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America and the Americas

America and the Americas: The United States in the Western Hemisphere

Lester D. Langley
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 2
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    America and the Americas
    Book Description:

    In this completely revised and updated edition of America and the Americas, Lester D. Langley covers the long period from the colonial era into the twenty-first century, providing an interpretive introduction to the history of U.S. relations with Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada. Langley draws on the other books in the series to provide a more richly detailed and informed account of the role and place of the United States in the hemisphere. In the process, he explains how the United States, in appropriating the values and symbolism identified with "America," has attained a special place in the minds and estimation of other hemispheric peoples. Discussing the formal structures and diplomatic postures underlying U.S. policy making, Langley examines the political, economic, and cultural currents that often have frustrated inter-American progress and accord. Most important, the greater attention given to U.S. relations with Canada in this edition provides a broader and deeper understanding of the often controversial role of the nation in the hemisphere and, particularly, in North America. Commencing with the French-British struggle for supremacy in North America in the French and Indian War, Langley frames the story of the American experience in the Western Hemisphere through four distinct eras. In the first era, from the 1760s to the 1860s, the fundamental character of U.S. policy in the hemisphere and American values about other nations and peoples of the Americas took form. In the second era, from the 1870s to the 1930s, the United States fashioned a continental and then a Caribbean empire. From the mid-1930s to the early 1960s, the paramount issues of the inter-American experience related to the global crisis. In the final part of the book, Langley details the efforts of the United States to carry out its political and economic agenda in the hemisphere from the early 1960s to the onset of the twenty-first century, only to be frustrated by governments determined to follow an independent course. Over more than 250 years of encounter, however, the peoples of the Americas have created human bonds and cultural exchanges that stand in sharp contrast to the formal and often conflictive hemisphere crafted by governments.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-3716-6
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. [Map]
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction to the Second Edition
    (pp. xv-xxvi)

    America and the Americas was published in 1989 as the first volume in what has become a successful series on the relations between the United States and the other countries of the Western Hemisphere. That series—The United States and the Americas—has achieved widespread recognition from U.S., Canadian, and Latin American historians and other social scientists for its efforts to incorporate social and especially cultural dynamics into the history of inter-American relations. Several of the volumes have gone into new editions. The approach of the 2010 bicentennial of the Latin American wars of independence (1810–25) provides ample reason...

  6. Prelude: The Birth of the Second America
    (pp. 1-4)

    As one of the founders, John Adams, often remarked, the revolution that brought forth the first independent state in the Western Hemisphere began in the hearts and minds of the people before the first shot was fired.

    It had begun as protest—a welling up of emotions and outrage over the determination of a generation of British leaders to impose order on the vast domain of inland North America that had been the empire’s reward for its victory over France in the last colonial war. That conflict, remembered in the Atlantic colonies as the French and Indian War, had begun...

  7. PART 1. Genesis

    • 1 The Revolutionary Age
      (pp. 7-37)

      In the half-century span after 1775 there occurred not one but three revolutions in the Americas. The one most familiar is the first, the American Revolution, what the British general Sir Henry Clinton called the American rebellion. But there were two other revolutions in this era—in French Saint-Domingue, the richest colony in the Americas; and in the vast American kingdoms of the Spanish monarch. Each sprang from different causes. Each had its own ideology. Each had its immediate origins in the politics and rivalries of three European powers—Great Britain, the presumptive heir to Rome; France, its implacable enemy...

    • 2 Manifest Destiny
      (pp. 38-72)

      Thomas Jefferson often used grand and inspirational phrases—“America is a hemisphere unto itself”—but one of his most memorable expressions was an “empire of liberty,” the belief that the young United States could avoid or at least delay the problems of overpopulation and class conflict that some believed would inevitably threaten its newly won freedoms. As the president who had masterminded the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, he had enabled the country to double that empire. A half century later, following a decade of diplomatic wrangling with Great Britain over the Oregon country and what some contemporaries believed was an...

  8. PART 2. Empire

    • 3 The Imperial Design
      (pp. 75-103)

      In 1876 Americans celebrated not only their independence but, equally important, the survival of the republic after four years of fratricidal war with powerful implications for European powers and especially other hemispheric nations. For those French republicans who had suffered under the monarchical rule of Napoleon III, the Union victory had validated the cause of republican liberty, a triumph that French liberals would honor with ambitious plans for the Statue of Liberty as a gift from the French people to their republican comrades across the Atlantic. But Lincoln’s call for “a just and lasting peace among ourselves and all nations”...

    • 4 Pax Americana
      (pp. 104-138)

      In the three decades after the war with Spain, the United States expanded its interests in Latin America by every political, economic, and military measure. It had displaced the Spanish Empire in Puerto Rico and Cuba. In the western Caribbean, it had already begun to chart a more direct role for American power on the isthmus. In South America the United States had assumed a protective role over Venezuela in the 1895 boundary dispute between that country and Great Britain. With the encouragement of the Brazilian foreign minister, the Baron of Río Branco, Washington fashioned what a later generation would...

  9. PART 3. The Global Crisis

    • 5 A Hemisphere at War
      (pp. 141-173)

      In March 1933, when Franklin Roosevelt took the oath of office as the nation’s thirty-second president, domestic, not hemispheric, issues dominated both his and the country’s concerns. Within the first hundred days of his administration, he plunged into a fundamental reshaping of the role of the federal government in the economy. Yet, despite the understandable priorities of Depression politics, hemispheric issues increasingly distracted him. In the strategically important Caribbean and Central America, he continued the work of his Republican predecessor in dismantling the formal protectorate system, although his administration would do so in a manner that to some critics looked...

    • 6 The Cold War
      (pp. 174-208)

      In some important respects, 1948 was a successful year for U.S. goals in the Americas. In the previous year at Rio de Janeiro, the U.S. delegation had persuaded the other republics to support a far-reaching inter-American defense pact. In spite of the violent backdrop of the bogotazo, which cost a thousand lives, the participating governments in the ninth Inter-American Conference created the Organization of American States, a continental political and economic structure that far surpassed what Secretary of State James G. Blaine had in mind for the 1889 meeting. The OAS structure included three critical subagencies—the Economic and Social...

  10. PART 4. The Modern Era

    • 7 Years of Uncertainty
      (pp. 211-246)

      The Cuban Missile Crisis had a sobering impact on Kennedy, on the Russians, and on most everyone except Castro, who reputedly became so infuriated over the deal made between the young U.S. president and his Soviet counterpart that he began courting the Chinese and promoting himself as a Third World leader. Yet Kennedy clung to the belief that the United States could sustain a development policy that would raise the standard of living for a generation of Latin American and Caribbean peoples and thus prevent the kind of violent revolution that came in the aftermath of any sudden reversal of...

    • 8 The Defiant Hemisphere
      (pp. 247-280)

      More than any president since John Kennedy, Jimmy Carter sensed opportunity in Latin America’s more assertive posture toward the United States. He spoke movingly and convincingly about renewed American concerns in the hemisphere: vindication of Panama’s just demands for a new canal treaty, a fundamental understanding with Castro’s Cuba, human rights (an increasingly important issue to Congress), and Central America’s distresses along with their implications for American interests. Eschewing the encompassing slogans of previous American leaders who had promised too much and accomplished too little in treating Latin Americans, Carter (reflecting, perhaps, his engineer’s approach to problems) focused on regional...

  11. Epilogue
    (pp. 281-296)

    History, Mark Twain said, does not repeat itself but often rhymes. Although they differed in many respects, the presidents of the United States inaugurated in 1801, 1901, and 2001—Thomas Jefferson, William McKinley, and George W. Bush—began their terms with every expectation that both the government and the nation confronted similar opportunities and dangers in the hemisphere.

    For Jefferson, who dreamed of extending the “empire of liberty” into the North American heartland, the threat involved the survival of the country in a transatlantic world in which the rivalry of Britain and France in Europe no longer benefited the revolutionary...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 297-326)
  13. Bibliographical Essay
    (pp. 327-336)

    With the completion of the “United States and the Americas” series, a detailed bibliographical essay identifying U.S. relations with individual countries or regions would be superfluous. With a few exceptions, this essay identifies general works related to broad themes in the U.S. experience in the Western Hemisphere from the American Revolution to the present.

    The most comprehensive bibliography of United States–Latin American relations is David Trask, Michael C. Meyer, and Roger Trask, A Bibliography of United States–Latin American Relations since 1810 (Lincoln, Neb., 1968), with a Supplement (Lincoln, Neb., 1979). For those interested in related items that may...

  14. Index
    (pp. 337-349)