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The American South and the Vietnam WarBelligerence, Protest, and Agony in Dixie$
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Joseph A. Fry

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780813161044

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813161044.001.0001

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Regionalism, Southerners, and US Foreign Relations, 1789–1973

Regionalism, Southerners, and US Foreign Relations, 1789–1973

(p.11) 1 Regionalism, Southerners, and US Foreign Relations, 1789–1973
The American South and the Vietnam War

Joseph A. Fry

University Press of Kentucky

As essential background for the examination of the South and Vietnam, this chapter provides an overview of the region’s influence on US foreign policy from the adoption of the US Constitution through 1973. After playing an aggressive and decisive role in US policy from 1800 through the 1840s, Dixie adopted a minority, noninterventionist posture from 1865 through 1912. This foreign policy posture changed fundamentally during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, a southern, segregationist Democrat, who grounded his foreign policy in religious beliefs. By the eve of US intervention in Vietnam, the South had adopted an often-bellicose perspective, championed liberal defense spending and a strong military, and preferred unrestrained rather than limited military actions. Dixie fervently endorsed the containment of communism, which was seen as a mortal threat to capitalism, democratic government, and Christianity. Significantly, this ostensible devotion to democracy did not include the willing acceptance of civil rights reforms at home. When faced with pervasive racial discrimination, southern African Americans decried the hypocrisy of their white neighbors and placed greater emphasis on domestic reform than containment.

Keywords:   African Americans, race and racism, civil rights, sectionalism, manhood, warrior ethic, patriotism, defense spending, unilateralism, containment, Christianity

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