Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Chapter 10: The Gilded Age: Last Years of Orthodoxy

Chapter 10: The Gilded Age: Last Years of Orthodoxy

The Tragedy of U.S. Foreign Policy:

How America’s Civil Religion Betrayed the National Interest


McDougall Book Jacket

The original draft of this book contained 172 pages of endnotes, which had to be shed in the name of economy. Thanks to the Internet, readers can access them here. Unfortunately, of course, the author had to substitute page and paragraph numbers for the original superscripts in the text, but in most cases it should be clear which sentences in a given paragraph match up with which sources.

Paragraphs appearing in their entirety on a single page are identified by the page number (e.g., p. 122). Paragraphs divided between two pages are identified by those pages (e.g., pp. 92-93). Paragraphs that share a page with another complete paragraph are identified by the page number and paragraph number (e.g., p. 103, ¶ 1).





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Chapter 10: The Gilded Age: Last Years of Orthodoxy:

90: William E. Hardy, “South of the Border: Ulysses S. Grant and the French Intervention,” Civil War History 54.1 (2008): 63-86. John Y. Simon et al., eds., The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, 32 vols. (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University, 1967-), vols. 15-17, make abundantly clear how preoccupied Grant was with Mexican affairs from May 1865 through June 1867. The correspondence among Grant, Sheridan, and General John Schofield is especially rich.  At length, Seward sent Schofield to Paris with instructions to “get his legs under Napoleon’s mahogany and tell him he must get out of Mexico”: Schofield, Forty-Six Years in the Army (New York: Century, 1897), p. 385; Albert Castel, The Presidency of Andrew Johnson (Lawrence: University of Kansas, 1979), pp. 39-42; Thomas A. Bailey, A Diplomatic History of the American People, 8th ed. (New York: Appleton, Century, Crofts, 1969), pp. 348-59.

90-91: See Walter A. McDougall, Let the Sea Make a Noise…. A History of the North Pacific from Magellan to MacArthur (New York: Basic Books, 1993), pp. 298-308.

91-92: Eric T. L. Love, Race Over Empire: Racism & U.S. Imperialism, 1865-1900 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2004), argues that racial fears of annexing colored populations was increased by the Fourteenth Amendment, which stated “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

92, ¶ 1: Jay Sexton, The Monroe Doctrine: Empire and Nation in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Hill and Wang, 2012), pp 165-75, and “The United States, the Cuban Rebellion, and the Multilateral Initiative of 1875,” Diplomatic History 30 (June 2006): 339-48; Louis A. Pérez, Cuba Between Empires, 1878-1901 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 1983), and Cuba and the United States: Ties of Singular Intimacy, 2 ed. (Athens: University of Georgia 1997).

92, ¶ 2: Justus D. Doenecke, The Presidencies of James A. Garfield & Chester A. Arthur (Lawrence: University of Kansas, 1981), pp. 66-67. The French canal project stimulated a brisk exchange of opinions. John Kasson, “The Monroe Doctrine in 1881,” North American Review 133 (Dec. 1881): 523-33, argued the doctrine favored U.S. expansion.  George F. Tucker, The Monroe Doctrine: A Concise History of its Origin and Growth (Boston: G. B. Reed, 1885), hedged.  While H. C. Bunts, “The Scope of the Monroe Doctrine,” Forum 7 (Apr. 1889) stated categorically that John Quincy Adams did not intend for the United States to arrogate to itself a general right of intervention throughout the Americas.

92-93: Sexton, Monroe Doctrine, p. 190; Edward P. Crapol, James G. Blaine: Architect of Empire (Wilmington, Del. Scholarly Resources, 2000), pp. 122-24.

93: Helen Hunt Jackson, A Century of Dishonor: A Sketch of the United States Government’s Dealings with Some of the Indian Tribes (New York: Harper & Bros., 1881) and Hermann Von Holst, The Constitutional and Political History of the United States, 8 vols. (Chicago, Callaghan, 1877-92) chronicled federal bad faith almost a century before Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West (New York: Bantam Books, 1972). Sumner quote from Charles Sumner, Prophetic Voices Concerning America: A Monograph (Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1874), p. 175.

93-94: Cleveland Inaugural Address (March 4, 1885):

94: McDougall, Let the Sea Make a Noise, pp. 372-81; Charles W. Calhoun, “Morality and Spite: Walter Q. Gresham and U.S. Relations with Hawaii,” Pacific Historical Review 52, no. 3 (Aug. 1983): 292-311; and most recently David M. Pletcher, The Diplomacy of Involvement: American Economic Expansion across the Pacific, 1784-1900 (Columbia: University of Missouri, 2001). Olney dispatch to Thomas Bayard (U.S. minister to Britain), July 20, 1895: Foreign Relations of the United States 1895, I: 545-62. Thus did the great historian David M. Pletcher conclude in The Awkward Years: American Foreign Relations Under Garfield and Arthur (Columbia: University of Missouri, 1962): “So many foreshadowings and anticipations can hardly have been due to coincidence alone.  They suggest that the ‘new’ imperialism of the 1890s actually germinated before the first Cleveland administration” (pp. 356-57).  But Sexton, The Monroe Doctrine, pp. 201-11 (quotes pp. 206-7), rebuts the conventional wisdom.  In any event, Cleveland later insisted he would not have gone to war in Cuba either since the island could not be “incorporated into the American system”: Allan Nevins, ed., Letters of Grover Cleveland, 1850-1908 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1933), p. 449; and Nevins, Grover Cleveland: A Study in Courage (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1932).

94-95: Protestant denominations “played a critical role in reuniting northern and southern whites, in justifying and nourishing the social and spiritual separation of whites and blacks, and in propelling the United States into global imperialism”: Edward J. Blum, Reforging the White Republic: Race, Religion, and American Nationalism, 1865-1898 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 2005), pp. 3-11. On the internationalization of American economic sectors see Mira Wilkins, The Emergence of Multinational Enterprise: American Business Abroad from the Colonial Era to 1914 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 1970). David M. Pletcher, The Diplomacy of Trade and Investment: American Economic Expansion in the Hemisphere, 1865-1900, and The Diplomacy of Involvement: American Economic Expansion Across the Pacific, 1784-1900 (Columbia: University of Missouri, 1998 and 2001) describe how uncoordinated and modest expansionist policies were in the Gilded Age, disputing the claims of the William Appleman Williams school that economic imperialism was already the American “way of life.” 

95: The New Navy began in 1883 with construction of the “ABC cruisers” – Atlantic, Boston, and Chicago – and by the 1890s Americans possessed the power and ideology (albeit no experience) for insular empire and “experiments in self-duplication” such as the Philippines. So writes Joseph A. Fry, “Phases of Empire: Late Nineteenth-century U.S. Foreign Relations,” in Charles W. Calhoun, ed.., The Gilded Age: Perspectives on the Origins of Modern America, 2 ed. (Lanham, Md.: Roman & Littlefield, 2007), pp. 307-32. See also Walter Lafeber, “The Constitution and United States Foreign Policy: An Interpretation.” Journal of American History 74, no. 3 (Dec. 1987): 695-717, and Fareed Zakaria, From Wealth to Power: The Unusual Origins of America’s World Role (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University, 1998), who concludes from his political scientific reasoning that the United States in the late 19th century was a case of  “imperial understretch.”

95-96: Anders Stephanson, Manifest Destiny: American Expansionism and the Empire of Right (New York: Hill and Wang, 1995), pp. 66-111; Frank Ninkovich, Global Dawn: The Cultural Foundation of American Internationalism, 1865-1890 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 2009), especially pp. 263-92 on foreign affairs; Amy Kaplan, The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 2005); Kristin L. Hoganson, Fighting for American Manhood: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars (New Haven, Ct.: Yale University, 1998), quote from p. 14; David C. Hendrickson, Union, Nation, or Empire: The American Debate over International Relations, 1789-1941 (Lawrence: University of Kansas, 2009), p. 263. See also Richard H. Collin, Theodore Roosevelt, Culture, Diplomacy, and Expansion: A New View of American Imperialism (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1985), which describes the important symbolism of Chicago’s Columbian Exhibition of 1893.

96, ¶ 2: David S. Foglesong, The American Mission and the “Evil Empire”: The Crusade for a Free Russia since 1881 (New York: Cambridge University, 2007), pp. 7-33 (quotes, p, 15)

97: Richard M. Gamble, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic and American Civil Religion,” Modern Age 56, no. 4 (Fall 2014): 55-64.

97-98: Carl Nadjek, “‘The Earth to be Spann’d, Connected by Net-Work’: Walt Whitman’s Industrial Internationalism,” American Political Thought 3, no. 1 (Spring 2014): 95-113; Whitman, Leaves of Grass (Washington, D.C.: Smith & McDougal, 1872), pp. 6-10.

98-99: See for instance Jeffrey K. Tulis, The Rhetorical Presidency (Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University, 1987), is the classic on the subject, but Richard V. Pierard and Robert D. Linder, Civil Religion and the Presidency (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1988); James David Fairbanks, “The Priestly Functions of the Presidency: A Discussion of the Literature on Civil Religion and its Implications for the Study of Presidential Leadership, Presidential Studies Quarterly 11, no. 2 (Spring 1981): 214-32, introduce civil religion into the mix.

99, ¶ 1: Charles W. Calhoun, “Civil Religion and the Gilded Age Presidency: The Case of Benjamin Harrison,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 23, no. 4 (Fall 1993): 651-67.

99, ¶ 2: Joseph R. Fornieri, Abraham Lincoln’s Political Faith (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University, 2003), “good old maxims,” p. 5; “sympathy” and “commercial” in Calhoun, “Civil Religion and the Gilded Age,” p. 663; “We Americans” in Hendrickson, Union, Nation, or Empire, p. 262.


Wilson’s World: The Civil Church Militant:

101: “Mission of America” (Oct. 1856) in Michael Federici, ed., Orestes A. Brownson: Works of Political Philosophy (Wilmington, Del.: ISI Books, 2007), vol. 11: 551-84 (quote, pp. 567-68). The quotation continues: “Especially should it endear the country to every Catholic heart, and make every Catholic, whatever his race or native land, a genuine American patriot; for it is the realization of the Christian ideal of society, and the diffusion through all quarters of the globe, for all men, whatever their varieties of race and language, of that free, pure, lofty, and virile civilization which the church loves, always favors, and has from the first labored to introduce, establish, and extend, but which owing to the ignorance, barbarism, and superstitions retained, in spite of her most strenuous exertions, from pagan Rome and the barbarian invaders of the empire, she has never been able fully to realize in the Old World.”

101-2: Orestes Brownson, The American Republic: Its Constitution, Tendencies, and Destiny (New York: P. O’Shea, 1866), pp. 1-25, 192-217 (“the wild theories,” p. 3; “Next after religion,” p. 19; “whatever its terms,” p. 195). For excellent interpretations of The American Republic see Federici’s introduction to Brownson: Works of Political Philosophy; R. A. Herrera, Orestes Brownson: Sign of Contradiction (Wilmington, Del.: ISI Books, 1999), pp.139-165; and Gregory S. Butler, In Search of the American Spirit: The Political Thought of Orestes Brownson (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University, 1992), pp. 163-92.

102-3: Brownson, The American Republic, pp. 218-76.

103, ¶ 1: Ibid, pp. 348-58 (“The most marked,” p. 348; “scorns all geographical,” p. 351).

103, ¶ 2: Ibid., pp. 358-91 (“humanity, superior,” p. 355; “favorite guise,” p. 362).

103-4: Ibid., pp. 392-439 (“always be progressive,” p. 368; “The effect of this mission,” pp. 428-29; “The American people,” p. 439).

105: H. W. Brands, Bound to Empire: The United States and the Philippines (New York: Oxford University, 1992), pp. 3-19, offers an excellent overview of these trends, but see new synthetic histories of turn-of-the-century America by Jackson Lears, Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America 1877-1920 (NY: HarperCollins, 2009), and Vincent P. De Santis, The Shaping of Modern America, 1877-1920, 3 ed. (Arlington Heights, Ill.: Forum, 2000).



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