Courtesy Reuters

Two Hundred Years of American Policy: Mothers and Daughters (or Greeks and Romans)

Professor Buchan had completed the manuscript for this article before his death. Minor revisions and editing were completed by his close friend, Herbert G. Nicholas, Rhodes Professor of American History and Institutions at Oxford since 1969, and the author of The United States and Britain and other works.

Social scientists write many books and papers nowadays about the development of "transnationalism"-meaning the impact on interstate relations of unofficial contacts and communications-as if this were something new on the face of the earth. Actually, over the long reach of history, it is the autarkic state or society that is the rarity. Certainly no interstate relationship has been more permeated or effectively influenced by transnational factors than that between Britain and the United States. No two societies have had a more profound impact upon each other, in terms of racial stock, political and juridical concepts, culture in all its meanings. And personal dealings have repeatedly affected specific historical events since American independence-for example, British banking houses largely financed the Louisiana Purchase, while private messages between Richard Cobden and Charles Sumner defused an imminent confrontation between the two governments over the Trent affair in 1863.

This interpenetration is a palpable fact and will, I have no doubt, be explored in depth in many different places during 1976. There is also no dispute about the fact that over the past hundred years the relationship has swung through an arc of 180 degrees, that the economic and cultural dominance of Britain over America in broadly the first century gave way to a position of increasing American dominance-first economic, later strategic, political and in many ways intellectual-over Britain as the second century advanced. There have been periods of marked alienation in the relations of the two countries, notably just after the Civil War and even more markedly between the world wars, but there has never been any serious discontinuity in political and economic relations, except briefly in the war of 1812-14; no equivalent of the Gaullist "ice age," the long

Loading, please wait...

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.