Panama's independence is intertwined with interventions by the United States that lead to Panama's dependence on the U.S. after separation from Colombia.
The War of a Thousand Day's erupted in 1899 and was sparked because the Panamanians doubted the new Conservative government in Bogotá could negotiate a canal concession. Panama dreamed of becoming a commercial emporium through the construction of a canal that would provide passage for ships between the Carribean and the Pacific Ocean. Their dream depended on successful negotiations made by the French or the United States, who were both interested in building the canal (Conniff 59). Also, some saw this war as an opportunity to restore autonomy or break off from Colombia and gain independence.
The impact of the war set the stage for future independence. The Colombian government was weakened, and as a result, Colombia renewed talks with the French company's concession, the talks with the U.S. about a canal through Panama were disrupted highlighting Colombia's inability to keep the peace, and the war lead the U.S. to continuously intervening in order to prevent a rebel victory or succession (Conniff 61). These U.S. military interventions prevented a Liberal victory and lead to a concession by the Conservatives in 1903.
Negotiations dragged on after the war. On January 1903, Secretary of State John Hay and secretary of the Colombian legation, Tomàs Herràn signed the Hay- Herràn treaty (Conniff 65). This treaty agreed to a “transfer of the French works and equipment, a six-mile-wide canal zone (excluding the terminal cities of Panama City and Colón), a hundred-year renewable lease, shared jurisdiction and civil administration, a $10 million lump-sum payment, and an annuity of $250,000 upon completion of the canal” (Conniff 65). Colombia found the treaty inadequate and refused to ratify the treaty. After Colombia's refusal, President Theodore Roosevelt refused to take up the Nicaraguan route. Thus, conspiracy rumors of openly promoting Panamanian independence grew, but the U.S. could not openly because of the1846 Bidlack-Mallarino treaty that stated that the United States must support Colombia's sovereignty over Panama (Conniff 66). By the mid-1903, Conservatives began plotting the separation of Panama from Colombia because of the fear of the U.S. choosing to build a canal though Nicaragua. The revolution succeeded, and Panama was protected and recognized by the U.S. on November 3rd,1903 (Conniff 67). A new treaty was drafted and approved between the U.S. and Panama that continued Panama's dependence on the U.S. to build a canal that Panama would not own until January 1, 2000.