Thursday, June 30, 2016

The year was 1822.....................

     What kind of nation was America to be?  Virtually all Americans believed that their country was different in nature from the nations of Europe, for it had been founded in principle, not conquest.*  How as a principled power to behave in an unprincipled world?   The United States would not seek colonies, as European powers did?  Would it permit them to survive on its own continent?  Would it seek to evict them?  America's great and successful experiment with republicanism had inspired brave men to fight for their freedom elsewhere in the world.  What would Americans say when they asked for help?   "Go thou and do likewise!," John Quincy Adams had proclaimed at the end of his July 4 oration - go, that is, and seize power from tyrants.  Adams would confine America to the role of spectator of this great drama.  But prudent circumspection was not very much in the American grain.  Henry Clay and many other leading figures believed that the United States could and should play a transformative role in the world.

-James Traub,  John Quincy Adams:  Militant Spirit

* Ed. note:  As a side note, the history major in me believes that maybe this land was already occupied when the country was established, plus there wasn't there a French & Indian War thing?

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