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The Cowboy and the Canal: How Theodore Roosevelt Cheated Colombia, Stole Panama, and Bamboozled America

Thcowboy 3 de Cowboy and the Canal is untypical in that it is predominantly informed by a collection writings by commentators, historians, editors, politicians, public figures, and newspaper reporters that were contemporaries of events—actually living through, alongside, and with the events—rather than a reliance upon reinterpretation of modern historians and thinkers comfortably removed from events by time. The intent of this philosophical hermeneutic approach is to allow the collective comment of the people and events that the culture was immersed within, to speak. In essence the voices of the critics of Roosevelt—and there were many—have been filtered out through the traditional process of analysis of and agreement with historians viewing the work of other historians. We are left then, with versions of Roosevelt that echo each other. Although the voices of opposition were viable and vital at the time, traditional approaches have rendered them subalterns—disappeared—from the conversation.

            Drawing directly from primary sources— newspaper accounts, political cartoons, Congressional records, books, photographs, and letters, the narrative ripens into a fully developed history of how Roosevelt’s intolerance for opposition, his insatiable political ambitions, his hypermasculine and racist imperialist perspective created the perfect ally for the unappeasable gluttony for riches of powerful industrialists and capitalist investors. Together, Roosevelt, his family, and the “Panama Lobby” created became an unstoppable force that imposed its will over the objections of most Congressmen, much of the public, and a preponderance of the press.

Available in

Hardcover: ISBN-13: 978-0989682794
PaperbackISBN-13: 978-0990441915
Kindle: ASIN: B00MB0PIL8


The Cowboy and the Canal

Within a richly layered context, The Cowboy and the Canal probes the intrigue behind Roosevelt’s decision to purchase the expiring concession, rotting machinery, and dilapidated buildings from the bankrupt French Panama Canal Company and dig the interoceanic canal in Panama instead of the favored site, Nicaragua. Drawing from primary sources-newspaper stories, editorials, political cartoons, the Congressional record, books, magazines, journals, and letters-The Cowboy and the Canal reintroduces the voices who criticized Roosevelt’s actions and questioned his motives, that through time and historical homogenization, have removed from what was at the time, a heated national conversation. These voices add a balance to what has been a one-sided conversation that lauds Roosevelt for “taking Panama” and ignores his indispensable role in manufacturing a rebellion within the country of an ally, Colombia, and in creating one of the biggest frauds of its kind ever perpetrated upon the American public. The villains who abetted, encouraged and facilitated Roosevelt’s behind-the-scenes American takeover of the Colombian province of Panama and the subsequent diversion of millions of American taxpayer dollars into the hands of a few capitalists and financiers are varied. They range all the way from Roosevelt’s youngest sister Corrine and her husband Douglas Robinson, to the scheming would-be French aristocrat, Philippe Bunau-Varilla, a slick New York corporate lawyer, William Nelson Cromwell, and the venerable John Hay, Roosevelt administration Secretary of State. Some of the most prominent industrialists and capitalists of the day, including financier J.P. Morgan, former president of the New York Stock Exchange, J. Edward Simmons, railroad magnate C. P. Huntington, and Charles Taft, multimillionaire older brother of the soon to become U.S. president, William Howard Taft, played supporting roles in this saga. An ex-Confederate general, Democratic Senator John Tyler Morgan, and an ailing but indomitable Joseph Pulitzer, and Pulitzer’s editorial staff of his The World newspaper are among the unlikely heroes in this political drama.
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