by James Puder
Word Ways, 1999


It is well-known that Leigh Mercer published his immortal "A man, a plan, a canal--Panama!" in the November 13 1948 issue of Notes & Queries. But was his the first discovery? I feel it unlikely that this palindrome remained undiscovered until such a relatively late date. My feeling is based on the following considerations:

These are the reasons why I find it hard to believe that it could have taken almost one hundred years for the Panama palindrome to be noticed for the first time. I suspect that at least one previous incarnation of this palindrome lies forgotten in the mouldering pages of some turn-of-the-century journal or newspaper.

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