What benefits did the Panama Canal bring the US?

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The Panama Canal brought myriad benefits to the United States in the twentieth century. These benefits enhanced the prestige, commerce, and national security of the United States.

The completion of the waterway increased American prestige. After ten years of work, the Panama Canal opened in 1914. France had met with...

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The Panama Canal brought myriad benefits to the United States in the twentieth century. These benefits enhanced the prestige, commerce, and national security of the United States.

The completion of the waterway increased American prestige. After ten years of work, the Panama Canal opened in 1914. France had met with abject failure during its earlier attempt to build a canal though Central America. The successful completion of the project buttressed America's new role as an imperialist nation. America's achievement was made possible by careful planning, the eradication of diseases from the area, and modern and imaginative engineering.

The Panama Canal was, in a sense, a product of Manifest Destiny and ongoing American expansionism. Although Manifest Destiny was completed by 1900, economic links between the Eastern Seaboard and California were limited by the capacity of railroads. America's commercial and military ships had had to sail around the southern tip of South America by 1914. Also, the Suez Canal, which was completed in 1869, served as an example and inspiration for a Panama Canal under American control.

The Panama Canal was a strategic waterway during World War II and the Cold War. Soviet Russia was not allowed to send its military vessels through the canal during the Cold War. President Jimmy Carter was criticized for "giving away" a strategic asset when he promised to return the canal to the nation of Panama.

Although the canal reverted to Panamanian control in 1999, it remains important to the United States.

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