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Clarifications: Each clarification provides an explanation of an indicator/objective to help teachers better understand the skills and/or concepts.

Standard 5.0 History

Topic C. Conflict between Ideas and Institutions

Indicator 2. Analyze the emerging foreign policy of the United States

Objective a. Explain why the United States adopted a policy of neutrality prior to the War of 1812


From its emergence as a new nation until the War of 1812, the United States attempted to remain neutral in international affairs, preferring not to intervene in a persistent state of war between Great Britain and France that also involved other European countries. The young nation favored neutrality primarily in order to maintain trade relations with foreign states, as the health of American commerce was paramount. In addition, the United States did not wish to enter into alliances that might force it into conflicts against its will. This was a lesson learned from the perpetual alliance made between the young United States and France during the American Revolution. In theory this agreement should have placed the United States on the side of France in the Napoleonic Wars, but it was not in the interest of the country to engage in this conflict. The United States was also too militarily weak to successfully battle the stronger European powers. The United States also believed that it was unique among the nations of the world and should therefore act independently and avoid entangling itself in messy European affairs. Originally outlined in President George Washington’s Farewell Address, the principle of neutrality guided American foreign policy until the War of 1812.

Resources for Objective 5.C.2.a:
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