The Eight Wonder

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The Eight Wonder – The Panama Canal Essay, Research Paper Christopher Columbus was enchanted by the stories told by Natives about astrait through which one might travel westward into waters that led directly to theland for which he was searching for, the Indies. His belief increased as he reachedCentral America. More recently, the Gold Rush began, and people from all over the worldimmigrated to California. Gold rushers from the East Coast traveled to California byship, having to go around South America, a 13,000 mile trip, but some decided tocut some of these miles by taking a boat to Panama and crossing Panama s thickjungle by mule reaching the Pacific Ocean. Then, taking another boat all the way toCalifornia. A journey, although shorter than going around S. America (5,000

miles),proved to be nearly impossible because of the thick jungle, humid weather, and thediseases that crowded the air, including yellow fever and malaria. A shorter routeconnecting the two oceans, the Pacific and the Atlantic, was a dream persued bymany. The first to think about building a canal was Spain, but the first to actuallybegin working in Panama on the canal were the French, led by the engineerFerdinand de Lesseps. Due to bad organization, lack of machinery, and lack ofknowledge about diseases, their attempt to build a canal failed. Theodore Roosevelt believed that the United States was capable of doingthe impossible: building the canal, continuing the work that the French had started.Theodore Roosevelt visualized many benefits on the Canal and wanted to have therights

to the land where the canal was being built. There was only one obstacle:Panama belonged to the Republic of Colombia, and Colombia was aware of theimportance of Panama and didn t want to give it up easily. President Rooseveltcontemplated recommending the forcible seizure of Panama. Instead, with the selfinterest of obtaining rights on the Panama Canal, the U.S. helped provoke a revoltthat gave Panama its independence from Colombia. Then, once Panama gained itsindependence, the U.S. selfishly recognized Panama knowing that having powerover the land where a canal could be build would be very beneficial. Many other countries besides the United States also new the importance ofPanama. From the beginning, the isthmus (the strip of land that connected twooceans) was determined to be el

centro del universo (the center of the universe)according to the South American hero, Simon Bolivar.1 Countries like Spain,France, and the United states wanted some type of control of Panama in order tobenefit from what they believed a canal could provide. This translated mainly intomoney, power, and convenience. A canal that connected the Pacific with theAtlantic ocean meant a gold mine. Also the convenience of not having to go aroundSouth America to reach either ocean was priceless and could give any country theadvantage of position in case of war. The interest in a short route from the Atlantic to the Pacific dates back to the16th century, when Hernan Cortez, the Spanish conqueror of Mexico, suggested acanal across the isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico. Other explorers

suggested acanal through Nicaragua, but the first project for a canal through Panama wasstarted by Charles V. A working plan for a canal was drawn as early as 1529, andin 1534 some Spanish officials suggested a canal route close to the presentlocation of the Panama Canal. None of these ideas were submitted to the king, sono action was taken and the Spanish abandoned its interest on a canal. But, in theearly 19th century the German scientist Alexander Humboldt revived interest in acanal project. In 1819 the Spanish Government authorized the construction of acanal and the creation of a company to build it, but again nothing resulted from thiseffort. Then, during the revolutions in South America, Spain lost control of Panamaand with it, the canal as well. The next to try to build a