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Us Foreign Policy 1865-1914, Expansionist or Isolationist

Essay by review  •  December 18, 2010  •  Essay  •  912 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,709 Views

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Was the foreign policy of the United States primarily isolationist or expansionist through 1865-1914?

At the turn of the century, and after gaining our independence, the United States land mass more than doubled through the use of purchasing, annexing, and war. However, the foreign policy of our government took a predominately isolationist stand. This was a national policy of abstaining from political or economic relations with other countries. General Washington shaped these values by upholding and encouraging the use of these principles by warning to avoid alliances in his farewell speech. The reasoning behind these actions was that the Republic was a new nation. We did not have the resources or the means to worry about other countries and foreign affairs; our immediate efforts were internal. Our goals that were of primary importance were setting up a democratic government and jump-starting a nation. The United States foreign policy up to and directly preceding the Civil War was mainly Isolationist. After the war, the government helped bring together a nation torn apart by war, helped improved our industrialization, and helped further populate our continent. We were isolationist in foreign affairs, while expanding domestically into the west and into the north through the purchase of Alaska. However, around 1890 the expansionism that had taken place was a far cry from what was about to happen. Expansionism is the nations practice or policy of territorial or economic expansion. The United States began dealing with territories that were overseas. They proceeded to expand into foreign markets not only for territorial advantages but also for the economic benefit. At the turn of the century, Isolationism took a back seat to expansionism, which had now arrived in full force. Throughout 1865 to 1914, the United States foreign policy was primarily expansionism.

Through the strong foundation of Isolationism and the policies enacted such as The Monroe Doctrine, the United States played a largely neutral role in foreign affairs. The Monroe Doctrine passed in 1823 was to forbid European nations from colonizing any territory in the Western Hemisphere. Although the United States didn't have the authority or firepower to back this up, it resulted in almost four decades of compulsory US involvement in any foreign affair. After the Civil War, Isolationistic practices grew stronger as the government had to find a way to re-unite the torn nation. President Grover Cleveland promised to avoid committing the nation to form any alliances with other countries while also opposed to the acquisition of new land. The climate of post Civil War US prevented us from deep involvement in foreign affairs. Our navy was also weakened by the war. Our natural resources were scarce and our diplomatic relations with other countries had been neglected. With the attention of our government focused solely on our nation, we proceeded to develop our interior. One of the biggest reasons for growth in US land mass was the public idea of Manifest Destiny. Americans believed that it was the destiny of the United States to populate a huge, vast continent.

In the 1890's, the Isolationist movement took a back seat and American foreign policy followed heavy Expansionism. After the total expansion into the west,

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