Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 362–376 | Cite as

Wilsonianism and the sweep of American foreign policy history

  • David ClintonEmail author
Themed Section: Wilsonianism and Transatlantic Relation Introduction


The contention of this essay is that Wilsonianism has rested in part on a conviction that popular government, government responsible to the people, is right and that it is also advantageous to the United States in that popular governments will by nature be peaceful members of international society, thereby allowing the US to live in peace. However, there are tensions within Wilsonianism itself which compromise that hope when pursued through international institutions.


Wilsonianism colonial America Tocqueville Constitutional Convention peace terms League Covenant 


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  1. 1.
    See Walter Russell Mead, Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World (New York: Routledge, 2002).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Quoted in Daniel G. Lang, Foreign Policy in the Early Republic: The Law of Nations and the Balance of Power (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985), 41.Google Scholar
  3. 2a.
    See also the discussion of the dangers of universal monarchy in David C. Hendrickson, Peace Pact: The Lost World of the American Founding (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2003), 40–6.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    See Louis Henkin, Foreign Affairs and the Constitution (New York: W.W. Norton, 1972), 137–56.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, 2 Vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1889), I: 34.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    Inis L. Claude, American Approaches to World Affairs (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1986), 5. Claude argues that, contrary to the usual interpretation of the history of American foreign policy as one of oscillation between isolation and intervention, the record of the United States throughout the twentieth century was one of fairly consistent dedication to the role of auxiliary.Google Scholar
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    See Felix Gilbert, To The Farewell Address: Ideas of Early American Foreign Policy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1961).Google Scholar
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    Alfred H. Kelly and Winfred A. Harbison, The American Constitution: Its Origins and Development, 5th ed. (New York: W.W. Norton, 1976), 87.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    Nicholas Murray Butler, Across the Busy Years: Recollections and Reflections, 2 Vols. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1939), I: 11–2.Google Scholar
  10. 9.
    Nicholas Murray Butler, The Path to Peace: Essays and Addresses on Peace and Its Making (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1930), 10–11, 85.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceBaylor UniversityWacoUSA

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