The narrow Isthmus of Panama had long excited dreams of an interoceanic canal. Alfred Thayer Mahan,

The narrow
Isthmus of Panama had long excited dreams of an interoceanic canal. Alfred
Thayer Mahan, now an admiral, regarded a canal as crucial to commerce and naval
power for the United States. From 1881 to 1887 a French company that had
engineered the Suez Canal, spent nearly $300 million and lost 20,000 lives
digging less than 1/3 of the canal throughout Panama, then under the control of
Colombia. The French company asked $109 million for its holdings. When no
nation showed interest, the French company lowered it price to $40 million. The
United States offered a rental fee of $250,000 per year to Colombia for the
region. The Colpmbian senate wanted $25 million in cash. The United States sent
agents to Colombia and Panama to stir up a revolutionary impulse among the
Panamanians. When Panama rebelled with American assistance, Colombian troops,
who could not move through the dense overland jungle, found US ships blocking
the sea. Roosevelt was quick to recognize Panama as independent and receive its
first ambassador. Panama agreed to extend the Canal Zone from six to ten miles
and to accept $250,000 per year for perpetual use.

Thinking 1 –Why might Colombia have wanted so much money to
allow an American presence in the region? Consider what had happened to other
areas where the United States was involved like Samoa, Hawaii, and Cuba.




In his annual address to Congress in 1904, Theodore
Roosevelt set forth what came to be known as the Roosevelt Corollary. Whereas
the Monroe Doctrine had closed the western hemisphere to European expansion,
the Roosevelt Corollary notified the world that the United States would now
take the liberty of intervening in any international affairs in the western
hemisphere preventatively. This made the United States the international police
power of its hemisphere.

Thinking 2: Do you think the United States should be a major
police power in the western hemisphere or the world? What does the United
States have to sacrifice in order to achieve this? If the United States does
not perform this role, what would be the natural consequence?








Election – Critical Thinking

read the following candidate platforms for the election of 1912. Which
candidate would you vote for and why?

1)      Republican William Howard Taft. Taft has a
solid antitrust record (breaking up monopoly’s that raise consumer prices),
using ninety lawsuits against the trusts during his time as president. Taft
supports high import tariffs (making it more expensive for Americans to buy
foreign products and thus perhaps increasing purchases of American-made items),
limitations on child and female labor (limiting their work hours) and workmen’s
compensation laws (in the event of injury at work).

2)      Democrat Woodrow Wilson, from South
Carolina. Wilson was President of Princeton University and later developed a
strong reform record as the Governor of New Jersey. His platform consists of
his ‘New Freedom.’ Wilson wants to implement antitrust legislation to eliminate
monopolies, viewing big business as unfair and inefficient. Wilson feels that
big business reduces opportunity for many ordinary Americans and small business
owners. He seeks an era of small government, small businesses and free market
competition. Wilson is also critical of organized labor, socialism and radical
farmers. Wilson supports Progressive legislation, including tariff reduction,
income tax reform, currency and credit reform.

3)    Socialist Eugene V. Debs. Debs was a labor
organizer and one of the most prominent socialists in the United States. Some
members of the Socialist Party propose ending America’s capitalist economic
system and replacing it with a socialized economic system (high taxation for
national benefits). Debs advocates for public ownership of the railroads and
utilities, no tariffs, a shortened workday, a minimum wage, a graduated income
tax (the poor pay less and the rich pay more) and a system of social insurance
against unemployment and industrial accidents and death. Socialists also advocate
for the election of the president and vice president by direct vote of the
people (democracy rather than a republic). He maintains that the other
political parties are financed by the large trusts. 

4)    Former President and
Progressive ‘Bull Moose’ candidate, Theodore
‘Teddy’ Roosevelt. Roosevelt’s platform formed around his New Nationalism
principles, which include a broad range of social and political reforms,
including a federal child labor law, federal workmen’s compensation, regulation
of labor relations and a minimum wage for women. The Progressive Party also
advocates lower tariffs, initiative, referendum, recall, direct election of
senators and direct primaries. Roosevelt differentiates between good and bad
trusts and claimed that big business must be strictly regulated in the public
interest. He believes in the protection of workers and consumers as well
as environmental protections. The Progressive Party is the only party to
advocate women’s suffrage at the national level.












Please consider the following factors that contributed to
American involvement in World War I.

1.     American Economic
Policies and Loans

2.     German Submarine
Warfare and the Lusitania

3.     Ties to Allied
Nations, Particularly England and France

4.     The Zimmerman Telegram

Based on our discussion of these issues in class, rank the four
main motivators in order of importance and explain your four rankings.

1.     (Most

2.     ___________________________________________________________

3.     ___________________________________________________________

4.     (Least