Panama Canal Treaty

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The Panama Canal Treaty was an agreement by the United States to cede control of the Panama Canal to Panama, along with gifts of cash to help Panama run it. President Jimmy Carter signed the treaty in September 1977 as the culmination of decades of work that began with Alger Hiss's opening address to the United Nations in 1945, which called for internationalization of the canal.

Conservatives rose in opposition to the treaty, and public opinion opposed it by as much as 78-22%. Ronald Reagan, who would defeat Jimmy Carter in 1980, opposed the treaty. On March 16, 1978, the U.S. Senate ratified the treaty by the narrow margin of 68-32, merely one vote more than the two-thirds required. Several senators who voted in favor of the treaty resigned at the end of their term rather than face reelection. In New Jersey, after Clifford Case voted to ratify the treaty he was defeated in the Republican primary by conservative Jeffrey Bell.