Term Paper: Technology Contributes to US End of Isolation Period

Pages: 3 (831 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: American History  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … American Isolationism

End of U.S. Isolation

The End of American Isolationism

George Washington, in his farewell address in 1796, warned future Americans that "the great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, [but] to have with them as little political connection as possible." (Washington 1796) The father of the country knew that trade was the key to American economic stability and prosperity, but warned that increased trade with overseas nations can often lead to political entanglements with those nations. Washington wanted the "best of both worlds," an America that traded with all nations but had political entanglements with none. While this may have been a possibility when the United States was a small, primarily agricultural nation, the development of industrialization would make international political entanglements impossible.

Throughout the 19th century the United States of America was successful in expanding it's productivity and international trade, while managing to simultaneously maintain it's political isolationism. Instead of involving itself in international affairs, America concentrated on it's "manifest destiny;" the idea that America was destined to expand territorially across the continent. However, as the both the American frontier and the 19th century came to a close, the United States of America began to look out toward the rest of the world for both the expansion of trade as well as political influence. It was the new technological advancements of the American Industrial Revolution that spurred the need for the expansion of American trade and caused the United States to end a century of isolationism and embark on a policy of increased international influence and power.

For much of the 19th century the United States was primarily an agricultural nation, and Americans found overseas markets for their agricultural produce. The continual advance of technological inventions such as Eli Whitney's cotton gin, John Deere's steel plow, or Cyrus McCormick's reaper increased the output of American agriculture. ("A History of American Agriculture:1800") Along with the creation of a number of canals and the invention of the Railroad, these technological innovations allowed Americans to slowly expand westward, across the continent, to the Pacific Ocean. However, by the late 1800's, Americans had settled the West, and needed an outlet for the ever increasing industrial production.

The American Industrial Revolution can be attributed to the 19th century entrepreneurs who "invested aggressively to develop the nation's vast resources." (Barney, 2006, p. 149) One of those vast resources was iron, which could be made into steel.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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