First Advisor

Bernard V. Burke

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Politics and government, Panama Canal (Panama) -- History, United States -- Politics and government -- 1897-1901, United States -- Politics and government -- 1901-1909, Panama -- Panama Canal



Physical Description

1 online resource (139 p.)


Throughout most of the modern history of the Western hemisphere, explorers, engineers and merchants have been interested in finding or building a waterway that would connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. By the early part of the sixteenth century most of these people had settled their attention on the Central American Isthmus. Several major commercial nations showed an interest in the project at one time or another, including France, Spain, Great Britain and the United States.

Serious attention to building a canal started in the late nineteenth century with two areas, southern Nicaragua and central Panama becoming the two most logical sites for canal construction. By the middle of the 1880's the United States had private interests trying to start a canal in Nicaragua, while· the end of that decade saw the formation of a French canal in Panama. The United States seemed committed to a Nicaraguan late as 1901, yet the U.S. government eventually bought a concession, interceded in a revolution and built a canal through Panama. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the major characters in the struggle to determine a canal route and to build a canal, and to investigate the role played by the several presidential commissions established to discern both the feasibility of any canal and in the final analysis determine which canal route would be the best. Special emphasis was paid to the Isthmian Canal Commission of 1899-1901, popularly known as the Walker Commission.


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