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From the establishment of the United States after regional, not global, focus, but with the long-term ideal of creating an “Empire of Liberty. The military and financial alliance with France in 1778, which brought in Spain and the Netherlands to fight the British, turned the American Revolutionary War into a world war in which the British naval and military supremacy was neutralized. Historian Samuel Flagg Bemis was a leading expert on diplomatic history. Bemis’s The Diplomacy of the American Revolution, published originally in 1935, is still the standard work on the subject. It emphasized the danger of American entanglement in European quarrels. European diplomacy in the eighteenth century was “rotten, corrupt, and perfidious,” warned Bemis. America’s diplomatic success had resulted from staying clear of European politics while reaping advantage from European strife.
The Jay Treaty of 1795 aligned the U. The cabinet-level Department of Foreign Affairs was created in 1789 by the First Congress. Thomas Jefferson returned from France to take the position. Washington and his cabinet decided on a policy of neutrality. In 1795 Washington supported the Jay Treaty, designed by Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton to avoid war with Britain and encourage commerce. Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns.
Thomas Jefferson envisioned America as the force behind a great “Empire of Liberty”, that would promote republicanism and counter the imperialism of the British Empire. President Jefferson in the Embargo Act of 1807 forbid trade with both France and Britain, but his policy, largely seen as partisan in favor of agrarian interests instead of commercial interests, was highly unpopular in New England and ineffective in stopping bad treatment from British warships. Picture of a sail-powered warship with guns ablaze. The USS Constitution surprised analysts with an important victory over the HMS Guerriere in 1812. The Jeffersonians deeply distrusted the British in the first place, but the British shut down most American trade with France, and impressed into the Royal Navy about 6000 sailors on American ships who claimed American citizenship. American honor was humiliated by the British attack on the American warship the Chesapeake in 1807. In 1812 diplomacy had broken down and the U.
The War of 1812 was marked by very bad planning and military fiascoes on both sides. It ended with the Treaty of Ghent in 1815. After 1780 The United States opened relations with North African countries, and with the Ottoman Empire. In response to the new independence of Spanish colonies in Latin America in the early 19th century, the United States established the Monroe Doctrine in 1823. This policy declared opposition to European interference in the Americas and left a lasting imprint on the psyche of later American leaders. In 1846 after an intense political debate in which the expansionist Democrats prevailed over the Whigs, the U. Mexico never recognized that Texas had achieved independence and promised war should the U.
Polk peacefully resolved a border dispute with Britain regarding Oregon, then sent U. Army patrols into the disputed area of Texas. Every nation was officially neutral throughout the American Civil War, and none recognized the Confederacy. That marked a major diplomatic achievement for Secretary Seward and the Lincoln Administration. Lincoln’s foreign policy was deficient in 1861 in terms of appealing to European public opinion. Diplomats had to explain that United States was not committed to the ending of slavery, but instead they repeated legalistic arguments about the unconstitutionality of secession.
Elite opinion in Britain tended to favor the Confederacy, while public opinion tended to favor the United States. Large scale trade continued in both directions with the United States, with the Americans shipping grain to Britain while Britain sent manufactured items and munitions. Immigration continued into the United States. A serious diplomatic dispute with the United States erupted over the “Trent Affair” in late 1861.