Acquisition of the Panama Canal Zone (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: The U.S. agreement to build a transoceanic canal revolutionizes transportation and shipping.
Summary of Event
On November 18, 1903, the minister of the new Republic of Panama, Philippe Bunau-Varilla, and the U.S. secretary of state, John Hay, signed the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty. By the terms of the treaty, the United States agreed to pay $10 million cash and an annual rental fee of $250,000 in return for a canal zone ten miles wide that was to grant “to the United States in perpetuity the use, occupation and control.” The United States took possession of the canal site on May 4, 1904, and at a cost of $375 million, built the canal that had previously defeated such experienced canal builders as Ferdinand de Lesseps’ Suez Canal Company. In the process, Colonel William C. Gorgas of the United States Army Medical Corps perfected techniques—many of which were learned in Cuba during the Spanish-American War—for the prevention of the dreaded yellow fever. The Panama Canal was opened for shipping on August 15, 1914, two weeks after World War I had begun in Europe.
The history of the negotiations for the Canal Zone marks one of the most controversial and colorful episodes in American diplomatic history. The real and perceived participation of the United States in the revolution that...
(The entire section is 1672 words.)
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