The Secretary of State to President Coolidge

My Dear Mr. President: On Tuesday, February 6, 1923, (legislative day of Monday, February 5,) the House of Representatives passed without amendment Senate Joint Resolution 259,26 authorizing the President to abrogate the international agreement embodied in certain Executive Orders relating to the Panama Canal, commonly known as the Taft Agreement.

This agreement was intended as a temporary arrangement to cover the period of the construction of the Canal and as such it has served its purpose, since the Canal has for sometime been open to commerce. It no longer provides an adequate basis for the adjustment of questions arising out of the relations between the Canal Zone authorities and the Government of Panama, and it is the opinion of this Department, and, I am informed, of the War Department also, that the agreement should be replaced in the near future by a more permanent [Page 676] arrangement. I, therefore, beg to suggest that, as the first step towards arriving at a satisfactory conclusion of a number of matters under discussion between this Government and the Government of Panama, as well as the conclusion of a permanent arrangement for the settlement of questions arising between the two Governments through the operation of the Panama Canal, you should give notice to the Government of Panama of your intention to abrogate the Taft Agreement, in accordance with the Joint Resolution above mentioned.

In order to allow reasonable time for the adjustment of outstanding questions, and the negotiation of the new arrangement between the two countries, I would suggest that a period of at least six months should be given between the first notification to the Panaman Government of the American Government’s intention in the matter and the definite abrogation of the Taft Agreement. Accordingly, should you so authorize me I should be glad to inform the Panaman Government that the United States Government will abrogate the so-called Taft Agreement on May 1, 1924.

Sincerely yours,

Charles E. Hughes
  1. Post, p. 677.↩