The Path Between the Seas Characters
by David McCullough

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The Path Between the Seas Characters

Ferdinand de Lesseps

de Lesseps was a French diplomat credited with building the Suez Canal. He was celebrated for this achievement and used his fame to galvanize the French people to support his Compagnie universelle du canal interocéanique de Panama. Despite the help of his son Charles, his attempt to build a canal in Panamá was a failure and ended in scandal.

Lucien Napoléon Bonaparte-Wyse

Wyse was a French engineer commissioned by the Compagnie universelle to oversee construction of the canal. He was able to come to terms with the Colombian government (in control of Panamá and the Canal Zone at the time) and gain a ninety-nine-year window in which to build the canal. This became known as the "Wyse Concession" and would play a role in the future American efforts to build the canal.

Daniel Ammen

Ammen was a United States Naval officer put in charge of the US delegation to the Paris International Canal Congress. Ammen would argue in favor of building the canal through Nicaragua, an idea that many preferred to that of a Panamá route.

Cornelius Herz

Herz was a doctor and businessman who emerged at the center of the "Panamá scandals." He was implicated in financing and orchestrating the failed attempts to save the canal from ruin, but his exact role and relationship to Jacob Adolphe Reinach was never clarified. His association with statesman Georges Clemenceau would nearly ruin Clemenceau's political career.

Jacob Adolphe Reinach

A French banker made infamous by the "Panamá scandals," Reinach was the canal commission's financial adviser and was found guilty of extortion. He would be viewed as the primary villain of the scandals and eventually commit suicide.

Georges Clemenceau

Clemenceau was a significant French physician and statesman who was implicated during the scandal. His friendship with Dr. Cornelius Herz would nearly ruin a political career that would see Clemenceau become prime minister of France during World War I.

Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla

Bunau-Varilla was a French engineer who became a primary player in the American decision to build in Panamá. After lobbying for the canal's construction to be in Panamá, with the help of attorney William Nelson Cromwell, Bunau-Varilla would also help to undermine Colombian control of the isthmus via the Panamanian Revolution, as well as sign a treaty with the United States on the Panamanians' behalf.

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt was the twenty-sixth president of the United States. Roosevelt's political role in establishing an acceptable government in Panamá, despite the rights of the Colombian government, was overshadowed by his personality and contagious belief that American leadership and control would lead them toward the successful completion the canal.

Mark Hanna

Hanna was an American senator who worked with Bunau-Varilla and attorney William Nelson Cromwell to convince congress to build in Panamá. Hanna successfully helped to negotiate with the Colombians before the ensuing revolution, but he died while the treaty with the Panamanian government to build the canal was still being formalized.

John Tyler Morgan

Morgan was an American politician and Confederate veteran who would lead the argument for the United States to build the canal in Nicaragua. Despite his failure to bring his own hopes to fruition, he would accurately and ironically (he had been a slave-holder and was a notorious voice for white supremacy) declare that the United States had grown "too large to be just."

Manuel Amador Guerrero

The first president of Panamá, Guerrero was of Colombian descent and emerged as a key figure in the Panamanian Revolution. He came to discover after traveling to Washington that Bunau-Varilla had already signed the...

(The entire section is 889 words.)