The Path Between the Seas Themes

David McCullough
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U.S. interest in Central America dates from the beginning of the westward movement in 1801, gains economic immediacy in the 1840s, and flourishes as the tentacles of American empire spread out around the turn of the 20th century. Impoverished Columbia owns the Isthmus of Panama and wants to maximize its profits on any passage between the seas that the great powers might carve through their territory. Nicaragua opens its arms to outsiders for the same reason, while Mexico's conflict with the northern neighbor is still too painful to overcome. The French, who have long seen themselves in the vanguard of the advance of civilization, are flush with victory backing Ferdinand de Lesseps' colossal project of linking the Mediterranean and Red seas - and smarting at the fact bitter rival Britain has bought out Egypt's interests in the Suez Canal and improved its strategic position. De Lesseps sees Panama...

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This section contains 874 words
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