What was the main motivation for the U.S. to become involved in the completion of the Panama Canal?
The canal would remove trade barriers between the United States and South America.
The United States would economically benefit from control of the canal zone.
Panama would become a protectorate of the United States.
The United States would eliminate the European financial presence in Central America.
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1 or 2.
id go with 2
Same here, (2) sounds like a good answer to me as well. The US was also looking forward to the trade benefits that the canal would give them.
Another reason was strategic -- the US could move its warships through the canal to either the Atlantic or Pacific without having to sail the long way around South America.
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Gosh, they're all wrong. The economic interest was clearly understood to be the reduction in travel time between the East and West Coast of the United States. Quite a lot of bulk cargo -- wood, coal, oil -- traveled from the West to the East through the Canal, which was far cheaper than sending it by railroad or the much longer and more dangerous trip around the Horn.
There was also the perception that it would reduce the need for a full blue-water navy on both coasts, since assets could be transferred relatively rapidly between them. Roosevelt, who was President when the US finally took control of the Canal project, was deeply involved in the Spanish-American War, and further was a former Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He was well aware of the fact that when the USS Oregon was ordered from the West Coast to replace the USS Maine and participate in the invasion of Cuba during the Spanish American War, having to go all the way around the Horn instead of through a Canal was a serious strategic vulnerability.
I do agree that (2) is the least wrong of these answers, however. The wording is very unfortunate, as it suggests the US wanted to profit from the tolls or something, which is ridiculous. The US certainly wanted to ensure access to the Canal, which American control was one way of achieving (and the ultimate choice), but for a long time the US was willing to accept strict neutrality, guaranteed by both the American and British navies, e.g. the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty of 1850.