Panamanian Rebellion

Border disputes and the Powers

South America 1903.1103

Panamanian Rebellion

The Acre dispute, Venezuela crises, South America in WWI, and the Chaco War (3 November 1903)

Historical Map of South American nations

In 1902, the United States purchased the remnants of the failed French attempt to build a canal through Panama, then part of war-torn Colombia. When negotiations with Colombia stalled the following year, the US backed a Panamanian rebellion and gained the rights to a canal that way.

Main Events

Hay–Herrán Treaty

On 22 January 1903, United States Secretary of State John Hay signed a treaty with Tomás Herrán of Colombia, proposing to give the US a renewable lease on a strip of land across the isthmus of Panama in return for $10 million and an annual payment of $250,000. The treaty was ratified by the US Senate on 14 March, but would not be ratified by the Senate of Colombia, partially because the agreed amount was considered insufficient.

Acre Intervention

The Brazilian government moved to support the rebel Third Republic of Acre, sending an ultimatum to Bolivia in February not to attempt to retake the disputed territory. On 8 February, the Bolivian government responded by accepting the Brazilian occupation and administration of Acre until a settlement was agreed to. Brazilian troops soon moved in, taking control of the region in May.

Panamanian Rebellion

Following the Colombian government's stalling on Panama Canal negotiations with the United States, the strong separatist movement in Panama planned to declare independence from Colombia in November 1903. Forewarned, the Colombian government sent a battalion and the gunboat Bogotá to Panama City, arriving on 3 November. However, the US blocked Colombian actions on the excuse that they threatened the neutrality of the Panama Railway, allowing the Panamanian Revolutionary Junta to declare the separation of the isthmus and the independence of the Republic of Panama later that day.

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