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HAY-PAUNCEFOTE TREATY; WALKER COMMISSION.
Company was forced to submit the able Comité report in full, with all its accompanying documents, to President McKinley. In December, 1898, the Senate passed a bill, providing for governmental support of the Maritime Canal Company and the Nicaraguan canal project, but the French company secured a hearing before the House Rivers and Harbors Committee and succeeded in defeating it. The next year Congress authorized the President to make an exhaustive investigation of the most feasible route for a canal to be completely under United States control and ownership. This resulted in what is usually considered the first isthmian canal commission of which Rear Admiral John G. Walker was appointed president. The commission proceeded slowly with its work and the Spanish war intervened before anything of consequence was accomplished. The Walker commission reported in favor of the Nicaraguan route, without, however, eliminating Panama as an alternative, and in June, 1899, a new commission with Walker again at the head was created. The expiration of the Maritime Company's concession and the failure of another syndicate to convince the Nicaragua government of good faith practically eliminated every company from the field except the French Panama receivership.
The question of abrogating the Clayton-Bulwer treaty had been broached by Secretary of State Hay, at the suggestion of the Senate, and
through the joint efforts of Hay and the British minister at Washington the Hay-Pauncefote treaty was signed in February, 1900, but failed of ratification in the Senate. A second treaty followed which proved acceptable and was ratified December 16, 1901. This important agreement abrogated the Clayton-Bulwer instrument and acknowledged the exclusive right of the United States to build, operate and maintain a canal; guaranteed the neutrality of the work under all conditions and conceded the right of the United States to fortify for its protection.
The Walker commission again reported to the President in December, 1900. It had examined the Panama project both on the ground and at Paris and endeavored to obtain from the company a valuation of its property and cession rights looking to purchase by the United States. The company balked at submitting definite figures to a body unauthorized to negotiate a sale but offered to submit a tentative valuation. The commission would listen to nothing but a lump sum and the result of the negotiations was a schedule of property submitted by the company totalling $109,000,000 in round numbers. The commission, figuring the difference in construction expense between Panama and Nicaragua, had settled upon $40,000,000 as the highest price that could be paid by the United States in taking over the Panama route as the economical selection. The difference in cost as estimated being but $58,000,000 in
favor of Panama, valuing the French company's rights and property at the assessment of $40,000,000, the valuation of $109,000,000 seemingly placed the shorter route out of the question and the commission's report was unanimous in favor of Nicaragua.
The situation that confronted the Panama Canal Company on the publication of this report was that of having its entire plant rendered valueless. It was evident there could be no competition against the United States and once that country commenced work at Nicaragua the Panama project was dead beyond all hope of revival. At a hurried meeting of the stockholders the French company voted to meet the $40,000,000 price and cabled the commission to that effect; whereupon that body made a supplemental report stating the circumstances and recommending the selection of the Panama route. Before this supplemental report was announced the House of Representatives authorized the President to secure concessions from Nicaragua for constructing a canal but fortunately this resolution met with delay in the Senate and the publication of the supplemental report gave the matter a new aspect; it also started anew the grand climax of the Nicaragua-Panama battle that had raged so furiously in the past. The conflict was tremendous and the passion involved. furnished several entertaining though scarcely edifying spectacles of Congressional gymnastics, until from the turmoil and wrath emerged the
so-called Spooner bill which passed both Houses on June 28, 1902, and directed the President within certain limits of discretion to adopt the Panama route.
After four hundred years of fruitless effort the project of a canal at Panama had, at last, started toward undoubted success.
The question of being able to obtain a valid transfer of title from the Panama Company to the United States was settled after painstaking investigation and a lawsuit through the highest court of France; negotiations were opened with Colombia to secure perpetual control over a strip of land sufficient in area to safeguard the canal along its entire line. Of the liberal terms proposed by the United States there is no need to mention other than the monetary consideration of $7,000,000 in cash and an annuity after fourteen years of $250,000 per year. This was refused by the Colombian government and matters assumed a character that but too plainly showed an intent to mulet America to the highest possible figure.
The refusal to treat on the offered terms was made in November, 1902, but it should be noted here that Colombia passed through a revolutionary turmoil in 1898 and for the four following years the country showed signs of feverishness that by 1902 was concentrating in Panama. The interruption to traffic across the Isthmus had brought United States warships before both Colon and Pan
PANAMA THREATENS COLOMBIA.
ama and marines were landed who enforced the neutrality of the Panama Railroad for two months, preventing in turn both Colombian and insurgent troops from using it. Meanwhile negotiations which were to culminate in the Hay-Herran treaty were progressing at Washington; when finally signed the financial considerations were $10,000,000 in cash. to Colombia and $100,000 yearly to commence nine years after the signing of the treaty. The Senate ratified this treaty March 17, 1903. To the astonishment of America, Colombia's ratification was delayed and despite Secretary Hay's plain-spoken dispatch of warning the Colombian Congress allowed the treaty to lapse, although the negotiations and terms of the treaty, with but slight modifications, had originated in that country.
The uneasiness of Panama during this time was extreme. Chronically dissatisfied with her political relations with Colombia, a dissatisfaction that had been shown by actual revolution, the prospect of losing the canal through Bogota's greed, from which she had suffered often in the past, was more than the province could stand. Early in 1903 she gave Colombia fair warning that trouble would follow a failure to ratify the HayHerran treaty and the political moves from the capital promising but little hope, a movement developed with Dr. Manuel Amador at its head looking to independence and successful
negotiation with the United States for the canal. Cautiously and gradually recruits were added to the movement from among the influential Panamans and Dr. Amador went to New York for aid. His movements were reported to the United States state department by a friend of the Colombian government but Secretary Hay's only reply was to state the unconcern of the United States in such matters. Later Dr. Amador appeared in Washington but could obtain no assurances; on the contrary he was discouraged as the promoter of a revolution against a power, friendly to the United States, and thereafter discontinued his visits to the Secretary of State. He had, however, discovered that the United States felt bound to maintain neutrality on the isthmus and this was enough for his intended risk. That the American Government would read between the lines of all this pseudo-negotiation was to be expected and that it would refrain from proper action thereon would be more than could be expected. Through Dr. Amador's activities it had been placed in a position from which nothing but the most senseless Quixotism could prevent an advantage. Natural and proper precautions were taken as they would have been taken where American lives and property were concerned, even if a canal had been undreamed of at Panama. The gunboat Nashville was ordered to Colon and arrangements made to send a few other
warships in that direction as the talk of revolution was more than public property. Just how much inside information the United States government possessed may never be known, though a remembrance of the fact that the Panama Railroad was entirely in the hands of Americans who were more than friendly to any scheme calculated to throw the building of the canal into the hands of the United States is an interesting consideration; but that our government had anything to do with fomenting or instigating the revolution is an absurdity. There was no need for it to do so.
President Roosevelt's message to Congress in December, 1903, gave a chronological list of the disturbances in Panama and from the year 1900 they read as follows: "February, 1900, to July 1900 Revolution; January 1901 Revolution; 1901 - Revolutionary disturbances; September 1901 - Colon taken by rebels; March 1902 Revolutionary disturbances; July 1902 - Revolution." He further stated that "had it not been for the exercise of the police power in her [Colombia's] interest, her connection with the Isthmus would have been sundered long ago. In 1856, in 1860, in 1877, in 1885, in 1901, and again in 1902, sailors and marines from United States warships were forced to land in order to patrol the Isthmus, to protect life and property and to see that the transit across the Isthmus was kept open. In 1861, in 1862, in 1885 and in 1890
the Colombian Government asked that the United States Government would land troops to protect its interests and maintain order on the Isthmus." On November 4, 1903, the independence of Panama was to have been declared but the Colombian government precipitated matters by sending troops to arrest the now known conspirators. When the commanding generals arrived in Panama via the railroad and minus their troops which had been craftily delayed at Colon by the railroad officials, they found themselves the arrested instead of the arrestors and the revolution an accomplished fact. When the news reached Colon the 450 Colombian troops thus deprived of their generals began to grow ugly and talked of seizing the railroad by force and threatened the life of every American in Colon. The utterance of this threat has been denied, but there is no doubt it was believed in Colon at the time. When appealed to, the commander of the Nashville landed a small force of marines at once which ended the disturbance and, with it, Colombia's influence in Panama. Both the arrested generals at Panama and their overawed troops at Colon left the country as soon as the means afforded.
Events then moved with speed and regularity. On November 7 the provisional government of Panama was officially recognized by the United States; November 13, Mons. Bunau