Foreign Affairs and Expansion
ROBERT D. SCHULZINGER
In 1980, Charles Maier surveyed the state of the study of the history of international relations and lamented that scholars had been "marking time" over the previous decade. "Diplomatic history has become a stepchild," he reported. In comparison to the excitement permeating social history or the renaissance in intellectual history or the rigor of the new economic history, diplomatic history appeared sadly traditional. Nevertheless, Maier noted some encouraging signs. Historians were making better use of the richness of the archives than ever before. Some had applied notions of an "international system" to the study of American diplomatic history. The notion of imperialism had been tested. Others had attempted to peer inside a nation's political and social structure to uncover the internal determinants of foreign policy. The bureaucratic politics model had contributed to recent scholarship on foreign affairs. Other historians had surveyed the impact of ideology on international behavior.
Most of Maier's examples came from scholarship on twentieth-century developments. Indeed, most recent publications on U.S. diplomatic history treat events occurring in the decade after World War II, where recently opened archives allow researchers easily to make original contributions. Yet all of Maier's judgments apply equally well to the study of the foreign policy of expansion during the first seventy-five years of the Republic. He notes that "it remains disappointing . . . that American historians did not turn back with more vigor to the foreign policy of the early Republic."1
More recently, Ralph Levering urged members of the Organization of American Historians to discover once more "the importance of the history of American foreign relations." He has looked at the number and variety of courses available to students across the country and regrets that "there is an imbalance between the richness and variety in social history and the paucity of offerings in foreign relations." He records several examples of history departments at major universities severely cutting, or even dropping altogether, the study of foreign