Relating only to foreign policy between 1867 and 1914, what are three topics that are essential background to the changes that took place in foreign policy and the reasons for those changes, with...

Relating only to foreign policy between 1867 and 1914, what are three topics that are essential background to the changes that took place in foreign policy and the reasons for those changes, with an explanation of each?

Here is my assignment: American history from the late 1800s through the pre-World War I era witnessed a transformation in foreign policy. Imagine that you are preparing the introduction to a book that will cover American foreign policy before 1914. You will need to give some succinct, but essential background, beginning with the changes that took place in foreign policy and the reasons for those changes during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. First, list at least three topics you will want to cover. Then write one paragraph about each one. The information should relate only to foreign policy, between 1867 and 1914.

Expert Answers
mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Three topics that are important to understanding the changes in the foreign policy of the United States between 1867-1914 include the acquisition of Alaska, the Spanish-American War, and the expanding of American influence around the world in the early 1900s.

The purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867 implied that the Americans now believed that the United States should take the concept of manifest destiny and expand it around the world. Up to this time, Americans believed that they should expand from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. With the purchase of Alaska, the United States showed it wanted to expand beyond its borders.

The Spanish-American War represented a growing belief in the United States that the United States should become a world power. As a result, the Americans took up the cause of the people in Cuba who were being mistreated by the Spanish. American newspapers exaggerated this mistreatment, leading to growing outrage in the United States. When the U.S.S. Maine exploded in Havana Harbor, Spain was immediately blamed. The United States went to war with Spain and emerged with several of Spain’s colonial possessions including Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.

The influence of the United States expanded further around the world after the Spanish-American War ended. The United States intervened in a revolution in Panama to help Panama become independent. The United States wanted to build a canal through this region, and when Colombia refused our offer, the United States helped Panama become free. The United States then built the Panama Canal in Panama. The United States also sent the Great White Fleet around the world to show off its power. The United States also intervened in China to help keep Chinese markets open to American interests.

There were several examples that represent the changes in American foreign policy between 1867-1914.

farouk23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

[eNotes provides reference material and tutoring without doing student assignments for them. Questions will be edited to reflect this policy.]

Topics that will be covered: 

  1. The Spanish American War (1898) 
  2. The Building of the Panama Canal (1903) 
  3. Intervention in China (Boxer Rebellion) 

1. The Spanish American war signaled America's rise and the relative decline of the European powers. The war also led to America aquiring territories and colonies in the Caribbean sea and pacific ocean, namely the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico, The Marianas and a host of other territories. The acquisition of the Philippines in particular led to permanent American involvement in Asian affairs. 

2. The construction and completion of the Panama Canal has a number of important foreign policy implications. First it led to the United States' supporting secessionist factions, who separated the republic of Panama from Colombia, and it also led to the granting of sovereign land rights to the United States over the Panama Canal Zone. The Panama Canal had massive implications for the exercise of American foreign policy and military might; it greatly shortened the sea travel distance for both commercial and military vessels from the East to West coast, therefore making it easier for the U.S to exercise its influence in the pacific rim. 

3. The intervention in China to suppress the Boxer rebellion was an important aspect in U.S foreign policy as it showed America's willingness to intervene militarily and to use force to secure its influence and interests. It also was one of the earlier examples of broad coalition building as the U.S intervened as part of an alliance of nations.