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Topics in Chronicling America - The Panama Canal

After a spirited debate, the U. S. Senate ratifies a treaty with the newly established Republic of Panama on February 23, 1904, giving the United States control over the Panama Canal Zone. Celebrated as the culmination of American technological ingenuity and medical innovation, the Panama Canal officially opened ten years later. At the time no single effort in American history had exacted such a price in dollars or in human life. This topic page provides useful information for searching about the Panama Canal in Chronicling America's historic newspapers, including significant dates, associated search terms, as well as sample article links.... Read more about it!

The information and sample article links below provide access to a sampling of articles from historic newspapers that can be found in the Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers digital collection ( Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to explore this topic further in Chronicling America.

The Panama Canal

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Important Dates:

  • 1889: The French abandon an unsuccessful attempt to build a canal through Panama connecting the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans.
  • June 19, 1902: The U.S. Senate passes the Spooner bill, authorizing the government to build a canal through Panama.
  • January 1903: The Colombian senate fails to ratify The Hay-Herrán Treaty, which would have provided the U.S. with the land and rights to build a canal through Panama.
  • November 1903: A revolution in Panama, aided by the U.S., results in Panamanian independence from Colombia and the establishment of the Republic of Panama.
  • February 23, 1904: Panama grants the U.S. control over the Panama Canal zone for $10 million.
  • May 4, 1904: The U.S. acquires French property relating to the canal for $40 million. Construction begins the same year.
  • November 1906: President Theodore Roosevelt travels to Panama, becoming the first U.S. president to travel abroad while in office.
  • August 15, 1914: The Panama Canal is officially opened.

Suggested Search Strategies:

  • [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.] . Panama canal, de Lesseps, Spooner bill, Hay-Herran Treaty, independence, Colombia, Columbia, Roosevelt
  • When searching for information about Panama and issues related to the canal prior to Panama's Independence in 1903, also include "Colombia" and "Columbia" in search terms, as Panama was previously part of Colombia

Sample Articles from Chronicling America:

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  July 29, 2014
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