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The Rewrite

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modern history
Boston College

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  1. Introduction
  2. The surrender of General Cornwallis at Yorktown
  3. European problems following the War of 1812
  4. Examples of how European problems led to diplomatic successes for the United States
  5. Louisiana and the United States
  6. Conclusion

As a young nation the United States was faced with the prospect of gaining a foothold in the world, during a time when European aggression and tensions were running high. During the period from 1775 through 1819, American diplomats were able to achieve dramatic successes in the realm of foreign policy which helped shape the future of the country. Noted historian Samuel Bemis once observed that ?Europe's distresses led to America's earliest diplomatic successes.? While Bemis was very astute at recognizing the circumstances in Europe that led to American diplomatic victories, he failed to see the whole picture. In addition to the problems in Europe, the American zeal for expansion greatly contributed to many early successes such as the Louisiana Purchase and Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819.

[...] Towards the end of 1814, the victors of Europe were arguing abut who should receive the most territory from Napoleon's empire and tempers flared, almost ending the conference and plunging the continent back into war. The breakdown at Vienna coupled with American military victories in the North America after the conference at Ghent had begun, forced the British to seek a peaceful resolution with the United States. The terms of the peace were eventually finalized on December The treaty returned things to status quo, saving the Americans from a military and diplomatic disgrace. [...]

[...] Moreover, the English government wanted a speedy resolution of peace so British troops could focus fully on the war in Europe. By using the outbreak of war as a bargaining chip, American diplomats were able to secure a very favorable treaty for the new country, which gave the original thirteen colonies status as an independent nation. Following the War of 1812, European problems once again proved favorable to the United States during the peace negotiations at Ghent. For decades before the war, British ships had been enforcing the practice of impressment upon any captured ships. [...]

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