Introduction: Progressivism in America Between the Two World Wars

  • Cornelia Navari
  • Molly Cochran
Part of the The Palgrave Macmillan History of International Thought book series (PMHIT)


The contestations between progressives in the 1920s and 1930s and Progressivism’s relations with American foreign policy turned on the relationship between the law and the use of force—‘going it alone’ as opposed to ‘going it with others’ and what democracy required of foreign policy. Above all, it was about the use of the war instrument and how democratic wars should be fought. We have identified 12 key thinkers on American foreign policy between the wars who addressed these questions. They were not all progressives (though most were), but they all operated within or were compelled to confront the progressive mindset, in the course of which they redefined Progressivism, redirected its purposes, and articulated the choices of roles that would guide American foreign policy making into the mid-twentieth century and beyond.

Short Bibliography on Progressivism and US Foreign Policy

  1. The writing on Progressivism is extensive. The best overview, including the major books, is provided by Wikipedia, Scholar
  2. The main works with relevance to foreign policy are:Google Scholar
  3. Dawley, Alan. 2003. Changing the World: American Progressives in War and Revolution. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Howlett, Charles. 1977. Troubled Philosopher: John Dewey and the Struggle for World Peace. Port Washington: Kennikat Press.Google Scholar
  5. Kuklick, Bruce. 1985. Churchmen and Philosophers: From Jonathan Edwards to John Dewey. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Leuchtenburg, William E. 1952. Progressivism and Imperialism: The Progressive Movement and American Foreign Policy, 1898–1916. The Mississippi Valley Historical Review 39 (3): 483–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Link, A.S. 1963(1954). Wilson: Campaigns for Progressivism and Peace and the Progressive Era. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Manicas, Peter. 1989(1940). War and Democracy. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cornelia Navari
    • 1
  • Molly Cochran
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Economics and International StudiesUniversity of BuckinghamBuckinghamUK
  2. 2.Department of Social ScienceOxford Brookes UniversityOxfordUK

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