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1 The Collision Of Cultures
2 Britain And Its Colonies
3 Colonial Ways Of Life
4 The Imperial Perspective
5 From Empire To Independence
6 The American Revolution
7 Shaping A Federal Union
8 The Federalist Era
9 The Early Republic
10 Nationalism And Sectionalism
11 The Jacksonian Impulse
12 The Dynamics Of Growth
13 An American Renaissance: Religion, Romanticism, And Reform
14 Manifest Destiny
15 The Old South
16 The Crisis Of Union
17 The War Of The Union
18 Reconstruction: North And South
19 New Frontiers: South And West
20 Big Business And Organized Labor
21 The Emergence Of Urban America
22 Gilded-age Politics And Agrarian Revolt
23 An American Empire
24 The Progressive Era
25 America And The Great War
26 The Modern Temper
27 Republican Resurgence And Decline
28 New Deal America
29 From Isolation To Global War
30 The Second World War
31 The Fair Deal And Containment
32 Through The Picture Window: Society And Culture, 19451960
33 Conflict And Deadlock: The Eisenhower Years
34 New Frontiers: Politics And Social Change In The 1960s
35 Rebellion And Reaction In The 1960s And 1970s
36 A Conservative Insurgency
37 Triumph And Tragedy: America At The Turn Of The Century

From Isolation to Global War - Document Overview

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In the aftermath of World War I many Americans sought to distance the United States from further international involvement and commitments. The American refusal to join the League of Nations signaled a return to the isolationist sentiment that had governed the nation's foreign policy during the nineteenth century. Woodrow Wilson's liberal internationalism was deemed bankrupt by his Republican opponents. Yet in reality the United States could no longer isolate itself from world affairs. The nation's economy and its interests were now global in nature.

The history of American foreign relations between 1920 and the mid-1930s thus seems paradoxical in hindsight: at the same time that the United States was becoming more dependent upon international trade, its statesmen were disdaining the use of force in international affairs to ensure free trade. They instead placed their faith in democratic principles and international treaties to preserve the peace and protect American economic interests abroad.

Such goals led the United States to convene the Washington Naval Conference in 1921–22. It produced a series of agreements limiting naval ships and armaments, reaffirming the principles of free trade and the "Open Door" in China, and creating a diplomatic mechanism for dealing with international crises. In theory the American role in negotiating these treaties was a great diplomatic success. Each major power accepted some reductions in its navy, but there was no way to enforce the treaties when violated. "While armed conflict has cooled off," the Japanese prime minister observed, "economic competition is becoming more and more intense."

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