Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Why, at the end of the nineteenth century, did the long Russo-American friendship turn into a bitter rivalry? Why was Manchuria prized sufficiently by each to risk jeopardizing this friendship? In answering these questions an attempt is made to view the relationship from both the Russian and American standpoints, since the actions of one, whether economic, political or military, frequently prompted counter-moves from the other.;To obtain a broad perspective the whole century is included. Attention is centered on Northeast Asia, for it was in that region that Russian-American interactions were most numerous and where the expansionist drives of both nations finally intersected. The study traces how the geographic gap was gradually bridged across the North Pacific.;Throughout the century these interactions stemmed primarily from the initiatives of private individuals and businesses--fur hunters, whalers, merchants and entrepreneurs. Consideration of these private contacts and the process through which the two governments were slowly drawn into confrontation provides one of the underlying themes explaining the estrangement.;In order to understand the historic foundations of the amicable relations, attention is directed at the high degree of cooperation displayed during the 1850s and 1860s. Highlighted are the circumstances surrounding the benevolent neutrality exhibited toward Russia during the Crimean War and Russia's reciprocation during the American Civil War. Although both governments were drawn more deeply into the affairs of Northeast Asia, the results at mid-century seemed mutually beneficial. Russia acquired the Amur region, and the United States was permitted to purchase Alaska.;By contrast, examination of the escalating events of the 1890s--the political turmoil in Korea, the construction of Russia's Siberian railroad, the defeat of China by Japan, the subsequent diplomatic successes of Russia and the projection of American seapower into the Far East--reveals heightened competition between Russia and the United States and deteriorating relations. The Russian advance into Manchuria, which appeared about to frustrate America's own last opportunity to gain a foothold in Northeast Asia, was viewed with particular concern.;The study concludes with an outline of the pressures placed on the McKinley administration to safeguard American interests in Manchuria and an analysis of the procedures adopted. American insistence on an open door policy, a tactic designed primarily to check Russian expansion into Manchuria, and Russian resistance to it brought to a close the long period of previously unquestioned friendship. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.).



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