Pre-1932 Administration

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Review Essay, Nov/Dec 2012
Donald R. Hickey

Today, the War of 1812 is all but forgotten. But as two recent books show, its legacies -- helping professionalize the U.S. military, planting the seeds of manifest destiny, and laying the groundwork for a long-standing Anglo-American alliance -- endure today.

Review Essay, Jul/Aug 2004
Walter Russell Mead

Ron Chernow's new biography examines Alexander Hamilton's role in the founding of the American republic and his contribution to its conflictual political culture.

Essay, Mar/Apr 1995
George F. Kennan

Faced with demands for support from rebellious Spanish colonies in South America following the Napoleonic wars, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams enunciated a principle of American foreign policy that is still relevant today: the best way for a larger country to help smaller ones is by the power of example. To go further, Adams warned, would be "to involve America beyond the power of extrication in all the wars of interest and intrigue." Good advice, then as now.

Essay, Spring 1990
Robert W. Tucker and David C. Hendrickson

Jefferson's conceptions of the US national interest, and of the diplomatic postures by which it was most fit to be advanced, still inform US foreign policy today, in respect of uneasy contrast between withdrawal and reformation. "For Jefferson, as for subsequent American statesmen, the desire to change the world was at war with the desire not to be corrupted by the world... The combination of universalism and parochialism is the result of a self-consciousness over role that forms a constant in the nation's history". Yet "the conventional contrast of the roles of exemplar and crusader has often obscured the affinity that may always exist between them", as between thought and action. Jefferson's own statecraft illustrated the hazards of crusadership, as his early sympathy for the French Revolution and desire for American territorial expansion led to a 'neutralism' which effectively supported Napoleon Bonaparte and brought about war with Britain.

Essay, Fall 1989
John Lukacs

The two world wars are the mountain ranges that dominate the historical landscape of the twentieth century. We still live in their shadows, in America as well as in Europe. Only with these wars did European and American history begin to coincide. The revolutions of 1820, 1830, 1848 and the wars leading to the unification of Italy and Germany marked the nineteenth century in European history, while the major events in American history were the westward movement, the Civil War and mass immigration. These events had certain transatlantic connections, yet not decisive ones. But in the twentieth century the two world wars have been the main events in the history of Europe and America as well.

Essay, Jan 1974
Raymond Vernon

If the world should erupt before these words are in print, the fault is unlikely to lie with the policy of détente. So far, the advantages of détente have been somewhat more evident than the costs. The capacity of the two superpowers to communicate effectively in the white heat of the Middle East crisis, for instance, must surely be counted as a significant dividend.

Essay, Jul 1972
J. B. Duroselle

For five years between 1925 and 1929, a certain portion of mankind, like those parched travelers in the desert who think they have glimpsed the oasis which will save them, believed the gate to lasting peace was at hand. This, as we now know, was only a mirage. But such a mirage had never before existed. People had never believed so fervently in the blessings of peace, or hoped so passionately that peace would be perpetual. Optimism rose to new heights. "Away with cannon and machineguns: instead, conciliation, arbitration, and peace!" At the meeting of the League of Nations on September 10, 1926, when Germany, recently defeated, was received as a member, the French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand touched a new intensity of emotion with these celebrated words.

Essay, Oct 1962
the Earl of Avon

For those who were close to international events in the nineteen twenties and took a part in the errors and shortcomings of the next decade, there is a fascination in contrasting the two world wars with the experience of the present time. If we can learn from a generation ago and apply the lessons of that period to our present problems, we might render a useful service, for even then all was not folly.

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