Throughout its history the United States had a pivotal influence on world affairs. As a young republic, with its promise of a government based on public consent, the United States excited the minds of revolutionaries as far apart as Paris, France and Buenos Aires, Argentina. During the nineteenth century, the United States struggled to reconcile this ideal with its hunger for territory and markets overseas. During the twentieth century, the role of the United States in the world underwent an evolution. Situated atop a global community of nations deeply wounded by two world wars, it assumed a position of world leadership and, on an unprecedented scale, began to contemplate the complex issues of world development and stability. With the advent of the Cold War, U.S. policymakers added to its formidable list of tasks the challenge of Communism and the possibility of thermonuclear war. Today, American diplomacy continues to try to resolve the old East-West dispute, while it tackles a host of new problems. As the last remaining superpower, the United States must address the breakdown of stability (and all its potential consequences and opportunities) that the Cold War maintained.
Through documents drawn from every period of American history, this book offers a complete examination of the evolution of U.S. diplomacy from its revolutionary beginnings to the twenty-first century. It tracks the first uncertain steps of a young nation to the weighty responsibilities that capture the attention of policy makers today.
More important, this book offers the reader an opportunity to compare the evolutionary stages of American diplomacy across the entirety of the country's historical experience. It provides students of the topic the ability to see both the deeply rooted concepts of American foreign affairs and the important interpretations of America's changing role. It also provides a significant framework for the interested observer to understand the future directions that America might someday pursue.