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BY COURTESY OF C. ANDRI VI&CO.
VIEW OF SEA WALL OF PANAMA AT AN EARLY DAY
(PASEO DE LAS BOVEDAS.)
with: whom you will communicate very frequently on these points....... I hope that your experience, prudence, activity and faithfulness, which you have always shown, will condace to the service of the king, my son, and to these subjects, and that you work in everything as it ought to be done”.
In a decree drawn up by the attorney general of the city and signed March 10ti, 1673, it appears some opposition had developed on the part of those who had already commenced to rebuild their ruined homes at Old Panama, to the change to the new site at Ancon. He wrote requesting that some one be sent to the Isthmus without delay with plenary powers to execute the change, and to compel the inhabitants of Old Panama and vicinity, “without exception", to move to the new site.
He suggested as an inducement to persons of standing an exemption from taxes, upon their agreement to commence building their houses and offices on the new site within two months from the date of this decree, and to occupy them within the year.
He urged forced compliance as to removal in order as the document reads, "That the point which is now populated (Old Panama) may be razed to the ground on account of the risk of enemies coming in the meantime and taking possession, thereby putting a stop to commercial traffic. This demolition will not only help in the new foundations, but will furnish convenient material with which to build the new houses, and at the same time will put a stop to all points of doubt that might delay the execution of the decree”.
The decree also prohibited the use of lamps, or rather. censers, as they were then known, in the houses at Old Panama, thereby avoiding danger of future conflagrations from which they had suffered frequently since Morgan's raid. It further provided that just rents should be paid up to the time of the change, and that the people could not be deprived of their homes until four months succeeding the announcement of the decree. The original of this rare document bears the signature of Cordoba, the attorney general, Don Luis de Lossada Quiñones, Don Andres Martinez de Amileto, and the Secretary, Don Diego Juan Aranda Grimaldo.
The signatures were attested by Augustin de Urrutia, with his rubica, and his signature and identity attested in turn by three others, each with his rubica.
The ceremonies in connection with the inauguration of work on the new city, held January 21, 1673, were participated in by Governor Cordoba, and all the notables, civil, military and secular. With the assistance of the military engineer, the Governor indicated the lines on which the principal plaza should be laid out, the location of the Cathedral, and the cemetery alongside. The cemetery was abandoned
many years ago, but the old Cathedral still rears its twin towers skyward, and is as solid an edifice today as when it was first built. In connection with the cemetery, it might be interesting to note that while the water works force was excavating on Sosa Street in 1905, they ran across and unearthed a great many bones of the early settlers.
The inaugural ceremonies were conducted with all the pomp and ritual common to the Catholic Church at that time. The Bishop and his assistants pronounced a blessing on the Cathedral and cemetery site, and put one large and two small crosses in the center of the plaza. The Governor likewise indicated the site for the convent, now occupied by the store of D. Cardoze and the government telegraph office on Avenue B. Capt. Juan Hidalgo Balcera, Mayordomo of the convent, took occasion to call attention to the fact there was a quantity of building timber already available near the site, and that furthermore a ship had just entered the bay with a load of building materials, urging that it would be a good thing to commence work on the convent first, so that this constituted the first building of consequence to be erected in the new city.
The Queen's injunction to build the new city's fortifications strong and well were heeded as evidenced by the huge wall of masonry that today extends around a large section of the shore front of the city. These walls commenced in Cordoba's time were not completed until many years afterward under the government of Alonso Mercado de Villacorta. The fortifications are estimated to have cost upwards of ten million dollars in movey, principally furnished from Peru. This does not take into account the. forced labor employed in their construction. The story has been handed down how a sovereign of Spain was seen standing at a window of his palace one day looking toward the west with a disturbed expression on his features. A courtier made bold to inquire what he was looking at. "I am looking", replied the King, his face relaxing into a grim smile, "for those costly walls of Panama. They ought to be visible even from here".
THE ISTAMIAN BUBBLE OF 1698.
The Darien region was the scene of the first attempt by Europeans, other than subjects of Spain, to obtain a commercial foothold on the Spanish Main. For some time prior to 1695, William Patterson, one of the founders of the Bank of England, had been nourishing a project of commercial expansion of considerable magnitude. It was his idea to establish colonies in various parts of the
No. 194 Central Avenue,
Orient, as well as the Occident, to build up a trade between these points and his country, Scotland. Under royal charter, a company was formed, and in the year 1698 five vessels with more than a thousand Scottish emigrants on board set sail for the Esthmus. From returning buccaneers Patterson learned what a key to the trade of the South Sea the Isthmus really was, and induced him to send his first colony to that point.
The colonists landed at a place on the north coast of Darien, known to day as Puerto Escoces. Here on a small bay which they named Caledonia, the immigrants founded the settlement of New Edinburgh, located about 75 miles to the north-west from Cape Tiburón on the Gulf of Urabá. They built some fortifications, establishing two batteries of 52 cannons each. Only a few months elapsed however, before the effect of the tropical cliinate and its fevers became apparent on the hardy men of the north, and before the end of the first year arrived only a remnant of the original colony remained. In the meantime other emigrants had been sent out from Scotland, but they fared even worse than the first comers. About this time the Spaniards learned, of the full scope of Patterson's designs toward the South Sea trade, and determined to frustrate it. An expedition was sent against the colony at New Edinburgh and met with but little resistance. The captured survivors were thereupon deported.