The Major Shifts In American Foreign Policy Between Reconstruction And World War I

1383 words - 6 pages

Changes in American Foreign Policy between the American Civil War and World War IIn the United States from the post-Revolution to post-Reconstruction, foreign policy was essentially non-existent. America had chosen to follow the advice given by Washington on the matter of the foreign world in his farewell address--to stay away from foreign entanglements at all cost. This inward looking America fared pretty well through this aforementioned period, including it civil war period, from which it bounced back even stronger than before, politically and economically. America first began developing foreign interests because after the American Civil War, the country rate of industrialization increased dramatically, resulting in a rapidly growing economy coupled with rapidly shrinking frontiers and markets. In order to keep the economic boom churning, America was forced to look to foreign markets. It was these economic reasons that catalyzed America's drive from being a minor regional power to becoming the worlds economic and later military power house. The question that probably will puzzle historians is why post World War I America, emerging as the world dominant nation, would turn away from the outside world and return to isolationism.The North's Civil War victory led to an economic revolution in the United States. Railways were laid that connected the nation from the Atlantic to the Pacific, settlers flocked westward, and the size and numbers of American cities increased rapidly. These developments fueled the early American Industrial Revolution. But as the frontier disappeared and industrialization escalated, the American market could no longer provide the capital needed for industrialization to continue. As a result, Washington began looking for to foreign markets as outlets for the booming economy.America's first major post-Civil War venture was the Open Door Policy developed by then Secretary of State John Hay, under which all western powers agreed to a policy of equal trade interests. Hay's plan secured American economic interests in China, even though it was a late-comer to this area.Increasing trade in foreign markets meant that early Industrial Age America would have to secure sea lanes for trans-oceanic shipments. To secure trade lanes, America began building a modern navy in 1883, which was quite a feat considering that at that time the American people were still almost violently isolationistic? To build its new vessels without alarming the population, Washington officially referred to the new ships as "seagoing coastline battleships". In less than twenty years, the American navy advanced from twelfth strongest among world powers to third. 1The rise of American to the status as a world power was solidified by its defeat of the Spanish in the Spanish-American War (1898-1902) and defined by its earlier actions in 1895, in regards to the then twenty year old border dispute between Venezuela and British Guiana. Secretary of State, Richard Olney,...

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