Secretary of State John Hay and British Ambassador to the U.S. Lord Julian
Paunceforte, the treaty authorized the United States to build, manage, and
ensure the neutrality of an interoceanic canal in Central America.
After the Spanish-American War of 1898, Cuba came
under the authority of the United States. The amendment, sponsored by
Senator Orville Platt of Connecticut, was added on March 2 to the constitution
of the newly independent Cuba. It gave the U.S. government broad powers to
intervene in Cuban affairs in order to maintain its independence, secure law and
order, or ensure the fulfillment of its treaty obligations.
While attending the
Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, on September 6, President William
McKinley was shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. A surgical operation failed
to locate the bullet, and McKinley lingered until dying on September 14.
Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as the nation’s youngest
president (42 years old). Czolgosz was tried, convicted, and executed by
electric chair on October 29, 1901.
Northern Securities Case:
19, the Justice Department sued in federal court under the Sherman Antitrust Act
of 1890 to break up J. P. Morgan’s railroad trust, the Northern Securities
Company. It was the first of 45 antitrust suits filed under President
Theodore Roosevelt, earning him the nickname, “the Trustbuster.” In March
1904, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Northern Securities had violated
the Sherman Antitrust Act.
Anthracite Coal Strike:
In the spring,
150,000 Pennsylvania coalminers walked off the job. President Theodore
Roosevelt threatened a government takeover of the mines if owners did not
negotiate with employees. In October, an arbitration panel settled the
dispute largely in favor of the strikers, though stopping short of formal union
recognition. The precedent-setting executive action was the first time a
president had intervened on the side of workers in a labor dispute.
Crater Lake National Park:
In May, Congress passed an act
designating Crater Lake, Oregon, a national park, the first of five created
during the Roosevelt administration.
Newlands Reclamation Act:
its sponsor, Senator Francis Newlands of Nevada, the law (passed in June)
allocated federal money for irrigation projects to transform arid land in 16
Western states and territories into farmland for sale. It was the first of
21 federal irrigation projects during the Roosevelt administration.
Secretary of State John Hay and Columbian diplomat Tomás Herrán agreed to a
treaty granting the United States in perpetuity a 6-mile wide tract of land
across the Columbian province of Panama for construction of an interoceanic
canal. In return the U.S. would give Columbia $10 million and an annual
rent of $250,000 beginning in the ninth year. The United States Senate
approved the treaty, but the Columbian Senate rejected it.
by Senator Stephen Elkins of West Virginia, a railroad owner, the
federal law outlawed freight rebates for shippers involved in interstate
commerce by mandating that companies could not deviate from published
rates. Under its rules both railroad companies and their officers
were liable in cases of rebate violations. The law was an effort
to strengthen the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887.
Pelican Island and Luquillo:
The Roosevelt administration designated the first of
51 federal bird reservations at Pelican Island, Florida, and the first of 150
national forests at Luquillo, Puerto Rico, which remains the only tropical
forest protected by the federal government.
Post Office Scandal:
In 1902, an interior probe of the U.S. Post Office
uncovered numerous incidents of blackmail, bribery, extortion, overcharging, and
other illegal activities. In 1903, the press broke the story, comparing it
Whiskey Ring and
Star Route scandals. Two special prosecutors were appointed in early
July, and indictments were returned against 30 Post Office officials and private
contractors in September.
Rich Man’s Panic:
A relatively mild economic downturn lasted from
September 1902 until August 1904, centered mainly in New York and other
Mid-Atlantic States. In 1903, the stock market average dropped 15.3% from
July 8 to July 25 and another 11.5% from September 24 to October 15, and was
collectively called the “Rich Man’s Panic.” Although some financial firms
went bankrupt, it did not produce a banking panic or a national depression.
In early November, Philippe Bunau-Varilla led
a successful revolt for Panamanian independence from Colombian rule. On
November 18, he and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay signed a treaty giving the
United States sovereignty over a canal zone in return for $10 million and
$250,000 annual rent (which was raised over the years). The U.S. Senate
ratified the treaty on February 23, 1904, and construction began that year.
The Panama Canal opened in 1914.
The Perdicaris Incident:
In May, a Moroccan rebel named Ahmad ibn Muhammad
Raisuli kidnapped Ion Perdicaris, who was believed to be an American citizen.
President Roosevelt ordered seven battleships of the Atlantic Fleet to Morocco.
On June 22, Secretary of State John Hay cabled the American consul general
there, “This Government wants Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead.” However,
he also cautioned against landing marines or seizing customs without direct
orders from the State Department. Three days later, the Sultan of Morocco
paid a ransom of $70,000 in gold and freed some political prisoners in return
for Perdicaris’s release. It was not revealed until the 1930s that Perdicaris
had renounced his U.S. citizenship during the American Civil War.
Meeting in Chicago on June 21-23, delegates
nominated President Theodore Roosevelt for his first full term and selected
Senator Charles W. Fairbanks of Indiana as his vice-presidential running mate.
Meeting in St. Louis on July 6-9, delegates
nominated Judge Alton B. Parker of New York for president on the first ballot
over publisher William Randolph Hearst, 679-181. Henry G. Davis, a
prosperous railroad owner and former U.S. senator from West Virginia, was
nominated for vice president.
On November 8, President Theodore Roosevelt defeated
Democratic challenger Alton B. Parker 336-140 in the Electoral College and
56%-38% in the popular vote. It was the largest popular margin of victory
in American history until Republican Warren Harding defeated Democrat James Cox
in 1920 (61%-34%). Roosevelt captured majorities in 32 states, while
Parker only won the 11 southern states and the two border states of Maryland (by
53 votes) and Kentucky. Parker’s defeat returned power in the Democratic
Party to William Jennings Bryan and the Populist/Progressive wing.
Republicans retained control of both houses of Congress, increasing their
majority in the House of Representatives to over 100 for the first time.
In December, President Roosevelt’s annual
report to Congress defined what became known as the “Roosevelt Corollary” to the
Monroe Doctrine. Under the Monroe Doctrine, the United States assumed the
right of intervention to keep foreign colonialism out of the Western Hemisphere.
The Roosevelt Corollary argued that the U.S. had the additional right of
international police power to intervene in cases of “chronic wrongdoing” in any
nation in the Western Hemisphere. The immediate provocation for the policy
was the bankrupt Dominican Republic’s inability to repay its foreign debt.
At the invitation of the Dominican Republic, the United States assumed that
country’s customs collection to pay off its debt.
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