Please provide a detailed summary and historical context for the following primary source. "I Took Final Action in 1903" Theodore Roosevelt...
Please provide a detailed summary and historical context for the following primary source.
"I Took Final Action in 1903" Theodore Roosevelt
Roosevelt wrote this document after he failed to be reelected to the Presidency in 1912. In this document, he explains why he believes the construction of the Panama Canal was his most important foreign policy achievement and why it was constitutional, though some argued otherwise at the time. In actuality, Roosevelt supported a revolution in Panama, then part of Colombia, when the Colombians would not agree to the construction of the canal, which the French under de Lesseps had tried but failed to build.
In this document, Roosevelt states that the Colombians had often asked him to protect the isthmus across Panama and that de Lesseps had tried to build the canal but had failed. He writes that the government of Colombia had shown itself to be incapable of controlling the isthmus in the state of Panama and that only the constant intervention of the US had maintained this property under Colombian control. When Panama declared itself independent in 1903, no congress had sat in Colombia since 1898, and it had become a dictatorship.
The US negotiated the Hay-Herran treaty with Colombia to provide the US with a 100-year lease on a strip of land across Panama, but it was not ratified by Colombia. Roosevelt argues that this treaty was overly generous to Colombia. Roosevelt writes that the revolution in 1903 was entirely peaceful and that the U.S. did not aid or abet this revolution. Roosevelt states that both military and civil reasons compelled him to intervene to build the canal, which was of vital importance for American shipping. You can read at the end of his speech how he further justifies the construction of the canal.