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COLON—COLONIAL OFFICE

regularly as well as men-of-war and the mercantile marine of all nations; and it is now one of the finest artificial harbours in the world. The extension of railways also has concentrated the trade of the island upon the capital, and contributed to its rise in prosperity.

Colombo was originally known as the Kalantotta or Kalany ferry. By the Arabs the name was changed to Kolambu, and the town was mentioned by Ibn Batuta in 1346 as the largest and finest in Serendib. In 1517 the Portuguese effected a settlement, and in 1520 they fortified their port and bade defiance to the native besiegers. In 1586 the town was invested by Raja Singh, but without success. On its capture by the Dutch in 1656 it was a flourishing colony with convents of five religious orders, churches and public offices, inhabited by no fewer than 900 noble families and 1500 families dependent on mercantile or political occupations. In 1796 it was surrendered to the British.


COLON (formerly known as Aspinwall), a city of the Republic of Panama, on the Atlantic coast, in the Bay of Limon, and 47 m. by rail N.W. of the city of Panama. Pop. (1908) about 3000, consisting largely of Jamaica negroes and natives of mixed Spanish, Indian and African descent. It is served by the Panama railway, which crosses the Isthmus of Panama from ocean to ocean. Colon has a deep, though poorly sheltered harbour, and is either the terminus or a place of call for seven lines of steamships. It thus serves as an entrepôt for much of the commerce between Atlantic and Pacific ports, and between the interior towns of Central and South America and the cities of Europe and the United States. The city lies on the west side of the low island of Manzanillo, is bordered on the landward sides by swamp, and consists mainly of unimposing frame houses and small shops. The most attractive parts are the American quarter, where the employés of the Panama railway have their homes, and the old French quarter, where dwelt the French officers during their efforts to build the canal. In this last district, near the mouth of the old canal, stands a fine statue of Christopher Columbus, the gift of the empress Eugénie in 1870. Here also stands the mansion erected and occupied by Ferdinand de Lesseps during his residence on the isthmus. With the exception of railway shops, there are no important industrial establishments.

Colon dates its origin from the year 1850, when the island of Manzanillo was selected as the Atlantic terminus of the Panama railway. The settlement was at first called Aspinwall, in honour of William H. Aspinwall (1807–1875), one of the builders of the railway; but some years afterwards its name was changed by legislative enactment to Colon, in honour of Christopher Columbus, who entered Limon Bay in 1502. The original name, however, survived among the English-speaking inhabitants for many years after this change. With the completion of the railway in 1855, the town supplanted Chagres (q.v.) as the principal Atlantic port of the isthmus. Later it acquired increased importance through its selection by de Lesseps as the site for the Atlantic entrance to his canal. During the revolution of 1885 it was partly burned and was rebuilt on a somewhat larger plan. As the city has always been notoriously unhealthful, the United States, on undertaking the construction of the Panama Canal (q.v.), became interested in preventing its becoming a centre of infection for the Canal Zone, and by the treaty of November 1903 secured complete jurisdiction in the city and harbour over all matters relating to sanitation and quarantine, and engaged to construct a system of waterworks and sewers in the municipality, which had been practically completed in 1907. The United States government has also opened a port at Cristobal, within the Canal Zone.


COLON, a town of Matanzas province, Cuba, on the railway between Matanzas and Santa Clara, and the centre of a rich sugar-planting country. Pop. (1907) 7124.


COLON. (1) (Gr. κόλον, miswritten and mispronounced as κῶλον, the term being taken from κόλος, curtailed), in anatomy, that part of the greater intestine which extends from the caecum to the rectum (see Alimentary Canal). (2) (Gr. κῶλον, a member or part), originally in Greek rhetoric a short clause longer than the “comma,” hence a mark (:), in punctuation, used to show a break in construction greater than that marked by the semicolon (;), and less than that marked by the period or full stop. The sign is also used in psalters and the like to mark off periods for chanting. The word is applied in paleography to a unit of measure in MSS., amounting in length to a hexameter line.


COLONEL (derived either from Lat. columna, Fr. colonne, column, or Lat. corona, a crown), the superior officer of a regiment of infantry or cavalry; also an officer of corresponding rank in the general army list. The colonelcy of a regiment formerly implied a proprietary right in it. Whether the colonel commanded it directly in the field or not, he always superintended its finance and interior economy, and the emoluments of the office, in the 18th century, were often the only form of pay drawn by general officers. The general officers of the 17th and 18th centuries were invariably colonels of regiments, and in this case the active command was exercised by the lieutenant-colonels. At the present day, British general officers are often, though not always, given the colonelcy of a regiment, which has become almost purely an honorary office. The sovereign, foreign sovereigns, royal princes and others, hold honorary colonelcies, as colonels-in-chief or honorary colonels of many regiments. In other armies, the regiment being a fighting unit, the colonel is its active commander; in Great Britain the lieutenant-colonel commands in the field the battalion of infantry and the regiment of cavalry. Colonels are actively employed in the army at large in staff appointments, brigade commands, &c. extra-regimentally. Colonel-general, a rank formerly used in many armies, still survives in the German service, a colonel-general (General-Oberst) ranking between a general of infantry, cavalry or artillery, and a general field marshal (General-Feldmarschall). Colonels-general are usually given the honorary rank of general field marshal.


COLONIAL OFFICE, the department of the administration of the United Kingdom which deals with questions affecting the various colonial possessions of the British crown. The department as it now exists is of comparatively modern creation, dating only from 1854. The affairs of the English colonies began to assume importance at the Restoration, and were at first entrusted to a committee of the privy council, but afterwards transferred to a commission created by letters patent. From 1672 to 1675 the council for trade was combined with this commission, but in the latter year the colonies were again placed under the control of the privy council. This arrangement continued until 1695, when a Board of Trade and Plantations was created; its duty, however, was confined to collecting information and giving advice when required. The actual executive work was performed by the secretary of state for the southern department, who was assisted, from 1768 to 1782, by a secretary of state for the colonies. Both the Board of Trade and Plantations and the additional secretary were abolished in 1782, and the executive business wholly given over to the home office. In 1794 a third secretary of state was reappointed, and in 1801 this secretary was designated as secretary of state for war and the colonies. In 1854 the two offices were separated, and a distinct office of secretary of state for the colonies created.

The secretary of state for the colonies is the official medium of communication with colonial governments; he has certain administrative duties respecting crown colonies, and has a right of advising the veto of an act of a colonial legislature—this veto, however, is never exercised in the case of purely local statutes. He is assisted by a permanent and a parliamentary undersecretary and a considerable clerical staff.

As reorganized in 1907 the colonial office consists of three chief departments: (1) the Dominions Department, dealing with the affairs of the self-governing over-sea dominions of the British crown, and of certain other possessions geographically connected with those dominions; (2) the Colonial Department, dealing with the affairs of crown colonies and protectorates; (3) the General Department, dealing with legal, financial and other general business. In addition to these three departments,