Over the full range of contemporary foreign affairs, American policy toward Western Europe has been marked by durability and rare continuity. The change of neither Presidents, Secretaries of State nor political parties has altered the lines of basic policy. The Government marches with American public opinion, for that ubiquitous man in the street still feels deeply that Western Europe is vital to the United States.
NATO has been the symbol of the metamorphosis of our foreign policy-of American rejection of 150 years of isolation, of a willingness to play a leading role and of recognition that American security can be assured only in collaboration with a free Western Europe. Due to our awareness of Europe's increasing importance in the economic affairs of the world, the United States in 1960 took an initiative which led to the establishment of a companion body to NATO, the Organization for Economic Coöperation and Development.
The second major element of American policy has been support for the idea of a united Europe. Even before Robert Schuman's proposal of May 1950 for a European Coal and Steel Community, Congress each year inserted in authorizations for the Marshall Plan an admonition urging Europe to unite. This American reaction is not surprising, since it is natural to assume that political institutions which serve one people well might serve others with equal benefit. One of the first Americans to offer this advice to Europe was Benjamin Franklin, who wrote from Philadelphia to Ferdinand Grand in Paris, on October 22, 1787:
I send you enclos'd the propos'd new Federal Constitution for these States. I was engag'd 4 months of the last Summer in the Convention that form'd it. It is now sent by Congress to the Several States for their Confirmation. If it succeeds, I do not see why you might not in Europe carry the Project of good Henry the 4th into Execution, by forming a Federal Union and One Grand Republick of all its different States and Kingdoms, by means of a like Convention,
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