Taft Agreement (1904)

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Taft Agreement (1904)

The Taft Agreement (1904) was a concession made by the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt to the republic of Panama. Under the Hay—Bunau-Varilla Treaty (1903), Panama granted the United States the right to "act as if it were sovereign" in the newly created Canal Zone. Roosevelt issued an executive order establishing U.S. custom houses in the Canal Zone. Panamanian businessmen, fearing competition from rival commercial enterprises, protested. Roosevelt dispatched Secretary of War William Howard Taft to Panama to settle the matter. The resulting Taft Agreement provided that the Panama Canal Zone would be permitted to import only those materials deemed necessary for the construction of the canal, the use of its employees, or sale to transiting ships. Canal Zone commissasaries would not be open to the general public, though enforcement of this rule was sometimes lax. The Taft Agreement expired in 1924.

See alsoUnited States-Latin American Relations .


Anguizola, Gustave. The Panama Canal: Isthmian Political Instability. Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1977.

La Feber, Walter. The Panama Canal: The Crisis in Historical Perspective. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Additional Bibliography

Arosemena, Diógenes A. La Cuestión canalera, de 1903 a 1936. Panama: [s.n.], 1975.

Woolsey, L. H. "The Sovereignty of the Panama Canal Zone." American Journal of International Law 20:1 (January 1926): 117-124.

                                         Lester D. Langley