The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 47, July 1943 - April, 1944

Book Reviews

The Panama Route, 1848-1869. By John Haskell Kemble.
Berkeley and Los Angeles (University of California Press),
1943. Published as Volume 29 of University of California
Publications in History. Pp. xi+316. Illustrations, maps,
and appendix. Cloth, $3.00; paper, $2.25.
The quality of a book and the group of readers to whom it
will appeal have much bearing on the decision to publish it.
An author's acknowledgments enable the prospective reader
to predict the quality of his writing. In this case the author's
acknowledgments to Professor Herbert Eugene Bolton for "the
inspiration and enthusiasm of his example" and to Professor
Frederic Logan Paxson for "his generosity of time and interest"
give assurance that a scholarly, correct, and readable book lies
before the reader. The appeal which this book will have to
students of American transportation and to the general reader
who will want to know the importance of the Panama route
as a background for the Panama Canal fully justifies its
publication.
The story covers the period from "the establishment of
American dominion on the shores of the Pacific" by the ac-
quisition of the Mexican Cession to the days when "the trans-
continental railroad eclipsed the Panama route in all its func-
tions in 1869." Other "phases in the history of American
transportation," says the author, have received more attention
because they were more picturesque, although really less sig-
nificant. The Panama route was throughout the formative
years of the Pacific seaboard the means of communication of
this region "with the nation and with the world." Up to 1855
much timewas lost in crossing either the isthmus of Panama
or in taking the longer route through Nicaragua, but with the
completion of the Panama Railroad in 1855 "the crossing could
be made from ocean to ocean in less than half a day." Many
individuals and corporations engaged in competition in the
operation of the Panama route, but their work "resulted in the
development and maintenance of a vital artery in the trans-
portation system of the United States." The Panama route
carried men, supplies, and precious metals, chiefly gold, from
one coast to the other. To name the individuals and corpora-
tions would require too much space and would not be of much
point, but at least Cornelius Vanderbilt, the United States

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 47, July 1943 - April, 1944. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146054/. Accessed December 27, 2014.