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Claude G. Bowers and American foreign relations

Mary Josephine Hrenchir, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Claude Gernade Bowers' twenty year service as ambassador to Spain from 1933 to 1939 and Chile from 1939 to 1953 offers a unique framework from which to study American foreign relations during the twentieth century. Bowers' appointment to Spain represented a political "reward." But the choice of Spain was not capricious. Nor was the choice of Chile in 1939. By the time Franklin D. Roosevelt became president, the new political experiment in Spain with its overtones of America's own "experiment" one hundred and fifty years earlier, had great appeal for Roosevelt, his political supporters and the American public. Bowers, in particular, found Spain's situation most gratifying. He viewed Spain's experiment in republican government as a testament to America's democratic ideals in action. As ambassador he could insure a fair and precise understanding of Spain in transition. Equally, his service to Chile demonstrated the same vision of an experiment in democratic ideals. In 1939, when Bowers was appointed ambassador, popular opinion in the United States rated Chile as the most democratic nation in Latin America. Historically Chile had avoided the constant revolutions that had beset most of the rest of Latin America. Bowers tended to view developments in Chile from this perspective. Bowers' underlying assumptions of the democratic tendencies of both Spain and Chile, however, were directly challenged by what he thought to be the two most pernicious enemies of democracy: fascism and communism. Bowers spent the last years of his life attempting to present his interpretation of American policy with respect to events in Spain and Chile. A nontraditional but valid question to pose is what impact does myth-making have on foreign policy. In the case of Spain and Chile, Claude Bowers is central to the creation of myth and therefore deserves in-depth analysis and study.

Subject Area

History|European history|American history|Biographies|International law|International relations|Latin American history

Recommended Citation

Hrenchir, Mary Josephine, "Claude G. Bowers and American foreign relations" (1993). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9406077.