Isolationism to Super Power

Topics: United States, World War II, Cold War Pages: 15 (2556 words) Published: May 21, 2013
Running Head: Isolationism to Super Power Page 1

Isolationism to Super Power

Trevor Ward

HIS:204 American History Since 1865

Instructor: Stephen Chortanoff

July 19, 2007

Isolationism to Super Powered Page 2

Isolationism to Super Powered

Even though America would eventually need to take action to protect certain interests from

opposing powers, throughout most of the 19th century, as well as part of the 20th, many people felt the

country was better off staying isolated from European affairs and many of the reasons it fought for

separation to begin with. Perhaps it was best stated by our nation's first President during his farewell

address, just a few years prior to the start of the 19th century, when he said, “The Great rule of conduct

for us, in regard to foreign Nations is in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little

political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements let them be fulfilled,

with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or

a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are

essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by

artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of

her friendships or enmities. ” (George Washington, 1796)

Throughout the last few years of the eighteenth century Congress, would however realize the

importance of having a peace time army for defense against many of the different threats that had arose

following the Revolutionary War, such as Shay's rebellion in 1786. “Shays and many other farmers in

western Massachusetts was not doing enough to help relieve their debts (following the war). By the

summer of 1786, some of the farmers believed they had to take action. Large groups of them met

outside several courthouses in western Massachusetts and refused to let officials do there work.”

(Burgan, 2008 pg 13)

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“On October 20, 1786, Congress responded to the threat by calling on several states to raise a 1,340-

man force to serve for three years, but before any of the soldiers voted by Congress could reach the

scene, local militiamen repulsed an attack on the Springfield Arsenal led by Daniel Shays in late

January 1787, and a few days later a large reinforcement from the eastern part of the state arrived at

Springfield and put an end to the disorders. Shays' Rebellion was thus responsible for the first

augmentation of the federal Army. More important, it helped persuade Americans that a stronger

government was needed.” (Stewart, 2005 pg. 111)

During the early nineteenth century, follow the brief Quasi-War between France, the United States

remained relatively quiet and stuck to it's ideals of isolationism, however it wasn't always easy to stay

away from foreign affairs. One such event that could not be avoided was the First Barbary War. The

United States was forced into this conflict following the attack on several American merchant ships, by

Barbary pirates of the North African Berber States (Tripoli, Algiers, Morocco, and Tunis), this conflict

was later settled by a paid request of tribute by the North African Berber States of $60,000. Following

this conflict American would find itself again matched up against the naval forces of Great Britain,

during the War of 1812,...
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