The Mexican War is the most prominent example of a dispute over the limits of the President's authority to employ or to risk provoking military force. The narrows of Central America were of great strategic importance, because they offered the prospect of a short route to the West Coast. The United States had long exhibited an interest in railroads and canals across the isthmus. A proposal to investigate the Panama Canal had been introduced in Congress as early as 1825. An 1846 treaty between the United States and New Granada granted the U.S. “right of way or transit across the Isthmus of Panama,” in return for which the U.S. guaranteed “the perfect neutrality of the before-mentioned isthmus” and “the rights of sovereignty and property that New Granada has over the territory.”
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