Front Matter The Beginning of the U.S Franklin's Return Troubles After the War The Constitution The First President Washington's Troubles A Wonderful Invention Death of Washington The U.S. Buys Land War With African Pirates Death of Somers The First Steamboat The Gerrymander The War of 1812 "Don't Give Up the Ship" The Star-Spangled Banner Clinton's "Big Ditch" More Land Bought Jackson Stories Jackson's Presidency New Inventions Whitman's Ride The Mormons The First Telegraph The Mexican War The Slavery Quarrel Daniel Webster's Youth Webster's Speeches Early Times in California Discovery of El Dorado Rush to California The Underground Railroad The First World's Fair John Brown's Raid Lincoln's Youth The First Shot The Call to Arms The President's Decision Admiral Farragut The Monitor and Merrimac The Penninsular Campaign Barbara Frietchie Lincoln's Vow The Battle of Gettysburg The Taking of Vicksburg Riots, Raids, and Battles The Burning of Atlanta The March to the Sea Sheridan's Ride The Doings of the Fleet Lee's Surrender Decoration Day Lincoln Stories Lincoln's Rebukes A President's Son A Noble Southerner Hard Times in the South The Atlantic Cable Best Way to Settle Quarrels Our One Hundredth Birthday Gold for Greenbacks A Clever Engineer Death of Garfield The Celebration at Yorktown The Great Statue A Terrible Flood Lynch Law The Great White City The Explosion of the Maine The Battle of Manila Hobson's Brave Deed Surrender of Santiago The Hawaiian Islands The Annexation of Hawaii The Philippine War Assassination of McKinley The Panama Canal Roosevelt's Administration Two Presidents German Views The World War Since the World War

Story of the Great Republic - Helene Guerber

The Panama Canal

At the time of the treaty ending the Spanish War, our government decided to withdraw its troops from Cuba just as soon as the Cubans organized a proper republican government. While the best minds in Cuba were busy framing a constitution for this new republic, our army maintained order, built roads, cleaned up cities, enforced rules of sanitation, and started schools. This work proved of great benefit to the whole country. On May 20, 1902, the Cuban Republic was formally proclaimed, the United States flag was hauled down in Havana, the Cuban flag raised in its place, and our soldiers joyfully returned home.

It was during the American occupation of Cuba that Major Walter Reed discovered that certain mosquitoes, by their bites, transfer malaria and yellow fever from one person to another. Thereafter, sick people were carefully screened in, war was declared against mosquitoes, and the number of fever cases rapidly diminished.

You remember how the Oregon  had to rush, at full steam, around South America to join our fleet off Cuba during the Spanish War. Every one knew the trip by water from San Francisco to New York could be greatly shortened by a canal across the Isthmus of Panama. Such an undertaking, however, required large funds and many workmen. The latter were especially hard to obtain because men died like flies in that unhealthful climate. When the railroad was built, it cost so many human lives that people said every railroad tie represented a grave. De Lesseps, the French engineer of the Suez Canal, had undertaken to dig the Panama Canal, but dishonest people working for him mismanaged the funds subscribed; and so many of his laborers died of typhoid, malarial, and yellow fevers, that the work stopped before it had proceeded very far.

After the United States government had decided to attempt the work, the first step was to make a treaty with Great Britain, giving us the right to "construct, control, or defend," such a canal. When this was clone, Congress bade Roosevelt buy out the French company and obtain a strip of land across the Isthmus from the Republic of Colombia. Colombia, however, kept raising the price until it seemed as if the United States would have to give up that route and dig a longer canal across Nicaragua. Partly to prevent this, and partly because they had long wanted their freedom from Colombia, the people of Panama revolted and set up a republic of their own. The new government of Panama then leased to us a strip of land ten miles wide, across the Isthmus from Colon to the city of Panama, for $10,000,000 cash and a yearly payment of $250,000. So it was that our army engineers were ready to begin their work in 1904.

Panama Canal


First, in order to prevent typhoid fever, they brought pure water to the canal site for the workmen to drink; then they provided carefully built and screened lodgings, exterminated mosquitoes, and enforced rules for order and cleanliness. In this way, our army under Colonel Goethals was able to transform the once deadly Canal Zone into a perfectly healthful region, and the canal was completed in 1914.

Meanwhile, in 1903, the first Pacific cable from San Francisco to Hawaii, Guam, Manila, and Hong Kong completed the telegraphic circuit of the globe, enabling Roosevelt to send a message around the world in four minutes. Six months later, Marconi, an Italian, succeeded in sending the first wireless message across the Atlantic; and now any vessel at sea can communicate with the mainland or with other vessels.

In the next year, to mark the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase, St. Louis held a World's Fair or Exposition, where all the newest inventions were exhibited to the public. During that year, also, another presidential election took place, and Roosevelt was elected President, by a large majority of votes, for the term 1905 to 1909.