Milestones of American Diplomacy

Bureau of Resource Management
December 16, 2009

1778 — Treaty of Alliance with France: Benjamin Franklin, the first U.S. diplomat, negotiated the first U.S. treaty with French Foreign Minister, the Comte de Vergennes, enabling the fledgling republic to continue its struggle for independence.

1783 — Treaty of Paris: John Jay, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams negotiated a treaty of peace with Great Britain, obtaining British recognition of U.S. independence and U.S. possession of trans-Appalachian lands to the Mississippi River.

1803 — Louisiana Purchase: U.S. Minister James Monroe negotiated the purchase of the trans-Mississippi territory from Napoleon of France.

1823 — Monroe Doctrine: Responding to Latin America’s wars for independence and Russia’s expansion in northwest North America, President James Monroe declared the United States opposed to European intervention in Latin America’s independence struggles and new European colonization in Western Hemisphere.

1848 — Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo: Diplomat Nicholas Trist negotiated the treaty ending the 1846-1848 war with Mexico and cession of Texas and the Southwest to the United States.

1853 — Perry and Japan: Commodore Matthew Perry sailed into Edo (Tokyo) Bay in 1853, and later signed a treaty establishing the first diplomatic relations with Japan after Japan’s 200 years of self-imposed isolation.

1893 — First U.S. Ambassador: President Grover Cleveland appoints the first U.S. Ambassador, Thomas F. Bayard to the Court of St. James (United Kingdom). Previously, the highest rank of a U.S. diplomat was Minister.

1898 — Treaty of Paris: The treaty ended the War of 1898 between Spain and United States, resulted in Cuban independence, and ceded Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam to the United States. The treaty signified the emergence of the United States as a world power.

1906 — Secretary of State’s First Official Trip: Secretary of State Elihu Root travelled to Río de Janeiro to attend the Third International Conference of American States. It was the first official overseas trip by a Secretary of State.

1918 — 14 Points: President Woodrow Wilson issued the 14 Points, and they were accepted by the European powers as the basis for peace negotiations to end World War I. Wilson travelled to Europe to conduct peace negotiations, leading to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles.

1941 — The Atlantic Charter: President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill drafted the declaration of principles that served as the basis of the Allies’ objectives during World War II. The principles included national self-determination, free trade, international cooperation, and freedom from fear and want.

1944 — Bretton Woods Agreement: Delegates from 44 nations created the post-WWII international monetary system. In addition to promoting free trade, the agreement created the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to fund national economic development projects and the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) to fund reconstruction of war-devastated nations. The IBRD is now known as the World Bank.

1947 — Truman Doctrine: President Harry Truman declared that the United States must provide economic and military aid to nations threatened by “armed minorities” and “outside pressure,” namely Communism. The Truman Doctrine set containment as the basis of U.S. Cold War foreign policy.

1947 — Marshall Plan: Secretary of State George C. Marshall called for an extensive program to rebuild war-torn Europe. Funded by Congress, the reconstruction program for Western and Central Europe ultimately cost $12 billion.

1948 — North Atlantic Treaty: The United States, Canada and ten Western European nations signed the North Atlantic Treaty, a defensive alliance against Soviet military power. NATO, the treaty’s organization, encouraged military cooperation, technical exchange, and standardization among the twelve allies.

1962 — Cuban Missile Crisis: President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev negotiate removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba over Fidel Castro’s protests. Kennedy’s diplomacy resolved the crisis that was the closest the two superpowers came to nuclear war.

1968 — Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty: Signed by or acceded to by over 189 nations, the treaty bans the proliferation of nuclear weapons, urges nuclear disarmament, and allows for the transfer of nuclear technology for peaceful uses only.

1978 — Camp David Accords: Negotiated by President Jimmy Carter, the accords (two treaties) ended 30 years of conflict, led to normalization of relations between the two countries, and provided a framework for comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

1989 — Cold War Ends: In a May 1989 speech on U.S. policy at Texas A & M University, President George H.W. Bush acknowledged that the Cold War had ended.

1991 — Operation Desert Storm: In response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the United States, under President George H.W. Bush, built an international coalition and, after United Nations approval, militarily pushed Iraq out of Kuwait.

1994 — The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA): The agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico formed a free trade area to reduce barriers to trade and investment.

2001 — 9/11 Terrorism and Afghanistan: In the wake of al-Qaeda’s attacks on the World Trade Center, the United States formed a global coalition against terrorism. Three weeks later, the coalition began Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan to capture Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda leaders and to remove the Taliban regime that gave safe harbor to al-Qaeda.

2003 — Invasion of Iraq: After Iraq’s repeated refusals to comply with UN resolutions, the United States led a coalition to depose the regime of Saddam Hussein.

2004 — AIDS Relief: The United States budgets $2.5 billion to combat AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in the world. President George W. Bush’s Emergency Plan against AIDS is the largest international health initiative ever against a single disease. Funding continued into 2009.

2004 — Indian Ocean Tsunami Disaster Relief: A seaquake off the coast of Sumatra generated large tsunamis that devastated coastal areas around the Indian Ocean. The United States led one of the largest public-private cooperative efforts — totaling more that $2.6 billion — to provide disaster relief and reconstruction assistance to the nations of the region.

2005 — Liberian Elections: After two civil wars, Liberia held elections, choosing Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as President, the first woman head of state in Africa. The United States encouraged peace talks and landed a task force in Monrovia to protect the city until an accord was reached.

2006 — Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA): The United States and the nations of Central America and the Caribbean joined to form CAFTA, which went into effect in March 2006. Like NAFTA, the agreement sought to reduce barriers to trade and investment.

2006 — Restoration of U.S-Libyan Relations: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced the restoration of U.S.-Libyan relations after Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi agreed to relinquish his weapons of mass destruction.

2007 — U.S.-Indian Nuclear Agreement: The United States and India signed an agreement for cooperation in nuclear energy technology.

2009 — Turkey-Armenia Accord: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton brokered an agreement between Turkey and Armenia, establishing diplomatic relations between them, opening their common border, and easing tensions that date back to World War I.