HAYES, Rutherford B. Autograph letter signed (''Rutherford B. Hayes'') as President, to an unidentified recipient, Washington, 23 March 1880. 1¾ pages, 8vo (8¾ x 5½ in.), Executive Mansion stationery, damage to upper left and right margins repaired, minor staining.
HAYES, Rutherford B. Autograph letter signed ("Rutherford B. Hayes") as President, to an unidentified recipient, Washington, 23 March 1880. 1¾ pages, 8vo (8¾ x 5½ in.), Executive Mansion stationery, damage to upper left and right margins repaired, minor staining.
THE FOUNDATIONS FOR THE PANAMA CANAL: HAYES DECLARES IT WOULD BE A "MOST PERMANENT ADVANTAGE TO COMMERCE AND CIVILIZATION"
Hayes comments upon the advantages of a canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in a response to an autograph seeker. The United States had shown interest in developing a route across the Central American isthmus shortly after the independence of the Spanish American states, but the Civil War and Reconstruction disrupted American endeavors. In 1878, the French promoter Ferdinand de Lesseps (1805-1894) received permission from Columbia to construct a canal, temporarily thwarting the desires of the United States. On March 8, 1880, one year before the French project began, President Hayes delivered a statement on the American position. The message was clearly grounded on the foundation of the Monroe Doctrine, leading Hayes to assert: "The Policy of this country is a canal under American control. The United States cannot consent to the surrender of this control to an European power" (Messages and Papers of the Presidents, VII, pp. 585-586).
Here, writing to a correspondant who had requested an autograph note on behalf of the Irish Relief Fund, Hayes furnishes a portion of his March 8 message: "Instead of sending you a note for publication, I give you the closing paragraph of my recent message on the canal across the American Isthmus. 'Without urging further the grounds of my opinion, I repeat, in conclusion, that it is the right and duty of the United States to assert and maintain such supervision and authority over any interoceanic canal across the isthmus that connects North and South America as will protect our National interests. This, I am quite sure will be found not only compatible with but promotive of the widest and most permanent advantage to commerce and civilization'."
Ferdinand de Lesseps' company ultimately failed to complete its task due to a lack of capital and the Yellow Fever which plagued its workers. In 1903, a treaty was negotiated with the newly independent state of Panama granting the United States the right to construct and maintain a canal, which was finally completed in 1914.