Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2013

Thesis Advisor(s)

Frank Costigliola

Honors Major

Individualized Major Program


International Business


Many historians have looked at the interim period of the Baltic States between World War I and World War II, and their independence movements. However, there are few substantial works that look at the complex and interrelated histories of how Russian and American foreign policy shaped the Baltic independence movements and subsequently gained international recognition. This paper will try to address how and why the Baltic States were able to gain and maintain their independence by external forces and then gain formal recognition by the United States in 1922. To gain my results, I analyzed some of Lenin’s translated writings on foreign policy, many relevant telegrams and letters published in the National Archives of the U.S., and went through secondary sources from both American and Baltic historians. I found that self-determination rhetoric, WWI, and the Russian Civil War were the primary forces that allowed Baltic nationalists to fill the power vacuums created by those same sources, and the stabilization period that followed made U.S. recognition a possibility. If we can understand how and why Baltic independence was secured during the 1920s, we can have a more thorough explanation of the role of the Baltic States in the collapse of the Soviet Union during their Singing Revolutions.