American Foreign Policy Within The Founding Period

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Foreign Policy Within The Founding Period

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peggy Carter

History 202: U.S. Foreign Relations

September 1, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An integral function of the American government is to take charge of the relations between the country and other countries around the world. In theory, all nations are equal. However, each country possesses the greatest authority over its territory. Foreign policy establishes the kind of relationship subsisting between the U.S. and other nations.

It is concerned with a broad range of issues that may be economic, ideological, political, humanitarian, and military.1 The country’s foreign policy is designed in a way that helps to further specific goals. It assures the nation’s defense and security. The policy has undergone changes over time.

In the founding era, in The Declaration of Independence, Congress noted that America’s (as a united unit composed of all the 13 states) interest at the national level and in foreign policy was to maintain its newfound independence from Great Britain that was more powerful at the time.2

A primary foreign policy was to limit attempts by European countries to extend their colonization in the Western Hemisphere as envisioned by the Monroe Doctrine. America’s focus throughout the 19th century was on the creation of a nation that covered the continent.3

1. Walter McDougall, “Promised Land: U.S. Foreign Policy in the Founding Era,” Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 56, no. 2 (2014): 21, accessed August 28, 2018, https://home.isi.org/promised-land-us-foreign-policybr-founding-era.

2. Thomas Jefferson, “The Declaration of Independence,” Historic American Documents, Lit2Go Edition, 1776, accessed August 28, 2018. http://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/133/historic-american-documents/4957/the-declaration-of-independence/.

3. Walter McDougall, “Promised Land: U.S. Foreign Policy in the Founding Era,” Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 56, no. 2 (2014): 28, accessed August 28, 2018, https://home.isi.org/promised-land-us-foreign-policybr-founding-era.

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It was also keen on avoiding foreign entanglement. The U.S. believed that it had a duty to defend its hard-won liberties, pursue peace, commerce, and friendship with all other countries, and command the respect of the world’s old powers while maintaining a focus on its own affairs concerning other issues.

Even though the framers of the constitution laid out the conditions for a favorable peace, they did not provide specific instructions concerning the utilization of the powers. Defense was not well articulated.

George Washington had in his Farewell Address provided suggestions on the handling of some of the foreign policy issues. For instance, he warned against forging long-term alliances with other countries.4

The impotence apparent in the articles of confederation in relation to unification policies for defense and trade pushed Federalists to convene in Philadelphia in 1787 where they looked into the conditions that would be necessary for favorable peace.5 The Federalist Papers advocated for ratification on the grounds of foreign policy.6

4. Washington, George: “Farewell Address,” September 19, 1796. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project, accessed August 28, 2018. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=65539.

5. Walter McDougall, “Promised Land: U.S. Foreign Policy in the Founding Era,” Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 56, no. 2 (2014): 24, accessed August 28, 2018, https://home.isi.org/promised-land-us-foreign-policybr-founding-era.

6. Walter McDougall, “Promised Land: U.S. Foreign Policy in the Founding Era,” Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 56, no. 2 (2014): 24, accessed August 28, 2018, https://home.isi.org/promised-land-us-foreign-policybr-founding-era.

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They argued that there was no delegation of authority to develop or execute foreign policy. For instance, the policy did not mention the power to recognize or fail to recognize foreign regimes, make peace instead of war, terminate treaties instead of making them, annex or cede territory, regulate alien status and immigration, deny or bestow foreign aid, impose sanctions, or prescribe specific diplomatic behavior.

The Antifederalists on their part were against any policies that gave immense power to the central government.7 Through the Antifederalist papers, they expressed the desire for a government that is more answerable to the people. One of the outcomes of their actions was the passage of the Bill of Rights.

James Madison sought to provide some clarity by positing that one has authority over his or her property. The government ought to respect people’s property and avoid exercising excessive power over it.8 For slave owners, they viewed slaves as their property. There was a presentation of the Slave Petition for Freedom to the Massachusetts Legislature in 1777.9 The petition sought to have the abolishment of the slave trade. The notion of liberty challenged slavery. Women were also perceived as property.

7. Nathan Tarcov, “The Federalists and Anti-Federalists on Foreign Affairs.” Teaching Political Science: Politics in Perspective 14, no. 1 (1986): 39, accessed August 28, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1080/00922013.1986.9942412.

8. James Madison. The Papers of James Madison. Edited by William T. Hutchinson et al. (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1969) 134.

9. Thomas J. Davis, “Emancipation Rhetoric, Natural Rights, and Revolutionary New England: A Note on Four Black Petitions in Massachusetts, 1773-1777.” The New England Quarterly 62, no. 2 (1989): 248, accessed August 28, 2018. https://www.jstor.org/stable/366422.

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Abigail Adams, on her part, in her famous appeal to “Remember the Ladies” questioned the view of women as property.10 Her appeal helped in bringing to light the challenges women face and how to go about them.

Evidently, America’s primary interest in its foreign policy during the founding time was preventing European powers from extending their control over the Western hemisphere. A primary foreign policy was to limit attempts by European countries to extend their colonization in the Western Hemisphere.

The Federalist Papers advocated for ratification on the grounds of foreign policy. The Antifederalists on their part were against any policies that gave immense power to the central government. James Madison sought to provide some clarity by positing that one has authority over his or her property. Abigail Adams on her part, in her famous appeal to “Remember the Ladies” questioned the view of women as property.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Abigail Adams. Letter to John Adams, March 31 – April 5, 1776 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society, accessed August 28, 2018. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/.

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Reference List

Adams, Abigail. Letter to John Adams, March 31 – April 5, 1776 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. Accessed August 28, 2018. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/.

Davis, Thomas J. “Emancipation Rhetoric, Natural Rights, and Revolutionary New England: A Note on Four Black Petitions in Massachusetts, 1773-1777.” The New England Quarterly 62, no. 2 (1989): 248-263. Accessed August 28, 2018. https://www.jstor.org/stable/366422.

Jefferson, Thomas, “The Declaration of Independence,” Historic American Documents, Lit2Go Edition, 1776. Accessed August 28, 2018. http://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/133/historic-american-documents/4957/the-declaration-of-independence/.

McDougall, Walter. “Promised Land: U.S. Foreign Policy in the Founding Era.” Modern Age, 56, no. 2 (2014). Accessed August 28, 2018. https://home.isi.org/promised-land-us-foreign-policybr-founding-era.

Tarcov, Nathan. “The Federalists and Anti-Federalists on Foreign Affairs.” Teaching Political Science: Politics in Perspective 14, no. 1 (1986): 38-45. Accessed August 28, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1080/00922013.1986.9942412.

Madison, James. The Papers of James Madison. Edited by William T. Hutchinson et al. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1969.

Washington, George: “Farewell Address,” September 19, 1796. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. Accessed August 28, 2018. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=65539.

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