Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access



First Advisor

Elena McGrath




United States, foreign service, foreign service officer, rogers act, Lowden act, international relations, foreign policy, professionalization, George Kennan, Charles Bohlen, Tracy Lay, Joseph Grew, Wilbur Carr, dilettantism


The professionalization of the U.S. Foreign Service was codified by the Rogers Act in 1924. This act was supposed to change the way the U.S. practiced diplomacy, turning what had been an agency full of avaricious politicos and hangers-on, the eponymous "pin-stripe boys" and "cookie-pushers." However, within this group were those swept up in the movement of civil service reform, and they convinced the United States to engage in the act of creating a professional Foreign Service and eventually in instituting the Marshall Plan. This was a swift and shocking reversal in U.S. policy. But the more the policy changed, the more the group influencing this policy stayed the same. Using the power of the Rogers Act, this group propagated its beliefs in liberal internationalism to the whole Foreign Service, putting the United States on a collision course with the Soviet Union. This essay deals with the causes of this transformation. This was only possible due to an intersection of unique conditions. First, there had to be a visibly floundering Foreign Service seemingly unable to complete its assigned tasks. Second, there had to be an ideological movement to improve what was there. Third, there had to be some call to action that made a Foreign Service relevant to U.S. political life. And finally, there had to be people willing to invest in the creation of the Foreign Service and willing to be a part of it. These topics are the basis of this essay for the purpose of understanding why the Foreign Service was able to so effectively shape U.S. policy and opinions.



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