Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 304–323 | Cite as

Weaving national narratives: 1812 and the Atlantic Community

  • Carl Cavanagh HodgeEmail author
2013 Donald Cameron Watt prize winner


In 2011, the Government of Canada announced its plans for the commemoration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812. While Ottawa drew criticism for both the spirit and the form of its commemorative efforts, the war was in fact a more significant event than is commonly appreciated. Not only did it make possible sovereign Canadian nationhood but also constituted a pivotal event in the evolution of the Atlantic Community. A review of the ideas and institutions in incubation prior to the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars reveals that Europe and North America were bound more closely together than much of the scholarship of the intervening centuries concedes. Moreover, the founding generation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was in many respects more aware of the breadth and depth of the trans-Atlantic commercial and political heritage than is contemporary defence and security scholarship. By way of the work of scholars concerned with the evolution of capitalist and republican thought in the Atlantic realm, this article argues that the War of 1812 was a key event in the development of the Atlantic Community, a community currently in disarray through myopic attention to security concerns and inattention to its political economy.


Atlanticism Anglosphere free trade war republicanism Whig history 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Government of Canada, ‘The War of 1812’, 21921396; A representative sample would have to includes: Matthew Bondy, ‘Harper Will Exploit War of 1812 Bicentennial’, Guelph Mercury, July 12, 2011Google Scholar
  2. 1a.
    Jane Taber and Gloria Galloway, ‘War of 1812 Fund Adds to Harper’s Patriotic Initiatives’, Globe & Mail, September 28, 2011.Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    Brian Arthur, How Britain Won the War of 1812: The Royal Navy’s Blockades of the United States, 1812–1815 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2011)Google Scholar
  4. 2a.
    Andrew Lambert, The Challenge: Britain against America in the Naval War of 1812 (London: Faber & Faber, 2012)Google Scholar
  5. 2b.
    J.C.A. Stagg, The War of 1812: Conflict for a Continent (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012)Google Scholar
  6. 2c.
    Alan Taylor, The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, and Indian Allies (New York: Vintage, 2011)Google Scholar
  7. 2d.
    Jeremy Black, The War of 1812 in the Age of Napoleon (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2009)Google Scholar
  8. 2e.
    Robert Remini, The Battle of New Orleans: Andrew Jackson and America’s First Military Victory (New York: Penguin, 1999)Google Scholar
  9. 2f.
    Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 697.Google Scholar
  10. 3.
    Eliot A. Cohen, Conquered into Liberty: Two Centuries of Battles along the Great Warpath that Made the American Way of War (New York: Free Press, 2011), 300.Google Scholar
  11. 4.
    Ibid., 328–35.Google Scholar
  12. 5.
    Taylor, The Civil War of 1812, 3–12. See also: A.L. Burt, The United States, Great Britain and British North America: From the Revolution to the Establishment of Peace after the War of 1812 (New York: Russell & Russell, 1961), 95–6.Google Scholar
  13. 6.
    Denver Brunsman, ‘Subjects vs. Citizens: Impressment and Identity in the Anglo-American Atlantic’, Journal of the Early Republic 30 (2010): 585.Google Scholar
  14. 7.
    N.A.M. Roger, The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain 1649–1815 (New York: W.W. Norton, 2004), 575–83Google Scholar
  15. 7a.
    Paul W. Schroeder, The Transformation of European Politics, 1763–1848 (New York Oxford University Press, 1994), 575.Google Scholar
  16. 8.
    Gregory A. Barton, Lord Palmerston and the Empire of Trade (Boston, MA: Prentice Hall, 2012), 87–8.Google Scholar
  17. 9.
    Ibid., 88.Google Scholar
  18. 10.
    James C. Bennett, The Anglosphere Challenge: Why the English-Speaking Nations Will Lead the Way in the Twenty-First Century (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004)Google Scholar
  19. 10a.
    David G. Haglund, ‘Relating to the Anglosphere: Canada, “Culture” and the Question of Military Intervention’, Journal of Transatlantic Studies, 3, no. 2 (2005), 179–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 11.
    Haglund, ‘Relating to the Anglosphere’, 193–4; Stéphane Roussel and Jean-Christophe Boucher, ‘The Myth of the Pacific Society: Québec’s Contemporary Strategic Culture’, American Review of Canadian Studies 38, no. 3 (2008): 165–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 12.
    Bennett, The Anglosphere Challenge, 11–12.Google Scholar
  22. 13.
    Ibid., 13.Google Scholar
  23. 14.
    Ibid., 289.Google Scholar
  24. 15.
  25. 16.
    H. Butterfield, The Whig Interpretation of History (New York: W.W. Norton, 1965), 13–14.Google Scholar
  26. 17.
    Richard A. Cosgrove, ‘Reflections on the Whig Interpretation of History’, Journal of Early Modern History, 4, no. 2 (2000), 155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 18.
    Ibid., 167.Google Scholar
  28. 19.
    Herbert Butterfield, The Statecraft of Machiavelli (New York: Collier Books, 1967). See alsoGoogle Scholar
  29. 19a.
    Harvey C. Mansfield, Machiavelli’s Virtue (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998)Google Scholar
  30. 19b.
    Philip Bobbit, The Garments of Court and Palace: Machiavelli and the World that He Made (New York: Grove Press, 2013).Google Scholar
  31. 20.
    Carl Cavanagh Hodge, Atlanticism for a New Century: The Rise, Triumph, and Decline of NATO (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2005), 2.Google Scholar
  32. 21.
    Butterfield, The Statecraft of Machiavelli, 62–3.Google Scholar
  33. 22.
    Bernard Bailyn, Atlantic History: Concept and Contours (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005), 6–7.Google Scholar
  34. 23.
    Massimo Salvadori, NATO, A Twentieth Century Community of Nations (New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1957), 25.Google Scholar
  35. 24.
    Massimo Salvadori, The Liberal Heresy: Origins and Historical Development (New York: St. Martin’s, 1977), 80–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 25.
  37. 26.
    Bailyn, Atlantic History, 54.Google Scholar
  38. 27.
    Salvadori, NATO, A Twentieth Century Community of Nations, 25.Google Scholar
  39. 28.
    Jonathan I. Israel, The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall 1477–1806 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1995), 129–275.Google Scholar
  40. 29.
    Ibid., 129–37.Google Scholar
  41. 30.
    James D. Tracy, Holland under Habsburg Rule, 1506–1566: The Formation of a Body Politic (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990).Google Scholar
  42. 31.
    Israel, The Dutch Republic, 137–205.Google Scholar
  43. 32.
    Helmut G. Koenisberger, ‘“Dominum regale or dominum politicum et regale” Monarchies and Parliaments in Early Modern Europe’, in Der moderne Parlamentarismus und seine Grundlagen in der ständischen Repräsentation, ed. Karl Bosl (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1977), 63–4.Google Scholar
  44. 33.
    Israel, The Dutch Republic, 677–99.Google Scholar
  45. 34.
    Jan de Vries, ‘On the Modernity of the Dutch Republic’, Journal of Economic History, 33, no. 1 (1973): 191–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 35.
    J.L. Price, Holland and the Dutch Republic in the Seventeenth Century: The Politics of Particularism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), 221–34, 278–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 35a.
    Peter Padfield, Maritime Supremacy & The Opening of the Western Mind: Naval Campaigns that Shaped the Modern World 1588–1782 (London: John Murray, 1999), 12–19, 68–86Google Scholar
  48. 35b.
    Benjamin Schmidt, ‘The Dutch Atlantic: From Provincialism to Globalism’, in Atlantic History: A Critical Appraisal, ed. Jack P. Greene and Philip D. Morgan (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 163–87.Google Scholar
  49. 36.
    J.G.A. Pocock, ‘The Dutch Republican Tradition’, in The Dutch Republic in the Eighteenth Century: Decline, Enlightenment and Revolution, ed. Margaret C. Jacob and Wijnand W. Mijnhardt (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992), 193.Google Scholar
  50. 37.
    Nicholas Phillipson, Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), 216–38Google Scholar
  51. 37a.
    Gertrude Himmelfarb, The Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenments (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), 34–8Google Scholar
  52. 37b.
    George J. Stigler, ‘The Successes and Failures of Professor Smith’, Journal of Political Economy 84, no. 6 (1976): 1199–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 38.
    Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 2 vols, ed. W.B. Todd (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Classics, 1981), 456.Google Scholar
  54. 39.
    Phillipson, Adam Smith, 237–38.Google Scholar
  55. 40.
    Smith, Wealth of Nations, I, 496–7.Google Scholar
  56. 41.
    Ibid., II, 906.Google Scholar
  57. 42.
    J.G.A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975), 462.Google Scholar
  58. 43.
    Ibid., 547–8.Google Scholar
  59. 44.
    See in particular S.E. Finer, The History of Government from the Earliest Times, 3 Vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), II, 1020–1Google Scholar
  60. 44a.
    John R. Champlin, ‘Machiavellian Moment’, Review of Politics 39, no. 1 (1977), 105–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 44b.
    Neal Wood, ‘The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Though and the Atlantic Republican Tradition’, Political Theory, 4, no. 1 (1976): 101–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. 45.
    Paul A. Rahe, ‘Thomas Jefferson’s Machiavellian Political Science’, in Machiavelli’s Liberal Republican Legacy, ed. Paul A. Rahe (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 209. AlsoGoogle Scholar
  63. 45a.
    Paul A. Rahe, Republics Ancient and Modern: Classical Republicanism and the American Revolution (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992), 19–20, 199–200, 244, 421–4.Google Scholar
  64. 46.
    Rahe, Republics Ancient and Modern, 422.Google Scholar
  65. 47.
  66. 48.
    Ibid., 521–2; John Brewer, The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688–1783 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988), 189.Google Scholar
  67. 49.
    Rahe, Republics Ancient and Modern, 522; P.J. Pain and A.G. Hopkins, British Imperialism, 1688–2000 (Harlow: Pearson Education, 1993), 92Google Scholar
  68. 49a.
    H.T. Dickinson, Walpole and the Whig Supremacy (London: English Universities Press, 1973), 105–6, 135–7.Google Scholar
  69. 50.
    Heinrich August Winkler, Geschichte des Westens, 2 Vols. (Munich: C.H. Beck, 2009), I, 171.Google Scholar
  70. 51.
    Alexander Hamilton, Writings, ed. Joanne B. Freeman (New York: Library of America, 1984), 18, 83.Google Scholar
  71. 52.
    Machiavellian Moment, 530; Karl-Friedrich Walling, ‘Was Alexander Hamilton a Machiavellian Statesman?” in Rahe, Machiavelli’s Liberal Republican Legacy, 254–78. See also: John Lamberton Harper, American Machiavelli: Alexander Hamilton and the Origins of U.S. Foreign Policy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. 53.
    Walling, 278; Edward Earle Meade, ‘Adam Smith, Alexander Hamilton, Friedrich List: The Economic Foundations of Military Power’, in Makers of Modern Strategy, from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, ed. Peter Paret (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 217–61.Google Scholar
  73. 54.
    Wood, Empire of Liberty, 661–2. See also: Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967).Google Scholar
  74. 55.
    Taylor, The Civil War of 1812, 31.Google Scholar
  75. 56.
    Christopher D. Hall, British Strategy in the Napoleonic War, 1803–15 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992), 197–202.Google Scholar
  76. 57.
    Roger, The Command of the Ocean, 565–72.Google Scholar
  77. 58.
    Taylor, The Civil War of 1812, 417; C.K. Webster, The Foreign Policy of Castlereagh, 1812–1815: Britain and the Reconstruction of Europe (London: G. Bell & Sons, 1931), 256–7Google Scholar
  78. 58a.
    John Bew, Castlereagh, A Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 385.Google Scholar
  79. 59.
    J.G.A. Pocock, ‘The New British History in Atlantic Perspective: An Antipodean Commentary’, American Historical Review, 104, no. 2 (1999): 498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. 60.
  81. 61.
    Daniel Hannan, ‘The Anglosphere Miracle’, The New Criterion, October 2013. See: Daniel Hannan, Inventing Freedom: How the English-speaking People Made the Modern World (London: Broadside Books, 2013).Google Scholar
  82. 62.
    David Hackett Fisher, Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in North America (New York: Oxford University press, 1989)Google Scholar
  83. 62a.
    Alan Macfarlane, The Origins of English Individualism (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989)Google Scholar
  84. 62b.
    Caludio Véloz, The World of the Gothic Fox: Culture and Economy in English and Spanish America (Berkley: University of California Press, 1994)Google Scholar
  85. 62c.
    James C. Bennett, ‘An Anglosphere Primer’, presented to the Foreign Policy Research Institute, 2002.Google Scholar
  86. 63.
    Brendan Simms, Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy from 1453 to the Present (New York: Basic Books, 2013), 183–5, 532.Google Scholar
  87. 64.
    Walter Russell Mead, Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changes the World (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001), 115.Google Scholar
  88. 65.
    Ibid., 129.Google Scholar
  89. 66.
    Max Silberschmidt, ‘Wirtschaftshistorische Aspekte der neueren Geschichte: Die atlantische Gemeinschaft’, Historische Zeitschrift 171, no. 2 (1951): 245–61. See alsoGoogle Scholar
  90. 66a.
    Max Silberschmidt, Beidseits des Atlantik: Studien über Wirtschaft Gesellschaft und Staat (Zürich: Atlantis, 1969).Google Scholar
  91. 67.
    Silberschmidt, Beidseits des Atlantik, 260; Carlton J.H. Hayes, ‘The American Frontier-Frontier of What?’, American Historical Review 51, no. 2 (1946): 199–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. 68.
    Karl W. Deutsch, et al., Political Community in the North Atlantic Area: International Organization on the Light of Historical Experience (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957), 199–203.Google Scholar
  93. 69.
    Ira Strauss, ‘Atlantic Federalism and the Expanding Atlantic Nucleus’, Peace & Change, 24, no. 3 (1999): 277–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. 70.
    Ibid., 278.Google Scholar
  95. 71.
    Ibid., 283.Google Scholar
  96. 72.
    Ibid., 298Google Scholar
  97. 72a.
    Daniel T. Rogers, Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1998), 33–75.Google Scholar
  98. 73.
    Viola Herms Drath, ‘Toward a New Atlanticism’, American Foreign Policy Interests, 28 (2006), 425–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. 74.
  100. 74a.
    John Gillingham, European Integration, 1950–2003: Superstate or Market Economy? (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 499CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. 74b.
    Alexandra Gheciu, NATO in the ‘New Europe’: The Politics of International Socialization after the Cold War (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005)Google Scholar
  102. 74c.
    Ronald D. Asmus and Alexandr Vondra, ‘The Origins of Atlanticism in Central and Eastern Europe’, Cambridge Review of International Affairs 18, no. 2 (2005): 203–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  103. 75.
    Anthony King, The Transformation of Europe’s Armed Forces: From the Rhine to Afghanistan (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  104. 76.
    See for example the literature review in Nina Graeger and Kristin M. Haugevik, The Revival of Atlanticism in NATO? Changing Security Identities in Britain, Norway and Denmark (Oslo: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, 2009).Google Scholar
  105. 77.
    Eric J. Evans, Thatcher and Thatcherism (London: Routledge, 2013), 43–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  106. 78.
    Norman Stone, The Atlantic and Its Enemies: A History of the Cold War (New York: Basic Books, 2010), xvi.Google Scholar
  107. 79.
    Brian Harrison, Finding a Role? The United Kingdom 1970–1990 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 32–8.Google Scholar
  108. 80.
    Ibid., 487; Gillingham, European Integration, 230. See alsoGoogle Scholar
  109. 80a.
    E.H.H. Green, ‘The Strange Death of Tory England’, Twentieth Century British History 2, no. 1 (1991): 67–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  110. 81.
    “EU Speech at Bloomberg’,; Robert Watts, ‘Conservative MPs Launch Attempt to Bring back Death Penalty, Privatize BBC and Ban Burka’, Daily Telegraph, June 20, 2013.Google Scholar
  111. 82.
    Douglas Stuart, ‘NATO’s Anglosphere option: Closing the Distance between Mars and Venus’, International Journal, 60, no. 1 (2004–05): 183.Google Scholar
  112. 83.
    Quoted in Harrison, 321.Google Scholar
  113. 84.
    Heribert Dieter, ‘Schiffbruch der multilateraler Kooperation’, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, September 18, 2013Google Scholar
  114. 84a.
    Julie Froud et al., ‘Stories and Interests in Finance: Agendas of Governance before and after the Financial Crisis’, Governance, 25, no. 1 (2012): 35–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  115. 85.
    Froud et al., ‘Stories and Interests in Finance’, 56–7.Google Scholar
  116. 86.
    Examples from 2003 include Ivo. H. Daalder, ‘The End of Atlanticism’, Survival, 45, no. 2 (2003), 147–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  117. 86a.
    Henry Kissinger, ‘Role Reversal and Alliance Realities’, Washington Post, February 10, 2003, A21Google Scholar
  118. 86b.
    Robert Kagan, Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003)Google Scholar
  119. 86c.
    Philip H. Gordon, ‘Bridging the Atlantic Divide’, Foreign Affairs, 82, no. 1 (2003): 7–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  120. 87.
    Massimo Salvadori, The Economics of Freedom: American Capitalism Today (London: Pall Mall Press, 1959), 13.Google Scholar
  121. 88.
    “UK in Line for £1.3 bn Boost following EU Trade Deal with Canada’, Daily Telegraph, October 18, 2013; Hendrik Kafsack, ‘EU und Kanada öffnen ihre Märkte’, Frankfurter Allgemeine, October 18, 2013.Google Scholar
  122. 89.
    Gillingham, European Integration, 398; Angela Wigger and Andreas Nölke, ‘Enhanced Roles of Private Actors in EU Business Regulation and the Erosion of Rhenish Capitalism: The Case of Antitrust Enforcement’, Journal of Common Market Studies, 45, no. 2 (2007): 487–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  123. 90.
    I have suggested here that the kind of political science heralded by Machiavelli in 1531 recommends to us in 2013 an unsentimental appreciation and renovation of political economy of the Atlantic Community. If in the process I have put forward a Whig interpretation of its history, the sin is possibly an inevitable result of attempting to draw a lesson from it, of imposing coherence on patterns of the past and supposing it to be of some practical instruction to the future. Bailyn, Atlantic History, 110–1; Eric Gujer, ‘Der ferne Freund’, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, June 13, 2013; See the Executive Summary ofGoogle Scholar
  124. 90a.
    Daniel S. Hamilton and Joseph P. Quinlan, The Transatlantic Economy 2013: Annual Survey of Jobs, Trade and Investment between the United States and Europe (Washington, DC: Center for Transatlantic Relations, 2013).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of British Columbia-OkanaganKelownaCanada

Personalised recommendations