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American sailors on shore leave riot at the port of Colón in Panama

South America, 1857, zoomable map
01/09/1859
Colón, which Americans called Aspinwall at the time, was the Atlantic terminus of the Pacific Railroad across Panama. American warships often visited the port and on this occasion men from the U.S.S. Roanoke were energetically enjoying shore leave and touched off a brawl between police, sailors, and locals, which ended only when the captain of the Roanoke sent men ashore to restore peace. Such incidents at a place where hundreds of Americans travelled almost daily, however, helped President Buchanan to gain authority from Congress the following month to land troops in Panama should American citizens need protection. (By John Osborne)
Source Citation: 
"The Isthmus of Panama," New York Times, January 29, 1859, p. 2.

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