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Presentation on theme: "READING: COX AND STOKES CH 3 EARLY US FOREIGN POLICY 1776-1945."— Presentation transcript:


2 Guiding Questions How do we classify early US foreign policy? How does the concept of empire factor into these discussions? What is the Monroe Doctrine? Roosevelt Corollary? Does the “conventional wisdom” of the US as a “reluctant participant” in global affairs hold water during this era?

3 The US and Empire? LaFeber 2008 Americans view their country as a “vibrant democracy”  But at times, they also viewed the US as an empire Concept of empire surprising given the initial founding of the country  But the Framers sought to create a liberal empire  Rhetoric did not always match reality “Empire” added adjoining lands until the Civil War  Search for markets took the US across oceans after the Civil War Questions about US hegemony often involve debates about empire  Negative connotations today

4 Early US Foreign Policy as Isolationist? Common belief is that the U.S. was largely isolationist until WW1 LaFeber 2008 (Cox and Stokes) Washington’s Farewell Address:  “The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible” Jefferson’s Inaugural Address:  “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none” Kagan 2006  Context of Washington speech raises doubts about whether this isolationist bent was truly intended.

5 Louisiana Purchase LaFeber 2008 Jefferson was faced with the question of building ‘empire’ early within his presidency Louisiana territory owned by France  Control of New Orleans could impinge on US population Due to looming war with Great Britain, Napoleon gave up efforts at building a North American empire.  LA sold to the Americans  Largest increase in territory without the use of force. Purchase raised questions about how to govern the territory  Initially subject to military control Removes France from the picture in terms of North America War of 1812: Conflict between UK and US  1815: End of significant conflict with Europe on US mainland

6 Early US Foreign Policy as Isolationist? LaFeber 2008 Monroe Doctrine:  The “Old World” should not attempt to govern the “New World”  No military to back this up 1819-1821: Trans-continental Treaty (Adams Onis)with Spain  Debate over whether or not LA Purchase included Florida  Shrewd diplomacy coupled with attempts to destabilize region lead to annexation  Gives the US Florida and Spanish claims on the western coast 1830: Mexican independence from Spain  Puts Texas into play  Rising US demographics coupled with weak governance plays into Texan independence movement  Annexed by the United States

7 Early US Foreign Policy as Isolationist? Annexation of Texas not welcomed by all  Europe wanted Texas to remain an independent buffer zone between the US and Mexico  Slave states welcomed Texas; Free states not so much  Demographics favored the North; Congressional support also favored the free states 1845: Mexican American War  Thought to be “unconstitutional”  Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo gives US: CA, NV, UT and parts of NM, WY, CO AND AZ  Gadsden Purchase – acquired via treaty with Mexico in exchange for cash gives the rest of AZ and NM  Left southerners looking for more slave territories

8 President Lincoln and the Civil War LaFeber 2008 Lincoln declares he will not interfere with states where slavery existed  But he would not sanction further annexation  Rejects Kentucky-Missouri compromise  No entry into Latin America angered southerners  Civil War raises questions about “Manifest Destiny” Kagan 2006 Slavery undercut the liberal narrative; defined Southern politics.  South and the North were on different economic trajectories.  Slavery created a “strategic vulnerability” for the US. European support for the South was difficult; slavery made cooperation tough.  Reconstruction allowed the US to focus on new threats (e.g. France’s assistance to Mexico).

9 Alaska and Hawaii LaFeber 2008 Alaska – “Seward’s Folly”  Russia needed cash  Negotiations interrupted by Civil War, concluded in 1867. Hawaii  U.S. strengthened ties to Hawaii to prevent British takeover.  This led to domination by American sugar plantations.  Joint session of Congress passed annexation resolution – too much resistance to pass a treaty.  Annexed in 1898. Statehood in 1959. First move to expand across oceans rather than acquire adjoining territory  Opens the door to new markets  1874: US begins to export more goods than it imports

10 US Protects Economic Interests LaFeber 2008 1895: Cuban rebellion against Spain puts US interests at risk  War of 1898: Drives Spain out; prevents Cuban revolutionaries from taking over  US gets: Cuba, Puerto Rico, Philippines Cuba and the Philippines given “independence” 1899-1900: Open door notes shape economic influences  China must stay whole and under Chinese control (i.e. no European control)  Opposed colonialism and supported open foreign markets 1903: Roosevelt aids Panamanian revolt against Colombia  Basis for the Panama Canal in 1914

11 From the Roosevelt Corollary to the League of Nations LaFeber 2008 Roosevelt Corollary: US can act as an “international police power” to protect its interests in the Western Hemisphere.  US “arrival” as an international power 1911-1917: Wilson calls for democracy in new nations  Russian Revolution results in the creation of “competitor” in terms of economic/political model  European powers also reject the idea of democracy 1917: US enters WW1 ending US reluctance to get involved in European affairs  Wilson’s initial neutrality could undermine US economy League of Nations proposed to ensure that peace is maintained in the aftermath of WW1  Defeated by opposition in the Senate; seen as too “entangling”

12 The Interwar Era LaFeber 2008 US played an active role in rebuilding Europe through the Washington Conference  Five Power Treaty  Nine Power Treaty  Dawes Plan  Aim to rebuild, restore economies, re-fashion peace 1928-9: Great Depression hits US economy  Economic contagion  Ties to Japan and Germany weakened  Both regimes turn to fascism Promotes an aggressive foreign policy Perceived lack of leadership sets the stage for FDR landslide in 1932

13 The US and World War II LaFeber 2008 FDR’s “New Deal” aims to reinvigorate the US economy  Marked initially by isolationism in foreign affairs US initially remained neutral in WW2 despite German gains throughout the European continent  Japanese aggression will bring US into WW2  Japan’s belief that attack would force the US to concede to its policies in Asia and focus its attention on Europe, backfired The ravages of war made it apparent that Americans had nothing to fear from international engagement  US believed it had the power to control the postwar world  But disagreements over how to rebuild Europe will divide the Allies and set the stage for the Cold War

14 Conclusions Argument that the US was isolationist prior to World War I is difficult to support  Through its dealings with European powers as well as American Indian nations, the US engaged actively in international politics through diplomacy, treaties, as well as conflict. Kagan 2006 From its inception, international community viewed the US as a “dangerous nation”  Insatiable need for territory/high birth rates (Manifest Destiny)  Liberal ideals resonated in illiberal states (City on the Hill) The myth of the US as a “reluctant participant” in world affairs may resonate domestically but not internationally.

15 Next Lecture Theme:  US Foreign Policy During the Cold War  Cox and Stokes CH 4 If You’re Interested….  Kagan. A Dangerous Nation


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