Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books: The United States: This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy

Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books: The United States: This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy

Article excerpt

Recent Books: The United States: This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy BY MATTHEW KARP. Harvard University Press, 2016, 368 pp.

Some years ago, I wrote a book titled Special Providence, which identified the four schools of thought that, in my view, have shaped debates about U.S. foreign policy: the Hamiltonian, the Wilsonian, the Jeffersonian, and the Jacksonian. The book mentioned but did little to describe a fifth major school that vanished after the Civil War: the Davisonian school, named for Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president, and promoted by southern slaveholders who saw the defense of slavery as the most important goal of U.S. foreign policy. Karp has written a comprehensive history of the Davisonians that shows how a pro-slavery foreign policy dominated the executive branch from the presidency of John Tyler (1841-45) through the Buchanan administration, which ended in 1861. …

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