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American Foreign Policy to 1899

Selected and introduced by Stephen F. Knott

Overview & List of Documents

American Foreign Policy to 1899 is the first of two volumes on American foreign policy in Ashbrook’s series of core document volumes covering major periods, themes, and institutions in American history and government. This volume covers the story of America’s foreign relations through the rise of the United States to great power status. Its companion volume will cover events of the twentieth century, as well as the attack on September 11. This volume presents such cornerstones of American foreign policy as Washington’s Farewell Address and the Monroe Doctrine, but also covers some of the less well known practices and incidents of the nineteenth century. The similarities between the issues and practices presented in this volume and those that occurred in the twentieth century, during the Cold War, for example, are striking. The two foreign policy volumes, along with the already published volume The Cold War, will together offer a thorough account of American foreign policy. This volume also forms a pair with the already published volume Westward Expansion. Covering roughly the same time period, Westward Expansion deals with the acquisition of territory that became states, while American Foreign Policy to 1899 deals with everything else. The one exception to this division of labor concerns Hawaii, covered in both volumes, although from different perspectives.

  • Governor John Winthrop, “A City upon a Hill,” 1630
  • Second Continental Congress, Establishment of the Committee of Secret Correspondence, November 29, 1775
  • Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, July 1776
  • Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 22, 1785
  • Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 1, October 27, 1787
  • John Jay, Federalist 64, March 5, 1788
  • President George Washington to the U.S. Senate, August 22, 1789
  • President George Washington, First Annual Message to Congress, January 8, 1790
  • Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson to William Short, January 3, 1793
  • Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, The Pacificus-Helvidius Debates, June–September 1793
  • Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, “Views on the French Revolution,” 1794
  • President George Washington, Message to the House of Representatives, March 30, 1796
  • President George Washington, Farewell Address, September 1796
  • President John Adams, Address to a Joint Session of Congress on Relations with France, the XYZ Affair, May 16, 1797
  • President Thomas Jefferson, First Annual Message to Congress, December 8, 1801
  • Senator Timothy Pickering to President Thomas Jefferson, February 24, 1806
  • President Thomas Jefferson, Message to Congress on the Embargo, December 17, 1807; Proclamation on the Embargo, April 19, 1808
  • President James Madison to Secretary of State Robert Smith, July 17, 1810
  • President James Madison, War Message, June 1812
  • Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper, September 10, 1814
  • Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, Speech to the U.S. House of Representatives, July 4, 1821
  • President James Monroe, Annual Message (Monroe Doctrine), December 2, 1823
  • Joel R. Poinsett to Secretary of State Henry Clay and Secretary of State Martin Van Buren, Selected Dispatches, 1825–1829
  • Thomas Jefferson to Roger Chew Weightman, June 24, 1826
  • Anthony Butler to President Andrew Jackson, January 2, 1833; President Andrew Jackson to Anthony Butler, October 30, 1833
  • Hon. Francis O. J. Smith to Secretary of State Daniel Webster, June 7, 1841
  • President James K. Polk, Special Message to the House of Representatives, April 20, 1846
  • President James K. Polk, Special Message to Congress on Mexican Relations, May 11, 1846
  • Henry Clay, Market Speech, November 13, 1847
  • Pierre Soule, James Buchanan, and John Y. Mason, The Ostend Manifesto, October 18, 1854
  • Correspondence between Secretary of State William Seward and Ambassador Charles Francis Adams, May 21, 1861
  • Ambassador Henry Shelton Sanford to Secretary of State William Seward, July 4, 1861
  • President Ulysses S. Grant, Special Message Regarding the Annexation of Santo Domingo, May 31, 1870
  • Justice Stephen J. Field, Totten, Administrator v. United States, 1876
  • The Acquisition of Hawaii, Correspondence between Secretary of State John W. Foster and Ambassador John Stevens, 1892–1893; American Diplomacy in the Orient, John W. Foster, 1904
  • Secretary of State Richard Olney to Ambassador Thomas Bayard, The Olney Corollary, 1895
  • President William McKinley, Message to Congress Requesting a Declaration of War with Spain, April 11, 1898
  • Carl Schurz, “Against American Imperialism,” January 4, 1899