American Foreign Policy
Last week, we challenged you to try your hands at synthesizing the history of how wars impacted American society differently in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This week, let’s explore how information synthesis can help you conquer the multiple-choice portion of the AP US History exam by connecting the dots in the history of US foreign policy.
First, grab a piece of paper and pencil, or open a new, blank word document. Next, think back to the very first months of your US History class, and write down what you remember about American policies and attitudes towards European powers at that time before reading on.
If you wrote down “Washington’s Farewell Address,” you’re right on track. If not, pause and see if you can recall what Washington advised to the new nation as he left office.
Don’t worry if you get stuck––here’s a quote from his 1796 address to refresh your memory:
“[H]istory and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government…. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. . . . The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns.”
Throughout the next two hundred years, politicians used Washington’s Farewell Address to support policies designed to keep Europe out of American politics. Can you remember any of them? Here’s a challenge: go back to your paper or word document and write brief descriptions of the following concepts and events and whether they align with or violate Washington’s advice (only click the link if you get stuck!):
- Monroe Doctrine
- Taft’s “Dollar Diplomacy”
- Congress’s refusal to join the League of Nations
- The Marshall Plan
Great work: you’ve just synthesized important pieces of American Foreign Policy history. If you’re on track, your synthesis should help you easily answer the following practice AP US History multiple choice question from College Board’s online practice exam:
- Most historians would argue that the recommendations of Washington’s address ceased to have a significant influence on United States foreign policy as a result of
- Westward expansion in the nineteenth century
- Support for Cuban revolutionaries in the Spanish-American War
- Woodrow Wilson’s support for international democratic principles during the First World War
- Involvement in the Second World War
Information synthesis helps us recognize general trends throughout American history so that when we face multiple choice questions like this, we can readily identify the correct answer. To check your answer, click here and scroll to the very bottom. If you’re stuck, don’t worry––we’re here to help. Set up an appointment with one of our AP US History tutors to learn more!