Defensive Foreign Policies

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Defensive Foreign Policies
In the early stages of the political United States, between 1789 and 1825, foreign policy was controversial with the popular demand of the American people. The foreign policy was primarily acts of neutrality and refusal to be involved with European affairs that came out of a defensive reaction to perceived threats from Europe. Two of these policies in include Washington’s Proclamation of Neutrality and the Monroe Doctrine. Both of these policies expressed the neutrality of the United States in European affairs and helped the new country to develop without the constant threat of war.

President George Washington issued the Proclamation of Neutrality in 1793 as a response to United States involvement in the French Revolution. Americans supported the revolutionaries in France rising up against the French monarchy, but the United States had an alliance with the French monarchy and not the revolutionary public at the time. Americans, including members of Washington’s cabinet like Thomas Jefferson, clamored for Unites States intervention in the war on the side of the French against their common enemy, Britain, because British ships had been capturing and impressing American ships and sailors. Washington went against the popular demand and decided that a neutral position would be the best path for the young country to take because he did not believe that the United States was strong enough to take on a European war. He wanted to defend the country against threats of overseas involvement in a war that could ruin it economically. Many were angry at Washington, including Jefferson, but Washington knew that in was most important to follow foreign policies that would provide peace for the developing nation against perceived European threats of war.

Issued in 1823 by President James Monroe, the Monroe Doctrine was a statement of United States foreign policy towards European powers involving the Americas. It was issued as a reaction to the...
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