Path of Empire: Panama and the California Gold Rush by Aims McguinnessPath of Empire: Panama and the California Gold Rush by Aims Mcguinness

Path of Empire: Panama and the California Gold Rush

byAims Mcguinness

Paperback | March 12, 2009

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Most people in the United States have forgotten that tens of thousands of U.S. citizens migrated westward to California by way of Panama during the California Gold Rush. Decades before the completion of the Panama Canal in 1914, this slender spit of land abruptly became the linchpin of the fastest route between New York City and San Francisco—a route that combined travel by ship to the east coast of Panama, an overland crossing to Panama City, and a final voyage by ship to California.

In Path of Empire, Aims McGuinness presents a novel understanding of the intertwined histories of the California Gold Rush, the course of U.S. empire, and anti-imperialist politics in Latin America. Between 1848 and 1856, Panama saw the building, by a U.S. company, of the first transcontinental railroad in world history, the final abolition of slavery, the establishment of universal manhood suffrage, the foundation of an autonomous Panamanian state, and the first of what would become a long list of military interventions by the United States.

Using documents found in Panamanian, Colombian, and U.S. archives, McGuinness reveals how U.S. imperial projects in Panama were integral to developments in California and the larger process of U.S. continental expansion. Path of Empire offers a model for the new transnational history by unbinding the gold rush from the confines of U.S. history as traditionally told and narrating that event as the history of Panama, a small place of global importance in the mid-1800s.

Aims McGuinness is Associate Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.
Title:Path of Empire: Panama and the California Gold RushFormat:PaperbackDimensions:264 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.2 inPublished:March 12, 2009Publisher:Cornell University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801475384

ISBN - 13:9780801475382

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Table of Contents

Prelude: April 15, 1856
Introduction: In the Archive of Loose Leaves
1. California in Panama
2. The Panama Railroad and the Conquest of the Gold Rush
3. Sovereignty on the Isthmus
4. "We Are Not in the United States Here"
5. U.S. Empire and the Boundaries of Latin America
Conclusion: Conversations in the Museum of History
Coda: With Dust in Our Eyes

Editorial Reviews

"The California Gold Rush and the beginnings of U.S. interest in a Panama Canal are great stories—and here are wonderfully and imaginatively linked by Aims McGuinness's multi-archival research to open fresh, highly important insights into the explosive new characteristics of American imperialism (too many of which sound as familiar in the twenty-first century as they did in the nineteenth), as well as into a growing regional fear of that imperialism, Latin American literature and culture, the hemisphere's slave systems, and the beginnings of Panamanian nationalism."—Walter LaFeber, Andrew Tisch and James Tisch University Professor Emeritus, Cornell University