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.
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.
How did the United States influence the direction of Cuban history?
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.
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.
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.