Foreign Affairs and the Founding Fathers: From Confederation to Constitution, 1776-1787

Foreign Affairs and the Founding Fathers: From Confederation to Constitution, 1776-1787

Foreign Affairs and the Founding Fathers: From Confederation to Constitution, 1776-1787

Foreign Affairs and the Founding Fathers: From Confederation to Constitution, 1776-1787

Synopsis

When three of the nation's leading historians come together to fashion a fresh study of American history, the resulting work cannot help but be a monumental addition to the field. Foreign Affairs and the Founding Fathers: From Confederation to Constitution, 1776–1787 is such a work. These eminent scholars provide a thoughtful, realist interpretation of the Founders' view of America's place in the world, delivering a timely reassessment of their aspirations, thoughts, and actions during the seminal decades of the American nation.

This book takes readers backstage where they can eavesdrop on the Founders to better understand their motives and intentions and see how they responded to threats and problems associated with America's place in the world. Arguing that the Founding Fathers essentially thought and acted in terms of power- ranking matters of national interest and security over ideology and moral concerns- the book sheds new light on the foreign policy opportunities and challenges of the day, as the Founders weighed and determined them. In so doing, it offers important guideposts for our own time.

Excerpt

In a poll taken in 2007, 72 percent of respondents told Pew researchers that they completely agree with the statement, “If Founding Fathers came back today, they would be disappointed with the way America has turned out.” This strikes us as an understatement. They would be astounded to learn of an American empire that boasts 301,000 soldiers based in 38 countries, led by military chiefs who draw comparisons with the Roman empire, inspired by books with such titles as Empires of Trust: How Rome Built—and America Is Building—a New World. Immersed in the perspective of 18th-century political realism, putting national interest and security over ideology and moral concerns, the Founding Fathers would have great difficulty coming to grips not only with the state of America in the world today but also with concepts such as “wars of choice,” which have driven national foreign policy in the 21st century to the ends of the earth. What doubtless would have impressed them, however, would have been the discovery that the United States is now considered the most powerful nation on the planet, in contrast with their own era, the last two decades of the 18th century, in which the new Republic struggled to establish its very sovereignty in a hostile world dominated by European monarchies. It was a very near thing and should give us pause—and perhaps some modesty—in dealing with the world around us.

It is in this context that we have sought to write a concise diplomatic history of the Confederation era, providing a realist interpretation . . .

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