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Work in Culebra Cut was practically at a standstill when the United States bought the French canal property.
The Panama Canal and
The Project is launched
T HE President of the United States was bored.
Up and down the deck of the great battleship Louisiana
Theodore Roosevelt paced, while the Caribbean breeze
tugged at his crisp sandy hair and blew salt spray onto
the glasses which covered his near-sighted, grayish-
Mrs. Roosevelt and Dr. Presley Marion Rixey, Sur-
geon General of the Navy and White House physician,
were comfortably relaxed in their deck chairs, but not
so the restless young President. At first he enjoyed
watching the escort cruisers Tennessee and Washington
and he was amused that the sailors on the Louisiana
had named two of their big guns the "Teddy" and the
"Big Stick," but he had business to do and he wanted
to get at it.
He was on his way, that November day in 1906, to
see how work was coming along on the Panama Canal.
It was a job which he later was to call "a work the
likes of which has not been seen before in all the ages."
For five years he had been on the paperwork end of
this great project; now he wanted to see for himself
that dirt was really flying.
By leaving the United States % hile he was President,
Theodore Roosevelt was setting a preciedcnt. No other
President had ever done so. But making "firsts" was
nothing new to him. When he was elected to the New
York State legislature in 1881 he was, at 23, the young-
est of its members. When an a-is-sin's bullet killed
William McKinley and made 1heodore Roosevelt
President of the United States, he became, at 42, the
youngest Chief Executive in the nation's history.
When he was nominated for the Presidency in 1904,
he was the first Vice President who had become Pres-
ident by the death of his predecessor to be nominated
for the President's post.
In the five years between 1901 and 1906 he had been
involved in a number of precedent-setting affairs-
trust-busting, arranging peace between Japan and
Russia, pushing through a Pure Food and Drugs Act
and-most important of all-getting the Panama Canal
Whether he knew it or not-he does not mention it
in his autobiography-his ties with the Isthmus of
Panama went back more than 200 years. His great-
great-great-great grandfather, the Reverend Archibald
Stobo, had been a member of the short-lived Scots
colony of New Edinburgh on Panama's Caledonia Har-
bor, midway between the present Colombian border
and the San Bias Archipelago.
When the colony was abandoned in 1700, this Roos-
evelt forefather and his daughter Jean left the Isthmus
on the ill-fated sailing ship Rising Sun, which was
wrecked a few weeks later by a hurricane in the harbor
at Charleston, S. C. The Scots minister had accepted
an invitation to preach in town that day and he and
Jean were already ashore when the storm struck.
As the Louisiana ploughed steadily along through
the blue Caribbean, the young President spent many
hours thinking of the history of the Isthmus of Pan-
ama and the changes which had come to that narrow
strip of land since the Spanish. buccaneers had reached
"It seems a strange thing," he wrote to his son
Kermit, "to think of my now being President and going
to visit the work of the Panama Canal which I have
As he restlessly paced the deck, his thoughts un-
doubtedly encompassed most of the following events
and characters which had a part' in one of the great
dramas of the 20th Century.
Long before he became President, Theodore Roose-
velt had committed himself enthusiastically to the
building of an interoceanic canal, although it was not
2 Roosevelt Centennial Supplement-Nov. 7, 1958
until the turn of the century that he began to favor
the route across the Isthmus of Panama.
In 1894, he wrote his sister, Anna Roosevelt Cowles,
that it was a "great mistake that we have not started
an interoceanic canal at Nicaragua." As late as 1898
when the French Canal Company was trying to peddle
its Panama rights to the United States, he believed
that a canal on the Isthmus would be an error.
During the latter part of the i8oo's, while he was
serving as President McKinley's Assistant Secretary
of the Navy, he was even more aware than most Amer-
icans-and feeling for a canal was running high in those
days-that the United States fleet must have an easy
passage from one great ocean to another. He was
serving with his Rough Riders in Cuba when the
battleship Oregon made its 68-day dash between San
Francisco and Key West, later to join in the battle of
Santiago de Cuba, and he knew first-hand how crucial
that voyage had been.
A S the bow of the Louisiana cut cleanly through
the Caribbean, the pacing President could remember
these things; he knew, too, that though he was to lay
the groundwork for the eventual completion of the
Panama Canal, the first steps toward an Isthmian
Canal had been taken before he came to the Presidency.
Roosevelt had just become Assistant Secretary of
the Navy -xhen President MlcKinl.y appointed Rear
Adm. John Grimes \Valker-later to become a thorn
in Roo,-evelt's side-to head a commission to survey
a canal route across Nicaragua. Several similar stud-
ies had been made earlier and when the Commission
finally reported, in February 1899 (by which time
Roosevelt had become Governor of New York and was
more concerned with state than national affairs), it
recommended changes in earlier designs for a canal
through Nicaragua and estimated its total cost at
something over $118,ooo,ooo.
The commission report had not had time to gather
dust when President McKinley named a second com-
mission, also headed by Admiral Walker, to investigate
not only the Nicaraguan route but also three routes
in Panama. One of these was that along the line of
the French canal and the others crossed the Isthmus
from the San Blas and Darien sections.
In November 1900, a few weeks after Theodore
Roosevelt was elected to the Vice Presidency but before
he had been sworn in, the Walker Commission issued
a preliminary report, finding that of the four routes
it had examined the one in Nicaragua was the "most
feasible and practical." A year later and two months
after Roosevelt became President, the Commission sub-
mitted a second and, supposedly, final report setting
up standard dimensions for a canal and again recom-
mending the Nicaragua route.
Congress, meanwhile, was working toward ratifica-
tion of the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty with Great Britain,
which was to give the United States practically un-
limited control of the canal, and on a bill to finance
the construction of the canal. These had been started
by his predecessor and, as Roosevelt later wrote, he
"continued Mr. McKinley's policies, changing and de-
veloping them and adding new policies only as ques-
tions before the public changed and as the needs of
the public developed."
The Hay-Pauncefote Treaty was ratified by the
Senate in December 1901, and for a month everything
pointed to a Nicaraguan canal. Suddenly the Walker
Commission presented a supplementary report, this
time recommending the Panama route. This sudden
shift called for a quick about-face on the part of Con-
gress as the House of Representatives had already
passed a bill appropriating funds for a Nicaraguan canal.
Within a matter of days Senator John C. Spooner
of Wisconsin proposed a radical amendment to the
House-passed bill. The Spooner Amendment was ar-
gued back and forth for almost six months but was
finally passed by both House and Senate and became
law in June 1902.
The Spooner Amendment authorized the President
to purchase the French Canal Company's rights and
property for not more than $40,000,000 and obtain
from Colombia what amounted to a canal zone. Pres-
ident Roosevelt was given a "reasonable time" to do
this; if he failed, he was to negotiate treaties with
Nicaragua and Costa Rica for a similar canal zone and
construct a canal through Nicaragua. Looking a long
way ahead-and not seeing the confusion he was to
cause-Senator Spooner also provided for an Isthmian
Canal Commission and even directed its makeup.
For the first time, President Roosevelt had his def-
inite orders. The Congress had told him what to do.
Now he could move ahead.
But before any further steps could be taken-first,
toward the purchase of the French canal property and,
second, toward the construction of a canal-the Roosevelt
administration had to negotiate a treaty with Colombia.
Between the summer of 1902 and the early part of
1903, several treaty drafts were prepared and amended.
Finally, on January 21, 1903, United States Secretary
of State John Hay and the Colombian Charge d'Af-
faires in Washington, Tomas Herran, signed the treaty
which was to bear their names.
In general it followed the lines of earlier drafts,
canceling all previous concessions and authorizing the
French Canal Company to sell its properties to the
United States. The United States was to complete the
canal within 14 years after the treaty was ratified. In
case of unforseen difficulties, a 12-year grace period
was allowed, and an additional 10 years would be
granted if the United States decided on a sea-level
rather than a lock-type canal.
On March 17, 1903, despite the filibustering opposi-
tion of Senators who still favored the Nicaraguan route,
the United States Senate ratified the Hay-Herrain
Early in June the Colombian Congress went into
session to debate the canal treaty. On August 12 it
declined to ratify the pact and appointed a committee
to draft a new instrument. New conditions were drawn
up and submitted to the Congress but on October 31
the Colombian body adjourned without action on a
substitute for the rejected Hay-Herran Treaty.
It looked as if there would be no canal across the
Isthmus of Panama.
Meanwhile, tension had been building up in Panama.
As early as June reports were published that the State
of Panama would secede from Colombia if the Hay-
Herran Treaty were not ratified. On November 3, it did
just that. In a bloodless revolution Panama ceased to
be a state and took the first steps toward becoming the
youngest of the American republics. The way was again
open for the building of a Panama Canal.
In Washington, Theodore Roosevelt hurriedly re-
vised his annual message to Congress, drafted some
weeks earlier. In the revised message, presented a
month after the Panama revolution, he said:
"When the Congress directed that we should take
the Panama route under treaty with Colombia, the
essence of that condition, of course, referred not to the
Government which controlled that route, but to the
route itself; to the territory across which the route lay,
not to the name which for the moment the territory
bore on the map. The purpose of the law was to
authorize the President to make a treaty with the
power in actual control of the Isthmus of Panama."
Nov. 7,1958-Roosevelt Centennial Supplement 3
The striking picture of President Theodore Roosevelt on the cover of this issue is the work of Pirie
OUR MacDonald, Hon. F.R.P.S., and was secured from the American Bible Society. The words at
COVER the bottom are taken from Roosevelt's farewell address at Cristobal, November 17, 1906, this
pledge led to the famed Roosevelt Medal.
Arches of welcome like this greeted Secretary of State Elihu Root and, later President Roosevelt.
(From collection of Henry Ehrman)
ORDER OUT OF CHAOS
Under Roosevelt's Guidance
SOME years after Theodore Roosevelt had become
an ex-President, he was asked what he considered the
three greatest achievements during his term of office.
He listed these as: The beginning of the work on the
Panama Canal, the negotiation of peace between Rus-
sia and Japan, and the dispatching of the United States
fleet around the world.
One of Roosevelt's most fervent admirers and biog-
raphers, Joseph Bucklin Bishop, went so far, in 1920,
as to assert: "That the United States and the world
owe the existence of the Panama Canal entirely to
President Roosevelt is a fact that cannot be disputed.
Every step in the progress of that enterprise was due
to his personal action in the early stages of the work."
While many today might not agree with Bishop's
appraisal, historians generally recognize that, during
the crucial beginning period of the canal construction,
the firm hand of Teddy Roosevelt guided almost every
conceivable phase of the work.
As the great battleship Louisiana carried the young
President swiftly south to the Isthmus 52 years ago this
month, Roosevelt himself must have been well aware
that there had been no major decision about the Panama
Canal in which he had not played an important part.
His first major task after the Republic of Panama
had come into being was to arrange for a treaty between
the little new country and the United States. Early
in 1904, in a message to Congress, he had said:
"In all the range of our international relations, I do
not hesitate to affirm that there is nothing of greater
or more pressing importance than the construction of
an interoceanic canal. Long acknowledged to be essen-
tial to our commercial development, it has become, as the
result of the recent extension of our territorial domain,
more than ever essential to our national self-defense."
Panama had already ratified the Canal Treaty, on
December 2, 1903, and on February 23, 1904, the
United States Senate followed suit.
According to the Spooner Act, passed almost two
years before, the President was bound to a seven-man
administrative commission to supervise the canal work,
a restriction against which he was to chafe openly for
years. By the time he decided to make a personal in-
spection of the canal work he had named two commis-
sions and was not happy with either of them. Although
he may not have known it at the time, he was to ap-
point the members for a third.
Roosevelt appointed the First Isthmian Canal Com-
mission, known to some historians as the "Army-Navy"
commission, six days after the Senate ratified the treaty
with Panama. For its chairman he selected Rear Adm.
John Grimes Walker, the same Admiral Walker who
had headed earlier canal route survey groups.
He realized that there was much preparatory work
to be done before the dirt could begin to fly, and to
Admiral Walker he wrote:
"I feel that the sanitary and hygienic problems in
connection with the work on the Isthmus are those
which are literally of the first importance, coming even
before the engineering matters; because the health of
the laborers and of the employees generally must be
good or else no engineering work can be put through."
From the beginning and even after he had delegated
the responsibility for the Canal work to the Secretary
of War, in November 1904, he was unhappy about the
"inelastic and clumsy" seven-man Commission, pub-
licly critical of this portion of the Spooner Act, and,
according to his letters, privately critical of some of
the Commission members.
In January 1905, he asked Congress to amend the
Spooner Act to replace the unwieldy Commission by
a three-man group; the House of Representatives agreed
but the Senate failed to act and Congress adjourned
without making Roosevelt's much-wanted change.
So convinced was the President that one man, or a
small group of men, would be more effective than the
Commission that he wanted Secretary of State Elihu
Root to take over administration of the Canal project
at a salary of between $50,000 and $1oo,ooo a year. "I
would cheerfully give (him) this to take complete charge
and run this whole business," Roosevelt wrote Taft.
In addition to the question of administration, one
of the most pressing early matters had been the ques-
tion of health. Roosevelt from the very first had
recognized the importance of making the Canal Zone
a healthy place to work and live, and he had been
4 Roosevelt Centennial Supplement-Nov. 7,1958
pleased when Colonel Gorgas was recommended for the
top job in this field.
Even though Roosevelt knew that yellow fever could
not be wiped out and malaria controlled overnight,
nevertheless the progress seemed slow, and his confi-
dence was further shaken by the yellow fever epidemic
which killed 134 men between mid-19o4 and Novem-
ber 1905. Furthermore, members of the Commission
were agitating for Gorgas' removal and it was not until
he had been reassured by the country's leading medical
men that the Colonel was the best possible person for
the job that Roosevelt was able to relax about the
health problems of the Isthmus.
Then, too, there was the question of labor. When
the United States took over the French canal property
in May 1904, it assumed a monthly payroll of $i5,000
for 746 employees. In 1906, when the President was
on his way to the Isthmus, the Canal force had risen
to 21,000, and the payroll had increased accordingly.
The recruiting of this force had not been a simple
matter. Roosevelt's order that all Canal workers should
be placed under Civil Service had not proved to be
practical and, had to be amended, and reports that
the workers were unhappy and dissatisfied were among
the reasons why he was going to Panama.
F INALLY, there had been the biggest question of
all-the decision as to whether this Isthmian canal was
to be built at sea level or was to be a series of locks
separated by long stretches of channel.
In June 1905, Roosevelt appointed an International
Board of Consulting Engineers to make their recom-
mendation on the matter which had to be determined
before work could proceed much further. This only
intensified the famed "Battle of the Levels."
Although he did not make his views known, Roose-
velt favored a lock canal. The subject was widely
debated, even in the schools, including Groton where
young Kermit Roosevelt was a student and a member
of a debating team. "Do not let anyone know that I
am inclined to favor a lock canal," his father wrote
him, "but speak as if you were advocating it because
that was the side assigned to you."
It is, of course, a matter of history that the majority
of the International Board recommended a sea-level
canal-it was known as the "European plan"-while
the minority favored a canal with several sets of locks.
The Isthmian Canal Commission went along with the
minority report, but it took Congress until late in June
of 1906 to reach the decision that the canal was to be
an 85-foot level, lock-type waterway. These decisions
and these problems-except for the matter of the
"many-headed" Commission-were behind the Presi-
dent as he headed south to the Isthmus.
Just before he left Washington the President had
also received a first-hand report from one of his most
trusted advisers, Secretary of State Elihu Root., Root
had visited the Canal Zone on September 21 en route
from South America, and the Canal's officials, aware
that a Presidential visit was imminent, had used the
Secretary's brief stay as a full-dress rehearsal. The
Canal Zone's towns and villages were spruced up,
arches of palms and bunting set up alongside the rail-
road track, and school children turned out to wave
flags and sing songs of welcome.
At first President Roosevelt had expected to bring
Secretary of War Taft with him to Panama but this
was canceled at almost the last minute. Despite Chief
Engineer John Stevens' constant pleas, he was given
no definite information until late October as to how
many there would be in the Presidential party.
There was no suitable place to lodge such a distin-
guished visitor. Stevens invited the President to be
his house guest but Roosevelt declined. That meant
a last-minute spurt of work on the unfinished Tivoli.
One wing was hastily completed and fitted out. Pres-
idential flags were missing; Stevens had to cable for
them to be shipped post haste.
Schedules were made, revised, and then revised again.
Panama was consulted and reconsulted about arrange-
ments for the welcoming ceremony on the Atlantic side
and the program in Panama City.
Secret service agents and Zone police conferred on
plans to protect the President. Members of the Isth-
mian Canal Commission converged on the Isthmus.
November 15 was to be Roosevelt Day. Then, early
in the afternoon of November 14, Stevens received a
telegraph message from Cristobal:
"The U. S. Louisiana with President Roosevelt
aboard arrived at Colon at I o'clock this p. m."
This rare photograph, taken during the Root visit in September 1906, shows Mrs. John F. Stevens, hands crossed, then
reading right, Mr. Root, Mrs. Root, Stevens, and in white, Gov. Charles Magoon. The boy in front is Eugene Stevens.
(From collection of Henry Ehrman)
T. R. ACCLAIMED
Manuel Amador Guerrero, Panama's first
President, welcomed his U. S. colleague.
W E have just sighted the highest land of Panama
ahead of us," Theodore Roosevelt wrote Kermit on
November 14, 19o6. "We shall be at anchor by two
o'clock this afternoon, just a little less than six days
from the time we left Washington."
As the battleship Louisiana, flying the President's
flag from her after truck, dropped anchor, she was
greeted with a I2-gun salute fired from Dock ii by a
detachment of Marines-with a saluting battery and
ammunition borrowed from the Republic of Panama.
The battleship had made a speedier trip than ex-
pected and she was a day early but, as one contempor-
ary newspaper put it, the Isthmus was "en fete" for
her and her distinguished passenger. Colon was gay
with bunting and flags; the Stars and Stripes fluttered
from many of the buildings across the line in the
The Isthmian newspapers-the already venerable
Star & Herald, its younger Atlantic-side sister, the
Colon Starlet, the Panama Journal, the Colon Telegram,
the Spanish language La Estrella and El Cronista-all
bade the visitor welcome, with headlines ranging from
All eyes were on Roosevelt when he spoke before a huge
crowd gathered in the plaza facing Panama's Cathedral.
a page-wide "Welcome Roosevelt" to a more conserv-
ative, smaller "The President Arrives."
They called the visit an "unprecedented honor,"
extended him a "most cordial and heartfelt welcome
in the name of the PEOPLE of the Republic of Pan-
ama" (this was from the opposition press). The
Panama Journal said: "By this visit you not only
emphasize the friendly interest manifested by the
American people in the Republic of Panama but you
likewise clearly demonstrate the paramount importance
and inseparable relations of the Isthmian Republic to
the great Isthmian waterway."
Realizing that his early arrival had upset the care-
fully-planned schedule for his reception, Roosevelt
decided to stay aboard the Louisiana for the rest of
the day and that night.
Panama's President, Manuel Amador Guerrero and his
wife, Secretary of Government Ricardo Arias, and the
newly-accredited United States Minister to Panama, Her-
bert G. Squiers, hastily crossed the Isthmus by special
train to pay their respects to the distinguished visitor.
Followed by Isthmian Canal Commission Chairman
Herbert Shonts and Chief Engineer John F. Stevens,
they went aboard the Louisiana for a brief courtesy
call. After the official visitors had left the ship, Roos-
evelt sent a message ashore that he would be happy
to see newspapermen if they cared to come aboard the
Louisiana. In the group which had preceded him to
the Isthmus were Robert H. Patches and John T. Burke
from The Press of New York City; Frederick Palmer
and H. B. Ashton of Colliers Weekly; T. J. Haines of
McClure's; the controversial Poultney Bigelow of The
Independent, whose highly colored reports of the Isth-
mian situation had been instrumental in the President's
decision to visit the canal work; and H. G. DeLisser of
the Jamaica Gleaner.
The formal welcoming ceremony at Dock 1 the next
morning was somewhat anticlimactic, in view of the
Louisiana's early arrival, and, at the President's request,
was cut as short as possible. According to contemporary
newspaper accounts the Roosevelt party was greeted
by officials from Panama and the Canal Zone, listened
to songs from local school children, and then boarded
the train to cross the Isthmus. Canal oldtimers, how-
ever, have been quoted as saying that Roosevelt had
been ashore walking around by himself for two hours
before time for the formal ceremony.
The special car "La France," which had been used
by Ferdinand de Lesseps and officials of the French
Canal Company, had been "most elegantly fitted" for
the Presidential party and attached to the Presidential
train, and in this, with frequent stops en route, the
visitors crossed the Isthmus.
On the Pacific side, Panama, meanwhile, was putting
the final touches on its welcome for the visiting Pres-
ident. According to the Star & Herald, "Central Ave-
nue was decorated along its entire length by arches,
flags and lanterns, and the district around the Cathe-
6 Roosevelt Centennial Supplement-Nov. 7, 1958
dral was gay with vari-colored streamers, the United
States and Panama national emblems being everywhere
conspicuous. The park and the contiguous buildings
were ablaze with color and designs expressive of wel-
come. The steps and landing of the Cathedral were
decorated by a canopy resplendent with bright tints
and there was an absence of gorgeousness and elaborate
display, the chaste simplicity of the improvised plat-
form being quite in keeping with the unostentatious
character of the President."
"\\heeled vehicles" were banned from the streets
after noon, and firecrackers were prohibited. The day
had been declared a holiday and Alcalde J. F. de la Ossa
had issued a proclamation pointing out the significance
of the visit and the honor afforded the city in welcom-
ing the "illustrious First Magistrate of the greatest,
richest, and most powerful nation of the New World."
\\hen the Presidential train reached the station
which had been specially constructed near the Tivoli,
the Pre.idents of Panama and the United States sep-
arated, Roosevelt to make a quick trip around the
Pacific end of the canal work, and Amador to go to
the capital to await the formal ceremony set for three
o'clock that afternoon.
Ever thing was ready for the Panama part of the
Roosevelt visit-everything except the weather. The
day had started off well enough but before noon a
heavy rain began and within a short time the gay
deco:rat:ions were soggy and bedraggled.
Despite the downpour a great crowd had begun to
gather in the plaza in front of the Cathedral hours
ahead of the scheduled time. Among them was J. J.
McGuigan, for many years the Canal Zone's District
Attorney but at that time chief clerk in the Sanitary
Service at Paraiso. He had come to the capital on
business and was fortunate enough to get a vantage
spot against one of the fences which ringed the plaza.
Mrs. McGuigan was also in the plaza that day.
"It was a holiday in Panama," he recalls, "but it
wasn't in the Canal Zone and in those days people just
didn't take time off, even to see a President. Most of
the people in the crowd in the plaza and on the bal-
conies of the buildings around it were from Panama."
"It was just four sharp by the town clock," the Star
& Herald reported, "when a loud shout of joy broke
from a group down the avenue who had caught the
first glimpse of the advance guard 'Ya viene!'
exclaimed the Latin section of the populace; 'He is
coming!' shouted the Anglo-Saxon element."
Down the avenue came the procession. Following
the Republican band, playing "American Airs," came
a group of about 1oo young Panamanians, under the
command of Gen. Nican.:r de Obarrio. They were on
horseback and were wearing the khaki uniforms, broad-
brimmed s:ombreros, and leather leggings of the Roos-
evelt R,,uah Riders.
"They rode four abreast down the street and made
a magnificent sight," Mr. McGuigan recalls.
Then came the two Presidents in formal tail-coats
and striped trousers; U. S. Secret Servicemen who had
preceded Roosevelt to the Isthmus walked on either
side of their carriage. The Presidents were followed by a
second group of Rough Riders, and then came a "long
string f vehicles containing Canal and Panama Govern-
ment officials and prominent ladies and gentlemen."
Speaking in Spanish, President Amador welcomed
Roosevelt to Panama, calling him the "Chief Com-
mander of the allied American-Panamanian forces in
this great battle of progress and civilization," and
stressing the part Roosevelt had played in the struggle
for the waterway across the Isthmus.
"A rare alliance this, Mr. President," he said, "that
of the great Colossus of the North with its immense
riches, unlimited credit, its vast store of knowledge
and numerous elements that contribute to make it the
only entity capable of successfully carrying on such
a great enterprise, with the small and the youngest
Republic of America, owner of the land, which she
gladly lends for the work."
He praised the Canal force and its accomplishments,
especially mentir'ning the "indefatigable Stevens" and
Gorgas, whom he described as the "guardian of the
health and life Iof the soldiers of toil." He pledged that
Nov. 7, 1958-Roosevelt Centennial Supplement 7
Young Panamanians dressed as Rough Riders were escorts
for the two Presidents at the celebration in Panama.
Panama would "facilitate all the means at our disposal,
whether it be our written duty or not, to make your
immense task lighter and even pleasant."
Picking up the theme of international cooperation
introduced by President Amador, the President of the
United States answered: "The President has rightly
said that the United States and Panama are partners
in a great work which is now being done here on this
Isthmus. We are joint trustees for all the world doing
He emphasized the magnitude of the Canal project,
calling it the "giant engineering feat of the ages." and
expressed the hope of the United States that Panama
would "increase in wealth, in numbers, in importance,
until it has become, and we earnestly hope it will be-
come, one of the Republics whose history reflects honor
on the entire western world."
Roosevelt's speech was greeted with shouts of joy
and with considerable acclaim by the local press, al-
though the newspapers at first complained bitterly that
the text was not available to them immediately. When
it did appear, a day later, one editor called it "wise,
sympathetic, and helpful."
As far as the general public was concerned, the cer-
emony on the Cathedral steps-and a fireworks display
in the evening-wound up the day's activities, but the
President and Mrs. Roosevelt still had many busy
hours ahead. That evening they attended a State
Dinner, given by President and Mrs. Amrador and then,
with their hosts, went to a reception at the Commrercial
Club. The club'was located just off Cathedral Plaza
on Seventh Street not far from the present City Hall.
The ground floor of the building is now occupied by
the firm headed by Henry Darlington
The guests at the reception included many of the
young people of Panama and one of them, Jose E.
Lefevre, who was then Secretary General to President
Amador and who was later to hold a number of im-
portant positions in Panama's diplomatic corps and in
various cabinets, stepped forward to address Roosevelt.
The Panamanians, he said, "have an equal right to
admire, love, and cheer you." He went on to point
out that Panama had no standing army, that her sol-
diers "are soldiers of peace: the school children," and
added that the "aims of this Republic are the same as
those of yours."
The mazurkas and the quadrilles at the Commercial
Club went on until four o'clock in the morning but
well before that time the Roosevelts, facing two busy
days in the Canal Zone, had settled into their quarters
at the Tivoli.
1901 1902 1903 1904
*JAN. 9: House of Representa- *JAN. 22: Representatives of
tives passes bill appropriating U. S., Colombia sign Hay-Her- *FEB. 23: U. S. Senate ra
$180 million to construct canal ran Treaty, authorizing French treaty with Panama.
in Nicaragua. Company to sell Canal property.
*JUNE: Walker Commission ap- FEB. 29: President Roosi
pointed in 1899, completes field- MAR. 17: U. S Senate ratifies appoints first Isthmian C
work on canal surveys in Nicara- Hay-Herran Treaty. Commission; Admiral Walkq
gua and Panama. Chairman.
S 0 *JAN. 18: In supplementary re- +A 1: C C MAY 4: In name of Un
331 .*AUG. 12: Colombian Congress
port, Walker Commission says r States, Lt. Mark Brooke acc
refuses to ratify Hay-Herran
Panama route most feasible and T transfer of French Canal pro;
*JAN. 28: Senator John C. .
*SEPT. 14 Theodore Roosevelt *JAN. 2: Senator John C.
Spooner proposes amendment to =
becomes President of United u, n -
bcomes Pre n o U d canal bill authorizing President
States on death of William Mc- R t to p e
Roosevelt to purchase French
Company's Canal rights.
*MAY 6: John F. Wallace
pointed Chief Engineer for I
*NOV. 16: Walker Commission
*JUNE 28: After long debate *NOV. 3: In a bloodless revo- mian Canal Commission.
establishes dimensions for lock-
al, e mensi and final action by Congress, lution, Panama secedes from Co-
canal, recommends Nicaraguan ,i j 'B
canal, recommenRoosevelt signs Spooner Bill. lombia, becomes republic.
*DEC. 16: U. S. Senate ratifies
*JULY: Neqotiations begin to-
Hay-Pauncefote Treaty, giving *DEC. 2: Panama ratifies Canal .
ward treaty with Colombia for
U. S. practically unlimited control canal construction in Panama. treaty.
canal construction in Panama.
of isthmian canal. *JUNE 2: Col. William C. G
gas named Chief Sanitary O
cer, starts task of ridding Isthr
of yellow fever.
1905 1906 1907 1908
*JAN. 10: Consultants submit *JAN. 8: By Executive Order,
*JAN 12: All bids to construct
majority report favoring sea-level R b i Coosevelt centralizes power of
Scanal.l rejected by C. C. C. C. in hands of Goethals.
|APRIL 1: Second Isthmian Can- *FEB. 19: Rooseve't approves *MAR. 4: Theodore Shonts re- *JAN. 15: Roosevelt approves
al Commission appointed; Theo- I. C. C. recommendation for 85- signs; Stevens named Chairman widening of canal locks to 110
dore Shonts is Chairman. foot elevation lock-type canal, of I. C. C. feet.
+APRIL 1: John F. Stevens re-
*JUNE 24: Roosevelt appoints *JUNE21-29: Congressapproves gn; Pr nt Rooevel p- *MAY 10: Special committee
signs; President Roosevelt ap-
International Board of Consulting bill for lock-type canal which is ints new Is in Cnl C- appointed by Roosevelt to inves-
points new Isthmian Canal Com-
Engineers to determine type of then signed by President Roose- mission headed bC. G g tigate labor and living conditions
mission headed by Col. George
canal. velt. W.n one arrives on Isethmus
*JULY 1: John F Stevens suc- -OCT. 9: 1. C. C. invites bids for canal work in message to Con-
ceeds Wallace as Chief Engineer. construction of canal by contract. gress accompanying report of
*NOV.: Roosevelt asks Taft and
#S *NOV. 14-17: President Roose- *SEPT. 4: First issue of THE group o engineer to over
velt visits Canal Zone to inspect CANAL RECORD appears, with canal work, with emphasis on
canal work, with emphasis on
progress of conslruclion. Joseph B. Bishop as Editor. Gatun Dam.
*DEC.: In his last annual message
*NOV. 11: Last case of yellow *OCT. 4: First serious landslide to Congress, President Roosevelt
fever reported in Panama City. occurs in Culebra Cut. calls canal "model for all work
Sof the kind."
ROOSEVELT CENTENNIAL SUPPLEMENT 9
ROOSEVELT CENTENNIAL SUPPLEMENT
November 7, 1958
November 7, 1958
Two Days in the Canal Zone
November 15 and 16, 1906
"Our visit to Panama was most successful as well
as most interesting. We were there three days and
we worked from morning 'till night. The second day,
I was up at a quarter to six and got to bed at a quar-
ter to twelve, and I do not believe that in the inter-
vening time, save when I was dressing, there were
ten consecutive minutes when I was not busily at
work in some shape or form." T. R. to his son, Kermit
"The steamshovels, the trains, the machine shops,
and the like are all filled with American engineers,
conductors, machinists, boilermakers, carpenters.
From the top to the bottom these men are so hardy,
so efficient, so energetic, that it is a real pleasure
to look at them ... Stevens and his men are chang-
ing the face of the continent, are doing the greatest
engineering feat of the ages, and the effect of their
work will be felt while our civilization lasts."
T. R. to Kermit.
"The huge steamshovels are hard at it, scooping
huge masses of rock and gravel and dirt previously
loosened by the drillers and dynamite blasters, load-
ing it on trains which take it away to some dump,
either in the jungle or where the dams are to be
built. They are eating steadily into the mountain,
cutting it down and down. Little tracks are laid on
the side hills, rocks blasted out, and the great 95-ton
steam shovels work up like mountain howitzers until
they come to where they can with advantage begin
their work of eating into and destroying the moun-
tainside." T. R. to Kermit.
"The President obviously wasn't going to be led,"
says Karl Curtis, a 1905-man who was working at
the time on the construction of the Cul6bra YMCA,
Building. "If the official party headed one way, he
went the other. One place he found a toilet Which
wasn't working. He told Master Builder Belding
that it was a 'disgrace' and that he wanted it cleaned
up, right away, not the next week. He expected,
he said, a letter before he left the Isthmus sayingff
it had been done,"
P RESIDENT Roosevelt's inspection of the Canal
practically began the moment he landed in Cristobal
and set out on the morning of the Isth inst. to visit
this city but the real starting point was on his arrival
here about 1 o'clock when he and his party preceded
to La Boca to visit the Pacific terminus of the great
waterway. At the La Boca wharf he boarded the tug
Bolivar and cruised down the bay around the islands
of Flamenco, Naos, and Perico which form the anchor-
age for this part, making an exhaustive study of the
approaches of the entrance of the canal and the channel
running into the Rio Grande.
On his return to La Boca, instead of proceeding to
the Tivoli Hotel for luncheon as prearranged, he de-
cided in his usual democratic style to dine there and
unexpectedly entered the regular mess, accompanied
by Mrs. Roosevelt and several other members of the
party, and dined along with the employees. The Pres-
ident declared himself well satisfied with the food
served at the mess of which he had heard complaints
made, stating that he had no fault to find with the
quality or preparation of the viands. While at the
mess, he visited the kitchen and other parts of the
establishment, meanwhile keeping up a steady volley
of questions regarding every little detail. After this,
he returned to the Tivoli Hotel at the foot of Ancon
Hill, which he made his headquarters during his stay
on the Isthmus.
The remainder of November 15 was passed by the
President in Panama City in company with President
Amador. The next day Mr. Roosevelt, notwithstanding
the downpour of rain, boarded his special at the Tivoli
Station at 6:30 and began his tour of the Canal Zone.
The first stop was made at Pedro Miguel where he
alighted and visited the site of the big lock which will
be built there. On his return, he stopped where a
steamshovel was at work and showed his keen interest
in the operation. He climbed into the big machine
which was in charge of Mr. Albert H. Gray, and'took
in all-the details of the mechanism in operation, then
requested that the machine be moved back and forth
in order to witness the process of laying track for the
monster excavator to get closer to the wall of earth
and rock which it was loading piecemeal into a long
train of dump cars. The President then commenced
to chat affably with the men, asking them if they had
any grievance, to which one replied that they wanted
At this, Mr. Roosevelt asked him if he did not think
the President of the United States should also get
some more pay. "Oh, we'll vote for that," was the
reply. Then followed a cross examination of the men
on the Isthmus, their quarters, food, and general sur-
roundings, from which the President inferred that they
were perfectly satisfied with the conditions here. On
continuing up the Cut, a worktrain was met. Here
the President again alighted and went to the sump to
watch the process of unloading the excavated material
from the train, which is all done by machinery.
A large plow is hitched to the rear of the train and
run by another locomotive. When the train is in posi-
tion, the plow is drawn toward the engine and, acting
as a wedge against one side of the platform, throws
all the material off. By this time, the President was
covered with mud to his knees.
The next stop was made at Rio Grande where he
visited the old town which has been converted into a
labor camp. Here he proceeded to make a thorough
inspection of the quarters, asking the Negroes many
questions regarding their manner of living, the food
10' Roosevelt Centennial Supplement-Nov. 7,1958
Luncheon at the La Boca messhall on the First day of their
visit was an unscheduled part of President and Mrs. Roos-
evelt's three-day stay. Below: The President spoke briefly
to crowds which gathered at every stop along the railroad.
In muddy Culebra Cut, the President climbed into a steam
shovel. Below: A little Belgian train carried the Presi-
dent's party to the much-maligned Brazos Reservoir.
"Next to a man's home-life, the thing best worth
doing is something that counts not only for himself
but for the country at large, and that is the kind of
thing you are doing, and I hope that the spirit here
will grow even greater; such as will make each man
identify himself with this work and do it in such
shape that in the future years it will be only neces-
sary to say 'he was connected with the digging of
the Panama Canal' to confer the patent of nobility
on that man." Rposevelt to the men at Culebra.
"When the President reached the Stevens house,"
says oldtimer Charles Williams who came to the
Canal Zone in 1905 to work as a pipefitter, "his shoes
were thick with mud. As Mrs. Stevens opened the
door, the President stopped, kicked his shoes off
and started in in his stocking feet. Mrs. Stevens
protested but Roosevelt said, 'Tut, tut, ma'am, I
wouldn't go into my own house as muddy as this'."
"Later, at Gorgona," Mr. Williams recalls, "an oiler
saluted the President with his oil can. Roosevelt
remarked that he looked familiar. 'Oh yes,' said the
oiler, 'I served you tea once in Captain so-and-so's
tent in Cuba.' "
they ate and preferred. Some of the men complained
of different things, especially of the prices charged by
the commissaries for foodstuffs. It was apparent that
Mr. Roosevelt was determined to get inside informa-
tion and would not be led. He visited the laborers'
kitchens and mess, bachelor quarters, married quarters
and the commissary. As a result of his exhaustive in-
vestigation in the camp and the commissary, he found
that must of the grievances voiced by the men were
On arriving at Culebra, the President went through
the Administration Building and other offices, after
which he went to the residence of Chief Engineer
Stevens where he changed his mud-spotted and water-
soaked garments for dry ones, and dined.
During the afternoon, the special went as far as
Gorgona stopping at many intermediate points and the
President went into everything that attracted his
At Bas Matachin, he went through the machine
shop, foundries, etc., watching the men at work and
keeping up a continual string of pointed questions.
All his questions, like his mov-\emnents, were deliberate
and emphatic to a noticeable degree; he would stand
for no ceremony and threw formality to the winds,
leading a lively pace which convinced all the members
of his party of his strenuousness.
The inclemency of the weather did not prevent the
curious crowds from gathering around and following
him and he was enthusiastically cheered. As he pro-
ceeded on his way, the steam shovels and all the ma-
chinery that boasted a whistle shrilly announced his
approach, the variety of pitches creating a perfect din.
For nearly a quarter of a mile away, people were to
be seen, waving their hats and handkerchiefs. After
this day's tramp over railroad ties, jumping ditches,
and climbing hills through mud and water, the Pres-
ident returned to the Tivoli Hotel at five in the after-
noon, feeling, as he expressed it, "fine and ready to
start out tomorrow morning at the same time."
November 17, 1906
"For two days, there were uninterrupted tropic rains
without a glimpse of the sun, and the Chagres River
rose in a flood higher than any for 15 years, so that
we saw the climate at its worst. It was just what I
desired to do ... I tramped everywhere through the
mud. Mother did not do the roughest work and had
time to see more of the really picturesque and beau-
tiful side of the life." T. R. to Kermit.
J. J. McGuigan had walked the short distance from
his office in Paraiso to the Cut to watch the pass-
enger cars back slowly down the hill into the section
normally used only by work trains. "As the Pres-
ident's special stopped, Roosevelt called to the con-
ductor of a nearby work train, 'I've seen you some-
where before,' Mr. McGuigan recalls. 'Sure
you have,' answered the conductor, James W. Mur-
phy, 'I was conductor on the train that took you to
the first Rough Riders' Reunion.'
During their meeting with him on Friday night,
union men had suggested that he visit house 51 in
Empire, as an example of their complaints. "The
President personally visited this as soon as the train
arrived in Empire, and he was shown the condition
of the toilets, etc.," T. W. McFarlane, a member of
P RESIDENT Roosevelt boarded the special at
the Tivoli Statii.,n at 7:45 on the morning of November
S17. As on the previous day, the President was attired in
a negligee white suit, khaki leggings, and a Panama hat.
On this occasion several ladies joined the party con-
sisting of officials of the Zone, Press Rcprescenratives,
Pho.to:graphers, and the President's. bodyguard com-
posed uf three Umnled States secret servicemen and
eight Zone "plain clothes" men.
As already stated, the special left Panama at 7:45
and, owing to a landslide which derailed a train of
eight:cars this side of Paraiso, was obliged to enter, the
Culebra Cut between Pedro Miguel and Paraiso.
As on the previous day, the President's approach
was hailed by the blowing of whistles and cheering,
even the West Indian and Gallegos (Spanish) laborers
joining in and waving their hats.
The Cut and surrounding country was in the same
inundated condition, if possible worse, as it had rained
heavier during the night than ever and the elements
were putting the finishing touches to the .. i hk. When
passing through Culehra Cut proper, high up on one
of the rocky ledges between Contractors and Gold hills,
stood a group of drillers who, after giving three cheers for
the President, set off twenty-one charges of dynamite in
quick succession, shattering a considerable portion of
the rocky bluff with this unique presidential salute.
The first stop on this day was made at Empire.
Here the President alighted and going a little way up
Camacho Hill, entered the gold mens' bachelor quar-
ters. Mr. Roosevelt at once began his rapid-fire volley
of questions as to whether the men were perfectly sat-
isfied with their quarters, food, treatment, etc. He had
heard the complaint that they were housed three and
12 Roosevelt Centennial Supplement-Nov. 7,1958
four in a room but found only two in a room and
emphasized this fact on his listeners. This complaint
was doubtless the upshot of the sudden removal of a
force of over a hundred men from Panama to Empire
not long ago for whom convenient accommodations
could not be made at once.
The President went through this house and the outer
buildings with his usual thoroughness and was not
favorably impressed with certain conditions and de-
fects prevailing there, to which he suggested immediate
remedies to the officials concerned.
The trip was then continued, the train leaving the
Cut and proceeding along the main line of the Panama
Railroad. To such an extent had the heavy rains
affected the Chagres River that at a bend in the stream
the swollen current had undermined about twenty
yards of the railroad between Bas Obispo and Mat-
achin, and as a freight train was passing the railroad
had sunk and precipitated the locomotive and one car
into the stream. Luckily no one was hurt.
On reaching Gatun, another stop was made. At
this station, the school children had gathered and made
a patriotic demonstration, singing the "Star Spangled
Banner" and other national airs as the President left
the train and proceeded to climb the hills to the north
in back of the station to the site of the big dam which
is to regulate the angry torrent of the Chagres.
At this point steamshovels are at present at work
eating into the hillside to make room for the monster
dam and on the top of a higher hill is to be seen the
new town of Gatun, as yet in an embryonic state. The
artificial lake which will be flooded by the construction
of this dam will flood the country for miles around
including an extensive section of the present site of the
Panama Railroad and the old town of Gatun.
With a large map in front of him and from this
eminence, the President had all the details of the pro-
posed project explained to him by Chief Engineer
Stevens and Division Engineer Maltby. They stated
that the building of this dam was second to cutting
through the hills at Culebra, a job large rather than
The President was gradually surrounded by a crowd
of workmen who gave him three hearty cheers as he
was about to leave. He turned back to acknowledge
the salutation and delivered a speech in which he re-
iterated the sentiments uttered on previous occasions,
expressing his conviction of the stupendous character
of the enterprise. He said that all employed in the
work should be glad of their connection with it and
should feel the same pride in the achievement as the
heroes of a great war. The job is indeed a tough one;
he congratulated them on the part they were playing
in it and congratulated the United States on having
such representatives do it.
The President with his entourage then proceeded to
Mount Hope where he inspected the reservoir which
had been declared empty but which the President
found more than half full of water. Concluding his
round of this section the party then left for Cristobal.
(The Star & Herald account concluded here, but the
Colon Telegram took up the story to report the re-
mainder of that last day.)
He visited and inspected the I. C. C. Commissariat
and adversely criticized the prices charged there. From
the bridge of the General Office of the Panama Rail-
road, he delivered a short address. The Cristobal Fire
Brigade then came up Front Street and went through
a practice. The President soon afterward went on
horseback around the town, visited the magnificent
Colon Hospital and dined at General Man. Bierd's
At 9 o'clock he attended a reception held in his honor
at No. i Pier which was most beautifully decorated.
There was present the largest company ever seen on
this Isthmus and he was loudly cheered.
From the bandstand he delivered a lengthy address,
expressing complete satisfaction with the work that
had been done and was being conducted and assured
all those engaged in the construction of the Canal of
his most hearty support until the work is brought to
a successful termination. Soon after his address he
went aboard the U. S. Louisiana and left on his return
trip to the United States.
Nov. 7,1958-Roosevelt Centennial Supplement 13
the labor group, said later. "After viewing same, he
immediately gave orders to Colonel Gorgas, Chief of
the Sanitary Department, that he wanted flush-
toilets put in quarters at once."
"I went over everything that I could possibly "go
over in the time at my disposal. I examined the
quarters of the married men and single men, white
men, and Negroes." T. R. to Kermit.
"Gatun gave him welcome by large assemblage of
the school children, singing parts of the 'Star Spang-
led Banner,' 'America,' and 'Maryland.' Schools I
and 2, Gatun, turned out a total of 140. There could
have been a larger gathering but owing to the heavy
showers of rain which fell, others were hindered
from crossing over in time." From a report to the
Superintendent of Schools.
"The Gatun Dam will make a lake miles long and
the railroad now goes at what will be the bottom of
this lake; it was curious to think that in a few years
great ships would be floating in water ioo feet above
where we were." T. R. to Kermit.
Both Dr. Harry Eno, now in private practice in Colon,
and William D. Taylor, former Balboa Postmaster,
were in choice positions for the President's last ad-
dress. Dr. Eno had arrived early from Colon Hos-
pital but Mr. Taylor reached the dock just as the
President's party arrived. He and his friends followed
the official group in, "just as if we belonged to it,
so I was standing only a few feet away when he
"The President wasn't an orator but he could really
talk to you," Dr. Eno recalls. "I wouldn't say that
he was pugnacious but he doubled his fists as he
talked, and really got his point across. There was
much cheering when he promised to see what he
could do about a medal or something of the sort."
Dr. Eno and Mr. Taylor agree that the crowd on
Dock ii (which was about where the Panama Canal
Yacht Club now stands) was close to 2,ooo. Both
recall its gay decorations and Mr. Taylor especially
remembers that the newly opened ice plant had pro-
vided a huge cake of ice with fruit imbedded in its
center. This stood in a place of honor on the platform.
One of Roosevelt's last acts as President was to send his
successor and a board of engineers to look over the canal.*
T HE work on the Panama Canal is being done
with a speed, efficiency, and entire devotion to duty
which make it a model for all work of the kind," Pres-
ident Theodore Roosevelt told Congress in his last annual
message as the Chief Executive of the United States.
"N. task of such magnitude has ever before been
undertaken by any nation; and no task of the kind has
ever been better performed. The men on the Isthmus,
from Colonel Goethals and his fellow commissioners,
through the entire list of employees who are faithfully
doing their duty, have won their right to the ungrudg-
ing respect and gratitude of the American people."
The annual message, in December 19o8, was virtually
the outgoing President's swan song as far as his beloved
Panama Canal was concerned.
Roosevelt's visit to the Isthmus in 1906 had enabled
him to see for himself just what the progress of the
work was, just what its weak spots were, and what
could be done to correct them.
When he returned to Washington he laid the entire
Canal situation on the line in an unprecedented report
to Congress; unprecedented because it was the first
illustrated report that Congress had ever seen-it con-
tained 26 photographs of the work as it stood when
he saw it-and also because it was the first and only
presidential report presented in simplified spelling.
* Pres.-elect William H. Taft, in dark suit, and Col. George W.
Goethals, behind him. The engineers are: Frederic P. Stearns,
Jonn R. Freeman, Allen Hazen, Isham Randolph, James D.
Schuyler, Henry A. Allen, and Arthur P. Davis.
The Congressmen were at first a bit taken aback, but
within a few weeks were ordering copies by the hun-
dreds for their constituents.
In the remaining two years of his term as President,
Roosevelt laid such a firm foundation for the Canal
work that between the time he left office in March 1909
and the time when the first ship went through the
completed Panama Canal five and a half years later,
no major changes in its basic planning were necessary.
A major achievement was the solution of the vexing
problem of the Canal administration. Before he left
the Isthmus he signed an order curtailing the divided
authority of the Isthmian Canal Commission. He or-
ganized the work into departments, abolished the posi-
tion of governor, established a separate Sanitary De-
partment for the first time, and placed full power in
the hands of the chief engineer when the chairman
A few months later, following the resignations of
Chairman Shonts and Chief Engineer Stevens, he ap-
pointed the third, and last, Isthmian Canal Commis-
sion, and made Lt. Col. George W. Goethals its Chief
Engineer and Chairman. With only a few changes in
personnel, this commission remained on duty until the
permanent Canal organization was established in 1914.
During the early part of the construction period,
the men in charge had planned that the final excava-
tion and all construction would be done by contract.
Invitations to bid on these contracts were already out
at the time of Roosevelt's visit to the Canal Zone. A
few months later all bids were rejected and a decision
reached under which all the work, with the exception
Gamboa dike was blown up October 10, 1913; six days later, a second blast demolished the east end of the earth dam.
L .:: ,. : r~~o. ..
'4, N" w .- l
In 1925, these Roosevelt Medal holders, members of the Society of the Chagres, held their annual meeting at Taboga.*
of certain contracts like those for the lock gates, would
be done by the Canal force.
Three other major decisions were made during the
latter Roosevelt years. One of these was the widening
of the canal locks from the proposed 95 feet to the
Iio feet desired by the Navy. Another was a change
in the location of the locks and dams on the Pacific
side. A third was the decision, following an on-the-
spot inspection by President-elect Taft and a board of
Roosevelt-appointed civil engineers, that the founda-
tions of the Gatun Dam and the locks were stable and
that work could safely proceed on the sites selected.
And, finally, during the latter part of his term,
Roosevelt had the satisfaction of knowing that health
conditions on the Isthmus were much improved. Yel-
low fever was eliminated, malaria so controlled that its
incidence dropped from a terrifying 821-per-thousand
in 1906 to 215-per-thousand during his last year in
office. The death rate in the Canal Zone was cut two-
thirds between 1906 and 1909.
IN his last speech in Cristobal, the night of November
17, 1906, Theodore Roosevelt had'promised the employ-
ees "some little memorial, some mark, some badge, which
will always distinguish the man who, for a certain space
of time, has done his work well on the Isthmus."
The President did not forget his promise. The result
was the famed Roosevelt Medal, issued to over 7,000
men and women who had served on the Isthmus during
the construction period. He asked that the Isthmian
Canal Commission work out the details and set up
qualifications for the medal; Commissioners Harry
Rousseau and Jackson Smith were assigned this task.
When their recommendations were announced, few
took issue with the two-year continuous employment
qualification, but a number objected to the "old junk"
-the French Canal scrap from which the medals were
to be made-and suggested aluminum or silver-
something which, they said, would give a "neat and
One of the medals went to the President, another to
his long-time secretary, William Loeb, and a third to
Front row: T. 1. Grimison, H. E. Greenwood, George Green,
Frank Clisbee, C. P. Hoffman, C. M. Lupfer, Ernest Hallen, Gerald
Bliss, L. G. Sheetz, Dick Davies, George A. Jones. Seated: Harvey
Price, George Watts, Happy Draughon, Emil Rail, Dick Roberts,
Danny Donahue, Matty Nolan, Jack Meehan, and A. F. Sickler.
Standing: A. E. Cornwell, David T. Sasse Joe Close, Ferdinand
Loeck, Bill Fullman, F.S. Parmeter, Howard Baxter Max Englander,
Frank Sala, Bill Bolen. On porch: W. C. Hushing, J. K. Baxter,
E. H. Parmelee, Herman Gudger.
Nov. 7,1958-Roosevelt Centennial Supplement 15
Elihu Root, Roosevelt's first Secretary of War, and
later Secretary of State.
There are no Roosevelt Medal holders now in the
Canal service but there are still living on the Isthmus
a number of men and women who hold the Roosevelt
Medal and three bars, each bar indicating an additional
two years of Canal construction-day service. Many of
them, as well as Roosevelt Medal holders from many
parts of the United States will meet here for next week's
Roosevelt Centennial celebration.
A LTHOUGH Theodore Roosevelt never returned
to the Isthmus after his precedent-breaking trip in
1906, several members of his family came here both
before and after the construction days. The President's
older daughter, Mrs. Nicolas Longworth, was here
twice with her Congressman husband, once when Gam-
boa dike was blown up in 1913, and later when the
Canal was first opened. Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt made
several trips here, although it was not until 1935 that
she made her first transit of the Panama Canal.
The people of the Canal Zone adopted them, just
as they had adopted "Teddy" Roosevelt years before,
and it was natural that on his death on January 6, 1919,
their thoughts should turn to his family.
"Colonel Roosevelt's great services in connection
with the building of the Canal assure him of an endur-
ing place in our affectionate memory," the Governor
of the Canal Zone cabled Mrs. Roosevelt.
The following Sunday, thousands of Zonians turned
out for Roosevelt memorial services, at the Cristobal
Masonic Temple in the afternoon and the Balboa Sta-
dium at night. The Star & Herald suggested a mon-
ument bearing Roosevelt's bust be erected at the en-
trance to Cristobal. One Zonian wanted employees to
subscribe toward the building of Roosevelt Memorial
Hotels on either side of the Isthmus to relieve the
current housing shortage and another suggested a com-
binedLibrary-Museum building as a Roosevelt memorial.
Panama erected a bust of Roosevelt in DeLesseps
Park; the bust and the lettering on a nearby staircase
remained there for years. A group of Panamanians
proposed a Roosevelt plaque in Gaillard Cut and re-
tained Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney to design it. The
October following Roosevelt's death the Canal Zone
oversubscribed by $3,913.75 its $5,ooo quota for a
Roosevelt Memorial Association in the United States.
Today, there are Roosevelt Avenues in Cristobal and
in Balboa. There are portraits of Roosevelt on Canal
Zone stamps. Next week, a new bust of Theodore
Roosevelt will be unveiled at Balboa Heights. In addi-
tion to these, there are thousands of Roosevelt mem-
orials each year-the ships which ply back and forth
between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through the
Panama Canal-the Canal which he made possible.
f I A -*, If
SUNDAY-"Father and Family Man"
.8:30 a. m.-Memorial Flag Raising, Balboa.
Memorial services in all Zone churches; "Family
Night" at Service Centers, Theaters, and Tivoli.
MONDAY-"Pioneer, Adventurer, and Naturalist"
1:30 p. m.-Roosevelt Centennial Cruise Ship Ar-
rives In Cristobal.
4:30 p. m.-Tree Planting Ceremony, Balboa.
Judge John E. Deming, Speaker.
6:00 p. m.-Dinner Meeting, Society of American
Military Engineers, Tivoli; Hermann
Meetings: Atlantic Camera Club, Chagres Masonic
Lodge, and Veterans' Dance, Sky Room, Cristobal.
Veterans' Day Events, sponsored by American
Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Morning-Parade and Formal Ceremonies.
Afternoon-Athletic Events, Turkey Shoot.
Evening-Reception-Buffet Dinner, Pacific side.
Meetings: K. of C. Reception, Margarita; Army
Lodge, A.F. & A.M., Wayne Poland, speaker.
Morning- Sightseeing tours, Atlantic side.
1:30 p. m.-Partial Transit of Canal, Gamboa to
Balboa for Roosevelt Medal Holders and Visiting
Meetings: Balboa Woman's Club, Mrs. John
Townsend, speaker; Cristobal College Club, visit-
ing speaker; Diablo Camera Club; Sibert and
Canal Zone Masonic Lodges, James G. Murray
and Bruce G. Sanders, Jr., speakers.
10 a. m.- Special Assembly, Cristobal High
12:30 p. m.-Luncheon Meetings of Panama and
Cristobal-Colon Rotary Clubs.
7:30 p. m.-Isthmian Historical Society Program,
Maurice H. Thatcher, speaker, and
pageant of Roosevelt visit to Isthmus.
Meetings: Darien Lodge, A.F. & A.M., Burman
10 a. m.- National A :.ocialor of Retired Civil
Employees, Coftee for Roosevelt Med-
al Holders and Visiting Guests, The
12 noon-Luncheon, American Society of Civil En-
gineers, Tivoli; Francis S. Friel, speaker.
7:30 p. m.-Construction-Day Style Open House
and Dance at The Tivoli.
7:30 p. m.-Sabbath Service, J.W.B., Balboa.
Meetings: Sojourners and Isthmian Lodges, A.F. &
A.M., James G. Murray and Wayne Poland,
9:30 a. m.-Concert, C.x,;,ir,.ed Balboa -
Cristobal High School ?-jn.,
Administration Building, Balboa
10:00 a. m.-Dedication Ceremony, Balboa
"Stars and Stripes Forever"-Combined Bands
Invocation----------Rabbi Nathan Witkin
Introductory Remarks-------Governor Potter
Presentation of Awards to Canal Zone
School Essay Contest Winners-
Latin American School Glee Club
Presentation of ASCE Plaque to Canal as
"One of Seven Er,.;i;reernr., Wonders of
the United States ----------Francis S. Friel
National President ASCE
Address --------Hon. George H. Roderick
Chairman of the Board, Panama Canal Company
Presenroion.r of Roosevelt Bust-
Hon. Edward A. Bacon
Dedicatory Prayer-Rt. Rev. R. Heber Gooden
Closing Remarks-----------Governor Potter
Unveiling of Bust and Plaque in the Rotunda
National Anthem of the United States
Benediction .---Rev. James J. Murphy, C.M.
12:30 p. m.-Luncheon Session, Balboa Col-
lege Club, Tivoli EBllrcc.m,
5:00 p. m.-Flag Lowering Ceremony by
Scouts, Balboa Post Office
6:00 p. m.-Rough Rider Dinner Dance,
8:00 p. m.-"Teddy Roosevelt Dance,"
Cristobal YMCA-USO, for Mil-