Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




John E Selby


This dissertation explores the extent to which the political ideology that formed the basis for the American republic shaped American diplomacy, using John Adams, James Madison and John Quincy Adams as case studies. American statesmen drew on a variety of sources for republican principles of diplomacy. The law of nations and the Scottish political economists supplied the ideas of an international balance of power and freedom of trade. English writers of the Opposition Whig school provided concepts such as political separation from Europe, reliance on a navy for defense, abhorrence of a standing army and, indirectly, the belief that the United States could use its economic power to secure its diplomatic goals.;John Adams began his career with a high degree of confidence in the virtue of the American people and the coercive power of American trade. He combined a classical martial ethic with an Opposition whig strategic sense. Adams's experience in Europe disproved these beliefs, and as president he fell back on the republican realpolitik, based on naval power and separation from Europe, suggested by the Opposition Whig school.;James Madison never held out a classical model of virtue and never lost faith in the coercive power of American commerce. His combination of political economy with Opposition thought led him to reject both an army and a navy as monarchical tools of diplomacy. He saw the Constitution as a vehicle for harnessing American economic power. Madison's conception of a republican diplomacy led him, as secretary of state and president, to rely on the Embargo and similar economic measures.;John Quincy Adams combined republican realpolitik with a sense of Christian purpose and saw American government and diplomacy as a vehicle for moral improvement. Adams's republic rested on a continental union and a diplomacy directed against European colonization, as a manifestation of monarchy. Non-colonization included removing Spain as a neighbor in North America, preventing European political encroachment in the Western Hemisphere, and securing a hemisphere-wide consensus on neutral rights. as a congressman and critic of slavery-driven expansion, Adams demonstrated the persistence of Opposition Whig thought in American politics.



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