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Revolutionary Negotiations

Revolutionary Negotiations: Indians, Empires, and Diplomats in the Founding of America

Leonard J. Sadosky
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 296
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wrprj
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  • Book Info
    Revolutionary Negotiations
    Book Description:

    Revolutionary Negotiationsexamines early American diplomatic negotiations with both the European powers and the various American Indian nations from the 1740s through the 1820s. Sadosky interweaves previously distinct settings for American diplomacy-courts and council fires-into one singular, transatlantic system of politics.

    Whether as provinces in the British Empire or as independent states, American assertions of power were directed simultaneously to the west and to the east-to Native American communities and to European empires across the Atlantic. American leaders aspired to equality with Europeans, who often dismissed them, while they were forced to concede agency to Native Americans, whom they often wished they could ignore. As Americans used diplomatic negotiation to assert their new nation's equality with the great powers of Europe and gradually defined American Indian nations as possessing a different (and lesser) kind of sovereignty, they were also forced to confront the relations between the states in their own federal union.

    Acts of diplomacy thus defined the founding of America, not only by drawing borders and facilitating commerce, but also by defining and constraining sovereign power in a way that privileged some and weakened others. These negotiations truly were revolutionary.

    eISBN: 978-0-8139-2870-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    This is a book about how the United States of America came to be. At the start of the twenty-first century, when the American nation-state commands a position of nearly unrivaled political, commercial, and military strength—what, in 1999, French foreign minister Hubert Védrine provocatively labeledhyperpuissance, or hyperpower—it is scarcely imaginable that the United States ever occupied a position of abject weakness. Yet history tells us this was indeed the case. Far from being a historical constant, preeminent and preponderant American power is a development of relatively recent origin.¹

    In the first four decades following the American Congress’s...

  5. Prologue The Cherokee Emperor
    (pp. 13-30)

    Our story begins, fittingly (as this is a book about America), with a dream. During the summer of 1729, the wife of a minor Scots nobleman named Sir Alexander Cuming awoke to inform her husband that she had dreamt he was to travel across the Atlantic Ocean and into the American wilderness, where he would find fame and fortune. Interpreting the Lady Cuming’s dream as a call to action, Sir Alexander boarded a ship and left England in the middle of September 1729, arriving at the port of Charles Town, South Carolina, on 6 December. Almost from the moment he...

  6. 1 “In the Nature of Ambassadors” North American Diplomacy within the British Empire
    (pp. 31-58)

    In 1748, diplomats of the kingdoms of Great Britain and France negotiated the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, leading the various European powers into ending the eight-year-long War of Austrian Succession. But in many quarters of the world touched by European power, there was little of the joy that usually comes with peace. In the British North American province of New York, the war’s end only served to fill the colony’s leading men with anxiety. Agents of the king of France remained firmly planted in Quebec, their alliances with the American Indian communities of the Great Lakes region as strong as ever....

  7. 2 “In an Odd State” The American Decision to Leave the British Empire
    (pp. 59-89)

    British North America had been turned upside down. At least this was the view from Philadelphia, the city that was emerging as the de facto capital of the Thirteen Colonies, where the Second Continental Congress convened on 10 May 1775. While the delegates of the First Continental Congress had promised to reassemble, if necessary, when they adjourned their ad hoc body the previous October, they could not have imagined how necessary such a meeting would be. The context in which Congress now came together was far more portentous than the previous year’s controversy over the so-called Intolerable Acts had ever...

  8. 3 “Are We Not . . . Independant States?” Imagining and Realizing an Independent America
    (pp. 90-118)

    In early 1779, the American Continental Congress proclaimed to the world that the independence of the thirteen former British colonies in North America could no longer be denied. With the publication of a 122-page pamphlet,Observations on the American Revolution, Congress made it clear, once and for all, that American independence was a reality and that reconciliation with the British metropolis was now an impossibility. “All negotiation for dependence,” they told their fellow Americans, was “at an end.” The rulers of Great Britain, if they were “under the guidance of reason,” now had only one option: they would call off...

  9. 4 “Rendering Us Great and Respectable in the Eyes of the World” The Diplomatic Imperative for the Federal Constitution
    (pp. 119-147)

    On 17 September 1787, the Philadelphia Convention concluded the work that it had been involved in for almost four months—debating and drafting a new frame of government for the United States of America. In the years that followed the conclusion of peace with Great Britain, a significant number of Americans had come to agree with the Chevalier de la Luzerne that the Articles of Confederation “were an incomplete and irregular System of government.”¹ While the violent Shays’ Rebellion in Massachusetts during the winter of 1786–87 and the ongoing crisis of a shrinking money supply and rising taxes in many...

  10. 5 “To Be Considered as Foreign Nations” The Ambiguous Triumph of Federalist Statecraft
    (pp. 148-175)

    A little over a month after taking the oath of office, the new president of the United States, George Washington, made use of a brief lull in the business of his office to ascertain the nature of the issues that would confront him and the United States during his first term as president. In early June 1789, Washington dispatched brief notes to the secretaries of war (Henry Knox) and treasury (Alexander Hamilton), and to the acting secretary of foreign affairs (John Jay), asking for a “clear account” of each department’s business, that would contain “a full, precise and distinctgeneral...

  11. 6 Enlarging “Our Association” The Triumph of the Diplomacy of Conquest
    (pp. 176-206)

    On 3 December 1804, Senator William Plumer prepared to dine with the president of the United States. That Plumer, a Federalist from New Hampshire, should receive an invitation from Republican President Thomas Jefferson was a little remarkable; Plumer noted in his journal that Jefferson had recently ceased to invite many of his more vociferous opponents to dinner. Like many opposition politicians through the years, Plumer surveyed the acts of his rival with a most critical eye. He noticed that Jefferson’s invitation seemed peculiar: “It is Th: Jefferson not the President of the United States that invites.” Plumer wryly noted, “yet...

  12. Epilogue The Cherokee Lawyer
    (pp. 207-216)

    Our story concludes, fittingly (as this is a book about America), with a lawsuit. In the spring of 1830, the Baltimore attorney William Wirt was approached by a delegation from the government of the Cherokee Indian nation asking him to serve as their counsel. The Cherokee had not approached Wirt randomly—he was recommended by some of the most powerful opponents of President Andrew Jackson, and his opinion of the situation of the Cherokee Nation was a matter of some record. Six years before, in 1824, when Wirt was attorney general of the United States, he had authored an opinion...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 217-250)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 251-266)
  15. Index
    (pp. 267-276)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 277-278)