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Colonial Panama—Spanish, Colombian, and Panamanian-American
The story of the Panama Canal is one told many times by many different people for different purposes. An official version is Office of the Historian, United States Department of State,"Building the Panama Canal, 1903–1914".
The best single work on the history of the building of the Canal is David McCullough, The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870—1914. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1977. Also see, Donald J. Mabry, "Crossing the Isthmus of Panama before the Canal", Donald J. Mabry, "Acquisition of the Panama Canal", and Donald J. Mabry, "Panamanian Relations Since 1903", all available on the Historical Text Archive.
The chapter excerpted from this 1913 book reveals the attitudes held by most Americans towards Panama, its people under Spanish rule, the Canal project, and the people (natives, Jamaicans and other West Indians, Frenchmen, and Americans). Abbot disabuses the reader of the notion that nothing important existed in Panama before the United States took over the canal project in 1903. Nombre de Dios, Porto Bello, and San Lorenzo were important places in the Spanish New World Empire.
Panama and The Canal in Picture and Prose. A Complete Story of Panama, as well as the history, purpose and promise of its World-Famous Canal - The Most Gigantic Engineering Undertaking Since the Dawn of Time. New York, Syndicate Publishing Company, 1913, pp.45-74. Watercolors by E. J. Read and Gordon Grant
Abbot was born on March 16, 1863 in New Haven, Connecticut. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1884 and married three years later. He was managing editor of the Chicago Times in 1892–93. In 1896–98 he edited the New York Journal. He subsequently worked for the New York American. Abbot then worked for the New York Journal in 1921 but in 1922 he became editor of the Christian Science Monitor, a position he held for five years. He wrote numerous books on military and maritime subjects, including this one, a year before the Canal was officially opened.
His comments about Nombre de Dios, Porto Bello, and San Lorenzo, important places in the Spanish New World Empire, are not usually included nor are the numerous images he includes. His work gives us fascinating insights. The pdf format preserves both text and images.