Gf of the Panama luseum
ZONE POSTAL SERVICE ZONE GOVERNMENT HEIGHTS, CANAL ZONE
PRINTING PLANT MOUNT HOPE. C. Z.
Gov. W. E. Potter of the Canal Zone Government hand-canceling a first day
cover November 17, 1957, at the ceremonies honoring the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Gorgas Hospital and the issuance of the 3-cent
commemorative stamp celebrating this day.
Philately is one of our most interesting hobbies. It also has a distinct educational value. Here on the Canal Zone the stamp collector's attention is drawn to one of the richest sagas in the history of the United States, the man-made funnel through which flows the commerce of the world.
The postal history and stamps of the Canal Zone Government vividly reflect the early trials, heartbreaking failures and glorious completion of the Panama Canal. These bits of postage depict the ingenious planners, scenes of their work and the determined "canal diggers" accomplishments.
This booklet is an account of the birth and growth of the Canal Zone Government's postal system and its stamps. I trust it will help us to know and build upon our great heritage.
W. E. POTTER,
This book, with the exception of Supplements II and III, was written for the Canal Zone Government by Edward I. P. Tatelman.
Supplements II and III, covering postage stamps issued subsequent to January 1, 1960, were written and added to the original manuscript by the office of the Director of Posts.
E. F. UNRUH,
Director of Posts.
CHAPTER Page I. Early Isthmian Communication-Mail "Via Panama"..........1
II. French Efforts ........................................ 17
III. The United States Assumes Construction ................. 27
IV. The Canal Zone ...................................... 37
V. Establishment of First Canal Zone Post Offices............ 45
VI. Canal Zone's First Series ............................... 55
VII. Postal Inspection ...................................... 65
VIII. Second Regular Series ................................. 69
IX. Taft Agreement ...................................... 75
X. Third Regular Series .................................. 87
XI. Fourth Regular Series ................................. 97
XII. Fifth Regular Series ................................... 103
XIII. Sixth Series .......................................... 111
XIV. Seventh Regular Series ...............................117
XV. First Postage Dues .................................... 129
XVI. Second Series of Postage Dues .......................... 137
XVII. Ninth Ordinary Series ................................. 143
XVIII. Tenth Ordinary Series ................................. 149
XIX. Eleventh Ordinary Series .............................153
XX. Abrogation of the Taft Agreement ....................... 157
XXI. An Emergency Creation ............................... 161
XXII. Manufacture of Specially Designed Canal Zone Stamps..... 165 XXIII. Canal Zone Stamp Committee .......................... 173
XXIV. Twelfth Series..................................... 177
XXV. Third Postage Due Series .............................. 189
XXVI. Fourth Postage Due Series........................... 195
XXVII. Thirteenth Series ..................................... 199
XXVIII. Fourteenth Series-Permanent Issue ...................... 203
XXIX. First Air Mail (Provisional) Series ........................ 229
XXX. Fifth Postage Due Series ..............................237
XXXI. Second Air Mail Series-First Definitive .................. 241
XXXII. Sixth Postage Due Series-First Permanent ................ 249
XXXIII. Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Commemoratives ...............255
XXXIV. Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Series-Commemorative Air Mails. 265 XXXV. Second Fractional Series ................................269
XXXVI. Official Stamps ....................................... 275
XXXVII. Fifteenth Permanent Series-5-Cent John F. Stevens........ 287
XXXVIII. Barro Colorado Commemorative-10-Cent Stamp ..........295
XXXIX. "Gold Rush Centennial" Commemorative Series-3-Cent, 6-Cent, 12-Cent, and 18-Cent Stamps................299
XL. West Indian Labor Commemorative-10-Cent Stamp.........305
XLI. Second Definitive Air Mail Series-"Globe and Wing" Issue.. 309
XLII. 3-Cent Stamp Commemorating 100th Anniversary of Panama
Railroad ......................................... 317
XLIII. Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Gorgas Hospital-3-Cent Commemorative ...................................... 325
XLIV. Sixteenth Ordinary Series-4-Cent "Ancon" Stamp..........333
XLV. Theodore Roosevelt Centennial-4-Cent Commemorative
Stam p ........................................... 341
XLVI. Postal Stationery-Stamped Envelopes .................... 347
XLVII. Booklet ............................................. 369
XLVIII. Canal Zone Precanceled Stamps ......................... 379
XLIX. Of Postal People and Post Offices ........................ 389
L. World War I Tax Stamp Proof .......................... 397
LI. Canal Zone Railway Post Office, Seapost, and Paquebot
M arkings ........................................ 403
I. Some Canal Zone Philatelic Flights and Fancies ........... 415
II. Fiftieth Anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America-4-Cent
Commemorative Stamp ............................ 431
III. Seventeenth Ordinary Series-4-Cent "Administration Building" Stamp ...................................... 437
In recent years our postage stamps have taken on additional interests other than those for which they are created. We know that they are primarily revenue and denote receipts for money paid. When these receipts, these tiny bits of gummed paper, are attached in the correct amount to letters or packages, we are paying for expected and anticipated service to be performed by our postal service. This the employees have performed in a remarkably courteous and efficient manner considering the large volume of business handled.
Today our stamps are designed with a thought to the background and the history of the stamp issuing jurisdiction. Countries place thereon pleasing scenes, flowers, buildings, and other interesting subjects. Even in as small an area as the Canal Zone there is much of great interest to all throughout the world including the stamp collector.
One of the purposes of this booklet is to describe and explain the subjects shown on the stamps of the Canal Zone Government. We shall also relate some of the particulars of each issue, especially those we believe to be of general interest to everyone and including certain basic data for stamp collectors. It is not intended that this booklet be so complete in detail as to satisfy the "expert" or so-called "specialist." It shall be, however, as broad in scope as possible.
Whenever possible, mention shall be made of "first days," places of issue, amounts printed, and plate numbers. If known, the designers and modelers shall be named, as well as the engravers and others engaged in the stamp's creation. Reference shall be incorporated to the many post offices on stilts along the old Panama Railroad "line" as well as the newer concrete and glass structures. As in one sense this is a story of the Canal Zone Postal Service we would of course be remiss if we did not mention the pioneers who established and the men who have administered and handled the postal needs of the Canal Zone communities.
EDWARD I. P. TATELMAN
EARLY ISTHMIAN COMMUNICATION
Mail "Via Panama"
"VIA PANAMA"-I844 prepaid letter from Bourdeaux, France to Lima, Peru "via Panama."
Letter forwarded by Corwine Bros. & Co., Panama, New Granada. Amos B. Corwine was U.S. Consul at Panama and in 1848 was created Mail Agent.
Another Lima letter "Via Panama" forwarded by Smith & Lewis bearing
Crown postmark "Paid at Panama."
Earliest known "Pan. & San Fran. SS." letter per S.S. "Georgia,"
November 13, 1850.
A "Pan. & San Fran. S.S." letter dated June 23, 1851 "Via Panama"
addressed to the Paymaster General of the United States Army.
PAOIPIC ,M A#L STEAMSHIP'COMPANY,
FORW IVAK, A"P NNW ORLEANS,: via PAN
De.parture frrnw %rw*4w*V *harrt
TE ACWXC 'NAIL STEAMSHIP COMPANY'A STEAMER
2,000tOni, SIMON Bf UMT1 Esq.,, commander,
WD leave for PANAMA, with Pas.ngers and the GREAT THROUGH MAIL, touching ait M3Nonterey,, San Diego, and Ac.apuleo, on
Thursday Morning, Dec. lst# st 9 o'clock.
&tf4'!fet Security and- Speed !-1V6 Sicknes* on this
Route 1-'Twenty-Fire Miles by Raibroad!
The Isthmus is entirely free froim Sickness of any kind, and the Cruces road thoroughly repaired. The Transit can now be made with comfort and ease in fortyeight hours.
Treasure for shipment will be taken at the lowest rates, and received at the office until Wednesday Midnight, Nov. 30th. For freight or assage apply to E~. FLINT, Agent,
nov28' Corner 6f Sacramnento. and Leidesdorff streets.
$A0 FR-AM4C 15coCO H o4ICLF rc3
An independent line "Ahead of the Mails" cover.
A "'Steam Panama" in an elliptical marking is seen on this cover also bearing
the seal of the Consulate of the United States of America.
A letter forwarded by Adams & Co.'s Express, J. M. Freeman, their agent, April 8, 1854.
A "Via Panama" by Royal Mail Steam Packet addressed to London and carrying the circular "South America via Panama" canceling mark.
Letter addressed to Washington per "Guatemala via Panama" April 22, 1860,
which was forwarded by the Hurtado Bros. of Panama.
Letter bearing oval Pacific Express Company Panama and Aspinwall marking.
Letter addressed in care of Tracy Robinson at Aspinwall, United States of Colombia in May 1868.
A clear example of United States postal agencies abroad is this letter
bearing the postmark of the U.S. postal agency, Panama, dated
December 22, 1876.
A Wells Fargo & Co. envelope posted at San Francisco, Calif., June 18,
1874, for Kingston, Jamaica, per "Constitution" "Via Panama."
EARLY ISTHMIAN COMMUNICATION
Mail "Via Panama"
On September 29, 1513, Vasco Ndifiez de Balboa and his bedraggled men, peering to the South and West through the early morn's mist from atop a lofty Darien peak, excitedly viewed a great expanse of water. Soon after receiving word of this discovery of the Pacific Ocean, King Ferdinand ordered that a line of posts be established from sea to sea. Thus, upon the heels of Balboa's great discovery, came into being a transisthmian system of communication.
Acla, where Balboa was later beheaded, was ironically selected as the Atlantic terminus. In 1519 the terminus was changed to Nombre de Dios.
A settlement was commenced at what is now known as Old Panama in August 1517 which became a city by royal decree in September 1521 and the Pacific terminus of the Camino Real. From this point westward and northward, each but a day's travel apart, were established the missions for worship, rest, and exchange of communications that eventually reached into what is now southwestern United States, including the west coast thereof.
About 1534, a route by water for shallow-draft vessels was established from Nombre de Dios along the Caribbean coast and up the Chagres River to Cruces as an adjunct to the cobblestoned Transisthmian Highway. With Las Cruces on the Chagres less than 20 miles from the Pacific Ocean, it was natural that a royal decree be issued directing that this area be examined for the purpose of ascertaining the most convenient means of effecting communication between the Chagres River and the Pacific. With the ensuing negative report of Governor Pascual Andagoya this early idea of an Isthmian waterway died almost aborning.
The population of the Isthmus of Panama grew and enjoyed a great era of prosperity. For 300 years its terminal cities were centers of business activity. The warehouses at Portobelo burst at their seams with goods from Europe to be exchanged for the products of Central America and South America and then there was specie from Peru also. Portobelo's trade fairs became famous the world over. And with all this business, transisthmian communications grew proportionately.
At the turn of the nineteenth century,, as Spain's hold on her American empire relaxed, the prosperity of the Isthmus waned. Vessels sailed around Cape Horn and that great cobbled road across the Isthmus fell prey to tropical weather and the encroaching jungle.
Local potentialities were not, however, wholly forgotten. In 1829 a Connecticut Yankee named Silas Burrows advertised monthly mail carriage to Panama via Cartagena by packet brigs from New York. It was his intention to establish a further line between Panama and Callao and develop his business with the whalers and sealers of the Pacific. Although this plan was not realized,
it brought to light the real need for an isthmian route for communication with the Pacific.
The Postmaster General of the United States wrote to the Secretary of the Navy in July 1847 asking that warships, when homeward bound, call at the Isthmus for mail. At the same time the Consul at Panama was instructed to forward letters whenever transportation was available.
At the end of the year 1840, the Pacific Steam Navigation Company, chartered earlier that year, received a mail subsidy from the British Government and commenced service to South America with two steamers, the "Peru" and the "Chile." In 1842 the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company commenced operations to the Caribbean and in 1846 this line extended its mail service to the mouth of the Chagres. By cayuco up the river to Las Cruces and thence by mule to Panama City, mail service to Callao and Valparaiso was established. Thus was accomplished the first organized and regularly operated mail service from Europe to the west coast of South America via Panama. These last two words, "via Panama," in variations are to be seen on many old letters thus carried.
About this same time the United States was negotiating a treaty with the Republic of New Granada concerning isthmian transit. It was concluded December 12, 1846, ratified, and proclaimed June 12, 1848. Among many matters relating to "Peace, Amity, Navigation, and Commerce" the government of New Granada gave to the citizens of the United States of America the right to enjoy exemptions, privileges, and immunities in that part of New Granada denominated the Isthmus of Panama from its southernmost extremity to the boundary of Costa Rica as if they were citizens of New Granada. This "equality of favors" was to be extended to passengers, correspondence, and merchandise of the United States in transit across this territory.
The latter half of the nineteenth century saw the expansion and growth of our western frontier to the waters of the Pacific. This was followed by new industry, trade, and agriculture. Transportation to this newly-acquired area become a problem and regular means of communication a national responsibility. There were four main routes between 1850 and 1870 from the east coast of the United States to the California shores. Around Cape Horn; by rail to the Missouri River, then overland by trail and road; by way of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec across Mexico; (for a short time across Nicaragua); or by way of Panama.
Many Acts of Congress were passed in the next two decades authorizing expenditures for the carriage of mail from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific and beyond via the Chagres River and across the Isthmus of Panama. One bid was received from an ex-Postmaster General who held office under both Presidents Jackson and Van Buren. He would not however assume the responsibility of transporting the mail across Panama. On April 21, 1847, one Jabez M. Woodward, in addition to his bid for Pacific coast carriage of the mails, offered to carry it from Panama to the Chagres for $5,000. 0. H. Throop offered his services for monthly transisthmian mall delivery for $2,492 and almost double that amount for fortnightly crossings. But in spite of all efforts, the United States Post Office Department, without sufficient funds, could not set up dependable mail communication between our coasts.
Mail carriage on both oceans was in the hands of mail agents aboard steamers touching at the mouth of the River Chagres and Panama City. Because of the hazardous conditions, there was still no provision for transportation of mail across the Isthmus. The Pacific Mail Steamship Company finally accepted an
extension of its Pacific Mail contract to include this Isthmus of Panama carriage for an additional $2,900 per year. Conditions, however, were still not satisfactory as this company had no permanent agent at Chagres and mail often missed steamer connections. The government of New Granada undertook the transisthmian mail service late in 1849 and Amos B. Corwine, United States Consul at Panama, was created mail agent at $500 per year. The carriage of the mail across the Isthmus, however, was let to local business firms and again delivery became a problem. From March 13, 1850, until the government of New Granada was released from its mail carrying contract, December 13, 1851, the United States paid $70,585.31 for the transportation of mail across the Isthmus.
When the 49'ers began their California rush to riches, they made the Isthmus their main mode of transcontinental travel. The need of a railroad became more pressing daily and every effort was expended toward its construction. Through coastal quagmire and jungle overgrowth crews labored to overcome almost insurmountable obstacles. It has been stated that there is a dead Chinaman for each crosstie in the road. This is an exaggeration, of course, but the hastily constructed hospitals were always filled to capacity and quinine was an article of daily diet to offset the dreaded fevers.
On the first of October 1851, almost a year and a half after commencement of construction at Aspinwall (now Colon), Gatun was reached-a bare 7 miles of railroad but an auspicious beginning. Steamers with passengers California bound still touched at Chagres but with passenger carriage to Gatun a fact, many of the vessels dropped anchor at Navy Bay off Aspinwall.
The Post Office Department now entered into a contract with the Panama Railroad to carry mail commencing January 1, 1852 from Aspinwall to Panama. The rate was 22 cents per pound for first-class matter. With the railroad's completion on January 27, 1855, the contract was re-negotiated with the Panama Railroad agreeing to transisthmian mail service for the fiat sum of $100,000 per year. With the expiration of ocean mail contracts June 30, 1860, the agreement was terminated. Thereafter the mail was carried and paid for by weight with the annual sums up to 1867 ranging from $25,000 to $37,500.
When the transcontinental railroad was completed to California in 1869, much of the mail between United States coasts previotsly carried "via Panama" took the overland route. Vessels called less frequently at Aspinwall and the city of Panama. Communication between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts across the Isthmus lessened but did not cease. It was sort of enjoying a well-earned rest prior to greater days in the offing.
"Via Panama" had played a tremendous role in linking the world and assisting in the growth of the lands bordering on the Pacific Ocean from the State of Washington to the Republic of Chile.
The originators and promoters. of the Panama Railroad Company were three far-visioned and intrepid individuals; William H. Aspinwall, Henry Chauncey, and John L, Stephens. It was their undaunted belief, together with Col. J. M. Totten's tropical engineering background, that created a transisthmian railway with its way stations and ensuing settlements. Since Aspinwall played such an important part in everything pertaining to the creation of the railroad, it was decided to name the new town on Navy Bay (Bahia de los Navios) on the Atlantic side after him. The Republic of Colombia, however, thought it should be named Colon (Columbus) after the great discoverer, who incidentally careened one of his smaller vessels for scraping at the mouth of Sweetwater Rivet in Navy Bay.
The Bogota Government steadfastly refused to honor mail sent to Aspinwall and the Colombian postal people said that mail so addressed would not be delivered. Since it was her right to name towns within her domain as she desired, Aspinwall, Colombia; Colon-Aspinwall; and Colon (Aspinwall) mail ultimately was directed to Colon, Colombia, now Colon, Republic of Panama.
A Panama Railroad Co. Aspinwall letter, stampless, with a Crown cancel "Paid at Colon."
An April 1892 cancel at Emperador, Canal de Panama.
A French Canal Company letter heading with the writer's home address as Culebra, Colombie.
A new Panama Canal Company letterhead in 1899.
Letter mailed at the city of Panama bearing Canal de PanamA within the canceling circle.
Courtesy of the Christopher Columbus Library, Pan American Union, Washington, D.C.
After his triumph in Egypt with the Suez Canal, Ferdinand de Lesseps was not one to rest upon his laurels, and they were many. Looking westward as did Christopher Columbus to that ever-challenging water passage to the South Sea, de Lesseps no doubt envisioned another canal and additional fame, one joining the stormy Atlantic with the calm Pacific. And without a questionable thought decided that it was his job by predestination.
In 1877, Lt. Lucien Napoleon Bonaparte Wyse and M. Reclus of the French Navy spent some time in Panama making surveys and other pertinent examinations for the ostensible purpose of laying plans for a canal across the Isthmus. The following year at Bogoti, a concession was granted Lieutenant Wyse by the Colombian Government for the digging of a canal from the Atlantic coast along the Chagres River and valley across the divide to Panama.
Things, canal-wise, really commenced to pop in France. Interest ran high. An International Canal Congress was called for May 1879, and the Panama route was adopted. La Compagnie Generale du Canal Oceanique de Panama was formed with M. de Lesseps at its head. Lieutenant Wyse's concession was purchased for 10 million francs. M. de Lesseps, his wife and three children arrived at Colon, December 30, 1879. Two days later, New Year's of 1880, on the mud fiats at the mouth of the Rio Grande River, Ferdinande, M. de Lesseps' young daughter, pitched the point of a pickax in the soil of Tierra Firme and the great Canal enterprise was officially begun.
Adolphe Godin de Lepinay, a talented French civil engineer, had proposed a lock-type canal impounding the Chagres River. This was essentially adopted by the Isthmian Canal Commission 26 years later. De Lesseps, based upon his Suez experience, favored a sea-level canal, much to his later consternation.
Mail, bearing French stamps, addressed to the eager adventurers, commenced to arrive from those left behind.
De Lesseps, upon arrival at Panama, was 70 years of age, exceptionally active, and vigorous, with convincing and smiling manners. His confidence was great, and there was no doubt regarding the sincerity of his efforts. Unfortunately, he did not possess the administrative abilities necessary to accomplish so great and difficult a work. He was easily imposed upon, wrongly advised, and lacked the practical knowledge to overcome the many newer obstacles which he did not have to meet at the Suez. Mistakes were many, money was squandered, and work improperly supervised.
M. de Lesseps personally toured the world in attempts to raise subscribers to enable him to continue the project. It was apparently good money after bad, no sooner raised than spent. Indifference, incompetence, and greed spelled failure. On December 14, 1888, the Compagnie Universelle went into receivership.
News of the French failure numbed the Isthmus. More than 20,000 West Indian laborers were thrown into confusion. Their means of subsistence gone, and no way to get home. Some stayed. With a land so fertile there was no fear of starvation. Most, however, were repatriated in whatever floating equipment could be chartered.
To this day, rusty machinery, buried dump trucks, buckets, scoops, and other French equipment is still turned up close to the Mindi Dairy by the Boy Scouts in "the graveyard of France's past ambitions."
Down perhaps, but not out, the French formed a new canal organization in 1894 called the Compagnie Nouvelle du Canal de Panama. Old excavators were repaired, machinery cleared of mud and oiled, and again digging commenced. Operations in Culebra Cut were continued with a few cubic yards of dirt moved daily'. But it became evident that the object of the renewed efforts was solely to retain the concessions granted by Colombia until the United States became the willing customer of all French rights and equipment. That is, if Congress would cease debating the question and make up its mind as to the canal route to follow-Nicaragua or Panama. Too, the price had to be right.
The French asked $109,141,500. Admiral Walker's commission, after due investigation, thought $40,000,000 was right.
On May 9th, 1900, the House of Representatives passed a bill authorizing the construction of a canal at Nicaragua. The Senate defeated this by a bare handful of votes. And thus it see-sawed, with President McKinley's death adding to the confusion of selecting the canal site. In the meanwhile, no terms could be reached with Colombia regarding control of a strip of land across the Isthmus. One can well imagine the "behind-the-door" lobbying to gain favor for one route or the other.
The Mount Pelee volcanic disaster and propaganda to the effect that Momotombo was rumbling brought the earthquake question into the argument. Nicaragua's President cabled denials that Momotombo was active. Bunau-Varilla, to whom the success of the Panama route became an obsession, visited stamp dealers purchasing as many Nicaraguan stamps as he could depicting Momotombo in an active state. He pasted one on a printed price of paper carrying the words "An official witness to the volcanic nature of Nicaragua." These sheets bearing their self-serving testimony found their way to the hands of each member of the United States Congress. It was a very timely and colorful bit of propaganda. Its influence upon our legislators is questionable. Stamp collectors, however, take note of the fact that a stamp played a part in the canal-site selection.
From the time that the great Liberator Sim6n Bolivar paved the way to independence for many Central and South American countries in the early 19th century, Panama had tried several different forms of government. In 1903 it was a department or state in the Republic of Colombia. Far removed from tlhe seat of government at Bogoti, it always felt itself out of touch and mind with the center of officialdom. Aggrieved, restless, and dissatisfied with being left out in the cold during all the canal negotiations, and for other reasons, the Department of Panama did not hide its feelings.
While Colombia was playing hot and cold in its negotiations with the United States for a canal territorial grant, a strong group of Panama nationals felt that if Panama were free, all of the $10,000,000 which the United States was offering Colombia, as well as the proposed annual payment of $250,000 would be
Panama's to do with as she wished. It certainly appeared as if a revolution was brewing. The Bogota Government had received warning after warning that Panama would act unless Colombia did something to provide for the canal's construction.
On November 3, 1903, under the leadership of Dr. Manuel Amador Guerrero, the Department of Panama declared itself independent of Colombia. The bloodless revolution was successful. President Theodore Roosevelt promptly recognized the new government. Bunau-Varilla was named Panama's first Minister to Washington. He and Secretary of State Hay signed a treaty which the Senate of the United States immediately ratified. The French Canal Company received its $40,000,000 and the United States assumed the momentous task of completing the Panama Canal.
THE UNITED STATES ASSUMES
Post Office, Empire, C.Z. December 1904.
THE UNITED STATES ASSUMES CONSTRUCTION
The American dream, then the realization of becoming the constructors of the Canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, was something to excite every citizen of the United States. Impatience and urgency to commence the task spread from Washington to the most remote and smallest town in the country.
President Theodore Roosevelt did not waste any time in appointing the Isthmian Canal Commission after the signing of the treaty between the United States and Panama on November 18, 1903. This Commission was to function under the authority of the War Department. In a letter to the Commission from the White House dated March 8, 1904, he said, in part,
"I have appointed you . to undertake the most important and also the most formidable engineering feat that has hitherto been attempted. You are to do a work which, ... will reflect high honor upon this nation, ... will be of incalculable benefit, not only to this nation, but to civilized mankind.
"It (the work) is to be done as expeditiously as possible, and as economically as is consistent with thoroughness . .
"You will take measures to secure the best medical experts for this purpose
(sanitation and hygiene) .
"The plans are to be carefully made with a view to the needs not only of the moment, but of the future . .
"You are to secure the best talent .
"*What this nation will insist upon is that results be achieved."
This letter was read at the first meeting of the Commission held in the Corcoran Building, Washington, D.C., March 22, 1904, and a copy ordered made for and delivered to each member.
The Commission was composed of Adm. J. G. Walker, U.S.N., Chairman, who brought to the Board a background of Canal survey work in Nicaragua and Panama and a rugged leadership; Maj. Gen. George W. Davis, U.S.A. (retired) who had headed the difficult organization of government in Puerto Rico after the Spanish-American War; Benjamin Harrod, William H. Burr, William Barclay Parsons, and Carl Ewald Grunsky, outstanding civil engineers; and Frank J. Hecker, business consultant. S. E. Redfern was appointed temporary secretary. These gentlemen, impelled to action, met in Washington daily from early morning to late afternoon. Many were the views expressed and varied matters debated, discussed, approved, or tabled.
One thought which received unanimous approval upon being voiced was that a trip to the Isthmus of Panama to view the property purchased was imperative. Arrangements for the voyage were immediately made and the Commission sailed from New York on the Panama Railroad steamship, "Allianca," March 29, 1904.
Prior to sailing it was agreed to seek the services of Col. William Crawford Gorgas of Cuba fame as a sanitary and hygiene expert and to have him accompany the Commission to Panama.-No better choice for the difficult job could have been made. Drs. Louis A. La Garde, noted medical administrator, and John W. Ross, M.C., U.S.N., were also employed. The latter was an expert in the field of yellow fever and malaria, which had done so much to defeat the French efforts.
Continuing with their meetings aboard the "Allianca," the Commission decided to employ a chief engineer. John F. Wallace, a prominent and highly respected railroad engineer, was tendered the office and accepted it May 5, 1904.
The arrival of the Commission at Colon, April 5, 1904, was a shattering experience. Thousands of people were living in termite-eaten shanties on stilts. Rickety boardwalks laid on mire, made each step taken thereon a hazardous one. Squalor and filth made an incredible sight. Cristobal, a peninsula at the south end of Front Street, constructed from fill by the French, stood in comparative clean contrast. Here was situated the French Administration Building, close behind the present Pier 10, a hotel, and some residences on clean, palm-lined causeways. After setting up headquarters in the French resident director's home, arrangements were made to view the "dig."
Abandoned labor camps and sleepy townsites were passed along the Panama Railroad "line" and again the sight beheld by the Commission members was a most discouraging one with abandoned dredges, rust-eaten machinery, warehouses all heaped with wasted and rotted supplies.
At the city of Panama, which was comparatively genteel, clean, and cosmopolitan, a most cordial reception was given the party by the president of the newly formed Republic, Dr. Manuel Amador Guerrero. To the Commission was expressed every good wish for the success of the great undertaking.
Many ensuing visits were paid to the various abandoned French projects and sites for the purpose of assessing their value for future undertakings. The Alhajuela and Gamboa Saddle Dams were traversed, a trip through Culebra made, the machine shop at Bohio surveyed, a repair shop and spoil dump at Tabernilla seen, the labor camp at San Pablo surveyed, and the Las Cascadas engine shops and round houses and the huge Gorgona repair shops were inspected.
Although there was considerable evidence of spoilage, waste, and extravagance, there was much to be said to the advantage of the original enterprise and efforts of the French. Almost two-fifths of Culebra had been dug, a beautiful hospital reposed high on Ancon Hill; and closer scrutiny of the yards and warehouses revealed much equipment which could be salvaged. There was also the Panama Railroad Company, by no means the least of the assets without which the Canal could not have been dug. Added to these were the multitudinous heaps and files of plans, maps and drawings covering years of research. Our government did not buy a white elephant. While on the Isthmus, the Commission continued its meetings at the offices of the resident director, and these were attended by Maj. William "Black and Lt. Mark Brooke, Corps of-Engineers, U.S.A., who were on the Isthmus.
The Commission departed from Colon for the United States on the S.S. Yucatan," April 20th. The physical features of the line of the Canal had been inspected and points of important works especially noted. It was decided that organized field parties would be employed for additional study with stress upon the importance of thoroughness.
Convening in their new rooms at the Evening Star Building, Washington, the Commission met again May 4, 1904. In an undramatic and calm, business-like voice, Chairman Walker announced the receipt of the following telegram:
Panama, May 4, 1904
Property taken over seven thirty this morning.
There is no record of the response of the other members of the Commission, who were in -full attendance, to this cryptic and important message. No excitement, no enthusiasm, no acclaim or flag-waving. Instead, and in his usual manner, Chairman Admiral Walker prepared and sent to Lieutenant Brooke a cablegram, as follows:
Continue organization and work, present compensation. General Daivis and paymaster, with funds. Sail tenth.
The United States was now dedicated to complete the great task undertaken 25 years earlier and left unfinished.
Many reports were received by the Commission and many resolutions adopted, all with regard to organization and better and quicker means of tackling the enormous job. Sanitation of the Canal Zone, so sorely needed, was in the expert hands of Colonel Gorgas. General Davis was directed and empowered to use the employees on the Isthmus to the best advantage and to employ and fix the compensation of whatever additional help was needed to expeditiously and properly continue the work. He was also authorized to purchase such materials and supplies as needed. A committee consisting of Commissioners Burr and Grunsky were authorized to employ engineers, surveyors, and assistants and to provide their necessary equipment.
At the Commission's meeting of May 16, 1904, the Chairman announced that Maj. Gen. Geo. W. Davis and party, consisting of
Maj. W. M. Black, Corps of Engineers, U.S.A.
Ernest Lagarde, Jr., at salary of $2,000 per year.
E. C. Tobey, Paymaster, U.S.N., at $3,700 per year.
Richard L. Sutton, M.D., U.S.N.
Mason E. Mitchel, stenographer, at $125 per month.
Geo. Reynolds Shanton, at $150 per month.
Chas. L. Stockelberg, at $100 per month, and
Jeremiah Corcoran at $100 per month.
had sailed May 10th, 1904, for Colon on the "City of Washington."
In a letter to Secretary of War William Howard Taft, May 9, 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt outlined the Convention and Acts of Congress leading up to the acquisition of the property of the New Panama Canal Company, a description thereof, and a delineation of the lands and waters granted by the Republic of Panama. The President stated that under the Act of Congress approved April 28, 1904, the payment to the Republic of Panama of the $10,000,000 as stipulated in the Canal Convention had been made, and the New Panama
Canal Company had received the $40,000,000 agreed upon as the purchase price of all its rights and properties. In the name of the United States of America, he was thus authorized to take possession of and occupy the zone of land and land under water at the Isthmus of Panama to a width of 10 miles, "extending to the distance of 5 miles on each side of the central line of the route of the Canal . This is the area which became known as and is still called the Canal Zone.
The Isthmian Canal Commission was charged with the active prosecution of the digging, construction, and completion of the Canal and to assist in the creation and organization of a government protecting the inhabitants in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property, and religion. The laws of the land which were in existence February 26, 1904, were to be continued in force. Recounting the great principles of government necessary as the very basis to our existence as a nation and deemed essential to the rule of law and the maintenance of order, the President decreed that the first amendments to our Constitution be given full force and effect in the Canal Zone.
Under the supervision and the direction of the Secretary of War, subject to the limitations of law and the conditions contained in the President's letter, the Isthmian Canal Commission was authorized:
a. To legislate on all rightful subjects not inconsistent with the laws and treaties of the United States.
b. To raise and appropriate revenues. Since the sale of postage stamps is a means of revenue collection, this is no doubt the initial and enabling source of authority for Canal Zone postage stamps.
c. To enact sanitary ordinances. It was the desire of the President that every possible effort be made to protect the workmen, to obliterate yellow fever and malaria, and banish other fatal diseases as far as possible.
d. To establish a civil service.
e. To make all needed surveys, borings, designs, plans, and specifications of the engineering and other works required and to supervise the execution of them.
f. To make and cause to be executed all necessary contracts.
g. To acquire lands essential and needed for the excavation and completion of the canal.
h. To establish a proper and comprehensive system of accounting and bookkeeping, and of more than little importance
i. To make requisition on the Secretary of War for funds as needed from time to time.
No group or body of men embarking upon any enterprise had a more clear-cut definition of the work to be done nor greater authority to do it.
Maj. Gen. George W. Davis, U.S.A. (retired), a member of the Commission who had already visited the Isthmus of Panama, was appointed Governor of the Isthmian Canal Zone. He was to assume full executive authority in the name of the President of the United States, see that the laws were faithfully executed, that possession of the territory was maintained, and if necessary in the event of sudden exigency to call upon the military to render assistance.
Due to transfers and resignations there were many changes in the membership of the Isthmian Canal Commissions. Because some of the Commissioners are subjects used on the Canal Zone's definitive stamps these changes are recorded.
The first Commission appointed by President Roosevelt after purchase of the New French Canal Company was the ono heretofore listed and headed by Rear Adm. John G. Walker, U.S.N. (retired).
The second Isthmian Canal Commission was appointed April 1, 1905, with Theodore P. Shonts, Chairman; Chas. R. Magoon, Governor of the Canal Zone;
John F. Wallace, Chief Engineer; Rear Adm. Mordecai T. Endicott, Brig. Gen. Peter C. Hains, Col. Oswald H. Ernst, and Benjamin M. Harrod of the first Commission.
John F. Stevens was appointed Chief Engineer succeeding Mr. Wallace June 30, 1905, became a member June 30, 1906, and later became Chairman, succeeding Mr. Shonts, on March 4, 1907. Jackson Smith and Colonel Gorgas became members February 14, 1907; Col. George W. Goethals, March 4, 1907; Maj. David DuBois Gaillard, Maj. William L. Sibert, and Adm. H. H. Rousseau, March 16, 1907.
The third Isthmian Canal Commission was appointed April 1, 1907. The members were Col. George W. Goethals, now Chairman and Chief Engineer, Lt. Col. W. L. Sibert, Maurice H. Thatcher, Rear Adm. H. H. Rousseau, Lt. Col. David DuBois Gaillard, Lt. Col. H. F. Hodges, and Col. W. C. Gorgas. Jackson Smith resigned September 14, 1908, and Richard L. Metcalfe was added August 9, 1913. This committee as a whole functioned until the passage of the Panama Canal Act of 1912 with the members acting as a sort of staff to Colonel Goethals, the Chairman.
Colonel Gorgas' labors to make and keep the Canal Zone healthy had begun in May 1904. Many were his discouragements. Delays in ordering supplies and in the delivery of medicines and equipment, were indeed disheartening. Despite the fact that three-quarters of the Isthmian populace appeared to be infected with malaria, his relentless fight against the mosquito was finally won. The last case of yellow fever was reported in May 1906. A standing reward of fifty dollars was offered to any employee of the Health Department reporting a case in any section of the Zone. After that date it went unclaimed.
The battle against malaria, a bit tougher, was also won. Although the menace was not entirely eradicated, systematic fumigation, clearing of ditches and drains, spraying of streams, cutting of brush and weeds, screening of homes, and a supply of quinine to all who desired it reduced malaria to an extent that compared favorably with the United States. The quinine cocktail became a daily drink and habit at all Isthmian Canal Commission government-operated hotels and clubhouses. All America was proud of the great triumph of health over disease and the wonderful job accomplished by Colonel Gorgas and his workers.
When General Davis first inspected the Canal after it was taken over from the New French Canal Company, there were less than 200 employees on the payroll. With a preliminary outline of the immediate work ahead, it was quickly apparent that this meager force had to be augmented in great numbers. Engineers, doctors, nurses, artificers of all classes and types, and thousands of ordinary but exalted ditch diggers, had to be employed, and quickly. The call went out and its echo resounded throughout the world. Thousands of young, eager, adventure-seeking men applied and soon were Isthmian-bound. Americans, West Indians, Spaniards and men of other European countries.
Working conditions, as has been noted, were not of the best. The housing was poor, sanitary conditions bad, recreation facilities practically nil, and there were more saloons than churches and schools. Many an employee, even the boldest, took one look at his surroundings upon landing and inquired about the departure of the next vessel.
American ingenuity and money soon speedily devised and supplied healthful recreation and other needs. As hastily as they could be arranged for and con-
structed came the hospitals with free medical care, schools, police and fire protection, chapels along the line of construction, courts, barracks, and houses for families. Clubhouses were set up and managed by the YMCA upon the suggestion of President Roosevelt. These government-built recreation centers had billiard rooms, bowling alleys, gyms, libraries, soda fountains, and sponsored basketball and baseball teams. Town bands were organized among the employees, and orchestras to play for Saturday night dancing. An employee soon enjoyed everything, or nearly everything, he had back home.
Despite all that was being done to make life pleasant for the newly-arrived canal digger, there was still one facility lacking. That branch of service which could take some of the lonesomeness out of one's life. That which could add a smile and pleasure to his daily work. The receipt of mail from home, for the postal service of the Republic of Panama had ceased operating on the Zone. So on June 20, 1904, Governor Davis dispatched a cable to Rear Adm. John G. Walker, Chairman of. Isthmian Canal Commission, Washington, D.C., urging the immediate*establishment of a postal service within the Canal Zone.
THE CANAL ZONE
Mr. Henry L. Donovan, Civil Affairs Director, Canal Zone Government, and
under whom the Canal Zone postal system functions, delivering a first day cover with the Gorgas Hospital Commemorative stamp thereon to Gov. W. E. Potter of the Canal Zone Government, November 17, 1957.
THE CANAL ZONE
The Canal Zone, extending 5 miles on each side of the channel axis, encompasses an area of approximately 553 square miles, with Gatun Lake, until recently the world's largest man-made body of water, covering 163 square miles. From deep water in the Atlantic to deep water in the Pacific, the Canal is 50 miles long and ranges in width from 500 to 1,000 feet. Directionally, it runs from northwest to southeast, with Cristobal on the Atlantic side being 33.5 miles north and 27 miles west of Balboa on the Pacific. Because of the gooseneck shape of the Isthmus, the sun appears to be performing astronomical back flips by rising in the Pacific Ocean and setting in the Atlantic.
A vessel's transit, north to south, commences at the Cristobal breakwater. Here the ship is met by customs, quarantine, immigration, and other officials and under the guidance of a pilot, commences passage. It is 6 miles to the first set of locks at Gatun and about a mile before reaching them can be seen the old French Cut diagonally crossing the present canal. Cut through a wild root-spreading mangrove swamp, it is not difficult to see many of the backbreaking hardships of the early railroad pioneers and the Canal diggers.
Proceeding southward, Gatun Locks is the first of the three twin sets of locks transited. A vessel is raised or lowered 85 feet in three steps. Each lock chamber is 1,000 feet long and 110 feet wide. The average canal transit requires 52,000,000 gallons of water. As a vessel approaches the lock's walls, cables are taken aboard from small electric locomotives called "mules," running on cogs. The "mule" operator, in answer to hand signals from the pilot, holds the vessel in place and tows the ship through the chambers. It is indeed a strange experience when aboard to see your ship being raised a little more than 28 feet in each of 3 flights-a water escalator on a grand scale.
To the right of Gatun Locks can be seen the mile and a half long earth, dam and spillway holding the Chagres River waters. It is the valley of this river which is followed for 23 miles to Gamboa. This is the northern end of the Culebra Cut of construction days where the dike was blown permitting the water to fill the huge earthen cleavage. Today it is called Gaillard Cut in honor of Col. David DuBois Gaillard, C.E., U.S.A., the engineer who had charge of this difficult excavation task. This is where the "oldtimers" made the dirt fly and where one can appreciate the enormity of the job so well done. Just prior to reaching the Pedro Miguel Locks, one passes Gold Hill on the left, the highest point along the Cut with Contractors' Hill on the right. Beside both fof these hills in the past, earth movements have resulted in slides temporarily curtailing passage. With cutting, sluicing and dredging, the slopes have gradually been cut back and passage is now unimpeded.
At the southern end of Gaillard Cut the one step Pedro Miguel Locks lowers a vessel southbound 31 feet to Miraflores Lake. This small body of water, a mile
wide, brings us to the Miraflores Locls of 2 steps, the last in the series, and then out into the sea-level reach taking us to the Balboa inner harbor 3 miles away. Passing Sosa Hill with its ball and cone signals displayed, it is now but 5 miles to the Pacific sea buoy and another daily, commonplace, silent, efficient, and safe transit has been made in about 8 hours.
In 1903 the newly-created Republic of Panama by treaty granted the United States in perpetuity the use, occupation, and control of a zone of land and land under water for the construction, maintenance, operation, sanitation, and protection of the Canal. This zone was to be of a width of 10 miles extending to a distance of 5 miles on each side of the center line of the Canal, beginning in the Caribbean Sea 3 marine miles from mean low watermark, and extending to and across the Isthmus into the Pacific Ocean to a distance of 3 marine miles from mean low watermark, excluding the cities of Panama and Colon and the harbors adjacent to such cities. Within this zone, the United States was granted all the rights, power, and authority which it would possess and exercise if it were the sovereign of the territory within which the zone is located, to the entire exclusion of the exercise by the Republic of Panama of any such sovereign rights, power, or authority.
The Canal's construction, after the earlier failure, and successful operation after its opening August 15, 1914, was made possible by this early mutually satisfactory and beneficial treaty. It has brought commercial, economic, and trade advantages to all.
The primary object and purpose of the Canal is to afford a dependable, uninterrupted, efficient transit of vessels. This is of vital concern not alone to the maritime interests of the world; but in a lesser degree to those on the Zone whose livelihood and general welfare are dependent upon these transits. Operationally, there is the pilot force and marine traffic controllers aids to navigation, docks and cargo handling, dredging, power plants, lock control and operations, and many other involved agencies.
Although not directly connected with ships' transits, but nevertheless essential in the over-all operation, was the establishment of government within the Canal Zone. This included municipal services such as police and fire protecfion, housing, retail stores, and any and all facilities found in a going modern community of approximately 40,000 people.
The Spooner Act of 1902, among other things, called for the creation of the Isthmian Canal Commission which was the governing body during construction days. This was supplanted in April 1914 by the Panama Canal Act. Under this law an independent governmental agency was established called The Panama Canal. This organization included both the operation and maintenance of the Canal and the civil government within the Canal Zone. The Panama Railroad Company, an adjunct of The Panama Canal, was charged with handling not only its own steamship and railway affairs but most of the business matters conducted by and related to the Canal. The Panama Railroad Company was made a Federal Government Corporation in 1948.
On July 1, 1951, under the provisions of Public Law 841, all Canal operations were transferred to the Panama Railroad Company and it was renamed the Panama Canal Company. At the same time, the civil government functions of The Panama Canal were consolidated and molded ir-to a unit known as the Canal Zone Government.
There are thus two parts to the present organization, the Canal Zone Govern-
ment and the Panama Canal Company. Regardless of how many times the Congress may change the names, the purpose of its existence since the last shovelful of dirt was thrown into a dump car and the Cut filled with water, is still to move ships from one ocean to the other. Both operating units are headed by a single individual who is Governor of the Canal Zone and President of the Panama Canal Company. The President of the United States appoints the Governor, subject to confirmation by the Senate, and he is ex officio President of the Panama Canal Company.
The Panama Canal Company operates as a self-sustaining corporate body. Among its obligations are its own operating expenses, the net cost of civil government, and interest and depreciation charges on the United States Government's investment in the Canal. To meet these financial obligations, the law provides a formula for the establishment of the rate of tolls for vessels using the Canal. This is done on a net tonnage basis on each 100 cubic feet of shipping space usable for revenue purposes. Merchant vessels pay 90 cents a ton for laden ships and 72 cents a ton for ships in ballast. The average vessel usually pays between $4,500 and $5,000 for transit.
The Secretary of the Army is designated Stockholder of the Panama Canal Company, and he appoints a Board of Directors of 13 members, the managing body of the corporation.
The Canal Zone Government, as an independent government agency, is under the direct supervision of the President of the United States who has delegated this authority to the Secretary of the Army. It operates on appropriated funds, although the net cost of its operation is returned to the United States Treasury by the Panama Canal Company.
The operations of the Canal Zone Government differ little in its effect on home and community life from the results of the governing authority of the average United States town. The Government performs the usual and normal functions of both State and city. These include a public school system from kindergarten to junior college, public health, hospitals, and sanitation, courts, police and fire protection, public roads; immigration and customs, and far from the least of public services, the postal system, post offices and postage stamps.
Within the Canal Zone Government structure, the postal administration, headed by a Director of Posts, functions under the Director, Bureau of Civil Affairs. The latter reports directly to the Governor of the Canal Zone.
ESTABLISHMENT OF FIRST CANAL ZONE
Canal Zone Post Office-La Boca, 1904
The Ancon Post Office as it appeared in 1936, which, when designed as a post
office in 1904, made use of an old French Canal Company dwelling.
ESTABLISHMENT OF FIRST CANAL ZONE POST OFFICES
The receipt and local distribution of mail on the Canal Zone as well as its dispatch was a recognized must if the "canal diggers" arriving in 1904 were to remain and be kept happy. Although the establishment of post offices was but one of the myriads of problems facing the first Canal administration, it was nevertheless of such importance as to cause Gen. George W. Davis to cable Admiral Walker on June 20, 1904, as follows:
Must immediately institute a mail service upon Zone. Have appointed acting postmasters Cristobal, Gatun, Bohio, Gorgona, Bas Obispo, Empire, Culebra, La Boca, Ancon, which should be officially designated United States post offices. Cristobal and Ancon money order. Request Post Office Department and Superintendent Posts report to me with equipment, blanks, instructions, supply of United States postage stamps surcharged Canal Zone, Panama. I send names
of postmasters by mail Wednesday.
The contents of this cable were included in a letter sent to Admiral Walker from Culebra the same day. In this letter, Governor Davis elaborated upon the bleakness of the postal situation thus:
The necessity of putting our postal service on its feet is, of course,
pressing as the postal service of the Republic has ceased in the Zone.
For sometimes past I have been having the baggage agents on the trains
deliver official mail to our several stations, but now I must handle the mail of the people who inhabit the Zone. As a matter of immediate and pressing necessity that mail will be carried if it is simply franked so that the name of the sender can be identified, for we have no postage stamps
for present use.
I saw in a press dispatch-a few days ago a statement to the effect that
the Post Office Department had decided to establish U.S. mail service
on the Zone.
The plan in view at present is to utilize the railroad station agents as
postmasters in most cases. They have houses and means for taking care of their business and time enough to attend to it. Of course, later on it will be necessary to have separate postmasters, but they can manage it
for the present.
That there should be two money order offices here goes without saying.
Ancon, it seems to me, is a suitable name for the Canal establishment that must grow up on the slope of Ancon (probably encompassing Quarry Heights and* Balboa Heights) and including La Boca, and Cristobal is a suitable name for the new port at the Colon end of the Canal, and these
are the two money order offices that I have in mind.
I hope no time will be lost in establishing the United States postal
service, as it will take some time to get stamps printed, and as it would probably not be proper to issue United States stamps for the Zone at first, until we have legislation, we could overcome the difficulty by having a supply of United States stamps surcharged with the words "Canal Zone," and then accounts can be kept separate. If the United States proposes to operate this postal service separate and distinct from the Zone, well and good, I have no objection, of course, and in that case
they will not come under my control.
(sgd) GEORGE W. DAVIS,
Since postal service rendered by the Republic of Panama had come to an end and the Canal Zone had not yet established its own, it has been a mystery as to the manner of this letter's dispatch, the stamps it bore, and how postmarked. It appears that the only post offices maintained by the Republic of Panama from Colon to Panama across the Isthmus at this time were those at the terminal cities. Two employees of these post offices, the brothers Ezequiel and Mateo Ayala, were charged with carrying the mail between these cities and were authorized to accept "any loose letters" handed to them along the line. There is no indication as to whether or not they rode the trains of the Panama Railroad together or in opposite directions. They were the pioneer counterparts of our railway mail clerks.
On June 21, 1904, Governor Davis sent a follow-up to Chairman Walker in which he named those selected to act as postmasters and their offices.
Culebra.................................E. A. PALMER
Empire ......................... ALEXANDER GENETEAU
La Boca............................ J. ST. CLAIR HUNT
Bohio........................MANUEL DOMINGO ABELLO
Gorgona............................. HENRY SAWLEY
Matachin......................JOSEPH DUNCAN EDWARDS
Gatun...............................PEDRO CORRERA V.
Cristobal............................. ISAAC CAMPBELL
Since this listing of proposed post offices in the cable of the 20th, it was discovered that Bas Obispo had no railroad agent so Matachin within a short distance of this point on the Chagres River was designated in its place. An immediate change of postmasters at Ancon occurred even before the first named had an opportunity to serve. Julio Quijano was appointed vice Fernando Guti6rrez. There was little difficulty in bonding the postmasters as all were working for the Panama Railroad Company and most were already under bond.
Governor Davis decried the laxness and inefficiency of handling mail up to this time. He stated that the system of the local government which carried on the mail service was very primitive and unsatisfactory. This could be ascribed to the fact that Panama having established its independence from Colombia less than a year before hardly had an opportunity to organize its own postal system.
A mail carrier passed over the "line" (Panama Railroad) each way once
a day, carrying on his person any letters that were for delivery. These letters he handed to the policeman at the stations where the train stopped, and the policeman attended to the delivery of the letters, if he could find the person addressed. In some cases, when the policeman was not at hand, the mail was left on the platform for anybody to come and help
himself as he pleased. Of course, all that business has to stop. I shall establish a system of waybills and receipts for packages of mail matter delivered at the different points, and hold the agent responsible for the delivery of the mail, but, until postage stamps are available, I shall not attempt to make any collections of payment for carrying or delivering
Negotiations were immediately begun between Governor Davis of the Canal Zone and His Excellency Toma's Arias, Minister of Government for the Republic of Panama, for the purpose of securing postage stamps from the Republic of Panama for the Canal Zone's temporary use.
With President Amador Guerrero's approval, Mr. Arias proposed to furnish Panama stamps surcharged "C.Z." in such quantities as may be required for 20 percent of their face value in gold. As Colombian currency which the Panama stamps carried was worth only half of United States money, the cost of the stamps was actually 40 percent of their shown value in silver. "Face" was in pesos and centavos of the Colombian monetary system. Since Colombian currency was exchanged at the rate of two to one, silver for gold, it appears that the stamps were actually offered at 40 percent "face" of silver value.
Mr. E. C. Tobey, Paymaster, U.S.N., and Chief of Materials and Accounts, personally handled the negotiating for Governor Davis. As it was the Governor's desire that mail facilities in the Canal Zone be developed without further delay and believing that the Panama proposition was reasonable, Mr. Tobey recommended to the Governor that the authorities of Panama be communicated with at once and that arrangements be concluded for the overprinting of the stamps and their delivery.
Confirming the verbal arrangements made by Mr. Tobey, Governor Davis in a letter to Mr. Arias of June 23, 1904, expressed his gratification for the offered use of Panama's stamps until such time as stamps of the United States might be provided for use in the Canal Zone. He then asked for stamps in the following denominations: $500 in 10-cent stamps, $400 in 5-cent stamps, and $100 in 2-cent stamps. This interchangeable monetary designation can be confusing unless we keep in mind that a Colombian silver peso was worth 50 cents in our gold dollar system and their centavo half of our cent.
His Excellency Mr. Arias was asked to direct that each of the stamps be surcharged with the words CANAL ZONE so that their use could be controlled and limited to the Zone itself. It was understood that as soon as the postage stamps of the United States were supplied from Washington, any of the Panama stamps unsold would be returned. To lend authenticity to the exchange of letters between the Canal Zone and Washington, Secretary of War William Howard Taft issued an order by the direction of the President on June 24, 1904, establishing the nine post offices heretofore named and specifying the duties of the Governor with relation to postal matters. The towns "Crystobal" and "Boheo" were incorrectly spelled but properly changed to "Cristobal" and "Bohio" within a few days.
Creating Cristobal and Ancon money order offices, the Secretary went on:
The Governor of the Canal Zone is hereby authorized to appoint postmasters for the post offices herein established and fix compensation
thereof, subject to the approval of the Isthmian Canal Commission.
The Governor of the Canal Zone is directed to formulate a plan for a
practical and efficient postal service in said Canal Zone, and including such measures and provisions of the postal service of the United States as are not inapplicable to the conditions of law and fact existing in the
Canal Zone, and to report said plan to the Chairman of the Isthmian Canal Commission for such action as the discretion of the Commission
Pending establishment of the postal service by act of the Commission
or other competent authority, the Governor of the Canal Zone is hereby authorized to establish post offices at such additional places in the Canal Zone as in his judgment the interests of the public require, and to appoint postmasters therefor and fix their compensation, subject to the approval
or other action thereon by the Isthmian Canal Commission.
The Governor was also authorized to adopt and enforce such temporary regulations and to employ such assistants as the exigencies of the service required.
Then on June 24, 1904, at the Executive Office, Culebra, Canal Zone, Gov. ernor Davis issued the following order:
Paymaster E. C. Tobey, U.S.N., Treasurer of the Canal Zone, is charged
with the work of establishment and operation of the Postal Service in the
He will issue instructions from time to time as may be necessary. All
postmasters, mail messengers and mail superintendents will report to
The accompanying notice is published for the information of all concerned. It will be posted in a conspicuous place in each post office.
(sgd) GEORGE W. DAVIS,
Paymaster Tobey, it is recalled, accompanied Governor Davis in the latter's second visit to the Isthmus, May 14, 1904, on the S.S. "City of Washington." His job of establishing and operating the postal service on the Zone was but one of many duties as Treasurer and Chief of Materials and Supplies. He was a veteran of the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection, and later of World War I. In the Philippines he assisted in the Islands' fiscal organization. He was with the Panama Canal organization until late in 1905. After retiring from the Navy as a captain in 1921, he became president of the United States Claims Commission in Great Britain, later a vice president of the United American Steamship Lines, and then president of the Merritt-Chapman & Scott Corporation. He died July 16, 1932.
Governor Davis' notice stated that a temporary arrangement with the Republic of Panama had been made for the use of Panama stamps surcharged CANAL ZONE. The populace was warned not to purchase more of those stamps than were required for immediate use, as, after receipt of the United States stamps, those of the Republic of Panama, surcharged CANAL ZONE, would not be valid, either for use within the Canal Zone or for redemption. 'The notice continues:
Postal rates, in Panama stamps surcharged as above, at their nominal
value in Colombian silver, will be as follows:
Domestic matter, including mail for the United States and its possessions-Guam, Philippine Islands, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Tutuila, Canal
Zone; also to Canada, Cuba, Mexico and Republic of Panama.
1st Class-Letters and all sealed matter, five cents (40 percent of this
figure would be 2-cents gold) for each ounce (30 grammes) or fraction.
There were additional provisions for newspapers, miscellaneous printed matter, foreign mail, and packets.
Paymaster Tobey, in getting the service under way, was out on the "line" on
June 24, 1904, instructing the postmasters in their duties and leaving with them a copy of "Instructions to Postmasters and Postal Messengers.'"
Instructions to Postmasters and Postal Messengers
1.-Panama stamps, properly surcharged, will be furnished postmasters,
who will receipt therefor to Paymaster E. C. Tobey, U.S.N., Treasurer of
2.-The rates of postage to be charged are prescribed in the notice accompanying these instructions, which will be posted in a conspicuous
place by each postmaster.
3.-On Saturday of each week each postmaster will render to the
Treasurer of the Zone a statement showing sales of stamps for the week,
remittances, balance on hand in cash, and unsold stamps.
4.-Remittances covering sales up to and including Saturday vill be
made on the following Monday of each week.
5.-Mail matter received for transmission, with insufficient postage or
without postage, will have marked on it by the postmaster the words "Postage Due," followed by the amount of postage due. The postmaster receiving such mail matter will collect the amount due, affixing stamps
for that amount and canceling them.
6.-The following extract from Order No. 551 of the Postmaster-General
of the United States, dated June 2, 1904, will be observed by postmasters:
Letters sent by soldiers, sailors, and marines in the United States
service, located in the United States or any of its possessions, addressed to places in the United States or any of its possessions, when endorsed "Soldier's letter," "Sailor's letter," or "Marine's letter," as the case may be, and signed thereunder either with facsimile handstamp or in writing, with his official designation, by a field or staff officer, post or detachment commander, to whose command the soldier belongs, or by a surgeon or chaplain at a hospital where he may be; and in the navy and marine service, by any commissioned officer attached to the vessel, or officer commanding a hospital or detachment ashore, may be dispatched to destination without prepayment of postage, and only the single
rate of postage shall be collected on delivery.
7.-Postmasters will provide convenient receptacles, properly secured,
for the receipt of mail at such times as their offices are closed.
8.-The post offices at Cristobal and Ancon will be open for the sale
of stamps, and receipt and delivery of mail, from 7 to 11:30 a.m., and from 1:30 to 6 p.m., daily; all other offices will be open for these purposes for at least fifteen minutes before and after train-time, and longer if
9.-Local mail for points within the Zone will be sent direct to the
places to which addressed. Such mail will be made into separate packets
y the postmaster, and each packet properly addressed.
10.-Mail received by postmasters addressed to the city of Panama and
other points in the Republic of Panama reached from that city will be sent, in a separate packet, to the postmaster at Ancon. That postmaster
will deliver such mail to the postmaster of the city of Panama.
11.-Mail addressed to the city of Colon and other points in the Republic
of Panama reached from that city, will be sent to the postmaster at Cristobal, who will deliver it to the postmaster at Colon.
12.-Mail addressed to Mexican and Central and South American points
on the Pacific Coast will be sent, in a separate packet, to the postmaster
at Ancon, to be delivered to the postmaster of Panama.
13.-Mail addressed to Mexican and Central and South American and
West Indian post offices, which are reached by direct steamship connection from Coon will be sent, in a separate packet, to the postmaster at
Cristobal who will deliver it to the postmaster at Colon.
14.-Mail addressed to points in the United States and its possessions,
and to all foreign countries other than those named in paragraphs 12 and 13, will be sent, separately wrapped, to the postmaster at Cristobal. All
such mail will be enclosed by the postmaster at Cristobal in a sealed bag, properly addressed, and will be forwarded by him to the postmaster of
the city of New York.
15.-Two railway mail messengers will make the round trip from Panama to Colon and Colon to Panama each day, one starting from each end of the line at eight o'clock in the morning and returning to the city from
which he started at two forty-five o'clock in the afternoon.
16.-The mail messengers will report to the postniasters at Ancon and
Cristobal, respectively, at seven o'clock in the morning and one-thirty o'clock in the afternoon. They will receive from these postmasters all packages of mail for the line and for the other end of the route, giving a receipt to the postmaster for each package. They will deliver packages of mail to the postmasters at the places to which addressed, taking a receipt for each package delivered, and will receive packages of mail from postmasters along the line, giving a receipt for each package. Upon arrival at the end of their route, they will convey the mail in their charge to the post office at Cristobal or Ancon, as the case may be, taking a receipt
from the postmaster for each package delivered.
Arrangements have been made with the Panama Railroad Company to have the trains arriving at Colon at 10:45 a.m. and 5:45 p.m., slow down opposite Cristobal-Colon, in order to enable the
messenger to get off.
A vehicle will be provided at Panama for the transfer of the
messenger with his mail at 10:45 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. from the
railroad station to the Ancon post office.
17.-Mail will be delivered to the postmasters at Panama and Colon
by the postmasters at Ancon and Cristobal twice a day, and a proper
receipt will be taken for each package so delivered.
18.-Mail sent to New York by the postmaster at Cristobal will be
forwarded by the Panama Railroad Company's steamers, and a proper receipt will be taken from the purser of the steamer on which forwarded
for each bag of mail delivered to him.
19.-Promptly on the arrival of mail steamers at Colon and Panama the
postmasters at Cristobal and Ancon, respectively, will take measures to secure such mail matter as may be addressed to their offices or to other post offices within the Zone. After assorting it, such mail will be forwarded
in the same manner as local mail.
20.-A supply of canvas bags will be furnished to each postmaster, to
be used in forwarding mail to other post offices. Each package of mail to be forwarded will be placed in one of these bags, and the bag will be
securely tied and addressed.
This is another indication of the competence and thoroughness of Mr. Tobey which entailed the creation of a workable postal system with its many facets within a minimum of time.
On June 25, 1904, from Culebra, Canal Zone, Governor Davis wrote His Excellency Tomfis Arias, Minister of Government, clarifying the matter of interchange of mails between the Republic of Panama and the Zone:
Letters and other mail matter originating in the Republic of Panama,
addressed to any person in the Zone will be forwarded to the destination, provided it bears the necessary stamps of the Republic at its domestic rate of postage. Vice versa, letters and other mail matter originating in the Zone, destined for points in the Republic, will be forwarded to and delivered provided such matter bears the necessary postage stamps of the Zone, at the domestic rate of postage. In other words, a letter originating in Panama, addressed to a person in Culebra, and weighing not more than one ounce, will be forwarded to its destination, provided it bears a 5-cent Panama stamp; and conversely, a letter originating at Culebra, addressed to a party in Panama, and weighing not more than one ounce, will be forwarded to its destination, provided it bears a 2-cent (gold) stamp of the United States postal system, or, temporarily, a 5-cent stamp of the
Republic of Panama, surcharged with the words CANAL ZONE.
To this, Mr. Arias, the same day, answered that copies of the Postal Tariff, which were attached to Governor Davis' letter, were received and forwarded to the post offices of the Republic. Too, that the tariff had been provisionally adopted as expressed in the Governor's letter.
The initial shipment of stamps received by Mr. Tobey consisted of 2,500, 2-cent stamps; 8,000, 5-cent stamps; and 5,000, 10-cent stamps. This is shown in Mr. Tobey's memorandum of accountability addressed to the Governor dated June 28, 1904:
I respectfully report that I have received from the Republic of Panama,
the following postage stamps, surcharged CANAL ZONE: 2,500 2-cent $50.00 Col. Silver 8,000 5-cent $400.00 Col. Silver 5,000 10-cent $500.00 Col. Silver I have charged myself with the value of the stamps received nine
hundred and fifty dollars ($950.00) and hold myself accountable to the
United States in this sum.
E. C. TOBEY, U.S.N.,
In Charge of Post Office Dept.
On July 12, 1904, Governor Davis asked Minister Arias for 600 more of the 5-cent, 300 of the 10-cent, and 200 of the 2-cent stamps. The same day, 100 of the 2-cent, 500 of the 5-cent, and 250 of the 10-cent were delivered.
The young, but virile government of the Canal Zone thus had its postal administration created, post offices established, postmasters appointed, and stamps available for use.
The Canal Zone postal administration is unique in its establishment and operation. It has its own postal regulations, yet the United States regulations are applicable. Its postal laws are contained in both the Federal Statutes and the Canal Zone Code. It does not belong to the Universal Postal Union but adheres to its policies. It is not within the United States Post Office Department, but like that organization, is a unit of the United States Government. Its stamps are engraved and printed by the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington.
CANAL ZONE'S FIRST SERIES
Block of six of the first stamp issued by the Canal Zone
Postal System purchased at the Gatun Post Office the first day it opened, June 25, 1904 by Mr. Joseph Stilson, Sr. The Postmaster insisted upon canceling them since they were sold to be used for postage
Pair of the 5-cent Canal Zone stamp, the second one
in the first series also purchased by Mr. Stilson on opening day of the Gatun Post Office.
CANAL ZONE is overprinted diagonally reading down.
Block of twelve of the 10-cent yellow stamp of the first series showing
the many positions of the CANAL ZONE overprint.
This strip of three found in 4an Old Panama collection is presumed to
be an "essay'" of this series. The overprint is authentic and the
color of the ink of the "02" and "2" matches the overprint.
The only known existing first day cover hand-canceled at Culebra, Canal
Zone, June 24, 1904. Courtesy of Mr. Rudolph B. Weiler.
Canal Zone's first three stamps on a single cover maile4 5 days after the opening of the La Boca Post Office.
Attached to the above envelope is a 10-cent stamp on a Washington House, Colon, R.C. letterhead and mailed from Cristobal, Canal Zone, July 11, 1904. The Washington House was on the same site which is now occupied by the Washington
Hotel, Republic of Panama.
CANAL ZONE'S FIRST SERIES
1904, June 24
The first three stamps of the Canal Zone are of extreme interest for within a period of less than 7 months, from November 2, 1903, until June 24, 1904, they served the postal needs of three stamp-issuing jurisdictions.
Originally they were of the 1892-1896 issue of Colombia. When the Republic of Panama gained its independence, proud of its birth and newly-acquired nationality, it obliterated the engraved word COLOMBIA at the top of this stamp with a solid horizontal bar of red and added PANAMA in the same color on each side of the stamp. Then by agreement between the Republic of Panama and the Canal Zone, Mr. Tomas Arias, Minister of Government, furnished Governor Davis for the use of the Canal Zone's Postal Administration, quantities of these same stamps overprinted CANAL ZONE horizontally in roman capitals. The overprinting was done by means of a rubber hand stamp with blue-black ink before delivery to Mr. Tobey of the Canal Zone.
These stamps were originally manufactured for Colombia by the American Bank Note Company which has its main office in New York City.
There were several Panama issues used in the first few years by the Canal Zone and in many different printings. Today the early issues are still a philatelic stew with many of the ingredients still a mystery. It must have been a printer's nightmare.
In the so-called third Panama issue, the word PANAMA read both up and down. In the fourth Panama issue, the word PANAMA read up on the left side of the stamp and down on the right. The third Panama series had three different printings of which the first was not used with the Canal Zone overprint. The second printing was used in 8-cent overprints on the 50 centavos stamps used in the December 12, 1904 to 1906 Canal Zone overprints. The Republic of Panama did not have use for an 8-cent stamp but the Canal Zone used it for registration fee.
The third overprinting was that one which was overprinted and used for the lowest denomination of the first Canal Zone issue. The Panama printer to whom the job was given apparently did not have sufficient "A's." Panama appears twice on each stamp necessitating 6 "A's" and this had to be multiplied by 50 to make up the printing form covering 50 stamps. This accounts for the many inverted "V's" and inverted "Y's" and the different fonts found in this printing. This was corrected in the fourth Panama printing. The only values of the third series used by the Canal Zone were the 2-cent (the first stamp of the Canal) and 50-cent stamps (the 8-cent overprints of the 1904-1906 series).
There were 100 stamps to the sheet in Panama's third series third printing. The printing form however covered but 50 stamps. The operator did not split the sheet but after running the upper half, ingeniously turned the sheet around
to complete the job on the lower half. Thus there are as many stamps with both PANAMA's reading up as there are with both PANAMA's reading down. All varieties in the printing are thus duplicated, stamp No. 1 in the sheet is the same as stamp No. 100 and No. 50 the same as No. 51.
There were many different printings in the fourth series and in different amounts for each denomination varying with the demands of the service. They were overprinted as needed.
Stamps of Panama's fourth series were used on the second (5-cent) and third (10-cent) Canal Zone stamps issued June 24, 1904, the 2-cent, 5-cent, 10-cent of 1905, and the 8-cent on 50-cent issues of 1906.
Each Panama printing in this issue has its own characteristics; the bar obliterating COLOMBIA may differ in width and color shades, the distance between the bar and the words PANAMA may differ, and the letters themselves may present different shapes and fonts. In general, however, PANAMA in the third printing as on the first Canal Zone stamp, is 13 mm. long by 13/4 mm. high, and in the second and third stamps of the Canal's first series, PANAMA in larger letters is 15 mm. long by 2 mm. high.
We thus have Panama's provisional stamps overprinted with the words CANAL ZONE in one line of roman capitals as the Canal Zone Government's first issue. The overprint, as has been noted, was applied by the Republic of Panama before the stamps' delivery to the Zone's postal authorities. This was done by means of a rubber handstamp with blue-black ink. As it is not too difficult a task to create counterfeit overprints, and as it appeared to some a simple matter to increase the value of a 2-cent stamp one hundred fold, this occurred on the Canal's early issues. The collector of these items should therefore be on guard when obtaining one of these early classics. Not only are there spurious overprints in existence, but some of the bolder counterfeiters attempted to copy the first post office cancellations.
An item from the First Annual Report of the Governor of the Canal Zone will assist a bit in clearing the "overprint" question.
In view of the fact that charges have been made to the effect that
counterfeit Panama Zone postage stamps have been sold to stamp collectors, the statement seems appropriate that no officer of the Zone Government ever had anything to do with the surcharging of the Panama stamp, or ever had in his possession any unsurcharged stamps that were owned by the Zone Government, or ever had in his possession any of
the rubber stamps or type used in surcharging.
A short time after the United States overprints arrived on the Isthmus, there was a destruction of the remainder of the Canal Zone overprinted Panama provisionals. This was accomplished September 15, 1904, in the presence of E. C. Tobey, Treasurer; J.,M. Keedy; and George R. Shanton, Chief of Police; 700 5-cent stamps and 304 10-cent stamps were burned.
These first stamps are of a map design geographically depicting the area of the new Republic of Panama substantially the same as the State or Department of Panama while still a part of the Colombian Republic. The word ANTILLAS is written across the Caribbean in the upper portion with PACIFICO in the lower part. CENTAVOS is across the bottom of the stamp with the denomination in figure boxed and centrally bordering and above CENTAVOS.
The dimensions of the CANAL ZONE overprint are given in millimeters.
CANAL .................91/4 mm.
ZONE .................... 71/ mm.
Space between words ....... 11/4 mm.
CANAL ZONE...........18 mm.
Height of letters...........21/2 mm.
Denomination Color Supplied Destroyed Issued
2-cent Rose Carmine 2,600 2,600 5-cent Blue 8,500 700 7,800 10-cent Yellow 5,200 304 4,946 On July 13, 1904, a supply of United States stamps was received and four days later, July 17, 1904, the useof the Panama provisional stamps was discontinued.
1904, June 29.
There was an interesting inspection tour of the Canal Zone's infant postal system made on June 29, 1904, by E. B. Knight of the Department of Revenues. His comprehensive report to Paymaster Tobey follows:
I beg to submit the following report, in connection with the establish
ment of post offices in the Canal Zone:
In accordance with your instructions, I proceeded to the post office at
Ancon, and on arrival there at 6:55 a.m., found that the mail for New York had not yet been sorted from the local mail. At my request, the postmaster turned over the mail to me and I sorted out the letters and newspapers for New York, placing same in two small empty money bags.
I kept these bags open for mail until 7:40 a.m., at which time they were closed and sealed. Before closing the bags at this hour, I inquired of the postmaster if there was any more mail for New York in his possession. He replied in the negative. At 7:45 a.m., I left Ancon post office with the mail
for the Railroad station, and at 8:05 a.m., the train left for Colon.
On arrival at the post office at Cristobal, at 10:55 a.m., I found that the
postal agent there, Mr. Campbell, had got about three-fourths of the New York mail all postmarked and placed in a large sack which he had secured from the Colon post office. I emptied the two bags of mail which I had brought from the Ancon post office, and Mr. Campbell and myself stamped each letter with the Cristobal postmark, and counted same. At 11:30 a.m., I closed and sealed the mail bag for New York. At 11:55 a.m., I delivered the bag of mail to the purser of the S.S. "Seguranca" and had him sign for same in a book provided by Postmaster Campbell for that
purpose, and also took duplicate receipt, which is herewith attached.
At 12:15 p.m., I returned to the post office at Cristobal and sent the
following telegram to you:
All mail aboard steamer. One bag from here, containing 433 letters, 46 cards and 20 packages. Everything O.K. Stamps urgently
At 2:45 p.m., I left for Panama, where I arrived at the Administration
In this connection, I desire to make the following remarks and suggestions:
Delivery of mail bags to the steamers: I was notified by the Panama Railroad Company that it is not in accordance with their regulations for the pursers of their steamers to give receipts for mail for New York.
The rules of the Railroad are, that the bags of mail should be delivered on the pier to the Freight Agent of the Railroad, Mr. P. E. Cruchley, who will give receipt for the bags, and in turn deliver them to the purser of
Post office at Cristobal: The present location of this office is very inconvenient, and much valuable time is lost in transferring the mails from the train to the office. I would respectfully suggest that the cottage situated right at the entrance to Cristobal, on the Waterfront, be utilized as a post office. This house is Within a stone's throw of the railroad landing
at Cristobal, and considerably shortens the distance to the pier as compared with the present location of the post office. In this connection, I would also respectfully suggest that Postmaster Campbell be furnished an assistant, as the duties of the office are such as to require a second
Mail service along.the line: Would it not be desirable to supply the
Postal Agent on the train, Pascal, with a limited number of stamps, so that he would be able to receive mail from persons at stations where there
are no post offices? This is especially true of Tavernilla.
After reading this complete report, which contained little by way of criticism and much to indicate the excellent manner of operations, it appears that the postal administration had gotten off on a business-like and efficient manner which continues to this day.
On the same day, June 29, 1904, that Mr. Knight was making his inspection of the process of mail dispatch, Admiral Walker, Chairman of the Isthmian Canal Commission, received a letter from the Postmaster General of the United States stating that he had detailed Mr. Lawrence Leatherman, Inspector-inCharge of the Boston Division of Post Office Inspection, and Post Office Inspector A. A. Smith, to assist the Governor of the Panama Canal Zone in organizing a postal service.
These gentlemen arrived on the Isthmus July 13 and brought with them the numerous forms and other printed material used by the United States Post Office Department necessary to bridge the emergency gap.
SECOND REGULAR SERIES
Second regular series.
PANAMA overprinted on United States stamps
of the 1902-1903 issue.
Postal Card with the 1-cent and 2-cent stamps of this series with
"Empire" and "Culebra" cancellations of December 11, 1904.
SECOND REGULAR SERIES
1904, July 18.
On July 2, 1904, 12 tin-lined wooden boxes were shipped by registered mail from the United States Postage Stamp Agency, Washington, addressed to the Isthmian Canal Commission, C/o Panama Railroad Company, Pier 57, West 27th St., New York. These were to be delivered to Gen. George W. Davis, Governor of the Canal Zone, by United States Post Office Inspector Lawrence Leatherman, their custodian. When they arrived on the Isthmus July 13, 1904, Governor Davis was considerably put out at this apparently exaggerated amount of postage. In a letter to Chairman Walker he said,
If you have any record of any request from me or any person serving
under me for 10-million stamps, or any other specific number, I should
be very glad if you would send me a copy of it.
It does appear at first blush to be an enormous quantity. If one considers, however, that the contemplated plans of the Canal's construction called for an ultimate labor force of more than 40,000 persons, the idea of using so many stamps is not too farfetched. Only five of the cases were opened and the remainder stored. The total face value of the stamps came to $390,000. From the five cases opened, $26,000 worth of stamps of all denominations were removed. They were placed on sale July 18, and removed from sale December 11, 1904. Through September, $1,448.55 worth of stamps were sold; in October $655.64; November $562.33, and in December up to closing on the 11th, $1,603.68 worth, for a total of this entire issue of but $4,270.20. The stamps of this second series are overprinted on United States stamps of the regular issue of 1902-1903 with the exception of the Washington 2-cent shield stamp of 1903.
The overprints appear vertically in two lines of small capitals, CANAL ZONE on the left and PANAMA on the right, both words reading upwards. The overprint was applied at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington, D.C., by a 100 subject electrotype plate in black ink, the same as for Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and other possessions, which had been prepared in the immediately preceding years.
Due to broken type or poor inking, there exist in this series some broken and imperfect letters but no major varieties. The measurements of the overprint are as follows: CANAL ................................8 mm.
Space............. ...........1 mm.
ZONE .................................. 6 mm.
CANAL ZONE ......................... 16 mm.
Width between Canal Zone and Panama...10 mm.
PANAMA ............................*12: mm.
Denomi- Quantity nation Color Subject Sent Destroyed Issued
1-cent Green Franklin 1,000,000 956,262 43,738 2-cent Red Washington 5,000,000 4,931,586 68,414 5-cent Blue Lincoln 2,000,000 1,979,142 20,858 8-cent Dark Lilac Martha Washingtoix 1,000,000 992,068 7,932 10-cent Light Brown Webster 1,000,000 992,144 7,856 In the presence of the Director of Posts, Tom M. Cooke, W. B. Starke, Auditor, Isthmian Canal Commission, Edward J. Williams, and the Executive Secretary, H. D. Reed, the remainders were destroyed by burning on January 2 and 3, 1906.
Early cancellations and unusual postmarkings.
Early cancellations and unusual postmarkings.
Early cancellations and unusual postmarkings.
Early cancellations and unusual postmarkings.
Early cancellations and unusual postmarkings.
Early cancellations and unusual postmarkings.
Early cancellations and unusual postmarkings.
Early cancellations and unusual postmarkings.
United States Postmaster General H. C. Payne in his Order No. 551 dated June 2, 1904, established rates of postage and outlined conditions for the transmission of mail matter to and from "Possessions of the United States." Among other matters, the order stated thaf the Canal Zone was to be included in the term "Possessions of the United States" along with the Philippines, Guam, and other Pacific island groups, and further, that the domestic rates of postage applied. The application of these rates was effective with the Canal's first issue and the regulations and instructions of Mr. Tobey to the newly-appointed postmasters so directed.
These relatively low postal rates were immediately taken advantage of by many citizens of Panama. Governor Davis noted in his first report that, "the postal service has been a great convenience and appears to have been patronized somewhat by the merchants and other residents of Panama and Colon, who could forward their mail to the United States at the rate of 2-cent United States currency per ounce, instead of 10-cent local currency (5-cent U.S. currency) per half-ounce."
The Governor's rather mild comment discloses a situation which became quite irritating to the young Republic. With the advent of the new rates, the residents of Colon had but to walk across the street to purchase their stamps at greatly reduced rates for equivalent service and do their mailing in Cristobal. At Panama City the situation was similar with the Panama merchants and others walking over to Ancon within the Zone.
This wholly unexpected and unforeseen result was that the postal revenues which had heretofore gone to the Republic of Colombia at Bogota, but which the infant government now sorely needed for its establishment, were greatly diminished. Perhaps ninety percent of the mailing populace of Panama resided in the terminal cities of Panama City and Colon.
This situation and others of a similar nature that had developed no doubt needed immediate attention, so President Theodore Roosevelt, after consultation with the Secretary of State, sent his Secretary of War, William H. Taft, to the Isthmus to arbitrate the differences. Secretary Taft sailed from Pensacola, Fla., November 22, 1904.
Negotiations were begun immediately upon the Secretary's arrival and continued in Panama City until all questions were resolved and complete accord reached December 3, 1904. On this same date an Executive Order was issued by the Secretary of War concerning tariffs, customs, and posts. The Taft Agreement, as it affects the Postal Service, is contained in Section 7 of this Order:
The Executive Order of June 24, 1904, concerning the establishment
of post offices and postal service in the Canal Zone, is modified and
supplemented by the following provisions:
All mail matter carried in the territory of the Canal Zone, to or through
the Republic of Panama, to the United States and to foreign countries shall bear stamps of the Republic of Panama, properly crossed by a printed mark of the Canal Zone Government, and at rates the same as those imposed by the government of the United States upon its domestic and foreign mail matter, exactly as if the United States and the Republic of Panama for this purpose were common territory. The authorities of the Canal Zone shall purchase from the Republic of Panama such stamps as the authorities of the Canal Zone desire to use in the Canal Zone at forty per centum of their face value; but this order shall be inoperative unless the proper authorities of the Republic of Panama shall by suitable arrangement with the postal authorities of the United States provide for the transportation of mail matter between post offices on the Isthmus of Panama and post offices in the United States at the same rates as are now charged for domestic postage in-the United States; except all mail matter lawfully franked and enclosed in tfhe so-called penalty envelopes of the United States Government concerning the public business of the United States which shall be carried free, both by the governments of Panama and the Canal Zone; provided, however, that the Zone authorities may, for the purpose of facilitating the transportation of through mail between the Zone and the United States in either direction, enclose such through mail properly stamped or lawfully franked in sealed mail pouches which shall not be opened by the authorities of the Republic of Panama in transit, on condition that the cost of transportation of such mail pouches
shall be paid by the Zone government.
In commenting on the new agreement, Secretary Taft said:
In the matter of posts, having secured a reduction of the postage
between the United States and the Isthmus to two cents, it seemed wise to provide for the use of Panama rather than United States stamps, and by securing to Panama as profit forty percent of the gross receipts by the Zone authorities for postal purposes. This may be too large a concession, as far as the United States is concerned, because the posts will probably be operated at a loss within the Zone, but the reduction of the postage between the United States and Panama is a benefit of very considerable importance secured to the people of the United States. There is a general impression in the United States even now that the rate to Panama is 2 cents. Minister Barrett said that he was in receipt of a great many letters stamped with 2-cent stamps, on each of which letters he had to pay an
additional 3 cents....
The Taft Agreement continued in force until May 28, 1924, when it was abrogated by the United States effective June 1, 1924. Discussion as to the termination of the Agreement was begun as early as 1913. It was but a temporary affair to provide a workable arrangement to cover the Canal's construction period. We paid Panama, for stamps purchased under the Taft Agreement, $263,647.43, up to December 31, 1913. The figure no doubt doubled at the time the Canal Zone ceased selling Panama's stamps, June 30, 1924. This sum of money went far to bolster the early economic difficulties of the young Republic. The arrangement, however, was not a satisfactory one in connection with the rising complex relationship between the neighboring governments.
While the effective date of the Agreement's dissolution was June 1, 1924, the Panama overprints were sold in the Canal Zone post offices until June 30, 1924. At this latter date, there were still so many of these Panama overprinted stamps in the hands of Canal Zone people and organizations that in a special order, Mr. Crede H. Calhoun, Chief of the Division of Posts, directed that they be honored for postage purposes until August 31, 1924, and would thereafter become invalid.
On July 1, 1924, when the United States overprints went on sale and until August 31, 1924, the Canal Zone postal authorities thus honored both Panama and United States overprinted stamps.