A doctor of medicine, he came to the Isthmus in 1855 to work for the Panama Railroad. He was one of the conspirators who led the Panama Revolution in 1903. He traveled to New York and Washington in late summer 1903 and obtained the backing of railroad officials, the French engineer-lobbyist, Philippe Bunau-Varilla, and the U.S. government.
Following the independence movement, Amador became constitutional president in February 1904. His tenure was complicated by the price he had to pay to gain U.S. support for the secessionist movement: to appoint Bunau- Varilla as Panama’s minister to the United States, and to sign the Hay-Bunau- Varilla Treaty on the Canal, which set the course of U.S.-Panamanian relations and dominated Panamanian politics for the next 70 years.