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Maritime Canal Company of Nicaragua

Maritime Canal Company of Nicaragua

The Maritime Canal Company was incorporated by an act of U.S. Congress in 1889 for the purpose of constructing a transisthmian canal through Nicaragua. After the Civil War, U.S. interest in an interoceanic canal intensified, but the government re-mained unwilling to participate in the project. When Congress incorporated the Maritime Canal Company, it excluded the government from any fiscal responsibilities. The project began on 23 March 1887, when Aniceto G. Menocal, a civil engineer with the U.S. Navy, negotiated an agreement with the Nicaraguan government that allowed his company to construct a canal within a ten-year period and to own it for ninety-nine years, after which it would revert to Nicaragua. Construction began at Greytown in 1889, and by 1893 the company had spent approximately $4 million on dredging the Greytown harbor, clearing the jungle, and other preliminary work. The project then collapsed owing to a lack of continued funding, corruption, and Nicaragua's political turmoil. Menocal's project officially came to an end in 1899, when the Maritime Canal Company defaulted on its contract. By that time other forces emerged that contributed to the U.S. government's undertaking of a transisthmian canal project.

See alsoPanama Canal .


United States Isthmian Canal Commission, Report of the Isthmian Canal Commission, 1899–1901 (1904).

Gerstle Mack, The Land Divided: A History of the Panama Canal and Other Isthmian Canal Projects (1944).

Roscoe R. Hill, "The Nicaraguan Canal Idea Until 1898," Hispanic American Historical Review 28 (1948): 197-211.

Additional Bibliography

Gobat, Michel. Confronting the American Dream: Nicaragua under U.S. Imperial Rule. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.

Herrera, René. Relaciones internacionales y poder político en Nicaragua. México, D.F.: Colegio de México, 1992.

                                     Thomas M. Leonard

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