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Panama Canal

Uploaded by Rkn on Sep 18, 2001

How did we, humans, accomplish these great tasks? Such deeds are the Great Wall of China and the pyramids of Egypt. But one of these magnificent accomplishments is more significant than others: the Panama Canal.

Encouraged by the French, the US built a vital link for the entire world. Despite previous failures by preceding organizations, the US was able to survive. This structure remains today as one of the greatest engineering marvels of the modern world.

The Canal goes as far back as the 16th century after Europeans realizing the riches of South America and Asia. Charles I of Spain ordered the first survey of a proposed canal route through the Isthmus of Panama. The survey was finished in 1529 but wars in Europe simply put the project on hold. Then, Emperor Napoleon III of France toyed with the idea of a canal in French land across the sea but never thought much more of it.

Various maps were drawn between 1850 and 1875 and proved that only 2 routes were possible: one across Panama and the other across Nicaragua. In 1876, an international company was mustered but failed. Three years later, Ferdinand Marie de Lesseps, the builder of the Suez Canal across Egypt, organized a French company. Lesseps' succession at Suez gave him confidence that a canal at Panama would be no different.

A lease on building the canal was sold to France by Colombia from 1878 to 1903. In the beginning, Lesseps had hoped to muster 400 billion francs but received 30 million francs, only 8% of what he had wished for. Work for the French company started in 1882. From that point on, the company and the canal were plagued by troubles, from money to diseases. France gave up on the canal project and began a search for a buyer. Eventually, France found a friend in the US.

America sent Lieutenant Menocal to survey Nicaragua for a canal site. But, the government lost funding, the first and last of America's mistakes on the canal project. President McKinley would have probably secured funds for a Nicaraguan canal, had not a bullet taken his life. Theodore Roosevelt decided to begin anew and a friendship with the Republic of Panama.

Philippe Bunau-Varilla, an American ambassador, wrote the Hay-Bunau-Varilla treaty, which was ratified by the new Panamanian Government in 1903 and by the American Senate in early 1904. This treaty granted exclusive canal rights to the US...

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Uploaded by:   Rkn

Date:   09/18/2001

Category:   American History

Length:   4 pages (978 words)

Views:   1792

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