Panama Canal


Canal de Panamá (The Panama Canal) is a collection of documents published in 1903 by the Senate of the Congress of Colombia. Panama was at that time a province of Colombia, and on January 22, 1903, Tomás Herrán, the Colombian chargé d’affaires in Washington, and John Hay, the United States secretary of state, signed a treaty giving the United States the right to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama. The United States was to obtain control of a zone extending five kilometers on each side of the center line of the canal, in exchange for a cash payment of $10 million and an annuity of $250,000. Herrán had signed the treaty under intense pressure from Hay and the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt, which threatened to pursue a route across Nicaragua if Colombia did not quickly come to terms. Public opinion in Colombia regarded the financial terms of the treaty as wholly unsatisfactory, and objected to the way in which the agreement impinged upon Colombian sovereignty. On August 12, 1903, the Colombian Senate voted unanimously against ratification. Canal de Panamá contains the text of the Herrán-Hay Treaty, copies of communications between the Colombian government in Bogota and Herrán in Washington, and the texts of various other documents relating to Colombia and an isthmian canal. The United States eventually was able to build the canal by encouraging the breakaway from Colombia of the province of Panama to create a newly independent Republic of Panama. It then concluded, on November 18 of the same year, a treaty with Panama on essentially the same terms as the Herrán-Hay Treaty with Colombia.

Last updated: July 12, 2017