empire”, 1865-1913: 19, (1913) 668-669.

May 04, 2022


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