The author's testimony concerning the breakdown---thanks to the Panama Revolution, in November, 1903---of the concealed Boche diplomatic operations to obtain from Colombia: (1) the rejection of any treaty with the United States; (2) the confiscation in the autumn of 1904 of the French Panama Canal Company's properties and concessions; (3) the transfer of these properties and concessions to the German Government masquerading under the disguise of a "strictly Colombian corporation"
WE SHALL see now how I could foil the German conspiracy, in Colombia, to acquire possession of the Panama Canal itself.
The history of the Panama Revolution which saved the Panama Canal from the grip of Germany, effected by the willing hand of Colombia, was already written in 1913 but without the clear light which the Great War has thrown on Boche diplomatic methods.(9)
In "Panama; the Creation---the Destruction---the Resurrection" I abstained from indicting Germany as the cause of the destruction, and from showing what heavy defeat she had sustained by the resurrection. My principle in writing the complete history of the great drama of Panama was to advance nothing which I could not prove by documents.
How could I have then proved the existence of criminal work of the Boche hand in all the internal and external troubles of any nation, whenever such troubles could serve the Boche cause? I suspected it; but without a knowledge of the facts which the war has exposed to the light of the day, and which transformed these suspicions into certainties. The servants of Boche intrigue would have heaped upon me their usual calumnies, but this time I should have lacked all possibility of demonstrating their mendacity and pointing toward the Wilhelmstrasse of Berlin as their origin.
To-day, the greatest centre of crime the world has ever known---the German Foreign Office---is temporarily out of its usual business. It is due to the activity of the American Secret Service that many of its dastardly plots have been exposed. Its treacherous work in the United States, in Mexico, in Argentina, in Japan is now known. It is possible also henceforth to prove other crimes by reconstitution and juxtaposition of facts.
This is what I am doing in exposing what was one of the blackest conspiracies to prepare the German assault against the liberty of the world. I therefore can print again the history of the Panama Revolution by which I was fortunate enough to foil this criminal conspiracy.
The reader, now better informed, will be able to understand its meaning, its importance, its vast consequences.
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES HAD NO HAND IN THE PANAMA REVOLUTION
The reader will now also completely understand that the President of the United States was absolutely free from secret connivance with the revolutionists. He will understand, now, Mr. Roosevelt's meaning when he said: "I took Panama."
The dissemination of the truth about the Panama Revolution will also help to eliminate the pressure exercised on the conscience of some people by the idea that Colombia was wronged. They will see that since the Revolutionary War of the English colonies of America, there never was a clearer case of the right of a nation to dispose of itself. Colombia has, not and never had, the slightest title to receive an indemnity for the separation of Panama.
My views are fully expressed in the letter which I wrote to the Secretary of State about the very same subject on the morning of November 18, 1903---the day I signed the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty, which made the Panama Canal a fact.
I reproduce this letter herewith:
November 18, 1903.
DEAR MR. SECRETARY,
Will you allow me to condense the somewhat loosely expressed ideas I submitted to you yesterday on the question of reserving for Colombia, against a quit claim, a part of the $10,000,000 which is to be paid to the Republic of Panama by the United States?
This, in my opinion, would create two independent impressions.
First.---Impression on the World in general.
Any man who pays something that he does not owe is immediately thought to be paying under the pressure of blackmail.
Any man who pays under the pressure of blackmail is immediately thought to be paying on account of a concealed crime.
This would be the immediate opinion of the world, if the United States is beheld to be declaring at the same time that she had no hand in the Isthmian revolution, and is therefore under no liability to Colombia for damages, and simultaneously to be paying a heavy sum to get rid of the claim of Colombia.
The only possible interpretation would be: a public confession of breach of international faith.
L'enfer est pavé de bonnes intentions. He who imagined good heartedly this fine solution is a master in paving the lower regions.
Second.---Impression on Spanish Americans.
To the demonstration which would result thus from such an action---namely, the admission of the United States to having played a Machiavellian trick upon Colombia---would be added, in Spanish-American hearts, the incurable and bitter resentment of the insulting offer of a little money compensation for a patriotic wrong.
In a case like this, the rules applicable to treaties of peace after a war would not be justified. In a treaty of peace money questions come in natural order with other conditions.
But in this case, when the United States maintains, with perfect justice and absolute propriety, that she has not done anything else but what was her rigorous obligation according to her treaty duties and to the rules of international law; and when, immediately afterward, she appears to confess in fact what she denies in theory and offers a lump sum of money to heal the wound and to redress the wrong, she would be adopting an attitude which would be a direct offence to the sentiment of dignity and to the natural pride of all South Americans. It would amount to a slight which would be felt from the frontier of Arizona to the Strait of Magellan.
No. Really I cannot imagine any move more dangerous and more impolitic than such a one.
Pallas Athene would be replaced by a female broker of suspicious deals.
Most respectfully yours,
I have not a word to withdraw from that letter but I have something to add.
The entire lack of any justified argument in favour of a payment as an indemnity for the sesession of Panama is existing to-day as in November, 1903. Nothing has filled the hollow of Colombian claims. But a new light has been thrown on the cause of her attitude in 1902 and 1903.
The Great War has acted like a violent storm scratching the surface of the earth and exposing to the light of day the underground cables transmitting the electrical energy.
The Great War has uncovered the concealed cables transmitting to all nations of the earth the calumnies, the sophisms, and the nerve-racking theories of false patriotism by which innocent nations were practically driven mad for the benefit of German plans.
The Great War has disclosed the system of cables commanding---from Berlin---the anti-American and dishonest policy of Colombia and furthering the piratical policy of Germany, toward the capture of the Panama Canal against the will of the Isthmians.
This is a new and powerful justification of Panama, when revolting against the abominable tyranny exercised by Colombia for the benefit and at the suggestion of the Boche. But there is no base to be found for an indemnity in the action of the United States any more than there is in the action of Panama. The American Government had been played with and ill treated by Colombia. There is no reproach to impute to the U. S. policy.
In preparing the revolution I avoided anything that could be interpreted as a connivance between Washington and the insurgents. If President Roosevelt went with the high speed which was indispensable for final success, after the revolution became a fact, it was because I had carefully respected his independence.
Evidently the quickness of his actions exposed him to the most poisonous arrows, largely made in Germany. He would have been unable to stand their contact if I had not on purpose left aside everything which might have diminished his liberty and therefore hampered his action.
People may smile while speaking of a Roosevelt "staged revolution"; their smile will simply expose their own gullibility in believing the tales of imaginative wickedness.
I wish to caution the reader in advance against the impression that the American Government had a hand in the Panama Revolution, because such a statement is absolutely fabricated---and devoid of any foundation in fact.
It would have been, as Talleyrand said, more than a crime; it would have been a fault. Neither the fault nor the crime was committed. If either had been, the Panama Canal would probably be to-day in the hands of the Boche and the history of the world would not perhaps have registered his defeat now.
AN UNEXPECTED TURN OF AFFAIRS
On the 6th of June, 1903, everybody thought that the period of antagonism to the Americanization of the Canal had been finally closed by the signature of the Hay-Herran Treaty. I received in Paris on that day a letter from a distinguished personality with whom I had had no previous relations. As he was arriving from Bogota he expressed the desire to give me important information.
In a subsequent interview he said to me:
I have followed with passionate interest your patriotic campaign for rescuing the Panama Canal enterprise from complete destruction. I am convinced that President Marroquin, with whom I had several talks, shares your views. I am, however, very pessimistic about the turn of things.
There is around old Marroquin a gang of men I profoundly distrust. Beware of treacherous surprises.
MY WARNING TO THE PRESIDENT OF COLOMBIA
I then decided to send a new cable message to Marroquin for strengthening his hands at the opening of the Colombian Congress. In it I decided to speak openly of the secession of Panama.
The cablegram was sent on the 13th of June from Paris and delivered on the 27th to the President.
Here is this important message, in which were foretold the events that were going to take place less than five months later:
MARROQUIN, President Republic Bogota
Beg to submit respectfully following.
(1) One must admit as a fundamental principle the only party that can now build the Panama Canal is the United States and that neither European governments nor private financiers would dare to fight either against the Monroe Doctrine or American Treasury for building Panama Canal in case Americans return to Nicaragua if Congress [Colombian] does not ratify treaty.
(2) It results from this evident principle that failure of ratification opens only two ways.
Either construction of Nicaragua Canal and absolute loss to Colombia of the incalculable advantages resulting from construction on her territory of the great artery of universal commerce or construction of Panama Canal after secession and declaration of independence of the Isthmus of Panama under protection of the United States, as has happened in Cuba.
I hope that your high, patriotic policy will save your country from the two precipices where would perish either the prosperity or the integrity of Colombia and whither would lead the advice of blinded people or of evildoers who wish to reject treaty or to modify it, which would amount to the same thing.
I do not think that an event of world importance was ever traced more exactly on the wall about five months before it happened. Colombia cannot accuse me of having taken her by surprise, or of having defeated the Boche intrigues without stating in advance how it would be done.
The news published by the New York Herald in Paris, as soon as the Colombian Congress was opened, confirmed the pessimistic impressions formed by my new friend while he was in Bogota.
President Marroquin had presented the treaty in a very fair but very weak manner. He had taken the attitude of Pontius Pilate, and washed his hands of the result.
FANATIC APPEALS TO FRENZIED PASSIONS IN BOGOTA
The White Bolsheviki of Bogota had frightened the reasonable citizens just as the White Bolsheviki of France had operated during the period of destruction of the great Panama Canal enterprise.
It was the same exasperated appeals to the highest patriotism, and to serene justice to commit precisely the acts which were most dangerous for the country and most hurtful for justice.
One could not help feeling that they were the result of similar passions brought to a state of frenzy by a poisoned propaganda of the same origin. We now know that origin which we only suspected then: it was Berlin.
To give a sample of the mode of propaganda employed in Bogota to destroy the Canal project let me quote a small paragraph from the Correo Nacional. It was published on the 11th of May, 1903, above the signature of a Senator Perez y Soto:
The Hay-Herran Treaty will be rejected unanimously by both Houses.
This is what I hope, because there will not be a single representative of the Nation who will listen to the voices of those who have sold themselves, and who have been impudent enough to recommend this shameful contract. In spite of everything the ignominy which Herran has cast upon Colombia's good name will never be obliterated.
The gallows would be a very light penalty for such a criminal.
This is the prototype of the Boche-inspired propaganda.
It bears the same certificate of origin as Drumont's denunciation in 1890 of the Panama Canal and of its immortal creator, Ferdinand de Lesseps.
We read in the "Last Battle," Drumont's book published in Paris to destroy the Panama enterprise (speaking of Ferdinand de Lesseps):
This scoundrel walks about as a triumphant hero.
Same literature, same object, same methods; the employment of the same moral poisoned gases by the infamous Boche.
From the beginning of the session of the Colombian Congress, June 20, 1903, to its end, October 31st of same year, only one man spoke nobly: that was Senator Obaldia. The Canal treaty was rejected on the 12th of August. Nobody had dared to defend it except Obaldia.
THE PROPOSITION OF NEL OSPINA---MY CABLEGRAM
A group of senators---at the head of which was the vice-president of the Senate, Nel Ospina---proposed a blackmail pure and simple on the French Panama Company.
They demanded $10,000,000 from that company for permission to transfer its property to the United States.
This proposition was expressly violating the principle which was laid at the base of the negotiations, that of the independence between the conditions of Colombia and those of the Company. This had been accepted in writing by Martinez Silva in 1901, in Colombia's behalf.
One might harshly condemn Senator Nel Ospina for that immoral proposition. On the contrary, he presented it in order to try to avoid a still greater and still less excusable immorality: the confiscation pure and simple of the Canal property. I knew SeÒor Nel Ospina; I had met him and I had a high opinion of his judgment.
On August 17th I cabled him this last appeal to the Colombian notion of justice, common sense, and judgment:
NEL OSPINA, SENATOR, Bogota.
I appeal to your scientific spirit to spare contemporary history the terrible and immediate consequences for Colombia of the rejection or amendment of the Panama Treaty.
This would be equivalent to stabbing your country to the heart, destroying its prosperity and its interests, whereas ratification insures a glorious future.
I cannot be accused of not having attempted everything to point out to Colombia the right way. But she was lured to the abyss by her foolish White Bolsheviki, carefully drugged by German moral chemistry.
DECISION TO CONFISCATE THE FRENCH PROPERTY
The resolution was taken to confiscate cynically and hypocritically the French concession on the 31st of October of the following year (1904).
That confiscation was necessary for putting the whole matter in the hands of Colombia. Once that stage was reached, it was easy to establish a compact with Germany where neither the United States nor the French Company would have had anything to say.
Even the Monroe Doctrine objections would have been easily pushed aside by an artful camouflage of Germany under the garb of a "strictly Colombian" company.
The solution of the problem was soon found by the Colombiano-German casuists of Bogota. The concession of the French Company expired on October 31, 1904, but a prorogation of six years had been given her in 1900 against a cash payment of $1,000,000.
In that year Colombia was in a state of revolution.
The Colombian Constitution wisely foresees that in a state of war or of revolution the Legislative power is entrusted to the Executive power. The prorogation, consequently, had been made by the Executive power in virtue of its constitutional authority in such a situation.
When it was decided at Bogota, in view of the German arrangements, to confiscate the French property an adequate method was soon devised. A commission of the Colombian Senate had to report on the matter of the French concession and on October 14, 1903, the report was made public. It sustained the incredible theory that the Colombian Congress could, at its option, either annul or confirm the prorogation given in 1900.
With a remarkable legal legerdemain the solemn contract between Colombia and the French Company was transformed into a simple project which the Congress had the right either to accept or to refuse.
Having thus suspended by a thread the sword of Damocles over the head of the French Company, the worthy commission proposed to postpone to the next year the decision to cut that thread.
They said, among other monstrosities:
By the 31st of October of next year, that is to say when the next Congress shall have met in ordinary session, the Concession will have expired and every privilege with it.
In that case the Republic will become possessor and owner without any need of a previous judicial decision, and without any indemnity, of the Canal itself and of the adjuncts belonging to it according to the contract of 1878 and 1890.
The conclusion of this remarkable report was to do nothing and to defer indefinitely the grant of any authorization to the Executive power to make a new treaty with the United States.
Between the lines of this unique document it could be read that on the 31st of October of the following year, Colombia---having become proprietor of the Canal---would finish it. The necessary, the indispensable elements of that completion would obviously be German money and German engineers. Both were to carry out the stolen plans of French genius.
The Senate followed textually the recommendations of her worthy commission and adjourned fifteen days later, on the 31st of October, 1903.
If there ever triumphed a hypocritical, treacherous policy for despoiling America and France of their natural proprietary or political rights for the benefit of the contemptible Boche it triumphed then in Colombia.
But that triumph was to be short lived because the mine I had prepared was soon to explode.
By her birth on the third of November, 1903, the Republic of Panama annihilated these dastardly plans three days after their explicit and final adoption in Bogota by the Colombian Senate.
I am going to explain how I was happy enough to be able to determine an event productive of such incalculable consequences such as the creation of the new American republic.
PROPHETIC ARTICLE IN THE PARIS "MATIN"
I had, as may be remembered, twice announced the Panama secession by cablegram to President Marroquin; once implicitly on November 23, 1902, and once explicitly on June 13, 1903; and once to the vice-president of the Senate, Nel Ospina, on August 17, 1903. I had said plainly and openly that the separation of Panama would be the outcome of a rejection of the treaty ensuring the completion of the Canal by the United States.
In order to propagate the same view on the events in course of development, I published in the Matin of Paris on September 2, 1903, what may be termed a prophetic article. Speaking of President Roosevelt I said:
He can wait . . . until the Revolution---which, as will be seen from our despatches, is smouldering in the "State of Panama"---bursts out, and until the province declares herself independent, as it has done twice already during the last century, in 1840 and in 1856. In that case the President would merely have to make a treaty with the new State of Panama.
The article concluded thus:
By her untimely and inconsiderate obstruction to the realization of the greatest progress which now lies within the reach of man, in the arrangement of the planet, Colombia is overstepping her property rights. In thus barring the road to progress she acts like a landlord who tries to take a stand on his rights of ownership to prevent the construction of a railroad or of a road across his estate.
The property rights of private persons, like those of nations, have a limit which is the superior law of the necessity of circulation of the human collectivity.
And it is this superior law which President Roosevelt will enforce, and which it will be his next step to enforce.
I had also in the same article advanced the idea of a possible intervention of the United States, on the Isthmus, as a consequence of the treaty of 1846.
In this treaty with New Granada, the predecessor of Colombia, the United States had received the right of way across the Isthmus of Panama. She had, as the price paid for that privilege, undertaken to keep open and free the transit between the two oceans and to protect the Isthmus against foreign aggression.
I suggested in the Matin article that the United States, having the right of way, possessed also implicitly the faculty of carrying out the works necessary for the enjoyment of that right.
Never was a suggestion more a propos, since---as will be seen later on---it enabled me to get an exact knowledge of Mr. Roosevelt's disposition regarding the Panama Canal policy.
Having thus done all I could in Paris, I intended to return to the United States to take a hand in the matter, if needed.
I expected to be in Washington for the return of political activity in November.
RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES IN SEPTEMBER, 1903
A quite unforeseen incident---due to the preoccupations which the state of health of my young son necessitated---led me to leave for the States in the middle of September, 1903. 1 landed in New York on the 22nd.
The following day I hastened to pay a visit to an old banker and commission merchant of Panama, Mr. Lindo, head of the firm of Piza Nephews & Co. He was in close and continuous connection with the Isthmus and better fitted than any one else to give me reliable information.
"Well, Mr. Lindo, " said I, after the first exchange of compliments, "is the rumour true that the people of Panama are going to make a revolution?"
He shrugged his shoulders in a disheartened way, and said: "Faltan recursos" (They have no financial means).
"What!" said 1, disappointed at this answer.
These people who are ever ready to make a revolution for insignificant causes are going to keep quiet when Colombia decrees that they must die of hunger?"
"It can't be helped," he said. "Without money a revolution cannot be brought about any more than a war. But if you care to know what the situation really is I will ask Amador to call and see you."
"What!" said I, surprised; "is Amador here? "
"Yes," answered Lindo (lowering his voice); "he has come precisely to obtain the wherewithal for bringing about a revolution. But he has failed and is sailing for Panama in a few days. He will tell you all. He is in despair."(10)
AMADOR HASTENS TO COME AND SEE ME
When I reached my hotel, the Waldorf-Astoria, in the evening I found two cards of Doctor Amador. He had called at 9.05 P. M. and again at 9.25 P. M. and asked for an immediate appointment.
I telephoned at once to the Endicott Hotel, where he lived, that I would receive him on the following day at 10.30 A. M.
On that day, the 23rd of September, when the Hay-Herran Treaty was lapsing for want of ratification, was established between Amador and myself the link through which Panama was saved.
On the day following, at the stated hour, Amador entered room No. 1162 of the Waldorf-Astoria which I occupied and which deserves to be considered as the cradle of the liberation of the Isthmus.
The old Doctor was pale and haggard. His mind had obviously been labouring a long time under terrible preoccupations. A strange fire burned in his eyes. He began to tell me the history of a plan of rebellion laid in Panama and of a mission to New York entrusted to an American residing usually in Panama.
This man was to enquire if subsidies, arms, ammunition, ships, the help of the American Army and of the American Navy could be obtained in America for the projected revolution.
CHIMERICAL HOPES GIVEN AMADOR
He had come back with assurances from a man having some prominence in Isthmian affairs, but without governmental position, that all these things would be ready whenever the Isthmians were disposed to revolt.
"This is too good to be true," said the conspirators, and they had sent Amador to verify. To the utmost delight of the delegate the very same assurances had been given to him again just as they had been to the first envoy.
Everything then seemed to point toward the culmination of his most ardent hopes, when suddenly his protector turned his back on him.
Amador had got from him the explicit promise to go together to Washington in order to see Secretary Hay. Amador wanted to settle finally with the Secretary of State a transaction. This transaction was in Amador's chimerical mind to be a formal pledge in writing to sustain the Panama Revolution with the army, with the navy, and with the treasury of the United States.
When everything had been arranged, as Amador believed, to make the decisive trip to Washington the supposed powerful intermediary turned his back on the unfortunate delegate of the Isthmians, and did not go with him anywhere.
With intense emotion and maddened rage Amador concluded:
"Whenever I went to see him, orders had been given to the effect that he was not in. I had to instal myself in the hall, to camp there, and, so to speak, to besiege his office.
"Nothing resulted from it. And here I am. All is lost. At any moment the conspiracy may be discovered, and my friends put on trial, for high treason, sentenced to death, and their properties confiscated. I, at first, decided to return to Panama to share their fate. But I am hesitating. If my friends are shot, I prefer to devote my life to avenging them on the man who will have been the cause of their deaths."
While Amador spoke I had a clear vision of the entire drama. I understood instantly who was the man whose foolish and imaginary assurances had made the poor doctor fall into the deadly pit.
HOW AMADOR UNDERSTOOD THE REVOLUTION
"Calm yourself, my dear Doctor," I said, "appeal to reason not to passion. Tell me what your hopes, what your chances were; what method you intended to employ. Tell me all that calmly, methodically, precisely."
From the explanations given by Amador it appeared that Colombia, exhausted by three years of civil war, had not sent new soldiers to Panama. Her garrison of five hundred men had been there for many years ---had become permeated with the Panama spirit---and had no more any sentiment of devotion for Colombia.
Amador added that, with six million dollars' subsidy, he could buy arms, ammunitions, and ships, sink the Colombian flotilla, and have the immediate support of the local garrison.
I dismissed Amador with soothing words though I considered his ideas as totally chimerical. The raising of $6,000,000 was an empty dream. The time necessary to get the arms and the ships must be counted by months. During that time Colombia would certainly renew her garrison and send her wiry, loyal Indian fighters to the Isthmus to consolidate her tyranny.
"Let me think, my dear Doctor. Perhaps I shall find for you a way out of the difficulty. At any rate, our communications must henceforth be sub rosa. When I 'phone to you I shall call myself 'Jones.' When you call me you take the name of 'Smith'."
I shook his hand and, having recovered his balance of mind, he went, happy to have grasped a hand both friendly and firm, that of a man on whom, long before, he had looked as on his highest commanding officer.
As soon as he had gone, I saw that Chance had brought to me the precious seed of the whole revolutionary movement against Colombia and her anti-canal policy.
The seed was actually without any value, it was practically crushed and destroyed. There was no practical idea, but there was a spontaneous aggregation of energies and wills to fight the Germano-Colombian conspiracy of Bogota. These energies could be used with a rational plan.
'WHAT ARE PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT'S DISPOSITIONS?'
If I was to encourage these men to act I had to find out first of all what were the dispositions of President Roosevelt in regard to Panama. I had not, up to that time, had any relations with him.
He had formerly been a most sincere and firm believer in Nicaragua. He had not been submitted to the pro-Panama influence of Hanna, as Hanna was not his personal friend. Did there not from the personal antagonism which separated them---also result an antagonism as to the political ideas?
To Hanna had been due the victory of Panama in Congress. Did not that fact predispose Roosevelt still to adhere to his old allegiance to the Nicaragua Canal? In one word, was not President Roosevelt happy to see the failure of the Colombian treaty?---and was he not going to steer the ship of State toward Nicaragua? That was the question!
Of course the very first thing to be done was to discover the President's state of mind on the subject.
AN EXTRAORDINARY AND REVEALING INCIDENT
An unexpected incident furnished me, within seven days of my arrival in New York, the most positive knowledge of the intentions of the President. I was informed about this all-important and secret question as if I had been present at one of the cabinet meetings of the White House. And nobody had betrayed any confidence, and no improper question had passed from my lips.
This is a little but weighty chapter of the liberation of the Isthmus. Like many others of the same history it would seem to belong to the domain of fiction, yet it is simple reality.
One of the best friends of mine was Professor Burr, the great American engineer, Professor at the Columbia University who, in the Isthmian Canal Commission, adopted first with George Morrison my views on Panama.
I hastened to pay him a visit, in order to learn what he thought about my suggestion of building the Canal on the strength of the treaty of 1846, with New Granada, conferring to the United States the right of way across the Isthmus of Panama.
This solution which I had developed, in the Matin article on September 2nd, was, of course, the most desirable, in my opinion. It rendered unnecessary the hazards of a revolution and opened an easy and certain way to success.
My eminent friend was not very enthusiastic about the solution. He said, however, that in the course of a conversation, one of his colleagues at the University had expressed similar ideas before him. I asked him who this colleague was, and expressed a desire to meet him. This was quickly arranged and on the 29th of September, in Professor Burr's office, I met Mr. Bassett Moore, Professor of Diplomacy at the Columbia University.
The conversation showed that his ideas on this momentous subject were almost identical with mine. The Professor at a given moment said that he had been surprised recently to see his own theory exposed in a French paper. I pulled from my pocket the folded copy of the Matin of the 2nd of September. Mr. Bassett Moore, recognizing the paper by its peculiar shade, before I had unfolded it, exclaimed: "That is the paper." I was somewhat surprised to learn of Prof. Bassett Moore having had cognizance of the Matin, which, in spite of its great circulation in Paris, was difficult then to obtain in America.
Seeing the Professor so well disposed, I saw a magnificent opportunity to use his authority for the benefit of the Panama cause.
"Why," I asked, "do you not make public these ideas which, if adopted, may ensure the success of a great national undertaking? Why do you not write a letter or an article to the Sun ?"
The attitude of Bassett Moore suddenly became embarrassed. As I pressed him more and more, and demonstrated that he had a civic duty to accomplish, and that he ought not to shirk it, he eventually surrendered, and said:
"I cannot do what you wish. I formulated these views, and the conditions in which I formulated them make it impossible for me to adopt a public attitude at the present stage of affairs."
I had nothing more to say. I felt that I had touched a very delicate spot and I withdrew in order to learn who Mr. Bassett Moore was and what could be the reasons which obliged him to keep secret his important theory.
I went straight down town to consult with my good friend and wise adviser Frank D. Pavey.
"Mr. Bassett Moore," said he, "is the closest friend of President Roosevelt. He was Assistant Secretary of State when President Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy. They are generally considered to have joined their influences to unchain the Cuban war. They have remained very close friends ever since, and President Roosevelt is generally considered as sharing Bassett Moore's diplomatic views and always taking his advice on important matters."
"Well," I answered, "the copy of the Matin he has seen might have been shown to him by President Roosevelt to whom I had sent one copy.
It is obvious, on the other hand, that his reserved attitude is due to the fact of his having submitted to the President a report that must remain secret until use is made of it."
"Yes," replied Pavey; "that is just the thing, and I might even tell you on what day President Roosevelt showed him the copy of the Matin, the 16th of September. On that day Mr. Roosevelt gave a party at Oyster Bay to some friends. On their return a terrific storm practically drenched every one of them and their names were given by the newspapers. Bassett Moore was among them."
The date of September 16th entirely corresponded with the arrival, some days earlier, of the paper I had sent on the 2nd of the same month, to President Roosevelt's summer residence at Oyster Bay.
This information was casting a brilliant light on the whole mysterious question of Mr. Roosevelt's dispositions.
He was listening to the advice of exerting coercion on Colombia, on the strength of the treaty of 1846. This fact clearly demonstrated that the mind and the will of the President were set on Panama. No fear of a turn toward Nicaragua was visible.
One question remained to be cleared. Of the two ways opened---coercion of Colombia by the United States or revolution of Panama by Amador---which was the practical one?
All my inclinations were for the former, but without a single exception all my friends declared that the coercion of Colombia would never be carried out.
"Do not forget, " they said, "that we are on the eve of presidential elections. Do not forget that Congress, in passing the Spooner Bill, has stated that the Nicaragua Canal would be finally adopted in case of a failure to obtain the concession from Colombia. To coerce Colombia would be considered a formal breach of the Spooner Law. Do not forget that the Nicaragua solution is by an enormous margin the more popular of the two. No president would dare to risk being accused of breaking a law to favour an unpopular project when the presidential elections are in sight, and when he has to be submitted to election. That would be the doom of the Republican party."
This argumentation was convincing and left Panama but one chance of survival: the Revolution, and it was a slender chance!
I decided henceforth to concentrate on that one object all my power of observation and of action. I left for Washington early in October, but nobody I knew in political life had returned from the country, and I came back without any information.
IMPORTANT INTERVIEW WITH PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT
On the 9th of October I returned to the American capital. I found at his office Mr. Frank B. Loomis, First Assistant Secretary of State, whom I had known in Paris while he was United States Minister to Portugal. I spoke to him of the Matin in which I had recently acquired an important proprietary interest.
"Then you ought to go and present to the President the compliments of the Matin. Do you know Mr. Roosevelt personally?" asked Mr. Loomis.
"I have not that honour, " I replied.
"I am going to telephone," said Mr. Loomis. "If the President is disengaged he will be glad to see you."
The quick answer was that the President was disposed to receive me that same day at 12 o'clock. I was, as may be understood, very happy to avail myself of this opportunity to talk over the delicate Panama question with the President himself, and to observe his attitude, and take the necessary soundings.
I was received with the characteristic open-heartedness which won for this remarkable man so many friends. We conversed about the Matin. I was awaiting an opportunity to bring up the Panama subject. Mr. Loomis having cited the publication of the famous bordereau in the Dreyfus affair, as being among the great achievements of Le Matin, I jumped at the opportunity. The bridge was found; I crossed it.
"Mr. President," I said, "Captain Dreyfus has not been the only victim of detestable political passions. Panama is another."
"Oh, yes," exclaimed the President, suddenly interested; "that is true, you have devoted much time and effort to Panama, Mr. Bunau-Varilla. Well, what do you think is going to be the outcome of the present situation? "
It was then or never. I could with a proper answer learn exactly what the President had in mind. I remained silent for a moment, and then I pronounced the following four words---in a slow, decided manner:
"Mr. President, a revolution!"
The features of the President manifested profound surprise.
"A revolution?" he repeated, mechanically. Then he turned instinctively toward Mr. Loomis, who had remained standing, impassive, and said in a low tone, as if speaking to himself: "A revolution? . . . Would it be possible? . . . But if it became a reality, what would become of the plan we had thought of?"
I had an intense desire to say to him: "Mr. President, the plan that you had thought of is coercion of Colombia, based on the treaty of 1846, as interpreted by Prof. Bassett Moore. I have supported this idea in an article in the Matin and added to it the doctrine of the Expropriation of Sovereignty for reason of International utility."
Of course I remained mute, and I concealed my joy at hearing the interrogation which had escaped from the mouth of the President. He quickly recovered himself, and asked:
"What makes you think so?"
There was no interest in going further. I answered:
"General and special considerations, Mr. President. As you know, the revolutionary spirit is endemic on the Isthmus. There is almost a certainty of seeing an endemic disease spread violently when the circumstances favourable to its development have reached their maximum. Colombia has decreed the ruin of the people of the Isthmus. They will not let things go any further without protesting according to their fashion. Their fashion is: Revolution. I have, furthermore, certain special indications that corroborate these general considerations."
The conversation ended there. I had no desire to speak further, and the President on his side did not care to hear more.
WHAT I GATHERED FROM MY VISIT TO THE PRESIDENT
I left the private office of the President, being finally in possession of all the elements necessary for action.
I had, at last, the direct confirmation of the deduction which thus far I had drawn solely from pure reasoning: "The President of the United States is holding firm for Panama."
If a revolution were to generate new conditions favourable to the acquisition of the Canal Zone by the United States, President Roosevelt would immediately seize the opportunity.
I was henceforth certain of this capital point, as certain as if a solemn contract had been signed between us. No word had been pronounced, no concealed meaning had been attached to any sentence which could constitute a tie between us. His liberty was as complete as my own.
I left Washington, having extracted the first and most essential of the unknown quantities from the problem confronting me. I had the basic thought of the American Government, as to the application of the Spooner Law, without having said anything or heard anything in confidence or under the guarantee of secrecy.
I CONCEIVE THE THEORY OF THE PANAMA REVOLUTION
I had the first unknown quantity: the dispositions of the President. It remained for me to discover the second one: How could a revolution be made successfully at Panama without the financial cooperation of the United States, and without the express promise of her military support?
The intense satisfaction I felt after finding the complete solution on the first equation led me to discover also what still remained concealed.
The great and apparently unsurmountable obstacle was the raising of a sum of $6,000,000 for the necessary armament. In trying to reduce this demand of Amador, the light suddenly flashed across my mind during the railway journey back to New York.
What was going to be the use of this $6,000,000, according to Amador? To buy ships, which would be equipped for war in order to sink Colombia's ships, and to prevent the transportation of her troops.
But toward what places were these military movements to be feared? Was it in the Isthmus itself? By no means, because the treaty of 1846 gave to the United States the right, and imposed upon her the duty, of turning any belligerents away from the line of transit.
All this costly war machinery would, therefore, be useful solely to protect the insurrection in the western part of the Panama province, near the frontier of. Costa Rica.
The Isthmus, properly speaking, was separated from this western portion by immense virgin forests, while toward the east it was separated from Colombia by an impassable wilderness.
What was the use of uniting, in the same revolutionary movement, these two groups of territory so distant and so distinct? Why be hampered by the irrational conception of the Department of Panama? Why not give, as territorial limits to the new Republic---at all events at the outset---the watersheds of the Chagres and of the Rio Grande?
The more I reflected on this new idea, the more clearly did I behold the solution of all the difficulties. In the basins of these two rivers, the common watershed of which passed by the summit of Culebra, there were no inhabitants who did not live within gunshot of the line of communication between the oceans.
The duty of the United States was precisely to exclude all fighting within gunshot of the line of the railroad.
THE OBLIGATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES
I had myself seen the United States, in 1885, performing her duty and preventing any fighting in this zone.
It may be recalled that in 1885 a revolutionary army, commanded by General Aizpuru, had seized Panama. The town once taken, the American troops had entered Panama to prevent disorder. But when it was seen that the Revolutionary Government was maintaining order, the American forces were withdrawn, and they confined themselves to garrisoning the railroad and its wharf, the sole means of communication with the Pacific Ocean.
Some days later two ships laden with Government troops tried to land at the wharf. General Reyes, who commanded the Colombian troops, was invited to withdraw, and the landing was forbidden by the American officer in command, Commodore MacCalla.
I had seen with my own eyes, therefore, in 1885, the Revolutionists protected from the aggression of the Government troops by the American military authorities. It was after the election of President Cleveland, when the Democratic party was in power. At that time the thought of making an American canal at Panama did not exist even in embryo.
The prohibition of fighting, within gunshot of the line of transit, had always been, without any exception, the principle enforced by the United States, with the consent and sometimes at the request of Colombia. It was a formal and direct consequence of the stipulations of the treaty of 1846. In the preceding year, 1902, the same principle had been reenforced at the very moment of the difficult negotiations with M. Concha, for the grant of the Canal concession to the United States.
In September, 1902, Commodore MacLean had forbidden all transportation of troops on the railroad. General Quintero, commander of the Colombian troops, and General Herrera, commander of the Revolutionary troops, had received the same notification. It was at a moment when the greatest care had to be observed not to hurt Colombian feelings.
How could it be doubted that the American forces would not act in the same manner one year later, at a time when Colombia had taken a decidedly hostile attitude?
No hesitation was possible. The solution had been found! The mysterious problem was solved! The final unknown quantity had been at last discovered and I had resolved the equation, as the French mathematicians say, in the most elegant manner.
It was no longer necessary to spend enormous sums for a useless navy. It was no longer necessary to present the impossible request for protection by American forces outside of the line of transit. Such a thing was indispensable to an insurrection covering the whole province of Panama, but it was eliminated entirely if the insurrection was limited to the Isthmus proper.
If a revolution was started from Colon to Panama the American forces were automatically, and without any anterior understanding, obliged to intervene. Their intervention would consist in forbidding any armed force to come within gunshot of the line of transit. All the villages, all the houses, all the inhabitants within that zone, would immediately enjoy all necessary protection.
Once such military protection was secured, the new republic could wait.
Would it---or would it not---be immediately recognized? To this question no answer could be given. But of the two political entities---the great protecting Power and the small protected Power---which had the greater interest to end such a ridiculous situation? It was evidently the United States, and furthermore she had the greatest interest in settling the Panama Canal question.
I EXPLAIN MY NEW SCHEME TO AMADOR
The more I thought of this new idea, the more simple, clear, decisive, it seemed to me. I had not been wrong when I had faith in the eventual solution of a problem which at first glance seemed unsolvable.
Before completely exposing these new ideas to Amador I thought it necessary to question him again as to the means of carrying out the revolution. As all the information which he furnished to me was in harmony with my new conception, I disclosed my plan to him---on the evening of Tuesday the 13th of October.
His attitude was sullen. Evidently his mind had for some months been accustomed to brooding over the idea of a contract with the United States such as novelists imagine. He saw himself associated with the President and the Secretary of State of the powerful Republic, and disposing of her millions for a common enterprise.
In spite of my efforts to make him comprehend the truth, he was certainly persuaded that such a plan as the one to which he was listening had been conceived at Washington, in the White House, and not in my own mind on the return journey to New York. A special circumstance certainly confirmed him in his conviction.
"You say," he interrupted, in a tone of rebuke, that with this plan there is no more need of money; but it will still be absolutely necessary. On the day following the revolution we shall have to pay the arrears to the troops."
"I admit it," I replied, "but $6,000,000 will not be necessary for that. There are 500 men. Let us put $20---$100 if you like---for each man. This makes $50,000."
"It is not enough," said Amador.
"Let us put $100,000 if you like," was my answer.
He was obliged to admit that $100,000 would be sufficient.
"Well, Doctor," I said, "it is a small sum. I shall probably be able to borrow it of a New York bank."
"What if you don't succeed?" he retorted.
"Well, I shall give it out of my own pocket," I said. "I can make such a sacrifice as that, but I could not give $6,000,000."
Evidently the idea that I could risk $100,000 .from my private means, to save the Panama undertaking, never entered the mind of the doctor. He certainly saw there the shadow of one of those mysterious treasures of the American Secret Funds which exist in fiction but nowhere else.
"No," said Amador, finally, "we cannot make the movement in that way. We all of us at Panama own more or less property in the rest of the province. The idea of cutting the province in two, when one part of it would remain to Colombia, while the Isthmus itself would be an independent republic, is unacceptable. It would discourage everybody."
"But I speak only of the first period," I retorted. "Once your independence is assured, and the treaty is ratified, you will have $10,000,000 with which you can wage war and conquer the rest of the province."
"No," he replied, "that wouldn't do."
I arose, growing impatient. "Doctor Amador," said I, "if you want to close your eyes, you will see nothing. You came on the 23rd of September, in despair, to ask me for support. To-day, October 13th, I offer it you. If you refuse it, well and good. I have nothing more to say."
We separated, coldly.
On the following day I was awakened early in the morning by two discreet knocks at the door, which I opened. It was Amador.
He was pale and his features were haggard.
"Have you slept?" he asked, by way of greeting.
"Very well," I answered. "And you?"
"Not one second," he replied, taking a seat. "But I have been thinking, and I have discovered that I am nothing but a fool. I understand. Pardon me. I shall obey."
"That is what I call a sensible speech," I said.
Well, there is nothing more to be said, as you at last understand. I must go to-morrow, Thursday, to Washington, for the inauguration of the Statue of General Sherman. I am invited by his niece, Mrs. Sherman MacCallum. I will perhaps find how to complete the cycle of my information. Prepare yourself to leave by the next boat, Tuesday, October 20th, for the Isthmus. On my return from Washington I will give you a precise programme of action. Now leave me, so that I can prepare it at leisure."
I wanted to be free from his presence to prepare a rational and mature plan, which I did not want to leave him the time to discuss in detail.
MY MEETING WITH MR. HAY, SECRETARY OF STATE
I intended, in going to Washington, not only to have time for quiet thought, but also to find an opportunity of becoming acquainted with Mr. Hay. I had met this eminent man once only, at the house of Mr. Bigelow, but I had not had the chance of speaking to him.
The opportunity arrived. I had gone to call on Mr. Loomis, in the State Department. Mr. Hay, whose office was next to Mr. Loomis's, entered to ask for some information. Mr. Loomis introduced me. Mr. Hay, with much courtesy, once the first greetings had been exchanged, invited me to his own office.
The subject of our conversation was, at first, our common friendship for Mr. John Bigelow. Our talk had scarcely begun when the usher entered and gave a card to the Secretary of State. I noticed a certain embarrassment on his features. I intervened:
"Mr. Secretary of State, I should be sorry if my unexpected presence were to interrupt your audiences. Please let me withdraw, and we will find a more convenient time to continue this conversation."
"I am, indeed, very embarrassed," answered Mr. Hay; "I want to talk with you on a subject which is giving me grave preoccupation: Panama. You certainly are better informed than ourselves.
On the other hand, I have to-day to receive the ambassadors, and it is difficult not to fulfil this other duty. It will take about one hour."
"It does not matter," I said, "I shall withdraw, .and it will give me great pleasure to come back when your receptions are over."
"Well, since you allow me," replied Mr. Hay, "let me send you word to fix an appointment, so that we may converse without fear of interruption."
Soon after I had reached my hotel a card from Mr. Hay was handed to me. He invited me to go and see him---not at the State Department but at his own house at three o'clock in the afternoon.
Such were the circumstances which permitted me to become acquainted for the first time with this many-sided and extremely able man.
I had always imagined him as severe and cold, a sort of "Iron Chancellor" of America. It was the impression given by his photographs and policy. How different he was when he had doffed his outside armour!
The constant desire of this delicate and refined mind was to obtain by political action the improvement of the moral and physical condition of man. He considered the United States as consecrated above all to this great task. In serving his country, as he did, with all the energy of his heart and mind, I doubt if he ever dissociated in his thoughts her interests from those of humanity.
He saw, in the opening of the Panama Canal, the greatest service which could be rendered to the human family. As his ideas coincided rigorously with my own on this subject a strong and reciprocal sympathy was soon established between us.
Together we deplored the blindness of Colombia. I told him what efforts I had made to show her the truth and how they had been baffled.
"When all the counsels of Prudence and Friendship have been made in vain," I said, "there comes a moment when one has to stand still and await events."
"These events," he asked, "what do you think they will be?"
"I expressed my sentiments on the subject some days ago to President Roosevelt," I replied; "the whole thing will end in a revolution. You must take your measures, if you do not want to be taken yourself by surprise."
"Yes," said Mr. Hay, "that is unfortunately the most probable hypothesis. But we shall not be caught napping. Orders have been given to naval forces on the Pacific to sail toward the Isthmians."
THE "CAPTAIN MACKLIN" : SYMBOL OR PASSWORD?
Our conversation then took a more general turn; we spoke of the facility with which in these countries political discontent takes a violent form.
"I have just finished reading," said Mr. Hay, a charming novel, 'Captain Macklin! It is the history of a West Point cadet who leaves the military academy to become a soldier of fortune in Central America. He enlists under the orders of a general, a former officer of the French army, who commands a revolutionary army in Honduras. The young, ambitious American, and the old French officer---who as head of the army displays in all his acts the generous disinterestedness of his race--- are both charming types of searchers after the Ideal. Read this volume, take it with you," concluded Mr. Hay, "it will interest you," and he handed it to me.
I carried away with me from this interview an emotion, the recollection of which will never be erased from my heart. I felt I had had the privilege of approaching one of the most noble characters it has ever been given me to know. The course of events was only to engrave this first impression more deeply on my mind. I have never ceased to have for the character of Mr. Hay an almost religious admiration.
I read "Captain Macklin" with an interest which may be easily understood. The chivalrous figure of the old French warrior, who is the hero of the history, corresponded perfectly to the description given by Mr. Hay. At the head of his half-wild army, in the virgin forest, he pursued undeviatingly the high aim of justice and progress. I could not help thinking that Mr. Hay, in giving me this volume, had meant to make a subtle allusion to my own efforts in the cause of justice and progress.
Perhaps he wished to go even further? Did he not intend thus to make me understand that he had the presentiment of the personal part I was playing, and which I had not revealed to him? Did he not wish to tell me symbolically that he had understood that the revolution in preparation for the victory of the Idea was taking shape under my direction?
Never did I undertake to clear up this delicate mystery, but I always acted as if "Captain Macklin" had been the subtle symbol, the password, exchanged between Mr. Hay and myself. This password explained that which concern for our honour prevented us both from expressing verbally.
NOTWITHSTANDING MR. HAY'S SILENCE, I KNEW ALL
The interview with Mr. Hay would have removed my last hesitations if hesitation had been any longer possible.
The Secretary of State had not feared to say that Washington expected a revolution in Panama, and that the United States had taken military precautions. They were probably the consequence of the formal assertion of opinion I had made to President Roosevelt, an assertion which the rumours current in the press entirely corroborated.
It only remained for me to act. The United States would have a sufficient military force in the neighbourhood of the Canal if the revolution broke out. I felt no doubt as to the only question which could burden my conscience: the security of the men who were to risk their lives on my word.
What would be the destiny of the new republic? There was but little interest in trying to determine that in advance. This chapter could be left to the eventualities of the future. As soon as I had become thoroughly convinced by a succession of repeated proofs, that my friends would be protected against the crushing load of the Colombian forces, my mind was free to prepare the events.
As soon as I left Mr. Hay's house I hastened to take the first train for New York.
When passing through Baltimore at 7:50 in the evening I sent a telegram to Amador saying that Jones expected him on the following morning at 9:30.
I GIVE AMADOR FULL INSTRUCTIONS
At the stated hour Doctor Amador knocked at the door of room No. 1162 of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
During my sojourn in Washington I had meditated over the precise plan of action, and I had written the necessary documents. As I was well acquainted with the hesitating temperament of Spanish-Americans, I had made it a point to have ready for Amador, before the day of sailing, all that he needed for immediate action. I had prepared the Proclamation of Independence; a methodical plan of the military operations, including arrangements for the defence of the Isthmus to be effected within the three first days; and, finally, a cipher code allowing Amador and myself to correspond secretly.
The Constitution of Cuba, which had just been drawn up by men of high legal talent, was to be the model for the Panama Constitution. It only remained to design the flag of the new republic.
I had realized during my journey back from Washington that nobody was better fitted than I rapidly to conduct the diplomatic negotiations, as no one knew better the ground at once in Washington, Panama, and Bogota. I had for several years thoroughly studied the situation in Washington. I had secured there important posts of observation which could easily be turned into centres of diplomatic action.
"Doctor Amador," said I, when he entered my room, "the moment has come to clear the deck for action. Be satisfied with my assertions. There is no more time for discussing their genesis.
"I can give you the assurance that you will be protected by the American forces forty-eight hours after you have proclaimed the new Republic in the whole Isthmus.
"Then will begin a delicate period, that of the complete recognition of the new Republic. The fight will be in Washington; I assume responsibility for it. I take also the responsibility of obtaining for you, from a bank---or of myself furnishing you ---the one hundred thousand dollars which are necessary to you. But my political and financial cooperation will begin only after you have completed what is incumbent upon you: the conquest of your liberty. This is your own work. If you do not feel yourself capable of establishing, without external aid, a new government in the Isthmus proper, remain quiet and do nothing. If you believe yourself capable, follow your free judgment. When you have done your work, when you have conquered and acquired your liberty, then will begin my part; I shall work for you and with you, so that liberty may be preserved to you.
"In order to make everything quite clear I have prepared a series of documents which I shall give you as suggestions. You will do with them whatever you deem wise. They are the programme of military operations, the Declaration of Independence, a base for the Constitution of the new Republic, and finally a code with which to correspond with me.
"I repeat, my official connections with this affair cannot, and must not, begin until you have broken your chains unaided and by your own hands.
"From that moment on, if ever the moment comes, a most important part will have to be played; it will consist in ensuring the permanence of the life of the entity you will have created, and its entrance into the family of nations. This part I sincerely believe nobody is better fitted to play than myself. I venture to say this, because nobody knows better than I the final aim, which is the completion of the Canal and the best way to attain it. It will, therefore, be necessary to entrust me with the diplomatic representation of the new Republic at Washington."
Doctor Amador had been listening to my exposÈ with a glow of enthusiasm in his eyes. The flame suddenly died out when I touched upon the question of diplomatic representation. This sudden change revealed to me that he had thought of some other person for filling this important post.
He tried---hesitatingly---to raise objections! The amour-propre of the Isthmians, he said, would be hurt by the choice of a foreigner for their first representative abroad.
"I can easily see that," I answered, "but a supreme law must dictate our resolutions. It commands us to assemble every element that may help to ensure final success. A battle royal will be fought at Washington; let him wage it who is best equipped to win the victory."
"But could not a Panaman be appointed whose obedience I would guarantee?" asked Amador. "You would dictate his acts and his words."
"No, my dear Doctor," I replied, "a solution of that order is of no value when on one word, on a single act, on a single minute, may depend the success or the reverse. Absolute liberty of decision and of action must be provided for him who commands. But this is only my advice. If it is not acceptable to you, to your friends, follow your personal inclinations. In such a case, you may still count on me to do everything within my power to help you, but at the same time I must tell you that I will not accept any responsibility, if you do not follow the line ensuring the maximum quantity of favourable chances."
Amador had listened to me with a distressed air. "Well," he said, "I will try to carry your point."
"Nothing remains," I added, "but to make the model of the flag. I am going to-morrow to join my family at Highland Falls on the Hudson, at the Bigelows', and I shall find there the agile and discreet fingers that will make the new flag."
We separated. I hastened to go and buy at the nearest shop the silk necessary for making the new Standard of this Republic, whose birth was to be the signal of the resurrection of the slaughtered enterprise, and later on the prime cause of the deadly defeat of its murderer.
I spent the rest of the day correcting and revising the documents I had prepared for Doctor Amador.
He came back in the afternoon, still preoccupied by the question of the plenipotentiary at Washington. Evidently his mind could not adapt itself to the argument I had developed. He was powerless to dispute its forcible logic, but he could not overcome the pressure of the secret ambition of himself being this plenipotentiary.
I inexorably maintained the necessary line of action. I could not admit that personal interest should interfere to lessen in any degree, however small, the chances of success of this difficult enterprise
THE FLAG MADE BY MME. BUNAU-VARILLA,
I left on the following day, Sunday, early in the morning, for Highland Falls on the Hudson, to join my wife and children, who were enjoying there the delightful hospitality of the Bigelow family.
Mme. Bunau-Varilla remained in her rooms in the greatest secrecy the whole day making the flag of liberation. Besides my wife, I took as a confidant my son, Etienne, then thirteen years old, in whose mind I desired to leave a trace of these dramatic moments.
It only remained to have a copy of all the documents made by a typist. A young woman totally ignorant of Spanish, and who acted in the capacity of secretary in the Bigelow family, came to New York for the purpose. She executed the work far from indiscreet eyes, in the then empty residence of the Bigelows at Gramercy Park.
On Monday, when I came back, I soon managed to get everything ready. Amador came to admire the flag, which he found perfect. Its design was the same as that of the American flag with these exceptions: for the white was substituted the yellow which characterizes the Spanish and Colombian flags, and instead of white stars distributed over the blue jack were placed two yellow suns united by a band of the same colour. These sups represented the two continents as the stars in the American flag represent the states of the Union.
I knew that this flag would be modified; and it was. But in Central America people are much quicker at modifying than at creating, and not a moment had to be lost after Amador's arrival on the Isthmus.
After having taken cognizance of both letter and spirit of the instructions that I had handed him, Amador said: "Fifteen days will be necessary after my arrival in order to carry out the movement."
"What!" I exclaimed; "fifteen days? It would be much simpler to say right away you are going to abandon everything. You leave to-morrow, the 20th of October; you arrive on the 27th. Within two days you could act."
"Yes-if I were alone," he replied; "but do you not know our friends? Conference after conference will be necessary!"
"That is true," I interrupted; "but what is still more true is that Colombia has massed troops at Carthagena with General Tovar, who at any moment may disembark on the Isthmus. What is possible to-day may be impossible to-morrow. You must act as soon as you arrive. Success will be the reward of rapidity and decision, as is always the case.
"Well," I said in conclusion, "I give you up to the 3rd of November as a final limit for action. If you have not accomplished the revolution on that day, or before, I shall consider myself free of all responsibility for further events."
"Give me at least till the 5th of November," implored Amador.
"No," I replied; "if you are not capable of doing within seven days what you declare yourself to be ready to do immediately, you demonstrate yourself incapable of winning your liberty, and you had better stay where you are and what you are."
Amador left me, saying he would be back on the day following at nine in the morning. He was to stop on his way to the wharf in order to take with him what I had prepared for the liberation of his country.
Before his return I prepared the cablegram that he was to send me in clear language, once the Republic was proclaimed. It was the summing up of our conditions, and drew the line definitely where Amador's action finished and mine began. It was conceived in these terms:
The Government has just been formed by popular acclamation. Its authority extends from Colon inclusive to Panama inclusive. I request you to accept the mission of Minister Plenipotentiary in order to obtain the recognition of the Republic and signature of Canal Treaty. You have full powers to appoint a banker for the Republic at New York, and to open credit for immediate urgent expenses.
I gave the text to Amador with these words:
"So long as you are unable to send me this telegram, no responsibility is incumbent upon me. From the moment I receive this telegram my responsibility will begin. It will then be my duty immediately to send you one hundred thousand dollars and within forty-eight hours to see that protection is extended to you. The only dangerous period for you will be from the moment the revolution begins to forty-eight hours after the telegram is handed to me."
Amador left me to embark, after solemnly affirming his complete agreement with me as to the conditions thus stipulated.
It was at this moment 9:30 A. M., Tuesday, October 20th, that the period of action began.
Some minutes later he reopened the door. "One word more," he said. "What must I do about Obaldia? He is now Governor of Panama. His sympathies are certainly with us. Must I disclose everything to him? Consider my situation if I say nothing to him. He is my lifelong friend; he is my guest at this moment; he eats at my table. I am in great perplexity."
"Do not take him for a confidant," I replied. "Do not place Obaldia between his sympathies and his honour."
Amador closed the door and left for the steamer.
I TAKE MEASURES TO PROVIDE $100,000
1 soon felt relieved from the tension of mind caused by the preparation of my instructions to the emissary in charge of this formidable enterprise.
I had now to think of placing myself in a condition to keep my promise with regard to the resources needed for the first days of the new Republic. I had seven days ahead of me.
My first idea had been to disclose the situation to Mr. Pierpont Morgan or to Mr. Isaac Seligman, with whom I was in personal relations. I had written to both of these gentlemen to ask for an appointment without saying for what purpose.
When the moment arrived I saw obstacles which I had not at first perceived. Was it likely that the representatives of such huge interests would run the risk of engaging in so dangerous an adventure? If the revolution was to fail the moral responsibility would be enormous for them. If it succeeded the profit would be insignificant. Would any banker ever be tempted where the alternatives were of such a nature?
An operation of that class could be acceptable only to a second-rate bank. But in such a case a commission would be demanded from the new Republic which would be in proportion to the risk, that is to say, very great. It would, later on, be considered as extortionate and usurious. On the other hand, in such a case, what could prevent the bank from making an easy speculation in Panama securities?
A revolutionary movement ending successfully would necessarily about treble the quotation in these securities. What would appear to me a contemptible speculation could not fail to be considered by a second-class banker as absolutely legitimate. And besides, if I raised the question of this eventual loan, I must necessarily disclose the secret plan. Who could guarantee that the secret would be kept? Who could guarantee that on the same evening a telegram would not be sent to Bogota, and that Colombian troops would not be hurried to the Isthmus and land at the same time as Amador?
All these considerations made it absolutely impracticable to contract a loan with third parties in the name of the new Republic.
I was bound by honour. I had no other alternative but to provide the funds from my personal means, and to run the risk myself of losing this important sum. It was the only way. to be assured that no indiscretion would be committed and no speculation attempted.
My resolution was made on the evening of Wednesday, the 21st of October. At I A. M. on the 22nd I cabled to two banks in Europe which held securities for me, asking each of them to loan me fifty thousand dollars. I requested them, in case they should agree to my request, to remit this sum immediately to the branch office "B" of the CrÈdit Lyonnais. This branch office was accustomed to make cable transfers for me during my sojourns in America, when I needed money for travelling expenses.
One cannot but admire the extraordinary elasticity of the financial mechanism of our days. I delivered my two cablegrams at the telegraph office on Thursday at 1 A. M., going to bed immediately afterward. I was awakened at 8 o'clock by a servant, who brought the first answer. At 11 o'clock the second one arrived. All was settled. The hundred thousand dollars had been sent to the branch office " B", where I could dispose of them at will. I had but to give the order for transferring them by cable to New York, which order was given the Sunday following. Before Amador arrived on the Isthmus I had at my disposal in New York one hundred thousand dollars at the bank Heidelbach, Ickelheimer & Co. I was ready.
This question once settled, and everything, therefore, being accomplished by Thursday morning, the 22nd of October, I had nothing more to do but await events.
THE COLOMBIAN GENERAL PROVIDENTIALLY LATE
I need not say with what anxiety every morning and evening I opened the newspapers. The fate of the Panama Canal depended upon the movements of the Colombian troops concentrated at Carthagena.
On the 26th of October I read in a newspaper with indescribable joy the following lines:
Barranquilla [a Colombian port on the Atlantic, close to Carthagena] announces that General Tovar who was expected to leave soon [for the Isthmus] may not do so before the beginning of November. He has received the order to make a report on the condition of the artillery of the forts at Barranquilla, Puerto, Colombia, Carthagena, and the harbours of the Atlantic.
On the other hand, on the previous day, October 25th, the New York Sun had published a telegram from Philadelphia, which had for me an extreme significance. It announced that the cruiser Dixie had sailed with sealed orders, taking with her 400 marines.
Three days later the papers printed a despatch from Washington which was published among others in the New York Times on the 28th of October, announcing that the Dixie was to arrive at Guantanamo, Cuba. The despatch added that, in case of a revolution in the Isthmus, the Dixie would be sent to Colon.
Another paper said that the marines would be landed on the Isthmus to maintain order along the line of inter-oceanic communication. The same despatch announced that another cruiser, the Nashville, was at Kingston, Jamaica.
Evidently the movements of Amador had been watched, and his departure for the Isthmus after his conference with me had raised suspicions of an early explosion of the revolution after the Colombian Congress had closed its session.
The sending of the Dixie to Guantanamo showed the preoccupation of the American Government. It did not disguise this preoccupation in its communication to the press. Does not this simple fact in itself give the lie to the absurd and prejudiced story of a revolution organized by the United States Government?
At Washington they had probably associated in their minds the departure of Amador and the prediction I had formulated in my interview with President Roosevelt on the 9th of October and with Mr. Hay on the 16th as to the imminent peril of a revolution. The conclusion which must have been reached was that the departure of Amador after his interviews with me was the beginning of revolutionary operations.
Mr. Hay had remembered my warning as to the danger of the United States being caught unaware by a sudden revolution. He had certainly issued the orders to have troops ready as soon as Amador had left. The Nashville was mounting guard at Kingston for the obvious purpose of flying to the Isthmus at first call. The intentions of the American Government were luminously shown by the whole set of facts.
Thus were rigorously confirmed all my anterior inductions.
Positively everything was working out with admirable precision and in accordance with my logical reasoning. Amador had nothing more to do but to set fire to the fuse before the arrival of the Colombian troops, and Panama was saved. To be still more certain I went to spend the 27th at Washington. I heard nothing to give me a fresh indication. It was the very day that Amador was landing at Colon.
AMADOR'S CRYPTIC TELEGRAM: I INTERPRET IT
On the 27th and 28th of October Amador gave no sign. There was nothing astonishing in that. I expected the great news on the 29th. Instead of receiving it, the following cablegram was handed to me at 9.45 in the morning:
TOWER, New York---Fate news bad powerful tiger. Urge vapor Colon.---SMITH.
The address, "Tower, New York," was that of Al. Lindo, the friend of Amador, who had sent him to me to ask for my support as soon as arrived in September.
He had undertaken to transmit the telegraphic secret correspondence between Amador and myself. But he was ignorant of their contents, which only the conventional code I had given to Amador could explain. In that way the despatches could pass without attracting the attention of the Colombian authorities. I deciphered with stupefaction the first words:
Fate.---This cable is for M. Bunau-Varilla.
News.---Colombian troops arriving.
Tiger.---More than 200.
None of the words which followed in the despatch---Urge vapor Colon---was in the code. It was therefore necessary to take their meaning in Spanish. It was: "Press steamer Colon."
The signature "Smith" meant "Amador."
The beginning of the despatch was perfectly clear. Amador announced the arrival within five days---that is on the 2nd or 3rd of November---of 200 Colombian soldiers on the Atlantic side. But what was the signification of the rest: "Press steamer Colon"? Nothing in my instructions to Amador could explain the mystery. The fact that these words were in plain language established that they did not refer to anything previously agreed.
Suddenly light dawned in my mind. I saw clearly the scene which had given birth to this curious and inexplicable message.
Amador had left the Isthmus when everybody was under the sway of the illusions created by the foolish and unrealizable promises which the first delegates of the insurgents had said had been made to him in New York. He and his friends were firmly convinced that he was going to be introduced to the Secretary of State, and that he was going to sign with him a regular convention. Everybody expected Amador to bring a veritable treaty vouching for the support of the American forces and the payment of six million dollars.
This fairy tale, like all prolonged chimeras, must have been gradually transformed into a firm belief. Instead of bringing this treaty, Amador returned with only the verbal assertion of a private individual.
To be sure every one of Amador's associates had known that person for a long time. To be sure they had complete faith in his word. But between believing in somebody's word and risking one's life because of such belief there is an enormous difference.
To overcome their resistance, Amador must have assured them that I was the spokesman of the American Government. Probably he had even persuaded himself of that nonsense. Had he not said to me with a mysterious air: "Who has suggested this to you? " on the day following my disclosure to him of my scheme of a Republic limited to the Isthmus proper?
When, therefore, he tried to persuade the reluctant confederates, one of them must have risen and said: "If Bunau-Varilla is so powerful let him prove it. He says we shall be protected forty-eight hours after establishing the new Republic. Well, we will believe him, if he is capable of sending an American man-of-war to Colon at our request."
This obviously was the interpretation of an otherwise incomprehensible cablegram. The more I considered the solution the more certain I felt that it was the right one. It was not information which was transmitted to me, it was a test to which I was being submitted.
I knew later on through M. Carlos Arosemena---one of the confederates who afterward became my Secretary of Legation and remained my friend---that this interpretation was rigorously true.
The arrival of the 9.00 Colombian soldiers was imaginary, and yet, by an extraordinary coincidence, this arrival did take place on the very date announced, November 3rd, as will be seen later on.
As soon as I understood the signification of the mysterious telegram I realized that it was incumbent upon me to fire the fuse. Amador had failed. It remained for me to set the machine in motion.
A MAN-OF-WAR, OR THE CANAL IS LOST
The whole question of the life or death of the Canal was condensed in the following words: "An American man-of-war must be sent to Colon." If I succeeded in this task, the Canal was saved. If I failed, it was lost.
After so many turns and twists of destiny the problem of its preservation was henceforth concentrated on this sole point. I could just as well think over it in the train as in my own room. If I could find the solution between New York and Washington I could act immediately on arrival there. Without further reflection I seized my valise and hurried to take the next train to Washington.
When I arrived my plan was settled. It was based on information that had appeared in the papers during the preceding days. Did they not say that the Dixie had brought troops to Guantamano in view of possible disturbance on the Isthmus? Did they not say that the Nashville was at Kingston? Evidently the Government was ready to land troops on the Isthmus. It was ready to fulfil once more its police duty, and to maintain order for the free circulation of the trains, as the treaty of 1846 compelled it to do.
It was only necessary, therefore, to exert a very slight pressure in order to turn the scale of fate. All that was necessary was to convince the American Government that its duty was to send a cruiser immediately, in anticipation of probable events, rather than to wait for their explosion.
I soon found the way to exert this slight pressure.
I had received the news of the arrival of Colombian troops for the 2nd or 3rd of November. I had a right to point out the possibility or even the probability of a conflict when they should land. I bad the right to recall that a conflagration, in a town built of wood, is the inevitable consequence of an armed conflict. I had the right to cite the historic example, which I had witnessed in April, 1885, of the destruction of Colon, in just such conditions. I had the right to say that I had also been a witness of the dire criticism to which Captain Kean, the commander of the Galena, had been subjected by American opinion for his inactivity in 1885. The American man-of-war, the Galena, was at the time in Colon waters. Her commander, Kean, had abstained from any attempt to prevent the fight, and had been violently attacked for his abstention.
When I left the train I had in my head the clear and decisive formula out of which would naturally result the action of the American Government and the despatch of the boat nearest to Colon.
Everybody I met asked me the question: "What is going to happen at Panama?" I repeatedly answered:
"Remember the date of November 3, 1903. That day will behold a repetition of what happened there on the 1st of April, 1885, the burning of Colon. The armed conflict, which will be the cause of the fire, is expected everywhere. It is spoken of publicly in the press. The only difference between 1885 and 1903 is that the blame will not be attributed to the captain of a man-of-war in the waters of Colon. It will rest on the Government of the United States itself. President Cleveland had sent a man-of-war, the Galena, which did not manage to interfere in time. To-morrow the disaster will be imputed to President Roosevelt for not having taken the slightest preventive measure. He will not have sent even a little cruiser."
I repeated this formula to all the friends I met. Of course according to circumstances I moderated its expression without dulling its point.
I called on Mr. Loomis in his own house, but I naturally suppressed everything referring to the eventual responsibilities of the government of which he was a member. Mr. Loomis was too acute an observer not to draw the conclusion himself. I understood, by the particular gravity of his expression, that the parable had struck home and that he clearly understood the imminence of a fresh and unexpected peril.
On the following day I was preparing to leave Washington before noon. To kill time I went out for a walk, uncertain as to the wisdom of paying a visit to Mr. Hay himself. My lucky star brought me face to face with Mr. Loomis near the White House.
"I have thought over what you said to me yesterday," said he; "this situation is really fraught with peril for the town of Colon. It would be deplorable if the catastrophe of 1885 were to be renewed to-day. If you have any news, please communicate it to me."
This request was to remain without results. I wrote to Mr. Loomis during the following days, but merely to tell him that I had no further news than had already been published in the press.
I took leave of him. There was no longer any need of seeing Mr. Hay. The words I had heard could have but one interpretation: "A cruiser has been sent to Colon." This cruiser could only be the one stationed nearest to the Isthmus, the Nashville. She was at Kingston at a distance of 550 geographical miles from Colon. She was a little boat of ten or eleven knots speed. Within two days she would cover the distance. Adding twelve hours for preparations, she would reach the Isthmus within two and a half days.
I CABLE THAT THE MAN-OF-WAR IS COMING
I left Washington at 11 o'clock for New York, and I quitted the train at Baltimore.
I went straight to the telegraph office and sent the following cablegram:
All right will reach ton and half obscure---JONES.
The signification was:
PIZA NEPHEWS [commercial firm of Mr. Lindo], Panama. All right will reach two days and half. This message is for Amador.---BUNAU-VARILLA.
In sending this cablegram I was certain it would produce no effect if the man-of-war did not arrive. If, contrary to my rationally established conviction, the American Government should take no measure of precaution, no evil could result from my message. Nothing would take place so long as the boat did not appear.
But if the American Government had really decided not to remain inert, confronted as it was by the clear and obvious duty dictated by circumstances, then the revolution was made---made because the connection between (a) the request to me for a boat and (b) the arrival of the boat, materialized in the eyes of the confederates the reality of the influence which Amador had asserted to them I possessed over the American Government.
Evidently they imagined the situation to be quite different from what it really was. They believed this influence to be of a direct and material order. They could not understand matters as they really were. They could not imagine that there was no material influence exerted, and that I was merely correctly and mathematically calculating the forces at play, among which the main ones were the duty and the interest of the American Government.
The despatch which was at last to fire the slow match, and thus determine the explosion on the Isthmus, was handed in at the Central Telegraph Office at Baltimore at ten minutes past noon on October 30, 1903.
As the despatch arrived on the evening of the same day, the confederates, counting two days and a half from that hour, could expect the man-of-war on the morning of the 2nd of November.
I left Baltimore and arrived in the evening in New York. I found there a new cablegram from Panama announcing the arrival of Colombian forces on the Pacific side for ten days later. I was asked at the end when the ship would arrive at Colon.
This despatch, delivered in New York at 7.10 in the evening, had evidently left Panama before the arrival of my despatch from Baltimore.
To this second question I answered as to the first one, relying on my mathematical calculation as to the probable course of events. I calculated what would be the likely date of the arrival of the naval forces which Mr. Hay had told me on the 16th of October had been ordered to leave for the Isthmus on the Pacific side. A telegram to the Evening Post of October 22nd had announced the departure of the Marblehead and the Mohican for a cruise in southern waters. Their true destination was evidently that to which Mr. Hay had alluded.
The distance from San Francisco to Panama is 3,277 geographical miles. It could be covered therefore in twelve or thirteen days at the velocity of from ten to eleven knots. The ships could arrive by the 3rd or 4th of November. Taking these calculations as a basis I wired that within four days there would be American ships on the Pacific, and within two days on the Atlantic side. I had reduced from two and a half days to two days the period indicated in my telegram from Baltimore, because more than nine hours had passed between the first and second despatches.
Thus was fixed on the day of the 30th the plan of future events.
REPLY TO THE CRITICISMS OF RATIONAL DIPLOMACY
Some people will perhaps criticize me for having thus announced future facts without possessing greater material certainty and in relying merely on logical conjectures.
My only reply to such critics is that they have not the slightest idea of scientific methods.
I built all this subtle diplomatic structure as a bridge is built: that is, by calculating its various elements, and not by trying to obtain direct information, which it would have been impossible to obtain.
The abstract operations of trigonometry led to results more certain than physical measurements, when both operations are possible, but in the majority of cases trigonometry alone can be used. I have made diplomacy as it were by trigonometry.
Such a method will, without doubt, seem incomprehensible to many minds. To these people I may reply that they are incapable of rising to the conception of a work such as that of Panama. They will never grasp the new processes which its realization will have made necessary in all the orders of mental activity. One may say to them what Pascal said to those who, wanting in the mathematical mind, discussed with him the infinitely small:
Adopt other professions. There are many such in which your mind could be useful. But for Heaven's sake do not exhaust yourself in trying to penetrate an order of ideas in which you will lose your time, and where your efforts will be futile.
THE DEPARTURE OF THE "NASHVILLE"
On the morrow of the following day, that is to say, on November 1, 1903, a despatch which rigorously verified my induction was published in the New York Times. The paper printed it under the title:
Nashville sailed---for Colombia?
Kingston, Jamaica, 31st Oct.
The American cruiser Nashville left this morning with sealed orders. Her destination is believed to be Colombia.
The Nashville had left on the morning of October 31st. With her speed of ten or eleven knots she was therefore due to arrive on the morning of November 2nd.
My prevision ought consequently to have become a reality, but things did not happen quite so exactly. It was in the evening---not in the morning, of November 2nd, that the Nashville dropped anchor in the harbour of Colon.
I waited until the 2nd of November, and then I sent to Doctor Amador a cablegram containing only the one word: "Boy." It meant: "Nothing has happened which requires modification." This was my final communication to tell him that the route was open, and that I did not perceive any obstacle.
The 2nd of November passed without any news. With the 3rd of the month expired the last day of the period of one week after the arrival of Amador at Panama which I had fixed for carrying out the revolution.
Deeply disturbed by this silence I went on the morning of the 3rd to the offices of Mr. Lindo. I wanted to prepare with his ordinary code a despatch which my conventional code did not allow me to send on account of its incompleteness. I wished to make a supreme appeal to the energy and courage of the people of the Isthmus. I had great difficulty in composing this despatch with a code adapted only to commercial operations.
As I left the building to go to the telegraph office a newsboy ran up to me and offered me the Evening Telegram. I bought it, and cast a glance at it. It announced the landing of General Tovar, and of the Colombian troops the very same morning at Colon, as well as the arrival, on the previous evening, of the Nashville. Nothing more---not a word of the slightest revolutionary movement.
Everything seemed to be irretrievably lost.
I destroyed the despatch I had prepared. I returned to the Waldorf-Astoria, heart-broken and in a state of complete despair. For the first time in my life I felt that the enterprise of Panama was forever dead. It was the supreme test of Destiny, for it was just at this very moment that the Phoenix was arising from its own ashes.
I spent the whole afternoon in a state of profound dejection. My dear wife tried to comfort and encourage me in this infinite sorrow. Finally, she prevailed on me to dominate my grief and to go with her to dine at Mr. John Bigelow's, where we had accepted an invitation.
ALL APPEARED TO BE LOST: ALL IS SAVED
When I returned to the Waldorf-Astoria at about 10 o'clock that evening a telegram was handed to me. It was in plain language, and signed by Amador. It ran thus:
Proclamada Independencia del Istmo sin sangre.(11) ---AMADOR.
The life of the great undertaking had been saved at the very moment when it seemed to be destroyed forever.
What had taken place?
The rumour of the arrival of the American man-of-war, that I had announced, had promptly leaked out and spread all over the Isthmus.
From the morning of the 2nd of November all the inhabitants of Colon were looking toward Kingston, hoping for the appearance of the ship symbolizing American protection.
As the hours passed disappointment gradually invaded all hearts.
Toward nightfall despair was general, when suddenly a light smoke arose in the direction of the northeast.
This was a ray of hope! If it was the liberator!
Little by little the smoke thickened, the ship emerged above the horizon, and soon the Star-Spangled Banner dominated the Bay of Colon.
A burst of delirious enthusiasm shook the whole Isthmus.
It was really true: Bunau-Varilla had effectively obtained for the unfortunate country the protection of the powerful Republic!
At this moment, without one word having been uttered, the revolution was accomplished in the hearts of all. The regime of Colombian tyranny was over!
The people were so intoxicated with joy that serious business was postponed until the following day. Instead of supplying the wharves of Colon with an armed force to prevent a possible landing of the Colombian troops, nothing was done. The presence of such an armed force would have entailed the immediate interference of the American cruiser, and prevented a landing which would have provoked disorder. But the confederates had forgotten this detail in their blind happiness.
It happened that this arrival of the Colombian troops ---which they had invented in order to justify the despatch: "Press steamer Colon"---took place the very same day they had announced.
On the morning of the 3rd of November General Tovar arrived quietly with about five hundred soldiers.
It was the news which the Evening Telegram had brought to me.
This unexpected event awoke the confederates. The employees of the Panama Railroad availed themselves of various technical pretexts to delay the formation of a special train required for the troops.
General Tovar took the train for Panama, leaving his troops behind him at Colon.
Meanwhile the patriotic excitement determined by the arrival of the Nashville was steadily gaining on the entire population, as well as the garrison of Panama.
The aged Doctor Amador set the example. He went to the barracks, and started the whole movement by having General Tovar and his officers arrested by General Huertas, commander of the Panama garrison.
The Independent Republic of Panama was immediately proclaimed.
The revolution had been made without shedding a drop of blood. It was due to the unanimous explosion of a whole nation, which refused to be stifled by the policy of Bogota, a policy now known to have been inspired by the diplomacy of the Boche against the United States.
But, as it happens with nations weakened by a long military oppression, this explosion had taken place only when the people felt they were no longer alone.
This revolution, which it would have been so easy to accomplish from the 27th of October, when there were no obstacles in the way, was accomplished in face of the dreaded troops of the tyrant. If these troops had arrived twenty-four hours earlier nobody would have made a move. But they had landed twelve hours after the symbolic arrival of the Nashville had fired in all hearts the spark of hope, and thus restored general self-confidence. People had seen therein the extended hand of the powerful neighbour republic. And that proof of friendship had made all hearts beat more quickly and raised everybody's courage.
The Republic of Panama had therefore been born; and it had sprung from a legitimate revolt against the most intolerable oppression.
REVOLUTION NOT FOMENTED BY THE U. S.
Colombia can say to-day that the Republic of Panama was born owing to American protection. This is true if the word "protection" is understood as expressing solidarity between the mighty and the weak in the defence of common and legitimate interests. It was not born from a conspiracy fomented by the American authorities. It developed out of the simultaneous and parallel, but distinct, movements in two separate spheres of the same aspiration: the completion of the Panama Canal. Everyone remained in his proper place and acted his legitimate part.(12)
Mr. Roosevelt, during the first revolutionary attempts, avoided anything which could resemble collusion. The abandonment of Amador, by those who had promised him everything, was the obvious demonstration that the American Government had refused to lend itself to anything of a compromising character. The action of President Roosevelt was as correct as it was active and resolute.
Colombia can brandish her titles of property over the Isthmus. Her claim is that of Shylock asking for the pound of flesh. The title of Shylock was also perfectly well established, but his claim was untenable.
The claim of Colombia is, and will remain, untenable, because she herself forfeited her rights by her policy, the Boche policy. Her rights challenged superior rights: the right of a nation to exist; the right of humanity to circulate. She had violated the very basis of her sovereign rights, namely, the duty of the sovereign to protect his subjects.
With a stroke of the pen she had condemned the whole of the population of one of her provinces to destruction in order to satisfy German greed.
With a stroke of the pen she had challenged the whole of humanity which had a preeminent right of way across the Isthmus.
With a stroke of the pen she had cynically announced her will to confiscate from the French share- and bond-holders all that still remained from the wreck of their great enterprise.
With a stroke of the pen she had disavowed her contract for the extension of the term of the French concession, on the pretext that certain formalities had not been fulfilled, whereas through her own fault it had been a physical impossibility to fulfil them.
These are the violations of superior rights which made the Revolution of Panama the most legitimate of protests against tyranny. These are the violations of superior rights which vitiate the protests of Colombia, as the very object of the contract of Shylock vitiated his claim for its judicial execution.
IMMEDIATE CONSEQUENCES OF THE REVOLUTION
I shall not expand upon the incidents following the Revolution of Panama because they form part of that portion of the history which can be read in the public press.
Thanks to the valiant decision of the Isthmian population and of her leaders: Amador, Arango, Arias, Carlos Arosemena, and others, I had torn the Isthmus and its precious waterway from the Colombiano-German tyranny.
I then demonstrated to Secretary Hay that the laurels of final victory would belong to the quickest action.
The American Government, completely independent from any embarrassing connivance with the revolutionists, was free to act.
The Panama Government delegated to me unlimited powers to represent the Republic not only before the Washington Government, but also before all governments having embassies or legations at Washington.
I could act immediately, and the antipathy generated universally by the inadmissible attitude of Colombia found its expression in the action of all governments of the earth.
The German Government did not care to be set aside and to show by its attitude what was its part in Colombian politics. It recognized Panama almost as soon as the other nations did.
The successive events followed with a dazzling rapidity.
The Panama Revolution took place on November 3, 1903. Three days afterward, on November 6th, the new Government was recognized de facto by the United States; ten days afterward it was recognized de jure by President Roosevelt; thirteen days afterward it was recognized de jure by the Republic of France---fifteen days afterward I signed the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty which granted the Canal rights in perpetuity to the United States, guaranteed the protection of Panama, and asserted anew the rights of the French Company; thirty days afterward---on December 2nd---the treaty was ratified by Panama. Finally, on the 23rd of February, 1904, it was ratified by the Senate of the United States without changing a word of its text, and became the law of the land.
The rapidity with which this most important document was made is worthy of mention.
After my official reception by the President as Minister Plenipotentiary of the Panama Republic, on Friday the 13th of November, I urged Secretary Hay to conclude with the greatest speed the treaty that was to replace the Hay-Herran Treaty.
Two days later, on Sunday the fifteenth, he sent me the draft of the treaty he proposed, which was the Hay-Herran Treaty with insignificant modifications. I saw many flaws in that treaty which could be used by the opposition to raise innumerable obstacles to its ratification. I began on the following day, the 16th, at 6 A. M., to write a completely new one; at 10 P. M. it was finished and I took it myself to Secretary Hay's house. As he had retired, I brought it back home and sent it early the following day, the 17th of November.
In the course of the day I had a conference with the Secretary of State. He complimented me on the clearness of the new text. He agreed to all my proposals and we settled the thorny question of the neutrality of the waterway. At 6.40 in the evening of the 18th of November the treaty, drawn up in sixteen hours two days earlier, was signed without any other modification than, in Art. II, the substitution of "leases in perpetuity" by "grants to the United States in perpetuity the use, occupation, and control."
In spite of the most violent attacks in the Senate the text was of such strong tissue that not one hole could be made in it. It stands to-day, as it was, when Mr. Hay and I signed it sixteen years ago.
I have given a full account of these very interesting senatorial debates in my book: "Panama; the Creation---the Destruction---the Resurrection." As the Boche conspiracies organized to wreck the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty---though they may have been to some extent influencing this particular battle---were not very clearly apparent I shall not expand on this matter. I refer the reader who may be interested in it to my book of 1913 just mentioned.
THE HOUR OF THE RESURRECTION
Two formalities remained to be fulfilled: the proclamation of the treaty by the President of the United States, and the exchange of ratifications.
The former took place on February 9.5, 1904, and the latter on the day following.
At eleven o'clock in the morning Mr. Hay and I exchanged the two treaties duly ratified by our respective governments.
In placing our signatures beneath the Act which registered this great fact we rang the hour of the resurrection of the Panama Canal.
It was for him and for myself one of those moments which remain engraved in the memory for the rest of one's life. We were both of us deeply moved.
Two strokes of a pen were sealing forever the Destiny of the Great Thought which had haunted Humanity during four centuries.
In an instant I beheld, focussed before my eyes, the efforts and the struggles of the centuries to wring from Nature its mystery, from Man his prejudices.
I thought of all those heroes, my comrades in the deadly battle, worthy grandsons of those Gauls who conquered the Ancient World, worthy sons of those Frenchmen who conquered the Modern World, who fell in the struggle against Nature, a mile on their lips, happy to sacrifice their lives to this work which was to render still more dazzling the glory of French genius.
I thought of the shameful league of all the passions, of all the hatreds, of all the jealousies, of all the cowardices, of all the ignorances, to crucify this great Idea, and with it all those who had hoped, through its realization, to give France one more glorious page in the history of Humanity.
I thought of my solitary work, when I went preaching Truth on the highways.
I thought of the untold number of stupidities I had had to destroy, of prejudices I had had to disarm, of insults I had had to submit to, of interests I had had to frustrate, of conspiracies I had had to thwart, in order to celebrate the Victory of Truth over Error and mark at last the hour of the Resurrection of the Panama Canal.
Mr. Hay silently shared my deep emotion, because he had been the witness of the last four months of efforts, and his mind travelled back with mine over the twenty years which had preceded them.
The two signatures once appended we shook hands and I left him simply saying: "It seems to me as if we had together made something great."
I went on, having at last unburdened my heart of the load which had so long weighed on it.
I had fulfilled my mission, the mission I had taken on myself; I had safeguarded the work of French genius; I had avenged its honour; I had served France.
EPILOGUE OF THE REVOLUTION
WHEN I left the Department of State I went to the first telegraph office to inform the Government of Panama that I had accomplished my task, and that at the same time, as Minister Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Panama, I considered my mission ended. Soon after, the American Government made use of the rights of option which had been granted by the New Company in January, 1902. Two prominent jurists, Messrs W. A. Day, Assistant Attorney-General of the United States, and Charles W. Russell, special Assistant Attorney-General of the United States, came to Paris to execute the deed. They signed it on April 22, 1904, and it became binding on the morrow by ratification at the meeting of the shareholders of the New Company.
After paying $40,000,000 to J. P. Morgan & Co. for their subsequent transfer to the New Company, the American Government resumed on the 4th of May the work of completion of the great French undertaking after fifteen years, four months, and twenty days' practical suspension of activity.
I will mention three among the various expressions of gratitude which came from the most distant sources, and which my friends symbolized in the gift of an admirable medal by Chaplain. I take these three examples because they express the sentiments of the governments of the three interested countries.
The Government of the French Republic immediately conferred upon me the Cross of Officer of the Legion of Honour. It was the first distinction connected with the Panama Canal given since the downfall of the Old Company in 1888. This promotion in the Legion of Honour from the rank of Knight to that of Officer possessed, in the circumstances, a significance particularly precious to me.
Secretary Hay interpreted the sentiments of the Government of the United States. He wrote when the French Government had shown me, as I have just stated, its appreciation of my services to France---this simple and eloquent testimony of his government's appreciation of my services to the United States:
It is not often given to any man to render such a service to two countries and to the civilized world as you have done.
As to the Republic of Panama the expression of her gratitude came later, but it was all the more eloquent and explicit.
When Doctor Amador died, after having filled the office of President of the Republic, I recalled the decisive and courageous part he had played in the liberation of his native land.
I wired, the 3rd of May, 1909, to President Obaldia, Amador's successor, the following message:
At the moment of the death of your illustrious predecessor, I wish to express to Your Excellency how much I share the sorrow of the Republic which he has contributed to establish.
His name will remain forever associated with the work of the Union of the Oceans, a thing which would have remained a chimera without the formation of the Republic of Panama.
My mind goes back with emotion toward those tragic moments of September, 1903, when Amador, betrayed and abandoned, came to confide to me his despair, and when we undertook together the liberation of the Isthmus, which has formed the base of the realization of the "Straits of Panama."
His heroic patriotism led the revolution of November 3rd to a successful issue.
The slaying of Oppression has unchained Progress.
On May 13, 1909, 1 received the following answer from President Obaldia:
I am grateful to you for the share you take in the sorrow caused by the death of President Amador. The remembrances you recall have deeply moved the public sentiment.
It is a page of our history.
Our people will keep eternally engraved in their memory your fruitful services, and will put in a preeminent place the names of Amador and your own.
The national gratitude gives them the title of "Benefactors of Panama."---OBALDIA.
I HAVE now led the reader through the labyrinth of the boche intrigues and conspiracies of which Panama was the centre from 1888 to 1903, that is during fourteen solid years.
When a child of eleven years I witnessed, with teeth set and fists clinched, the collapse of France in 1870-71. Destiny made this child, fifteen years later, to be the chief engineer of the Panama Canal.
During the thirty-four years which lapsed from 1885 to 1914 two ambitions filled my brain and my heart.
What I desired far more than any other material or moral satisfaction was, first, to see the immortal creation of the French genius at Panama finally completed for the utility and the service of civilization; second, to see France washing the slate of history with Prussian blood, and writing-with her own in luminous letters---the date of her triumph.
I always lived with the hope that I should see the second phase opened soon after the completion of the first.
By an extraordinary coincidence the glorious war of 1914 began on the very same day that the first ocean steamer passed from the Atlantic to the Pacific, across the Central American Cordillera.
I was on that steamer, the Cristobal, on the 3rd of August, 1914. The acclamations of those who saluted the conclusion of the greatest marvel of the Old and of the New World seemed to me as the distant echo of the roar of the guns defending the holy soil of France against her vile invader.
The simultaneity of these two parallel ambitions has led me naturally to observe connections between the two orders of facts which escaped other people's attention. I could see distinctly the thin and dissimulated threads which linked the German conspirators and the Panama problem through the political events of France, of the United States, of Colombia, and of Venezuela.
The Battle of Verdun has brushed off my right leg from above the knee, but as Stephane Lauzanne wrote me, it has left intact my brains and my heart.
I am profoundly happy to be able---thanks to this providential preservation---to expose publicly these mysterious threads which so long were visible to me alone.
I have shown that everything points toward the hand of the Boche, in the submarine mine which, in 1888, stranded the financial ship, on which was the fortune of the Panama enterprise.
I have shown, in reproducing a letter written and published in 1906, that the author of the article which in 1892 sank forever the French Canal Company, the De Lesseps Company, is Ernest Judet the journalist of then great repute, who is now indicted for high treason committed during the Great War.
I have shown how these deadly conspiracies aimed at the destruction of the moral health of France, at the cutting of all the sinews which a nation requires in order to wage war: Confidence in herself, Confidence in her leaders!
I have shown how I was able to countercheck these perfidious as well as nefarious plots, and, after ten years of struggle, rehabilitate French Genius in bringing about the adoption by the United States of the foreign-French solution of Panama, in preference to what was held for the National-American solution of Nicaragua.
I have shown how-after undergoing that defeat and, even before, when it was looming above the horizon---the Boche changed his batteries and laid snares both in Colombia and in Venezuela simultaneously to obtain possession of the Canal itself and of a naval base in Venezuela from which to exercise a military control on its gate on the Atlantic.
I have shown how the Venezuelan snares, laid at the beginning of 1902, were destroyed at the end of the same year by the audacious, energetic ultimatum of President Roosevelt.
I have shown how the Boche, when beaten a second time, after having for a moment appeared to relax his intrigues in Colombia, renewed them with the further addition of criminal pressure during the year 1903.
I have shown how the Colombian ruling element played hand-in-glove with the German conspirators during the year 1903; rejected the Hay-Herran Treaty with the United States; rejected all propositions to fix conditions for a new treaty to be substituted for the Hay-Herran Treaty; decided to adopt the attitude necessary for carrying out the confiscation of the French property in October, 1904, with the obvious intention to transmit that property to Germany disguised under the camouflage of a Colombian stock company.
I have shown how I was fortunate enough to frustrate entirely this dastardly plan by the organization of a rebellion on the Isthmus and by the formation of the New Republic of Panama. This rebellion was the most sincere expression of the legitimate revolt of a nation of two hundred and fifty thousand people, who claimed to have the right to dispose of themselves and not to be crushed under the egoistic plan of the Colombian tyrant.
The Revolution of Panama formed the culminating and victorious point of the history of the Great Adventure of Panama.
I have shown how the new-born Republic was welcomed into the world by the great man whom the United States had chosen for her president, Theodore Roosevelt, and how he and his coadjutor, John Hay, accepted the treaty which I had drawn up and which ran the gauntlet of all the exasperated attacks of those whose political, technical, financial, egoistical interests had to be sacrificed to the Juggernaut car of Progress and Justice, and which, after nearly one hundred days of desperate struggle, was ratified by the American Senate without reservation nor modifications.
I have shown how this triumphal, this noble end of the Great Adventure of Panama not only dismantled the strong positions which the Boche had erected against France and against the United States, but formed the base of the moral rapprochement of these two countries and, in one word, rejuvenated the Franco-American friendship practically destroyed, in 1870, as the result of the Boche-suggested Mexican Expedition.
I have shown how this great moral influence was used by President Roosevelt in 1905 to paralyse the German aggression prepared for that year, and by President Wilson, in 1914, to prevent the interdiction of exporting American munitions of war, and in 1917 to unchain the long-hoped-for American intervention.
I have not shown, but it is useful to say this after the three successive defeats of the Boche conspiracies affecting Panama in 1902 and 1903, that a new Boche conspiracy was formed in 1908 always aiming at the military control of Panama. The object of this last conspiracy was the purchase of the Galapagos Islands from Ecuador by Germany, which islands command the entrance of the Canal on the Pacific Ocean.
It failed also, thanks to the vigilance of Elihu Root, Secretary of State of the United States.
But still later on, in 1914, just before the beginning of the Great War, Germany again attempted to inject itself into the military domination of the Panama Canal. She claimed with diplomatic, violence to have the right to participate in the control of the Haytian Customs. Had the war resulted in a German victory, Hayti would have become for Germany an admirable base for launching blackmailing expeditions against Washington.
Let this sincere account of the cleverness and persistence of the Boche conspiracies from 1888 to 1914 cause us to meditate on their danger in national politics, and on the havoc they can create.
Let us keep a careful eye on all the feeders coming from Germany through the financial, economic, religious, political associations, when their General Staff has its head in Germany or in states associated with her.
They are the natural transmitters of her subtly disguised and criminal intrigues. The more innocent the nature of these associations appears to be the less innocent-and the more fraught with danger-it actually will be, inasmuch as the Boche will undoubtedly so manipulate the credit and the authority derivable from those associations as to make them subservient to the promotion of his nefarious and poisoned conspiracies.
Let the governments of the United States, of Great Britain and France establish a system to watch these Boche conspiracies and prevent their nefarious consequence.
Let the governments of these three great nations always remember that their union was the principal cause of the victory-and will be the only but powerful factor of the maintenance of the Peace.
Let the great triangle of the Atlantic: America, Great Britain, and France form the base of future civilization.
Let the lessons drawn from the great Adventure of Panama show to each of them that the Trinity of the Tricolor must henceforth lead Humanity and prohibit the Nefarious Black and White of Prussia from preparing its crimes for the conquest of the World and the destruction of all non-Germanic races.
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