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Marines in Panama, 1903-04 (Part I)

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Fix Bayonets! by Mustang

President Theodore Roosevelt, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.35645

President Theodore Roosevelt

Arguably, the most important action President Theodore Roosevelt ever took in foreign affairs related to the construction of the Panama Canal.  It was controversial abroad —it was controversial at home.  Those who opposed the canal claimed that Roosevelt’s actions were unconstitutional.  If true, then so too were Thomas Jefferson’s actions when he acquired the Louisiana Territory.  At different times, the congressional do-nothings accused Roosevelt of usurping their authority. They must not have known Roosevelt very well; he was a man of action.

Some background

A canal across the isthmus of Panama was first discussed in 1534, when Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain ordered a survey for a route through the Americas that would shorten the voyage for ships traveling between Spain and Peru.  In 1668, the British physician and philosopher Sir Thomas Browne speculated that such an undertaking would be a good idea; after all, it only involved “but a few miles” across the isthmus.  A little more than 100-years later, Thomas Jefferson (then US minister to France), suggested to the Spanish that they proceed with their project; after all, it would be far less treacherous than sailing ships around the tip of South America. Besides, he added, the tropical ocean currents would naturally widen the canal thereafter and it would be easy to maintain it.

By the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, numerous canals were constructed in other countries.  Engineers were learning how to do this.  The success of the Erie Canal in the 1820s was inspiring, and the collapse of the Spanish Empire in the New World led to a surge of American interests in building an inner-oceanic canal.

Of course, in the first eighty-years following independence from Spain, Panama was a department (province) of Colombia.  Panama voluntarily joined Colombia in 1821.  It was not a happy marriage, however, and the Panamanians made several attempts to secede, notably in 1831 and again during the Thousand Days War of 1899-1902.  Among the indigenous people, the struggle was one for land rights [1] under the leadership of Victoriano Lorenzo [2].

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Mustang has other great reads over at his two blogs – Thoughts from Afar with Old West Tales, Fix Bayonets! and via BUNKERVILLE | God, Guns and Guts Comrades!  You can also follow our friend/fellow patriot and blogger from across the pond on Twitter: Mustang.

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About the Author:

I am an American, Black female, Christian, Conservative whose priorities are God, family and country. Born and raised in the Empire State, I am a mother, sister, aunt and grandmother having raised a son and four nieces on my own while caring for a disabled spouse. Affiliate blog: PUMABydesign001's Blog, Member/Author of Wow! Magazine., Contributor to Veterans' Tales.org. Social media: Gab: gab.ai/PUMABydesign Twitter: @PUMABydesign001 MeWe: MeWe.com; Facebook: @GrumpyOpinions2016; Minds: @PUMABydesign001.
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