America’s Foreign Policy-1865-1919 ap united States History



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America’s Foreign Policy—1865-1919

AP United States History


For the Founding Fathers, foreign policy was not a major concern. Their focus lay more upon domestic affairs and trying to establish a new nation with new ideals. Our mere survival was the most pressing issue facing America from the end of the Revolutionary War until the end of the War of 1812 (1783-1814).
The ensuing period after the Treaty of Ghent until the start of the Civil War (1815-1860) represents a phase when America becomes a hemispheric power. Our nation is centered on expanding westward; protecting U.S. interests abroad and limiting foreign interests in the America’s. We were still isolated from European politics and major global affairs though as the nation’s reliance on Washington’s farewell address still ruled our foreign policy.
After our Civil War, the nation focuses upon healing and dealing with the major domestic issues caused by 5 years of fighting. During this next 25 year period (1865-1890) we see the country rebound by developing a booming economy, national pride and consolidating its hold on North America. Together, these factors allow the U.S. to shift its focus outside our borders and change

our foreign policy from isolationism to expansionism.


This imperialistic attitude was a huge step for such a young nation, and a radical departure from our first hundred years. The result: from 1890 until the start of WWI we acquire an overseas empire that stretches far into the Pacific Ocean and intervene in the affairs of Cuba, Mexico and other Latin American Nations. This is the time when the U.S. takes its first steps toward being a world power

But what were the reasons for this new foreign policy? Was it an updated Manifest Destiny? Was it the globalization of “City on a Hill”? Can we use the European ideals of “white man’s burden” and “social Darwinism”? Though behind all these reasons lies a very important question: Was imperialism a legitimate and respectable policy at the turn of the 20th century? How about today?



Terms to know for the period 1865-1914


Alfred Thayer Mahan Social Darwinism Treaty of Portsmouth

Anti-Imperialism League Open Door Policy John Hay

The Mystery of the Maine Big Stick Diplomacy Philippine Insurrection

De Lôme Letter Teller Amendment Platt Amendment



Roosevelt Corollary Gentleman's Agreement Great White Fleet

Panama Canal Yellow Journalism Treaty of Paris




Textbook references: American Pageant: Read pages 403-404, Chapters 27 and 30.

Study Question: (Minimum of 50 words, handwritten)

Write an editorial in which you either support or criticize the methods that the U.S. military used during the Filipino Insurrection.—Due Friday, March 13.





Monday, March 2: We will attempt to determine when a nation should intervene in the affairs of other nations? For Tuesday—Read “Growing Pains: America in the 1890’s” and answer the questions that accompany the reading.
Tuesday, March 3: We will identify the causes of the Spanish-American War and briefly discuss the war’s events. The key question that we want to answer is was this conflict in our national interest? For the week—Read pages 403-404 and Chapter 27.
Wednesday, Thursday, March 4, 5: We will discuss the formation of the Anti-Imperialist league and understand the opposition to the War. We will also examine the problems America faces now that it has colonies to control. For Thursday: View the PowerPoint “America’s Foreign Policy”
Friday, March 6: We will analyze America’s new role as a global power in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. We will compare ourselves to other powers and start to examine the conflict that will arise between the United States and Japan. We will examine how this period starts America on the course toward WW II.
Monday, March 9: Student Circle Discussion on US international behavior at the end of the 1800’s. Were we Imperialists like the European Powers of the time? Or merely fulfilling our Manifest Destiny? For the week—Read Chapter 30.


Terms to know for the period 1914-1919


Neutrality mobilization Big Four

Submarine warfare George Creel David Lloyd George



Lusitania war agencies Georges Clemenceau

Sussex pledge Espionage Act Vittorio Orlando

Allied powers Sedition Act League of Nations

Central Powers Schenck v. United States Henry Cabot Lodge

Propaganda Fourteen Points Treaty of Versailles
For class discussion:

  • Explain the importance of Wilson’s definition of war aims.

  • Explain the defeat of the League and the treaty.

  • Analyze the treatment of war opponents especially Socialists and German Americans.



Tuesday, Wednesday, March 10, 11: We will identify the changes that occurred in America as a result of WW I. In many cases, they were not compatible with traditional American values or even the constitution. For Wednesday: Complete “The Home front”
Thursday, Friday, March 12, 13: We will discuss the American Debate over the Treaty of Versailles. We will also identify the reasons that caused America to shift from being focused on expansion to adopting a policy of isolationism during the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Monday, March 16: Complete our discussion on WW I and identify the reasons that led to Isolationism. Review for test
Tuesday, March 17: Test (Happy St Patrick’s Day!)

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