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year in which Dr. Shaw discussed the question, "What if Panama should Revolt?" and outlined with remarkable prophetic insight the future course of
In his annual message of December 7, 1903, the President discussed the Panama revolution and undertook to justify his course under the treaty of 1846. This message failed to allay public criticism, and on January 4, 1904, he sent a special message to Congress in defense of his action. He held that Colombia was not entitled "to bar the transit of the world's traffic across the isthmus," and that the intervention of the United States was justified, (1) by our treaty rights, (2) by our international interests, and (3) by the interests of "collective civilization." The "legal argument in this message, if we may dignify it by that name, is reported to have been prepared by Root and Knox, both at that time members of the Cabinet. Several years later, after Mr. Roosevelt had retired from the presidency, he expressed the real truth in a public speech when he said:
If I had followed traditional conservative methods I should have submitted a dignified state paper of probably two hundred pages to the Congress and the debate would be going on yet, but I took the Canal zone and let Congress debate, and while the debate goes on the canal does also.
The reason why the President did not wish the matter to go before Congress again was that he had decided upon the Panama route, and he knew that when Congress convened in December, the situation remaining unchanged, action would be taken to compel him to adopt the alternative of the Spooner
amendment and go to the Nicaragua route. His object in the hasty recognition of the Panama revolution was therefore to make the Panama route an accomplished fact before Congress should meet. This was the attitude definitely assumed in the message of January 4, 1904, in the course of which he said:
The only question now before us is that of the ratification of the treaty. For it is to be remembered that a failure to ratify the treaty will not undo what has been done, will not restore Panama to Colombia, and will not alter our obligation to keep the transit open across the Isthmus, and to prevent any outside power from menacing this transit.
The treaty referred to was the convention with Panama which had been signed November 18, 1903, and which was ratified by the Senate February 23, 1904, by a vote of 66 to 14. By the terms of this agreement the United States guaranteed the independence of the Panama Republic, and agreed to pay the Panama Republic a sum of $10,000,000 upon the exchange of ratifications and an annual rental of $250,ooo a year beginning nine years thereafter. Panama on her part granted to the United States in perpetuity a zone of land ten miles wide for the construction of a canal, the United States receiving as full power and authority over this strip and the waters adjacent as if it were the sovereign of the said territory.53 The construction of the canal was at once undertaken and the work was carried through successfully by General Goethals and a corps of army engineers. It was opened to commerce August 15, 1914, though it was not completed at that time and traffic was subsequently interrupted by landslides.
Foreign Relations, 1904, p. 543.
Colombia naturally felt aggrieved at the course pursued by President Roosevelt and refused to recognize the Republic of Panama. She objected to his interpretation of the convention of 1846. In this convention the United States pledged itself to keep the isthmian transit open and guaranteed Colombia's sovereignty over the same. This treaty established an obligation to Colombia alone, and it is difficult to accept the President's view that it established an obligation to the world at large against Colombia. Colombia demanded that the whole question be submitted to arbitration. As the United States had always held the ground that disputes arising out of the interpretation of treaties should be settled by arbitration, it was inconsistent for the United States to refuse to arbitrate. But President Roosevelt did refuse. The Panama episode created strained relations with Colombia and made a very bad impression throughout Latin America. The United States has since been eyed with suspicion by its weaker Southern neighbors. The Taft and Wilson administrations both tried to appease Colombia by a money payment, but this subject will be discussed in a subsequent chapter.
FRENCH INTERVENTION IN MEXICO
THE attempt of Louis Napoleon to establish a European monarchy in Mexico under the tutelage of France was the most serious menace that republican institutions in the new world have had to face since the schemes of the Holy Alliance were checked by Monroe and Canning. The thwarting of that attempt may be accounted one of the greatest triumphs of American diplomacy. The internal disorders common to South and Central American republics have always been a fruitful source of embarrassment to the United States, on account of the liability to European intervention to which these governments continually subject themselves in such periods by their open and flagrant disregard of international obligations. Of no country is this statement truer than of Mexico, where the well-nigh interminable strife of parties gave rise between the years 1821 and 1857 to thirty-six different governments. In 1857 a favorable change occurred in the affairs of the republic. A constituent congress, elected by the people of the different states, framed and adopted a republican constitution which promised better things for the future. Under the provisions of this constitution an election was held in July (1857) and General Comonfort chosen president almost without opposition. His term of office was to begin December 1, 1857, and to continue four years. Within
one brief month, however, President Comonfort was driven from the capital, and ultimately from the country, by an uprising headed by General Zuloaga. As soon as Comonfort abandoned the presidency, General Benito Juarez, the president of the Supreme Court of Justice, became according to the constitution, the president de jure of the republic for the remainder of the unexpired term, that is, until December 1, 1861. General Zuloaga had, however, assumed the name of president, with indefinite powers, and the entire diplomatic corps, including the minister of the United States, had recognized his government. But Zuloaga was speedily expelled, and the supreme power seized by General Miramon, the head of the church party, whom the diplomatic corps likewise recognized. Meanwhile Juarez, the constitutional president, had proceeded to Vera Cruz, where he put his administration into successful operation.
For several months, Mr. John Forsyth, the American minister, continued at the city of Mexico in the discharge of his duties. In June, 1858, however, he suspended his diplomatic connection with the Miramon government. Our relations, which had been bad under former governments, were now rendered almost intolerable under that of Miramon by outrages towards American citizens and personal indignities to Mr. Forsyth himself. His action was approved by President Buchanan, and he was directed to return to the United States. All diplomatic intercourse was thus terminated with the government of Miramon, but as yet none was established with the Juarez government. The ultimate success of the latter became, however, so probable that the following year the President sent