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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 b. Explain how the continuing conflict between Great Britain and France influenced the domestic and foreign policy of the United States


After the American Revolution, the young United States attempted to withdraw from world affairs, adopting a stance of strict neutrality so that it could avoid the unending wars of Europe and maintain trade with all European powers. Unfortunately, France and Britain were engaged in ongoing hostilities resulting from the French Revolution and Napoleon’s rise to power, and both nations refused to respect America’s policy of neutrality. Neither Britain nor France wanted the other to benefit from trade with the United States. Both intercepted U.S. ships and confiscated cargoes. Between 1798 and 1800, American and French ships engaged in frequent hostilities, although war was never formally declared. Ultimately, in 1812 the United States declared war on Great Britain, which had been especially aggressive in its violation of American rights, impressing sailors, closing vital Caribbean ports to American trade, and refusing to vacate its forts in the Northwest.

At home, foreign crises served as fodder for the ongoing battles between the Federalists, who tended to support Great Britain, and Republicans, who favored France. Ostensibly intended to protect the United States from disloyalty, the Alien and Sedition Acts were drafted by the Federalists as a way to suppress Republican dissent and prevent Republican-leaning immigrants from further strengthening that party. Republicans countered with the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, which declared the Alien and Sedition Acts invalid because they were unconstitutional and indicated that states might nullify federal laws deemed unconstitutional.

Resources for Objective 5.C.2.b:
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