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The Democratic Language of American Imperialism: Race, Order, and Theodore Roosevelt's Personifications of Foreign Policy Evil

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Abstract:

Theodore Roosevelt's conception of order and progress within the international system can be discovered through a close analysis of his letters, speeches, and statements to Congress. Like so many of his age, he believed a social contract bound governments to provide for the welfare of their people. Governments which failed at this charge discarded their legitimacy, and could thus be overthrown by more civilized great powers, such as the United States. This worldview is revealed through his thoughts preceding the Spanish-American War of 1898, during the Panama Canal crisis of his presidency, and then finally in the way he blamed Kaiser Wilhelm and his ruling clique for instigating World War One, separating the Kaiser's government from well-meaning German citizens. This language and worldview laid the foundation for more profound changes in American foreign policy to come, in particular the transformative diplomacy of Woodrow Wilson.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09592290802564437

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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