A Grammar of American Politics: The National Government

By Wilfred E. Binkley; Malcolm C. Moos | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXIV
THE MANAGEMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

IN GENERAL, the creation of distinct agencies for the management of foreign affairs coincides with the beginnings of the modern state system, an event which students of international relations usually ascribe to the seventeenth century. That the arm of government which concerned itself with the conduct of foreign relations took a commanding position over other administrative institutions of government, can hardly be surprising. One of the tokens of the coming of age of a neophyte state was diplomatic recognition--an act consummated via diplomatic channels already well-grooved through historical precedent by the time of the American Revolution. Furthermore, since the very inception of intercourse between nations, national security had been firmly manacled to the handling of foreign affairs. Foreign policies, and indeed domestic policies had a direct bearing upon a nation's security within the family of nations, and it is apparent that the persons who had a hand in framing the Federal Constitution were acutely aware of this fact.


CONSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR HANDLING FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Under the Articles of Confederation ( 1777-1788) the control of foreign affairs went to Congress by default. The management of foreign relations was one subject over which the Confederacy had definite authority, yet without a central executive the responsibility for the conduct of foreign relations necessarily devolved upon Congress. Congress set up a Committee of Foreign Affairs to maintain connections with American representatives stationed abroad and with friendly governments, but the results of this plan of administering American diplomacy were quite disappointing. Accordingly, it was decided to create a department of foreign affairs with

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