Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America
By Walter LaFeber
George Washington was elected president of the United States in 1789, but it would be more than 100 years before a sitting U.S. head of state ventured outside his country’s borders for a diplomatic visit. That it was Teddy Roosevelt should come as no surprise, given his carefully curated reputation as a khaki-clad Man of the World. Also unsurprising was his destination. He could have gone to the United Kingdom, a country with which the U.S. had tangled diplomatically, and sometimes martially, ever since it gained independence. He could have gone to Spain, against which the United States had just won a war that we now know paved the way for U.S. dominance for decades to come. He could have gone to visit any great power, but he didn’t. He went to Panama – to observe the progress of the Panama Canal, a symbol of U.S. geopolitical power and, in time, a major contributor to it.
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