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Hearings . . . on New Panama Canal Company, . . . and the Nicaragua Canal Company, by the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, 1899

In the 1890s several congressional commissions carried out engineering studies in Central America, the narrowest part of the continent, to find a viable route for an interoceanic canal. Congress was focusing on two potential routes, through either Nicaragua or Panama, when the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce issued this report on its hearings in 1899.

U.S. Senate Library

Hearings . . . on New Panama Canal Company

Creating the Panama Canal

Congress was central to creating the Panama Canal, one of the Progressive Era’s furthest-reaching strategic, trade, and technological achievements. In the 1890s Congress investigated potential routes for a canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, deeming it essential for commerce and defense. After Congress authorized the purchase of a canal project initiated by France on the Isthmus of Panama, the Senate approved a treaty to acquire the Canal Zone in 1904. Appropriating $375 million for construction, Congress established a commission to oversee the project, which was completed in 1914.