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tually a substitute, authorizing the President to acquire the rights and property of the French company at a cost not exceeding $40,000,000; to acquire from the Republic of Colombia, upon such terms as he might deem reasonable, perpetual control of a strip of land, not less than six miles in width, extending from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean, with jurisdiction over said strip; and to proceed as soon as these rights were acquired, to construct a canal. But should the President be unable to obtain a satisfactory title to the property of the French company and the control of the necessary strip of land from the Republic of Colombia "within a reasonable time and upon reasonable terms," then he was instructed to secure control of the necessary strip through Nicaragua and to proceed to construct a canal there. The bill as amended passed the Senate June 19, 1902, by a vote of 67 to 6. The House at first refused to concur in the Spooner amendment, but after a conference it finally gave way and the measure was adopted by a vote of 260 to 8. The act was signed by President Roosevelt June 28.**
Attorney-General Knox was sent to Paris to make a thorough investigation of the affairs of the Panama Company. He reported that it could give a clear title. The next step was to secure a right of way through Colombia. After considerable delay Secretary Hay and Mr. Herran, the Colombian chargé d'affaires, signed, January 22, 1903, a canal convention, by the terms of which the United States agreed to pay Colombia $10,000,000 in cash and an annuity of $250,000 for the lease of a strip of land six miles wide across
U. S. Statutes at Large, Vol. XXXII, Pt. I, p. 481.
the isthmus. Objection was raised to this treaty because it failed to secure for the United States full governmental control over the canal zone, but it was considered the best that could be gotten and it was ratified by the United States Senate March 17, 1903.
The Colombian Senate, however, did not regard the treaty with favor. They felt that Panama was their greatest national asset, and they knew perfectly well that in spite of threats to the contrary President Roosevelt was determined not to adopt the alternative of the Spooner amendment and go to Nicaragua. After discussing the treaty for nearly two months, they finally rejected it August 12 by the unanimous vote of all the senators present. They probably thought that they could get better terms from the United States and particularly that they might reserve a fuller measure of sovereignty over the isthmus. President Roosevelt declared that the action of the Colombian Senate was due to an "anti-social spirit" and to the cupidity of the government leaders, who merely wished to wait until they could confiscate the $40,000,000 worth of property belonging to the French company and then sell out to the United States. This view is not borne out by the dispatches of Mr. Beaupré, the American minister, who repeatedly warned Secretary Hay that there was a "tremendous tide of public opinion against the canal treaty," which even the Colombian government could not ignore. The charge of bad faith against Colombia does not come in good grace from a country whose constitution also requires the ratification of treaties by the Senate.
As soon as the Hay-Herran convention was rejected
Senate Doc. No. 51, Fifty-eighth Cong., Second Sess., p. 56.
by the Colombian Senate, the advocates of the Nicaragua route began to take courage and to demand that as the "reasonable time" allowed in the Spooner act for the President to acquire the right of way through Panama had expired, it was now his duty to adopt the Nicaragua route. The directors of the French company were again in a state of consternation. If they could not sell to the United States they would have to sacrifice their property entirely, or sell to some other purchaser at a lower figure. It was rumored that Germany was willing to buy their interests. The directors of the company were so completely demoralized that William Nelson Cromwell, their American attorney, hastened to Paris to dissuade them from taking any rash step. The rejection of the Hay-Herran treaty was a great disappointment to the inhabitants of the isthmus, who considered this action a sacrifice of their interests, and some of the foremost citizens conferred with the American agent of the Panama Railroad Company as to the advisability of organizing a revolution. Before taking any step in this direction, it was considered advisable to send one of their number to the United States, and Dr. Amador was selected for this mission. He had conferences with William Nelson Cromwell and with Secretary Hay. The latter merely outlined what he considered the rights and duties of the United States under the treaty of 1846, but refused of course to commit the government to a definite support of the revolutionary project. Amador was somewhat discouraged at the result of his conference with Hay, but his hopes were revived by the sudden arrival of Philippe Bunau-Varilla, the former chief engineer
of the French company, who entered with enthusiasm into the revolutionary scheme.**
The Colombian Congress adjourned October 30 without any reconsideration of the treaty, and President Roosevelt at once ordered the Boston, Dixie, Atlanta, and Nashville to proceed within easy reach of the isthmus. Their commanders received orders to keep the transit open and to "prevent the landing of any armed force with hostile intent, either government or insurgent, at any point within fifty miles of Panama." The Nashville arrived off Colon November 2. It can hardly be denied that these measures created a situation very favorable to revolution.50
The revolutionists had been greatly disappointed at Dr. Amador's failure to get a definite promise of support from the American government, but their spirits revived when they learned of the presence of American war vessels. Still they were slow in taking advantage of their opportunities and the government at Washington was growing impatient. At 3.40 P. M. November 3 the following dispatch was sent to the American consuls at Panama and Colon: "Uprising on isthmus reported. Keep Department promptly and fully informed. Loomis, Acting." At 8.15 a reply was received from the consul at Panama: "No uprising yet. Reported will be in the night. Situation is critical." At 9 P.M. a second dispatch was received from the same source: "Uprising occurred to-night, 6; no bloodshed. Army and navy officials taken prisoners. Government will be organized to-night."
"Four Centuries of the Panama Canal," pp. 162-171. 60 Senate Doc. No. 53, Fifty-eighth Cong., Second Sess. 1 House Doc. No. 8, Fifty-eighth Cong., First Sess.
Before the Nashville received the order to prevent the landing of armed forces, 450 Colombian troops arrived at Colon. The principal officers were provided with a special train to take them across the isthmus to Panama. When they arrived they were seized by the revolutionary leaders and locked up for safe-keeping, while the railroad officials saw to it that there were no trains for their troops to use. The next day Commander Hubbard landed fifty marines from the Nashville at Colon, and a day later the officer in charge of the Colombian forces was persuaded by a generous bribe to reembark his troops and leave. Events continued to follow one another with startling rapidity. On the 6th the de facto government was recognized and a week later Bunau. Varilla was received by President Roosevelt as envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the Republic of Panama. Such hasty recognition of a new government was of course without precedent in the annals of American diplomacy, and it naturally confirmed the rumor that the whole affair had been prearranged. On October, 10 President Roosevelt had written a personal letter to Dr. Albert Shaw, editor of the Review of Reviews, who was a strong advocate of the Panama route, in which he said:
Privately, I freely say to you that I should be delighted if Panama were an independent state, or if it made itself so at this moment; but for me to say so publicly would amount to an instigation of a revolt, and therefore I cannot say it."
This letter throws an interesting light on an article in the Review of Reviews for November of the same 2 Literary Digest, October 29, 1904.