Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Chapter 4: A Divine-Right Republic in the Family of Nations

Chapter 4: A Divine-Right Republic in the Family of Nations

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 4: A Divine-Right Republic in the Family of Nations?

39: Russell Kirk, The Roots of American Order (LaSalle, Ill.: Open Court Publishing, 1974), pp. 3-29 (quotes pp. 25-26). Jonathan Sacks, “The Politics of Revelation,” The Algemeiner (Jan. 31, 2013):

40: Robert W. Smith, Keeping the Republic: Ideology and Early American Diplomacy (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University, 2004), p. 3; Nathan R. Perl-Rosenthal, “The ‘Divine Right of Republics’: Hebraic Republicanism and the Debate over Kingless Government in Revolutionary America,” William & Mary Quarterly LXVI, no. 3 (July 2009): 535-64.

40-41: See the chapter “Foundations of a New Diplomacy” in David C. Hendrickson, Peace Pact: The Lost World of the American Founding (Lawrence: University of Kansas, 2003), pp. 161-176. He describes the American struggle for a new diplomacy as a tale of lost innocence because the New Model Treaty seemed to be consistent with the spirit of the age. The great French Foreign Minister Choiseul said himself in 1759 that “true balance of power really resides in commerce and America” and that whoever gained the presumption of American trade would become strongest and richest (163-64).  In fact, the Model Treaty extending only to commercial relations was naive from France’s point of view whereas the patron-client alliance sought by the French was naive from America’s point of view. The quote is from Letter to G. W. Campbell (June 8, 1818), in Worthington Chauncy Ford, ed., Writings of John Quincy Adams, 7 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1913-17), 6: 367-68.

41: An ironic footnote to the Franco-American Alliance of 1778 is that King Louis XVI was persuaded that the costs of the war would be covered in large part by the profits from the doux commerce to which France would now have access. As it happened, American merchants did little business with France after independence, while the Continental Congress reneged on its war debts to France! King Louis later lamented: “I have never stopped thinking of l’affaire de l’Amerique without regret.  They took advantage of my youth in those days; to this day we are still paying the price.”  The price got higher when the king’s bankruptcy triggered the French Revolution in which he lost his head.  See Paul Cheney, “A False Dawn for Enlightenment Cosmopolitanism? Franco-American Trade during the American War of Independence,” William & Mary Quarterly LXIII, no. 3 (July 2006): 463-88.  New scholarship continues to appear on the diplomacy of the War of Independence.  Chris Tudda, “‘A Messiah That Will Never Come’: A New Look at Saratoga, Independence, and Revolutionary War Diplomacy,” Diplomatic History 32, no. 5 (Nov. 2008): 779-810, argues that the Battle of Saratoga was not as determinant as once thought in the French decision to enter the war, but was more important in stiffening the resolve of Americans to reject offers of reconciliation all of which now originated in London, not Philadelphia.  Frank W. Brecher, Securing American Independence: John Jay and the French Alliance (Westport, Ct.: Praeger, 2003), pulls the third member of the U.S. delegation from the shadows cast by Franklin and Adams.  But Robert D. Sayre, Britain and France at the Birth of America: The European Powers and the Peace Negotiations of 1782-1783 (Exeter, Eng.: University of Exeter, 2001), argues that American independence was really a by-product of what had become a great European war and that the peace was fashioned more by Shelburne and Vergennes than the Americans.

41-42: Eliga H. Gould and Peter S. Onuf, eds., Empire and Nation: The American Revolution in the Atlantic World (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 2005), especially pp. 35-53 (quote p. 53). The importance of relations with Native Americans must not be underestimated. The security of frontiersmen and by implication American westward expansion depended on the efficacy of diplomacy or force, neither of which the Congress under the Articles could wield.  See the illuminating new study by Leonard J. Sadosky, Revolutionary Negotiations: Indians, Empires, and Diplomats in the Founding of America (Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 2010), which described the crying need to define state and federal powers, fix boundaries, and enforce treaties with Indians just so land claims could be reliably settled.  The first priority was to cut off Indian nations from their sources of foreign support, an imperative leading ultimately lead to what author calls the Jackson Doctrine: containment, isolation, and removal.  On the foreign policy origins of the Federalist movement see also Peter Onuf and Nicholas Onuf, Federal Union, Modern World: The Law of Nations in an Age of Revolutions, 1776-1814 (Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1993), and Frederick W. Marks III, Independence on Trial: Foreign Affairs in the Making of the Constitution (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1983). That the bias toward peace in the Constitution is an essential but often overlooked point is strongly argued by Angelo M. Codevilla, To Make and Keep Peace Among Ourselves and with All Nations (Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution, 2014).

42-43: Forrest McDonald, The American Presidency: An Intellectual History (Lawrence: University of Kansas, 1994), p. 9. See generally Walter A. McDougall, “The Constitutional History of U.S. Foreign Policy: 222 Years in the Twilight Zone,” FPRI E-Book (July 2010):  On the Philadelphia convention see Louis Henkin, Foreign Affairs and the United States Constitution, 2 ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996); Forrest McDonald, Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution (Lawrence: University of Kansas, 1985); Jack N. Rakove, Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution (New York: Knopf, 1996); Gordon S. Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1998);  my own Freedom Just Around the Corner: A New American History 1585-1828 (New York: HarperCollins, 2004), and Richard R. Beeman, Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution (New York: Random House, 2009).

43-44: William D. Liddle, “A Patriot King, or None: Lord Bolingbroke and the American Renunciation of George III,” The Journal of American History 65, no. 4 (March, 1979): 951-970; David Gray Adler and Larry N. George, eds., The Constitution and the Conduct of American Foreign Policy (Lawrence: University of Kansas, 1996), p. x.

44: The executive branch reflected the distinction between maritime power and land power when the Washington Administration won the consent of Congress to a cabinet-rank Department of the Navy and Department of War not the Army, because it was assumed there would be no army of any size except during war. These provisions arose after the English Civil War when both Crown and Parliament fielded armies against the other. So it was that King Charles II later christened Britain’s maritime forces the Royal Navy with the blessing of Parliament, but no monarch has ever dared speak of a Royal Army, because it is understood the British army belongs to Parliament.

44-45: Daniel Deudney, “The Philadelphia System; Sovereignty, Arms Control, and Balance of Power in the American States-Union, 1787-1861,” International Organization 49, no. 2 (Spring 1995): 191-228 (quote, p. 203; negarchy, p. 208).

p. 45: The great and principled Founding Father George Mason suggested the “sic semper tyrannis” motto for the seal being designed at the Virginia Convention in 1776.  Ryan J. Barilleaux, “Foreign Policy and the First Commander in Chief,” in Gregg and Spalding, eds., Patriot Sage, pp.141-64.  In the same volume Virginia L. Arbery, “Washington’s Farewell Address and the Form of the American Regime, pp. 199-216, demonstrates how faithful he was to the model of limited government as described in The Federalist.


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