KC Johnson

History 30.8: Oct. 15-22 Classes

Midterm model answers

PL: The Proclaimed List was a WWII era blacklist issued by the State Dept. in 1941. It forbade American firms and individuals from doing business with firms or individuals who were in any way linked to the Axis powers or Axis nations. Because any Latin American countries who traded with a firm on the PL would soon find themselves on that same list, they were forced to join this boycott in the interest of economic self-preservation. Latin American leaders resented this, arguing that it was a violation of the Good Neighbor Policy and the spirit of Pan-Americanism. The PL was effective at advancing American economic interests and as economic warfare against the Germans, but it soured inter-American relations.

Sosúa: refugee camp created in the 1940s for Jewish refugees from the Holocaust in the Dominican Republic. Prior to this, the Dominican dictator Trujillo had massacred thousands of Haitians. In order to win back favor in the international world, Trujillo paid off the Haitian Pres. Vincent and agreed to accept 100,000 Jewish refugees. He ended up only taking a few hundred. More significant is the fact that FDR used Trujillo’s agreement with Vincent and the Sosúa camp to show how well the Good Neighbor Policy worked in mediating conflicts. In fact, the GNP couldn’t prevent the violent acts of its puppet-leaders in Latin America.

Roosevelt Corollary: interventionist manifesto to the Monroe Doctrine. Roosevelt needed a way to spread US influence in countries not accessible through the stipulations of the Monroe Doctrine. The MD enabled US influence only if a foreign power tried entering and conquering independent countries within Western Hemisphere. Roosevelt’s corollary introduced a new Dollar Diplomacy in which the US could interfere in foreign countries’ affairs on the basis that if the US did not do so, then surely foreign influence would be further exerted in the Western Hemisphere. The US used Roosevelt’s Corollary with respect to failing economies in Latin America. In order to prevent foreign aggression, the Roosevelt Corollary gave the US permission to control a country’s economic resources in the interest of keeping peace within the Hemisphere. One example by which TR’s Corollary was implemented was in the Dominican Republic.

Essay: Economic expansion is not plausible in and of itself to describe the US’ hemispheric policies towards its neighbors. The US policy and government style evolved as each new presidential term and international agreement called for a different face of US involvement,. US economic interest was prevalent or well-noted in some periods, as in 1901-20, but earlier time periods called for more militaristic/political engagement styles.


After 1776, the US was seen as a capable county, but not one that could outright dominate a European nation like Britain or on some terms Spain, yet. The US could be viewed as a softer power, one that did not have the miluitaristic tools to compete with the great powers of the day. US interest in Cuba in 1809 under Pres. Jefferson reflects the fact that while the US was interested in Cuba it did not have the naval might to ensnare the island: Britain stood in its way.

Economic expansion into Cuba would be nice, as it had slaves, a fierce economy, and desirable exports, but the US simply did not have the military to take over the country and defeat a two-pronged attack os Spain and possibly the British. The US was also weak in ideological terms, as taking Cuba could mean the eventual servitude of black Southerners evaporating into freedom as Cuban slaves would have been freed.

Another example of US interest was in the East FLA territory under Spain around 1812. The US could very well have some economic interest there, but more importantly E FLA could go to Napoleon as the Spanish held out at Cadiz, which would mean a transferral of power and the rest of the US being exposed to a new, ambitious power. I believe the territory itself was important, not just the economic capacity, but strategically, politically, and possibly colonially and in a way to garner Great power status—or work on it. Covetous eyes on FLA did not translate into a land grab as Madison was cautious that BRI (possibly bound by secret pact with Spain) would interject. While America was willing to fight Britain and it did in 1812, it was not willing to break international laws. Militarily the US was still a fledgling power, which meant economic expansion wasn’t a direct possibility yet.


This formative period marked the US growth as a country and inevitably as a major hemispheric player. While the US was not militarily strong yet, it was formidable enough to scare some Great powers. The Clayton-Bulwer Treaty reflects the respect that British had for the US in the 1850s, as both countries staved off war by coming to an agreement. Britain with its large navy and colonial empire may not have come to terms with America, had the US been viewed as a weaker power. Economic expansion was tied in ways to military might and in 1848 the US defeated Mexico (and also took Texas in 1844). In the 1850s and 60s, the US first wasn’t terribly interested in the DomRep, but soon its interest grew with the prospect of a canal base in Samana and the possibility of extra goods and a market in the DR. the point reflecting that in some cases Spain, France, and Britain had to frustrate US attempts to annex the DR. economic expansion would be the easiest case for Dominican understanding of US interest, but not the best. US involvement went beyond commercial and into naval priority with the establishment of a naval base in Samana evaporating with the loss of the Ostend Manifesto (no Cuba purchase) in 1854.


This period can be seen as the clear economic expansionist era for US hemispheric dominance. In 1890, the US had one of the strongest navies and after the Civil War one of the most technologically advanced armies. In 1898 the US defeated Spain and in 1905 the Roosevelt Corollary came into effect. All of the military backing, I believe, meant the open flexing of US commercial might. In 1899, the UFCO was developed and sent to Guatemala and elsewhere in the Latin America to gather more economic control. Presidents like Roosevelt sought power through intervention in economic means—as in the Roosevelt Cor—and to open up trade within the hemisphere, Roosevelt also brought the focus to the DR, which is important in the context of controlling WH enemies through, the Roos Cor of 1905. The importance of US military might and strategic interest shows that trading was not a principle element in South America. It was the establishment of bases of colonies and for the US to complete economically and maintain a prism of control it had to have backing politically and militarily.

The US needed to strengthen its navy and army before it could be seen as a threat or one that could hamper European countries’ designs. Just plain economic expansion does not explain the development of US hemispheric involvement.


October 15: The Kennedy Era

  • Robert Waters, “The World’s Longest General Strike: The AFL-CIO, the CIA, and British Guiana,” Diplomatic History 29, pp. 185-210.
  • Piero Gleijeses, “Ships in the Night: The CIA, the White House and the Bay of Pigs,” Journal of Latin American Studies 27, pp. 1-42.
  • Stephen Rabe, “The Caribbean Triangle: Betancourt, Castro, and Trujillo and U.S. Foreign Policy, 1958-1963,” Diplomatic History 20, pp. 55-78.

October 20 & 22: LBJ & the Western Hemisphere

  • Alan McPherson, “Trying the Panama Riots,” Diplomatic History 28, pp. 83-110.

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