Panama Declares War on Germany

Our indisputable duty in this tremendous hour of history is of a common ally, whose interests and existence as well are linked indissolubly with the United States.

As the situation creates dangers for our country, it is the duty of the Panaman people to cooperate with all the energies and resources they can command for the protection of the canal and to safeguard national territory.

The attitude of the people was foreseen and interpreted faithfully in a resolution unanimously approved by the National Assembly on February 24th, and confirmed by later laws, and the moment has arrived for the Executive to act in accordance with the declarations of the supreme body.

I therefore declare that the Panaman Nation will lend emphatic cooperation to the United States against enemies who execute or attempt to execute hostile acts against the territory of the canal, or in any manner affect or tend to affect the common interests.

The Government will adopt adequate measures in accordance with the circumstances. I consider it the patriotic duty of all Panaman citizens to facilitate the military operations which the forces of the United States undertake within the limits of our country.

Foreigners, resident or transient, will be obliged to submit to the conditions of this declaration.

In 1907 Roosevelt appointed George Washington Goethals as Chief Engineer of the Panama Canal. The building of the canal was completed in 1914, two years ahead of the target date of June 1, 1916. The canal was formally opened on August 15, 1914 with the passage of the cargo ship SS Ancon. Coincidentally, this was also the same month that fighting in World War I (the Great War) began in Europe. The advances in hygiene resulted in a relatively low death toll during the American construction; still, 5,609 workers died during this period (1904–1914). This brought the total death toll for the construction of the canal to around 27,500.