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February 28, 2011

Benjamin Fordham to Discuss U.S. Foreign Policy from 1890 to 1914

The emergence of the United States as a world power during the years prior to World War I will be the topic of a lecture at the Library of Congress by Benjamin Fordham, holder of the Henry Alfred Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations at the John W. Kluge Center.

Fordham will present "Protectionist Empire: Trade, Tariffs and U.S. Foreign Policy, 1890-1914" at 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 17, in Room 119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the Library’s Kluge Center, the lecture is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are needed.

During the 25 years preceding World War I, the United States became increasingly active in world politics, acquiring overseas colonies, building a battleship fleet and more often flexing its diplomatic and military muscle, according to Fordham. The widespread belief that access to foreign markets was necessary for the country’s prosperity contributed to this new foreign policy, but the continuing effort to protect the home market from foreign competition also influenced it in important but often-overlooked ways.

Fordham is a professor of political science at Binghamton University. Prior to his 2004 appointment at Binghamton, part of the State University of New York (SUNY), Fordham held academic positions at the University at Albany (SUNY) and Harvard University. He has held fellowships at the Princeton University Center of International Studies and at the Triangle Institute for Security Studies in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Fordham is the author of "Building the Cold War Consensus: The Political Economy of U.S. National Security Policy, 1949-1951" (1998). He has published numerous articles on the role of domestic economic performance in decisions to use military force abroad, the effect of party differences on policy choices about the use of force and the allocation of the military budget in the United States, and on the influence of economic interests on congressional voting on foreign economic- and security-policy matters.

Fordham is the 10th scholar to occupy the Kissinger chair. The position was created in 2000 through the generosity of friends of Kissinger to honor the former secretary of state and to emphasize the importance of foreign affairs.

The Kissinger Chair program offers outstanding thinkers and practitioners a unique opportunity to pursue advanced research in the largest and most international collection of library materials in the world. Previous chair-holders were Aaron Friedberg, Klaus Larres, Lanxin Xiang, Melvyn Leffler, James Goldgeier, Charles Kupchan and William R. Smyser.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information about the Kluge Center; visit

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PR 11-042
ISSN 0731-3527

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