Daily Archives: September 9, 2014

Ronald Reagan Speaks About Panama Canal

Panama Canal LogoAfter a close, and acrimonious bid to win the Republican Party presidential nomination in 1976, Ronald Reagan lost to the more moderate and sitting President Gerald R. Ford.  In the ensuing Bicentennial election, Ford lost to his charismatic, grinning Democratic opponent Jimmy Carter.  Confident that his future included national service, Reagan never stopped campaigning over the next four years.

In 1977 Reagan was invited to speak at Western Kentucky University’s Free Enterprise Fair.  Prior to his speech on September 22, Reagan participated in a press conference in which he answered questions about issues of national concern.  One of the most heated topics of the day was the Panama Canal Treaty; 80% of Americans believed that the U.S. was giving the  canal away.  When asked about it, Reagan railed against the Carter administration for contemplating the transfer of the canal to “a man [Omar Torrijos] who’s there, not because he had the most votes, but because he had the most guns.”  In his remarks, Reagan basically promotes the chief tenet of the MonroeRonald Reagan Doctrine which acknowledged the United States as the protector of the Americas.   “I think that basically the world is not going to see this [giving away the canal] as a magnanimous gesture on our part, as the White House would have us believe,” noted Reagan.  “They are going to see it as once again American backing away and retreating in the face of trouble.”  When it came to giving the canal away, Reagan strongly stated:  “I’m going to talk as long and as loud as I can against it.”

His press conference remarks were recorded for posterity and are located in the Manuscripts & Folkife Archives unit of the Department of Library Special Collections.

Comments Off on Ronald Reagan Speaks About Panama Canal

Filed under Uncategorized

Poetic Tribute

Panama Canal LogoR.C.P. Thomas, scion of a prominent Bowling Green family and beloved member of the local bar, was appointed the District Judge of the Panama Canal Zone in June 1933 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  As he prepared to leave the U.S., local poet and friend John A. Logan penned a poetic tribute for his departing friend.

“The East is East and West is West/And ne’er the twain shall meet,”/Was prophesied, but Teddy the Great/Performed the wonderful feat.

One stroke of his club, two continents/Majestically sprang apart;/An East met West in a brotherhood/Ne’er dreamed by the great Bret Hart.

Down by the side of this great highway/Kentucky now sends her best,/To cheer the hearts of the sons of men/Where the East now meets the West.

He goes to live by the side of the road,/Where the ships of the earth go by,/Wherever he dwells, in his heart of gold,/There dwells both you and I.

As he sits by the side of this wonderful road/And looks on the tropic scene,/His heart will be with the folks at home/And beautiful Bowling Green.

His thoughts will be of our tiny lakes/And his heart in sweet accord,/With their gentle wave-lips whispering love/As they kiss the soft green sward.

He will dream of the warbled melody/Of Kentucky’s myriad birds,/And the redolence of home grown flowers/Beyond the power of words.

We send him away that the world may know/That hospitality/With justice and mercy go hand in hand/With Kentucky gallantry.

With an aurevoir, just for a day/We send our friend away./Let these flowers with their perfumed breath/Speak the words we cannot say.

Shaker Collectors342Thomas did an admirable job in Panama, but declined reappointment after his four-year term ended in 1937. He returned to Bowling Green, retired from his law practice, and spent time working with a herd of Jersey cows on his farm until he died in 1939.  To research the worldwide contributions of Kentuckians, check out KenCat and TopSCHOLAR.

Comments Off on Poetic Tribute

Filed under Uncategorized