19716842-Americas-History-Chapter-21-An-Emerging-World-Power-18771914 (3)

19716842-Americas-History-Chapter-21-An-Emerging-World-Power-18771914 (3)

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Chapter 21: An Emerging World Power, 1877-1914 The Roots of Expansion Diplomacy in the Gilded Age I. The US lapsed into diplomatic isolation, not out of weakness but for lack of any clear national purpose in world affairs. The business of building the nation’s industrial economy absorbed Americans and turned their attention inward. A. Wide oceans kept America isolated and gave it a sense of security. B. European power politics did not seem to matter very much. C. America also did not feel the need to expand into Asia and Africa. II. In these circumstances, with no external threat to be seen, what was the point of maintaining a big navy? After the CW, the fleet gradually deteriorated. No effort was made to keep up with European advances in weaponry or battleship design. III. During the administration of Chester A. Arthur, the navy began a modest upgrading program, commissioning new ships, raising standards for the officer corps, and founding a naval war college. A. But the fleet remained small, lacked a unified naval command, and had little more to do than maintain costal defenses and a modest cruising fleet whose task in wartime was to harass enemy commerce. IV. The conduct of diplomacy was likewise of little account. Appointment to the foreign service was mostly made through the spoils system. A. Domestic politics had made it hard to develop a coherent foreign policy. B. The senate guarded its power to give advice to the president on treaties and diplomatic appointments. C. The state department tended to be inactive, exerting little control either over policy or its own missions abroad. Latin American Diplomacy I. In the Caribbean the US remained the dominant power, but the expansionist enthusiasm of the CW era subsided. II. Diplomatic activity quickened when James Blaine became secretary of state in 1881. He got involved in a border dispute between Mexico and Guatemala, tried to settle a war Chile was waging against Peru and Bolivia, and called the first Pan-American conference of the Western Hemisphere countries. A. Blaine’s disputes went badly and his successor canceled the Pan-American conference after Blaine left office. B. This was a characteristic instance of Gilded Age diplomacy, driver partly by partisan politics and carried out without any clear sense of national purpose. III. Pan-Americanism—the notion of a community of American states—took root, and Blaine, upon his return in 1889, took up the plans of the outgoing Cleveland administration for a new Pan-American conference. A. Little came of it, except for an agency in Washington that was later named the Pan-American Union. B. Any goodwill won by Blaine’s efforts was soon blasted by the humiliation the US visited upon Chile because of a riot against American sailors in the port of Valparaiso in 1891. Threatened with war, Chile was forced to apologize to the US and pay an indemnity of $75,000. Pacific Episodes
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19716842-Americas-History-Chapter-21-An-Emerging-World-Power-18771914 (3)

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