In the 1880's a French company began to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama to make a faster way to move between the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. But the task was far too great and the company went bankrupt, abandoning the canal
In 1902 The United States bought the rights to the French Canal. Secretary of State, John Hay began meeting with Colombia to gain full ownership of the land surrounding the canal. By 1903 a treaty had been drafted but Colombia's senate would not ratify it.
Panama at the time were still under Colombian rule and wanted to govern itself. President Roosevelt supported Panama's rebellion over Colombia. Soon after Panama declared its independence America gained complete control over the Canal
In May 1904, American work on the Panama Canal started. However, harsh working conditions, shortages on labor, and materials stopped construction efforts. This all grew worse when deadly diseases such as yellow fever and malaria broke out.
Roosevelt appointed John F. Stevens as chief engineer and architect as well as Dr. William C Gorgas to focus on wiping out yellow fever and improving sanitation. Thanks to their efforts the Canal progressed.
With many losses workers on the Panama Canal saw great success. In August 1914 the SS Ancon became the first ship to pass officially through the Panama Canal