January 2013 1-02: How important was Theodore Roosevelt in influencing US foreign policy in the years 1900 to 1920? (24 marks)

January 2013 1-02: How important was Theodore Roosevelt in influencing US foreign policy in the years 1900 to 1920? (24 marks)

Advantages

  • From 1897, TR was Assistant Secretary to the Navy and did much to promote the ideas of AT Mahan.
  • TR was vice-president to McKinley from his re-election in 1900 to 1901 and was a keen promoter of the ‘Open Door’ policy, as well as naval expansion in the Pacific.
  • as President, TR pursued an expansionist foreign policy, especially in relation to the ‘Roosevelt Corollary’ and the Panama/Colombia issue. He also acted as mediator in the peace negotiations to settle the Russo-Japanese War at Portsmouth NH in 1905.
  • after leaving the presidency, TR remained influential in foreign affairs. He had virtually nominated WH Taft as his successor and had a lot of influence on Republican policies, such as ‘Dollar Diplomacy’ until 1912. Even after that, Roosevelt was an influential voice opposing Woodrow Wilson’s policies – TR strongly supported US alignment with the Allies and called for an American volunteer division to fight on the Allied side.
  • TR died in 1919 but his political ally, Henry Cabot Lodge, continued to represent his views against US isolationism.

Disadvantages

  • after 1890, there was a general drift towards imperialism by all the Great Powers – it was inevitable the USA would join in (e.g. intervention in China in 1900).
  • the expansion of trade and industry in the US led directly to a more interventionist foreign policy – especially the desire to control overseas markets.
  • Roosevelt’s influence was important up to 1908 but after that he was on the margins and Taft and Wilson shaped policies down to 1920.
  • Roosevelt’s views were controversial and did not always get mass support. The isolationist viewpoint remained very powerful in American politics.
  • the impact of the First World War.

Evaluation

Between 1890 and 1900, US foreign policy had moved away from isolationism towards expansionism, influenced by the ideas of Alfred Thayer Mahan (who had strong personal links to TR); Roosevelt was vice-president to McKinley and succeeded to the presidency in 1901 after McKinley was assassinated. Between then and 1920 the US steadily grew toward world power status, culminating in US involvement In the First World War and US dominance of the post-war peace.      

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ktpeakman

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very useful