Date of Award

Fall 2012

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Kurk Dorsey


This dissertation analyzes the diplomatic relations between Portugal and the United States from 1941 to 1951, a decade that resulted in a tremendous and permanent shift in Luso-American relations. It examines the wartime and postwar goals of both Portugal and the United States. It reveals how these two nations overcame their differences during the war and worked towards mutually beneficial ends after the war. Moreover this dissertation asserts that Antonio Salazar, Portugal's Prime Minister, permanently altered Portuguese-American relations and managed to supplant the assurances found in the flagging AngloPortuguese alliance with a series of American initiatives--the European Recovery Program, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the Mutual Defense Assistance Program.

Up until WW II, Portugal's oldest ally had been Great Britain. Beginning in 1373, their alliance brought them commercial, political, and military benefits. Though never abandoning her commitments to Great Britain during WWII, the reality of Portugal's security needs---the fourth largest colonial empire of the time--demanded the protection of a great naval power. Prior to World War II, Luso-American relations were based on long, but tenuous, commercial ties and a small steady Portuguese immigration stream to the United States. Portugal's importance during WWII lay in her geographical position, particularly the Azores archipelago. It soon became clear to the United States that the geopolitical significance of Portugal, her Atlantic Islands, and her colonies would be felt for decades to come.

This study is driven by an analysis of the national interests of Portugal and the United States both during and after WWII. This thesis enhances the field of Portuguese diplomatic historiography by examining this crucial decade in the area of Luso-American relations, 1941-1951. Studying this diplomatically dense period in Luso-American relations as a whole is fundamental to understanding the Portuguese shift away from the Anglo-Portuguese alliance towards stronger Luso-American relations. This study's significance also lies in the fact that, as a post Cold War study of the period, it is not encumbered by superpower analogies.