« PreviousContinue »
did not ratify until Feb. 23, 1904, with 66 senators in favor and 14 against it.*
The Republic of Panama was recognized by America Nov. 13, 1903; by France Nov. 16; by China Nov. 26; by Austria-Hungary Nov. 27; by Germany Nov. 30; by Denmark Dec. 3; by Russia Dec. 6; by Sweden and Norway Dec. 7; by Nicaragua Dec. 15; by Peru Dec. 19; by Cuba Dec. 23; by Great Britain Dec. 24; by Italy Dec. 24; by Japan Dec. 28; by Costa Rico Dec. 28; by Switzerland Dec. 28; by Belgium Dec. 9; and later substantially all of the other civilized nations joined in welcoming the new Republic into the family of nations; which increased the grand total to 25 powers.
The new ambassador has said that in less than two months after Panama's Declaration of Independence, the Republic was recognized by all of the powers of the earth, great and small, with a few insignificant exceptions. And what was the purpose of this speedy, phenomenal, universal, harmonious world action? It could have meant nothing else than that the world demanded the connecting of the two oceans, and that the demand should be imperatively granted.
Panama's first minister was a full-born Frenchman, and had no interest in Panama except his relation to the French Canal Company. All he desired was to make sure of a tight and binding treaty. This part he worked out to a complete conclusion, and no one takes greater pleasure in America's success than he. His firm belief, however, is that the lock canal must gradually be brought to a sea-level strait. This could probably be done by removal of the top-load from the mountain on each side of the Culebra cut and thus avoid "slides" arising from deepening of the cut. There should be little difficulty in excavating sufficiently * See Cong. Record, Feb. 23, 1904.
to eliminate the higher lock. Every lock removed is one step nearer the open strait.
According to report the Nicaragua route would be 183 miles long, while the Panama Canal is 50 miles long. It would have taken three times as long to pass through a Nicaragua Canal as at Panama, for travel can only be safely taken through the canal in the daytime.
We have selected the route at Panama and built the canal and no benefit can come from discussing discarded plans. Our hands are now full and other routes can have but little attractions for us; only perhaps we might use our foresight to protect our present monopoly by securing the privilege of any other available route.
TEN YEARS AFTER.
The preceding statement shows the situation not in 1914, but in 1904, and it is now a part of the world's recorded history. But conditions have changed, somewhat, and we now have an interest in the canal property to the extent of $400,000,000. Our nation has tried amicably to adjust all questions with Colombia and a treaty has been signed which was ratified at Bogota, June 9, 1914, and is now pending before our Senate for ratification.
Under the Constitution the President and the Senate hold all the treaty-making authority, and there is no appeal from their decision, the nation and the people are bound. Most treaties are negotiated in secret and are ratified by the Senate in secret session, and may thus become "the supreme law of the land" without any advice from the electorate.
The citizen has his constitutional protection in the requirement, that a treaty must be ratified by a two
thirds vote of the Senate. Every presumption is that the President and two-thirds of an able and conservative body like our Senate will make no treaty against the interest of the nation. And the adjustment with Colombia we can safely leave in the hands of the treatymaking authorities.
We cannot fail to recognize that we have had ten years advance time in which to build the canal and now have it in operation. These ten years of advance time have been of vast money value to us.
And it should be the hope and desire of all citizens, that whatever treaty is ratified by the Senate may be the panacea which shall heal, adjust and harmonize all!
THE PANAMA TREATY OR CANAL CHARTER.
Panama revolted on November 3, 1903, and on the 18th of the same month Secretary Hay and BunauVarilla signed the Hay-Bunau-Varilla treaty which was ratified on February 23, 1904. The United States at that time secured the grant of lands and the franchise to build and operate a canal across Panama from ocean to ocean, in accordance with the provisions of the treaty mentioned above. This is a most important treaty, a long contract of twenty-six articles—a broad charter, a grant of many and varied franchises. While it is comprehensive in favor of our country there are some reservations in favor of Panama. It is evident that it is not a full and clear warranty deed for it is not usual to engraft the twenty-six articles of a treaty in such a deed.
America was satisfied at that time with the grant, for it was much broader than the proposed treaty with Colombia. It will be unnecessary to give more than the main features of the charter here.
The first and very important obligation on America is that we guarantee the independence of Panama; and this without qualification or limit as to time. Perhaps we would be obliged to do this even outside of the treaty.
Panama grants to the United States in perpetuity the use, occupation and control of a zone of land and land under water for canal purposes of the width of ten miles-five miles on each side of the center line of the canal, excepting such parts as fall within Panama
City and Colon. There was granted in perpetuity the use and control of any other lands and waters outside the zone for the construction, operation and sanitation of the canal, or any auxiliary canal or works necessary to the enterprise. There were also granted islands within the zone and certain islands in the bay of Panama.
Panama granted to the United States all rights, power and authority within the zone and within the limits of the auxiliary lands and waters described in Article 2 of the treaty, which the United States would possess and exercise if it were sovereign of the territory within which the lands are located to the entire exclusion of Panama of any such sovereign rights and authority.
Panama grants to the United States as subsidiary to the prior grants, the right to use the rivers, lakes and other waters for navigation and for water power for the operation and protection of the canal.
The United States is granted in perpetuity a monopoly for any system of communication by canal or railroad across the isthmus. This is most important. It is also provided that private land titles shall be preserved and if taken by the United States for purposes of the canal the damages for the same shall be appraised by a commission appointed by both of the parties to the treaty. The decision of the commission shall be final.
The United States was granted the right to take property in Colon and Panama for sanitation and for water and sewerage purposes. If the property could not be purchased then our nation was authorized to take it by right of eminent domain.
That all water and sewerage works are to be operated for fifty years and at the expiration of said fifty