Panama Canal Diplomacy & Construction I

Lead: The construction of the Panama Canal was as much a triumph of manipulative diplomacy as it was the result of engineering genius. It took nearly a century to be set right.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: At the end of the nineteenth century the great powers of Europe were scrambling to absorb the few remaining parts of the world free of empire. In 1898 they were joined by the United States which in that imperial summer in short order had come to control Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Hawaii. However reluctant, the United States now was a colonial power with holdings in two oceans, and desired, needed and planned a canal to shorten the travel time between them.

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Panama Canal Diplomacy & Construction II

Lead: In 1903 the United States wished to construct a canal across the Isthmus of Panama. There was a little problem, however. Columbia refused America the rights of passage.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Phillippe Bunau-Varilla was a French engineer, born in Paris in 1859. At the age of twenty-five he joined a contracting firm that sent him to Panama to work on the canal in the last years of France’s great attempt to build a land bridge across the Isthmus. When, through corruption and exhaustion, France turned its back on the canal project, Bunau-Varilla considered this a moral and political catastrophe. He was determined that the canal should be finished, no matter who completed it. If France would not rise to the task, he would help the United States.

In 1903 the Colombian Senate rejected the Hay-Herrán Treaty giving the United States the right to construct the canal in Panama. With the way blocked by Colombian patriotism, Bunau-Varilla began to meddle in Panamanian politics.

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Panama Canal Diplomacy & Construction IV

Lead: Using the leverage of independence to win control of the Panama Canal zone, the United States took a century to give it back.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After receiving tacit encouragement from President Theodore Roosevelt, French engineer Phillippe Bunau-Varilla, who life obsession was determined to see the Canal built, assured Amador Guerrero, the future President of Panama, that the U.S. would back his revolution against Colombia. The condition for such support was that the Americans have a free hand in the construction and operation of the Canal. In a room at the Waldorf Hotel in New York, on October 13, 1903 Bunau-Varilla offered $100,000 of his own money to grease the process. Amador went home and he and his allies set the revolution in motion. At that time Panama was part of Colombia which had rejected U.S. offers for the canal zone. Panamanians separated the officers of what few Colombian troops were in Panama and on November 6th, with little loss of life, the Republic of Panama was proclaimed.

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Panama Canal Diplomacy & Construction III

Lead: The construction of the Panama Canal depended on the United States securing the right to build and operate it. Such was impossible until the U.S. engaged in a little nation-building.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In August 1903, the Colombian Congress, in a burst of patriotic fervor rejected the Hay-Herrán Treaty. Amid a flood of anti-treaty oratory, Colombians denounced this as a shameful sellout of rights to the Yankee colossus and poured out invective on their leaders who had so violated Yankee honor. When he received word that Colombia wished to re-negotiate the Treaty, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt sent a note to John Hay, his long-suffering Secretary of State, “Those contemptible little creatures in Bogatá ought to understand how much they are jeopardizing things and imperiling their own future.” Hay and Roosevelt began to quietly interfere in Colombian affairs.

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Edison vs. Westinghouse II

 

Lead: In the 1880s, two of America’s great entrepreneurial innovators, George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison, were locked in a battle over electric distribution.

Intro.:  A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Edison was an advocate of direct current, DC, which sent power at low voltage, much like a battery in a flashlight, down the circuit from generator to appliance. It was expensive and cumbersome. Westinghouse was promoting a new type of electrical distribution system, which sent very high power back and forth between the power plant and the electrical application. To solve the high-voltage problem, Westinghouse acquired the inventions of two European engineers, Lucien Gaulard and John Dixon, and lured away from Edison the creative genius, Nikola Tesla. Soon he had perfected the distribution system for alternating current (AC). Power would leave the station at 500 volts, hit transformers along the line and be reduced to 100 volts, sufficient for distribution to customer’s homes.

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LFM: P-51 Mustang

Lead: For 400 years service men and women have fought to carve out and defend freedom and the civilization we know as America. This series on A Moment in Time is devoted to the memory of those warriors, whose devotion gave, in the words of Lincoln at Gettysburg, the last full measure.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the run-up to the Normandy invasion, the Allies faced a daunting problem. They had to secure air superiority in order to insure the invasion’s success. This meant that they had to destroy the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force. As long as Germany could continue to produce ample quantities of high quality fighter aircraft such as the Messerschmitt 109 and continue to train and bring experienced pilots on line, then the goal of removing German air power would go begging.

LFM: Du Pont’s Saltpeter Mission

Lead: For 400 years service men and women have fought to carve out and defend freedom and the civilization we know as America. This series on A Moment in Time is devoted to the memory of those warriors, whose devotion gave, in the words of Lincoln at Gettysburg, the last full measure.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the fall of 1861, Lammot du Pont left on a secret mission. Federal stocks of saltpeter, used in making gunpowder, were running dangerously low.

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Last Full Measure- C-Rations

Lead: For 400 years service men and women have fought to carve out and defend freedom and the civilization we know as America. This series on A Moment in Time is devoted to the memory of those warriors, whose devotion gave, in the words of Lincoln at Gettysburg, the last full measure.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: They have survived brutal blizzards, blinding sandstorms and fallen thousands of feet from planes and helicopters. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines both hated and loved their C-rations. In the 1930's, the Army subsistence laboratories were given the responsibility of creating food rations that could survive perilous situations. Previously, water-and-flour wafers, something like biscuits, and bitter chocolate bars were the mainstay for soldiers in the field. Unfortunately, they were repulsive and often crumbled or melted in the heat.

 

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