Narrator: Late on the night of January 30th, 1907 -- 18 months into his tenure and at the close of yet another 14-hour day -- John Stevens sat down at his desk in his office near Culebra, and composed a letter to Theodore Roosevelt. Read President Theodore Roosevelt's message to Congress after returning from the Canal Zone in Panama. And he goes about fumigating the houses throughout the Canal Zone to kill adult mosquitoes. Greg Shea, Legal They're gonna raise ships up over the American continent, in effect. Fast-paced, fun and informative, Modern Marvels is The History Channel's signature series … Now a $5 billion expansion project is set to double its capacity, giving a new lease of life to this vital transport artery. There was a feeling that we needed a sensible doctor, not this sort of crazy Gorgas with his wild mosquito theories. Narrator: For 10 years, the spectacular failure of the French cast a pall over the isthmus. Follow … Post Views: 634. And this is traumatic for Americans, how dangerously close to failure the whole U.S. enterprise is. Okay, thanks Matthew Parker, Author: And all of the time there was this huge clamor from back at home to make the dirt fly. They'd been arriving for months -- from San Diego, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Charlotte… former railroad engineers and file clerks and recent college graduates -- all of them eager to be part of what one observer called America's "mighty march of progress.". Office of Medical History, U.S. Army Medical Department Roosevelt wanted action. And the incredible scale of the problems that he inherited from Wallace -- really it's amazing that he lasted as long as he did. But nothing was worse than yellow fever. In August, the dikes at either end of the line were blown, and the oceans rushed inland to the gates of the locks. "In America," he liked to say, "anything is possible." This documentary marks the bicentennial of the start of construction The Erie Canal, the United States' first great technical innovation and a gateway to prominence. With Frederick Allen, John W. Bowen, Carol R. Byerly, Granville Clarke. Frederick E. Allen, Editor, American Heritage: The idea that Gorgas was able to conquer this problem is still kind of unbelievable to me. And internal hemorrhaging that would cause the black vomit or vomito negro which was terrifying. "Mr. President," he wrote, "you have been kind enough on several occasions to instruct me to address you directly and personally and I will in this case. The history of the construction of the Panama Canal is the saga of human ingenuity and courage: years of sacrifice, crushing defeat, and final victory. Samantha Chan And on one of his postings he caught yellow fever. The idea for a canal through narrow Central … First, to control the Chagres, a massive dam would be built at Gatún -- creating an artificial lake, some 85 feet above sea level, roughly in the middle of the canal's planned route. It was a daily situation that today, this morning, you have breakfast, and somebody at that table having breakfast may not be there for that evening so it is that type of situation. Getty Images All rights reserved. Either he could just simply invade Panama and take it, which he considered doing -- he sent spies to go and check out the possibility of achieving that -- or there was another option and that was for Panama to declare its independence under the protection of the United States. Overwhelmed and suffering from nervous strain, Wallace soon resigned his post. No nation on earth had more to gain from a canal than the United States: the close of the 19th century had been witness to its astonishing rise -- the sudden, dramatic expansion of its industry, its gathering economic might, its surprising aggression against Spain in the War of 1898. No aspect of the construction compelled such fascination as the gargantuan locks -- the so-called "mighty portals to the Panama Gateway.". So this self-assertion by America was part of a certain kind of culture. Of all the Americans who had been employed on the isthmus, Jan was one of the very few who had been there since the beginning, and, as Rose remembered, the award he'd earned for long service, the Roosevelt medal, was always in his pocket. Matthew Parker, Author: Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong for the French at Panama. Eventually, Goethals had the railroad tracks extended all the way out to Mount Hope Cemetery, so that the bodies could be buried more easily. For Silver Roll employees, there was nothing of the kind. And there was a feeling that something that had made the United States different, that had made it better than the other great powers, had been lost. And he decided to make it his life's work to battle this terrible disease. The job of building the canal would be very much a job of just moving, removing, hauling out thousands of carloads of dirt. My friend Gilberto Young sent me a copy of this documentary and while it is long, it is very thorough in the story of the Canal. History of the Panama Canal . Helen R. DuBois, Post Production ", Narrator: It was late winter, 1906, when Rose packed up her belongings, said her goodbyes to Wyoming, and set off with her children for Panama. The Panama Canal has a long history which dates back to the early 16th century. Working from an obscure theory in a Cuban medical journal that blamed yellow fever transmission on infected mosquitoes, he had carried out an extensive eradication campaign in Havana. Life for workers in the Canal Zone was filled with hardships: constant rain, backbreaking work, racial tension, and the constant fear of yellow fever or malaria. The construction of the Canal was the epitome of man’s mastery over nature and signaled the beginning of America’s domination of world affairs. Narrator: As Roosevelt well knew, Panamanian elites had been plotting revolution for years. I raise my hands to God. An expedition to South America kept him from attending the canal's official opening, and he never again visited the isthmus. View all posts by Historical Coincollector Author Historical Coincollector Posted on August 4, 2017 Tags historicalcoin , IFTTT , Twitter But during a posting in Havana, Gorgas had developed a new protocol. As Rose remembered it, all the perks had their desired effect. Fifty thousand dollars. It is also a symbol of arrogance, authority, and power. The key to the successful excavation of the canal was about moving the spoil that was dug away from the site, otherwise everything would stop. It was like the dance of the witches…. American ingenuity and innovation had succeeded where the French had failed disastrously, but the U.S. paid a price for … As Stevens put it to a colleague, "[At Culebra,] we are facing a proposition greater than was ever undertaken in the history of the world.". He knows that if he goes to Panama it will be a media event. James Kendrick In the eyes of most of the world, Panama was a miserable sinkhole -- a place synonymous with corruption, disease and death. Van Hardeveld Family Mr. Roosevelt flashed us one of his well-known toothy smiles and waved his hat at the children as though he wanted to come up the hill and say 'Hello!' 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