Book of the Month from Special Collections
New One-Sheet Map of South America: divided into its provinces, governments, etc. and exhibiting the Spanish, Portuguese, French and Dutch settlements therein according to D’Anville, by L. Delarochette
London: Bowles & Carter, c.1790
This image shows South America with Panama at the top. This map is a long time before the Panama Canal, circa 1790
The Panama Canal first opened 15th August 1914.
Ferdinand de Lesseps constructed the Suez Canal in 1869. The Suez Canal was dug through flat sand at sea level whereas the Panama Canal required more engineering with peaks of up to 110 metres and a hazardous river crossing its path. With these difficulties he had difficulty retaining his workforce with them either leaving or dyeing with the death toll between 1881-9 estimated at 22,000. Construction started in 1881 and was suspended in 1889.
The U.S. were looking at a canal through Nicaragua and were going to go ahead unless the French would sell the Panama Canal to them for $40,000,000. This was sold and at the time, Panama was part of Colombia. The U.S. implied that if the Panama rebels revolted then the U.S. would support their independence. Panama declared independence on 3rd November 1903. They then let the U.S. control the Panama Canal Zone. The Canal consisted of locks and dams in order to combat the varying levels as opposed to a sea level canal.