Panamanian Independence 1903

Panama was part of the nation of Colombia until its rebellion in 1902. The US had attempted to negotiate with the Colombian government to allow the US a perpetual lease of the valuable Colombian territory that eventually became the Panama Canal. When Colombia refused the terms of the lease, the US decided to encourage Panamanian independence. From September 17 to November 18, 1902, the US placed armed guards on all trains crossing the Isthmus of Panama to keep the railroad line open, and stationed ships on both sides of Panama to prevent the landing of Colombian troops.  Needless to say, this election interference had the intended impact on the Panamanian rebellion, which formally succeeded in winning independence in November 1903. The event was caricatured by Puck Magazine (yes, that’s with a ‘P’) in 1903, showing a racist image of towering white Uncle Sam lecturing the brown Colombian government for not turning over its sovereign territory upon demand.  (Image from

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