Shorter shipping times would also greatly reduce the cost of trade.

Panama, however, belonged to Colombia, which refused to sell the United States land for the canal. In 1903, the United States backed a revolt by Panamanians against Colombia. The Panamanians quickly won independence and gave the United States control of the land to build the canal.

Construction began in 1904. Engineers solved many difficult problems in the course of building the canal, including cutting through mountains and excavating about 232 million cubic yards of dirt, rocks, and debris.

The Panama Canal opened in 1914. It was an engineering marvel that boosted American trade and shipping worldwide. The canal cut the distance of a sea journey between cities such as New York and San Francisco by thousands of miles.

To people in Latin America, however, the canal was another example of “Yankee imperialism.” During the 1900s, nationalist feeling in the hemisphere was often expressed as anti-Americanism. In 2000, Panama finally gained complete control over the canal, which now forms a vital part of the Panamanian economy.

An illustration of a family playing and working outside in a snowy landscape. They have a log cabin, pet dog, and a bull.

By the late 1700s, there were still parts of Canada that had not yet been reached by European settlers. By the mid-1800s, the country had begun to grow, and settlements spread to new areas.

Canada Achieves Self-Rule

In North America, Canada developed slowly in the shadow of its powerful neighbor to the south. Canada's first European rulers were the French. When France lost Canada to Britain in 1763, thousands of French-speaking Catholic settlers remained there.

After the American Revolution, about 30,000 British loyalists fled from the United States to Canada. Unlike the earlier French settlers, they were English-speaking and Protestant. Rivalries between these two groups have been an ongoing issue in Canada ever since.

Native Americans formed another strand of the Canadian heritage. In the 1790s, various groups of Native American people lived in eastern Canada. Others, in the west and the north, remained largely undisturbed by white settlers. Canadians today refer to all these Native American groups as First Nations.

Unrest in the Two Canadas

To ease ethnic tensions between European settlers, Britain passed the Constitutional Act of 1791. The act created two provinces: English-speaking Upper Canada (now Ontario) and French-speaking Lower Canada (now Quebec). Each had its own laws, legislature, and royal governor. French traditions and the Catholic Church were protected in Lower Canada while English traditions and laws guided Upper Canada.

During the early 1800s, unrest grew in both colonies. The people of Upper Canada resented the power held by a small British elite who controlled the government. In Lower Canada, people felt that British officials ignored their needs.

In 1837, discontent flared into rebellion in both Upper and Lower Canada. William Lyon Mackenzie led the revolt in Upper Canada, crying, “Put down the villains who oppress and enslave our country!” Louis Joseph Papineau, the head of the French Canadian Reform party, led the rebellion in Lower Canada.

Britain's Response

The British had learned a lesson from the American Revolution. While they hurried to put down the disorder, they sent an able politician, Lord Durham, to compile a report on the causes of the unrest. In 1839, the Durham Report called for the two Canadas to be united and given control over their own affairs.


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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments