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I'm doing some research on this topic for my American Studies class, and I'm having a little trouble with this.
I would appreciate a brief overview of this, or possibly some primary sources for me to look through.
The most important bit of background information here is that Britain spent that period dedicated to thwarting France (particularly its continental ambitions). This was the basic diplomatic split in western politics.
In the USA, the Democratic Party tended to be very suspicous of England (for various reasons, the most practical of which was the clash of its southern base with the anti-slavery movement in the UK), and more sympathetic towards France. The Federalists (and later the Whigs), had their base in the commercial cities of the NorthEast. These areas had very strong ties of trade, culture, and religon (and did I mention trade?) to England, and thus tended to be more sympathetic to England, and less so with France.
US foriegn policy tended to veer from one to the other, depending on which party was in power. For instance, the War of 1812 against Great Britain, and the very favorable Louisiana Purchase, both occurred during Democractic administrations.
This document was written by Stephen Tonge. I am most grateful to have his kind permission to include it on the web site.
|1933||Germany left the League of Nations.|
|1934||Attempted Nazi coup in Austria crushed. |
Poland and Germany sign alliance.
|1935||Germany broke the military clauses of the Treaty of Versailles|
|1936||German troops reoccupied the Rhineland. |
Rome-Berlin Axis signed
|1938||Anschluss with Austria. |
Sudetenland handed to Germany as a result of the Munich conference.
|1939||Rest of the Czech lands occupied by the Germans. |
Germany invaded Poland.
Hitler’s Foreign Policy Aims
When Hitler came to power he was determined to make Germany a great power again and to dominate Europe. He had set out his ideas in a book called Mein Kampf (My Struggle) that he had written in prison in 1924. His main aims were
- To destroy the Treaty of Versailles imposed on Germany after her defeat in World War One. Hitler felt the Treaty was unfair and most Germans supported this view.
- To unite all German speakers together in one country. After World War One there were Germans living in many countries in Europe e.g. Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland. Hitler hoped that by uniting them together in one country he would create a powerful Germany or Grossdeutschland.
- To expand eastwards into the East (Poland, Russia) to gain land for Germany (Lebensraum- living space).
His tactics involved using the threat of violence to achieve his aims. He realised that his potential foes, France and Britain, were reluctant to go to war and were prepared to compromise to avoid a repeat of World War One. He was also an opportunist who often took advantage of events for his own benefit.
His foreign policy successes in the 1930s were to make him a very popular figure in Germany. As one German political opponent described:
“Everybody thought that there was some justification in Hitler’s demands. All Germans hated Versailles. Hitler tore up this hateful treaty and forced France to its knees…. people said, “he’s got courage to take risks”
Hitler protested at the fact that the Allies had not disarmed after World War and he left the disarmament conference and the League of Nations in 1933. He intensified the programme of secret rearmament.
In 1934, Germany and Poland concluded an alliance, the first of his infamous ten year non-aggression pacts. This caused a surprise in Europe at the time. The alliance broke Germany’s diplomatic isolation while also weakening France’s series of anti-German alliances in Eastern Europe. For the next five years Poland and Germany were to enjoy cordial relations. However like many of his agreements, this was a tactical move and Hitler had no intention of honouring the agreement in the long term.
In July 1934 an attempt by Austrian Nazis to overthrow the government in their country was crushed. The Austrian Prime Minister Dollfuss was killed in the attempt. Hitler at first supported the attempted coup but disowned the action when it was clear it would fail. Italy reacted with great hostility to the prospect of Austria falling into Nazi hands and rushed troops to the border with Austria.
In January 1935 the Saar voted to return to Germany. This region had been placed under the control of the League of Nations by the Treaty of Versailles. This allowed the French to exploit its coalfields for 15 years. The vote to return to Germany was supported by over 90%. It was a major propaganda boost for Hitler who could claim that his policies had the backing of the German people.
In March, using the pretext that the other powers had not disarmed, Hitler announced that Germany was going to reintroduce conscription and create an army of 36 divisions. He also said that Germany was going to build up an air force (the Luftwaffe) and expand her navy. All of these actions were against the terms of the Treaty of Versailles but were very popular in Germany.
Britain, Italy and France formed the Stresa front to protest at this action but took no further measures. This united front against Germany was further weakened when Italy invaded Ethiopia.
A factor that helped Hitler was the attitude of the English. They felt that Germany had been very harshly treated at Versailles and there was a lot of sympathy for the German actions. The memory of the horrors of the First World War was also still very strong in Britain. They were also very anti-communist and worried more about Stalin.
Protecting their own interests, the British concluded a naval agreement with Hitler that limited the German navy to 35% of Britain’s. No limit was placed on the number of submarines that Germany could develop.
The Rhineland 1936
Under the Treaty of Versailles the Germans were forbidden to erect fortifications or station troops in the Rhineland or within 50 kilometres of the right bank of the river. In 1935 when Mussolini attacked Ethiopia, Hitler ignored international protests and supported Mussolini. This ended Germany’s international isolation and the Italians signalled their acceptance of German influence in Austria and the eventual remilitarisation of the Rhineland.
Most people expected the Germans to send troops into the Rhineland, the question was when? On 7 March 1936, in one of his many Saturday surprises, Hitler announced that his troops had entered the Rhineland.
The British were not prepared to take any action. There was a lot of sympathy in Britain for the German action. Without British support the French would not act. The French had built the Maignot line, a series of forts on the German border and felt secure behind it.
The force that Hitler had sent into the Rhineland was small but he had gambled and won.
“The forty-eight hours after the march into the Rhineland were the most nerve-racking in my life….If the French had then marched into the Rhineland, we would have had to withdraw with our tails between our legs, for the military resources at our disposal would have been wholly inadequate for even moderate resistance.”
He drew the conclusion that Britain and France were weak and that he could get away with more aggressive actions.
Alliance with Mussolini 1936
In June 1936 the Spanish Civil War broke out. Both Hitler and Mussolini sent aid to General Franco who was fighting against the popularly elected government of Spain. This closer co-operation between the two Fascist dictators led to an alliance known as the Rome-Berlin Axis. It was an agreement to pursue a joint foreign policy. Both agreed to stop the spread of communism in Europe. This relationship became closer in 1939 with the signing of “The Pact of Steel”.
Hitler had long wished to bring the land of his birth under German control. There was a Nazi party in Austria and many in Austria supported the union of both countries. Although there had been a failed coup attempt in 1934, Germany had extended its influence in Austria by 1938.
In February 1938 the Austrian Prime Minister, Schuschnigg, met Hitler at Berchtesgaden in the Alps. At the meeting the Austrian chancellor was threatened and was forced to place leading Austrian Nazis in his Government.
On his return to Austria, Schuschnigg tried to stop spreading German influence by calling a referendum. This enraged Hitler and Schuschnigg was forced to resign. German troops “were invited in” by the new Nazi Prime Minister, Seyss-Inquart.
Hitler returned in triumph to Vienna where he was greeted by euphoric crowds. This was the city where before World War One he had lived as a down and out. Hitler incorporated Austria into the Reich as the province of Ostmark. This event became known as the Anschluss.
Again the British and French did nothing. The new Prime Minister in Britain was Neville Chamberlain. He wanted to prevent another European war breaking out. He decided to follow a policy called Appeasement.
Appeasement was a policy of giving into Hitler’s reasonable demands in order to prevent war. It was a very popular policy in Britain at the time.
The Sudetenland (Czechoslovakia) 1938
The next target for Hitler was the country of Czechoslovakia. It had been founded after World War One. It was the only democracy in Eastern Europe and possessed a good army. It also contained a number of national minorities (it was nicknamed “little Austria-Hungary”) including a large German minority in an area known as the Sudentenland. Hitler encouraged the Germans living there to demonstrate against Czech rule. The leader of the Sudeten German Party was Konrad Henlein.
Hitler decided to use the grievances of the Sudeten Germans to bring the area under German control. He secretly set the date of 1 October for war with Czechoslovakia if the issue was not resolved. Throughout the summer of 1938 the crisis grew worse. The Sudeten Germans backed by Nazi propaganda agitated for greater autonomy (independence).
Chamberlain hoped to avoid war and felt that there was some justification in the German demand for the region. He flew to Germany and met Hitler twice, at Berchtesgaden and Bad Godesberg. However although it seemed an agreement had been reached, Hitler made new demands and it looked as if Europe was on the brink of war.
Mussolini was ill prepared for a war and proposed a conference of Britain, France, Germany and Italy. This met at Munich on 28 September. The Czechs were not even invited. The British and French agreed to Hitler’s demands and it seemed as if the threat of war was averted. Chamberlain and Daladier, the French Prime Minister, received heroes welcomes when they returned home. The Czechs were bitter at the loss of territory including most of their border fortifications and were now virtually powerless to resist the Germans.
In March 1939, Hitler took over the rest of the Czech lands after encouraging the Slovaks to declare independence under German protection. The Czech president, Hacha was invited to Berlin and was threatened that if he did not agree to German occupation, Prague would be bombed. Significantly this was the first non-Germanic land that Hitler had seized. This occupation outraged public opinion in Britain and marked the end of appeasement. In the same month the German speaking town of Memel was seized from Lithuania.
The occupation of the rest of Czechoslovakia had led Britain to guarantee Poland that if she was attacked she would come to her aid. Under the Treaty of Versailles the newly created state of Poland was given the German speaking port of Danzig and land known as the Polish Corridor in order to give it access to the sea.
Hitler wanted to destroy Poland in order to gain living space (Lebensraum).Hitler demanded the German speaking town of Danzig from Poland and the building of a motorway to link East Prussia with the rest of the Reich.
However the demand for Danzig was not the real issue for Hitler. He said
Further successes can no longer be attained without the shedding of blood…Danzig is not the subject of the dispute at all. It is a question of expanding our living space in the east…there is no question of sparing Poland.
He accused the Poles of mistreating the German minority in other parts of Poland. Nazi propaganda greatly exaggerated stories of attacks on the German minority. The Poles refused to hand over the town of Danzig.
A Very Surprising Alliance!
As the summer wore on tension grew. Both Britain and France and Germany were trying to gain the support of the USSR in the event of war. Stalin did not trust Britain and France and felt they were encouraging Hitler to attack Russia. He had been greatly angered by the Munich agreement.
Although both Germany and the Soviet Union had been bitter enemies up to 1939, the world was stunned to learn that they had reached an agreement on 23 August 1939. This was a Ten Year Non-Aggression pact. Both countries benefited from this agreement. For the Soviet Union it allowed her more time to prepare for war and she gained a lot of territory in Eastern Europe. Germany was assured that if she attacked Poland she would not have to face a two-front war.
Nazi Soviet Non Aggression Pact
Secret Additional Protocol.
In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement of the areas belonging to the Polish State, the spheres of influence of Germany and the U.S.S.R. shall be bounded approximately by the line of the rivers Narev, Vistula and San.
The question of whether the interests of both parties make desirable the maintenance of an independent Polish State and how such a state should be bounded can only be definitely determined in the course of further political developments.
In any event both Governments will resolve this question by means of a friendly agreement.
Hitler hoped that the news of the Pact with Russia would stop France and Britain from going to war if Germany attacked Poland. He was surprised when Britain and Poland concluded a mutual defence treaty. Mussolini informed him that Italy was unprepared for war and he postponed the invasion of Poland. A flurry of diplomatic activity achieved nothing and on 1 September Germany invaded Poland. On 3 September Britain and France declared war on Germany.
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Re-publication in any form is subject to written permission.
The Treaty of Alliance with France was signed on February 6, 1778, creating a military alliance between the United States and France against Great Britain. Negotiated by the American diplomats Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee, the Treaty of Alliance required that neither France nor the United States agree to a separate peace with Great Britain, and that American independence be a condition of any future peace agreement. In addition to the Treaty of Alliance, the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with France was signed on February 6, 1778, promoting trade and commercial ties between the two countries.
George Washington and the Proclamation of Neutrality
This Decision Point can be assigned to students in conjunction with the George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796 Primary Source.
In April 1793, French ambassador Edmond Charles Genêt arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, to a hero’s welcome from the city’s Jeffersonian-Republican inhabitants who supported France over Great Britain in foreign affairs. Genêt had had the audacity to raise funds and use them to commission French privateers to seize British vessels in American waters and bring them back to port, which was an insult to American national sovereignty. The enthusiastic reception, which continued as he made his way north to Philadelphia, convinced “Citizen” Genêt (as he was known in Revolutionary France) that all Americans unconditionally supported the French Revolution and would support the French war effort against Great Britain and its allies.
On the basis of his welcome in South Carolina, “Citizen Genêt” believed he had the full support of America.
Genêt expected American support because France had helped the United States win its independence, and the 1778 Treaty of Alliance between France and the United States was still in effect. This fact, along with assurances from Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, encouraged Genêt to take it for granted that the United States was unified in its support for France’s war with Great Britain. On April 19, the cabinet met to discuss the issue and formulate American foreign policy.
President Washington had an important decision to make based on numerous important critical variables. First, Europe was aflame, and the president knew the United States was too weak to go to war with any of the major European powers. Second, it was not clear whether the French alliance still applied, because France had launched an offensive war in Europe and the treaty was a defensive one. Third, Washington’s cabinet and the American people were divided along party lines between supporting France or Great Britain in American foreign policy. Finally, the imperious Genêt was making reasonable diplomatic talks nearly impossible, due to his arrogance. After listening to the advice of his cabinet and responding to Genêt’s latest outrages, the president faced a choice that could affect the survival of the new American republic.
In 1789, Americans had reacted sympathetically to the French Revolution. But in recent months, the French revolutionary government had killed more than fourteen hundred clergy and nobles in prison and then executed Louis XVI. It then tried to spread its ideology by declaring war on European monarchies, including Great Britain. Washington had to decide whether the United States should throw in its lot with such a government or chart a neutral course.
By early 1793, the French Revolution had sparked a fierce partisan debate between the Federalists and Jeffersonian-Republicans. The Federalists were becoming increasingly hostile to it and sympathized with Great Britain. Alexander Hamilton had hoped the French would show the “same humanity, the same dignity, the same solemnity, which distinguished the course of the American Revolution.” He and other Federalists were concerned the French Revolution was instead characterized by mob rule and murderous rampages. Jeffersonian-Republicans, in contrast, remained supportive of America’s sister republic, which they saw as carrying on the fight against monarchy. Thomas Jefferson continued to praise the French Revolution and even stated, “The liberty of the whole earth was depending on the issue…rather than it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated. Were there but an Adam and an Eve left in every country, and left free, it would be better than as it is now.”
These differences guided contentious cabinet discussions that made Washington’s decision more difficult. Hamilton argued that the United States should unilaterality withdraw from the treaty with France because it had been made with the previous monarchical regime. He wanted a declaration of neutrality because the new nation was unprepared to go to war. Jefferson, on the other hand, argued that treaties were made with nations rather than with governments and that the United States thus must abide by the 1778 alliance. He thought Congress had the primary authority to decide issues of war and peace.
Washington decided to split the difference between the divided members of his cabinet. He issued his Proclamation of Neutrality on April 22, 1793, but he agreed to preserve the French treaty and receive its arrogant minister. He thought it was the most prudent and constitutional path to take. Interestingly, the document Washington issued was simply titled “A Proclamation” and did not use the word neutrality, but its intent was clear.
Washington’s confidence in his decision was undermined by the continued divide in his cabinet and in the country at large. Both political parties tried to persuade public opinion by writing pamphlets favoring their foreign policy views. Hamilton published a series of newspaper essays under the pen name Pacificus, arguing that the president’s power to enact foreign policy did, in fact, authorize him to institute a policy of neutrality for the nation, which the United States could expect all other nations to respect as it traded with the different belligerents.
Jefferson was horrified by Hamilton’s argument, which he believed consolidated more and more power in the executive branch and would create a monarchy. “For God’s sake, my dear Sir,” he implored James Madison, “take up your pen, select the most striking heresies, and cut him [Hamilton] to pieces in the face of the public.” Madison hesitated to argue with Hamilton, however, because he had not been privy to the cabinet discussions over neutrality, and he was not sure with whom President Washington agreed.
Reluctantly, Madison finally did Jefferson’s bidding, writing under the pen name Helvidius newspaper essays that challenged Hamilton’s interpretation of the proclamation. The Helvidius essays followed Jefferson’s argument that because only Congress had the constitutional power to declare war, only that body could issue a neutrality proclamation. After the Pacificus-Helvidius exchange was complete, even Madison conceded that Hamilton had won the contest for public opinion over the meaning of the president’s proclamation. However, the debate was an important one in the deliberation over the principles that would guide the nation in its relationships with other countries. The United States would be neutral in the war between France and Britain and claim the trading rights of a neutral power, helping to lay down this principle of American foreign policy in the new nation.
Having arrived in Philadelphia in mid-May after his triumphant journey north from Charleston, Genêt enjoyed a cordial reception from Secretary of State Jefferson and received additional accolades from Jeffersonian-Republicans. To Genêt’s shock and dismay, however, President Washington issued his proclamation declaring the United States strictly neutral in the conflict between Britain and France.
That summer, still confident that the American people stood solidly behind him and France, Genêt took steps that violated U.S. neutrality, especially by commissioning twelve privateering ships in American ports and recruiting American sailors to serve on them. These aggressive actions gradually caused Genêt to fall out of public favor and become a liability to his supporters. Even Jefferson realized that the Republicans needed to distance themselves from Genêt or he would drag the party down with him. The Republicans did their best to abandon Genêt, though they continued to support revolutionary France.
Genêt’s downfall finally came when he issued an ultimatum to George Washington: Call Congress into special session to enact measures favorable to France, or he would go over the head of the president and appeal directly to the American people for support. Refusing to back down, Washington instead demanded that France replace Genêt with a new ambassador to the United States. Outmaneuvered by Washington, Genêt lost his support both in France and in Congress. Having overplayed his hand, he ended up losing his job and nearly his life. A new regime in Revolutionary France declared him a criminal for his misconduct and tried to recall him. Had Washington not magnanimously allowed Genêt asylum in the United States, he almost certainly would have faced the guillotine in Paris.
With the Proclamation of Neutrality, President Washington established a U.S. foreign policy of neutrality. In his famous 1796 Farewell Address, drafted in collaboration with Hamilton, he reaffirmed his proclamation and admonished his fellow citizens to keep neutrality a cornerstone of American diplomacy. “Our true policy,” Washington’s Farewell declared, is “to steer clear of permanent Alliances with any portion of the foreign world.” The United States continued to do just that until the mid-twentieth century.
Washington did not publicly appear for his Farewell Address but rather had it printed in newspapers.
1. President George Washington’s motivation for issuing the Proclamation of Neutrality was
- q reaction to the French attack on American merchant ships in the Caribbean
- the desire of the Republicans to go to war with Great Britain
- the desire of the Federalists to go to war with France
- a reaction to “Citizen” Genêt’s repeated outrages in his role as ambassador
2. Although Thomas Jefferson agreed that the United States should remain neutral in the war between Great Britain and France, he was outraged when President Washington issued the Proclamation of Neutrality because, according to Jefferson
- the Proclamation established a precedent that granted too much power to the president
- Congress was not consulted about the Proclamation
- the French would break the Alliance of 1778 with the United States
- the British would end their trade relationship with the United States
3. Most Americans supported the French Revolution until
- the French began to fight against England
- the French navy began seizing U.S. merchant ships
- the French threatened to occupy American ports
- the French began to execute hundreds of clergy and nobles
4. The central issue of the Pacificus-Helvidius exchange between Hamilton and Madison was
- whether the executive or the legislative branch could declare neutrality
- how the United States should respond to the behavior of Citizen Genêt
- the development of political factions
- the excesses of the French Revolution
5. Genêt most clearly overstepped his role as ambassador from France when he
- recruited twelve ships of privateers to fight for the French Republic
- arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, to raise support for the French in their war against Great Britain
- made a speech in Philadelphia criticizing the U.S. government
- issued an ultimatum to President Washington demanding American support for France
6. Which argument most directly supports George Washington’s reason for issuing the Proclamation of Neutrality?
- The United States was unprepared to fight in a major European war.
- After his experience in the American Revolution, Washington became a pacifist.
- Washington needed to focus on Native American nations fighting settlers on the frontier.
- Washington feared another Shays’ Rebellion.
Free Response Questions
- Compare and contrast the views of Federalists and Jeffersonian-Republicans on the 1793 Proclamation of Neutrality.
- How did war between Great Britain and France solidify the establishment of political parties in the United States?
- In what ways did Federalists and Jeffersonian-Republicans project their fears of Great Britain and France onto U.S. politics?
AP Practice Questions
“The true nature & design of such an act is—to make known to the powers at War and to the Citizens of the Country, whose Government does the Act that such country is in the condition of a Nation at Peace with the belligerent parties, and under no obligations of Treaty, to become an associate in the war with either of them that this being its situation its intention is to observe a conduct conformable with it and to perform towards each the duties of neutrality and as a consequence of this state of things, to give warning to all within its jurisdiction to abstain from acts that shall contravene those duties, under the penalties which the laws of the land (of which the law of Nations is a part) annexes to acts of contravention.”
Pacificus (Alexander Hamilton), Pacificus Number 1, June 29, 1793
“That its proclamation of the 22d of April last, is to be taken as the effect and expression of that decision.
The basis of the reasoning is, we perceive, the extraordinary doctrine, that the powers of making war and treaties, are in their nature executive and therefore comprehended in the general grant of executive power, where not specially and strictly excepted out of the grant.
Let us examine this doctrine and that we may avoid the possibility of [misstating] the writer, it shall be laid down in his own words: a precaution the more necessary, as scarce any thing else could outweigh the improbability, that so extravagant a tenet should be hazarded, at so early a day, in the face of the public.”
Helvidius (James Madison), Helvidius Number 1, August 24, 1793
Refer to the excerpt provided.
1. The main subject of debate in both excerpts is
- the power of the chief executive
- which branch of government has the authority to declare neutrality
- the power of the legislative branch
- the lack of power in the hands of the people
2. A significant motivation for the issue of the Proclamation of Neutrality in 1793 was that
- the United States needed to focus on driving British forces from the Great Lakes
- U.S. forces were removing American Indians from Ohio
- the United States wanted to maintain trade relations with both Britain and France
- the United States did not trust representatives of the French government
3. The excerpts represent which growing development in the United States during the 1790s?
- The debate over which European power to ally with
- The growing need for a strong navy
- The development of political factions and the power of government in the United States
- The debate over supporting Citizen Genêt
Ammon, Harry. The Genet Mission. New York: Norton, 1973.
Berkin, Carol. A Sovereign People: The Crises of the 1790s and the Birth of American Nationalism. New York: Basic, 2017.
Burns, James MacGregor, and Susan Dunn. George Washington. New York: Times Books, 2004.
DeConde, Alexander. Entangling Alliance: Politics and Diplomacy under George Washington. Durham: Duke University Press, 1958.
Elkins, Stanley and McKitrick, Eric., The Age of Federalism, New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Reuter, Frank T. Trials and Triumphs: George Washington’s Foreign Policy. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1983.
Staloff, Darren. Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson: The Politics of Enlightenment and the American Founding. New York: Hill and Wang, 2005.
Wood, Gordon. Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
American History: Foreign Policy During the 1920s
FAITH LAPIDUS: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION – American history in VOA Special English.
The nineteen twenties are remembered as a quiet period in American foreign policy. The nation was at peace. Americans elected three Republican presidents in a row: Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. These conservatives in the White House were generally more interested in economic growth at home than in relations with other countries.
But the United States had become a world power. It was tied to other countries by trade, politics and shared interests. And America had gained new economic strength.
This week in our series, Bob Doughty and Shirley Griffith discuss American foreign policy during the nineteen twenties.
BOB DOUGHTY: Before World War One, foreigners invested more money in the United States than Americans invested in other countries -- about three billion dollars more. The war changed this. By nineteen nineteen, Americans had almost three billion dollars more invested in other countries than foreign citizens had invested in the United States.
American foreign investments continued to increase greatly during the nineteen twenties.
Increased foreign investment was not the only sign of growing American economic power. By the end of World War One, the United States produced more goods and services than any other nation, both in total and per person.
Americans had more steel, food, cloth, and coal than even the richest foreign nations. By nineteen twenty, the United States national income was greater than the combined incomes of Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Canada, and seventeen smaller countries. Quite simply, the United States had become the world's greatest economic power.
SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: America's economic strength influenced its policies toward Europe during the nineteen twenties. In fact, one of the most important issues of this period was the economic aid the United States had provided European nations during World War One.
Americans lent the Allied countries seven billion dollars during the war. Shortly after the war, they lent another three billion dollars. The Allies borrowed most of the money for military equipment and food and other needs of their people.
The Allied nations suffered far greater losses of property and population than the United States during the war. And when peace came, they called on the United States to cancel the loans America had made. France, Britain, and the other Allied nations said the United States should not expect them to re-pay the loans.
BOB DOUGHTY: The United States refused to cancel the debts. President Coolidge spoke for most Americans when he said, simply: "They borrowed the money." He believed the European powers should pay back the war loans, even though their economies had suffered terribly during the fighting.
However, the European nations had little money to pay their loans. France tried to get the money by demanding payments from Germany for having started the war. When Germany was unable to pay, France and Belgium occupied Germany's Ruhr Valley. As a result, German miners in the area reduced coal production. And France and Germany moved toward an economic crisis and possible new armed conflict.
SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: An international group intervened and negotiated a settlement to the crisis. The group provided a system to save Germany's currency and protect international debts. American bankers agreed to lend money to Germany to pay its war debts to the Allies. And the Allies used the money to pay their debts to the United States.
BOB DOUGHTY: Some Americans with international interests criticized President Coolidge and other conservative leaders for not reducing or canceling Europe's debts.
They said the debts and the new payment plan put foolish pressure on the weak European economies. They said this made the German currency especially weak. And they warned that a weak economy would lead to serious social problems in Germany and other countries.
However, most Americans did not understand the serious effect that international economic policies could have on the future of world peace. They believed that it was wrong for the Europeans -- or anyone -- to borrow money and then refuse to pay it back.
SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Many Americans of the nineteen twenties also failed to recognize that a strong national military force would become increasingly important in the coming years. President Coolidge requested very limited military spending from the Congress. And many conservative military leaders refused to spend much money on such new kinds of equipment as submarines and airplanes.
Some Americans did understand that the United States was now a world power and needed a strong and modern fighting force.
One general, Billy Mitchell, publicly criticized the military leadership for not building new weapons. But most Americans were not interested. Many Americans continued to oppose arms spending until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in nineteen forty-one.
BOB DOUGHTY: American policy toward the League of Nations did not change much in the nineteen twenties.
In nineteen nineteen, the Senate denied President Wilson's plea for the United States to join the new League of Nations. The United States, however, became involved unofficially in a number of league activities. But it continued to refuse to become a full member. And in nineteen thirty, the Senate rejected a proposal for the United States to join the World Court.
The United States also continued in the nineteen twenties to refuse to recognize the communist government in Moscow. However, trade between the Soviet Union and the United States increased greatly during this period. And such large American companies as General Electric, DuPont, and R-C-A provided technical assistance to the new Soviet government.
SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: The Coolidge administration was involved actively in events in Latin America. Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes helped several Latin American countries to settle border disputes peacefully.
In Central America, President Coolidge ordered American Marines into Nicaragua when President Adolfo Diaz faced a revolt from opposition groups. The United States gave its support to more conservative groups in Nicaragua. And it helped arrange a national election in nineteen twenty-eight. American troops stayed in Nicaragua until nineteen thirty-three.
However, American troops withdrew from the Dominican Republic during this period. And Secretary of State Hughes worked to give new life to the Pan American union.
BOB DOUGHTY: Relations with Mexico became worse during the nineteen-twenties. In nineteen twenty-five, Mexican President Plutarco Elias Calles called for laws to give Mexico more control over its minerals and natural wealth. American oil companies resisted the proposed changes. They accused Calles of communism. And some American business and church leaders called for armed American intervention.
However, the American Senate voted to try to settle the conflict peacefully. And American diplomat Dwight Morrow helped negotiate a successful new agreement.
SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: These American actions in Nicaragua and Mexico showed that the United States still felt that it had special security interests south of its border. But its peaceful settlement of the Mexican crisis and support of elections in Nicaragua showed that it was willing to deal with disputes peacefully.
America's policies in Latin America during the nineteen-twenties were in some ways similar to its policies elsewhere. It was a time of change, of movement, from one period to another. Many Americans were hoping to follow the traditional foreign policies of the past. They sought to remain separate from world conflict.
BOB DOUGHTY: The United States, however, could no longer remain apart from world events. This would become clear in the coming years. Europe would face fascism and war. The Soviet Union would grow more powerful. And Latin America would become more independent.
The United States was a world power. But it was still learning in the nineteen twenties about the leadership and responsibility that is part of such power.
19. Politics in Transition: Public Conflict in the 1790s
John Adams, the second President of the United States, was charged with the task of following in George Washington's formidable footsteps.
The extraordinary conflict that divided American life in the 1790s centered on divergent understandings of the meaning of the American Revolution and how its legacy should be nurtured in the new nation. Arguments about that fundamental question probably would have been controversial under any circumstances, but were dramatically heightened by the explosive example of the French Revolution. The United States was still a fragile experiment in republican government. Its domestic events and attitudes would greatly be shaped by events in Europe.
Painted in 1865 by Constantino Brumidi, The Apotheosis of Washington graces the inner-dome of the U.S. Capitol. Brumidi used classical and Renaissance imagery to commemorate the life and contributions of George Washington.
The deep conflict of the 1790s stimulated a profound new development in American politics. During the Revolution patriots had expected, and even demanded, that all virtuous people support them in a cause they saw as the only real force for the public good. Even into the 1790s, most Americans believed that there could be only one legitimate position to take on political issues. This helps to explain the rabid opinions of the period that were set before the public by a remarkable growth in newspapers during the decade. These newspapers did not pretend to be objective in how they reported events. Instead, newspapers sold issues because of their intense commitment to a particular partisan view of the contentious events of the day.
Despite all the good George Washington accomplished, he was still met with great criticism throughout his presidency.
Consider these diametrically opposed opinions about President Washington. A Federalist newspaper trumpeted, "Many a private person might make a great President but will there ever be a President who will make so great a man as Washington?" Meanwhile, a Democratic-Republican paper condemned that same hero. "If ever a nation was debauched by a man, the American nation has been debauched by Washington. . . . Let the history of the federal government instruct mankind, that the mask of patriotism may be worn to conceal the foulest designs against the liberties of the people." As this newspaper suggests, most people believed that their political enemies would destroy the nation if allowed to hold power.
It was John Adams ' misfortune to be elected president in these deeply divided times. A genuine patriot and man of deep principle, domestic and international controversies placed nearly impossible challenges before the second president. If even Washington suffered harsh public attack from opposition newspapers, imagine what they were prepared to say about the less imposing John Adams.
By 1798 Adams and the Federalist Congress passed a series of laws that severely limited American civil liberties. Acting upon their judgment that political critics were treasonous opponents of good government, Adams followed the lead of Congressional leaders and heightened domestic repression. Adams supported policies that have subsequently been widely viewed as unconstitutional. Nevertheless, he was a moderating influence in his own party and refused to use the threat of war as a tool to exploit patriotic fervor to his own advantage. The gulf that separates our political attitudes from those of Adams and his Federalist colleagues in the late 1790s reveals the fundamental transformation of American political thought during that decade.
Relationships with Indians were a significant problem for Washington’s administration, but one on which white citizens agreed: Indians stood in the way of white settlement and, as the 1790 Naturalization Act made clear, were not citizens. After the War of Independence, white settlers poured into lands west of the Appalachian Mountains. As a result, from 1785 to 1795, a state of war existed on the frontier between these settlers and the Indians who lived in the Ohio territory. In both 1790 and 1791, the Shawnee and Miami had defended their lands against the whites who arrived in greater and greater numbers from the East. In response, Washington appointed General Anthony Wayne to bring the Western Confederacy—a loose alliance of tribes—to heel. In 1794, at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, Wayne was victorious. With the 1795 Treaty of Greenville (Figure), the Western Confederacy gave up their claims to Ohio.
Notice the contrasts between the depictions of federal and native representatives in this painting of the signing of the Treaty of Greenville in 1795. What message or messages did the artist intend to convey?
The French Revolution
The French Revolution began in 1789 and presented the fledgling American nation with its first major post-war foreign policy challenge. France had been America's most important ally during the war years. Many Americans hoped the revolution would lead to even closer ties between the two countries as France established democratic institutions. The dark violence and instability underscoring the revolution eventually divided American officials between pro and anti-French sentiment. Eventually President John Adams broke ties with the French and came close to war. The tensions resulted in the election of the pro-French Thomas Jefferson, who re-established a firm peace while remaining neutral in strife between France and England.
Climate change: Britain eyes ambitious targets
The UK is hoping to use its twin presidency of the G7 and Cop26 to drive ambitious global action on climate change.
Britain wants countries to come forward with new targets to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Tim Benton, head of Chatham House’s environment programme, said he expected talks on how to promote greater ambition from the G7 and guests, including Australia.
“They key thing is for this to be trumpeting the fact that Cop is the big moment,” he said.
Ms Dwan said she was watching for an agreement on ending international financial support on coal production.
A summit of G7 environment ministers last month ended with a commitment to “rapidly scale up technologies and policies” to phase out coal.
Meanwhile, G7 health ministers this week discussed how better monitoring of animal and environmental health could help avert the danger of a future pandemic.
Experts say that protecting wildlife and biodiversity can reduce the threat of dangerous new diseases emerging from the animal world.
G7 environment ministers want to move past coal-fired power stations. Reuters
At that time, relationships between the United States and Russia were relatively peaceful. Russia was the only country in Europe to offer assistance to the Union verbally.
This was because they felt aligning themselves with the Union would help them if they ever needed backing against Great Britain. The Russian Navy sent two fleets to American waters just in case Great Britain and France joined the war. They stayed there for seven months.
The Alexander Nevsky, one of the ships Russia sent to American waters.
Meanwhile, a rebellion was brewing in Poland, which Russia managed to suppress. Afterward, the resistance leaders left Poland, and the Confederacy tried to persuade them to join their side, but failed.
Union and Russian cooperation, however, led to an attempt to build a telegraph line between Russian and America (Seattle, to be precise), by way of Canada, Alaska and Siberia. The plan was not a success, and the line was never operational.