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v · d · e 19th century Asia/Pacific conflicts involving the United States American Indian Wars Battle of Woody Point War of 1812 Action off James Island · Action off Charles Island · Battle of Valparaiso First Sumatran Expedition Friendship Incident · Battle of Quallah Battoo Second Sumatran Expedition Eclipse Incident · Bombardment of Quallah Battoo · Battle of Muckie Wilkes Expedition Battle of Malolo Capture of Monterey Mexican–American War California Campaign · Pacific Coast Campaign Suppression of the Slave Trade Bombardment of Johanna Yangtze Patrol Piracy in China Battle of Ty-ho Bay · Antelope Incident First Fiji Expedition Battle of Lebouka Watermelon War Puget Sound War Battle of Seattle · Battle of Port Gamble Second Opium War First Battle of Canton · Battle of the Pearl River Forts · Second Battle of Taku Forts Second Fiji Expedition Battle of Somatti American Civil War Pacific Coast Theatre · Capture of J. M. Chapman Bombardment of Qui Nhon Japanese Conflict Battle of Shimonoseki Straits · Shimonoseki Campaign Formosan Conflict Rover Incident · Formosan Expedition Korean Expedition General Sherman Incident · Bombardment of the Selee River Forts · Battle of Ganghwa Piracy in Mexico Battle of Boca Teacapan Oahu Expedition Honolulu Courthouse Riot First Samoan Civil War Samoan crisis Anti-Poaching in the Bering Sea Chilean Civil War Itata Incident · Baltimore Crisis Second Samoan Civil War Siege of Apia · First Battle of Vailele Spanish–American War Pacific Campaign Philippine–American War Moro Rebellion Boxer Rebellion Battle of Peking · Battle of Tientsin The Watermelon War was a riot that occurred in Panama City, Panama, on the morning of April 15, 1856. Contents 1 Background 2 The Riot 3 Consequences 3.1 Proposal 3.2 Compensation 4 References Background From 1850 until 1903, the US military had created very strong tension between Panamanian citizens and US officials. The tension brewed until massive race riots and revolts appeared all over Panama, creating turmoil in an already battered nation. During this time, many Panamanian citizens despised the American citizens because they felt as if the US had dominated the labor force. Panamanians that once held jobs were left unemployed, because once the U.S. completed the trans-Panama railroad, they terminated the entire labor force. The U.S. then filled the administrative and supervisory roles with Americans, while only a few jobs were left for the Panamanians on the railroad lines. During this railroad boom, many U.S. citizens were seen passing through Panama City, and with the animosity brewing, a riot was inevitable. The Riot On April 15, 1856 morning the U.S. steamer, John L. Stephens, transported about 1,000 passengers to Panama City. However, the station was located at the waterfront and Panama City did not then have any wharfs where ships could dock. Therefore, ships like John L. Stephens had to dock on a surrounding island, in this case Taboga Island, and then be ferried to Panama City. The passengers could only be ferried during high tide and, on this particular day, the John L. Stephens arrived during low tide; therefore, the passengers had to sit and wait on high tide. Most of the passengers were drunk by this time because many of them had visited the local cantinas before the trip. One American, Jack Oliver, walked around the station and encountered a vendor, José Manuel Luna, selling watermelon. Oliver grabbed a slice of the watermelon, which was priced at five cents per slice, and refused to pay for it. From here, accounts differ. The most accepted version states that the vendor yelled at Oliver and eventually pulled out a knife and threatened him. One of Oliver’s friends then tossed five cents at the vendor, but the vendor continued yelling at Oliver until Oliver pulled out a gun. At this point the vendor took off running, but another Panamanian, who saw the entire incident, grabbed Oliver’s arm and the two struggled for the gun. During this struggle, the gun went off and a bystander was wounded. At this point, the riot was unavoidable as more Panamanians arrived and more shots began to be fired. Many Americans were beaten unmercifully, robbed, and many buildings were destroyed. When the police arrived later, one of them was hit by a bullet, which forced them to join in the riot. Everyone in the area, even the police and authority figures, were involved in the Watermelon War. Finally, a train arrived filled with armed railroad men, who were led by Randolph Runnels. The railroad men then fired at the mob and most of them ran for cover. Runnels then shouted to the mob to put down the weapons and come out with their hands over their heads. In the end, Governor Aniño, submitted an official report that stated 15 Americans were dead and 16 wounded, and 2 Panamanians were dead and 13 wounded. Consequences On July 18, the American commissioner, Amos Corwine, recommended in his report " ... the immediate occupation of the isthmus." This raised a series of diplomatic controversies. Accordingly, the North American authorities attended to the report and on September, 1856 American troops unlawfully invaded Panama disembarking in the isthmus and taking the railway station. On September 19 of that year, a detachment of 160 soldiers took possession of the railway station. The city was calm and three days later, the troops moved back without having fired a single shot. This brief occupation was supposedly justified according to the U.S. government by a clause in the Agreement of 1846, by means of which, the United States was guaranteeing the neutrality of the isthmus, so that transit was not interrupted. Proposal In response to the riot, the United States made the following proposals: 1. That the city of Panama and Colón had to be free cities and that they were governed under the sovereignty of Panama, and jointly they will control a strip land twenty miles wide from ocean to ocean, with the railroad as the central line. 2. The Republic of New Granada, which was then the name of Colombia, had to transfer several islands in the Bay of Panama to the United States to use them as naval bases. 3. New Granada had to transfer its rights on the Panamanian Railroad to the United States 4. New Granada had to pay compensation for damages for the loss of life and the destruction of property. Compensation Finally the government of New Granada accepted the terms and signed the Herrán-Cass Agreement. On September 10, 1857 the New Granada government established a sum compensation of $412,394 in gold for damages. 195,410 dollars for indemnifications derived from the riot. 65,070 dollars for new claims. 9,277 dollars for expenses of the commissioners 142,637 dollars for interests. The United States was not alone in demanding indemnifications; France and Britain, whose citizens turned out to be affected as well, also demanded compensation. In turn, the United States used this incident as an excuse to put Article 35 of the Mallarino-Bidlack Agreement into practice. That is to say, its prerogative of safeguarding the neutrality and free transit in Panama, and use of armed forces when the local government is deemed unfit. This motivated a series of American interventions in the isthmus during the 19th and 20th century, which at last irritated the xenophobia and the nationalistic feeling of the Panamanians. According to the Gazette of the State of May 3, 1856, the dead persons were Lucas Prados and Apolinar N. of Panama; and Robert Marks, of Pennsylvania; Octavio Dubois, French; N. Stokes, of the filibusters of William Walker (filibuster); Alexander Sweet, of Maine and another 12 of whom the names are not known. References This article does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (July 2007)