The United States in the Far East, 1894-1905 : the Years of Illusion

Busselle, James Arthur, Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia

The period from l894-1905 was one of frustration for Americans interested in East Asia. The decade began and ended with illusions. Looking, westward beyond the continent they had already conquered Americans assumed that it was their destiny to dominate the Pacific region. Having defined access to the China market as important American diplomats soon realized that the United States lacked the power to effectively penetrate, much less dominate that market. They also misjudged the nature, extent and accessibility of the China market. At times Americans interested in East Asia despaired, but more often they attempted to manipulate the course of events in an area of the world that was beyond their ability to control. Refusing to admit their limited influence in an area of the world they considered important, many Americans preferred disappointment to self-confessed impotence.

Throughout the decade American diplomats relied upon treaty rights and Russian promises in East Asia where nations with greater interests and power were undermining the status quo. United States diplomats also consistently looked to, other powers to advance American interests. They began the decade looking to Japan, turned briefly to Russia, then to England and again to Japan. By 1900 the economic and diplomatic relationship between the United States and Japan led many Americans to conclude that Japan was the ideal informal ally of the United States as the guardian of the Open Door in East Asia. The aftermath of the Russo-Japanese war proved that this was the final illusion in a decade of illusions.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
United States -- Foreign relations -- East Asia, East Asia -- Foreign relations -- United States

Digitization of this thesis was made possible by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust, 2015.

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