The Roosevelt Corollary

Today in History, December 6: 1904 –

The Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. In 1904 President Roosevelt made an addition to the Doctrine.

There had been recent incidents in which European powers threatened actions against South American nations that they felt owed them money.

In his annual message to the Congress, TR stated that, should any developing nations in the Western Hemisphere require intervention due to unrest or an inability to handle their financial affairs, it would be the US that would intervene, not foreign nations.

Many criticize Roosevelt’s assumption of police powers in the Americas as expansionist, and with the events surrounding the building of the Panama Canal, there is likely some validity to that view. However the primary objective was to ensure that foreign powers knew the US would not tolerate their use of military force in our backyard.

Strategy and Commerce…The Panama Canal


Today in History, August 15: 1914 – The Panama Canal opens for business as the cargo ship Ancon becomes the first ship to transit the series of locks. A long and complex history led to the canal’s opening. The French tried first, but failed after malaria and the huge cost ended their venture. The Canal was important to the US. After the Spanish-American War, the US had interests in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and they had always needed a faster, less dangerous route to the nation’s coasts for shipping than the Strait of Magellan at South America’s Southern tip. President Theodore Roosevelt ramrodded the building of the canal. When a treaty with Columbia fell through, the Panamanians, who wanted the canal, declared their independence from Columbia and TR sent the US Navy to support their efforts. After they won their independence they signed the Hay-Bunua-Varilla Treaty, giving American ownership of the canal in exchange for rent.  John Hay was the Secretary of State for the US, who had been a secretary to President Lincoln many years before.  Was their some skullduggery involved in these dealings? Of course. For years after it’s opening, the Canal served it’s purpose…commerce between the Atlantic and the Pacific, and a quick route for American warships (in the photo, the USS Missouri transits the Canal in 1945) to defend the country in both oceans (WWII was known as the Two Ocean War). In 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed a treaty giving away the Canal to the Panamanian dictator Omar Torrijos. Today, the Chinese are bankrolling the expansion of the Canal. Which means the nation that we are likely to have conflict with in the next century has control of the route our Navy would need to defend our country. So. Who do you favor? President Theodore Roosevelt? Or President Jimmy Carter? I vote for Teddy. Would love to see them in a debate, or in a ring together.