The Law of Nations in Early American Foreign Policy

Theory and Practice from the Revolution to the Monroe Doctrine

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In The Law of Nations in Early American Foreign Policy, Willem Theo Oosterveld provides the first general study of international law as interpreted and applied by the generation of the Founding Fathers. A mostly neglected aspect in the historiography of the early republic, this study argues that international law was in fact an integral part of the Revolutionary creed.

Taking the reader from colonial debates about the law of nations to the discussions about slavery in the early 19th century, this study shows the zest of the Founders to conduct foreign policy on the basis of treatises such as Vattel’s The Law of Nations. But it also highlights the deep ambiguities and sometimes personal struggles that arose when applying international law.
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Biographical Note

Willem Theo Oosterveld (Ph.D, Graduate Institute, Geneva, 2011) is a strategic analyst with The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies in The Hague (Netherlands), where he works on issues relating to conflict, justice and development.

Review Quotes

"A major and important contribution to the neglected role of the law of nations in the early decades of the foreign policy of the United States."
-Jus G e n t i um Vol. 1, No. 2

Table of contents

Epigraph
Acknowledgements
Dedication
Chronology of Events

INTRODUCTION
ANTECEDENTS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW IN AMERICA
1.1 THE CONTINENTAL TRADITION
1.2 THE COMMON LAW TRADITION
THE MOVE TOWARDS INDEPENDENCE
2.1 THE COLONIES AND THE BRITISH IMPERIAL CONSTITUTION
2.2 INDEPENDENCE, UNION, AND THE LAW OF NATIONS
THE STRUGGLE TO CONSOLIDATE THE REPUBLIC
3.1 THE FRENCH ALLIANCE AND THE BALANCE OF POWER
3.2 FOREIGN RELATIONS UNDER THE ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION
THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION AND THE LAW OF NATIONS
4.1 THE LAW OF NATIONS AND THE FRAMING OF THE CONSTITUTION
4.2 THE CONSTITUTION FROM AN INTERNATIONAL LEGAL PERSPECTIVE
LAW AND FOREIGN POLICY IN THE FEDERALIST ERA
(1789-1801)
5.1 TOWARDS THE NEUTRALITY PROCLAMATION: HAMILTON VS. JEFFERSON
5.2 BALANCING NEUTRAL RIGHTS AND TREATY OBLIGATIONS
LAW AND FOREIGN POLICY UNDER THOMAS JEFFERSON
6.1 THE MISSISSIPPI AND BEYOND:
THE LAW OF NATIONS AND TERRITORIAL EXPANSION
6.2 FREEDOM OF THE SEAS AND MARITIME COMMERCE
FROM THE WAR OF 1812 TO THE MONROE DOCTRINE
7.1 THE WAR OF 1812: FIGHTING OVER THE LAW OF NATIONS
7.2 TO THE MONROE DOCTRINE
CONCLUSION
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Sources
Documentary Sources
Selected Websites
Court Cases
Books
Articles

INDEX

Readership

Scholars and students interested in early American history, history of international law in the 18th century, American law, early American foreign policy and intellectual history.

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