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A Canal Zone Government was established on May 17, 1904, by General George W. Davis, member of the Isthmian Canal Commission, acting in accordance with executive orders of President Theodore Roosevelt.
This government provided for a governor, executive secretary, treasurer and auditor; a judicial department consisting of a supreme court, three circuit courts, five municipal courts; a postal service and a bureau of education with a school system. At the same time a penal code was enacted, as well as a code of criminal procedure and laws supressing lotteries and prohibiting gambling.
Under the arrangement General Davis became the first governor of the Canal Zone. He resigned in 1905 and was succeeded by Governor Charles E. Magoon and Governor Richard Reid Rogers who served about a year apiece.
In 1907, a member of the Isthmian Canal Commission was chosen to serve as governor. His duties were those of the head of the department of civil administration and he was subordinate to the Chairman of the Isthmian Canal Commission.
Three members of the Commission served in this capacity. They were Joseph C.M.S. Blackburn, Maurice H. Thatcher, for whom Thatcher highway is named, and Richard L. Metcalfe.
In the early part of 1914 the Commission was abolished and a civil form of government set up. The governor was appointed by the President of the United States. The first civil governor chosen was, logically, George W. Goethals.
RELATED ARTICLE: Organization of the Canal Zone Government/Panama Canal Company
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Last Update: April 3, 2001