Roosevelt Takes First Presidential Trip Outside U.S.
On November 9, 1906, Theodore Roosevelt visited the Panama Canal Zone, marking the first time a sitting U.S. President visited another country.
Proposals for a canal across Nicaragua or Panama began as early as 1889. United States public opinion of the canal was generally unfavorable until 1898, when an explosion aboard the Maine sank the battleship at a Cuban naval base. As the Spanish-American War loomed, the battleship Oregon sailed through San Francisco’s Golden Gates to save the day. The eyes of the world were on its 16,000-mile course around Cape Horn and through the dangerous Straits of Magellan. The 67-day journey clearly showed the military significance of an isthmian canal. However, President McKinley was assassinated before he could negotiate rights to a canal.