History Items of the Canal Zone

[an error occurred while processing this directive] visitors since April 13, 2001.

The following are miscellaneous documents and Rambles I have received and scanned in, as well as links that relate to history of the time I lived in the Zone.

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"Zonite", written by Howard L. Clarke, Jr., keyed in and provided for your pleasure. More will follow!

The following are excerpts from books I have read. I will, I hope include submissions others have taken the time and effort to key in and submit..

Below are the items posted thus far.

The following are snippets were taken from "Christian Cooperation at the World's Crossroads", written by Robert H. Rolofson, keyed in and provided by my Uncle, Howard Linden Clarke, Jr.

I will continually add to the end of this history new items and submissions as the are ready. 

Controversy with Columbia - 1913

From a book titled The Panama Canal, written by Frederic J. Haskin, and Published by Doubleday, Page & Company in 1913 I offer some excerpts.

Chapter XIX - Controversy with Columbia page 238-240

"…..Coming to New York on another mission, he (M. Bunau-Varilla) met Dr. Amador, who was one of the Panamanians desiring the independence of his country. According to testimony of M. Bunau-Varilla, which is borne out by documentary evidence, he and Dr. Amador worked out the plan for the revolution. He declares that the documents were drawn in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and as far as they were written in Spanish, they were copied letter by letter by an English stenographer who knew no Spanish, in order that there be no possibility of the secret leaking out. He declares that the whole project of the revolution as it was carried out was conceived by him in cooperation with Dr. Amador, and that William Nelson Cromwell, the other factor in the situation, knew nothing about what was going on. He also asserts that William Nelson Cromwell had promised to introduce Dr. Amador to Secretary of State John Hay, but that later Dr. Hurran, the representative of Columbia, found out what was going on and wrote a letter of warning to Mr. Cromwell as to the consequences which would come to the Panama Railroad, of which Mr. Cromwell was the representative, if that organization should give aid or comfort to the projected Panama revolution. Thereupon, according to M. Bunau-Varilla, Mr. Cromwell turned his back upon Dr. Amador, although it has been claimed by some that this was only a ruse on the part of Mr. Cromwell to shield himself and his company from responsibility. About this time M. Bunau-Varilla borrowed $100,000 in France to finance the revolution, pending the recognition of the new Republic by the United States. Other money was forthcoming later.

The revolution itself, which took place in November, 1903, was bloodless. The world knows that President Roosevelt forbade the Colombian troops to move across the Isthmus, while at the same time he would not allow the revolutionists to make any move. A similar situation had asisen in a former revolution in 1902. At that time the Colombian troops were disarmed, and three days later insurgent troops were prevented by United States marines from using the railroad and were actually compelled to leave a train which they had seized and entered. The principle was enunciated and maintained that no troops under arms should be transported on the railroad, no matter to which party they belonged. That was because to permit such transportation would be to make the railroad an adjunct to the side using it, and subject to attack by the other party. In this way, if the Colombian troops used it, the insurgents would have attacked, and the United States would either be forced to permit such an attack, which might suspend traffic on the transit, or to prevent it with force, which would make it an ally of Columbia against the insurgents. On the other hand , if the insurgents were permitted to use the railroad, Columbia would attack it, and in that case the United States would have to help repel the attack and thus would become the ally of the insurgents. It was, therefore, held that the only way to make the road absolutely neutral was to allow neither party use it.

This was the doctrine under which President Roosevelt proceeded in 1903. Of course, the world knows that this was tantamount to preventing Columbia from reconquering the Isthmus, if that were possible. It is claimed by some that if President Roosevelt had allowed insurgents to use the railroad in 1902, Columbia would have been defeated in that revolution.

At the time of the revolution it is said that the Colombian garrison which espoused the cause of the Panamanians was bribed to do so; their commander two days afterwards was paid $12,500 for his services, and that he is to this day drawing a pension of $2400 a year. It is also charged that some of the troops who could not be bribed were sent to the interior to repel an imaginary invasion from Nicaragua. It is asserted that when the governor of the State of Panama telegraphed the Colombian Government that Nicaragua was invading Panama, the Bogota authorities sent additional troops to the Isthmus to help fight Nicaragua, and this accounted for the arrival of the gunboats from Cartagena on the eve of the revolution."

Chapter XIX - Controversy with Columbia page 241

"….. Once the revolution was started three courses were left open to the United States: One was to force the Panamanians back under Colombian rule; the second was to let the two sides fight to a finish; the third was to recognize the independence of the Republic of Panama and forbid Colombia to land troops on the Isthmus. President Roosevelt took the last course. A breezy Western congressman remarked in defence of that course: "When that jack rabbit jumped I am glad we didn’t have a bowlegged man for president!" The result of the revolution, and the recognition of the independence of the Republic of Panama, was that Columbia, which had tried to grasp everything and to get possession of the assets of the New Panama Canal Company, now found itself without anything."

Chapter XIX - Controversy with Columbia page 242-243

"….Secretary Hay rejected the plea of Colombia for arbitration, upon the ground that the questions that Colombia proposed to submit affected the honor of the United States and that the matters were not arbitrable.

After Elihu Root became Secretary of State, he declared that the real gravamen of the Colombian complaint was the espousal of the cause of Panama by the people of the United States. He said that no arbitration could deal with real rights and wrongs of the parties concerned, unless it were to pass on the question of whether the cause thus espoused was just -- whether the People of Panama were exercising their just rights in maintaining their right of independence of Colombian rule. "We assert and maintain the affirmative upon that question," he declared. "We assert that the ancient State of Panama was independent in its origin, and by nature and history a separate political community; that it was federated with the other States of Columbia upon the terms that preserved and continued its sovereignty, and that it never surrendered that sovereignty and was subjugated by force in 1885." Mr. Root further asserted that the united states was not "willing to permit any arbitrator to determine the political policy of the United States in following its sense of right and justice by espousing the cause of the Government of Panama against the Government of Colombia."

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Relations with Panama - 1913

From a book titled The Panama Canal, written by Frederic J. Haskin, and Published by Doubleday, Page & Company in 1913 I offer some excerpts.

Chapter XX - Relations with Panama, pages 246-248

"When the people of the Isthmus of Panama revolted against the Government of Colombia, they fully realized that almost their only hope of maintaining an independent government was to secure the building of the Panama Canal by the United States. Therefore they were in a mood to ratify a treaty which would meet every condition demanded by the Government of the United States.

The treaty, negotiated and ratified in 1904, gave to the United States every right it could have desired or which it could have possessed had it taken over the whole Isthmus itself. It was negotiated by John Hay, Secretary of State, representing the United States, and Philippe Bunau-Varilla, representing the Government of Panama. As the latter was a stockholder in the New French Canal Company, whose assets could be realized upon only through the success of the treaty negotiations, it naturally followed that he would put nothing in the way of the desires of the United States.

The treaty gave to the United States most unusual rights. For instance, in no other country on earth does one nation possess ultimate jurisdiction over the capital of another nation; yet this is what the United States possesses at Panama. The first consideration of the treaty was the establishment of the Canal Zone. This gave to the United States a territory 5 miles beyond the centerline of the canal on either side, and 3 miles beyond its deep water ends, with the exception of the cities of Colon and Panama, to hold in perpetuity with all rights, powers and authorities that the United States would possess if it were sovereign, and to the exclusion of the exercise of any sovereign rights, powers, or authority by the Republic of Panama.

Further than this, it gave the United States the same rights with respect to any land, or land under water, outside the Canal Zone necessary and convenient for the canal itself, or any auxiliary canals or other works required for its operations.

Further yet, the Republic granted in perpetuity a canal monopoly throughout its entire territory, and also monopolies of railroad and other means of communication between the two oceans.

Under the terms of the treaty the cities of Panama and Colon are required to comply in perpetuity with all sanitary ordinances, whether curative or preventative, which the United States may promulgate. The Republic of Panama also agrees that if it cannot enforce these ordinances, the United States become vested with the power to enforce them. The same is true with reference to maintenance of order. The Republic of Panama agrees to keep order, but gives to the United States not only the right to step in with American forces and restore it, but also to determine when such action is necessary."

Chapter XX - Relations with Panama, pages 249

"….. In return for all these concessions the United States gives to the Republic of Panama many valuable considerations. Most vital of all, it guarantees the independence of the Republic. This means that the Republic of Panama is today practically the possessor of an army and a navy as large as the United States can put into the fields and upon the seas. The only agressor that Panama need fear is her benefactor.

The second consideration involved the payment of $10,000,000 cash to the Republic, and a perpetual annual payment of a quarter of a million dollars beginning in the year 1913. The ten-million-dollar cash payment gave the impoverished new-born government a chance to get on its feet, and from this time forward the Panamanian Government can look forward to the United States for the major portion of it necessary revenues."

Chapter XX - Relations with Panama, pages 250-251

"… For several years preceding the acquisition of the Canal Zone, the late W. I. Buchanan was the united States minister to Colombia. …..As Canal Zone Governor J. C. S. Blackburn and former Minister Blackburn drove through the streets of Panama and surveyed the changes that had taken place, Mr. Buchannan declared to Governor Blackburn that if an angel from heaven had appeared to him and said such a transformation in the city od Panama could be made in so few years he could scarcely have believed it.

When he was there the main streets of the city were nothing but unbroken chains of mud puddles in which, during the wet season, carriages sank almost to the axles. When he returned he found those same streets well paved with vitrified brick, measuring up to the best standards of American street work. Where formerly peddlers hawked water from disease-scattering springs, there were hydrants throughout the town and wholesom water on tap in almost every house. Where there had been absolutely no attempt to solve the problems of sewage disposal, where the masses of people lived amid indescribable filth, absolutely oblivious to its stenches and its dangers, now there was a sewage system fully up to the best standards of American municipal engineering."

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The Lottery - 1913

From a book titled The Panama Canal, written by Frederic J. Haskin, and Published by Doubleday, Page & Company in 1913 I offer some excerpts.

Chapter XX - Relations with Panama, pages 254

"…..The Panama lottery and the Bishop of Panama share the same house. One has to pass the lottery to see the bishop and, mayhap, a half dozen old woman ticket sellers will try to intercept him before he reaches the church dignitary.

This lottery is a veritable gold mine to those who own it. Each ordinary drawing brings in $10,000 -- $1 for each ticket issued. The grand prize takes $3000 of this, the next 9 prizes calling for a total of $900, and the next 90 for a total of $450 and the remaining prizes fir $2,070. Thus $6,420 in prizes are paid out of the total of $10,000 received. Out of the remainder, 5 percent goes to the ticket sellers, 5 percent to the Panamanian Government. Once a month the drawing is made for a grand prize of $7.500. Most of the money made by the lottery people is contributed by the workers on the canal. Only 64 percent of the money received from the sale of tickets is won back by the ticket buyers at each drawing. The net profits approximate a hundred thousand dollars a year."

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