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Fulfilling the covenant: The Wilsonian influence on Harry Truman's foreign policy

Connie K Harris, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


In order to understand the history of American foreign relations, one must grasp its philosophical foundations. America's foreign policy throughout the twentieth century was based on the precepts of Woodrow Wilson. These included the promotion of national self-determination and democracy, the open door, collective security, and American exceptionalism. This study contributes toward an historiographical evaluation that places President Harry Truman within the American tradition of Wilsonianism. Truman's foreign policy is assessed in this dissertation, not only in the context of the Cold War but within the Wilsonian tradition. ^ Harry Truman implemented Wilsonianism as the framework of foreign policy. As an admirer of Wilson, Truman was, throughout his political career, an astute observer of history. He felt he had to avoid the mistakes Wilson had made at the end of World War I. Like Wilson, he believed there would be another war if he failed; because of the advent of the nuclear age, the stakes for Truman were even higher. By re-evaluating the episodes of the Truman Administration, including the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, the recognition of Israel, the Atlantic Alliance, and the Korean War the Wilsonian influence is apparent. The connections between President Wilson's legacy and Truman's conduct of American foreign relations emerge. Truman's administration cemented the Wilsonian legacy onto the American foreign policy landscape, which has continued into the twenty-first century. ^

Subject Area

Biography|History, United States|Political Science, International Law and Relations

Recommended Citation

Harris, Connie K, "Fulfilling the covenant: The Wilsonian influence on Harry Truman's foreign policy" (2002). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3074079.