Founding Brothers

Founding Brothers

Why did Washington support isolationism?

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Washington believed that in order to sustain national unity, the United States needed to stay out of foreign affairs. This isolationist policy was not philosophical, but practical. As proven by the Proclamation of Neutrality (1793), Washington knew that the United States was not strong enough to survive another war. Instead, he believed the country needed to turn westward, to find physical wealth there. Peace was essential to this plan.

This isolationist policy was one of Washington's most controversial amongst others of the Revolutionary generation. In 1795, Washington and Chief Justice John Jay brokered a treaty with England that favored English imports and guaranteed payment on pre-revolutionary debts. Though it did compromise American strength, Washington's primary purpose was to avoid a war the country could not afford, and he hoped England would triumph over France.