American Minute with Bill Federer Feb. 23 - The Panama Canal
American Minute with Bill Federer
Feb. 23 - The Panama Canal
The Panama Canal Zone was acquired by the U.S. for ten million dollars on FEBRUARY 23, 1904.
Proposed by Spain as early as 1534 so as to not have to sail around the
Strait of Magellan, France began building a sea-level canal in 1880,
led by Ferdinand de Lesseps, builder of the Suez Canal, but landslides
from tropical rains and tropical diseases of malaria and yellow fever
caused the effort to be abandoned.
Dr. Walter Reed of the U.S.
Army, had researched in Cuba in 1899 after the Spanish-American War,
and confirmed the discovery of Dr. Carlos Finlay that mosquitoes were
the carriers of malaria and yellow fever, resulting in improved public
sanitation measures which allowed construction in Panama to be
In 1903, the United States helped Panama gain its independence from Columbia.
Planned by President William McKinley, construction on the Panama Canal began
under President Theodore Roosevelt, who decided on a canal system
using a lake with three tiers of locks instead of a sea-level canal.
Inventions such as railroads, steam shovels, steam-powered cranes,
hydraulic rock crushers, cement mixers, dredges, pneumatic power drills
and electric motors, technology largely developed and built in the
United States, were used to create the largest dam and the largest
man-made lake (Gatun Lake) in the world at that time.
On December 6, 1912, President William Taft addressed Congress:
"Our defense of the Panama Canal, together with our enormous world
trade and our missionary outposts on the frontiers of civilization,
require us to recognize our position as one of the foremost in the
family of nations,
and to clothe ourselves with sufficient
naval power to give force to our reasonable demands, and to give weight
to our influence in those directions of progress that a powerful
Christian nation should advocate."
On October 23, 1913, President Woodrow Wilson stated in his Thanksgiving Proclamation:
"We have seen the practical completion of a great work at the Isthmus
of Panama which not only exemplifies the nation's abundant capacity of
its public servants but also promises the beginning of a new age of
co-operation and peace.
'Righteousness exalteth a nation' and
'peace on earth, good will towards men' furnish the only foundation
upon which can be built the lasting achievements of the human spirit."
The Panama Canal was opened August 15, 1914, the same year World War I
began. The largest American engineering project to that date, it had
cost the United States $375,000,000 (roughly $10 billion today) and
5,600 American lives.
On March 31, 1976, California Governor Ronald Reagan stated:
"Well, the Canal Zone is not a colonial possession. It is not a
long-term lease. It is sovereign United States Territory every bit the
same as Alaska and all the states that were carved from the Louisiana
We bought it, we paid for it, we built it, and we intend to keep it."
President Jimmy Carter gave away the Panama Canal in 1977, and today
passage through the ports at either end, Balboa and Cristobal, is
effectively controlled by China's Huchinson Whampoa's Panama Ports
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