Theodore Roosevelt stepped into the United States Presidency in September of 1901. He was a very ambitious president. Shortly after stepping into office he set the U.S. on the processing to build the Panama Canal. However he could not have dreamed of the complexities of building the canal politically, financially, and physically.
Before the United States even attempted the canal the French tried their hand at it. Ferdinad de Lesseps, famous civil engineer of the Suez Canal, believed that he could build a similar canal across the Isthmus of Panama. He also over looked the complexities of building the canal in a tropical zone. After 28 years of trying the French failed drastically, losing over a billion francs, and leaving hundreds of thousands of shareholders bankrupt. Even though the adventure was a failure, Philippe Bunau-Varilla, who had a large investment in the project, decided to see the project through.
When Roosevelt made the plan to start the canal he first ran into some political issues. First was with Great Britain, which was easily over come with the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty. The next big issue was the fact that Panama was essentially a territory of Columbia. In 1903 the Panamanians revolted against the Columbians, and with U.S. help setup a new country in which Bunau-Varilla was the new minister of. This eased the political situation the U.S faced with signing of the Hay-Bunau-Varilla treaty. This treaty allowed the U.S. to build the canal on a 10 mile wide path through the country.
Before work could be started another issue was a stake; how to succeed where the French had failed. An international committee of engineers was setup to help make the decisions for the canal type. Most on the committee leaned towards a sea-level canal like de Lesseps had attempted. After much debate, John Stevens convinced Roosevelt to go to the system of locks for the canal over the sea-level. This only solved one of the problems that had plagued...