History 3450: History of U.S. Foreign Relations


                            Spring 2009


Dr. David Krugler

320 Warner Hall; 342-1783




History 3450 provides an advanced overview of the history of American foreign relations since the 1780s. With such an broad timeframe, it is not possible to examine in detail every major event in this history. Instead, the course is structured around five major themes:

1)      The rise of the U.S. from a minor, mostly isolated nation to a global superpower.

2)      American exceptionalism and its effects on U.S. foreign relations.

3)      The ways in which domestic politics and partisanship have molded U.S. foreign relations.

4)      How capitalism and quests for markets, resources, and trade opportunities have affected U.S. foreign relations.

5)      The evolving concept of “national security” and its part in U.S. foreign relations.


By the semester’s end, students will have acquired basic factual knowledge of the history of U.S. foreign relations, learned to write about and discuss major historical problems and issues, and be able to use their historical skills to analyze present-day U.S. foreign relations.  


History 3450 is a General Education course. Accordingly, it is designed to fulfill the learning outcomes for the Historical Perspectives component of General Education. This includes challenging “students to understand and assess our past, in order to form a clearer perception of the present and to deal more effectively with public issues.” Upon satisfactory completion of the course, students will also be able to “demonstrate knowledge of the past; explore the multitude of circumstances and events that have helped to shape historical judgments, actions and visions; [and] interpret the sources of historical change in a variety of contexts” (Undergraduate Catalog 2007-2009, p. 28).


Books: The following texts are required and are available at the textbook center.

·      Walter A. McDougall, Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World since 1776

·      Ralph Levering et al., Debating the Origins of the Cold War: American and Russian Perspectives

·      Howard Jones, Quest for Security: A History of U.S. Foreign Relations vol. II: from 1897

·      Michael H. Hunt, Lyndon Johnson’s War: America’s Cold War Crusade in Vietnam, 1945-1968


Assignments: Your grade will be determined by evaluation of your work on the following:


 Exams: You will take a mid-term (worth 15% of your total grade) and a final (15% of the grade). The exams will be in an essay format. Study guides will be distributed before the test dates, which are listed below.


Writing: You will write two 5 page essays (each worth 20% of your total grade; due dates listed below). The first paper, which will draw on your reading of part I of Walter McDougall, Promised Land, Crusader State, will examine the origins of American exceptionalism. The second paper will explain how knowledge of the history of U.S. foreign relations will be useful in your expected career. Please know that late papers will not be accepted.


Discussions: During six different classes (dates listed below), we will hold an in-depth discussion of reading about significant historical problems. Your individual participation in these discussions is mandatory and is worth 20% of your total grade. Discussion guides will be distributed well in advance of each discussion, and you must complete the assigned reading by class time. Make sure to set aside sufficient study time to complete the reading (the assignment schedule indicates when you should begin reading for each discussion).


Discussion “briefs”: Briefs are short summaries that highlight the main points, contentions, and evidence of a selected text or document. Using a form that I will distribute to the class, you will write a brief for all the discussions except the second one. You will need to bring to class two copies of your brief, one to hand in, the other to consult during discussion. Your briefs will be graded; altogether, the briefs are worth 10% of the total grade.


Recommended reading: It is expected that each student has completed at least one college course in U.S. history. Please know that the lectures, readings, and assignments require everyone to draw on this base knowledge. Students who have not taken a course in 20th century U.S. history will find it helpful to read the recommended chapters in Howard Jones, Quest for Security: A History of American Foreign Relations vol. II. (See schedule below.) This reading will provide important background information for lectures, discussions, and tests.


Attendance: Roll will be taken at random throughout the semester. Students who are frequently absent when roll is taken will have their grade lowered at the semester’s end. If you cannot attend class, please let me know ahead of time. Students are not allowed to leave class early. Eligible students who require academic test or lecture accommodations should speak with me. Accommodations will also be made for religious holidays.


Grade Components:

            1 Midterm @ 15%            1st paper @ 20%                     Participation @ 20%

            1 Final @ 15%                  2nd paper @ 20%             Discussion briefs  @ 10%    





Lecture & Assignment Schedule:

(Assignments and due-dates subject to announced changes).


Week 1: Begin reading handout and article for discussion 1 on Jan. 28. The handout will be distributed in class on Jan. 21;
              for the article, click here. (You will need Adobe Acrobat to read the file.) See here for discussion brief


Wed. 1/21: Introduction to course and definition of important themes and concepts.


Week 2: Finish reading handout. (

Mon. 1/26: Diplomacy of the American Revolution.

Wed. 1/28:   Disc. #1: Thomas Jefferson’s lasting effects on U.S. foreign policy. Lect.: The new nation and the Great Powers.


Week 3: Begin reading McDougall, Promised Land, 1-98.

Mon. 2/2: The War of 1812.

Wed. 2/4: The U.S. and the Western Hemisphere.

Week 4: Finish reading McDougall, 1-98.

Mon. 2/9:   Manifest Destiny and the Mexican-American War.

Wed. 2/11: First paper due. Disc. #2: The American “Bible” of foreign affairs: the Old Testament. Lect.: Civil War diplomacy for the Confederacy and the Union.


Week 5: Begin reading Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and excerpts of Ron White, Lincoln’s Greatest Speech (provided as handout).

Mon. 2/16: U.S. and the world during industrialization.

Wed. 2/18: Spanish-American War and American imperialism.


Week 6: Continue reading handout.

Mon. 2/23:  Midterm exam.

Wed. 2/25:  Teddy Roosevelt’s new world order.


Week 7: Finish reading handout.

Mon. 3/2:  Wilsonian idealism and the First World War.

Wed. 3/4:  Disc. #3: Special event: “Teach-In” on Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.


Week 8: Start reading Levering, Debating the Origins of the Cold War, 1-62, 85-151. Recommended reading: Jones, Quest for Security, chapters 15-16.

Mon. 3/9: No-risk empire? U.S. and the world in the 1920s.

Wed. 3/11: Depression diplomacy and America’s troubled neutrality, 1935-1941.


3/14 to 3/22: Spring Break: Continue reading Levering, Debating the Origins of the Cold War, 1-62, 85-151.


Week 9: Finish reading Levering, 1-62, 85-151. Recommended reading: Jones, chapter 18.

Mon. 3/23: Wartime diplomacy.

Wed. 3/25: Disc. #4: Russian and American perspectives on the Cold War. Lect.: Origins and early phases of the Cold War.



Week 10: Begin Hunt, Lyndon Johnson’s War. Recommended reading: Jones, chapter 20.

Mon. 3/31: Containment tested: The Korean War.

Wed. 4/1:   A New Look.


Week 11: Continue reading Hunt, Lyndon Johnson’s War. Recommended reading: Jones, chapter 22.

Mon. 4/6: Kennedy as Cold Warrior.

Wed. 4/8: The U.S. and Vietnam.


Week 12: Finish reading Hunt, Lyndon Johnson’s War.

Mon. 4/13: No class—April break.

Wed. 4/19: Disc. #5: America’s crusade in Vietnam. Lect.: Détente.


Week 13: No reading.

Mon. 4/20: Second paper due. U.S. and the Middle East in the 1970s.

Wed. 4/22: Cold War renewed.


Week 14: Begin reading McDougall, Promised Land, 101-222. Recommended reading: Jones, chapter 26.

Mon. 4/27: The U.S. and Latin America during the 1980s.

Wed. 4/29: End of the Cold War.


Week 15: Finish reading McDougall, 101-222. Recommended reading: Jones, chapter 27.

Mon. 5/4: U.S. foreign policy during the 1990s.

Wed. 5/6: Disc. #6: The American “Bible” of foreign affairs: the New Testament. Lect. Bush Doctrine as policy and practice.


Final exam: Wednesday, May 13, 3-4:52pm.

Note: Graduating seniors must take the exam.