Right to Fortify
The right of the United States to fortify the Panama Canal was seriously questioned at one time by statesmen and publicists because of a clause contained in the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty of April 19, 1859, providing that neither the United States nor the United Kingdom would fortify the Canal or exercise any dominion over any part of Central America. In the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty of November 18, 1901, it is provided that the first Treaty is superseded without impairing the general principles of neutralization as established in Article 8 of that Convention. The Treaty further provides:
"It is agreed that the Canal may be constructed under the auspices of the Government of the United States, either directly at its own cost, or by gift or loan of money to individuals or corporations, or through subscription to or purchase of stock or shares, and that subject to the provisions of the present Treaty, the said Government shall have an enjoy all the rights incident to such construction, as well as the exclusive right of providing for the regulation and management of the canal. * * * The canal shall never be blockaded, nor shall any right of war be exercised nor any act of hostility be committed with it. The United States, however, shall be at liberty to maintain such military police along the canal as may be necessary to protect it against lawlessness and disorder."
The question of fortification is no longer an open one because the
United Kingdom, the only nation that had a right to object, has
acquiesced in the erection of forts. The ground taken by the
United States was, that in order to insure the neutrality of the
Canal, as it is bound to do by Treaty, it was necessary to have
such forts and naval bases at both entrances as would enable it to
repel the attack of an enemy, and to insure the use of the Canal
by belligerents in accordance with the rules laid down.