Westward Extension, 1841-1850

By George Pierce Garrison | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
ISTHMIAN DIPLOMACY (1846ndash;1850)

THE settlement of the Oregon question and the prospect of the acquisition of California naturally gave a new importance to the old plan of a route across the isthmus of Panama that would materially shorten the line of communication with the new possessions and make the bond which held them to the Union more intimate and vital.1 It is the purpose of this chapter to explain the revival of interest in the project and to show how it worked itself out in the Clayton-Bulwer treaty of 1850.

As early as the reign of the Emperor Charles V. the desirability of better facilities for the carrying- trade between Spain and her colonies of Peru and the Philippines led to a scheme for a waterway across the isthmus;2 but it was too large an undertaking for the free capital and energy of any European government at that time. By the end of the sixteenth century, when the Armada had been destroyed and the English sea-dogs had broken

____________________
1
Schouler, United States, V., 260.
2
Keasbey, Nicaragua Canal and Monroe Doctrine, 68.

-285-

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