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Historical context of United States foreign policy: Foreign policy as a form of policy decision that guides country relations with the outside world is not static but changes with times in order to make them effective at meeting a country’s national interest. This has been so with the State’s foreign policy. The United States has seen at the time was both militarily and economically weak. As it formative years and acting form the point of national interest, United States sought to first and foremost develop domestically before engaging in explicit national affaires. As such it adopted such policies as isolationist and expansionist policies so us to protect it internal affairs, especially on the economic front. The founders of U.S had fundamental mistrust of European governments and as such maintained a neutral position given that it was militarily weak and could not directly influence Europeans actions (Combs 18-20)
Internal sources of American foreign policy: Geographical superiority, economics and military capabilities.
American isolationist policy was possible partly because of its geographical features. It offered U.S protection given the vast oceans surrounding it that took considerable time to transverse. With no modern weaponry enabled and an economy that was at its developmental stages, the United States adopted isolationist policy which kept it away from entangling alliances; clear of European politics and conflict. At the same time it adopted an expansionist policy and in the process bought Louisiana in (1803) gained territory from Mexico (1848), purchased Alaska (1867) annexed Hawaii (1898).End of Isolationist policy begun with1898 Spanish-American War and WWI 1914-1918. Winning the former gave US possession of Puerto Rico, Guam and Philippines. During the WWI the US declared war on Germany in April 1917 as it refused to give up it intention to sink all ships headed for Britain that included American too. By this time America was militarily and economically strong and used it as instrument of foreign policy in terms of trade and foreign aid to its allies (Combs 32-39)
Foreign policy as a pursuit of national interest: Economical interest:
United States in all its foreign policy acted so in its national interest especially on the economic field. This is in line with the realist view of foreign policy as being in pursuit of a country’s national interest. . Looking at the events that led into United States isolationist policy and later interventionist policy, there is strong indication that the policy makers were focused their attention in the interest of the American economic well being. For example by the time the civil war ended Lincoln’s secretary William Seaward had come up with an expansion strategy that was founded more on commercial expansion as opposed to territorial expansion. Its purchase of Alaska from Russia was a shrewd move to establish secure trade channels with the Far East. It further promoted an open door policy with China and as such beating such colonial powers as Japan and china from possessing it to preserve market for its goods. Creation of international organization such as the league of nation not so much for idealistic reasons but as a means through which the U.S could influence international events in a direction in line with it’s national interest terms of foreign trade. (Significant Events in U.S. Foreign Relations 154-165))
2. Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance refers to a period in the American history whereby African-American culture, literature and music permeated mainstream American life. Their creativity came out and was at its peak and became influential more than ever. Many great musician, poet and authors emerged from this period with such people as Georgia Douglas and Gwendolyn Bennet being some of the popular poet who came out of the period. Bennet influenced by the plight of blacks with their race and culture being regarded as inferior sought to write about community pride as well as romanticizing about being black in her lyrics. Such themes as racial pride and the authenticity of African dance and music was evident in her work. One of her song read as follows “â€¦My song has the lush sweetness, of moist, dark lips, Where hymns keep company, with old forgotten banjo songs” (Wilson n.p)
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Inter-racial connectivity was thus a crucial and lasting Harlem Renaissance’s outcome as brought into contact as art patrons, visual artist jazz musician, party goers, entertainers and mass recipient and consumers of poplar culture. With little precedence for a mutually helpful inter-racial contact, with the exception of abolitionist movement the Harlem renaissance provided a perfect avenue for cultural exchanges across cultures.
Despite the emancipation proclamation the north still experienced problems with riots and continued segregation between Africans and the whites, with the latter still working as servant. The confidence that characterized the rhetoric, creativity and activities at the time was made possible by the changes in perception of culture and race. Commencing in the nineteenth century new insight from intellectuals from such field such history, anthropology and sciences which questioned much of ill conceived perception of inferiority of African culture. By the end of WW1 a considerable cohort of artists, scholars and social reformers had strong believe about race being an invention and that the different races were not inherently different as far as their potential and essential worth was concerned.
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African -American middleclass begun to form with given their access to better education and jobs. Prominent intellectual artist and poet came up including such people as W. Dubois and Marcus Gurvy. He endeavored to break the old Stereotype of African as an illiterate humanity and country folks. To him therefore education was important for the blacks to better their lives and as such showed intelligence and creativity of the blacks. He with others founded National Association of colored people and doubled as the editor of the association’s magazine, the crisis. It gave the blacks a chance to showcase their ideas with readers. Lain Locke was a poet and through The New Negro, a collection of poems, essays and short stories by black writers. It helped break existing stereotypes by in showcasing the blacks as thinking people with unique ideas about their past (Rau 7-17)
Combs, Jerald A. The History of American Foreign Policy: To 1920.
M.E. Sharpe, 2008. Print
Rau, Dana.r Compass. The Harlem Renaissance. Point Books, 2006. Print
Significant Events in U.S. Foreign Relations (1900 – 2001). DIANE Publishing. ISBN1428966552, 9781428966550. Web. 21 Feb. 2011.
Wilson, Sonya L. The Harlem Renaissance and Female Poets. bellaonline.com. Bellaonline, n.p. Web. 21 Feb. 2011.
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