Panama Collection

Collection Summary

Title: Panama Collection
Call Number: MS 82-01
Size: 0.25 linear feet
Acquisition: Purchased from Michael Ginsberg Books
Processed by: KJB, 4-13-1982; JEF, 6-22-1998; MN, 10-2008
Restrictions: None
Note: Digital collection, Panama Collection

Literary Rights

Literary rights were not granted to Wichita State University. When permission is granted to examine the manuscripts, it is not an authorization to publish them. Manuscripts cannot be used for publication without regard for common law literary rights, copyright laws and the laws of libel. It is the responsibility of the researcher and his/her publisher to obtain permission to publish. Scholars and students who eventually plan to have their work published are urged to make inquiry regarding overall restrictions on publication before initial research.

Content Note

The majority of these letters are addressed to Captain Theodorus Bailey, commander of the United States Ship St. Mary's. Tension between the Americans and the Panamanians is reflected in many of the letters in the collection. Five of the letters concern a group of American passengers traveling by train from Aspinwall, on the Atlantic Coast, to Panama City, on the Pacific Coast, on their journey to California. There is also a letter to a J. Hawes from Cornelius Vanderbilt, who was at this time trying to establish an alternative route through Nicaragua to compete with the Panama route and was, therefore, deeply involved in Central American politics. The rest of the letters deal with Navy business.

Administrative History

In December 1855, Captain Bailey received orders from the U.S. government to cruise between Valparaiso, Chile, and San Juan del Sud, Nicaragua, touching eleven ports in between, "for the protection of our citizens and their commerce." In April 1856, Bailey's ship was anchored in Panama Bay. On the 15th of that month, there had been a riot in Panama City between native Panamanians and American passengers traveling along the Pacific Railroad Company's Trans-Isthmian route. The Panamanians had sacked property owned by American citizens in the city. At the same time, other Americans were trying to establish alternative routes through Central America to compete with the Panama route.

Detailed Description: Box and Folder Listing

Box 1 FF 1 March 24, 1855. U.S. Flag Ship Independence, Valparaiso, Chile. William Mervine, Commanding U.S. Pacific Squadron, to Theodorus Bailey, Commanding U.S. Ship St. Mary's. Orders to cruise between Valparaiso and San Juan del Sud, Nicaragua and touching at intermediate ports.
Box 1 FF 2 February 10, 1856. U.S. Ship John Adams, Bay of Panama. E. B. Boutwell, Commander, to T. Bailey. Concerning three deserters from the John Adams being held on the St. Mary's.
Box 1 FF 3 April 25, 1856. U.S. Consulate, Panama. Thos. Wm. Ward to T. Bailey. Ward states that "our position here becomes more dangerous." Request that Commander Bailey come ashore and send a message to the Atlantic Navy requesting cooperation of one or more ships at Aspinwall.
Box 1 FF 4 April 29, 1856. Panama. Allan McLane to Theodorus Bailey. McLane requests that Bailey keep his boats stationed nearby in case of trouble while passengers newly arrived from Aspinwall are put onto the ship, Golden Age.
Box 1 FF 5 April 30, 1856. Legation of the United States in Ecuador. Philo White to T. Bailey. White thanks Bailey for the protective service of his ship, but states that it is not necessary for any U.S. war vessels to make a lengthened stay in Ecuadoran waters.
Box 1 FF 6 May 5, 1856. Panama. Allan McLane, agent, Panama Steamship Co., to T. Bailey. McLane states that the Prefect of Gamboa has agreed to be present when the passengers from Aspinwall arrive at the station and requests Bailey not to land his boats unless actual trouble occurs.
Box 1 FF 7 May 6, 1856. Panama. Allan McLane to T. Bailey. McLane states that the passenger train from Aspinwall is expected to arrive at 2 p.m. and the baggage train is expected at 11 a.m. He repeats his message of May 5.
Box 1 FF 8 May 6, 1856. Panama. Allan McLane, agent for D. M. Corwine, to T. Bailey. Both the passenger and freight trains have been derailed. Many passengers are seriously injured and some have been killed.
Box 1 FF 9 May 7, 1856. Railroad Station outside Panama City, noon. Allan McLane to T. Bailey. The freight train has arrived and the passenger train is expected around 3 p.m. The police guard is present under McLane's order and no trouble is expected. McLane requests that the arrangement of the previous day be followed. Fifteen were killed and about sixty injured in the train wreck. Postscript - 1 p.m. The passenger train is expected around 4:30 p.m.
Box 1 FF 10 June 5, 1856. Steamer Susquehanna, Aspinwall. Captain Hiram Paulding to T. Bailey. Paulding regrets not having the opportunity to visit Bailey and congratulates him on his letters to the Governor of Panama, Francisco de Fabrega.
Box 1 FF 11 June 19, 1856. Bureau of Ordnance and Hydrography. Captain Dn. Ingraham, Acting Bureau Chief, to T. Bailey. Fifty Colts Navy Pistols, with appendages and ammunition, are being shipped to Bailey.
Box 1 FF 12 August 4, 1856. Office of the Accessory Transit Co., New York. Cornelius Vanderbilt, President, to J. Hawes, Panama. Copy of a letter giving instructions to Hawes, concerning American Consul T. W. Ward, Panama. Vanderbilt also reports that the Secretary of the Navy approves of Captain Bailey's actions in giving the Sea Letters to Vanderbilt's ships.
Box 1 FF 13 August 10, 1856. U.S. Flag Ship Independence, Harbor of Callas, Peru. Wm. Mervine, Commander of the Pacific Squadron, to T. Bailey. Mervine reports on the Supreme Court's decision regarding the doctrine of Extraterritoriality, and the State Department's policy regarding the doctrine.
Box 1 FF 14 August 10, 1856. U.S. Ship Saratoga, Harbor of Aspinwall. Commander E. G. Tilton to T. Bailey. Tilton reports that he has a force ready in case he receives word from Bailey that there is trouble between U.S. citizens and Panamanians.
Box 1 FF 15 December 18, 1856. U.S. Flag Ship Independence, Bay of Panama, Lieutenant McCauley to T. Bailey. McCauley is sending Bailey a letter from Col. George M. Totten of the Panama Railroad Company to Bailey and a letter from Col. Totten to the Secretary of State at Bogota.