The Political Economy of U.S. Foreign Policy toward the Ottoman Empire and the Armenian Question

  • Simon Payaslian


The United States and the Ottoman Empire established bilateral relations during the early years of the founding of the republic. Even before independence, as Adam Smith noted, New England traded with the Mediterranean economies, exporting fish to these far away shores. He complained that, while previously British trade across the Mediterranean could sustain the “great naval power,” by the 1770s American trade had surpassed its mother country.1 Upon independence, commercial and geopolitical considerations constituted an essential component of U.S. foreign policy for the economic and physical survival of the new nation.2 Policymakers in the United States expressed interest in cultivating trade relations with the Ottoman Empire in the 1790s,3 but political difficulties in U.S.-British-French relations at the turn of the century, on the one hand, and extensive British, French, and Russian involvement in Ottoman affairs, on the other, prevented negotiations toward a treaty. Nevertheless, by 1811 American merchants had established a trading house at Smyrna.4


Foreign Policy Missionary School Treasury Department American Missionary Turkish Water 
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© Simon Payaslian 2005

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  • Simon Payaslian

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