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American Foreign Policy: 1796-1823

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by

Diane Blocker

on 3 November 2014

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Transcript of American Foreign Policy: 1796-1823


Prior to 1796, the United States maintained a stance of neutrality in which the new nation planned to maintain "a conduct friendly and impartial towards the belligerent powers" where they would conduct business with all sides without conflict. There had been some issues with France due to the lack of American support in the
French Revolution
, but the young country managed to maintain its neutral stance.
Beginning with Adams
John Adams attempted to follow the precedent of neutrality set by the previous administration, however he was constantly drawn into conflicts with France.
The Quasi War
The XYZ Affair
was a situation

wherein France, upset over treaties between the US and Britain, demanded a bribe before negotiations between America and France could commence. This lead to the
Quasi War
between the two countries and the implementing of new acts that limited immigration to the US (
the Alien Act
).
Continuity
The Jefferson Administration
In general, Jefferson wanted "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none", however that goal proved difficult to accomplish due to the complications caused by the
Napoleonic Wars
.
Madison's Presidency
Continuing outrage over the
Chesapeake Incident
prompted Madison to ask Congress for a declaration of war against Britain--leading to the
War of 1812
. While the war was actually ended by the
Treaty of Ghent
and not one nation or the other, the victory claimed by the Americans at New Orleans gave the growing nation confidence in US strength and foreign policy.
The Last of the Virginia Dynasty
Monroe's administration saw an attempted return to neutrality, but it also featured a bold statement to the European powers in the form of the
Monroe Doctrine
.
American Foreign Policy: 1796-1823
Policy Pre-1796
Both before and during the Adams administration, the national government attempted to maintain a neutral stance despite worries over the violence of the
French Revolution
.
Change Over Time
While under Washington's administration there were few to no foreign incidents, Adams had several problems with the French. Also, Adam's federal stance colored his rather negative reactions to such incidents as the
XYZ Affair
and the resulting
Quasi War
.
Problems With France and Britain
Both Britain and France were angered by America's habit of trading with both nations regardless of the war between them. The British practice of attacking US trade ships and
impressment
lead to the
Chesapeake Incident
. The outraged Americans called for Jefferson to take action, and so he passed
the Embargo Act
to boycott British goods.

The XYZ Affair
The Quasi War
Impressment
The Chesapeake Incident
Continuity
There continues to exist the theme of attempted (but for the most part failed) neutrality on the part of the president in each administration as every successive leader attempts to further establish America's place within the world.
The French Revolution: The Storming of the Bastille
The Alien Act
The Embargo Act
Change Over Time
From John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, there was an obvious switch from issues between America and France, to problems between America and Britain with some less prominent complications within negotiations with France on the side.
Despite events Jefferson and Adams still tried to achieve neutrality. The fourth President James Madison would break from that mold and take the still new America to war.
Continuity
Change over Time
Madison broke the tradition of neutrality laid down by George Washington, officially and openly bringing America onto the world stage.
Noninterference
Monroe's presidency contained a string of diplomatic achievements that were all the work of the following president John Quincy Adams, including the
Rush-Bagot Treaty
,
Convention of 1818
, and, of course, the
Monroe Doctrine
, which was meant to prevent any European nations from claiming the newly free Mexico and encroaching on American territory.
Continuity
Monroe returns to the Washingtonian attempts at neutrality, but he does so in a rather different manner. He uses the Monroe Doctrine, which gives a very brief: "Stay out of our yard and we'll stay out of yours."
Change Over Time
War of 1812
The Treaty of Ghent
It continues to be Great Britain that is causing the majority of the issues with America's foreign politics.
The Rush-Bagot Treaty
This would be the first time that America has publicly drawn any lines as a country about the involvement of Europe in the Western Hemisphere. Before there had been disagreements (battles and wars) over who was in charge and the US had done its fair share of asking nicely (Jay's Treaty), but this time the new country was straight out telling the other nations no.
Overall, there is a constant thread of neutrality that each subsequent president attempts to follow but for some reason (with disagreements with alternating nations usually being at the root) is unable to emulate until towards the end the nation takes a stand and draws a line. The themes found within this time period of foreign policy fall under the categories of WOR, POL, and in some more specific cases, WXT.
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