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Empire of Liberty: The Statecraft of Thomas Jefferson

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None of the founding fathers seems more elusive than Thomas Jefferson. A Virginian nationalist, a slave-holding philosophe, an aristocratic democrat, a provincial cosmopolitan, a pacific imperialist--the paradoxes loom as meaningful and portentous as America itself. Indeed, they represent the deep contradictions of his policies as well as personality, laid bare here in a provocative study of Jefferson's statecraft.
Empire of Liberty takes a new look at the public life, thought,...
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Overview


None of the founding fathers seems more elusive than Thomas Jefferson. A Virginian nationalist, a slave-holding philosophe, an aristocratic democrat, a provincial cosmopolitan, a pacific imperialist--the paradoxes loom as meaningful and portentous as America itself. Indeed, they represent the deep contradictions of his policies as well as personality, laid bare here in a provocative study of Jefferson's statecraft.
Empire of Liberty takes a new look at the public life, thought, and ambiguous legacy of one of America's most revered statesmen, offering new insight into the meaning of Jefferson in the American experience. Robert Tucker and David Hendrickson vividly portray a complex man driven by his passion for liberty and his longing for a vast empire. They explore how Jefferson developed a new approach to diplomacy in the course of his bitter debates with Alexander Hamilton. This new diplomacy joined a policy of territorial and commercial expansion with a dread of war and a reliance on economic sanctions. It was with such an outlook that Jefferson met the two great crises of his presidency: the threat to American security posed by the French acquisition of Louisiana and the restrictions on American commerce prompted by the death struggle between Britain and France. The policy produced paradoxical success in the Louisiana crisis but led to complete failure in the form of the Embargo. Taken to escape the alternatives of national humiliation and war, the Embargo led first to humiliation and then, ultimately, to war. The system of war that Jefferson had hoped after hope to reform by the Embargo was not reformed. In the end, Jefferson came close to embracing measures which called into question almost every principle of government he professed to believe.
Empire of Liberty examines Jefferson's legacy for American foreign policy in the light of several critical themes which continue to be highly significant today: the struggle between isolationists and interventionists, the historic ambivalence over the nation's role as a crusader for liberty, and the relationship between democracy and peace. Written by two distinguished scholars, this book provides invaluable insight into the classic ideas of American diplomacy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195062076
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/10/1990
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.88 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Authors:
Robert Tucker is Professor of American Diplomacy at the School for Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. He has written widely on American foreign policy, nuclear weapons, and international law and ethics. David Hendrickson is Associate Professor of Political Science at Colorado College, and is the author of two books on American defense policy. Their previous book together, The Fall of the First British Empire: Origins of the War of American Independence, appeared in 1982.

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Table of Contents

Part I. An American Statesman
1. The Man and the Nation 3
2. Jefferson and the Diplomacy of the Old Regime 11
3. "Conquering Without War," 18
Part II. The Development of Republican Statecraft (1783-1801)
4. Commerce, Manufactures, and the West 25
5. The Rival Systems of Hamilton and Jefferson 33
6. Neutrality and the Law of Nations 48
7. The Diplomacy of Federalism 64
8. Toward the Republican Triumph of 1800 74
Part III. The Diplomacy of Expansion (1801-5)
9. The Nature of Jefferson's Success 87
10. The Significance of the Mississippi Valley 95
11. Napoleon's Colonial Design 101
12. War and Alliance in Republican Diplomacy 108
13. "Playing for Time," 125
14. The Gambit for West Florida 137
15. Lessons of the Louisiana Purchase 145
16. The Empire of Liberty: The Conflict between Means and Ends 157
Part IV. The Maritime Crisis (1805-9)
17. The Nature of Jefferson's Failure 175
18. Jefferson's Diplomatic Design 180
19. The Anglo-American Dispute: Neutral Rights and Impressment 189
20. The Abortive Peace Settlement 198
21. Jefferson and the Embargo 204
22. Neutral Rights versus the Balance of Power 214
23. Embargo and War 222
Part V. The Jeffersonian Legacy
24. The Role of a Democratic Foreign Policy 231
25. The Isolationist Impulse 239
26. Jefferson and Liberty: Exemplar or Crusader? 249
Notes 257
Bibliography 337
Index 349
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