Skip to main content Accessibility help
The Genesis of America

Book description

The Genesis of America investigates the ways in which US foreign policy contributed to the formation of an American national consciousness. Interpreting American nationalism as a process of external demarcation, Jasper M. Trautsch argues that, for a sense of national self to emerge, the US needed to be disentangled from its most important European reference points: Great Britain and France. As he shows, foreign-policy makers could therefore promote American nationalism by provoking foreign crises and wars with these countries, hereby creating external threats that would bind the fragile union together. By reconstructing how foreign policy was thus used as a nation-building instrument, Trautsch provides an answer to the puzzling question of how Americans - lacking a shared history and culture of their own and justifying their claim for independent nationhood by appeals to universal rights - could develop a sense of particularity after the conclusion of the Revolutionary War.


'Jasper M. Trautsch convincingly shows how early American foreign relations and wars were dictated by domestic politics. His lucid, informed, and coherent account illuminates the shaping of American national consciousness. It should fascinate a wide range of readers.'

Daniel Walker Howe - Pulitzer Prize-winning author of What Hath God Wrought:  The Transformation of America, 1815–1848

'Jasper M. Trautsch makes the best-grounded case to date that foreign policy disputes were central in the formation of an American national identity. His work is essential reading for all early Americanists.'

J. C. A. Stagg - University of Virginia

'Trautsch boldly argues that American national identity emerged as part of a debate on foreign policy between Federalists and Republicans between 1789 and 1815. The roller coaster of European international affairs - including threats to international trade, the French Revolution, and the rise of Napoleon - sparked internal debate over threats to national interest. Each party viewed itself as promoting US interests, the Federalists by provoking a ‘quasi-war with France in order to disentangle America from her Revolutionary War ally’, and the Republicans by ‘disentangl[ing] America from her former mother country’ (as the author writes in the conclusion). … The assemblage of primary sources, including articles, editorials, cartoons, broadsides, pamphlets, speeches, reports, debates, formal diplomatic protocols, memoranda, and records is fascinating. … Highly recommended.'

M. L. Russell Source: Choice

Refine List
Actions for selected content:
Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Send to Kindle
  • Send to Dropbox
  • Send to Google Drive
  • Send content to

    To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to .

    To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

    Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

    Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

    Please be advised that item(s) you selected are not available.
    You are about to send

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Book summary page views

Total views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between #date#. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed