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ence in conducting work under the many restrictions imposed by the government, and in dealing with superiors who were representatives, not of capital and business, but of the people of the United States. The large body of engineers in the employ of the United States was at first passed over when the greatest and most responsible engineering positions ever at the disposal of the government were to be filled. They had devoted their lives to the service and were now ignored. After but a short interval a change came, and the management was turned over to government engineers. The selections were made from the oldest and, as a body, the most experienced organization of engineers in the government service, the Corps of Engineers of the United States Army, and to a lesser extent, from the Corps of Civil Engineers of the United States Navy. The results of the work are a sufficient tribute to the wisdom of the selection.
The evidence is clear that a strong national sentiment pervades the force, which lends inspiration to self-sacrificing coöperation, to hard work, and to contentment under discomforts - a sentiment intensified through isolation in a foreign land. It finds expression not only in the canal employee, but in every American who admires and looks up to his fellow citizen who has worked on the canal. This element of success is fundamental, and rarely has an enterprise given so good an opportunity for its display. It might easily have been smothered by ill-advised administration, but the organization is blessed with a leader who says that “we” are building the canal, and whose inspiration leads all to take the same view. It is remarkable to note the extent to which a feeling of loyalty to the work exists, rather than to the individual or to any division. Even a company agent resident on the Isthmus, in referring to the Pacific Division, stated that "we put in 4500 cubic yards of concrete on the locks yesterday.” This general feeling of loyalty in no way excludes a healthful rivalry for each crew or division to excel. The individual who would ordinarily be disgruntled or dissatisfied soon leaves the Isthmus, or he finds those feelings pushed into the background or smothered by the all-pervading spirit of loyalty to the work. The whole is an interesting phenomenon, which only a visit to the Isthmus can disclose in all its force.
In the valuation by the Americans of the French canal company's property, one notable item, though an intangible one, is missing — the value to us of the French endeavor, the lessons learned by them through their years of bitter experience. It is, of course, impossible now to state what costly mistake we might have made or what untoward conditions we might have overlooked if we had begun the canal as pioneers; there can be no doubt that the knowledge of what the French had done aided us in making up our minds what to do and what not to do. One of the greatest errors of the French, and one that contributed most largely to their failure, was that they did not realize until too late the magnitude of the enterprise.
In a material way the most valuable contributions to the elements of success were the well-developed state of the art of making concrete, the perfected steam shovel, compressed-air tools and numerous other mechanical devices.
There is so much of interest connected with the Panama Canal that the most difficult problem in writing a limited work on the subject is to decide what to omit. The organization of the forces, the system of accounting and cost keeping, the method of civil government, the Panama Railroad, the administration of the subsistence and storekeeping divisions, and many other subjects, offer a wealth of material, sufficient for separate essays, and are well worthy of study. All branches pertaining to the execution of the work have been studied out to a point of maximum possible efficiency, and that this has been possible is largely due to the absence of hidebound precedents and to the fact that control was left to the man on the ground.
The canal will soon be completed and begin its history as an actuality. Study and statistics throw much light upon what its history will be. No one may venture to predict what momentous influence it may have in war or in preventing war.
Whatever may be the detailed events in which the canal may take a part, there can be no doubt that it is one more step in the westward trend of civilization. The prophecy of sixty years ago by that farseeing statesman, William H. Seward, made in a speech in the Senate, is still in remarkable process of fulfillment:
Even the discovery of this continent and its islands, and the organization of society and government upon them, grand and important as these events have been, were not conditional, preliminary and ancillary to the more sublime result now in the act of consummation, the reunion of the two civilizations, which, parting on the plains of Asia 4000 years ago, and travelling ever after in opposite directions around the world, now meet again on the coasts and islands of the Pacific Ocean. Certainly no mere human event of equal dignity and importance has ever occurred upon the earth. It will be followed by the equalization of the condition of society and the restoration of the unity of the human family. Who does not see that benceforth, every year, European commerce, European politics, European thought and activity, although actually gaining greater force, and European connections, although actually becoming more intimate, will ultimately sink in importance; while the Pacific Ocean, its shores, its islands, and the vast regions beyond, will become the chief theater of events in the world's great hereafter?