Denmark in 1807.Worse still, Britain had genuine, if vague, designs on expanding its remaining North American possessions. Americans also had good reasons to fear the threat of a strong military, as military coups had toppled the revolutionary governments of France and Haiti and caused problems throughout Spain's American empire. Even England's own foray into a government without a king in the seventeenth century had resulted in the military-backed rule of Oliver Cromwell. Black argues that these two conflicting concerns shaped American foreign policy and drew the United States into a war it was not prepared to fight. Not until 1814 did the U.S. Army possess the organization and professionalism necessary to face British regulars, but by this time the United States was broke and Britain was on the offensive, having defeated Napoleon, and shifted considerable military resources to North America. By placing the war in a more global context, Black chips further away at American exceptionalism and lays siege to the idea that the United States was the sole master of its own destiny during this period. While this might make some uncomfortable, others will welcome the fresh perspective. After all, these were not states of comparable size.
Journal of the Early Republic – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Nov 5, 2011
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