The United States And Foreign Policy Essays

The United States And Foreign Policy Essays

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Historian Walter LaFeber argues the US grew into a “New Empire” following the Civil War, one that was fundamentally different from the old empires of Europe and one that naturally formed from the culmination of power and technology. While the United States approached foreign policy differently than the empires of Europe after the Civil War, the ideals that separated the new and old worlds date back much further than the Civil War. Similarly, the United States rose in power after the Civil War, but its actions in the second half of the 19th century were not different from actions before. Instead, US actions were exercised on a larger scale. The United States was consistent with its motives in foreign policy from the American Revolution until the end of the 19th century. As the US became more of a world power it began to wield its influence to accomplish its goals and this resulted in more direct involvement in foreign affairs to secure American economic interests and promote American influence. The direct involvement, though, was not an entirely new strategy imposed by the United States, shown in the Barbary Wars, the War of 1812 and Manifest Destiny. From its beginnings, United States foreign policy has been governed by the push for economic growth through open markets and ensuring stability in the western hemisphere by dispelling European powers to avoid disruptions in trade.

Early documents such as Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense”, and the treaties with France showed American commitment to achieving economic excellence and the very beginning of action towards reaching that goal. Thomas Paine talked of how the US should seek independence from Britain so that it may grow to trade with all of Europe. This argument was very much again...


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... due to its newfound power. Despite the growth in aggression following the Civil War, American foreign policy was continuous in both motive and action. The Mahanian naval buildup reflected the Barbary Wars and their purpose of securing trade in foreign markets, and played a significant role in preventing British-fueled conflict in Latin America. Westward expansion acted as a turning point because it was the first time that the US expanded outside of European markets and because of the aggressive actions used to accomplish American goals. The Spanish-American War and expansion in East Asia showed a continuation of the power-fueled bellicosity. Overall, the United States became more aggressive in achieving its foreign policy goals towards the second half of the 19th century, but the goals of free trade and a stable western hemisphere persisted from the very beginnings.

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