Americans often think of themselves as exceptional, living in a country uniquely sheltered from the outside world and inspired by homegrown political ideals. European states, by contrast, were forced under the pressures of war and market interdependence to fashion centralized governments and ideologies of state power. This volume challenges those notions by bringing together essays by leading scholars that explore how war and trade have helped shape American sovereignty, domestic institutions, and political culture. Aristide Zolberg, for example, argues that foreign insecurities strengthened the position of the Federalists in their debates with Jeffersonian Republicans, and Ira Katznelson shows how nineteenth-century America sought to build military power while clinging to weak-state principles. Theda Skocpol writes how American involvement in major wars has had a dramatic impact on organized voluntarism, and Aaron Friedberg argues that America's Cold War strategy reflected both the pressures for a centralized state and the country's antistate political tradition. These essays are meant to stimulate more systematic inquiries, but they also trigger speculations about how the country's evolving global role today will help shape the character of the American polity tomorrow.