Primary Document #3 (Roosevelt Speech) | panama canal with bill |

"By far the most important action I took in foreign affairs during the time I was President was related to the Panama Canal," wrote Theodore Roosevelt in his autobiography. In a speech several years after he "took" Panama, Roosevelt explained: "There are plenty of other things I started merely because the time had come that whoever was in power would have started them. But the Panama Canal would not have started if I had not taken hold of it, because if I had followed the traditional or conservative method I should have submitted an admirable state paper to Congress... the debate would be proceeding at this moment... and the beginning of work on the canal would be fifty years in the future. Fortunately [the opportunity] came at a period when I could act unhampered. Accordingly I took the Isthmus, started the canal and then left Congress not to debate the canal, but to debate me." --Theodore Roosevelt

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