Essay #2: The American Century History 117B, Professor Helton DUE DATE:

Essay #2: The American Century
History 117B, Professor Helton
DUE DATE: April 27, 2018
“[Americans must] accept wholeheartedly our duty and our opportunity as the most powerful
and vital nation in the world and in consequence . . . exert upon the world the full impact of our
influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit.”
Henry R. Luce, The American Century, 1941
Starting with the presidency of George Washington, the United States adhered to a policy of
isolationism (non-involvement) in European politics. Though the US did intervene in Latin
America and in the Pacific, the US stayed out of European, African, Middle Eastern, and most
Asian affairs. After World War Two, however, the US shifted course and became a major global
power, intervening in areas of the world in which it had previously had no interest.
The philosophy which underpinned this shift is known as “liberal internationalism.” The three
presidents who originated this philosophy are Wilson, FDR, and Truman. From 1942 until the
election of Donald Trump in November of 2016, some variation of liberal internationalism
dominated American foreign policy. In this essay, you will explore the core ideas which led
America to become a global power.
The Assignment:
Examine the sources listed below. Then, in a thoughtful, well-written essay, please answer the
following questions:
According to these documents, why must the United States “exert upon the world the full
impact of our influence?” What does the United States hope to achieve by exerting its
influence? What are its goals in doing so? Finally, what means does the U.S. intend to use to
achieve these goals?
• Woodrow Wilson, “A World Safe for Democracy,” Voices, p.105
• FDR, “The Four Freedoms,” Voices, p. 192
• Henry Luce, “The American Century,” Voices, p. 196
• Henry A. Wallace, “On the Century of the Common Man,” Voices p. 199
• The Truman Doctrine, Voices, p. 218
• NSC-68, Voices, p. 221
• The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Voices, p. 228
• Harry Truman’s Speeches (on Canvas in the module for the week of April 23)
You are not required to do extra research for this assignment. Please use the readings from
Give Me Liberty and Voices of Freedom in addition to the class videos as your sources. You
must use primary source evidence in this essay.
Format and Requirements:
Your essay should be four to five pages long, with formatting as described in the class syllabus.
Your essay should include a thesis statement that clearly answers the question. The body of
your essay should include primary and secondary source evidence that supports your thesis.
You must use footnotes to document these sources. Your essay should include a properly
formatted Bibliography at the end (the Bibliography is not included in the page count).
The proper format for footnotes and bibliographies can be found in Chapter 16 of Turabian.
If you have any questions, please email me at

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