American Neutrality in 1793: A Study in Cabinet Government

American Neutrality in 1793: A Study in Cabinet Government

American Neutrality in 1793: A Study in Cabinet Government

American Neutrality in 1793: A Study in Cabinet Government

Excerpt

This study is the result of an interest aroused in the author's mind when he first realized the importance of the events of the year 1793 in the development of the American policy of neutrality. A question developed concerning the influence of Thomas Jefferson upon the origin of this policy. It became evident that there was no thorough study of the relative contributions of the various members of the cabinet. Some writers gave Jefferson, as Secretary of State, credit for having originated almost all the principles of American neutrality that appeared in official documents over his signature. In turn, even the less prejudiced supporters of Hamilton attributed to him the wisest of these decisions. Both theories could not be correct. A preliminary survey showed that a careful study of available sources would probably furnish an answer to this question.

The more the author investigated this problem the more fascinating it became. Starting as an attempt to discover the contributions of Jefferson to this policy of neutrality the search soon developed into a study of cabinet government. It became evident that scarcely a single principle was added by an individual. They were nearly all the product of joint discussions in the cabinet, the result of compromises within a cabinet that contained, fortunately, as divergent elements as have ever been found in any American cabinet. The good fortune was that the necessity of compromise would and did produce a neutral course more nearly in the middle of the way, more impartial, than that which any individual could have found.

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