Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty

Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty
   A treaty between the United States and Panama granting the United States the right to build an Isthmian canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Signed on November 18, 1903 by U.S. Secretary of State John Hay and Panama’s Philippe Bunau-Varilla, the treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate on February 23, 1904, and it was proclaimed February 26, 1904.
   After Colombia rejected the Hay-Herrán Treaty, Bunau-Varilla, a canal engineer and organizer of the French New Panama Canal Company, organized a Panamanian uprising. American warships prevented Colombian forces from suppressing the revolt, the United States extended recognition three days later, and Bunau-Varilla and Hay quickly signed the new treaty. The treaty gave the United States effective sovereignty over Panama, which granted “in perpetuity” a 10-mile strip across the Isthmus. The United States also secured the right to construct and operate a canal across the Isthmus and use or control Panama’s inland waterways and other Panamanian territory. Panama could not tax the canal, equipment, or workers. The United States was to pay $10 million plus $250,000 annual rent, beginning nine years after ratification, and pledged to maintain Panama’s independence and the canal’s neutrality. Finally, Washington agreed to purchase the assets of the canal company for $40 million.
   The revolution and treaty highlighted American hemispheric power. The United States effectively ran Panama until a 1936 agreement cancelled the most interventionist features of the 1903 treaty.
   See also <>; <>; <>.
    Bevans, Charles I. Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America 1776–1949 . Vol. 10. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1972, pp. 663–672;
    Collin, Richard H. Theodore Roosevelt’s Caribbean: The Panama Canal, the Monroe Doctrine, and the Latin American Context . Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1990;
    Mellander, G. A. The United States in Panamanian Politics: The Intriguing Formative Years . Danville: Interstate Publishing, 1967.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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