A French company began
building a canal in 1882 to connect the Atlantic and the Pacific
Oceans across Central America. Many men building the canal died of
diseases such as yellow fever and the project was more expensive
than the company had planned, so the project stopped.
In 1890 Americans tried to cut
a canal through Nicaragua and that failed. President Roosevelt talked with
Colombia in 1901 about building the canal. A treaty was signed. The United
States requested to buy a six mile wide and 10 mile long strip of land
which connected the Atlantic and Pacific. The United States offered to
give a down payment of $10 million
and $250,000 each year. In 1903 the Colombian senate turned down the
offer because they wanted more money.
Some people from the French
company and some Americans met with some people in Panama. The French and
Americans said they would help Panama break away
from Colombia. A revolution took place. The U. S. warship Nashville
backed up the revolution with its big guns. Three days after the
revolution began, the United States officially recognized the new nation.
Less than two weeks later a treaty for building the canal was signed.
Many years later the U. S. paid
Colombia $25 million for their losses.
The canal was built by the army.
Colonel George Goethals was in charge. William Gorgas was in charge of
controlling diseases such as yellow fever and malaria. Doctor Walter Reed
learned about the diseases. He found they were carried by mosquitoes.
Gorgas followed Reed's rules.
Clear out places where
mosquitoes could be found.
Cover water supplies with nets.
All tents and houses should be
covered with nets.
Streets should be cleaned
New sewers would be built.
In 1906 eight out of ten workers
had malaria. By 1913 only 7 out of 100 had the disease.
The canal went through the jungle,
across lakes, and over mountains. Explosives were used to blast through
the rock. In 1914 the canal was opened. Roosevelt died five years later in