United States-Latin American Relations, 1850-1903: Establishing a Relationship

United States-Latin American Relations, 1850-1903: Establishing a Relationship

United States-Latin American Relations, 1850-1903: Establishing a Relationship

United States-Latin American Relations, 1850-1903: Establishing a Relationship

Synopsis

An in-depth analysis of the developing relationship between the United States & Latin America during the critical period from the Mexican War to the Panama Canal treaty. This volume examines the relationship of U.S. relations with Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Central America, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay & Paraguay from the perspective of both the United States & the individual Latin American countries.

Excerpt

Nineteenth-century relations between the United States and Latin America can be divided into two distinct periods. the first encompasses the years from 1787 to approximately 1850, during which almost all of the mainland British, Portuguese, and Spanish colonies achieved their independence. in the process of nation-building that followed, each had to adjust to its newfound freedom and had little time for interaction with each other. During the second period, from approximately 1850 to 1903, these nations sought their place in the new world order and in the process markedly increased their contact with each other. By 1903, the basis for a relationship had been established between the United States and Latin America.

From the beginning of the constitutional era in 1787 until the pronouncement of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, U.S. policy toward Latin America was based upon its own colonial experience, which primarily involved the protection of its border areas from the European powers. in the short run, U.S. policymakers found a need to acquire New Orleans in 1803 and with it accidentally obtained half a continent. This was followed by the acquisition of the Floridas in 1819. With the addition of these territories the United States secured its southern frontier. Throughout the period, the United States maintained that Cuba, then on the periphery, should not fall into the hands of a major European power, specifically the British. As long as the island remained an outpost of a weakened Spain, the U.S. southern frontier remained secure.

As Latin America struggled for its independence after 1816, the United States remained aloof except for statements by government officials and others who drew parallels to the U.S. experience with Great Britain. For example, in 1808 President Thomas Jefferson, in correspondence with Cuban and Mexican independence leaders, noted that their objectives paralleled those of the United States: the exclusion of European influence from the entire hemisphere because the systems of government, economy, and society were vastly different. Subsequently, Congressman Henry Clay became the most visible spokesman for an inter-American connection. He advocated an "American System" that would unite North and South America against European incursion. He also envisioned the southern continent as a vast marketplace for U.S. wares. the culmination of the U.S. affinity with Latin America came with President James Monroe's message to Congress in December 1823, in which he declared the western hemisphere off-limits to European coloni-

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