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Timeline of United States diplomatic history


Timeline of United States diplomatic history

The diplomatic history of the United States oscillated among three positions: isolation from diplomatic entanglements of other (typically European) nations (but with economic connections to the world); alliances with European and other military partners; and unilateralism, or operating on its own sovereign policy decisions. The U.S. always was large in terms of area, but its population was small, only 4 million in 1790. Population growth was rapid, reaching 7.2 million in 1810, 32 million in 1860, 76 million in 1900, 132 million in 1940, and 316 million in 2013. Economic growth in terms of overall GDP was even faster. However the nation's military strength was quite limited in peacetime before 1940.

Brune (2003) and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., ed. The Almanac of American History (1983) have specifics for many incidents.


  • 18th century 1
  • 19th century 2
  • 1900-1939 3
  • 1939-1945 4
  • 1945-2000 5
  • 21st century 6
  • See also 7
  • Footnotes 8
  • References 9

18th century

— April Morocco becomes the first sovereign nation to officially recognize the United States and asks for a treaty which the U.S will pay tribute to Morocco in exchange for Moroccan pirates not attacking American ships.[1]
  • 1779 - Spain enters the war as an ally of France (but not of America); John Jay appointed minister to Spain; he obtains money but not recognition
  • 1779 - John Adams sent to Paris, France to negotiate peace terms with Great Britain
  • 1780- Russia proclaims "armed neutrality" which helps Allies
  • 1780-81 - Russia and Austria propose peace terms; rejected by Adams
  • 1781 - Benjamin Franklin, Henry Laurens and Thomas Jefferson named to assist Adams in peace negotiations; the Congress of the Confederation insists on independence; all else is negotiable
Robert R. Livingston named first United States Secretary of Foreign Affairs
  • 1782 - The Dutch Republic recognizes American independence and signs treaty of commerce and friendship; Dutch bankers loan US$2 million for war supplies
  • 1783 - Treaty of Paris ends Revolutionary War; U.S. boundaries confirmed as British North America (Canada) on north, Mississippi River on west, Florida on south. Britain gives Florida to Spain.
  • 1783 - A commercial treaty with Sweden[2]
  • 1784 - British allow trade with America but forbid some American food exports to West Indies; British exports to America reach £3.7 million, imports only £750,000; imbalance causes shortage of gold in U.S.
— May 7 Congress votes to begin negotiations with Morocco.[1]
— New York–based merchants open trade with China , followed by Salem, Boston and Philadelphia merchants.
— October 11 Moroccan corsair seizes the American ship Betsey and enslaves the crew; the Moroccans demand that the U.S pay a ransom to release the crew and a treaty to pay tribute to avoid future such incidents.[1]
  • 1785 - Adams appointed first minister to Court of St James's (Great Britain); Jefferson replaces Franklin as minister to France.
— March 11 Congress votes to appropriate $80, 000 to pay in tribute to the Barbary states of Morocco, Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli.[1]
— July 9 The Moroccans release the Betsy and her crew.[1]
— July 25 Algerine pirates seizes the American ship Maria off the coast of Portugal; Algiers declares war on the U.S, and the dey Muhammad V of Algiers demands that the U.S. pay $1 million in tribute to end the war.[1]
— March 25 A team of American diplomats arrive in Algiers to begin talks on paying tribute and a ransom to free the enslaved American sailors.[1]
— June 23 Moroccan-American treaty is signed in the U.S. agrees to pay tribute to Morocco in exchange for a promise that Moroccan corsairs will not attack American ships.[1]
  • 1789 - Jay–Gardoqui Treaty with Spain, gave Spain exclusive right to navigate Mississippi River for 30 years; not ratified due to western opposition
— March 1 United States Congress succeeds Congress of the Confederation
— July 27 Department of Foreign Affairs signed into law
— September, changed to Department of State; Jefferson appointed; John Jay continues to act as foreign affairs secretary until Jefferson's return from France; from 1789 to 1883. Much of the routine overseas business is the responsibility of navy officers.[4]
  • 1792
— February 22 Congress votes to send another team of diplomats to Algiers to pay a ransom for the enslaved Americans and to negotiate a tribute treaty.[1]
  • 1793–1815 - Major worldwide war between Great Britain and France (and their allies); America neutral until 1812 and does business with both sides
  • 1794 -:— March 20 Congress votes to establish a navy and to spend $1 million building six frigates.[1] Birth of the United States navy.
  • 1795 -
— June 24 Jay Treaty with Britain. Averts war, opens 10 years of peaceful trade with Britain, fails to settle neutrality issues; British eventually evacuate western forts; boundary lines and debts (in both directions) to be settled by arbitration. Barely approved by Senate (1795) after revision; intensely opposed, became major issue in formation of First Party System.
— September 5 United States signs a treaty agreeing to pay tribute to Algiers in exchange for which the dey Ali Hassan will free the 85 surviving American slaves.[1] The treaty with Algiers is considered a national humiliation.
  • 1796 - Treaty of Madrid established boundaries with the Spanish colonies of Florida and Louisiana and guaranteed navigation rights on the Mississippi River. It becomes law.
— July 11 Algiers frees the 85 American slaves.[1]
— The pasha Yusuf Karamanli of Tripoli, hoping for a similar treaty that Algiers has achieved starts attacking and seizing American ships.[1]
  • 1797 -
— President Adams asks Congress to spend more money on the navy and to arm American merchantmen in response to the Barbary pirate attacks.[5]
— August 28 Treaty of Tripoli; treaty with Barbary state of Tripoli approved unanimously by Senate and signed into law by President John Adams on June 10; states "the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."[6]
  • 1798 - XYZ Affair; humiliation by French diplomats; threat of war with France
  • 1798–1800 - Quasi-War; undeclared naval war with France.
  • 1800 -
— April Tripoli threatens war if the U.S. does not pay more tribute.[7]
— July The Tripolitan warship Tripolino takes the American merchantman Catherine and enslaves the crew.[7] Much outrage in the U.S.
— September 30 Convention of 1800 (Treaty of Mortefontaine) with France ends the Quasi-War and ends alliance of 1778. The treaty frees up the U.S. Navy for operations against the Barbary pirates.[7]

19th century

— February 26 Tripoli declares war on the U.S.[7] The beginning of the First Barbary War. President Jefferson does not ask Congress for a declaration of war against Tripoli, but instead decides to begin military operations against Tripoli, arguing that the President has the right to begin military operations in self-defense without asking for permission from Congress.[8]
— July 24 An American naval squadron begins the blockade of Tripoli.[7]
— August 1 The U.S.S. Enterprise takes the Tripolitan ship Tripoli.[7]

1802 -

— April 27 Second American naval squadron sent to the Mediterranean.[7]
— June 19 Morocco declares war on the United States.[7]
  • 1803 - Louisiana Purchase from France for $15,000,000; financed by sale of American bonds in London, and shipment of gold from London to Paris.
— June 2 Captain David Porter leads raid into Tripoli; first American amphibious landing in the Old World.[7]
  • 1805
— February 23 The American diplomat William Eaton meets with Hamet Karanmanli, the exiled brother of the pasha Yusuf Karamanli of Tripoli in Egypt and agrees that the U.S. will depose Yusuf and put Hamet on the throne; the first American effort at "regime change".[9]
— March 8 A force of American sailors, marines, Tripolian exiles and Egyptian mercenaries under the leadership of Eaton leaves Alexandria with the aim of deposing pasha Yusuf of Tripoli.[10]
— April 28 Eaton's force takes Derna, the road is wide open to Tripoli.[11]
— June 4 Tripoli and the U.S sign a peace treaty.[11]
  • 1806 - Essex Case; British reverse policy and seize American ships trading with French colonies; America responds with Non-Importation Act stopping imports of some items from Great Britain[12]
  • 1806 - Napoleon issues Berlin Decree, a paper blockade of Great Britain
  • 1806 - diplomats negotiate treaty with Britain to extend the expiring Jay Treaty; rejected by Jefferson and never in effect as relations deteriorate
HMS Leopard (right) mauls the USS Chesapeake in 1807
  • 1807 - US Navy humiliated by Royal Navy in Chesapeake–Leopard Affair; demand for war; Jefferson responds with economic warfare using embargoes
  • 1807-09 - Embargo Act, against Great Britain and France during their wars
  • 1807-12 - Impressment of 6,000 sailors from American ships with U.S. citizenship into the Royal Navy; Great Britain ignores vehement American protests
  • 1812 - America declares war on Great Britain, beginning the War of 1812.
  • 1812 - US forces invade Canada to gain a bargaining chip; they are repeatedly repulsed; The U.S. Army at Detroit surrenders without a fight.
  • 1813 - US wins control of Lake Erie and what is now western Ontario; British and Indians defeated and Tecumseh killed; end of Indian threats to American settlement
  • 1814 - British raid and Burn Washington; are repulsed at Baltimore
  • 1814 - British invasion of northern New York defeated
  • 1814 - December 24: Treaty of Ghent signed; providing status quo ante bellum (no change in boundaries); Great Britain no longer needs impressment and stops.
  • 1815 - British invasion army decisively defeated at the Battle of New Orleans
— Treaty of Ghent goes in effect in February; opens long era of friendly trade and peaceful settlement of boundary issues.
— March 2 The U.S. declares war on Algiers.[11] The beginning of the Second Barbary War.
— June 28 Commodore Stephen Decatur arrives off Algiers, after threatening bombardment, the dey agrees to a peace treaty two days later in which he releases the American slaves and agrees to the end of the United States's tributary status.[11]
Siam. Roberts Treaty of 1833; stipulates free trade with few limitations, most favored nation status, and relief for US citizens in cases of shipwreck, piracy, or bankruptcy.
  • 1837 - Caroline affair; Canadian military enters U.S. territory to burn a ship used by Canadian rebels.
  • 1838 - Aroostook War re: Maine-New Brunswick; no combat
Second Sumatran expedition, in retaliation for massacre of the crew of an American merchant ship.
  • 1842 - Webster–Ashburton Treaty-settles U.S.-Canadian border, settling Aroostook War and Caroline affair.
  • 1844 - Oregon Question; America and Great Britain at sword's point; "54-40 or fight" is American slogan[13]
  • 1844 - Treaty of Wanghia.
  • 1845 - Annexation of Republic of Texas; Mexico breaks relations in retaliation
  • 1845 - Slidell Mission fails to avert war with Mexico
  • 1846 - Oregon crisis ended by compromise that splits the region, with British Columbia to Great Britain, and Washington, Idaho, and Oregon to America.
  • 1846 - Mexican–American War begins; Oregon settlement with Britain.
  • 1848 - Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo- settled Mexican–American War, Rio Grande as U.S. border; territory of New Mexico rest of west ceded to America, especially California. U.S. pays Mexico $15,000,000 and assumes $3,250,000 liability against Mexico.
  • 1850 - Clayton–Bulwer Treaty. America and Great Britain agreed that both nations were not to colonize or control any Central American republic, neither nation would seek exclusive control of Isthmian canal, if canal built protected by both nations for neutrality and security. Any canal built open to all nations on equal terms.
  • 1853 - Gadsden Purchase: purchase of 30,000 square miles (78,700 km²) in southern Arizona for $10,000,000 for purpose of railroad connections
  • 1854 - Kanagawa Treaty; Matthew Perry to Tokyo in 1853; returning 1854 with seven warships; treaty opened two Japanese ports and guaranteeing safety of shipwrecked American seamen.
  • 1856 - Siam. Harris Treaty of 1856; adds extraterritoriality status for US citizens to provisions of Roberts Treaty of 1833, and appointment of a US consul (representative).
  • 1857 - Nicaragua; U.S. Navy forces the surrender of filibusterer William Walker, who had tried to seize control of the country.
  • 1858 - Modern–era Japan. Harris Treaty of 1858.
  • 1858 - Outrages at Jaffa resulted in significant U.S. efforts to coordinate with and pressure Ottoman officials, growing U.S. influence and strength in the region.
  • 1859 - Pig War: tense confrontation over the boundary between the US and British North America, settled by arbitration, the pig the only casualty
  • 1861 - President Abraham Lincoln proclaims blockade of Confederate States of America, giving it some legitimacy
  • 1861-65 - Lincoln threatens war against any country that recognizes the Confederacy; no country does so
  • 1864-65 - Maximilian Affair: In defiance of the Monroe Doctrine, French Emperor Napoleon III placed Archduke Maximilian on Mexican throne, America warns France against intervention, with 50,000 combat troops being sent to the Mexican border by President Andrew Johnson; Maximilian overthrown
  • 1867 - Alaska Purchase: America purchases Alaska from Russia for $7,200,000.
  • 1868 - Treaty on Naturalization with North German Confederation marked first recognition by a European power of the right of its subjects to become naturalized U.S. citizens.
  • 1868 - Burlingame Treaty established formal friendly relations with China and placed them on most favored nation status, Chinese immigration encouraged; reversed in 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act.
  • 1871 - Alabama Claims. During the American Civil War, Confederate States of America raider CSS Alabama built in Great Britain, America claimed direct and collateral damage against Great Britain, awarded $15,500,000 by international tribunal.
  • 1891 - Baltimore crisis, minor scuffle with Chile over treatment of soldiers.
  • 1893 - Hawaii; January 16 to April 1. Citizens outraged at Queen Liliuokalani attempt to set up absolute monarchy; overthrows her with no violence and proclaims provisional government; U.S. Marines landed to protect American lives; Hawaii and President Harrison agree to annexation but treaty withdrawn (1893) by President Grover Cleveland who rejects annexation
  • 1895 - Venezuela Crisis of 1895 is a dispute with Britain over the boundary of Venezuela and a British colony; it is finally settled by arbitration.[14]
  • 1897 - The Olney-Pauncefote Treaty of 1897 is a proposed treaty with Britain in 1897 that required arbitration of major disputes. Despite wide public and elite support, the treaty was rejected by the U.S. Senate, which was jealous of its prerogatives, and never went into effect.[15]
  • 1897-98 - American public opinion is outraged by news of Spanish atrocities in Cuba. President McKinley demands reforms.
  • 1898 - De Lôme Letter: Spanish minister to Washington writes disparagingly of President McKinley, casting doubt on Spain's promises to reform its role in Cuba
Spanish–American War; "splendid little war" with American quick victory
Treaty of Paris; U.S. gains Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico; pays Spain for claims; Cuba comes under temporary U.S. control
— Hawaii seeks to join US; with votes lacking for 2/3 approval of a treaty on July 7. The Newlands Resolution in Congress annexes the Republic of Hawaii, with full U.S. citizenship for Hawaiian citizens regardless of race


  • 1901 - Hay–Pauncefote Treaty. American agreement with Great Britain nullifying Clayton–Bulwer Treaty of 1850; guarantee of open passage for any nation through proposed Panama Canal.
  • 1901 - Platt Amendment, March 2. Rider attached to the Army Appropriations Bill of 1901 designed to protect Cuba's independence from foreign intervention. The amendment effectively makes Cuba a U.S. protectorate and allowed for American intervention in Cuban affairs in 1906, 1912, 1917, and 1920. It also permitted America to lease Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Rising Cuban nationalism and widespread criticism led to its abrogation in 1934 by the Ramón Grau administration.[16]
  • 1902 - Drago Doctrine. Foreign Minister Luis María Drago of Argentina announced policy that no European power could use force against any American nation to collect debt, supplanted in 1904 by Roosevelt Corollary to Monroe Doctrine.
  • 1903 - Big Stick diplomacy: Theodore Roosevelt refers to U.S. policy as "speaking softly and carrying a big stick", applied the same year by assisting Panama's independence movement from Colombia. U.S. forces sought to protect American interests and lives during and following the Panamanian revolution over construction of the Isthmian Canal. U.S. Marines were stationed on the isthmus (1903–1914)
  • 1903 - Hay–Bunau-Varilla Treaty with Panama; leased strip of land increased to 10 miles (16 km) wide.
  • 1903 - Alaska boundary treaty resolved the Alaska boundary dispute between the United States and Canada in favor of U.S.; Canada angry at Britain.
  • 1906 - Algeciras Conference. Roosevelt mediated the First Moroccan Crisis between France and Germany, essentially in French favor.
  • 1908-09 - America negotiates arbitration treaties with 25 countries (but not Germany)
  • 1911 - Reciprocity treaty with Canada fails on surge of Canadian nationalism led by Conservative Party.
  • 1911-20 - Mexican Revolution; hundreds of thousands of refugees flee to America; President William Howard Taft recognizes Francisco I. Madero's regime; Madero assassinated by Victoriano Huerta, not recognized by America
  • 1912-25 - Nicaragua; America controls Nicaraguan affairs through control of tariff revenues under the Bryan–Chamorro Treaty.
  • 1912-41 - China. U.S. forces sent to protect American interests in China during chaotic revolution. In 1927, America had 5,670 troops ashore in China (mostly Marines) and 44 naval vessels in its waters.
  • 1913-15 - Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan negotiates 28 treaties that promised arbitration of disputes before war broke out between the signatory countries and the United States. He made several attempts to negotiate a treaty with Germany, but ultimately was never able to succeed. The agreements, known officially as "Treaties for the Advancement of Peace," set up procedures for conciliation rather than for arbitration.[17]
  • 1914 - Veracruz Incident a standoff between America and Huerta; Congress authorizes force at president's discretion; ABC Powers try to mediate; America seizes Veracruz; Huerta breaks diplomatic relations; war seems near
  • 1915 - British passenger liner RMS Lusitania torpedoed off Irish coast by German submarine; 1,200 dead include 128 Americans; Theodore Roosevelt demands war; Woodrow Wilson issues strong protest
  • 1915-34 - Haiti. U.S. forces maintained order and control customs revenue during a period of chronic political instability.
  • 1916-24 - Dominican Republic; U.S. naval forces maintained order and control customs revenue during a period of chronic and threatened insurrection.
  • 1916 - Pancho Villa raid into America; the Mexican Punitive Expedition under John J. Pershing chases Villa deep into Mexico; verge of war
  • 1917 - Zimmermann Telegram. Germany proposes military alliance between Germany and Mexico against America. Publication outrages American opinion; Mexico rejects proposal.
New York Times April 3, 1917


  • 1939 - World War II begins, America initially neutral.
  • 1941 -
— July 29 Japan occupies the southern half of French Indochina, seen as a threatening move.
— July 30 U.S together with Britain and the Dutch government in exile imposes trade embargo against Japan, most crucially in oil.
— August 13 Atlantic Charter. Anglo-American summit off the coast of Newfoundland. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill agree (1) no territorial gains sought by America or Great Britain, (2) territorial adjustments must conform to people involved, (3) people have right to choose their own govt. (4) trade barriers lowered, (5) there must be disarmament, (6) there must be freedom from want and fear ("Four Freedoms" of FDR), (7) there must be freedom of the seas, (8) there must be an association of nations. Charter is accepted by Allies, who call themselves "the United Nations".
— October 31 American destroyer USS Reuben James sunk by a U-boat. Rise in German-American tensions.
— December 7 Attack on Pearl Harbor. United States is attacked by Japanese forces during World War II, bringing America into the conflict.
— December 8 Adolf Hitler grants the Kriegsmarine the right to sink on sight American warships.
— December 11 Germany and Italy declare war on the United States.
  • 1942 -:— August 8 Riegner Telegram received in Washington. Gerhart M. Riegner of the World Jewish Congress sends message from Geneva reporting that he has received reliable information that the German government is engaged in a campaign of extermination against the Jewish population of Europe.
  • 1943 -
— January Casablanca Conference. Roosevelt and Churchill meet to plan European strategy. Unconditional surrender of Axis countries demanded, Soviet aid and participation, invasion of Sicily and Italy planned
— October 30 Moscow Declaration. Joint statement by the United States, United Kingdom and the Soviet Union promises that German leaders will be tried for war crimes after the Allied victory.
— November Cairo Conference. Roosevelt, Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek meet to make decisions about postwar Asia: Japan returns all territory, independent Korea.
— November Tehran Conference. Roosevelt and Churchil meet with Stalin.


  • 1945 - U.S. eager to help establish Conference on International Organization.
  • 1945 - June 26 - United Nations Charter signed in San Francisco. America becomes a founding member and has veto power on the Security Council along with Great Britain, France, China and the Soviet Union.
  • 1945 - August—Nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; surrender of Japan (V-J Day); beginning of the nuclear age.
  • 1945-47 - Marshall Mission to China tries and fails to force coalition government of Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists and Mao Zedong's Communists
  • 1946 - In the [19]
  • 1947 - Truman Doctrine gives military and economic aid to Greece and Turkey to halt spread of Communism
  • 1947-89 - Cold War, an era of high tension and hostility—but no major "hot" war—between the U.S. and its allies (Western Europe, Canada, Japan, etc.) and the Soviet Union and its satellite states.[20]
  • 1947 - [22][21]
  • 1948-51 - Marshall Plan (formally, "European Recovery Plan"); U.S. gives out $11 billion to rebuild and modernize Western European economies. Increased trade between Europe and the America; no repayment asked for.[23]
  • 1948
— June 24 Berlin Blockade imposed by the Soviet Union, blocking traffic into western sectors of Berlin, followed by Operation Vittles, America airlifted massive amounts of food, fuel and supplies into city. Soviet blockade lifted on May 12, 1949.[24]
  • 1949
— January 21 Dean Acheson appointed Secretary of State. He will hold this office until 1953 and is remembered as one of the more abler Secretaries of State.
— April 4 America and eleven other nations sign the North Atlantic Treaty, creating NATO, a military alliance with the purpose of countering the Soviet Union and its allies.
— 23 May 1949 The United States, Britain and France grant independence in their zones in Germany to a new state called the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • 1950-53
— June 25 Korean War begins. U.S. sends in troops to stop North Korean invasion; U.N. votes support; (Soviet Union boycotted U.N. and did not veto.) U.S. forces deployed in Korea exceeded 300,000 during the last year of the conflict.
— September U.S. led invasion defeats North Korean army; UN authorizes rollback strategy, with North Korea to come under UN control
— November Chinese forces enter North Korea; roll back UN-US-South Korean forces to below 38th parallel
  • 1951
— March 28 President Vincent Auriol of France visits Washington to meet President Truman. During his visit, the U.S. agrees to pay for entire French war effort in Vietnam, and to provide unlimited military aid.
— April President Truman fires General Douglas MacArthur as blame game escalates regarding Korean war stalemate.
— June Talks for an armistice in the Korean War open. The major issue that divides the Communist and UN sides is the return of the POWs with the Communists demanding that all POWs from their nations be repatriated while the UN insists on voluntary repatriation.
— September 1 ANZUS Treaty united America, Australia and New Zealand in a defensive regional pact
  • 1952 - Dwight D. Eisenhower defeats isolationist element in GOP; denounces stalemate in Korea and promises to go there himself; elected president in landslide
  • 1953 -
— May Eisenhower threatens use of nuclear weapons in Korean War; China agrees to negotiate.
— July 27 armistice signed ending the Korean War (it is still in effect).
— March 13 The Battle of Dien Bien Phu begins. As the French are faced with defeat in Vietnam, Eisenhower considers intervention with tactical nuclear weapons to break the siege of Dien Bien Phu, and orders the Joint Chiefs of Staff to start work on Operation Vulture, the plan to intervene in Vietnam. Operation Vulture is ultimately rejected as a policy option.
— April 26 Geneva conference opens. Through called to consider a peace treaty for the Korean War, the conference is soon dominated by the question of Vietnam. The Secretary of State John Foster Dulles heads the American delegation.
— June 18 Guatemala. Dwight D. Eisenhower authorizes Operation PBSUCCESS, a program of "psychological warfare and political action" against anti-U.S. regime; Guatemalan military overthrows the left-wing government of Jacobo Árbenz and installs Carlos Castillo Armas.
— July 20 The Geneva conference closes with an agreement on the partition of Vietnam into two states with a promise to hold a general election in both by June 1956. Dulles does not sign the Geneva accords, but promises that the US will abide by them.
— September 8 SEATO alliance in Southeast Asia is founded. South Vietnam not a signatory


— February 24 CENTO) initiated by John Foster Dulles, members were Iran, Iraq, United Kingdom, Pakistan, and Turkey, U.S. aid.
  • 1957 - Eisenhower Doctrine gives the president authority to determine the necessity to assist any nation requesting assistance against armed aggression from any country controlled by international communism, applied in Lebanon the following year.
  • 1957 - Americans embarrassed when Soviets launch Sputnik, the first space satellite and leapfrog America in high technology.
  • 1958 - U.S. foreign aid appropriation, $3.2 billion for military and economic aid; lending authority of the Export-Import Bank raised to $7 billion; U.S. admits 32,000 Hungarian refugees from 1956 revolt
  • 1959 - Cuba. Fidel Castro comes to power. The first of 1 million Cuban exiles go to U.S., concentrating in Miami
  • 1960 - Nikita Khrushchev cancels summit conference with Eisenhower after U.S. U-2 spy plane shot down over the Soviet Union
  • 1960 - Act of Bogotá makes social reform a prior condition for American economic aid
  • 1960 - Cuba seizes $1.5 billion of American properties; America imposes complete trade embargo (except food, medicine) continues in effect in 2012
  • 1961 - President John F. Kennedy launches Space Race, promising Americans on the Moon; they landed July 20, 1969
  • 1961 McGeorge Bundy becomes U.S. National Security Advisor.
  • 1961 - Cuba. America breaks diplomatic relations as Castro aligns with Soviet Union.
  • 1961 - Alliance for Progress. inter-regional agreement funded by America to counter the growing regional appeal of the Cuban Revolution.
  • 1961 - Bay of Pigs Invasion in April; CIA-trained Cuban exiles invaded Cuba and were defeated at the Bay of Pigs; captured and ransomed by President Kennedy
  • 1961 - Berlin Crisis. Soviets give East Germany control over East Berlin; in August the Berlin Wall is built to stem wave of refugees escaping to the Western side. Kennedy proclaims "Ich bin ein Berliner" ("I am a citizen of Berlin") to cheering West Berliners.
  • 1962 - Organization of American States (OAS) excludes Cuba, sets up trade embargo; dropped in 1975.
  • 1962 - Cuban missile crisis. John F. Kennedy on October 22 announces that there exist Soviet missiles in Cuba and demanded their removal while imposing an air sea blockade. Soviet missiles are withdrawn on condition that America will not invade Cuba.
  • 1963 - Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. U.S. and the Soviet Union agreed not to conduct nuclear tests in space, in the atmosphere or underwater. Underground tests permitted; signed by 100 nations, excluding France and the People's Republic of China.
  • 1964 - Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gives President Lyndon B. Johnson Congressional approval to act in Vietnam; repealed in 1970.
  • 1965 - Intervention in Dominican Republic.
  • 1968 - Tet Offensive in Vietnam causes political crisis at home.
— November 1 The first "accelerated pacification" of launching land reforms in South Vietnam intended to persuade South Vietnamese peasants not to support the Viet Cong is launched; a success.
— January 28 Nixon launches policy of Vietnamization, in which American ground troops in Vietnam were to be steadily reduced and the American role was to provide military training, equipment, and air support for the South Vietnamese. Vietnamization was intended to reduce American losses in Vietnam, and thus reduce the domestic pressure for a total withdrawal of American forces. Nixon's aim in Vietnam is to force a Korean War-type armistice, which requires that the war go on until Hanoi agreed to the American terms while at same time forcing Nixon to deflect pressure from domestic anti-war protests. With the same aim of achieving an armistice that would allow South Vietnam to continue to exist, Nixon begins a policy of seeking better relations with the Soviet Union and China, hoping those two states would reduce, if not end their arm supplies to North Vietnam in return for better relations with Washington, and thus forcing Hanoi to accept peace on American terms.
— February Following the success of the first "accelerated pacification" and the Phoenix Program of "neutralizing" (i.e assassinating) Viet Cong operatives, Nixon applies strong pressure for more "accelerated pacification" campaigns and the Phoenix Program killings in South Vietnam as a part of the effort at breaking the Viet Cong. For Nixon, "accelerated pacification" and the Phoenix Program killings both have the effect of weakening the Viet Cong without the use of American troops, which serves to achieve both his aims of reducing American forces and applying pressure for the Vietnamese Communists to accept peace on American terms.
— March 8 President Nasser of Egypt launches the War of Attrition against Israel. The U.S supports Israel while the Soviet Union supports Egypt.
— July 25 Nixon announces the Nixon Doctrine in which Nixon warns that the United States will not to any lengths to defend its allies, especially in Asia, and henceforth American allies must do more for their own defense. The doctrine is especially aimed at South Vietnam and is intended to pressure the South Vietnamese government to do a more effective job of fighting the Communists.
— July Nixon visits Pakistan and meets with the Pakistani President General Agha Yahya Khan, tells him that he wants to use Pakistan as an intermediary for talks with China.[25] Yahya Khan agrees to Nixon's request.
— September 9 Walter Stoessel, the American ambassador to Poland is ordered by Nixon to make contacts with Chinese diplomats in an informal way.[25]
— October 16 Pakistani ambassador to the United States Agha Hilaly tells Kissinger that President Yahya is going to visit China early the next year, and is there any message that Kissinger would like Yahya to pass on to Mao.[25]
— November 3 Nixon gives a TV speech claiming that there was a "silent majority" supporting his Vietnam policies, states that he needs some more time for his polices to work, denounces anti-war protestors as a threat to world peace, and asks for the support of the "silent majority" to help him "to end the war in a way that we could win the peace."
  • 1970
— February 23 Hilaly tells Kissinger that after Yahya's visit to Beijing that the Chinese were interested in the American offer, but did not want to negotiate from a position of weakness.[25]
— March Under the "accelerated pacification", more than million hectares of land have been redistributed in American-encouraged land reform in South Vietnam.[26]
— March 7 Chiang Kai-shek who has heard reports of Sino-American talks in Warsaw writes to Nixon to protest.[25]
— April 29 Nixon orders the Cambodian Incursion. American and South Vietnamese force invade eastern provinces of Cambodia with the aim of clearing out the Viet Cong/North Vietnamese forces based there. Sparks much protest in the United States.
— June By this point in the War of Attrition between Israel and Egypt, there are regular clashes occurring between Israel and Soviet forces in Egypt, leading to fears that this might cause a world war, which in turn leads to strong pressure for a ceasefire.
— October 25 During a Pakistani-American summit, President Nixon asks President Yahya to pass on another message to Beijing about the American wish for rapprochement with China.[25]
— October 31 Kissinger meets with Romanian President Nicolae Ceaușescu and asks him to pass on a message to China that the U.S wishes for a normalization of relations with the People's Republic of China.[25]
  • 1971
— January 12 Corneliu Bogdan, the Romanian ambassador to the U.S. tells Kissinger that Ceaușescu has passed on the American message, and that for Mao, normalization would be possible if the U.S. would end the "occupation" of Taiwan as Mao calls American support for Taiwan.[25] This poses a major problem for Nixon as allow China to take Taiwan would greatly damage America's image and pose domestic problems.
— March 4 Nixon gives press conference, and warns that better Sino-American relations cannot come at the expense of Taiwan.[25]
— March 26 Pakistan launches Operation Searchlight intended by President Agha Yahya Khan to crush the Awami League in East Pakistan, and to eliminate the intelligentsia, political class and Hindu minority of East Pakistan.[27] As General Yahya is a key conduit in the talks between the United States and China, the Nixon administration does not protest Operation Searchlight as it fears this might offend General Yahya, as part of its marked "tilt" towards Pakistan.[27]
— April 6 The Blood telegram sent by Archer Blood, the American consul in Dhaka and 20 other diplomats protesting the Nixon administration's silence about the Pakistani government's repression in East Pakistan and what the telegram argues is a campaign of genocide by the government against the Hindu minority in East Pakistan.[27] The Blood telegram does not affect American policy towards Pakistan, and effectively cuts the career of Blood and the other diplomats.[27]
— April 14 Ping-pong diplomacy. The American table tennis team is allowed to visit China, causes a sensation.[25] During a phone conversation, Kissinger says "It's a tragedy that it has to happen to Chiang at the end of his life but we have to be cold about it", to which Nixon replies "We have to do what's best for us".[25]
— April 21 Pakistani President Yahya informs Nixon that he had spoken with Zhou Enlai, and that the Chinese wished for a senior American envoy to make a secret visit to Beijing.[25]
— April 27 About the Chinese offer of a secret American envoy to visit Beijing, Kissinger tells Nixon that "If we get this thing working, we will end Vietnam this year."[25]
— July 9 Kissinger visits Islamabad, Pakistan, and from there goes on to a secret trip to Beijing to meet Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong.[25] During the secret summit in Beijing, it is agreed that President Nixon will visit China the next year.[25]
— December 3 Indo-Pakistani war begins. The U.S supports Pakistan while the Soviet Union supports India.
— December 11 Nixon orders Task Force 74 to the Bay of Bengal in an attempt to intimidate India into accepting a ceasefire before the Indians defeat Pakistan.
— December 16 The war ends in Pakistan's defeat. Nixon fails in his efforts preserve Pakistan's unity.
  • 1972 -
— February 21 Nixon visits China. Nixon in Beijing opens era of détente with China.
— May 9 Nixon orders Operation Linebacker with the aiming of destroying North Vietnam's logistical capacity.
— May 22 Moscow summit. Nixon in Moscow opens era of détente with Soviet Union; SALT I.
— June 3 Quadripartite Agreement governing the status of Berlin.
— October 8 Kissinger meets with the North Vietnamese negotiator Le Duc Tho in Paris for peace talks to end the Vietnam War, and initially the talks go well.
— October 18 President Nguyen Van Thieu of South Vietnam rejects the proposed Paris peace agreement, complaining that Kissinger had not consulted him.
— December 17 Paris peace talks break down.
— December 18 Nixon orders "Christmas Bombings" against North Vietnam following the breakdown in the Paris peace talks.
  • 1973 -
— 27 January Paris Peace Accords ends the American war in Vietnam; POW's returned in March.
— October 6 October War begins with a surprise attack on Israel by Egypt and Syria. The U.S. supports Israel while the Soviet Union supports Egypt and Syria.
— October 12 Nixon orders Operation Nickel Grass, a major American effort to supply Israel with weapons to make good the IDF's heavy initial losses.
— October 20 Arab oil embargo led by King Faisal of Saudi Arabia against the U.S and other Western nations begins as punishment for support of Israel. The oil embargo sparks major inflation in the United States.
— October 24 The Soviet Union announces that it sent will troops to Egypt, which in turn leads Kissinger to warn that the United States will sent troops to fight the Soviet forces deployed to Egypt. Nixon places the United States military on DEFCON 3, one of the highest states of alert. The Soviets back down.
— October 25 A ceasefire brokered by the U.S and the Soviet Union ends the October War.


— January 18 Under an American disengagement plan negotiated by Kissinger, Israeli forces pull back from the Suez Canal.
— March 17 Arab oil embargo against the West ends.
— September 29 MNF comprising forces from the United States, France, and Italy set to Lebanon to stabilize the nation in middle of its civil war.
  • 1983 -
— April 18 A suicide attack by the Iranian supported Hezbollah terrorist group destroys the American embassy in Beirut.
— October 23 A suicide attack by Hezbollah kills 241 American servicemen, mostly Marines in Beirut.
— October 25 U.S. invades Grenada in response to a coup d’état by Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard on the Caribbean island.
  • 1984
— February 26 Reagan orders the Marines in Lebanon to be "redeployed to the fleet" as the withdraw from Lebanon is euphemistically known.
— April 10 Senate votes to condemn Reagan for mining Nicaraguan waters.
— September 20 Another suicide attack by Hezbollah damages the American embassy in Beirut.
— March 24 Gulf of Sidra incident. Libyan attacks on American warships in the Gulf of Sidra.
— April 5 La Belle discotheque in Berlin bombed by Libyan agents. The discotheque is popular with American servicemen and two out of the three killed are American. As the NSA has broken the Libyan diplomatic codes, it is established that the bombing was planned out of the Libyan "people's bureau" (embassy) in East Berlin.
— April 15 Operation El Dorado Canyon. U.S. bombs Libya in response to the bombing in Berlin.
— November The news of the Iran–Contra affair breaks: White House officials sell weapons to Iran and give the profits to Contras; President Reagan embarrassed.
  • 1987
— June 12 President Reagan gives the "Tear down this wall!" speech in Berlin, saying "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!". Reagan argues that tearing the Berlin Wall would be a symbol of Soviet good faith to prove Gorbachev was sincere in seeking better relations with the West.
  • 1989 - End of Eastern Bloc; fall of Berlin Wall; all East European satellites break away from Moscow
  • 1990 - Panama; America invades to oust Manuel Noriega.
— September 12 Four plus two treaty signed by U.S. Britain, France, the Soviet Union, West Germany and East Germany formally ends World War II in Europe, grants the two German states the right to unify and ends all of the sovereign rights held by the Allies in Germany since 1945.
  • 1991 - Gulf War; America leads a U.N.-authorized coalition to repel an Iraqi invasion out of neighboring Kuwait.
  • 1991–2003 - Iraq sanctions; America and Great Britain maintain no-fly-zones in the north and south of Iraq with periodic bombings.
  • 1991-93 - START II accords held by America and Russia to limit nuclear weapons
  • 1991 - The Soviet Union is dissolved; Mikhail Gorbachev resigns
  • 1999 - The US and NATO bomb the FR Yugoslavia, which brings an end to the Kosovo War.

21st century

  • 2001 - September 11 terrorist attacks, orchestrated by Al-Qaeda terrorist network, occur on American soil.
  • 2001 - U.S. and NATO forces invade Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban.
  • 2003 - U.S.-led coalition invades Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein; troops remain to fight insurgency against the U.N.-approved elected government.
  • 2004 to present - Drone attacks in Pakistan CIA maintains drone surveillance and launches hundreds of attacks on pro-Taliban targets
  • 2006 - President United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act into law; U.S. no longer opposes India's civilian and military nuclear programs; bilatareal relations improve
  • 2009 - President Barack Obama lifts all travel restrictions to see relatives in Cuba and send remittances. However later that year, Obama approved continuing the Trading with the Enemy Act, which regulates sanctions on Cuba.
  • 2011 - U.S. removes all military forces from Iraq
  • 2011 - New START treaty with Russia goes into effect.
  • 2011 - CIA uses Navy Seals to raid Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, killing Bin Laden; seize computers. Pakistan was not informed
  • 2013 - U.S. threatens an air attack on Syria after it uses chemical weapons; resolved by agreement to destroy all the chemical weapons under international auspices
  • 2014 - U.S. implements economic sanctions against the Russian Federation after its illegal occupation of Crimea during the 2014 Ukraine conflict.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Fremont-Barnes, Gregory The Wars of the Barbary Pirates, London: Osprey, 2006 page 13
  2. ^ See text
  3. ^ See link
  4. ^ Long, David Foster (1988). Gold braid and foreign relations: diplomatic activities of U.S. naval officers, 1798-1883. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.  
  5. ^ Fremont-Barnes, Gregory The Wars of the Barbary Pirates, London: Osprey, 2006 page 14
  6. ^ Tom Head (2009). Freedom of Religion. Infobase Publishing. p. 78. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Fremont-Barnes, Gregory The Wars of the Barbary States, London: Osprey, 2006 page 14.
  8. ^ Fremont-Barnes, Gregory The Wars of the Barbary States, London: Osprey, 2006 page 39.
  9. ^ Fremont-Barnes, Gregory The Wars of the Barbary States, London: Osprey, 2006 pages 57-58.
  10. ^ Fremont-Barnes, Gregory The Wars of the Barbary States, London: Osprey, 2006 page 58.
  11. ^ a b c d Fremont-Barnes, Gregory The Wars of the Barbary States, London: Osprey, 2006 page 15.
  12. ^ Bradford Perkins, Prologue to war: England and the United States, 1805-1812 (1961) full text online
  13. ^ David M. Pletcher, The Diplomacy of Annexation: Texas, Oregon, and the Mexican War (1973).
  14. ^ Nelson M. Blake, "Background of Cleveland's Venezuelan Policy," American Historical Review (1942) 47#2 pp. 259–277 in JSTOR
  15. ^ Nelson M. Blake, "The Olney-Pauncefote Treaty of 1897," American Historical Review, (1945) 50#2 pp. 228-243 in JSTOR
  16. ^ Louis A. Perez, Jr. Cuba under the Platt Amendment, 1902–1934. Univ of Pittsburgh Pr. ISBN 0-8229-3533-3
    Platt Amendment. Our National Archives.
    An Amendment's End. Time Magazine.
  17. ^ Genevieve Forbes Herrick; John Origen Herrick (2005) [1925]. The Life of William Jennings Bryan. Kessinger Publishing. p. 280. 
  18. ^ Christian Science Monitor, 4 Oct. 2010
  19. ^ Irwin M. Wall (1991). The United States and the Making of Postwar France, 1945-1954. Cambridge U.P. p. 55. 
  20. ^ John Lewis Gaddis, The Cold War: A New History (2006) excerpt and text search
  21. ^ Douglas A. Irwin, "The GATT in Historical Perspective," American Economic Review Vol. 85, No. 2, (May, 1995), pp. 323-328 in JSTOR
  22. ^ Francine McKenzie, "GATT and the Cold War," Journal of Cold War Studies, Summer 2008, 10#3 pp 78-109
  23. ^ Scott Jackson, "Prologue to the Marshall Plan: The Origins of the American Commitment for a European Recovery Program," Journal of American History 65#4 (1979), pp. 1043-1068 in JSTOR
  24. ^ Deborah Welch Larson, "The Origins of Commitment: Truman and West Berlin," Journal of Cold War Studies, 13#1 Winter 2011, pp. 180-212
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Getting to Beijing: Henry Kissinger's Secret 1971 Trip". University of California. July 21, 2011. Retrieved 2013-08-26. 
  26. ^ "Accelerated Pacification Campaign". Retrieved 2013-08-26. 
  27. ^ a b c d "Blood meridian". The Economist. September 21, 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-26. 
  28. ^ Clete Hinton. Camp David Accords (2004)
  29. ^ 'U.S. Policy on the New Zealand Port Access Issue', National Security Decision Directive 193, 21 October 1985, Federation of American Scientists Intelligence Program, accessed 22 October 2012,


  • Allen, Debra J. Historical Dictionary of U.S. Diplomacy from the Revolution to Secession(2012) excerpt and text search
  • Bailey, Thomas A. Diplomatic History of the American People (1940), standard older textbook
  • Beisner, Robert L. ed, American Foreign Relations since 1600: A Guide to the Literature (2003), 2 vol. 16,300 annotated entries evaluate every major book and scholarly article.
  • Bemis, Samuel Flagg. A Diplomatic History of the United States (1952) old standard textbook
  • Bemis, Samuel Flagg and Grace Gardner Griffin. Guide to the Diplomatic History of the United States 1775–1921 (1935) bibliographies; out of date and replaced by Beisner (2003)
  • Brune, Lester H. Chronological History of U.S. Foreign Relations (2003), 1400 pages
  • Burns, Richard Dean, ed. Guide to American Foreign Relations since 1700 (1983) highly detailed annotated bibliography
  • Deconde, Alexander, et al. eds. Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy 3 vol (2001), 2200 pages; 120 long articles by specialists.
  • DeConde, Alexander; A History of American Foreign Policy (1963) online edition
  • Ellis, Sylvia. Historical Dictionary of Anglo-American Relations (2009) Excerpt and text search
  • Findling, John, ed. Dictionary of American Diplomatic History 2nd ed. 1989. 700pp; 1200 short articles.
  • Folly, Martin and Niall Palmer. The A to Z of U.S. Diplomacy from World War I through World War II (2010) excerpt and text search
  • Herring, George. From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776 (Oxford History of the United States) (2008), 1056pp
  • Hahn, Peter L. Historical Dictionary of United States-Middle East Relations (2007) excerpt and text search
  • Hogan, Michael J. ed. Paths to Power: The Historiography of American Foreign Relations to 1941 (2000) essays on main topics
  • Hogan, Michael J., and Thomas G. Paterson, eds. Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations (1991) essays on historiography
  • Lafeber, Walter. The American Age: United States Foreign Policy at Home and Abroad, 1750 to Present (2nd ed 1994) university textbook; 884pp online edition
  • Mauch, Peter, and Yoneyuki Sugita. Historical Dictionary of United States-Japan Relations (2007) Excerpt and text search
  • Paterson, Thomas, et al. American Foreign Relations: A History (7th ed. 2 vol. 2009), university textbook
  • Saul, Norman E. Historical Dictionary of United States-Russian/Soviet Relations (2008) excerpt and text search
  • Smith, Joseph. Historical Dictionary of United States-Latin American Relations (2006) excerpt and text search
  • Sutter, Robert G. Historical Dictionary of United States-China Relations (2005) excerpt and text search
  • Waters, Robert Anthony, Jr. Historical Dictionary of United States-Africa Relations (2009) Excerpt and text search
  • Weatherbee, Donald E. Historical Dictionary of United States-Southeast Asia Relations (2008) Excerpt and text search
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