Union, Nation, or Empire: The American Debate over International Relations, 1789-1941

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Overview


Most overviews of American history depict an isolationist country finally dragged kicking and screaming onto the world stage by the attack on Pearl Harbor. David Hendrickson shows that Americans instead conducted often-raucous debates over international relations in the long epoch customarily seen as isolationist-debates that form the ideological origins of today's foreign policy arguments.

Union, Nation, or Empire is a sequel to Hendrickson's acclaimed Peace Pact, in which he identified a "unionist paradigm" that defined America's political understanding in 1787. His new book examines how that paradigm was transformed under the impact of the great wars that followed. Through skillfully drawn portraits of American statesmen, from Hamilton and Jefferson to Wilson and the two Roosevelts, Hendrickson reveals "union, nation, and empire" as fundamental categories of political discourse that have shaped our engagement with the world since 1776.

Hendrickson argues that the ongoing debate over union, nation, and empire in American history encompasses and illuminates the great questions of international relations—such as whether democracies are as prone to war as monarchies, whether trade promotes peace, or whether empire is compatible with free institutions. Setting these debates in the context of historical events, from the birth of our federal government to America's entry into World War II, he shows the significance of the federal union in our history and demonstrates that internationalism has deep roots in America's past. His assessment of the unionist tradition, in counterpoint to rival ideologies of nationalism and imperialism, includes new insights into the causes of the Civil War and shows how after that conflict the building blocks of the original paradigm were reconstructed to shape the internationalist persuasion in the twentieth century.

Deftly combining intellectual, constitutional, and diplomatic history, this gracefully written work revives the compelling rhetoric of yesterday's statesmen to offer readers a lucid narrative of American international thought. It challenges accepted interpretations of our role in the world as it restores the federal union to its proper place in the understanding of American statecraft.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700616329
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 2/26/2009
  • Series: American Political Thought
  • Pages: 494
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

David C. Hendrickson teaches political science at Colorado College, where he is the Robert J. Fox Distinguished Service Professor. He is author or coauthor of seven books, including Peace Pact: The Lost World of the American Founding.

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Table of Contents


Preface and Acknowledgments

Part One. Introduction

1. The Problem and Its Modes

2. American Internationalism

3. Imperialism and Nationalism

Part Two. The Age of Revolution and War

4. The Rival Systems of Hamilton and Jefferson

5. The Causes of War

6. Louisiana!

7. Balances of Power

Part Three. A Rage for Federative Systems

8. The Confederation of Europe

9. New World and Old World

10. To the Panama Congress

11. Into the Deep Freeze

Part Four. The Travails of Union

12. Great and Fearfully Growing

13. The Title Page

14. Constitutional Disorder

15. Decentralizing Tendencies

16. The Hope of the World

Part Five. Empire and Its Discontents

17. Reds and Whites

18. The Removal of the Cherokee

19. Annexation of Texas and War with Mexico

20. The Great Debate of 1848

21. Intervention for Nonintervention: The Kossuth Tour

Part Six. Into the Maelstrom

22. Invitation to a Beheading

23. Causes of War, Causes of Peace

24. D.I.V.O.R.C.E.

25. The Tragedy of Civil War

Part Seven. "At Last We Are A Nation"

26. The New Nation

27. A New Birth of Freedom?

28. "Free Security" and "Imperial Understretch"

29. A World of Its Own

30. The Unionist Paradigm Revisited

Part Eight. A Commission from God

31. The New Nationalism and the Spanish War

32. Imperialism and the Conquest of the Philippines

33. Informal Empire and the Protection of Nationals

34. Seward and the New Imperialism

Part Nine. The New Internationalism Comes and Goes

35. Before the Deluge

36. "Great Utterance" and Madisonian Moment

37. Safe for Democracy

38. The Liberal Peace Program Goes to Paris

39. The Great Debate of 1919

Part Ten. The Crisis of the Old Order

40. Nationalism, Internationalism, and Imperialism in the 1920s

41. The Great Depression and Economic Nationalism

42. Isolation and Neutrality

43. The Final Reckoning

Short Titles and Selected Bibliography

Notes

Index

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    How to ignore history...

    Wow. I have never read so much nonsensical drivel on a topic that is so inherently interesting. Hendrickson's narrative is not only confusing, but also incredibly misleading. Jumping on a new interpretation of history, he argues that a "Unionist paradigm" is what best characterizes U.S. diplomatic history, if not U.S. history as a whole. Yet this is misleading as the pre-Civil War debate over Union, as I understand, was American's arguing over what sort of nation the United States should be: one of strong ties to a central government with one state's actions affecting everyone or one of loose ties with a sort of benevolent neglect over the internal affairs of the states? This is a debate over national identity, not governmental make-up. And what is infinitesimally worse to me is how Hendrickson shrugs off the imperial tendencies of the United States from its earliest days, making American imperialists out to be a fringe group of nut jobs. The Union itself is an exercise in imperial control! The Civil War proved that, even if the North had lost. There are only two things that make this book interesting at all: Hendrickson, in chapter 23, has one of the best analyses of the causes of the Civil War and his chapters covering the Wilsonian era (chs. 36-39) are very enlightening. But, ultimately, there are far better books on the topics of U.S. diplomatic history ("Dangerous Nation" by Robert Kagan and "From Colony to Superpower" by George C. Herring) that are worth your time and effort.

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