Panama Statehood Considered: This Week in History

Panama Canal

Panama Statehood Considered: This Week in History

Melina Druga
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Sen. Matthew Quay
Sen. Matthew Quay

Republican senators eagerly agreed to a conference to discuss the Panama Canal Treaty, the Arizona Republic reported Feb. 18, 1903, bringing Sen. Matthew Quay’s dream of Panamanian statehood one step closer.  Quay hoped to carry the statehood bill through an appropriations bill.

“It is said tonight that the consent of the senators without committing themselves to recognition of the caucus has strengthened the statehood measure with Republican senators who have been in opposition,” the Republic also reported.  “No chance of statehood has been sacrificed.”

Opponents of statehood had been warned that prolonged debate would delay appropriations bills and a Cuban treaty.

Fighting for Panama Statehood

The Republican caucus had met to discuss the next course of action.

“The understanding is that the statehood bill does not lose its position in the order or business when the senate is not in executive session,” the Republic said.

Opponents of statehood argued the Panama Canal Treaty needed ratified before anything else to ensure American interests Central America.

The option guaranteeing American control over the rights and franchises of the canal was set to expire in March, and if not renewed, meant European powers might have interest in the canal.  The original deal allowed the United States to renew the option for $40 million.

Supporters of statehood argued this was a delay tactic and that the statehood bill should be voted on first.

“After a further exchange of views during which some quite sharp remarks as to the desirability and the possibility of securing a vote on the statehood bill were indulged in,” the Republic said, “the senators on both sides adopted a more conciliatory tone toward one another.”

It was decided Quay would go into executive session the next day and no one would oppose.

Did you know there was a push to make Panama a state?  Leave a comment below.

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Most kids have an active imagination. My imagination has stayed strong into adulthood, and I’ve funneled that creativity into a successful writing career. I write history, both fiction and nonfiction, because although your school history classes may have been boring, the past is not. My goal is to bring the past to life in all its myriad of colors.
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