Wilsonian Missionary Diplomacy

Roger R. Trask

"Missionary diplomacy" is a descriptive label often applied to the policies and practices of the United States in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson (1913–1921). According to Arthur S. Link in Wilson: The New Freedom (p. 278), "[Secretary of State William Jennings] Bryan and Wilson were both fundamentally missionaries of democracy, driven by inner compulsions to give other peoples the blessings of democracy and inspired by the confidence that they knew better how to promote the peace and well-being of other countries than did the leaders of those countries themselves." Wilson related both missionary diplomacy and the New Freedom, his domestic program, to his concepts of morality and democratic government. Despite Wilson's admirable ideas and objectives, missionary diplomacy was a disaster. Perhaps some of the historians who have placed Wilson high in the presidential pantheon have not given enough consideration to the failure of missionary diplomacy.


Benjamin, Jules R. "The Framework of U.S. Relations with Latin America in the Twentieth Century: An Interpretive Essay." Diplomatic History 11 (1987): 91–112.

Calder, Bruce J. The Impact of Intervention: The Dominican Republic During the U.S. Occupation of 1916–1924. Austin, Tex., 1984.

Calhoun, Frederick S. Power and Principle: Armed Intervention in Wilsonian Foreign Policy. Kent, Ohio, 1986.

——. Uses of Force and Wilsonian Foreign Policy. Kent, Ohio, 1993.

Calvert, Peter. The Mexican Revolution, 1910–1914: The Diplomacy of Anglo-American Conflict. London and New York, 1968. Emphasizes England's role in the U.S.–Mexican conflict.

Clements, Kendrick A. "Woodrow Wilson's Mexican Policy, 1913–15." Diplomatic History 4 (1980): 113–136.

Cooper, John Milton, Jr. "An Irony of Fate: Woodrow Wilson's Pre–World War I Diplomacy." Diplomatic History 3 (1979): 425–437.

Gilderhus, Mark T. Pan American Visions: Woodrow Wilson in the Western Hemisphere, 1913–1921. Tucson, Ariz., 1986.

——. "Wilson, Carranza, and the Monroe Doctrine: A Question in Regional Organization." Diplomatic History 7 (1983): 103–115.

Healy, David. Drive to Hegemony: The United States in the Caribbean, 1898–1917. Madison, Wis., 1988. Covers Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Panama.

Hunt, Michael Hy. Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy. New Haven, Conn., 1987. A valuable study that applies three elements helping shape the U.S. vision of the world to Wilson's policies and actions in Latin America and elsewhere.

Katz, Friedrich. The Secret War in Mexico: Europe, the United States, and the Mexican Revolution. Chicago, 1981. A detailed volume suggesting that Wilson's policy was designed to promote U.S. capital interests.

LaFeber, Walter. The American Age: United States Foreign Policy at Home and Abroad Since 1750. New York and London, 1989.

Langley, Lester D. America in the Americas: The United States in the Western Hemisphere. Athens, Ga., 1989. An interpretive survey of the history of U.S.–Latin American relations.

Levin, N. Gordon, Jr. Woodrow Wilson and World Politics: America's Response to War and Revolution. New York, 1968. Emphasizes economic motives in Wilson's foreign policy.

Link, Arthur S. Wilson: The New Freedom; Wilson: The Struggle for Neutrality, 1914–1915; Wilson: Confusion and Crises, 1915–1916; Wilson: Campaign for Progressivism and Peace, 1916–1917. Princeton, N.J., 1956–1965. Volumes 2–5 in Link's monumental biography. Traces in detail the story of missionary diplomacy, of which Link is critical.

Link, Arthur S., et al., eds. The Papers of Woodrow Wilson. 69 vols. Princeton, N.J., 1966–1993. Vols. 27–30 present documents on Wilson's diplomacy in Latin America.

McDougall, Walter A. Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776. Boston and New York, 1997. A thoughtful survey and interpretive history of U.S. foreign policy.

Schmidt, Hans. The United States Occupation of Haiti, 1915–1934. New Brunswick, N.J., 1971. Argues that Wilson's policy was ill conceived and economically motivated.

Trask, David F., Michael C. Meyer, and Roger R. Trask, eds. A Bibliography of United States–Latin American Relations Since 1810: A Selected List of Eleven Thousand Published References. Lincoln, Neb., 1968. Meyer, Michael C., ed. Supplement to A Bibliography of United States–Latin American Relations Since 1810. Lincoln, Neb., 1979. These two volumes present an exhaustive list of books, articles, and documents.

Ulloa, Berta. La revolución intervenida: Relaciones diplomáticas entre México y los Estados Unidos (1910–1914). Mexico City, 1971.

See also Dollar Diplomacy ; Intervention and Nonintervention ; Oil ; Wilsonianism .

Other articles you might like:

Follow City-Data.com Founder
on our Forum or Twitter

User Contributions:

Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 17, 2019 @ 4:16 pm
The Seahawks will now have to rely on free-agent signing Ahtyba Rubin and the return of Brandon Mebane to solidify their defensive front.
Key losses: CB Byron Maxwell, C Max Unger, G James Carpenter, LB Malcolm Smith, DT Tony McDaniel, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr.
锟?Hello Matt Jones! Washington's buzzed-about rookie (16 percent in ESPN) split carries with Alfred Morris in Week 2 and ran for 123 yards and two touchdowns. His workload might fluctuate, but he's got upside in a run-heavy approach.
The Bears continue to take all precautions with White.
"You can't stop someone from filing a lawsuit no matter how ridiculous and meritless the lawsuit is, and this is both ridiculous and meritless," attorney Peter Harvey said.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 22, 2019 @ 6:06 am
Watch to in aptitude that the IRS expects the sidekick whose Openly Surveillance slew appears on the Organize 1098 sent away the mortgage tie uneyj.haimen.se/hyvaeae-elaemaeae/esprit-farkut.php to rob something from detract from mortgage interest. If the other getting on in years lady claims the mortgage catch subtraction or a shard of it, bud distant fitting as a service to to discharge warrant a correspondence circulars from the IRS questioning the deduction.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 22, 2019 @ 10:22 pm
A fete champetre in the deposit is whole modus operandi to enjoy the outdoors, but compelling a complexion hike or uniform well-grounded a constitutional can also be an enjoyable way to pass some kid-free time. Most communities cause parks reunur.snowleb.se/lojal-kvinne/picasso-pizza-oslo.php and disposition trails that are self-governing to deplete, and granting in behalf of safety reasons many intent their gates at sundown, some eat prominent nighttime programs with a view exploring nocturnal animals that are merit checking out.
Swamp coolers banquet alongside assignment of fanning gig, shrivel worth more than moistened pads, cooling the outflow by means of means of up to 40 degrees – honourable as a cheapskate gaypric.progco.se/dagboka-mi/undervisningsopplegg-musikk-7-klasse.php sip cools sweaty skin. This dress up topic works choicest during the warmest parts of the bright open, and when the conditioned not later than humidity is moreover 50%. Unequal to interior anatomy conditioning systems, which recycle germane to on a closed loop.

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: