Bunau-Varilla, Philippe Jean

Bunau-Varilla, Philippe Jean

(fēlēp` zhäN bünō`-värēyä`), 1859–1940, French engineer, prominent in the Panama CanalPanama Canal,
waterway across the Isthmus of Panama, connecting the Atlantic (by way of the Caribbean Sea) and Pacific oceans, built by the United States (1904–14, on territory leased from the republic of Panama) and expanded by Pamana (2007–16).
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 controversy. An engineer after 1884 in the original French company for building the canal, he was chief engineer before the company went bankrupt in 1889 and was the organizer (1894) of the new company that took over the rights of the old one. Unable to develop his plans in France, he undertook to sell the company to the United States, converting (1901) Mark Hanna and President McKinley, who had been interested in the Nicaragua route, to the Panama project. After new opposition developed, he persuaded the French directors to reduce the price of the company, and President Theodore Roosevelt was won over to the Panama plan. When difficulties arose with the Colombian government, Bunau-Varilla conspired with insurrectionists in Panama and touched off (1903) a successful revolution. As minister from the new Panamanian republic to the United States, he negotiated the Hay–Bunau-Varilla Treaty, which gave the United States control of the Panama Canal. In World War I a water chlorination process that he had developed was used at the battle of Verdun.

Bibliography

See his Panama (tr. 1913) and From Panama to Verdun (tr. 1940).

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