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Hay Treaties

A Dictionary of World History
Edmund WrightEdmund Wright

Hay Treaties 

(1901, 1903)

US treaties concerning the construction of a Central American canal linking the Atlantic and the Pacific. Negotiated by US Secretary of State John Milton Hay, the Hay–Pauncefote Treaty (1901) nullified the Clayton–Bulwer Treaty of 1850, which had prevented British or US acquisition of territory in Central America. The Hay–Herrán Treaty of 1903 leased the USA a canal zone from Colombia. Agreement broke down and was followed by a revolt in Panama (then a department of Colombia), undertaken with US connivance. Independence of Panama (1903) was followed by the Hay–Bunau–Varilla Treaty, a new treaty that granted the USA a larger zone in perpetuity. President Roosevelt (rather than Secretary Hay) has, however, been held more responsible for this treaty.