From Isolationism To Intervention Essay

834 words - 3 pages

Throughout history, larger powers have bullied smaller, younger, and weaker states to test their resolve. For example, Sparta picked on Athens in ancient Greece, and Russia tested President Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis. This was the same case in America in 1812. England picked on America by taking her ships, impressing American sailors into the English army, and giving guns to the Indians. These actions blocked American citizens from enriching and expanding the young nation. In Washington’s farewell address, he tried to persuade future presidents to keep the United States in isolationism, defined as “ a policy of avoiding political or military agreements with other countries” (Hart 163). President Madison was justified in shifting American foreign policy from isolationism to intervention because he was helping his nation become a wealthy and respected country, rid itself of its problems, and make its national pride soar.
Although we should always aim for peace, in this case, war was the best choice. In Jefferson’s, Adams’s, and Madison’s presidencies, they all attempted diplomatic solutions and failed every time. President Adams sent Chief Justice John Jay to London to make them agree to move troops from Ohio Valley. “French officials viewed the Jay Treaty as a betrayal by the United States…[and] began attacking American merchant ships bound for Britain” (Hart 164). Adams then sent three envoys to France to end the attacks. “They were met by secret agents, later identified only as X, Y, and Z. The agents said that no peace talks would be held unless Talleyrand received a large sum of money as a tribute” (Hart 164). In the next presidency, Jefferson decided to stop all trade with foreign countries so that France and England would leave American ships alone. “The embargo actually did more harm than good because American farmers and manufacturers had no outlets to sell their goods” (“Jefferson’s Embargo”). Finally, “He [President Madison] offered France and Britain a deal: If you agree to stop attacking American ships, the United States will stop trading with your enemy. Napoleon promptly agreed to Madison’s deal. At the same time, he gave his navy secret orders to continue seizing American ships” (Hart 168). With these envoys sent and deals attempted, all unsuccessful, it would have been unwise to continue on a same path that leads to nowhere. Therefore, Madison made the logical decision to change America’s tactics by declaring war on England in 1812.
Madison was faced with many ongoing problems such as the seizure and...

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