Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

By Theodore Roosevelt | Go to book overview

APPENDIX
COLOMBIA: THE PROPOSED MESSAGE TO CONGRESS

The rough draft of the message I had proposed to send Congress ran as follows:

"The Colombian Government, through its representative here, and directly in communication with our representative at Colombia, has refused to come to any agreement with us, and has delayed action so as to make it evident that it intends to make extortionate and improper terms with us. The Isthmian Canal bill was, of course, passed upon the assumption that whatever route was used, the benefit to the particular section of the Isthmus through which it passed would be so great that the country controlling this part would be eager to facilitate the building of the canal. It is out of the question to submit to extortion on the part of a beneficiary of the scheme. All the labor, all the expense, all the risk are to be assumed by us and all the skill shown by us. Those controlling the ground through which the canal is to be put are wholly incapable of building it.

"Yet the interest of international commerce generally and the interest of this country generally demands that the canal should be begun with no needless delay. The refusal of Colombia properly to respond to our sincere and earnest efforts to come to an agreement, or to pay heed to the many concessions we have made, renders it in my judgment necessary that the United States should take immediate action on one of two lines: either we should drop the Panama canal project and immediately begin work on the Nicaraguan canal, or else we should purchase all the rights of the French company, and, without any further parley with Colombia, enter upon the completion of the canal which the French company, has begun. I feel that the latter course is the one demanded by the interests of this Nation, and I therefore bring the matter to your attention for such action in the premises as you may deem wise. If in your judgment it is better not to take such action, then I shall proceed at once with the Nicaraguan canal.

"The reason that I advocate the action above outlined in re-

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