On This Day, Nov. 18, 1903 – Treaty With Panama Gives US Right to Build Canal

 Cartoon by Dalrymple

1903 – The U.S. and Panama signed a treaty that granted the U.S. rights to build the Panama Canal.

Following heated debate over the location of the proposed canal, on June 19, 1902, the U.S. Senate voted in favor of building the canal through Panama. Within 6 months, Secretary of State John Hay signed a treaty with Colombian Foreign Minister Tomás Herrán (at the time, Panama was a province of Columbia) to build the new canal. The financial terms were unacceptable to Colombia’s congress, and it rejected the offer.

President Teddy Roosevelt responded by dispatching U.S. warships to Panama City (on the Pacific) and Colón (on the Atlantic) in support of Panamanian independence. Colombian troops were unable to negotiate the jungles of the Darien Strait and Panama declared independence on November 3, 1903. The newly declared Republic of Panama immediately named Philippe Bunau-Varilla (a French engineer who had been involved in the earlier de Lesseps canal attempt) as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary.

In his new role, Bunau-Varilla negotiated the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty of 1903, which provided the United States with a 10-mile wide strip of land for the canal, a one-time $10 million payment to Panama, and an annual annuity of $250,000. The United States also agreed to guarantee the independence of Panama. Completed in 1914, the Panama Canal symbolized U.S. technological prowess and economic power. Although U.S. control of the canal eventually became an irritant to U.S.-Panamanian relations, at the time it was heralded as a major foreign policy achievement.


1477 – William Caxton produced “Dictes or Sayengis of the Philosophres,” which was the first book to be printed in England.

1820 – Captain Nathaniel Palmer became the first American to sight the continent of Antarctica.

1865 – Samuel L. Clemens published “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” under the pen name “Mark Twain” in the New York “Saturday Press.”

1883 – The U.S. and Canada adopted a system of standard time zones.

1916 – Douglas Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary Force in World War I, called off the Battle of the Somme in France. The offensive began on July 1, 1916.

1928 – The first successful sound-synchronized animated cartoon premiered in New York. It was Walt Disney’s “Steamboat Willie,” starring Mickey Mouse.

1936 – Germany and Italy recognized the Spanish government of Francisco Franco.

1951 – Chuck Connors (Los Angeles Angels) became the first player to oppose the major league draft. Connors later became the star of the television show “The Rifleman.”

1959 – William Wyler’s “Ben-Hur” premiered at Loew’s Theater in New York City’s Times Square.

1966U.S. Roman Catholic bishops did away with the rule against eating meat on Fridays.

1969 – Apollo 12 astronauts Charles (Pete) Conrad Jr. and Alan L. Bean landed on the lunar surface during the second manned mission to the moon.

1976 – The parliament of Spain approved a bill that established a democracy after 37 years of dictatorship.

1983 – Argentina announced its ability to produce enriched uranium for use in nuclear weapons.

1985 – Joe Theismann (Washington Redskins) broke his leg after being hit by Lawrence Taylor (New York Giants). The injury ended Theismann’s 12 year National Football League (NFL) career.

1987Congress issued the Iran-Contra Affair report. The report said that President Ronald Reagan bore “ultimate responsibility” for wrongdoing by his aides.

1987 – CBS Inc. announced it had agreed to sell its record division to Sony Corp. for about $2 billion.

1988President Ronald Reagan signed major legislation provided the death penalty for drug traffickers who kill.

1993 – The House of Representatives joined the Senate in approving legislation aimed at protecting abortion facilities, staff and patients.

1993 – American Airlines flight attendants went on strike. They ended their strike only 4 days later.

1993 – Representatives from 21 South African political parties approved a new constitution.

 

Source: On-This-Day.com; history.state.gov