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Peace Pact (American Political Thought (University Press of Kansas))

David C. Hendrickson

23 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0700612378 / ISBN 13: 9780700612376
Published by University Press of Kansas, 2003
Used Condition: Good Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Peace Pact (American Political Thought (...

Publisher: University Press of Kansas

Publication Date: 2003

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Good

Edition: First Edition - may be Reissue.

About this title


That New England might invade Virginia is inconceivable today. But interstate rivalries and the possibility of intersectional war loomed large in the thinking of the Framers who convened in Philadelphia in 1787 to put on paper the ideas that would bind the federal union together.

At the end of the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin rejoiced that the document would astonish our enemies, who are waiting to hear with confidence . . . that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another's throats.

Usually dismissed as hyperbole, this and similar remarks by other Founders help us to understand the core concerns that shaped their conception of the Union. By reexamining the creation of the federal system of the United States from a perspective that yokes diplomacy with constitutionalism, Hendrickson's study introduces a new way to think about what is familiar to us.

This groundbreaking book tells the story of how thirteen colonies became independent states and found themselves grappling with the classic problems of international cooperation. The founding generation, Hendrickson argues, developed a sophisticated science of international politics relevant both to the construction of their own union and to the foreign relations of the several states in the union of the empire. The centrality of this discourse, he contends, must severely qualify conventional depictions of early American political thought as simply liberal or republican.

Hendrickson also takes issue with conventional accounts of early American foreign policy as unilateralist or isolationist and insists that the founding generation belonged to and made distinguished contributions to the constitutional tradition in diplomacy, the antecedent of twentieth-century internationalism. He describes an American system of states riven by deep sectional animosities and powerful loyalties and explains why in such a milieu the creation of a durable union often appeared to be a quixotic enterprise. The book culminates in a consideration of the making of the federal Constitution, here styled as a peace pact or experiment in international cooperation.

Peace Pact is an important book that promises to revolutionize our understanding of the era of revolution and constitution-making. Written in a lucid and accessible style, the book is an excellent introduction to the American founding and its larger significance in American and world history.

This book is part of the American Political Thought series.

From the Back Cover:

An extraordinary achievement, a wonderful book that should change the way readers understand the origins of the federal republic. Few scholars have grasped as well as Hendrickson the importance of federalism for the founding and explained its centrality so persuasively. This will, I am convinced, initiate an important paradigm shift in the field.--Peter Onuf, author of Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood

Hendrickson's magnificent study convincingly demonstrates why the origins of the United States should be viewed from a diplomatic as well as a constitutional angle and therefore seen as a ‘peace pact' that is comparable to the great peace settlements of European history. This is a very important contribution to both international studies and American history.--Robert Jackson, author of The Global Covenant: Human Conduct in a World of States

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