- Hay-Herrán Treaty
- (1903)A treaty granting the United States the right to build a canal across Panama. Signed by U.S. Secretary of State John Hay and Colombia Foreign Minister Tomás Herrán on January 22, 1903, and ratified by the U.S. Senate on March 17, 1903, the treaty was rejected by Colombia’s congress on August 12, 1903.By the late nineteenth century, the geopolitical necessities of international trade and a two-ocean navy combined to convince American policymakers of the need for a U.S.-controlled Isthmian canal. Through intense lobbying, agents of the bankrupt French New Panama Canal Company convinced Congress to select the Panama route. Negotiations with the Colombian government commenced shortly thereafter. The treaty provided that the canal company could sell its property to the United States, which received a 90-year lease on a six-mile strip across the Isthmus. The United States would pay $10 million and, after nine years, an annual rental of $250,000, with an option to renew the lease.Colombia rejected the treaty, saying that it infringed on Colombian sovereignty and set an unacceptably low price for canal rights. Refusing to renegotiate, the United States allowed or assisted a revolution resulting in Panamanian independence and then quickly negotiated the Hay-Bunau-Varilla treaty.FURTHER READING:Ameringer, Charles D. “The Panama Canal Lobby of Philippe Bunau-Varilla and William Nelson Cromwell.” American Historical Review 68/2 (1963): 346–363;Christian L. Wiktor, ed. Unperfected Treaties of the United States of America, 1776–1976. Vol. 3. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana Publications, 1977, pp. 449–463;Collin, Richard H. Theodore Roosevelt ’ s Caribbean: The Panama Canal, the Monroe Doctrine, and the Latin American Context. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1990.KENNETH J. BLUME
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.