July 12, 2017

Treaties, Conventions and Agreements Approved by the National Congress of 1913

Tratados, convenciones y acuerdos aprobados por el Congreso nacional de 1913 (Treaties, conventions and agreements approved by the National Congress of 1913) is a compilation of documents published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Colombia. The book is the second annex to a ministry publication on Colombia’s international relations in 1913; the first annex contains the text of a treaty concluded between Colombia and the United States in that year relating to the breakaway from Colombia in late 1903 of the province of Panama to form an independent republic. On January 22, 1903, Colombia and the United States signed a treaty giving the United States the right to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama, which at that time was part of Colombia. Public opinion in Colombia regarded the financial terms of the treaty as 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. 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 1903 treaty with Colombia. Colombia subsequently sought redress for the wrongs it had been done, and the treaty concluded in 1913 represented an attempt by the administration of President Woodrow Wilson to express “sincere regret” for the events of 1903 and to pay Colombia $25 million in compensation. The treaty was blocked in the United States Senate, however, and a settlement between the United States and Colombia was not reached until 1921. The volume presented here contains some additional documentation relating to the 1913 treaty, as well as the texts of agreements concluded by Colombia with other countries.

Historical Documents Relating to the Establishment of the Republic of Panama

Documentos historicos relativos a la fundacion de la Republica de Panama (Historical documents relating to the establishment of the Republic of Panama) is a compilation of documents published in Panama in 1904, shortly after the province of Panama declared its independence from Colombia. In January 1903 the representative of the Colombian government in Washington, Tomás Herrán, and the United States secretary of state, John Hay, signed a treaty giving the United States the right to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama. Public opinion in Colombia regarded the financial terms of the treaty as unsatisfactory and objected to the way in which the agreement impinged upon Colombian sovereignty, and in August 1903 the Colombian Senate voted unanimously against ratification. With United States encouragement, in November 1903 the province of Panama declared its independence from Colombia. The United States and the new republic then concluded a treaty on essentially the same terms as the January 1903 agreement with Colombia. This pamphlet, which appears to have been hastily produced in order to bolster the legitimacy of the new state, contains the texts of the Act of Independence and several other acts relating to independence along with long lists of the signatories of these documents, the texts of decrees issued by the provisional government of Panama in late 1903, and various other documents bearing on the events of November 1903. The pamphlet was compiled by Rodolfo Aguilera (1858‒1916), a historian, journalist, and politician, who was a prominent advocate of Panamanian independence.

The Independence of the Isthmus of Panama: Its Antecedents, Causes and Justification

The Independence of the Isthmus of Panama: Its Antecedents, Causes and Justification is a pamphlet published in late 1903 by the Panama Star and Herald newspaper in Panama City. The purpose of the pamphlet was to justify with arguments from history the breakaway of Panama from Colombia, which had occurred in the course of the year. In January 1903 the representative of the Colombian government in Washington, Tomás Herrán, 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. Public opinion in Colombia regarded the financial terms of the treaty as unsatisfactory and objected to the way in which the agreement impinged upon Colombian sovereignty, and in August 1903 the Colombian Senate voted unanimously against ratification. With U.S. encouragement, the province of Panama subsequently declared its independence from Colombia. The United States and the new republic then concluded a treaty on essentially the same terms as the January 1903 agreement with Colombia. This pamphlet seeks to bolster the case for independence by invoking a historical precedent going back to 1840‒41. Amid a civil war in which many parts of what was then the Republic of New Granada revolted against the central authority in Bogotá, in November 1840 the province of Panama declared independence and constituted itself as the Estado Libre del Istmo (Free State of the Isthmus). The pamphlet contains the text of the “fundamental law” of this new state. Article 1 stipulates that the “Cantons of the former Province of Panama and Veraguas shall compose a sovereign and independent State….” Other articles provide for the negotiation of readmission to New Granada as a state, should “the Government of New Granada be organized according to the federal system and convenient to the Interests of the Isthmus.” This in fact happened as, after 13 months of independence, on December 31, 1841, the Panamanian republic was reunified with New Grenada. The pamphlet also includes later documents relating to the relationship between Panama and Colombia, as well as an introduction and concluding essay. The work was compiled and written by Ramón M. Valdés (1867‒1918), a prominent Panamanian author and politician who in 1916‒18 served as president of Panama.

Treaty between the Republic of Colombia and the United States of America for the Settlement of Their Differences Arising from the Events That Took Place in the Isthmus of Panama in November 1903, Signed in Bogota on April 6, 1914

Tratado entre la Républica de Colombia y los Estados Unidos de América para el areglo de sus diferencias provenientes de los ancontecimientos realizados en el Istmo de Panamá en noviembre de 1903, soscrito en Bogotá el 6 de Abril de 1914 (Treaty between the Republic of Colombia and the United States of America for the settlement of their differences arising from the events that took place in the Isthmus of Panama in November 1903, signed in Bogota on April 6, 1914) is an official publication of the government of Colombia concerning the understandings reached between Colombia and the United States regarding the establishment in 1903 of the independent state of Panama. On January 22, 1903, Colombia and the United States signed a treaty that gave the United States the right to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama, at that time part of Colombia. Public opinion in Colombia regarded the financial terms of the treaty as 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. 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 earlier treaty with Colombia. Colombia subsequently sought redress for the wrongs it had been done, but it was rebuffed by the Republican administrations of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. When Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, became president in 1913, he sought a new start with the Colombians. In the agreement presented here, concluded by the Wilson administration with the government of Colombia, the United States expressed “sincere regret” for the events of 1903 and agreed to pay Colombia $25 million in compensation. Roosevelt was still a formidable force in American politics, however, and he successfully rallied opposition to the treaty in the Senate on the grounds that no admission of American guilt should be made. Not until 1921 and the Harding administration was a settlement with Colombia reached. The United States agreed to pay the $25 million, but the reference to “sincere regret” was dropped.

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.

Panama Canal, Acts of Concession

In 1878 the government of Colombia granted to the French businessman and adventurer Lucien Napoléon Bonaparte Wyse a concession to build an interoceanic canal across Panama, which at that time was a province of Colombia. Wyse sold the concession to a French company, La Société internationale du Canal interocéanique, headed by Ferdinand Marie De Lesseps, the builder of the Suez Canal. Digging began in 1881, but the firm soon ran into difficulties, which included tropical diseases and a far more challenging terrain than De Lesseps had faced in Egypt. In 1887 De Lesseps abandoned his original plan to build a sea-level canal not requiring locks. Work began in January 1888 on a canal that would use a system of locks to lift and lower ships as they made their way across the hills of central Panama from ocean to ocean. Faced with much higher costs than originally expected, the company went bankrupt in May 1889, having completed about 40 percent of the work of building the canal. Canal de Panama: Actes de Concession (The Panama Canal: Acts of Concession) is a compilation of documents relating to the French effort in Panama. It contains the texts of the 1878 contract between the government of Colombia and Wyse and the legislation and agreements of 1890 relating to the suspension of the concession following the bankruptcy of the firm. The texts are in French. In 1894 a second French company, the Compagnie Nouvelle du Canal de Panama, took over the concession and resumed digging. It later sold its assets to the United States, which eventually completed the project, building on the work that the French had accomplished.

Laws of the Canal Zone. Isthmus of Panama

Under the agreements concluded between the United States and the Republic of Panama in 1903‒4 regarding the construction and operation of an isthmian canal, the United States acquired control of the Panama Canal Zone, a swath of territory across Panama that in most places extended five kilometers on each side of the center line of the canal. The residents of the zone were mainly U.S. citizens and West Indians engaged in the construction and operation of the canal. An Isthmian Canal Commission, composed of U.S. military and civilian officials, was formed to promulgate laws for the zone during the period when the canal was under construction. This volume, published in 1921, is a compilation of the laws enacted by the Isthmian Canal Commission during the entire period of its operation, from August 16, 1904, to March 31, 1914. It reprints the complete contents of an earlier volume containing the texts of the 24 acts enacted by the commission between August 16, 1904, and March 1, 1905, and it includes a new section with the texts of 23 ordinances enacted between April 27, 1907, and September 15, 1913. The acts concern organizational and administrative matters, such as the setting up of a judiciary and the organization of municipal governments, as well as the establishment of a penal code dealing with the full range of crimes against persons, property, and public order. The ordinances generally deal with lesser matters, including, for example, the sale of intoxicating liquors and the licensing and regulation of motor vehicles. Under the terms of two treaties signed by the United States and Panama on September 7, 1977, the Panama Canal Zone was abolished on October 1, 1979, and its territory turned over to Panamanian control.

Constitution of the Republic of Colombia

This volume, most likely published in Bogota in November 1821, contains the text of the constitution of the first Republic of Colombia, proclaimed by President Simón Bolívar in October of the same year. In 1717‒23, the Spanish imperial authorities combined territories comprising all or parts of present-day Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador into the Viceroyalty of the New Kingdom of Granada; Panama was added in 1751. In 1810, following Napoleon’s invasion of Spain in 1808 and the captivity of the Spanish king Ferdinand VII, different jurisdictions in New Granada declared their independence from Spain. After a period of civil war and the Spanish reconquest of New Granada in 1815‒16, Bolívar defeated the Spanish forces in a series of battles between 1819 and 1822. The Republic of Gran Colombia was organized at the Congress of Cúcuta in 1821 and a constitution drafted and adopted. Called Gran Colombia because it included what are now the separate countries of Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, and Ecuador, the republic existed until 1830, when, following the secession of Venezuela and Ecuador, a new constitutional convention was called and a new Republic of New Granada, comprising just Colombia and the Isthmus of Panama, was established. The 1821 constitution is comprised of 191 articles in ten titles, covering the organization of the central government and the powers of the executive, legislature, and the judiciary; the administration of the departments of the country; and the civil and political rights of citizens. This volume, from the collections of the Law Library of Congress, once belonged to the Harvard Law Library, but was sold as a duplicate copy to the Library of Congress in the early 20th century.

United States Congressional Serial Set. Reports of Explorations and Surveys for the Location of a Ship Canal between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through Nicaragua: 1872-'73

Reports of Explorations and Surveys for the Location of a Ship-canal Between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans Through Nicaragua: 1872-’73 is a volume containing two reports prepared by the United States Navy for the United States Senate concerning two expeditions to Nicaragua undertaken by the navy in March‒July 1872 and December 1872‒June 1873. The purpose of the expeditions was to locate and survey a route for an inter-oceanic canal through Nicaragua, using Lake Nicaragua as part of the waterway between the Atlantic and the Pacific. The first report was compiled by Commander Chester Hatfield, who took command of the expedition after Commander Alexander F. Crosman was drowned in an accident off Greytown (present-day San Juan del Norte), Nicaragua, on April 12. It contains Hatfield’s report on the death of Crosman and five seamen attached to the expedition (containing, among other information, the fact that only two of the five seamen could swim); Hatfield’s overview report of the expedition; and reports by the surveyors, civil engineers, and the geologist attached to the expedition. The second report was compiled by Commander Edward P. Lull, who took over command from Hatfield and completed the survey. It includes Lull’s overview report as well as separate reports by naval and civilian experts attached to the expedition on the geography, hydrography, geology, health and climactic conditions, and flora and fauna of the region surveyed. In the conclusion to his report, Commander Lull wrote: “An interoceanic ship-canal across the American isthmus, or through Central America, has been the subject of discussion for three hundred and seventy-five years, among statesmen, navigators, geographers, and merchants. Its desirability has been often proved by able pens. The enormous saving of distance, time, cost, and risk, which it would give the world, has been carefully tabulated. There seems to be nothing left to show, therefore, but its feasibility; this, I believe, the information herewith forwarded amply does.” The reports include tables and drawings, and there is a detailed set of maps at the end of the volume.

United States Congressional Serial Set. Reports of Explorations and Surveys to Ascertain the Practicability of a Ship-Canal between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, by the Way of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec

Report of Explorations and Surveys, to Ascertain the Practicability of a Ship-Canal Between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, by the Way of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is a report prepared by the United States Navy for the United States Senate concerning an expedition to southern Mexico undertaken by the navy in October 1870‒May 1871. The Isthmus of Tehuantepec is the place at which the distance between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans is the shortest, and it thus was considered a prime possible location for an interoceanic canal. The expedition was under the command of Captain Robert Wilson Shufeldt and included both naval officers and civilian experts. The volume includes a summary report by Shufeldt and two detailed reports by members of the expedition, one by the chief civil engineer on the technical challenges of building a canal across the isthmus, and another by several experts on the geology, climate, flora and fauna, and inhabitants of the region through which the canal would pass. In his introduction, Shufeldt put forward strong strategic and economic arguments for building the canal in this location. “A canal through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is an extension of the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. It converts the Gulf of Mexico into an American lake. In time of war it closes the Gulf to all enemies. It is the only route which our Government can control. So to speak, it renders our own territory circumnavigable. It brings New Orleans 1,400 nautical miles nearer to San Francisco than a canal via Darien [i.e., Panama], and such is the character of the intervening waters, that it permits a canal boat to load in Saint Louis and discharge her freight in California with but little more than the risk of inland navigation.” For a variety of technical and political reasons, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec ultimately was not chosen as the site for a canal. The report contains 20 maps and meteorological tables, which are placed at the end of the volume, as well as 11 illustrations. Also included is the diplomatic correspondence between the American secretary of state, Hamilton Fish, and the Foreign Minister Lerdo de Tejada of Mexico, in which the former requests and the latter grants permission to conduct the survey on Mexican territory.