Panama Canal Purchase Act Law and Legal Definition

Panama Canal Purchase Act of 1902 is a law enacted to provide for the construction of a canal connecting the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

The act authorized the U.S. President to:

a. purchase the rights, privileges, franchises, concessions, grants of land, right of way, unfinished work, plants, and other property, real, personal, and mixed, of every name and nature, owned by the French New Panama Canal Company at a cost not exceeding $40 million;

b. negotiate with the Colombian government for perpetual control of a strip of land at least six miles wide on either side of the canal, as well as rights to operate the canal; and

c. the building and operation of the canal for vessels of the largest tonnage and greatest draft in use at the time of the act's passage.

In 1977 President Jimmy Carter signed the Carter-Torrijos Treaties for the purpose of returning the Canal to Panama and the canal was returned to Panama on December 31, 1999.