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Building The Panama Canal Essay

1570 words - 6 pages

Since the start of Teddy Roosevelt's presidency, he wanted to imperialize the United States. He believed that building a canal in Latin America would be a good way to imperialize. It would connect the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans and would be much quicker and more efficient than having to go around the bottom tip of South America in the Tierra del Fuego. Roosevelt was determined to build this canal and would keep pushing for it until he got his way. He faced many obstacles, but his determination enabled him to overcome them. With much help, he would build one of the most important canals in the western hemisphere.
Building a canal to connect the seas together wasn?t originally Roosevelt?s idea. The idea had been around since Spanish colonial times, but the United States took interest in the subject too as they expanded westward. In 1846 a treaty was signed granting the United States transit rights across the Isthmus of Panama, as long as they guaranteed neutrality in Panama and Columbia. In 1848, Great Britain and the United States had great interest in building the Nicaragua Canal, a route other than across the Isthmus of Panama. The Clayton-Buwler Treaty of 1850, in which Great Britain and the United States promised that any canal in Central America would be politically neutral, ended the rivalry between the two countries. Credit of the idea for building a canal can be given to Cornelius Vanderbilt. H realized he could make quite a profit from the canal. The United States found it imperative that they had control over a canal in Latin America, but did not know whether to build one in Nicaragua or Panama. Later, in 1878, a French company under Ferdinand de Lesseps, who was an ambitious man who built the Suez Canal, was granted the rights to build a sea-level canal in Panama. De Lesseps thought building the Panama Canal would be as easy as the Suez Canal, but he would soon find out that this was not the case. They started building in 1881, but faced many problems such as disease, construction problems, and poor financing and soon went bankrupt. In 1901 the rights were then transferred to another French company, under leaders William Nelson Cornwell and Phillipe Bunau-Varilla. Cornwell and Bunau-Varilla were determined to build a canal, and worked very hard to persuade the United States into helping them to build a canal in Panama instead of Nicaragua. At the same time, the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty was signed between Great Britain and the United States, giving the United States the right to build an isthmian canal. The U.S. proposed to Congress to build a canal in Nicaragua, but then an explosion of Volcano Martinique that killed nearly 40,000 people caused the Americans to lose interest in Nicaragua, and gain interest in Panama. To gain the rights to building a canal in Panama though, the United States had to acquire rights from Colombia, but Colombia offered an outrageous price that Americans weren?t willing to pay. With help from the United...

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