Ties of Blood and History; A New Book Assessing the Anglo-American Alliance Picks Up Where Churchill's 'A History of the English-Speaking Peoples' Left Off

By Thomas, Evan | Newsweek, February 26, 2007 | Go to article overview

Ties of Blood and History; A New Book Assessing the Anglo-American Alliance Picks Up Where Churchill's 'A History of the English-Speaking Peoples' Left Off


Thomas, Evan, Newsweek


Byline: Evan Thomas

The last time the United States and Britain threatened to go to war against each other was in 1895. As European powers raced to expand their empires, Britain coveted a mineral-rich slice of Venezuela along the border of its colony British Guiana. Invoking the Monroe Doctrine, President Grover Cleveland vowed to "resist by every means" British adventuring in the Caribbean. The prospect of taking on Britain thrilled some jingoistic Americans, including Theodore Roosevelt, who was at the time a New York City police commissioner. "Let the fight come if it must," he wrote to his friend Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge. "I don't care whether the seacoast cities are bombarded or not; we would take Canada."

Fighting a war with England, whose Navy floated 55 battleships against America's three, because of a border dispute in Venezuela was a preposterous idea. (TR was still going through the Sturm und Drang period of adolescence, explained philosopher William James.) Both governments calmed down when Britain realized it faced a bigger threat--Germany--to the British Empire's designs on Africa.

The naval bombardment of New York thus averted, British and American leaders saw that their peoples were better served as partners than rivals. So began the "Special Relationship." The partnership has been a good thing for much of the rest of the world, argues Andrew Roberts in his new book, "A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900." Roberts takes his inspiration from Winston Churchill's four-volume work by the same title. Churchill's history ended in 1901, just at the beginning of the high age of the English-speaking peoples (defined as nations in which a majority are English-speakers). The idea is redolent of Mahan, Kipling and imperialism; even the most devoted adherents of the Anglo-American world view are hard pressed to square the English-speaking peoples' love of liberty and the rule of law with the condescending and cruel racial views that prevailed in London and Washington in the age Churchill and now Roberts have so lovingly chronicled.

The Anglo-American century was not predestined. In the early 1900s, the great European powers were competing on more-or-less equal footing. "The idea that a century later the English-speaking peoples would hold unquestioned sway in the world, challenged only--and even then not mortally--by some disaffected fanatics from the rump of the Ottoman Empire, would have astounded Kaiser, Tsar, and French president alike," writes Roberts. (Germany's Reich Minister Otto von Bismarck was more prescient. Asked just before his death in 1898 what was the decisive factor in modern history, he replied, "The fact that the North Americans speak English.")

The spread of English-speaking hegemony was at times ruthless and self-indulgent. "Manifest destiny was on the march, and it was unfortunate that Mexico stood in the path," Churchill wrote in volume four, with only mild irony. But America and Great Britain shared values and institutions that helped them to at once prosper and foster democracy, freedom and the rule of law. Roberts uses as his basic sermon a 1943 speech by Churchill at Harvard: "Law, language, literature--these are considerable factors. Common conceptions of what is right and decent, a marked regard for fair play, especially to the weak and poor, a stern sentiment of impartial justice, and above all a love of personal freedom . …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Ties of Blood and History; A New Book Assessing the Anglo-American Alliance Picks Up Where Churchill's 'A History of the English-Speaking Peoples' Left Off
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.