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Our brothers across the ocean? : Unionist diplomacy, the Lansdown Foreign Office, and the Anglo-American 'special relationship', 1900-1905

Adams, Iestyn Michael (2002) Our brothers across the ocean? : Unionist diplomacy, the Lansdown Foreign Office, and the Anglo-American 'special relationship', 1900-1905. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This study is intended as a detailed exploration of British diplomacy with the United States in the first five years of the twentieth century, that is, the period during which the Marquis of Lansdowne presided at the Foreign Office. Without doubt, this was a critical time in the readjustment (both in substance and style) of Anglo-American diplomatic relations, initiating the amicable 'special relationship' which, broadly speaking, has endured to the present day. The efforts made by Lansdowne and the Unionist Administration to 'clear the slate' of nagging Anglo-American disputes, and to encourage a closer diplomatic bond, helped to bring to an end decades of mutual suspicion and antagonism, whilst representing a significant change of course for British foreign policy. In this light, the study here presented aims to provide a close analysis of the Unionist Government's American diplomacy, their motives and diplomatic ambitions, in the appropriate imperial and strategic contexts. An examination of this topic prompts the conclusion that, although Lansdowne fully appreciated the importance of Anglo-American friendship, he approached each dispute with a separate agenda, always gauging the strength of American feeling before committing himself to a set policy. Lansdowne was perfectly prepared to concede non-vital interests to the United States in the Western Hemisphere when serious tension arose, and this was particularly evident during the Isthmian canal and Alaskan boundary negotiations. With these two issues successfully concluded, the rapprochement was effectively ensured. Thus, Lansdowne's determination to uphold British interests (and those of her Western Hemispheric colonies), while occasionally placing a strain on Anglo-American relations, threatened no lasting danger. Above all, Britain relied upon vocal protestations of friendship, both for the United States and the Monroe Doctrine, to extinguish the risks of serious diplomatic tension and to cement a permanent friendship. The major successes of Anglo-American relations, however, came to an abrupt end after the Alaskan verdict of late 1903, and a barren period followed. The relationship had been set upon an entirely new course, but hopes for an Anglo- American partnership, sadly, remained hazy, naive, and frequently ill-conceived. In the Far East, where British and American interests broadly coincided, no joint policy emerged; instead, the two nations became separated over their responses to the Russo-Japanese conflict. Equally, the outstanding issues in North America proved incapable of settlement. Although these final stages of Lansdowne's American diplomacy were marred by diplomatic inactivity and occasional friction, the Unionists' contribution to the Anglo-American 'special relationship' left an impressive and lasting legacy. By 1905, Britain and the United States, while not formally allied, had at least become mutually sympathetic. This was an essential factor in the readjustment of British global strategy, allowing Britain to abandon her defences in the Western Hemisphere and despatch her forces to more pressing areas of the globe.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of History (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.513893
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2010 16:40
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 10:27
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/473

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