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miQ 1988 

Volume XI 

n.!:^S!i^' ! ^om 

June, 1972 






Published by 


A Division of the University System of Georgia 




Volume XI June, 1972 





Robert Sellen 

National Interests and the Diplomat's Role 

in Nineteenth Century United States Foreign Policy 1 

Thomas A. Bryson 

William Brown Hodgson's Mission to Egypt 10 

James E. Southerland 

John Forsyth and the Frustrated 1857 Mexican Loan 

and Land Grab 18 

William M. Gabard 

John Elliott Ward and the Treaty of Tientsin 26 

Osmos Lanier. Jr. 

'Paramount' Blount: Special Commissioner 
to Investigate the Hawaiian Coup, 1893 45 

Copyright © 1972 
Division of Social Sciences 

West Georgia College 
Carrollton, Georgia 301 17 

Printed in the United States of America 


With the exception of the essay by Dr. Osmos Lanier, Jr., the papers 
herein printed were read before the annual meeting of the Georgia 
Historical Society at West Georgia College on October 30, 1971. The 
theme and arrangements were coordinated by professors Thomas A. 
Bryson as committee chairman, MoUie Davis, T.B. Fitz-Simmons and 
J. David Griffin, all of the Department of History at West Georgia 
College. President Ward B. Pafford welcomed members and visitors 
to the day-long proceedings. 

The Studies in the Social Sciences is an organ of the Division of 
Social Sciences at West Georgia College. Upon request, copies of this 
journal are provided free of charge to institutions of higher learning 
throughout the United States and abroad. The regular distribution is 
to all institutions of higher learning in Georgia, the five largest uni- 
versities in each southern state, and approximately one hundred high 
schools throughout Georgia. 

Eugene R. Huck, Editor 

Roald Mykkeltvedt, 
Assistant Editor 






Four articles dealing with nineteenth century American diplomacy 
leave one with a thought which would be horrifying to traditional his- 
torians: William Appleman Williams may be right about something. 

Williams, mentor of many of the "New Left" historians now teaching 
and writing, has written of America's combination of aggressiveness 
and noblesse oblige, its "mission to defend and extend democracy" while 
simultaneously seeking new markets.^ and expansion (Williams" italics) 
as central to American history and expressed in agrarian zeal for new 
markets. This agrarian zeal, says Williams, gave us an imperialist out- 
look that carried us even to the present Vietnamese crisis in foreign 
affairs. 2 Williams' message is clear: examine the motives behind our 
deeds and examine the implications of those deeds. It is also clear that 
most Americans in every generation since the "founding fathers" have 
avoided such self scrutiny. 

But what is so strange about Americans having "sordid" economic 
drives along with nobler goals? European statesmen and savants of the 
eighteenth century understood the concept of national interest and ex- 
plained that such interest arose from a state's geographic position, size, 
character of its people, mercantile or agrarian economy and the condi- 
tion of neighboring states. Motives in foreign affairs might be as much 
the expansion of trade as purely political. Prime Minister Sir Robert 
Walpole asserted in the House of Commons in 1739, "This is a trading 
nation, and the prosperity of her trade is what ought to be principally 
in the eye of every gentleman in this House. "^ 

"Diplomacy," says Charles Thayer, an American professional, "medi- 
ates not between right and wrong but between conflicting interests 

^Professor of History, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia. 

^ William Appleman Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (New 

York, 1962), pp. 162-72. 

^ William Appleman Williams. The Roots of the Modern American Em- 
pire (New York, 1969), pp. xii-xxiv and passim. 

3 Felix Gilbert, To the Farewell Address: Ideas of Early American Foreign 
Policy (Princeton, 1961), pp. 23, 89-104. 

4 Chades W. Thayer, D-piomat (New York, 1959), p. 252. 

[and]. . . national aspirations.""* Hans Morgenthau, patron of the "real- 
ist" school among political scientists and historians, puts it this way: 

Diplomacy must determine its objectives in the light of the 
power actually and potentially available. . . Diplomacy must 
assess the objectives of other nations and the power actually 
and potentially available. . . . Diplomacy must determine to what 
extent these different objectives are compatible with each other. 
Diplomacy must employ the means suited to the pursuit of its 
objectives. Failure in any one of these tasks may jeopardize the 
success of foreign policy. . . .^ 

If one considers the United States between the War of 1812 and the 
Civil War one comprehends some of the changes in its foreign policy. 
It was a nation of phenomenal growth; population rose from 8,419,000 
to 31,513,000, the labor force from two and a half million to ten and a 
half million; the number of farm workers quadrupled, but non-farm 
workers increased almost nine-fold; the nation built 30,000 miles of rail- 
roads; ships in foreign trade went from 854,000 tons to 2,379,000 tons; 
exports rose from $53 million to $400 million; exports of manufactured 
goods, including manufactured foodstuffs, rose from $18 million in 1820 
to $88 million in 1860; banking assets rose from $400 million in the early 
1830's to $1 billion by 1860;^ foreigners held, in the early 1850's, some 
$200 million of American securities— corporation and government 
stocks and bonds, but Americans themselves held another $900 million 
worth. '^ The United States was on its way to becoming a modern nation. 

It is not strange that the United States behaved as a nation becoming 
modern. It had great pride in itself, paraded its nationalism on holidays 
and all other possible occasions, sought more territory as ravenously 
as any nation has done in recorded history, acquiring half the Republic 
of Mexico within a dozen years, and ventured abroad to claim such spots 
as Midway Island and to find commerce to assist an already rising na- 
tional wealth and standard of living. 

The elitist press in North and South had commented for generations 
on "advantages of opening a trade to Japan. "^ on a railroad across the 
continent or one across the Isthmus of Panama to increase our advan- 
tages in Pacific trade, for, after all, 

A thrifty, trading people are the Yankees. . . . We, ourselves, 
have "put a girdle round about the earth," and we have never 

^ Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations (New York, 1960), pp. 539-40. 

^ U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics 
of the United States (Washington, 1961), pp. 7, 72, 427, 445. 545, 624. 

^ Reginald C. McGrane, The Economic Development of the American Nation 
(Boston. 1950), p. 279. 

8 The American Museum (Philadelphia). IX (April, 1791), 186-89; 1 (March, 
1787), 194-97; Vll (March, 1790), 126-28. 


sailed on any sea, nor visited any people . . . where there was 
not to be found some enterprising, trading son of brother Jona- 
than's, with his ships, his schemes, or his notions. ^ 

There were 600 million people living on the shores of the Pacilic 
and the opportunities for America in Asia were enormous: 

The islander will cease to go naked — the Chinaman will give 
up his chopsticks . . . the moment they shall find that they can 
exchange the productions of their climate and labor for that 
which is more pleasing to the taste of fancy. 

Do you suppose that the laboring classes of China would live 
and die on the unchanged diet of rice if they could obtain meat 
and bread ?^o 

One would expect that in De Bow's Review, but one finds it in the Soiiih- 
ern Literary Messenger. 

At the end of the century, John W. Foster, grandfather of the late 
John Foster Dulles and a slightly stuffy specialist in international law 
rather than a Marxist-revisionist, began his book on our relations with 
Asia by commenting on our "notable spirit of commercial and maritime 
adventure. "1^ 

Combined with this commercial motive was an American attitude 
of superiority to other peoples. In the era of Manifest Destiny we brand- 
ed Mexicans as degenerate, vice-ridden, superstitious, filled with bandi- 
try and people too lazy to use the resources around them.^^ ^t the time 
of our war with Mexico an American army officer described that coun- 
try's condition as the result of "an unscrupulous love of gain: and bigotry, 
superstition, and most arbitrary tyranny. . . .'"^^ Egypt was not only poor 
but full of indolent, ugly and malodorous people. ^"^ 

As to China, rare indeed was the missionary who could be as realistic 
as President George B. Smyth of Foochow College: 

It must always be remembered that China is a civilized coun- 
try with a history and tradition of its own, with a national life of 
unexampled length, and all based on the teachings of a sage 
whom fhe whole nation honors. . . . Preaching the gospel in such 
a country as this is a very different thing from preaching it . . 

9 The Southern Literary Messenger (Richmond), XV (May, 1849), 259-66: XV 
(August, 1849), 441-57; V (January. 1839), 26. 

10 Ibid., XIV (April, 1848), 246-54. 

11 John W. Foster, American Diplomacy in the Orient (Boston, 1903), p. 1. 

12 Southern Literary Messenger, I (February, 1835), 276; II (December, 1835). 
10-11; XII (December, 1846), 755-62; VII (May and June, 1841), 398-421. 

13 Roswell S. Ripley, The War with Mexico (New York, 1849), I, 27. 
1'* Southern Literary Messenger, XX (February, 1854), 106-108. 


among South Sea savages where there are no obstacles of an 
old civilization. . . . All prophecies, therefore, including those 
of our globe-trotting Bishops, are utterly worthless. ^^ 

Americans before 1860 generally dismissed China as a land in which 
"the mind itself has been at a dead stand-still during a thousand years 
and more" and whose people were "curious, cunning, demi-civilized. . . ."' 
Very often, travellers' accounts of China dwelt upon the curious: tea- 
tasting, the rules of begging, Buddhist temples and harems. ^^ 

Even S. Wells Williams, labeled "an astute and knowledgeable China 
expert," wrote harshly about the Chinese. His book. The Middle King- 
dom, went through many editions between 1847 and 1900 and probably 
shaped American views of China more than any other book. It included 
this description of Chinese character: 

With a general regard for outward decency, they are vile and 
polluted in a shocking degree, their conversation is full of filthy 
expressions and their lives of impure acts. 

By pictures, songs, and aphrodisiacs, they excite their sensual- 
ity. ... As long as they love to wallow in this filth they cannot 
advance. . . . 

More uneradicable than the sins of the flesh is the falsity of the 
Chinese, and its attendant sin of base ingratitude; their disre- 
gard of truth has perhaps done more to lower their character in 
the eyes of Christendom than any other fault. ^'^ 

This passage remained substantially the same in all editions, though, 
as Williams wrote in his preface, China had changed greatly since his 
book's first edition. ^^ 

Such missionaries' views fitted basic American perceptions of for- 
eign lands. We know something of these perceptions from the press and 
something more from an exhaustive study of nineteenth century Ameri- 
can schoolbooks. The mode of instruction in that day of less learned 
teachers was "letter-perfect memorization" without any critical faculties 
being brought to bear. American children learned and recited that Mexi- 
cans were cheerful, indolent and "averse to serious thought. . . ." China's 
civilization might be ancient, but, as a geography book published in 1897 
put it, ". . . we cannot say that the Chinese are a civilized people ac- 
cording to our standard, for they are not progressive . . . [and] their way 

15 George B. Smyth to Rev. George T. Lemmon, May 11, 1898; Albert Shaw 
MSS, New York Public Library. 

16 Southern Literary Messenger, XVIII (July, 1852), 403; XIX (July, September. 
October, 1853), 419, 425-28, 532-33, 615. 

1'^ S. Wells Williams, The Middle Kingdom (New York, 1879), II, 96. 

18 S. Wells Williams, The Middle Kingdom (New York, 1895), I, ix, 834. 

of doing things and thinking about things is to-day just as we find it ... to 
have been 2,500 years ago."i^ 

American attitudes toward the rest of the world are crucial to under- 
standing our diplomacy, especially its tendency to reach beyond reason- 
able goals. Theodore Geiger, in his recent study, The Conflicted 
Relationship, points to the United States as the extreme case of western 
man in relations between "civilized" nations and the "third world" or 
whatever one wishes to call the region of Africa-Asia-Latin America, 
which includes the countries dealt with by Hodgson, Forsyth, Ward, 
and Blount. 

Says Geiger, "One of the most widely held convictions in the United 
States is that American society is a unique creation significant not only 
for the American people but also for all mankind." This notion is derived 
from "the Puritan conception that America's mission was to serve as a 
moral paradigm for the rest of the world" and from our belief that our 
political, economic and technological successes made America "a model 
that others naturally aspire to imitate." Many Americans have believed 
that the lack of progress by Asians, Africans or Latin Americans toward 
our "American way of life" stems from their inadequate efforts rather 
than inadequate American teaching or aid or flaws in us as a model. Our 
history has also "fostered an overly rationalistic and voluntaristic view 
of the nature of social change" and Americans believe that "individual 
and local group initiative and cooperation . . . can be readily adopted 
and applied in any society once their merits have been rationally explain- 
ed." Because Americans do not study "third world" societies they do 
not understand the kind or magnitude of problems there, or why change 
is so slow. Frustrated in dealing with Asians, Africans and Latin Ameri- 
cans, we have tended "to dismiss them as morally deficient and incom- 
petent and hence not likely to accomplish very much."2o 

American diplomacy in the nineteenth century bore the burden of 
such attitudes. Small wonder that the Buchanan administration could 
assume that Mexico would sell us part of itself, for neither Presidents 
Pierce and Buchanan nor Secretaries of State William Marcy and Lewis 
Cass understood Mexican feelings toward the United States. 

American diplomacy between 1820 and 1890 also bore the burden 
of American attitudes toward diplomacy itself. There was decreasing 
concern with international politics, decreasing grasp of national interest, 
decreasing levels of skill among our diplomats, increasing use of diplo- 
matic posts in playing the patronage game, and no general attempt to 
professionalize the foreign service. America may have agreed with Enro- 

ll Ruth Miller Elson, Guardians of Tradition: American School Books of the 
Nineteenth Century (Lincoln, Nebraska, 1964), pp. 1-11, 156-65. 
20 Theodore Geiger, The Conflicted Relationship: The West and the Transfor- 
mation of Asia, Africa, and Latin America (New York, 1967), pp. 35-43. 

peans in believing that the United States was not a great power but 
failed to grasp important European behefs: the great powers were re- 
sponsible for peace among the small nations, a professional diplomatic 
service was essential, and "'sound negotiation must be continuous and 
confidential. "21 

Consider how most men entered the foreign service in the nineteenth 
century. Though some wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, most 
were political appointees and Warren Ilchman says, bluntly, '"The one 
qualification in force throughout the period was a 'connection' . . . with 
the party in power. "^2 Hodgson alone of the men in this volume was 
chosen for his linguistic expertise; the others had a partisan connection. 
This was hardly unusual. Indeed, two of our later professional diplomats 
began in similar ways. John W. Foster as a young lawyer in Indiana as- 
sisted so effectively in the election campaign of 1872 that Senator Oliver 
P. Morton told him, in effect, to pick any federal job that he wanted. 
Foster and his wife thought it would be nice to give their children ex- 
perience abroad and he asked for the legation at Bern, Switzerland. He 
was offered Mexico and took the post, somewhat to his own surprise. ^3 
Joseph C. Grew, of a wealthy Boston family, having graduated from Har- 
vard and travelled widely, did not want to enter business, thought diplo- 
macy a pleasant life and applied for an appointment. He almost failed 
to be appointed until Alford Cooley, Assistant Attorney General and a 
close friend of the Grew family, told President Theodore Roosevelt of 
Grew's having shot and killed a tiger in south China. Said Roosevelt, 
"By Jove, I'll have to do something for that young man," and the next 
day named Grew Third Secretary of the Embassy in Mexico City. 24 If 
Foster and Grew did well despite their political or felicidal entry into 
diplomacy, many others served us ill. One thinks of Pierre Soule, who as 
Minister to Spain behaved more like a matador than a diplomat, wound- 
ing the French ambassador in a duel. 25 

What makes a good diplomat? Francois de Callieres, a renowned 
French envoy of Louis XIV's era, explained it all in De la maniere de 
negocier avec les Soiivemins. published in 1716, which we may call, 
"how to deal with princes." The diplomat, he wrote, 

should remember that open dealing is the basis of confidence; 
he . . . will never rely for the success of his mission either on bad 
faith or on promises that he cannot execute. 

21 Harold Nicolson, The Evolution of Diplomacy (New York, 1966), pp. 100-103. 

22 Warren F. Ilchman, Professional Diplomacy in the United States, 1779-1939 
(Chicago, 1961), pp. 3, 11. 41-42, 50-51. 

23 John W. Foster, Diplomatic Memoirs (Boston, 1909), I, 3-5. 

24 Joseph C. Grew, Turbulent Era (Boston, 1952), I, 12-13. 

25 William Barnes and John Heath Morgan, The Foreign Service of the United 
States (Washington, 1961), pp. 94-95. 

The use of deceit in diplomacy is by its very nature limited, since 

there is no curse that comes quicker to roost than a lie that has 

been found out. 

Menaces always do harm to negotiation, since they often push 

a party to extremes to which they would not have resorted but 

for provocation. 

The good diplomatist must have an observant mind, a gift of 

application . . . , a sound judgment which takes the measure of 

things as they are. . . . 

The good negotiator must have the gift of penetration such ns 
will enable him to discern the thoughts of men and to deduce 
from the least movement of their features which passions are 
stirring within. 

The good diplomatist must be quick, resourceful, a good list- 
ener, courteous and agreeable. 

Above all [he] must possess enough self-control to resist the 
longing to speak before he has thought out what he intends to 

He must be able to simulate dignity even if he does not possess 
it. . . . Courage also is an essential quality, since no timid man can 
hope to bring a confidential negotiation to success. The negotia- 
tor must possess the patience of a watch-maker, and be devoid 
of personal prejudices. He must have a calm nature, be able to 
suffer fools gladly, and should not be given to drink, gambling, 
women, irritability, or any other wayward humors. . . . [He] 
should study history and memoirs, be acquainted with foreign 
institutions and habits, and be able to tell where, in any foreign 
country, the real sovereignty lies. 

Everyone who enters the profession . . . should know the Ger- 
man, Italian and Spanish languages, . . . also have some knowl- 
edge of literature, science, mathematics, and law. Finally he 
should entertain handsomely. A good cook is often an excellent 
conciliator. 26 

Charles Thayer lists a good diplomat's quahties as: honesty, avoiding 
"localitis" or the belief that his spot is the center of all world affairs, 
political sensitivity, the ability to remain calm, acceptance of foreign 
peoples' ways, discretion, courage, wit if it is well controlled, and train- 
ing in history, geography, economics and languages. ^'^ 

Applying these criteria to our four diplomats insofar as we know 
them and their abilities, how do they measure up? Hodgson was obvious- 

26 Quoted in Nicolson, Evolution of Diplomacy, pp. 88-90; for the full text see 
A.F. Whyte, trans., On the Manner of Negotiating with Princes (Notre Dame, 

2'^ Tliayer, Diplomat, pp. 240-49. 

ly the best prepared of the four in languages and study of the region 
he dealt with; he had an observant mind, worked hard at his job, had 
political sense, accepted foreign ways, and was uncommonly successful 
in his mission in that he provided solid information upon which policy 
could be based. 

Forsyth had political sense and knew Mexico, but he knew it as a 
hostile army officer and as one who wished the United States to domi- 
nate it. He had too little self control, far too much personal prejudice 
and inadequate background for his mission. Overreaching what his own 
government wished and then instructed to ask what Mexico would never 
do, he failed in his mission. 

Ward had no specific preparation for his diplomatic task, knew no 
Chinese, knew little of Asian culture or history, but was evidently a 
superb negotiator in general. He possessed an observant mind, applied 
himself to his job, had dignity, self-control, patience, courage, calmness; 
and was willing to accept foreign ways up to a point. He was evidently 
prejudiced in that he shared the usual American attitude of superiority 
to Chinese. He accomplished the one specific requirement of his mis- 
sion, exchanging ratifications of the Treaty of Tientsin, and did write 
reports somewhat inferior in quality to those of Hodgson on the Near 
East. By nineteenth century diplomatic standards he was over-sensitive 
about kneeling to an enthroned sovereign. 

Blount was honest, calm, observant, patient and a hard worker in 
accululating evidence, courteous and agreeable to both sides of the 
Hawaiian annexation question without accepting favors from either, 
wrote a report which affected presidential policy making, and handled 
himself with dignity and courage before a hostile Senate Foreign Rela- 
tions Committee. While his recommendation to restore the Hawaiian 
monarchy did not ultimately prevail, he was one of few nineteenth cen- 
tury Americans who had respect for "native" governments. His attitude 
was noticeably more enlightened than that of Allan Nevins, who fifty 
years later dealt with Hawaii in his biography of Grover Cleveland and 
dismissed its culture in these words: "What civilization existed there 
was Anglo-American in origin. "^s 

Forsyth's experience is a microcosm of nineteenth century American 
diplomacy. The Buchanan administration, in seeking to acquire more 
Mexican territory, aroused lively suspicions toward the United States, 
souring relations which had been improving. Forsyth's own treaty went 
beyond what Mexicans would have preferred in American influence, 
and he appears to have had so much concern for American interests 
that he neglected Mexican feelings and interests. Thwarted, Forsyth 
took out his frustrations on the Mexican foreign minister. 

28 Allan Nevins, Grover Cleveland (New York, 1941), p. 551. 

The United States has too often looked only at its own interests and 
desires, has sought only those and has sent agents abroad who had too 
little knowledge of and sensitivity toward other nations and peoples. 
Too often, it had ignored the limits of our power to achieve our goals 
and has failed to estimate the strength of opponents. Our often bitter 
relations with Mexico, our dogged support of Chiang Kai-shek in the 
face of Chinese realities, and our embittered attitude toward Mao's 
China are but a few examples of the results. 

At least, in the cases dealt with in this volume, our nineteenth cen- 
tury political appointees served the United States better, on the whole, 
than one had any right to expect. 

TO EGYPT, 1834 


Scholars of United States diplomatic history have long been con- 
cerned with the westward thrust of pioneers to fill out the continental 
hmits of the United States and with the subsequent push across the 
Pacific Ocean in pursuit of the lucrative China trade. But recendy some 
historians have turned their attention to the pioneers making up the 
procession of American merchants, missionaries, and mariners who 
ventured into the Near East in the nineteenth century. ^ Indeed, James 
Field has observed that Frederick Jackson Turner's standing at Cumber- 
land Gap ia 1893, looking west as American settlers pushed the frontier 
toward the Pacific, gave a definite direction to the writing of American 
history. Field suggests that had Turner stood instead at Gibraltar looking 
east, he would have observed an "equally distinguished procession" of 
American pioneers making their way toward the Levant. The American 
penetration of the Middle East, Field asserts, has been an almost for- 
gotten saga in the annals of United States history.^ William Brown 
Hodgson was one of the early American pioneers who made his way 
to the Middle East in the early nineteenth century. 

During the period following the War of 1812, many Americans 
turned from shipping to industry. This departure, brought on by British 
maritime policy during the war, required that the government provide 
a high tariff for the protection of infant industries and search out new 
markets for American merchants. Although Jacksonians eschewed the 
high tariff, a primary goal ot National Republicans, they did look out- 

*Associate Professor of History, West Georgia College, Carroll ton. Georgia. 

^ See Roy F. Nichols, Advance Agents of American Destiny (Philadelphia, 
1956); A.L. Tibawi, American Interests in Syria. 1800-1901: A Study of Educa- 
tional. Literary and Religious Work (Oxford. 1966); James A. Field, Jr.. America 
and the Mediterranean World, 7 77(5-i56'2 (Princeton, 1969); L.C. Wright, United 
States Policy toward Egypt. 1830-1914 (New York, 1969); Robert L. Daniel, 
American Philanthropy in the Near East, 1820-1960 (Athens, O., 1970); and 
Joseph L. Grabill, Protestant Diplomacy and the Near East: Missionary Influence 
on American Policy. 1810-1927 (Minneapolis, 1971). For a survey of work in 
progress in American-Middle Eastern relations, see John A. DeNovo, "Research- 
ing American Relations with the Middle East: The State of the Art, 1970," a 
paper delivered on June 17, 1969, at the National Archives Conference on the 
Archives of the United States Foreign Relations and soon to be published by 
the Ohio University Press. 

2 Field, Mediterranean World, 422-23. 


ward in quest of new markets. In pursuing a policy of overseas commer- 
cial expansion, Jackson's Department of State was able to negotiate 
trade treaties with the British and Turks in 1830 and with Russia in 1832. 
Some Jacksonians even considered the possibility of obtaining the right 
to dig a canal through Nicaragua. While the latter was only a fond dream, 
diplomats during the Jacksonian era did push into the Far East and 
obtain the right to trade with Muscat and Siam. 

Unfortunately, the American passion for overseas commercial ex- 
pansion did not bear fruit in the Near East in the years following the 
negotiation of the Turco-American Treaty of 1830. In 1833 the Depart- 
ment of State decided to explore the possibility of opening new avenues 
of trade with Egypt. 

Egypt had long been an integral portion of the Ottoman Empire, 
but by 1833 her position in the Empire was doubtful. Mehemet Ali, the 
Turkish Pasha or viceroy in the Land of the Nile, had established him- 
self as virtual dictator in the early 1830's. Although the American treaty 
of 1830 with Turkey gave American merchants the right to trade 
in Egypt, Mehemet All's defiance of the Sublime Porte made it question- 
able whether the right to trade still held good. Desiring to ascertain 
the relationship between the Pasha and the Porte, and hopeful of find- 
ing new commercial opportunities in Egypt, the Department of State 
decided to send William Brown Hodgson to Egypt as a secret agent. 

Hodgson was born in Georgetown, District of Columbia, on Septem- 
ber 1, 1801, the eldest son of Joseph and Rebecca Hodgson. He attended 
the Georgetown School of the Reverend James Carnahan, a Presbyterian 
clergyman who later became president of Princeton. Young Hodgson, 
taking the classical course, had liberal doses of Latin and Greek. Al- 
though he never attended the university, Princeton awarded him an 
honorary A.M. in 1824. ^ 

In that same year of 1824 Hodgson made application on April 29 
to Secretary of State John Quincy Adams for a position in the Depart- 
ment of State. His application carried the endorsement of Francis Scott 
Key, who said that he had known Hodgson since boyhood and that he 
possessed "excellent talents and an uncommon faculty in acquiring 
languages. . . ."'* In 1825, Adams, now President, appointed Hodgson 

^ Sqq Dictionary of American Biography. (1st Supplement), 412-13 and Leonard 
L. Mackall, "William Brown Hodgson," Georgia Historical Quarterly. XV (De- 
cember, 1931). 324-45. 

^ DepaitmenL of State, Letters of Application and Recommendation, Monroe 
Administration, 1817-25, File of Wm. B. Hodgson, No. 0073, Record Group 59. 
National Archives. 


as the Department of State's first language officer^ for the purpose of 
acquiring training in Oriental languages in order to facilitate the con- 
duct of the nation's diplomacy with states in the Middle East. Henry 
Clay, Adams' Secretary of State, duly assigned Hodgson to William 
Shaler, the American Consul-General near the Barbary States at Algiers.^ 

A brief survey of Hodgson's diplomatic career prior to his departure 
for Egypt indicates that he achieved the high degree of professional 
expertise that John Quincy Adams had attempted to infuse into the De- 
partment of State during his tenure as Secretary of State. Hodgson 
served faithfully at Algiers between 1826 and 1829. Working under 
Shaler, he made admirable progress in the study of Arabic and Turkish. 
Ultimately, he was able to use the latter tongue to translate the 1816- 
Algerian-American treaty from Turkish into English. Following Shaler's 
departure from Algiers. Hodgson served as Charge' d'Affaires, 1827-29. 
While so serving, he submitted a number of excellent reports to the 
Department of State on the French blockade of Algiers, precursory to 
French conquest of that state in 1830."^ 

The young diplomat returned in late 1829 to Washington, where he 
took a post with the Department as a clerk. But in 1831, Secretary of 
State Martin Van Buren ordered him to proceed to Constantinople, 
there to deliver dispatches to Commodore David Porter, the new Ameri- 
can Charge d'Affaires and to assist in the exchange of the ratification 
of the 1830 treaty between Turkey and the United States. Hodgson re- 
turned from his mission in the winter of 1832, but not for long; spring 
found him returning to the Turkish capital to assume the position of 
dragoman* in the legation. He arrived in June and all went well until 
December when he began to complain about the unprofessional conduct 
of Commodore Porter. Hodgson lamented his superior's practice of 
nepotism, reporting to the Secretary of State that Porter had virtually 
excluded him from his duties in order to make place in the Legation for 
Porter's two nephews. For the remainder of his stay at Constantinople, 
the young career diplomat plied the Department with complaints about 
the Commodore's conduct, and begged for a transfer to some other 

^ Charles Francis Adams, ed., Memoris of John Quincy Adams: Comprising 
Portions of his Diary from 7795-7545 (New York, 1969), VIII, 170-71. 

6 Adams, ed.. Memoirs. VII. 106-07. 

'^ With respect to Hodgson's career at Algiers, I have consulted Department 
of State Dispatches, Algiers, RG 59, NA; 'the William Shaler MSS, Historical 
Society of Penna., Philadelphia: the Peter Force MSS, Library of Congress; 
Barbary," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. LXXIV (January, 
1950), 113-41. 

*Interpreter. This term is commonly used in the Middle East. 


post, preferably one of those on the Barbary coast. The feud culminated 
with Midshipman David Dixon Porter, the Commodore's son, giving 
Hodgson a beating.^ 

Unknown to Hodgson or Porter, word was on the way ordering the 
former detached from the post at Constantinople. The detachment came 
about in this manner. In June, 1833, Captain David Patterson, U.S. Navy, 
advised Secretary of State Edward Livingston that Mehemet Ali was 
virtually independent of Turkey and quite willing to make a commercial 
treaty with the United States. Patterson expressed the wish that he be 
given the task.^ This note apparently stimulated the Department's in- 
terest in Egypt, because on October 10, 1833, Secretary of State Louis 
McLane, successor to Livingston, advised Hodgson that he was with- 
drawn from the legation at Constantinople and was to proceed immedi- 
ately to Egypt as a "confidential agent" to determine if Mehemet Ali 
of Egypt were free to make commercial treaties with foreign powers. 
The Secretary also requested Hodgson to "ascertain the Pasha's dis- 
position towards the United States," to estimate the extent of commer- 
cial intercourse between Egypt and the other powers, to furnish an 
evaluation of the state of the European consulates in Egypt, to collect 
data that might be useful to American merchants in trading with Egypt, 
and to discover the best means for improving commercial relations 
between Egypt and the United States. ^° Needless to say, Hodgson was 
overjoyed, because he had feared that Porter's malice toward him, as 
expressed in frequent recriminations to the Department of State, had 
wrecked his promising diplomatic career. Writing to McLane, the young 
dragoman acknowledged his gratitude "for this expression of the un- 
diminished confidence of my government. . . ."^^ 

Hodgson kept the Department informed of conditions in the Near 
East and on the course of the progress of his mission. He wrote an ex- 
cellent summary of events in the Levant, indicating a keen grasp of the 
complicated facets of the Near Eastern Question that had plagued Euro- 
pean chancelleries for many years. ^2 With respect to relations between 

^ For Hodgson's career at Constantinople, I have consulted Department of State 
Dispatches, Turkey, RG 59, NA; the David Porter MSS, Library of Congress; 
David Porter, Constantinople and its Environs, by an American (2 vols.. New 
York, 1835); David Dixon Porter, Memoir of Commodore David Porter of the 
United States Navy (Albany, N.Y., 1875); James E. DeKay, S/ietches of Turkey 
in 1831 and 1832, by an American (New York, 1833); Archibald D. Turnbull, 
Commodore David Porter, (New York, 1929); and Finnic, Pioneers East and 
Field, Mediterranean World. 

^ Patterson to Livingston, June 19, 1833, DSD, Turkey. 

10 Dept. of State, Special Missions, Inst., #1 to W.B. Hodgson, October 10. 1833, 

11 Hodgson to McLane, June 4, 1834, DSD, Turkey. 

12 Hodgson to McLane, June 10, 1834, Ibid. 


Mehemet Ali and the Porte, he advised that "opinion is entertained here 
that a rupture ... is as inevitable as is his independence sure.''^^ in an- 
other note, the young diplomat wrote that he had read in the Alexandria 
Arabic Gazette that Mehemet AH was defiant and making warhke pre- 
parations.^'* With regard to his mission, Hodgson, aware that he must 
keep his purpose confidential so as not to engender the ill will of the 
Turks, advised McLane that he would depart Constantinople on July 7 
and travel as a "private gentleman." He said he would communicate 
with the Department by means of cipher when necessary. He told of his 
intention to travel to Syria, recently brought under Egyptian hegemony 
by force of arms, and also to the agricultural regions of Egypt. So as not 
to arouse Turkish suspicions, he said that he planned to travel overland 
to Smyrna where he hoped to charter a small vessel to carry him 
to Egypt. 

Hodgson's journey to Egypt was uneventful. He arrived at Alexandria 
on July 2i, having touched at the islands of Stanchio, Rhodes, 
and Cyprus, and made a brief visit to Beirut, the Syrian port of entry. 
At Alexandria, Egyptian authorities compelled him to endure a rigorous 
2i-day quarantine. 

In the process of fulfilling his instructions, Hodgson submitted a 
preliminary report and two intelligence reports. In these he dealt, in 
large measure, with the relationship between the Egyptian Pasha and 
the Turkish Sultan, but he also provided a profile of the Egyptian eco- 
nomic picture, giving some emphasis to the development of an Egyptian- 
American trade. He advised that the Pasha was still viable, had only 
recently put down a revolt in Palestine, and was then awaiting an attack 
by the Sultan's forces on Aleppo with a view to restoring Syria to the 
Ottoman Empire. Hodgson observed that "Mehemet Ali presents the 
phenomenon, not uncommon in the Ottoman annals, of a prince de 
facto independent, and de nomine subject, to the Sublime Porte, paying 
no assessed tribute, and yet making large voluntary presents." ^^ He 
advised that the condition of quasi independence that now obtained 
would soon become full independence whenever the Pasha asserted 
himself to the fullest. 

Hodgson also devoted considerable space in his reports to Egyptian 
economic production. In fact, he devoted himself almost wholly to com- 
merce in the preliminary report. He noted that interviews with Mehemet 
Ali and Boghos Bey, director of external commerce, disclosed "that a 
more intimate connection might in future subsist betv»'een the two coun- 

ts Hodgson to McLane, July 7, 1834, Ibid. 

14 Hodgson to McLane. July 7, 1834, Ibid. 

15 Hodgson to McLane, August 25, 1834, Ibid. 


tries." Hodgson also interviewed Habib Effendi, the Lieutenant Gover- 
nor, who gave him a thorough survey of the resources of Egypt. Tne 
American agent concluded that Egyptian produce was very similar to 
that of the United States. He compared that country to the plantation 
South, saying that it was a land of "agricultural wealth beyond measure." 
He stated that the Pasha, as in Pharaonic times, took responsibility for 
seeding the crops and inspecting their progress. Despite Egyptian eco- 
nomic similarities, Hodgson suggested that the modest, existing com- 
merce might be augmented. He stressed that a number of Egyptian 
products could be exported to meet American demands, and listed such 
items as opium, gum Arabic, henna, incense, salt, saltpetre, flax-seed, 
dates, sesame, linen, and ostrich feathers as examples. Hodgson recom- 
mended that American merchants make their purchases in the winter, 
because this was the season when Arabs conveyed their products to 
market. In return, he suggested that the United States might export to 
Egypt such items as coal, tar and pitch, resin, turpentine, mahogany, 
lignum vita, dyes, rum, tobacco, pepper, pimento, cloves, sugar, candles, 
cotton goods, copper, lead, iron, lumber, staves and oars.^^ 

Having inspected the important agricultural regions, talked to hi^h 
government officials, studied the country's customs records, Hodgson 
departed Egypt in early November. He traveled via Malta and reached 
the United States in late February, 1835. He promptly filed his report to 
Secretary of State John Forsyth on March 2.^'^ 

Hodgson first addressed himself to Mehemet All's treaty-making 
power. He pointed out that the Pasha "exercised all the attributes of 
sovereignty" but that he had never "asserted his independence" and 
still acknowledged himself as a "vassal" of the Sultan. Hodgson stated 
that the Pasha's condition vis-a-vis the Sultan was one of "de facto in- 
dependence and nominal subjection," a fact disclosed in an earlier re- 
port. He observed, however, that Mehemet Ali had neither exercised 
his treaty-making power nor had he entered into any commercial 
arrangements with any of them. He indicated that Britain and France, 
pursuing their respective national interests, were encouraging Mehemet 
Ali to assert his independence of the Sultan. 

Regarding the second subject of his inquiry, a description of consular 
activities in Egypt, Hodgson furnished the Department with a remark- 
able account of diplomatic usage in the Near East. After listing the vari- 
ous consuls, he delineated the organization of the British consular 
organization, maintaining that it was the standard of diplomatic excel- 
lence and efficiency in the Near East. He declared that several of the 

16 Hodgson to McLane, August 25, 1834 and September 28, 1834; Hodgson to 
Forsyth, December 2 and 13, 1834, Ibid. 

1'^ Hodgson to Forsyth, March 2, 1834, Ibid. 


powers employed students to study Oriental languages with a view to 
becoming trained for the office of dragoman. Recalling Commodore 
Porter's replacing him with two totally unprepared nephews, Hodgson 
warned that language students should not be chosen from among the 
"nephews and relatives of consuls'" but rather from among university 
graduates, well versed in language study. Moreover, he stated that all 
legations employed a chancellor, because the capitulatory regime al- 
lowed the legations the right of exterritoriality over its subjects, a right 
requiring the services of a man trained in the law. He cautioned that 
Mehemet Ali hoped to end the capitulations and bring Europeans under 
an Egyptian law code modeled on the Code Napoleon. 

The third topic of his report, an assessment of Egyptian commerce 
and industry, Hodgson had covered partially in his previous communi- 
cations. He declared that Egyptian commerce amounted to approxi- 
mately $17 million in 1832. The United States enjoyed no direct com- 
merce with Egypt at that time, although some indirect trade was carried 
on by American merchants in the Red Sea. He said that the Pasha re- 
spected all treaties existing between the Sublime Porte and foreign 
powers and that the commercial regulations of Turkey obtained in 
Egypt. He said that trade between Egypt and other lands was based on 
the most-favored-nation principle with all paying 3% import tax. 

Finally, Hodgson suggested that in order to facilitate trade it would 
be necessary for the Department to appoint a Consul-General in Cairo 
to protect American interests. In all probability, Hodgson asserted, such 
an official would have strength and prestige to further the sale of Ameri- 
can ships, naval stores, and military supplies, which the Pasha badly 
needed. He concluded with the admonition that a treaty between the 
United States and Egypt would not be necessary because the Pasha ac- 
cepted the 1830 Turco-American treaty as having the force of law in 
Egypt. But even though a treaty was not desirable, Hodgson advised 
that the Pasha very definitely wanted to further commercial and diplo- 
matic relations. 

Inasmuch as Hodgson's mission resulted in no treaty with Egypt and 
produced no marked increase in trade, what can be concluded about 
the mission? During the 1830"s the United States was still a young nation, 
no longer enjoying the benefits of the British Empire with its far-flung 
commercial and diplomatic network. It was necessary to dispatch agents 
to the remote corners of the earth to advance American commercial 
and diplomatic interests and bring back vitally needed information. In 
this respect Hodgson provided a valuable service — because like John 
Ledyard, Luther Bradish, William Shaler, and a host of merchants, mis- 
sionaries, and naval officers— he provided a fund of knowledge con- 
cerning commercial practice and diplomatic usage in the Middle East. 
Subsequently, Hodgson wrote a lengthy "Biographical Sketch of Mo- 
hammed Ali, Pacha [sic] of Egypt, Syria, and Arabia," which Peter 
Force published in 1837. 


The Department did follow Hodgson's advice and elevate the Ameri- 
can consular agent at Alexandria to the rank of Consul-General. Hodg- 
son's mission also served as a model for other such missions sent out 
later in the century. To the extent that he created a feeling of amity and 
respect between the Pasha and the United States, he laid the foundation 
for closer relations and greater trade between the two nations in the 
post-Civil War era. 

Hodgson's Egyptian mission ended on a happy note for both himself 
and for his former superior Commodore Porter. As the Commodore 
wrote his wife, "my mind is more at ease, for I have not that puppy Hodg- 
son to vex me."^^ Hodgson was greatly relieved to know that Secretary 
of State Forsyth quashed the Commodore's request for the Department 
to censure Hodgson. ^^ The young diplomat continued in the Foreign 
Service for about seven more years. The Department sent him on a 
mission to Tangier in 1835. In 1836 he was posted to London, to Wash- 
ington in 1837, and finally to Tunisia as Consul-General in 1841. He 
resigned from the service in 1842 when he married Miss Margaret Tel- 
fair in London, and settled down in Savannah, Georgia to a life 
of scholarship and business, ^o 

18 Porter to Evelina Porter, March 20, 1835, David Porter MSS 

19 Forsyth to Porter, September 10, 1835, Dept. of St. Instr. 

20 Following his death in 1871, his wife donated to the Georgia Historical Soci- 
ety the building known as Hodgson Hall. The building was dedicated in 1876 
and has served since that time as the Society's archive. Hodgson's manuscript 
collection is held in this archive. 




Traditionally, historians have distinguished between American ex- 
pansion before the Civil War and that which emerged in the decades 
following that great American struggle. Professor Albert K. Weinberg 
refers to the former as agricultural Manifest Destiny, and the latter as 
commercial Manifest Destiny. The first type of expansion involves the 
direct acquisition of new territory for agriculture, while the second in- 
volves trade expansion.^ This traditional interpretation of American 
expansion was challenged in the 1950's by such revisionist historians as 
William Appleman Williams and Norman Graebner who feel that the 
expansion prior to the Civil War was due to demands for increased trade 
and commerce as well as agriculture. ^ John Forsyth, Minister to Mexico 
in the late 1850"s, espoused a policy designed to dominate that country 
economically and commercially. Unwittingly, he was a precursor of 
the brand of expansion that became increasingly noticeable after 1865. 
Forsyth's project also helps document the view of the revisionists and 
is the more remarkable because the South was supposed to be the center 
of land acquisition while the North espoused commercial expansion. 

Forsyth, a native Georgian, was the son of the distinguished poli- 
tician, John Forsyth senior, who was Minister to Spain, member of Con- 
gress. Secretary of State under Jackson and Van Buren, and Governor 
of Georgia. The younger Forsyth displayed an early talent in editorial 
writing, serving as editor of the Columbus (Georgia) Times and the 
Mobile (Alabama) Register. His editorials were dedicated to preserving 
the Southern institutions and way of life. Forsyth, throughout most of 
his career, was a staunch supporter of the Democratic Party since he 
felt the Northern Democrats were the true allies of the South. As a re- 
sult of this support, Forsyth assumed a responsible role in the Alabama 
delegation to the 1856 Democratic nominating convention in Cincinnati. 
He and the Alabama delegation favored Franklin Pierce and continued 

*Assistant Professor of History, Brenau College, Gainesville, Georgia. 

^ See Albert K. Weinberg, Manifest Destiny: A Study of Nationalist Expan- 
sionism in American History (Chicago, 1935). 

2 See William A. Williams, "The Age of Mercantilism: An Interpretation of 
American Political Economy, 1783-1828," The William and Mary Quarterly. 
XV, 1958, 419-437, and The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (New York, 1962), 
pp. 18-19; Norman A. Graebner, Empire on the Pacific (New York, 1955), and 
his other writings on expansion. 


to vote for the incumbent after his chances were hopeless. Six weeks 
later, Pierce appointed Forsyth Minister to Mexico in recognition of 
his support at the convention. ^ 

Forsyth had served in the Mexican War and was a rabid disciple of 
the doctrine of Manifest Destiny and southern expansion at the expense 
of Mexico. The following statement indicates his views on expansion 
and White supremacy: 

I am of course a believer in what ... is termed "Manifest Des- 
tiny." In other words I believe in the teachings of experience and 
history, and that our race— 1 hope our institutions — are to spread 
over this continent and that the hybrid races of the West, must 
succumb to, and fade away before the superior energies of the 
the white man.^ 

Despite his open espousal of expansion, there was to occur in the 
first months of Forsyth's term a change in the character of American 
policy toward Mexico. The American Minister attempted to de-empha- 
size the territorial aspects of Manifest Destiny while stressing a United 
States policy of the 1900's in the Caribbean known as "Dollar 

Affairs in Mexico were in the usual state of disarray when Forsyth 
arrived in October, 1856. Two years earlier, the Liberals had ousted the 
egotistical dictator Antonio Lx5pez de Santa Anna. They hoped to build 
a nev/ economic and social order in Mexico by curtailing the traditional 
power and privileges of the Church, army, and aristocracy. But the 
moderate Liberal Ignacio Comonfort, provisional president, found it 
a difficult task to carry out this program because of internal and exter- 
nal difficulties. On the domestic scene, Comonfort was constantly har- 
rassed by the Conservatives and radical Liberals— the eternal dilemma 
faced by politicians who occupy the middle way. British economic and 
diplomatic pressures were the source of his external problems.^ 

3 David R. Chesnutt, -John Forsyth: A Southern Partisan (1865-1867)" (Un- 
published M.A. Thesis, Auburn University, 1967), pp. iv-vi, 6-11. 

4 John Forsyth to William L. Marcy, April 4, 1857, No. 29, Dispatches from the 
U.S. Ministers in Mexico to the U.S. Secretary of State, 1823-1906, Vols. 21-22, 
Records of the Department of State, Washington, National Archives. (Hereafter, 

5 J. Fred Rippy, The United States and Mexico (New York, 1931, pp. 212-213; 
Donathan C. Olliff, "John Forsyth's Ministership to Mexico, 1856-1859" (Un- 
published M.A. Thesis, Auburn University, 1966), p. 20. 

6 Jose' M. Vigil, La Reforma, Vol. V of Mexico a Traves de los Sighs, ed., 
Vicente Riva Palacio (5 Vols.; Mexico, 1962), pp. 56-62; Walter V. Scholes, 
Mexican Politics during the Juarez Regime, 1855-1872 (Columbia, Missouri, 
1969), p. 3. 

.<* 19 

Forsyth noted with chagrin the British domination of Mexico and 
the relatively weak position occupied by the United States. In view of 
this, the new Minister felt his instructions from Secretary of State Wil- 
liam L. Marcy were innocuous. He was primarily supposed to allay the 
impression that the United States had "sinister views" regarding Mexico 
and stress the "friendly regards and fair purposes of the United States." 
He was also to work toward the betterment of American commercial 
relations with Mexico, particularly in the direction of more favorable 
tariffs. 7 

Forsyth immediately learned that there were radical Liberals in the 
Mexican government, notably the Minister of Finance, Miguel Lerdo 
de Tejada, who favored an alliance with the United States which in ef- 
fect would amount to a protectorate. These officials felt that only the 
intervention or guarantee of the United States could secure a stable 
government in Mexico and preclude European intervention.^ The radi- 
cals, no doubt, wished to use their neighbor to the North to enhance 
their own power and entrench themselves in office. 

According to the contemporary Mexican historian Jose' Fuentes 
Mares, Miguel Lerdo, prompted by the fact that Mexico was financially 
destitute, initiated the idea of Mexico becoming an economic protec- 
torate of the United States. Fuentes Mares further contends that For- 
syth was greatly influenced by Lerdo's thinking.^ Whether this is true 
or not is a matter of conjecture. The evidence seems to indicate that 
both men contributed to the formulation of the economic protectorate 
concept. Each saw it in view of his own individual interests. 

Regardless of who initiated the idea, Forsyth was anxious to nego- 
tiate a treaty which would effect an American economic protectorate. 
He was very optimistic in mid-November 1856 when his good friend Ler- 
do was named Minister of Relations. Forsyth looked on the change as 
fortunate for the interests of the United States. Almost immediately 
upon assuming his new office. Lerdo formally opened the question of 
an American protectorate with the American Minister. Lerdo asked that 
a treaty with provisions for a loan and for the settlement of all outstand- 
ing questions be concluded as quickly as possible, "owing to the fre- 
quent changes of cabinet officers" in Mexico. i° 

'^ Forsyth to Marcy, November 8, 1856, No. 5, Dispatches; Marcy to Forsyth, 
August 16, 1856, No. 2, Instructions of the U.S. Secretary of State to the Ameri- 
can Minister in Mexico, 1823-1906. Vol. 16, General Records of the Depart- 
ment of State. Washington, National Archives. (Hereafter, Instructions). 

^ Forsyth to Marcy, November 8, 1856, No. 5, Dispatches. 

^ Jose' Fuentes Mares, Juarez y los Estados Unidos (Me'xico, 1964), pp. 58-59. 

10 Forsyth to Marcy, November 14, 1856, No. 6, Dispatches; Copy of the Report 
of an interview between Forsyth and Lerdo, National Palace, December 16, 
1856, enclosed with Forsyth to Marcy, December 19, 1856. No. 14, Dispatches. 


President Comonfort initially opposed the proposed treaty but in 
early February, 1857, driven by "hard necessities", he directed Lerdo 
to resume negotiations. In Forsyth's opinion, the "hard necessities" were 
of a financial nature. The rumor that a British fleet was on its way to 
Veracruz to enforce payment of debts by intervention undoubtedly in- 
fluenced Comonfort. 1^ 

The result was that agreements, consisting of three treaties and two 
conventions, were signed on February 10, 1857. The first was a routine 
postal convention; the second, a reciprocity treaty based upon that be- 
tween Great Britain and Canada and providing for free trade in certain 
commodities between the two countries across land and river frontiers; 
the third, a treaty for the adjustment of outstanding claims; the fourth, 
a treaty under which the United States would lend Mexico $15,000,000 
in return for trade concessions; while the fifth was a general convention 
which stipulated that rejection of one involved the rejection of 
the whole. With the exception of the loan treaty, all the agreements 
signed by Forsyth were covered by his instructions. In this he acted en- 
tirely on his own initiative. He had earlier requested instructions on the 
loan possibility but the situation in Mexico, however, forced him to act 
before they arrived. Forsyth justified his independent action on political 
and economic considerations. There were constant rumors that warships 
were arriving at Veracruz, and it seemed that such intervention would 
result in the establishment of a puppet government in Mexico. He felt 

that the United States should help the Liberal government meet such a 
challenge. ^2 

The American Minister further felt that the loan would be of great 
economic benefit to the United States. Forsyth had been greatly dis- 
turbed by the fact that Great Britain controlled such a large share of 
Mexico's trade. The loan would mean that this situation would be alter- 
ed with the United States replacing Great Britain as the leader in Mexi- 
co's foreign trade. ^^ 

By the terms of the loan treaty, the United States would lend Mexico 
fifteen million dollars. Three million dollars would be kept by the Unit- 
ed States Treasury to be used to settle American claims against Mexico. 
Four million dollars would be used to liquidate Mexico's debt to Great 

^^ Alberto Maria Carrerio, La Diplomacia Extraordinaria entre Mexico y los 
Estados Unidos, 1789-1947 (2 Vols; Mexico, 1951), II, 142-44; Forsyth to Marcy, 
February 2, 1857, No. 23, Dispatches. 

12 Ibid, February 10, 1857, No. 24. 

13 Ibid. 


Britain. 14 These seven million dollars would be repaid with four per 
cent interest. 15 The remaining eight million dollars would go directly 
to the Mexican government, and would be repaid indirectly thru a re- 
bate. This money would purchase commercial advantages, thus enabling 
the United States to dominate Mexico's economy, i*^ 

The rebate would apply to all American goods and to all European 
goods imported via the United States or in American vessels with the 
exception of cotton textiles. Only American manufactured cotton tex- 
tiles would enjoy the rebate; French printed calico and English clothes 
would thus be excluded from the Mexican market. Mexican goods ex- 
ported via the United States or in its ships would also be subject to re- 
bates. Forsyth predicted that the loan would more than double American 
commerce with Mexico and would turn the major portion of the Mexi- 
can-European trade through the United States. American manufacturers 
of cotton fabrics would be able to compete with those of Great Britain 
"for a series of years to come, instead of being, as now absolutely ex- 
cluded from the Mexican markets." The combined treaties, in Forsyth's 
opinion, would increase the United States' share of Mexico's foreign 
trade almost ten-fold. ^'^ 

In one of his many later statements justifying the loan, Forsyth said 
that he considered the loan as a purchase of commercial advantage to 
support a "political end — that being to sustain Mexico and keep her from 
falling to pieces, perhaps into the hands of Foreign Powers, until such 
time as we were ready to "Americanize' her." He looked on the loan as 
a "species of floating mortgage upon the territory of a poor neighbor, 
useless to her of great value to us," which in the end could be repaid 
by a "peaceful foreclosure with her [Mexico's] consent. "^^ 

The United States State Department and President Pierce did not 
see the treaties in the same light as did Forsyth. Partly because of the 

1"* This would prevent any British excuse for intervention and eliminate the 
"greatest lever of British political influence" on the Mexican government. For- 
syth to Marcy, February 10, 1857, No. 24, Dispatches. 

15 As a guarantee of repayment, thirteen per cent of all revenues taken from 
Mexican import duties would be assigned to the United States. Ibid. 

16 Ibid. Article 6 of the loan treaty specified a rebate of twenty i^er cent on all 
customs duties levied on trade between Mexico and the United States until such 
time as the total of the rebates equalled the eight million dollars plus four per 
cent interest. 

1'^ Forsyth to Marcy, February 18. 1857, No. 28, Dispatches; New York Times, 
March 11, 1857. 

18 Ibid., April 4, 1857, No. 29. 


unorthodox method employed by Forsyth in negotiating the treaties' 
they were never submitted to the Senate for ratification. Forsyth had 
acted outside of the usual procedure by introducing a new element into 
American diplomacy with his novel loan treaty. The treaties reached 
Washington on February 26, 1857, just seven days before the expiration 
of Pierce's term as President. The outgoing President expressed "weighty 
objections" to some of the treaties, primarily the unique loan treaty, 
and decided to take no action on them.^^ He simply left the matter to 
his successor, James Buchanan. 

Buchanan, a rennsylvanian with pro-Southern leanings, had been 
Secretary of State under President Polk during the hey-day of American 
expansion. He was a firm believer in further American expansion into 
Latin America as attested to by the fact that he had helped draw up the 
Ostend Manifesto which recommended the acquisition of Cuba by force. 

The new President, however, disagreed with the reasoning behind 
the proposed treaties. Adhering to the more traditional forms of Mani- 
fest Destiny, he favored the acquisition by purchase of all or part of the 
northern Mexican states and territories of Baja California, Sinaloa, So- 
nora. Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila, Nuevo Leo'n, and Tamaulipas. 
To Buchanan, Forsyth's treaty was a radical and dangerous departure 
from traditional American commercial policy based on reciprocity and 
the most-favored-nation principle. 20 

Forsyth felt that he had not risked any great responsibility in meeting 
the situation as he did. He had simply taken advantage of the "'golden 
opportunity" offered to him. He knew of the general feeling of many 
Americans who favored the further acquisition of territory in Mexico. 
But he expressed confidence that his government did not desire the grat- 
ification of this "public appetite" at the expense of the honor, dignity, 
and justice of her neighbor. Forsyth admitted that when he had begun 
negotiations the subject of territory had been fully in his thoughts; but 
it was one that could not have been broached directly to Mexico with 
any show of prudence. In the plan of Ayutla which brought the Comon- 
fort government into power, the alienation of national territory was 
depreciated as an act little short of treasonable. Comonfort pledged 
against ever consenting to it and publicly stated that he would sooner 
die than alienate a foot of Mexican soil. In short, Forsyth found it im- 
possible to acquire territory immediately and so he did the next best 
thing, which was to "pave the way for the acquisition hereafter 
of Mexico . . . ."21 

1^ Marcy to Forsyth, March 3, 1857, No. 11, Instructions. 

20 Ibid. Cass to Forsyth, July 17, 1857, Nos. 27 and 28, and March 11, 1857, No. 
12; James M. Callahan, American Foreign Policy in Mexican Relations (New 
York, 1967), pp. 245-46. 

21 Forsyth to Cass, April 4, 1857, No. 29, Dispatches. 


Ignoring Forsyth's arguments, the Buchanan administration instruct- 
ed him to begin negotiations for an outright purchase of the provinces 
of Baja CaHfornia, Sonora and the portion of Chihuahua north of the 
thirtieth parallel. He was also directed to reaffirm by treaty the United 
States' transit rights in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Buchanan was in- 
fluenced in this by two Southern friends, Judah P. Benjamin, the former 
Whig senator from Louisiana, and Robert Toombs, senator from Geor- 
gia. Both men had a special interest in the Tehuantepec transit route, 
and also in plans for a charter of a railroad from the Rio Grande to 
Tiburon preparatory to the purchase of Sonora. Toombs recommended 
Benjamin as a replacement for the Mexican mission, but Buchanan, des- 
pite his disagreement with Forsyth, decided to retain the latter as Min- 
ister provided he forget about the February 10 treaties. 22 

Impeded by the domestic upheaval in Mexico. Forsyth was unsuc- 
cessful in carrying out these instructions and was severely reprimanded 
by Secretary of State Lewis Cass in November for his failure. The Ameri- 
can Minister was in the process of negotiating with Mexican authorities 
at the time of the reprimand, and these talks continued until the spring 
of 1858. In March, President Fe'lix Zuloaga, the Conservative general 
who had ousted Comonfort a few months earlier, agreed to sell the de- 
sired territory. Shortly thereafter, however, there was a reversal of this 
decision. The exasperated Forsyth urged his government to use force 
to induce Mexico to meet her obligations, and incidentally to enable 
the United States to secure territory: "You want Sonora? The American 
blood spilled near its line would justify you in seizing it . . . You want 
other territory? Send me power to make ultimate demand for the settle- 
ment of the several millions Mexico owes our people . . . ."^3 

Shortly after this dispatch to Washington, Forsyth engaged in heated 
correspondence with Luis Cuevas, the Mexican Minister of Relations, 
ostensibly over Americans being compelled to pay a tax which in For- 
syth's view amounted to a "forced loan." The real reason for Forsyth's 

22 Cass to Forsyth, July 17, 1857, Nos. 27 and 28, Instructions; Robert Toombs 
to W.W. Burweil, March 30, 1857, in U.B. Phillips, ed., "The Correspondence 
of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens and Howell Cobb," Annual Report 
of the American Historical Association for 1911 (2 Vols; Washington, 1913), 
II, 399. 

23 Cass to Forsyth, November 17, 1857, No. 33, Instructions; Forsyth to Cass, 
April 8, 1858, No. 73, and April 15, 1858, private letter. Dispatches. According 
to Buchanan's most recent biographer, this undiplomatic language reflected 
American reaction to the execution of the Henry A. Crabb expedition, the slay- 
ing by Mexicans of a group of Americans [allegedly] inside the United States 
border, and a "host of less spectacular executions, arrests, property seizures, 
and studied insults to official American agents." Philip S. Klein, President James 
Buchanan: A Biography (University Park, Pa., 1962), p. 322. 


undiplomatic stance toward Cuevas was the former's disappointment 
at tiie failure of his negotiations for territory. This friction culminated 
in suspension of diplomatic relations by Forsyth on June 21, 1858. The 
Administration sanctioned Forsyth's actions and ordered the embittered 
Minister home^^— an ignoble end to a frustrating term in Mexico. 

The February 10 treaties and Forsyth's other ideas for an American 
protectorate signalled the approach of a new type of imperialism which 
was to be prevalent in the United States' foreign relations after the Civil 
War. Forsyth was unaware of his role as a pioneer in the field of foreign 
affairs. He was a dyed-in-the-wool Southerner, as evidenced by his edi- 
torials in the 1840"s and 1850's, who had an unyielding faith in "King 
Cotton" and the Southern way of life. Agriculture, not trade and com- 
merce, was important to him and his beloved South. He did, however, 
understand the realities of political power in the United States and how 
this power was shifting and following the commercial North. It is highly 
probable that Forsyth wanted the United States to dominate Mexico 
much the same way as he saw the North increasingly dominating the 

Forsyth also understood the realities of Mexican politics, and there- 
fore was thoroughly convinced that no Mexican President would sell 
territory to the United States. The only choice left was an economic 
protectorate. Through this indirect device, the United States could dom- 
inate Mexico's trade and commerce without exerting formal political 
control, thus avoiding the responsibilities that are concomitant with 
annexation. This latter idea, rather than being farsighted, was no doubt 
a mere reflection of Forsyth's often-expressed sense of Anglo-Saxon 

Regardless of his motives, Forsyth unwittingly was in tune with the 
tenor of the times. The United States was in the midst of a great change 
from an agrarian to an industrial nation in the decades just prior to the 
Civil War, and Forsyth's actions in Mexico were a reflection of this 

24 Forsyth to Cass, June 1, 1858, No. 77 and June 25, 1858, No. 49, Dispatches; 
Chesnutt, "Southern Partisan," p. 15. 

25 See Olliff, "Forsyth," pp. 121-22. 




Expansionism was a way of life to Americans of tiie mid-nineteenth 
century who had pushed their frontier to the Pacific Ocean. The China 
Trade, inaugurated in 1784 and popularized by the sleek Yankee Clip- 
pers, excited the imagination of Americans of vision. Protection for and 
development of this Asian commerce, along with other considerations, 
prompted America's Treaty of Wanghia with China in 1844. The astute 
Yankee Caleb P. Cushing negotiated the treaty which followed China's 
humiliating defeat by England in the First Opium War. Cushing insisted 
on the "most favored nation"" principle, thereby obtaining all privileges 
for the United States granted to the British and other powers and, in 
addition, the right of extraterritoriality. ^ 

Missionaries, naval personnel, merchants, and politicians soon made 
Americans aware of the Celestial Kingdom; some argued for a more 
forceful and imaginative policy toward China. For example, a South 
Carolinian in 1849 believed that "the future history of the world must 
be achieved in the East. . . . The United States," he wrote, "are upon 
the coast of the Pacific, looking over the ocean with all the recklessness 
of adventure and thirst for gold.""^ America, he contended, was as much 
concerned with Asia as any nation in Europe; its Eastern commerce and 
Pacific settlements gave it the "privilege of neighborhood. '"^ 

In the Congress Northerners and Southerners were joined by the 
Californians in seeking improved commerce and communication with 
the East. Most Americans hoped for a transcontinental railroad and 
expansion in the Pacific area; all agreed that the United States had an 
excellent chance to challenge England's supremacy in China. ^ 

*Professor and Head Department of History. Valdosta State College, Valdosta, 

^ See John King Fairbank, et al. East Asia: The Modern Transformation (Bos- 
ton, 1965). p. 146; Thomas A. Bailey, A Diplomatic History of the American 
People. (8th ed., New York, 1969), pp. 299-305; Paul H. Clyde and Burton F. 
Beers. The Far East: A History of the Western Impact and the Eastern Response, 
1830-1970 (5th ed., Englevvoo'd Cliffs, N.J.. 1971), chap. 6, passim. 

2 William Henry Trescott, Thoughts on the Foreign Policy of the United States 
(Chadeston, 1849). p. 9. 

•^ Ibid., pp. 10-12. 

•^ Huan Ma Wen, American Policy Between China and America as Revealed 
in the Debates in Congress (Shanghai, n.d.), pp. 22-37. 


Embroiled in domestic questions of the gravest concern during the 
decade of the 1850's, the United States nonetheless followed a surpris- 
ingly active, if erratic, foreign policy which included a growing interest 
in the Far East. In 1854, Commodore Matthew H. Perry "opened" Japan 
where he established American preeminence. When the British and 
French in 1856 became engaged in the Second Opium War with China, 
the United States refused to participate because of her long policy of 
nonentanglement. President James Buchanan, himself once Secretary 
of State, formulated a China policy largely predicated upon a neutrality 
during the Taiping Rebellion which shook the very foundations of the 
Celestial Empire; a refusal to join the Anglo-French expedition and, 
consequently, a cooperation with Russia; and a settlement of America's 
diplomatic and consular problems arising from increased trade and 

Buchanan sent William Bradford Reed as minister plenipotentiary 
and envoy extraordinary to China in 1857 as a political reward. Reed 
showed diplomatic skill in obtaining from the Chinese further conces- 
sions in the Treaty of Tientsin of June 18, 1858, a liberal extension and 
revision of the 1844 treaty. In sum. the treaty, along with those granted 
the European nations following the Second Chinese War, eventually 
opened China to the West. Particularly significant were those articles 
which granted toleration and protection of Protestantism and its con- 
verts, legalization of the opium trade, free access to China's interior, 
settlement of American claims, the reduction of tariff rates, and the 
right to maintain in Peking a diplomatic residence.^ 

Against the background of America's interest and involvement in 
China, a prominent Georgian, John Elliott Ward, served a term as Amer- 
ican envoy from December 15, 1858, to December 15, 1860. Born in 
1814 in Liberty County, Ward studied at Amherst College. A Democratic 
Unionist, he became a resident of Savannah and was admitted to the 
bar. He served as Solicitor-General for the Eastern District of Georgia, 
United States District Attorney, member and Speaker of Georgia's 
House of Representatives, and Mayor of Savannah. The Democratic 
National Convention which met in Cincinnati in 1856 selected him as 

5 See the appropriate selections on Lewis Cass in Samuel Flagg Bemis, ed., 
The American Secretaries of State and Their Diplomacy (18 vols.. New York, 
1963- ), VI, 297-304, 305-23, and 369-^5; Philip Gerald Auchampaugh. James 
Buchanan and His Cabinet on the Eve of Secession (Lancaster. Pa., 1926), pp. 11- 

^ For the complete text of the treaty see Document No. 198 in Hunter Miller, 
ed., Treaties and Other Internationa! Acts of the United States. VII, (Washing- 
ton, 1942). pp. 793-805. 


its presiding officer.'^ Ward's selection suggested "tlie connecting link 
between the past and the present," one newspaper observed; the same 
journal later reported that a "dozen outbursts of applause" welcomed 
Ward when he spoke at a party rally in New York, attesting to his gen- 
eral popularity among Democrats, North and South. ^ Ward's enthusi- 
astic support endeared him to Buchanan, elected President in 
1856. Although Ward enjoyed political success on a national level, his 
talent did not go unnoticed by his constituents in Georgia. 

Ward had been elected in 1857 to the Georgia Senate, which body 
elected him president. ^ While serving in that position in 1858, he ac- 
cepted President Buchanan's offer of the American Mission to China, 
which a Savannah newspaper called "the beginning of a new era in the 
history of American commerce." ^o He resigned his Georgia Senate 
post in late November. 1858, and on December 15 the United States 
Senate confirmed his appointment. ^^ In general. Ward's selection for 
the China mission met with approval. Although he had not held a nation- 
al office, he was widely known as a moderate and as a conciliator be- 
tween North and South. Ward's "wonderful tact. . . wonted sagacity. . . . 
kindness and conciliation" broke down, a state historian believed, the 
traditional antagonism between coastal and up-country Georgians. ^^ 
One newspaper praised Ward's "dignity, courtesy, and ability, alike just 
and creditable" in his legislative leadership and noted with apparent 
pleasure that a "Southern man, from a cotton State" who was "deserved- 
ly esteemed, ... a public servant, honest, faithful, and well qualified" 
was selected to head the China mission. Another state newspaper ob- 
served that, "His deeds, his worthy deeds alone, have rendered him im- 
mortal. "^^ When the New York Journal of Commerce endorsed Ward, 
it noted that he enjoyed a "reputation extending far beyond the borders 
of his own State." ^^ A few weeks before his appointment. Ward par- 

'^ For information on Ward, see "John Elliott Ward," in Allen Johnson and Du- 
mas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography (22 vols.. New York, 1928- 
1958), XIX. 426-27. and United States Diplomatic Officers, 1789-1939 (3 vols.) 
I, p. 1027. 

8 Louisville Courier, June 4, 1856; ibid.. June 18, 1856. 

9 W.W. Gordon to Nelly Kinzie. October 5, 1857, in Gordon Papers, Southern 
Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. N.C.; Journal 
of the Senate of the State of Georgia . . . (Columbus, 1857), p. 6. 

10 Savannah Daily Morning News, November 5, 1858. 

11 Ibid.. November 28, 1858; Boston Daily Eyening Transcript, December 16, 

12 I.W. Avery, The History of the State of Georgia from 1851 to 1881, . . . (New 
York, 1881), p. 51. 

13 Federal Union, January 5, November 9, 1858; Savannah Daily Morning News, 
November 30, 1858. 

1"^ As quoted in the Federal Union. December 7, 1858. 


ticipated in the Atlantic Cable Celebration in New York. Significantly 
and prophetically, he responded to the toast to "Woman", when he said, 
"Great as were the binding ties of the cable, there was a greater tie be- 
tween men of two hemispheres — Woman. "^^ 

Although he had not been abroad, much less to the Orient, Ward 
had some familiarity with China. He was a friend of Bishop Stephen 
Elliott of Savannah, whose sister married Bishop John W. Boone, Epis- 
copal bishop of China; he was on close terms with John Mcintosh Kell, 
who cruised along the China coast in 1844-54; and he was a friend of 
Commodore Josiah Tattnall, a Savannahian who had commanded the 
Powhatan in the China Seas.^^ Moreover, his marriage into a promi- 
nent Boston family, his vacations in Newport, and his residence 
in Savannah — all cities in the "China trade" — must have made him aware 
of its significance. 

John Elliott Ward then appeared to be an admirable selection for 
the China mission in 1858. The Treaty of Tientsin had been ratified by 
the United States on December 21, 1858, and Ward's principal duty was 
to exchange ratifications in Peking. Commissioner William B. Reed, 
scheduled to leave China, urged President Buchanan to send a "first- 
rate man" for the Peking post, "a most delicate and interesting one."i'^ 
Reed warned that China's government was where "temporary exped- 
iency" often supplanted "what is understood as law and authoritative 
precedent," and that its officials were guilty of "mendacity . . . 
and treacherous habits." Reed added that until Ward arrived in China, 
Dr. S. Wells Williams, an American missionary in China since 1833, 
would serve as charge d'affaires. ^^ In the United States the President's 
Asiatic policy was "an extension of his program to achieve rapid, safe, 
transcontinental transit and looked to the fulfillment of Asa Whitney's 
dream of the United States as the funnel of Oriental trade to Europe." ^^ 
Buchanan believed that California's "peculiar geographical" position 
and the recent conclusion of treaties with China and Japan, two "rich 

^5 New York Times. September 3, 1858. 

16 Stephen Elliott to R.W.B. Elliott, January 7, 1858, in W.R.B. Elliott Papers, 
Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C.; 
John Mcintosh Kell, Recollections of a Naval Life, . . . (Washington, 1900), 
p. 65; Charles C. Jones, Jr., The Life and Services of Commodore Josiah Tatt- 
nall (Savannah, 1878), pp. 74-78. 

1^ W.B. Reed to President James Buchanan, September 2, 1858, in U.S. Depart- 
ment of State, Despatches from U.S. Ministers to China, 1843-1906, National 
Archives, Washington, D.C. (Hereafter cited as Despatches, China.) 

1^ W.B. Reed to Secretary of State Lewis Cass, September 4, October 21, and 
December 8, 1858, in Despatches, China. 

1^ Philip Shriver Klein, President James Buchanan: A Biography (University 
Park, Pa., 1962), p. 326. 


and populous empires," would entice "American capital and enterprise 
into the fruitful field." The President observed that the nation which 
dominated trade with Eastern Asia had "always become wealthy and 
powerful. "20 

While others supported China policies, John Elliott Ward made per- 
sonal preparations for his diplomatic mission. He had married the for- 
mer Olivia Buckminister Sullivan, of Boston, who had never liked 
Savannah. Since she could not go to China, Ward arranged for her to 
live in Florence, Italy, and he accompanied her and the children there. 21 

In mid-January, 1859, as Ward and his family left Savannah aboard 
the Augusta for New York, "the Chatham Artillery fired a salute ... in 
honor of their late commander," as a "large concourse of citizens" 
watched their "distinguished fellow townsman" depart. 22 By the end of 
January, Ward at the New York Hotel reported his plans to leave for 
Liverpool on February 2, 1859 on the Arago, accompanied by his wife, 
children, brother, and a cousin, Maria Mcintosh, the author. 23 His 
predecessor, William B. Reed, was enroute home, and there was hope 
that he and Ward could meet. 24 The new minister was in London by 
February 23, where Benjamin Moran, secretary of the American lega- 
tion, visited them. Moran wrote that amid the confusion of baggage, 
porters, and waiters surrounding the Wards he found Ward "extremely 
agreeable" and "a refined gentleman" who had "a good head and ex- 
cellent manners. "25 The new American minister received attention from 
George M. Dallas, United States Minister to England, who attended 

20 President Buchanan's 2nd Annuai Message to Congress, December 6, 1858, 
in John Bassett Moore, ed., The Works of James Buchanan (12 vols., Philadel- 
phia, 1909), I, 273. 

21 Laura B. Locke to Louisa Bulloch. November 1, 1858. in Bulloch Papers, 
Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C. 
(Hereafter cited as Bulloch Papers). Ward, who was to receive $12,000 annually 
as minister to China, chose as the secretary of his legation his brother, W. Wal- 
lace Ward, whose salary would be S3.000. Dr. S. Wells Williams, serving in the 
interim period as charge d'affaires, was to be interpreter for the mission at a 
salary of $5,000. See Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military and Naval, 
in the Service of the United States on the Thirteenth September, 1859, (Wash- 
ington, 1859, p. 9. 

22 SdiV^nmh Daily Morning News. January 17, 1859. 

23 J.E. Ward to A.H. Derrick, January 29, 1859, in Despatches, China. 

24 George M. Dallas, A Series of Letters from London ed. by Julia Dallas 

(Philadelphia, 1869). pp. 93-94. 

25 Sarah Agnes Wallace and Frances Elma Gillespie, eds.. The Journal of Ben- 
jamin Moran, 1856-1865 (2 vols., Chicago. 1949), I, 510. 


dinners for the Wards given by Lord Lyndhurst and Mr. T. Baring. 26 On 
March 2, 1859, Moran, a constant critic of Dallas, went to a levee at 
St. James' Palace, and bitterly recorded the failure of. the minister to 
present John E. Ward at court while instead he presented the young son 
of an Episcopal bishop. ^'^ 

By mid-March Ward was in Paris where he was presented to Emperor 
Napoleon III and had a "long interview with Count Walewski, the Minis- 
ter of Foreign Affairs, in relation to China." He also announced his 
plans to meet Reed, who was returning from China. In Lyons, on March 
25, Ward had a "satisfactory" interview "for which the President was so 
anxious, and which was very important to the success of the Missions." 
Reed was apprehensive, Ward reported, that he would have "some diffi- 
culty" in reaching Peking and "much trouble" in enforcing the collec- 
tion of American claims against China. Ward then wrote of his intention 
to proceed to Marseilles and Alexandria, from which he would travel 
overland to Port Said, where he would b'^ard a steamer for Aden, and 
thence to Bombay. ^s 

Dr. Williams, who managed the American legation's affairs for five 
months, had been a resident of China for twenty-five years. He con- 
demned the coolie traffic from China and the participation of Ameri- 
cans in the trade as worse than black slavery and called upon 
Christendom to suppress the iniquitous practice. The charge d'affaires 
earlier warned that the Chinese disliked all Western nations and if they 
appeared friendly to America it was because they feared England and 
Russia more. Williams hoped that the Treaty of Tientsin's provision for 
interior travel in China would remove from the Chinese officials their 
"ignorant hauteur", and that the ratification of the treaty would bring 
"lasting benefits to the Chinese as well as to our own countrymen. "^^ 

Although China was disrupted by civil war, the European Allies took 
no part but waited for the arrival of the ratification of the Treaties of 
Tientsin. Lord Elgin's brother, Frederick W.A. Bruce, represented the 
British; A. de Bourboulon, France. In addition to his principal duty of 
exchanging at Peking the ratification of the Treaty of Tientsin, Ward 
also was adminished to carry on peaceful negotiations regarding trade 
and American claims, and to be neutral toward England and France. He 

^ Susan Dallas, ed.. Diary of George Mifflin Dallas While United States Minis- 
ter to Russia, 1837 to 1839, and to England, 1856 to 1861, (Philadelphia, 1892), 
pp. 311-13. 

2'^ The Journal of Benjamin Moran, I, 512. 

28 J.E. Ward to Lewis Cass, March 17 and 26, 1859, in Despatches, China. 

29 S.W. Williams to O.H. Perry, April 27, 1859, and S.W. Williams to Lewis 
Cass, January 1, 1859, and March 12, 1859, in Despatches, China. 


also was urged to cooperate with the Russians, who had promised as- 
sistance to him. 30 

Ward proceeded from Italy, where he left his family, to Aden and 
thence to Georgetown, Penang. There he was met by the U.S.S. Powha- 
tan which had been sent to convey Ward and his party to China. Com- 
manding the ship was Commodore Josiah Tattnall, a fellow Georgian 
and personal friend. The American party spent several days at George- 
town where British officials offered lavish entertainment. ^i 

The new minister soon had his diplomatic qualifications tested. Re- 
portedly the Russians already had established a legation at Peking, and 
the British and French ministers were due to arrive at Hong Kong which 
Ward reached on May 10. There Ward was "for several days busily en- 
gaged in receiving and returning visits from all the foreign, diplomatic, 
and naval dignitaries in the city and harbor.^^s But Ward did not remain 
long in Hong Kong; he had been advised by Reed in Lyons to avoid that 
city if possible and to proceed "as quickly as possible to Shanghai. "^-^ 

In late May, Ward and his party where in Shanghai where Williams 
and the Reverend W.A.P. Martin, the American mission's interpreter 
who had been taken aboard in Ningpo, communicated to the Imperial 
Chinese commissioners the minister's desire to call upon them. "It was 
evident that they had no objections," Williams recorded, "to our going 
to Peking." The Chinese appeared willing to exchange ratifications "on 
the spot," if such were desired. "Nothing seemed further from their 
minds . . . than the possibility of any trouble in our negotiations this 
year."34 indeed. Ward met the commissioners twice in Shanghai, once 
at the yamen (Haggate, official headquarters of a mandarin) occupied 
by the Chinese officials, and at the residence where he stayed. A party 
of twelve officers and a guard of sixty marines escorted Ward and sev- 

^ Lewis Cass to J.E. Ward, January 18, 1859. Diplomatic Instructions of the De- 
partment of State. 1801-1906. China. National Archives, Washington, D.C., 
January 18, January 22, and February 21, 1859; Harper's New Monthly Magazine. 
XVIII (January, 1859), 254. 

31 For details of Ward's voyage to China, see Lieut. James D. Johnston, USN, 
China andjapan: Being a Narrative of the Cruise of the U.S. Steam-Frigate Pow- 
hatan, in the Years 1857. '5S. '59 and '60. . . . (Baldmore, 1861), p. 192, 208-11, 
(hereafter cited as James D. Johnston, Narrative): Singapore Straits Times and 
Journal of Commerce. April 16, May 7, 1859: and Donald Davies, Old Penang 
(Singapore, 1956), p. 34. 

32 Singapore Straits Times and Journal of Commerce. April 23, 1859; and Charles 
C.Jones, The Life and Services of Commodore Josiah Tattnall, p. 80. 

33 W.B. Reed to S.VV. Williams, March 26. 1859 in Frederick Wells Williams. 
The Life and Letters of Samuel Wells Williams. L.L.D.. Missionary. Diplomatist. 
Sinologue (New York and London, 1889), pp. 294-95. (Hereafter cited as S.W. 
Williams, Life and Letters. ) 

34 S.W. Williams's Journal, May 31, 1859, in ibid., p. 297. 


eral members of the mission, all in sedan chairs, to call upon the Chinese. 
Lt. Johnston recorded that the "greasy populace" stared in "admiring 
curiosity" at the colorful procession which received "the usual three-gun 
salute." Then came "fulsome compliments to the guests, painful self- 
detractions from the hosts . . ., and, finally, a grand collation of the gas- 
tronomic abominations in which Mandarins delight, and from which 
human nature revolts." When the Chinese returned the call, the commis- 
sioners decided in the course of the interview to go to Peking, a long 
journey, to prepare for Ward's arrival. No obstacles impeded the ex- 
change of ratifications. The Chinese first wished to confer with the Brit- 
ish and French ministers who reached Shanghai June 6; however, the 
Europeans refused to see the Chinese and on June 13 started for the 
Peiho River, preparatory to the trip to Peking. ^^ Within three days 
.Ward's entourage left for the north aboard the Powhatan, with the Toey- 
wan, a 175-ton chartered steamer, in tow. Dr. Williams expressed the 
hope that the French and British (the latter able to land 4,000 troops at 
the Peiho should the need arise) would not find it necessary to fight 
their way to Peking for fear of reopening the war concluded by 
the Treaties of Tientsin. "But God has His plans," he wrote propheti- 
cally, "in this part of Asia as elsewhere, breaking down barriers and 
furthering His truth by many agencies that missionary societies could 
hardly practice or afford.''^^ 

John Elliott Ward earlier had written to Secretary of State Lewis 
Cass that he hoped to proceed to Peking as soon as possible and ex- 
change the treaty ratifications. ^'^ But the delaying tactics of the Chinese 
and the Allied show of force were destined to thwart his aims. The pro- 
blem of the Celestial Kingdom granting such vast concessions as was 
done at Tientsin in 1858; the necessity to maintain honor when more 
than twenty "barbarian" gunboats lay at anchor only eighty miles from 
the Emperor's palace; the rebuilding, reputedly with Russian help, of 
the forts at Taku that had been destroyed one year earlier; and the im- 
patience of the British and the French when they discovered no officials 
waiting to conduct them to Peking — all led to the opening of hostilities 
that disrupted the delicate negotiations for the exchange of treaty rati- 
fications. The Allies decided to force their way to Tientsin, to pass 
through the iron stakes positioned by the Chinese and to prevent en- 
trance to the Peiho River past the Taku forts. ^8 

Aboard the Toey-wan with Commodore Tattnall on June 24, Ward 
attempted to approach the fort as near as the stakes would permit. A 

^^ James D. Johnston, Narrative, pp. 224-27. 

36 S.W. Williams to Rev. W.F. Williams, June 13, 1859, in S.W. Williams, Life 

and Letters, pp. 298-99. 

3'^ J.E. Ward to Lewis Cass, May 3, 1859, in Despatches, China. 

38 See L.N. Wheeler, The Foreigner in China (Chicago, 1881), p. 108, and W.A.P. 
Martin, A Cycle of Cathay . . . (New York. 1896), pp. 190-92. 


representative of the Chinese assured a landing party that the Emperor 
had issued orders to conduct the ministers to Peking. The Emperor, 
however, desired that they go to Pehtang, a town a few miles north of 
the river entrance leading to Tientsin which was not open to Western 
powers. On June 24 the British began to remove the obstructions which 
prevented advance past the forts and on the following day they bom- 
barded the forts. The Chinese batteries responded in a fierce battle 
which caused the Allies losses of more than 400 men. During the hos- 
tilities. Commodore Tattnall, who required Ward to leave the Toey-wan, 
violated American neutrality by towing British launches containing sol- 
diers into the battle scene and by ordering Lieutenant Johnston to have 
200 men prepared to join in the Allied assault. Martin and Johnston re- 
ported that the Commodore, in going to the aid of the Allies, exclaimed 
that "blood is thicker than water. '"^^ Official despatches did not allude 
to Tattnall's statement. ^o One historian alleges that Tattnall, who had 
Ward's consent to help the Western nations, represented Southern pre- 
judice in favor of white men against colored (yellow) opponents. Wil- 
liams believed that Tattnall's action "compromised the Americans with 
the Chinese." Johnston commended Ward's approbation of his fellow 
Georgian's help, which he called a "generous and noble impulse." Lord 
Lyons, the British minister in Washington, commended to Secretary 
Cass the "friendly feeling manifested" and the assistance given by Ward 
and Tattnall. To Lord John Russell he wrote that President Buchanan, 
in reporting one newspaper's criticism of the Georgian's "improper de- 
parture" from neturality, believed that the assistance rendered Britain 
"had met with the hearty approbation of the great majority of the people 
of the United States."^ 

Whatever the consequences of Tattnall's action, the Peiho hostilities 
complicated and delayed Ward's principal mission to exchange the rati- 
fications of the Treaty of Tientsin. The Toey-wan went north on June 29 
to explore the shore off Pehtang. There a landing party from the Ameri- 
can mission was able to establish contact with the Chinese and discuss 
arrangements for Ward's journey to Peking. "^2 y^e British feared that 
the American was attempting to be the first to obtain an audience with 

^ S.W. Williams, "Narrative of the American Embassy to Peking in July, 1859," 
Journal of the North China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. L 1859, 7-9. 
(Hereafter cited as S.W. Williams, "Narrative"). See also James D. Johnston, 
Narrative, pp. 229-35, and W.A.P. Martin, A Cycle of Cathay, p. 192. 

'^ J.E. Ward to Lewis Cass, July 4, 1859, in Despatches, China. 

41 Tyler Dennett, ^merzca/?^ in East Asia . . . (New York, 1922), p. 370 n.; S.W. 
Williams, Life and Letters, p. 304; James D. Johnston, Narrative, p. 233; Lord 
Lyons to Lewis Cass. October 17, 1859, and Lord Lyons to Lord Russell, October 
17, 1859, as quoted in Charles C. Jones, The Life and Services of Commodore 
Josiah Tattnall, pp. 107-8. 

"^ James D. Johnston, Narrative, pp. 240-42. 


the Emperor and suspected Russo-American cooperation. ^^ 

John Elliott Ward and his suite went ashore July 8 at Pehtang and 
proceeded to the residence of Heng-fu, the Governor-General of Chih 
province. Noting that the Imperial Commissioners had not reached 
Peking, Ward returned via the Toey-wan to the Powhatan where he and 
the legation remained until July 10. Meanwhile, an American steamer 
with two Russian officials aboard anchored near the Powhatan; the Rus- 
sians and Americans exchanged visits and salutes and established the 
"most triendly relations." 

On July 20, John E. Ward, envoy extraordinary and minister pleni- 
potentiary, selected a party of thirty, including his brother Wallace, 
S. Wells Williams, W.A.P. Martin, Lt. Alex W. Habersham, a surgeon, 
a chaplain, a parson, an engineer, two attaches, three marines, and ten 
Chinese servants and prepared to leave on an historic journey to 
Peking.^ Because the Americans' route to the Celestial Capital was 
somewhat circuitous, many critics, especially the British and the French, 
condemned the Americans for consenting to the trip. But Chinese offi- 
cials, compelled by the Treaties of Tientsin to receive "outer barbarians" 
as equals, were alarmed. One of the Imperial Commissioners wondered 
why the Allies brought more than twenty warships to the mouth of the 
Peiho for an exchange of treaties. The barbarians' "unreasonableness 
and defeat at Taku," he wrote to the Emperor, had made them "full of 
revenge," but he hoped for peace. Referring to the Emperor's directive 
of July 11 to conduct Ward to Peking, Sengkolinstsin, a Chinese official, 
suggested a route to avoid Tientsin, where the inhabitants, "because of 
the recent war may verbally offer some offense" to the "barbarian am- 
bassador. "^^ Another official feared that Ward, who had denied compli- 
city in the Peiho affair, might act as a mediator for the "barbarian" Eng- 
lish and French and possibly create trouble by corresponding with the 
Russians, already in Peking. Reports represented Ward as "very respect- 
ful and compliant" but "very impatient" about going to Peking. '^^ Con- 
cerned over the Peiho hostilities, the Emperor warned, "Let there not 
be the least carelessness." Since Article Five of the treaty stipulated that 
the American minister's passage to Peking be prepared by local officials 
along the route, the Emperor gave Ward permission to ride from the 
Pehtang landing overland in a sedan chair. From Tung-chau, Peking's 

'^ Ernest J. Eitel, Europe in China. . . (London, 1895), p. 355. 

^ James D. Johnston, Narrative, pp. 246-49; and S.W. Williams, "Narrative," 
pp. 11-12. 

^ Memorial of Sengkolintsin to Emperor, July 14, 1859, in T.F. Tsiang, "Docu- 
ments: China After the Victory at Taku," American Historical Review, XXXV 
(October, 1930), 80-82. 

^ Memorial of Heng-fu to Emperor, July 11, 1859, in Earl Swisher, China's 
Management of the American Barbarians: A Study of Sino-American Relations, 
1841-1861, With Documents (New Haven, 1953), pp. 585-88. 


port on the Peiho. he could use a cart or mule litter, but it was "virtually 
impossible" to permit him to use a chair in Peking.'*'^ When Heng-fu 
met with Ward, the latter agreed to go by cart when assured that the 
Russians, already established in Peking, never rode in chairs. ^s 

Since Taku and Pehtang were equi-distant from Peking, Ward's 
party did not protest the latter route which it followed, departing July 
20. Heng-fu told Ward that the Emperor treated men with "sincerity, 
profound grace, and generous favor," and Ward promised to intercede 
with Britain and France in behalf of China. ^^ Thus began an epochal 
journey, colorful but controversial. When Ward and his party agreed to 
go in carts, critics contended that he assumed the same role as tribute- 
bearing nations such as Korea. Ward's interpreter wrote that it "was a 
mistake for Mr. Ward to accept a cart in the first instance." Martin called 
the action Ward's "only weakness," unless his consent to Tattnall's 
unneutral action at Taku be counted. ^o S. Wells Williams, in his official 
"Narrative" of the mission to Peking, defended the use of the carts, 
which he called "carriages" and described as vehicles without springs 
or seats, "covered with canvas and oiled cloth," and drawn by one horse 
or driven tandem. Williams argued that sedan chairs could have been 
used, but he pointed out that coolies could not carry chairs over the 
muddy plains. By July 21, the party reached Pehtang, ten miles above 
Tientsin on the river. There the legation boarded five boats and reached 
Tung-chau, the port of Peking, on July 27. Although "carriages" were 
available for the overland trip, the group "preferred horseback or walk- 
ing," because of the terrible conditions of the road to the capital. The 
arrival in Peking on July 28 was "dissappointing," for the avenue through 
the wall's entrance was a quagmire. The party found lodging in a nine- 
teen-room house formerly occupied by a disgraced prime minister. On 
the next day began the negotiations with the Imperial Commissioners, 
assisted by Judge Sieh of Kiangsu. The latter hinted that, because of 
Ward's role at Taku, the Emperor doubted the "sincerity of the peaceful 
professions of the Americans; . . ." On the following day Ward and three 
of his group went by horseback outside the Forbidden City where he was 
met by the commissioners attended by one hundred officials. The Em- 
peror reportedly wished to honor Ward, not only as a personal gesture 
but as a mark of his respect for the President of the United States. ^^ 

Then arose the issue of an audience with the Emperor, which was 
not mentioned in the treaty. The Chinese argued that the audience 
should precede the exchange of ratifications. Since Ward was not from 

-i' Imperial Edict, July 14, 1859, in ibid., pp. 593-94. 

48 Memorial of Heng-fu to Emperor, July 17, 1859, in ibid., pp. 597-98. 

49 Memorial of Heng-fu to Emperor, July 23, 1859, in ibid., pp. 603-05. 

50 W.A.P. Martin, A Cycle of Cathay, p. 198. 

51 S.W. Williams, "Narrative," pp. 12-16. 


a tribute-bearing state, he would be required only to perform "'one kneel- 
ing and thrice knocking," instead of the traditional thrice kneeling and 
nine knockings required in the kowtow. Ward refused to perform the 
abbreviated kowtow because, according to Williams, "to kneel v/as . . . 
a religious act and he did so only in the presence of God."'^^ g^^ others 
who knew Ward as a devout Episcopalian and a chivalrous Southern 
gentleman believed that he refused to perform the kowtow by declaring, 
"I kneel only to God and woman. "^^ Ward, in reporting to Cass about 
the audience question, declared simply that he "would neither kneel 
nor prostrate my person before his Majesty. '"^"^ 

Finally, the commissioners, negotiating on hot days when a cloud 
of fine dust covered Peking "like a lurid pall," proposed thai the Em- 
peror, in a special conciliation, would permit Ward to bend his knee 
and touch the floor with his finger. Ward countered by offering to stand 
with head uncovered, to bow several times, and not to turn his back on 
the Emperor. This offer of obeisance also was unacceptable to the Chin- 
ese, who devised a clever way to save face for the Emperor, accustomed 
to abject homage. Ward would pretend to begin to prostrate himself, 
but be raised up by chamberlains; the minister would then present the 
letter of credence from President Buchanan to a courtier who. while on 
his knees, would present it to the Emperor. Ward's adamant refusal even 
to this compromise ended the audience discussions. Williams defended 
the Chinese against the charge that they were "insincere and dogmatic." 
He argued that they genuinely wanted an audience as a demonstration 
of friendship, but custom and tradition could not be ignored before 
members of the court. ^^ 

Since Ward was in Peking but could not see the Emperor, he decided 
to present the President's letter to the commissioners who could then 
offer it to the Emperor. As there were no instructions requiring him to 
see the Emperor, the American legation would return to Pehtang where 
the treaty ratifications would be exchanged with Heng-fu. Although the 
Emperor preferred that Ward return to Shanghai far from the Imperial 
capital, for the ratification ceremony, "We, mindful that he braved the 
seas and came from afar . . .," permitted him to perform exchanges at 
Pehtang. ^6 On August 16, 1859, Ward completed his major duty at Peh- 
tang without significant ceremony when he exchanged ratifications of 

52 Ibid., pp. 17-18. 

53 J.W. Foster, American Diplomacy in the Orient (New York, 1904), p. 250; 
and W.A.P. Martin, A Cycle of Cathay, p. 200. 

54 J.E. Ward to Lewis Cass, August 20, 1859, as quoted in U.S. Senate Executive 
Document, No. 30, 36th Congress, 1st sess., p. 595. 

55 S.W. Williams, "Narrative," pp. 20-23. 

56 Imperial Edict of August 9, 1859, in Earl Swisher, China 's Management of the 
American Barbarians, p. 617. 


the Treaty of Tientsin of 1858. Heng-fu observed that Ward's "speech 
was entirely respectful and compliant" and that the legation was "grate- 
ful for Imperial benevolence and pleased no end/'^"^ Ward reported 
that he was received in Pehtang "with every mark of respect." ^^ After 
more than three months in China, Ward completed his principal mission. 

The treatment of the American legation had been courteous but 
not cordial. Hence Ward was ridiculed unmercifully because of his 
journey to Peking in carts and the restrictions placed upon him there. 
"The newspapers at Hongkong have generally thrown discredit on the 
visit of the American ministers to Peking," S. Wells Williams noted, 
"ridiculing some things, doubting what they pleased, and showing their 
proficiency in vituperation. It is sad to see the bitterness of these papers 
against the Chinese." W.A.P. Martin felt that Ward had "displayed cour- 
age" in a difficult situation. On the other hand, Lt. Johnston believed 
that "all were gratified" by Ward's perseverance in completing the ex- 
change of ratifications, "although it had been accomplished at some 
little sacrifice of national and ministerial pride. "^^ To some historians. 
Ward reached Peking "... but both on his journey and in the capital 
he was treated with great ignominy ... as a tribute-bearer from one of 
the neighboring countries."^o Although the English and French regarded 
Ward's mission as a fiasco, others observed that, while the former with- 
drew from the Peiho in discomfort, the American and Russian minis- 
ters "gained all the advantages sought or expected of them.''^^ Another 
view held that Ward had acted entirely in conformity with his instruc- 
tions and the treaty provisions. ^2 Ward's completion of the chief pur- 
pose of his mission at Pehtang permitted him to board the Powhatan, 
anchored for one month in the outer harbor, and to sail on August 18 
for Shanghai. ^3 

The minister's departure for the south did not, however, allay the 
controversy surrounding his trip to Peking, especially his mode of trans- 
portation in a country where ceremony and form were paramount. 

5"^ Memorial by Heng-fu to Emperor, August 20, 1859, in ibid., pp. 619-20. Heng- 
fu's interpreter was a former pupil and namesake of Bishop John W. Boone; see 
W.A.P. Martin, A Cycle of Cathay, p. 202. 

^ J.E. Ward to Lewis Cass, August 20, 1859, in U.S. Senate Executive Docu- 
ment, No. 30, 36th Congress, 1st sess., p. 598. 

59 S.W. Williams, Life and Letters, p. 323; W.A.P. Martin, A Cycle of Cathay, 
p. 201; and James D. Johnston, Narrative, p. 270. 

^ D. Bonner-Smith and E.W.R. Lumby, eds.. The Second China War, 1856- 
1860 (London, 1954), p. 391. 

^^ L.N. Wheeler, The Foreigner in China, p. 109. 

62 En-Sai Tai. Treaty Ports in China: A Study in Diplomacy (New York, 1918) 
p. 50. 

^ James D. Johnston, Narrative, p. 271. 


"Jonathan's Ride to Peking," an eight-stanza verse to the tune of "Yan- 
Icee Doodle" was pubUshed in Punch. The concluding stanzas concern- 
ing Ward's mission delivered a stinging rebuke and malicious ridicule: 
Their mission ended, from their cage 

Politely liberated, 
They were, in that same equipage 

They came in, re-located, 
And brought, with care particular, 

To where they first intruded, 
Like blacks inside a nigger-car. 
As snug, and more secluded. 

I reckon that's the way to treat 

Our great and glorious nation. 
And offer humble pie to eat 

To them as flogs creation! 
But we must swaller down our pride, 

When dollars we are seekin! 
And be content, old hoss, to ride 

In a hoss box up to Pekin.^* 

Another English publication told of Ward's ride to Peking in vehicles 
"not unlike horse-boxes" and confinement in the capital. "The whole 
affair seems to have been humiliating," the Illustrated London News 
noted, "and not in accordance with the dignity of a great nation." But 
in a later issue, the News reported that New York newspapers expressed 
"satisfaction" with Ward's treatment and called English accounts of the 
mission "unwarranted." Within two years, the News carried sketches 
and a detailed account of the type of cart used by Ward. It described 
some as "beautifully finished" and "much patronized by the fair ones 
of Peking. "65 

S. Wells Williams wrote that "a ridiculous rumor, illustrated by ap- 
propriate pictures" about Ward's travel in a "box," circulated in Paris. 
He attributed the jeux d'esprit to "the popular sentiment in France of 
what was expected from the Chinese, . . ."^6 In response to a critical 
review by The Times of Ward's mission, the American minister to Eng- 
land reported that news from the Russians in St. Petersburg confirmed 
his belief that Ward was well received in China. "The truth is," he ob- 
served, "that the contrast between peaceful and bullying diplomacy is 
becoming painfully clear, and must be obscured by canards.^' Dallas 
bitterly condemned English journals and statesmen who took "special 
pleasure in trying to make Mr. Ward ridiculous." Ward's "manly and 

^ Punch, XXXVII (October 5, 1859), 152. 

65 The Illustrated London News, XXXV (November 9, 1859), 432, XXXV (De- 
cember 3, 1859), 520, and ibid., XXXVII (February 23, 1861), 159. 

66 S.W. Williams, History of China, p. 317. 


glorious impulses'" during the "critical moment" of the fight at Taku 
saved the life of the British admiral." 1 he "inconsistencies of false pride 
know no end," he concluded. '5'' In the United States his mission to the 
Celestial F.mpire had been dramatized by the celebrated Dan Rice Great 
Show. Ward had been "equestrianized" by the theatrical group in Phil- 
adelphia, according to a Georgia newspaper.^^ 

Ward's wife, Olivia, living in Italy suffered keenly the absence and 
reported treatment of her husband. "It has been a half year of incessant 
anxiety," she wrote, "It is paying very dear for honors . . . ." Mrs. Ward 
described in detail the caricatures which had appeared in Punch: "Just 
what one would expect from the English .... They are the most arro- 
gant people on the face of the earth. "^^ 

While the world discussed the controversial American mission, John 
Elliott Ward left Pehtang, site of the treaty ratifications, and reached 
Shanghai August 22, 1859. During his month's stay in the latter city, he 
received "with great pomp and ceremony" the Emperor's reply to Presi- 
dent Buchanan's letter presented in Peking. Lt. Johnston described the 
Imperial document as "enveloped in a cumbrous roll of yellow silk, the 
shape and dimensions of which gave it very much the appearance of a 
fat baby in swathing bands. "'^o Ward also received and began negotia- 
tions for the conventions — one for the revision of tonnage duties and 
the other for the opening of two additional ports— stipulated in the 
recently-ratified Sino-American treaty. Suspicious that Ward, brooding 
over English ridicule of his mission, might be in collusion with the Brit- 
ish, prompted the Chinese to conclude that he was "unusually cunning. 
This is his basic nature. '"^^ 

Ward found the atmosphere in Shanghai drastically changed since 
his stay there three months earlier. "The disastrous result of the battle 
of Peiho has done much to unsettle the conditions of things in China," 
he wrote. He noted the change in the "whole manner and bearing" of 
the Chinese toward foreigners. Westerners in Shanghai were "under the 
painful apprehension" of an attack on the foreign settlement. '^^ While 
Ward awaited further negotiations with the Chinese, he left with his 
suite on board the Powhatan September 18 for a visit to Japan. One 

""'' G.M. Dallas to Lewis Cass, October 28, 1859, and G.M. Dallas to W.B. Reed, 
November 4, 1859, in George M. Dallas, A Series of Letters from London, . . . 
pp. 163-65, 166. 

^ Savannah Daily Morning News, March 27, 1860. 

69 Olivia S. Ward to Louisa Bulloch, October 13, 1859, in Bulloch Papers. 

'^^ James D. Johnston, Narrative, p. 297. 

''I Memorials to the Emperor, September 5, 18. and October 4, 1859, in Earl 
Swisher, China's Management of the American Barbarians, pp. 625-32. 

"^2 J.E. Ward to Lewis Cass, September 1, 1859, in Despatches, China. 


month later, after a visit to Japan J^ Wara sought to resolve with the 
Chinese 4h€ two supplemental conventions relating to two new ports 
and tonnage dues. After lengthy negotiations, an Imperial Edict of No- 
vember 15, 1859, officially authorized the opening of two additional 
harbors, Swatow and Taiwan, where a brisk American trade already 
was in progress. '^^ Ward appointed a committee to settle American 
claims against the Chinese. By November 19 he could write to Cass that 
he had issued a proclamation on November 8, 1859, regarding the pub- 
lication of the Treaty of Tientsin "for the general guidance of all to 
whom it may concern." The ports of Swatow and Taiwan, he announced, 
would be opened to American commerce and residence in January.''^ 

John Elliott Ward and his suite left Shanghai, arrived November 21 
at Hong Kong, and later went to Canton where he had an interview with 
Imperial Commissioner Ho. The latter wrote that Ward declared he 
"had abundantly received His Imperial Majesty's extraordinary Heaven- 
ly Favor and the people of his entire nation were grateful." Ho believed 
that Ward's demeanor reflected his "respectfulness and compliance . . . 
[as] expressions of complete sincerity. ""^^ Ward then went to Macao 
where he remained several weeks and supported the suppression of the 
iniquitous coolie trade, a practice which the California gold rush had 
fostered. Ward allowed Chinese authorities to remove 317 coolies from 
an American ship to ascertain whether any were detained against their 
will. None returned to the vessel. He also recommended that the State 
Department urge Congressional action on the coolie trade, which 
grieved him deeply. '^'^ 

As early as July 4, 1859, shortly before going to Peking, Ward had 
expressed to Cass his desire to leave China in March of 1860 and to re- 
turn home by way of Europe to visit his family. Later Ward reported 
that the Treaty of Tientsin was in full force and that claims of Ameri- 
cans in China had been ajudicated. He wished to leave his post in the 
fall and travel through Europe to Washington, there "to give an account 

'^3 While in Nagasaki Ward purchased a Japanese suit of armor which he gave 
to Commodore Tattnall. The latter presented the armor to the Georgia Histori- 
cal Society where it remains today. In Edo, Ward also called upon Townsend 
Harris, the American minister, who presented his visitor to the Shogun. See 
James D. Johnston, Narrative, pp. 278-303, pa^.v//??; J.E. Ward to Josiah Tattnall, 
October 20, 1859, in Josiah Tattnall, Jr., Letters, Manuscript Department, Duke 
University Library, Durham, N.C. 

^■^ As cited in Earl Swisher, China's Management of the American Barbarians. 
p. 638. 

'^5 J.E. Ward to Lewis Cass, November 19, 1859, in Despatches, China. 

'^^ Memorial of Ho to Emperor, January 6, 1860, in Earl Swisher, China's Man- 
agement of the American Barbarians, pp. 643-44. 

^'^ S. Wells Williams, History of China, p. 311; J.E. Ward to Lewis Cass, Febru- 
ary 24, 1860, in Despatches, China. 


of my Stewardship and to surrender up my Trust to the present Admin- 
istration." Ward was anxious to leave, but he wrote that the "present 
condition of China is such that my departure might be commented upon 
by the enemies of the Administration and regretted by its friends." In 
a later dispatch, he also requested a six-months leave of absence from 
the date of his departure from China. He then promised to remain until 
the end of the year "by which time the difficulties between China and 
the Allied Powers will either have been adjusted or become chron- 



In May, Ward returned from Macao to Shanghai where he met the 
Russian minister. General Nikolai P. Ignatieff. Soon Baron de Gros and 
Lord Elgin arrived in Shanghai, in July, the Allies sailed north with 
warships, some 17,500 troops, and a coolie corps of 2,500. With all as- 
pects of the Sino-American treaty settled, the Chinese were apprehen- 
sive of Ward's desire to come to Tientsin, fearing collusion between the 
Americans on the one hand and the Allies and the Russians on the other. 
To forestall such an eventuality, the Emperor encouraged his Grand 
Councillors "to cause Russia and America and England and France all 
to suspect one another; . . ." In desperation before the formidable bar- 
barian force threatening China, His Celestial Majesty authorized his 
officials to urge Ward to mediate with England and France; the only 
stipulation in their coming to Peking was that Ward's route of 1859 be 
used."^^ The Chinese presented food to the Americans who, in return, 
gave Heng-fu, the negotiating official, "two cases of foreign wine."^o 
In spite of Ward's conciliation efforts, he was compelled to write Heng- 
fu that, because of America's neutrality, he could not discuss "the crook- 
ed and straight, right or wrong" differences between China and the 
Allies. In brief, his role as mediator was a failure. ^^ Instead, the Allies 
marched on Peking in October, the Emperor fled to Jehol, and the in- 
vaders, in a dastardly crime, sacked and burned the Summer Palace, 
an area more than six miles in length. By 1860 China was fully opened 
to the West and made significant cessions of land east of the Ussuri 
River to the Russians. ^^ 

As the Allies advanced upon Peking, John Elliott Ward returned to 
Shanghai which, although under attack from the Taiping rebels, he de- 

■^8 J.E. Ward to Lewis Cass, July 4, 1859, and February 13, 24, and March 26, 
1860, in ibid. 

'^^ Memorial of Hsueh Huan to Emperor, July 13, 1860, and Imperial Edicts of 
July 30, 31, in Earl Swisher, China's Management of the American Barbarians. 
pp. 651, 652, 662-63, 667-68. 

^ Memorial of Prince Seng to Emperor, August 3, 1860, in ibid., pp. 670-71. 

81 J.E. Ward to Heng-fu, August 4, 1860, in ibid., p. 675. 

82 Paul H. Clyde and Burton F. Beers, The Far East, pp. 94-95; John King Fair- 
bank, East Asia: The Modern Transformation, pp. 170-73. 


scribed "as perfectly quiet, and no apprehension felt on account of the 
Rebels." He then announced his intention to visit the "open ports. "^^ 
Ward eventually reached Hong Kong where he informed Cass that he 
was availing himself of the leave of absence granted by President Buch- 
anan May 8. He left for Aden aboard the steam-frigate Niagara on De- 
cember 15, 1860, two years after his appointment to the American post. 
From Aden he went to Italy to rejoin his family. ^'^ By the time of his 
arrival in Europe, Ward found the American Union dissolved. He then 
decided to leave his family in Italy, was in New York by late March, and 
proceeded to Washington to report on his mission to the State Depart- 
ment. From the capital of the Union he was able to cross on the last 
ferry boat leaving for Alexandria. By April 23, 1861, Ward was back 
home in Savannah. There he would follow an interesting, if enigmatic, 
career during the Civil War.^^ 

John Elliott Ward spent two and one-half years as minister to China. 
His major assignments were to exchange ratifications of the Treaty of 
Tientsin of 1858, to adjudicate American claims against Chinese, and 
to maintain the neutrality of his country. President Buchanan believed 
that Ward, "in obedience to his instructions," proved "fully equal to 
the delicate, trying, and responsible" position in which he was placed. 

"The friendly and peaceful policy" of the United States toward China 
was eminently satisfactory. ^^ jj^g native Georgian had served his coun- 
try well; indeed, an English journal observed that the ministers of the 
United States and Russia, "whose management of Chinese peculiarities 
we should do well to imitate," succeeded where England failed. ^'^ 

It is difficult to assess the impact of Ward's mission on the China 
trade. In the 1850's Karl Marx believed that the "wild views" on the pos- 
sibilities of trade with China, once the Celestial Empire was "opened" 
to Western nations, were "high flown anticipations [which] had no solid 
ground to stand on." Marx concluded that, "after a careful survey of 
the history of Chinese commerce, . . . the consuming and paying powers 
of the Celestials have been greatly overestimated. "^8 On the other hand, 
an American commercial journal contended that the Chinese had been 

^ J.E. Ward to Lewis Cass, September 20, 1860, in Despatches, China. 

^ J.E. Ward to Lewis Cass, December 14, 1860, in ibid.\ Winfield Scott Schley, 
Forty-five Years Under tiie Flag (New York, 1904), p. 20. 

85 W.M. Gabard, "The Confederate Career of John Elliott Ward," Georgia 
Historical Quarterly, LV (Summer, 1971), 177-207, passim. 

^ President Buchanan's 4th Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1860, 
in John Bassett Moore, ed.. The Worlds of James Buchanan, XI, 29-30. 

87 The Illustrated London News, XXXVII (July 21, 1860), 48. 

88 Marx on China, 1833-1860: Articles from the New York Daily Tribune (with 
an Introduction and Notes by Dona Torr) (London, 1951), pp. 64, 87. 


"galvanized into human intercourse by two potent agents" — Christianity 
and Cahfornia gold. The Taiping Rebellion caused a significant shift 
of the tea trade from Canton to Shanghai; by 1860 the American trade 
with Shanghai had been growing in a "two-fold" ratio for many years. 
The emigration of Chinese to California after the gold rush ultimately 
resulted in an investment by Chinese businessmen of America of $2 
million in the San Francisco-China trade. Gold, lumber, and cotton 
goods constituted the major American exports to China; tea and silk 
were the chief commodities sought in China. Sino-American trade cer- 
tainly increased after the ratifications of the Treaty of Tientsin, but two 
rebellions, the Taiping in China and the Civil War in the United States, 
prevented an immediate upsurge of the legendary China Trade. But 
the prospect of 420 million Chinese who might purchase American cot- 
ton goods was still tantalizing.^^ 

W.A.P. Martin, an early "China hand," beheved that America, "so 
remote as to exclude suspicion of a design on Chinese," free from en- 
tanglements, and "sufficiently powerful and sufficiently enlightened to 
command respect . . ." would be a good Samaritan to China. ^° 

From 1844 to 1945, the United States generally sought to trade with 
China, to Christianize her, to insure her territorial integrity, and to bring 
her into the community of nations. The United States developed a vig- 
orous foreign policy based on these principles, and John ElUott Ward 
was an early architect of that policy. That those policies failed by 1949 
is well known; that the United States is today attempting to establish 
some sort of detente with China is incontrovertible. In 1859 John Elliott 
Ward refused to kowtow to the Chinese Emperor; ironically, President 
Richard B. Nixon went to China in 1972 to bow to Mao. 

^^ "China," The Merchants' Magazine and Commercial Review, XLVII (August, 
1862), 129-37. 

90 W.A.P. Martin, A Cycle of Cathay, p. 406. 






Twenty years of meritorious service as a United States Congress- 
man was recognized on March 11, 1893, when James Henderson Blount 
of Macon, Georgia was appointed as special commissioner to the Hawai- 
ian Islands by President Grover Cleveland. Congressman Blount had 
retired from his position in the House on March 4, after twenty consecu- 
tive years as a representative of his native state of Georgia. Only two 
days after his retirement Blount had informed Secretary of State Walter 
A. Gresham that some form of honorable recognition from the Presi- 
dent, such as a temporary assignment as a delegate to some international 
monetary conference, would be gratifying to himself and his family. ^ 
Rather than an assignment of minor importance, Blount was appointed 
as an executive agent to the Hawaiian Islands to investigate the recent 
overthrow of the monarchy on January 17, 1893. As a result of so much 
controversy during the investigation concerning the power given to 
Blount over the diplomatic and naval forces, he became popular- 
ly known as "Paramount" Blount. 

Prior to the 1890's the United States enjoyed a firm hold on the eco- 
nomic affairs of the Hawaiian Islands stemming from an 1875 reciprocity 
treaty that admitted duty free, to each country, the principal products 
of the other. 2 Between 1890 and 1893 this close relationship suffered 
severe blows. First, the McKinley tariff of 1890 put raw sugar on the 
free list and also compensated American producers with a bounty of 
two cents a pound, thus hurting American-born Hawaiian sugar growers. 
Second, a native-supported, anti-American political party, the National 
Reform Party, won control of the Islands' legislature in 1890. Third, in 
1891 the hold of anti-American factions was strengthened when Queen 
Liliuokalani's anti-planter government came to power. 

*Associate Professor of History, Armstrong State College, Savannah, Georgia. 

1 James Henderson Blount to Walter A. Gresham, March 6, 1893: Copy in the 
Grover Cleveland Papers, Library of Congress. 

2 W.M. Malloy, Treaties, Conventions, International Acts, Protocols, and Agree- 
ments between the United States of America and Other Powers, 1776-1909. 
Senate Document No. 357, 61st Congress, 2d session (Washington, 1910), I, 
915-920. An 1887 extension gave the United States the right to use Pead Harbor 
as a coaling and repair station for its ships. 


The Queen's notions of sovereign authority were reported to the 
State Department of the United States by the American Minister to the 
Islands, John L. Stevens, who had been appointed to this position by 
an old friend, Secretary of State James G. Blaine. Since Blaine shared 
his expansionist views. Stevens expressed his fears of the Queen's actions 
and urged his friend to develop a closer relationship between the United 
States and the Islands, to utilize Pearl Harbor better, and to construct 
a transoceanic cable to improve communication between the two 

An attempt on the part of Queen Lihuokalani on January 14, 1893, 
to revise the constitution of the Islands, giving almost absolute power 
to the monarch, confirmed Steven's fears. On the advice of her ministers 
the Queen repudiated this attempt two days later, but too late. An An- 
nexation Club, formed a year earlier, now appealed to the American 
Minister to land American sailors and marines from the U.S.S. Boston 
to protect American property. Minister Stevens complied, and 
the revolutionaries occupied the government building without opposi- 
tion on January 17, and completed a successful coup. 

The new Provisional Government immediately sent a commission 
of five to negotiate a treaty of union v/ith the United States. The com- 
missioners arrived at San Francisco on January 28 and left for Washing- 
ton the following day to begin negotiations with Secretary of State John 
W. Foster. 3 

The Republican Administration of Benjamin Harrison wasted no 
time in agreeing to proposals by the Hawaiian Commissioners for an- 
nexation. Within twelve days a treaty of annexation had been signed 
and sent to Congress on February 15 by President Harrison with a mes- 
sage urging prompt and favorable action. ^ 

The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations promptly approved 
the treaty and reported its decision to the Senate. ^ The Republicans 
were worried that the Democrats would offer strong opposition to ap- 
proval of the treaty. However, Senate Democratic leaders John Tyler 
Morgan, a known expansionist from Alabama, and Arthur P. Gorman of 

3 Secretary Blaine had resigned in June, 1892, to seek the Republican nomina- 
tion for President and was replaced by Foster. See Julius W. Pratt, Expansion- 
ists of 1898: The Acquisition of Hawaii and the Spanish Islands (Bahimore. 1936), 
34-lil, William A. Russ, h.. The Hawaiian Revohition, 1893-94 (Selinsgrove, 
Pennsylvania. 1959), and Osmos Lanier, Jr., -'Anti-Annexationists of the 1890's" 
(Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation. University of Georgia, 1965). 

4 Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of tlie United States (Washington, 
1895), Appendix II, 197-205. Hereafter cited as For. Rels. 

5 Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate. 52d Congress (Washing- 
ton. 1909). '398. 


Maryland assured Secretary of Stale Foster there would be no serious 
-troub'e in getting the measure passed. ^ But other Democrats looked to 
the incoming administration for guidance. 

The Hawaiian treaty was awaiting action in the Senate when 
President-elect Cleveland was inaugurated on March 4. Five days later 
Cleveland requested that the Senate return the treaty to him for re- 
examination.'^ On March 11 Secretary of State Gresham gave newly 
appointed Commissioner Blount his instructions: 

You will investigate and fully report to the President all the facts 
you can learn respecting the condition of affairs in the Hawaiian 
Islands, the causes of the revolution by which the Queen's Gov- 
ernment was overthrown, the sentiment of the people toward 
existing authority, and in general, all that can fully enlighten 
the President touching the subjects of your mission. 

To enable you to fulfill this charge, your authority in all mat- 
ters touching the relations of this Government to the existing 
or other government of the islands, and the protection of our 
citizens therein, is paramount, and in you alone, acting in coop- 
eration with the commander of the naval forces, is vested full 
discretion and power to determine when such forces should be 
landed or withdrawn.^ 

At the time of the appointment, few persons opposed the selection 
of former Congressman Blount for this task. The New York Times gave 
a representative view of this feeling in an editorial on March 30: "It 
is fortunate that the Government has sent out a man so level-headed 
and self-possessed as ex-Congressman Blount of Georgia to investigate 
the situation in Hawaii and the circumstances and influence that brought 

^ John W. Foster, Diplomatic Memoirs (Boston, 1909), II, 168. Also see August 
Carl Radke, Jr., "John Tyler Morgan, An Expansionist Senator, 1877-1907" (Un- 
published Ph.D. dissertation, University of Washington, 1953) and John R. hdiva- 
hen, Arthur Pue Gorman (Baton Rouge, 1953). There is dispute among historians 
as to whether Harrison and Foster were confirmed expansionists or not but it 
is important to note that Harrison later became a vice-president of an Anti- 
Imperialist League in the latter part of the 1890's and wrote two articles in the 
Nortli American Review in 1901 against the retention of the Philippine Islands 
by the United States. Benjamin Harrison, "Status of Annexed Territory," North 
American Review, CLXXII (January, 1901), 1-22, and "Musing Upon Current 
Topics," Ibid. (February, 1901), 177-90. 

"^ James D. Richardson (ed.), A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the 
Presidents (Washington, 1896-1899), IX, 393. Hereafter cited as Richardson (ed.), 
Messages and Papers of the Presidents. 

8 For. Pels.. 1894, App. II, 1185. 


it about. "9 Even the Hawaiian Commissioners trusted that Blount with 
his Southern background would sympathize with their position of trying 
to establish a white man's government where there was an ignorant 
majority in the electorate. ^^^ 

Blount had been a popular, respected and influential man during 
his stay in the House. On retiring, he was the recipient of many glowing 
speeches from both Republicans and Democrats, as well as a standing 
ovation that lasted for several minutes. There was little doubt of his 
honesty and integrity among his colleagues. ^^ He had served on impor- 
tant committees including Appropriations, Ways and Means, and For- 
eign Affairs. The experience Blount gained as Chairman ofvthis latter 
committee along with his honesty and integrity were the major factors 
considered by the Cleveland Administration in selecting him as 
Commissioner. ^2 

When Blount arrived in Honolulu he found the opposing parties 
anxious to influence his decision in their favor. Minister Stevens and 
a committee of the Annexation Club boarded the ship to offer him ac- 
commodations, including a house, servants, carriage and horses. Blount 
declined the offer and chose to stay in the Hawaiian Hotel. He also de- 
clined the offer of the Queen's carriage to convey him to the hotel. 

Blount used his "paramount" authority in his first official act termi- 
nating the limited protectorate instituted by Stevens. Blount felt a fair 
investigation could not be conducted until the American flag and troops 
had been removed since some persons might be intimidated or fear testi- 
fying because of their presence. 

While conducting the investigation, Commissioner Blount heard 
many opinions while expressing none. He held interviews, received let- 
ters and affidavits and listened to memorials read from interested par- 
ties. He refused all offers of hospitality from both sides and made few 

9 New York Times, March 30. 1893, 4. 

10 Pratt, Expansionists of 1898, 128. Blount had fought for the Confederacy and 
his family had owned slaves. For the best source of information on Commissioner 
Blount see (Mrs.) W.D. Lamar, When All Is Said and Done (Athens, Georgia, 
1952). Mrs. Lamar was one of Blount's daughters. Although not a biography, the 
book does cover a great deal of his life and career as Congressman. 

11 Congressional Record, 52d Congress, 2d session (Washington, 1893), 1207- 
1208. Hereafter cited as Cong. Rec. 

12 Hoke Smith of Georgia, serving as Secretary of the Interior in the Cleveland 
Administration, was influential in getting the appointment for Blount. See John 
H.T. McPherson, "James Henderson Blount," Dictionary of American Biogra- 
phy, XL 388-89. Also Senate Report. No. 227, 53d Congress, 2d Session (Wash- 
ington, 1895), 386. 


)ublic appearances. He did preside at the July 4th celebration where 
he Royal Hawaiian Band played "Marching Through Georgia" in his 
lonor, not realizing its meaning. ^^ 

On April 26, Blount informed Secretary Gresham: "I can see no ad- 
i'antage in my remaining here longer than the month of May. I trust you 
*vill consent to my return at such time during the month of June as I may 
:hoose." Blount wanted to wait until he returned to Washington to write 
tiis report because as he explained: "Interruptions on the part of the 
people who are constantly seeking my attention make this preferable. "i'* 

On May 17, Blount received notice that he had been appointed Min- 
ister to replace Stevens. This action was distasteful to Blount as he had 
sought only a temporary assignment. He dutifully took the oath but sent 
his resignation in the same despatch to Secretary Gresham which con- 
tained a copy of his oath.^^ 

During the next few weeks Blount wrote his report, at the request 
of Secretary Gresham, finishing it on July 17. After narrating in some 
detail the story of the rise to power of the Annexation group in the Is- 
lands, Blount proceeded to answer the two chief questions which had 
been committed to him — the part played by Minister Stevens and the 
armed forces from the U.S.S. Boston in the revolution and the attitude 
of the people in the Islands toward annexation. 

In his answer to the first question, Blount reported that Minister 
Stevens had consulted freely with the leaders of the revolutionary move- 
ment and they had disclosed all of their plans to him. Because they 
feared arrest and punishment, Stevens had promised them protection 
and had also agreed to furnish the troops needed to overawe the Queen's 
supporters and Government. By way of an arrangement with Minister 
Stevens the proclamation, dethroning the Queen and organizing a pro- 
visional government, would be read from the Government building and 
would be followed by a speedy recognition. Blount concluded: 

The leaders of the revolutionary movement would not have 
undertaken it (coup) but for Mr. Steven's promise to protect 

13 Senate Report. No. 227, 53d Cong., 2d sess., 401, 414. 

14 For. Rels., 1894, App. II. 490. 

1^ Later when questioned about this action Blount stated: 

"I sent my resignation by the vessel that brought the appointment. I 
expected to leave when I got through the investigation. My private busi- 
ness was not satisfactory, and I wanted to get home. I was worried about 
it. I thought it might be childish in me to send an absolute resignation, 
and I did not put it in that form; but I did take occasion in some corre- 
spondence to assure the Secretary that I did not want the place at all." 
Senate Report No. 227, 53d Cong., 2d sess., 412. 


them against any danger from the Government. But for this their 
mass meeting would not have been held. But for this no request 
to land the troops v\'Ould have been made. Had the troops not 
been landed no measure for the organization of a new Govern- 
ment would have been taken. 

The American minister and the revolutionary leaders had de- 
termined on annexation to the United States, and had agreed 
on the part each was to act to the very end.^^ 

In regard to the native attitude toward annexation, Blount reported-* 
that the great preponderance of opinion was adverse. He believed that 
if the annexation issue could have been put to the test of a secret ballot, 
with the suffrage qualifications as under the Constitution of 1887, it 
would have been defeated by at least two to one; if persons owing al- 
legiance to foreign countries were excluded, the adverse majority would 
have been more than five to one. Only a majority of the whites, especial- 
ly Americans, were for annexation, and nearly all the Portuguese and 
a majority of the whites of European or American origin who had signed 
annexation petitions were subjects or citizens of the countries of their 
origin, the Commissioner explained. The Queen had only surrendered 
to the Provisional Government on the conviction that the American 
minister and the American troops were promoters and supporters of 
the revolution, and that she could only appeal to the Government of 
the United States to render justice to her. As far as Blount was con- 
cerned the Queen's "uniform conduct and the prevailing senti- 
ment amongst the natives point to her belief as well as theirs that the 
spirit of justice on the part of the President would restore her crown. '"-^ 

The Commissioner's conclusion concerning conditions in the Is- 
lands was as follows: 

The condition of parties in the islands is one of quiescense. The 
action of the United States is awaited by all as a matter of neces- 
sity. This condition, it can be assumed, will remain until 
the proposition to annex is accepted or rejected. In the latter 
contingency no sudden movement is likely to occur. The present 
Government can only rest on the use of military force, possessed 
of most of the arms in the islands, with a small white population 
to draw from to strengthen it. Ultimately it will fall without fail. 
It may preserve its existence for a year or two, but not longer, i* 

Having already resigned as Minister, Blount gave to Secretary Gres- 
ham, on July 31, formal notice of his intention to leave: "I assume that 

16 For. Rels., 1894. App. II. 594. 

17 Ibid.. 598-99. 

18 Ibid., 630. 


neither you nor the President under existing circumstances could urge 
my further continuance here. ... I have discharged my duty the best I 
could considering I was surrounded by persons interested in misleading 
me, and in my inability to compel answers from witnesses."' With this 
Blount took his departure from Honolulu on August 8.^^ 

In a report to President Cleveland dated October 18, Secretary Gres- 
ham summarized Blount's findings and endorsed his conclusions. Gres- 
ham, opposed to resubmitting the treaty to the Senate, recommended 
that Queen Liliuokalani be restored to her throne. ^o 

When this announcement and Blount's report were made public in 
November the interest of the public, which had been rather quiescent 
during the summer and early fall, was revived. Republican newspapers, 
as was to be expected, condemned Gresham's proposal. Some Demo- 
cratic newspapers warned the Administration that they would not sup- 
port a restoration of the Hawaiian monarchy: others supported the 
proposal. "Nothing", said the New York Times, could strengthen the 
Administration in the confidence of fair-minded and right-thinking men 
than the act of justice to Hawaii which is announced in the letter of 
Secretary Gresham." The Times also felt the Republicans were incon- 
sistent for wanting to annex a race problem after having recently con- 
demned white rule in the South over the Negro. The Republicans, 
according to the Times, now considered "honesty, justice, fair dealing, 
and regard for the rights of others as un-American" and believed the 
highest achievement of American statesmanship was the "Christian civ- 
ilization" process of stealing islands from converted heathens and put- 
ting them under an oligarchy of wealth and inteUigence.^i 

The Administration finally decided on a policy. In his regular mes- 
sage to Congress on December 4, President Cleveland announced his 
decision to restore the Queen to her throne. 22 Republican senators 
struck back immediately under the leadership of Senator George Frisbie 
Hoar of Massachusetts. On December 5 Hoar introduced a resolution 
requesting the President to send to the Senate copies of instructions 
given to any representative of the United States or any naval officer in 
regard to Hawaiian affairs since March 4, 1893.^3 A few days later Sena- 
tor Hoar, in another resolution, questioned the legality of Cleveland's 
appointment of Blount without the advice and consent of the Senate. 24 

19 Ibid. 

20 Ibid., 459-463. 

21 New York Times, November 11, 28, and December 1, 1893, 4. 

22 Richardson (ed.). Messages and Papers of the Presidents, IX, 441-42. 

23 Cong. Rec., 53d Cong., 2d sess., 19. 

24 Ibid., ni. 


In a special message to Congress on December 18, Cleveland re- 
stated the history of the revolution and referred to the landing of troops 
by Stevens as an act of war. He also told Congress that attempts to re- 
store the Queen upon conditions that would secure the safety of the 
revolutionists had failed. The Queen refused to agree to the stipulated 
conditions because she felt the death penalty was the punishment revo- 
lutionaries deserved. Thus, the President, in effect, washed his hands of 
the affair and commended the subject to the extended powers and wide 
discretion of Congress. Cleveland assured the Congressmen of his will- 
ingness to co-operate in any legislative measure "'consistent with Ameri- 
can honor, integrity, and morality," which would solve the problem. ^^ 

Following this message. Senator John Tyler Morgan of Alabama, 
Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, proposed that the Presi- 
dent's message be referred to his committee with authorization to in- 
quire into and report any irregularities in diplomatic or other intercourse 
between the United States and Hawaii in relation to the revolution in 
the Islands. This proposal was promptly adopted. 26 

During the committee's investigation Commissioner Blount was call- 
ed upon to testify. One of the things the committee was interested in 
was whether Blount had been prejudiced for or against the Queen before 
or during his investigation. In response to this question Blount replied: 

I was impressed when I came to the investigation with the con- 
viction that I had very much at stake. I had confidence in the 
integrity and high purposes of the President, and felt that I could 
give him no higher offense than to misinform him. I felt that any 
other than a truthful, an exhaustive, and impartial examination 
would bring about the contempt of the American people. I was 
therefore, timid — over cautious, perhaps, in all my conduct in 
reference to it. I kept from their social life. I did not intimate 
any opinion to these people one way or the other. When I left 
those islands nobody had any idea, so far as I could gather, wha> 
my report was.^'^ 

When the pro-Annexation senators on the committee tried to get 
Blount to admit that Cleveland had already prejudged the Hawaiian 
situation before he sent the Commissioner, Blount replied that the Presi- 
dent had asked only for information and had said nothing about what 
he thought on the matter. When charged with desiring restoration of 
the monarchy before he departed from the United States. Blount re- 

25 For. Rels., 1894, App. II, 445-48. 

26 Cong. Rec. 53d Cong., 2d sess., 434. 

27 Senate Report No. 227, 53d Cong., 2d sess., 389. 


torted: "I never dreamed of such a thing as the reinstatement of 

LiHuokalani; I never heard it suggested until my return to the United 
States. "28 

Two reports, a majority and a minority, came out of the Senate com- 
mittee's investigation. The minority report was written by Cleveland's 
opponents: John Sherman, William P. Frye, J.N. Dolph, and Cushman K. 
Davis. They made the following assertions: (1) Blount's appointment 
as Commissioner was unconstitutional; (2) Cleveland's orders placing 
the naval forces of the United States under Blount were illegal; 
(3) Blount's order to haul down the flag was unlawful and the interview 
of Blount with the Queen was a violation of international law; (4) Since 
recognition had been accorded ttrerProvisional Government, President 
Cleveland had no right to reopen the question. 

The majority report was written by Chairman Morgan and signed 
by the other committee members who supported the President: M.C. 
Butler, David Turpie, John W. Daniel, and George Gray. They stated 
that they could neither censure Blount's actions as illegal nor his ap- 
pointment as irregular. Senator Morgan pointed out that many prece- 
dents could be quoted to show that such power had been exercised on 
various occasions in the past without dissent on the part of Congress 
or the people of the United States. He believed the employment 
of executive agents was a necessary part of the proper exercise of the 
diplomatic power which was "entrusted by the Constitution with the 
President. ■■ According to Morgan these precedents also showed that the 
Senate, though in session, did not have to be consulted on the appoint- 
ment of such agents or the instructions the President might give them. 
This latter group, with the exception of Chairman Morgan, did condemn 
Stevens for his participation in the events leading up to the revolution 
and concluded that he deserved public censure. 29 The reports were 
accompanied by neither resolutions nor proposals for a course of action. 

While the committee carried on its investigation, several resolutions 
regarding Hawaii were introduced and discussed in the Senate. For the 
most part the discussion followed partisan lines. The bulk of it consisted 
of denunciation and defense of the main persons involved — Stevens, 
Cleveland, Gresham, and Blount. Republican senators followed Hoar's 
lead in accusing Cleveland of over-stepping the limits of his constitution- 
al power in appointing Blount without the consent of the Senate. Powers 
conferred upon Blount, they claimed, surpassed those of regularly ap- 
pointed diplomatic and naval offices. Also in their attempt to restore 

28 Ibid.. 387-408. 

29 Ibid., 33-36. The legal aspects of Blount's appointment are discussed in Henry 
M. ^nsXon, Executive Agents in American Foreign Relations (Baltimore, 1929), 
157-58, 207, 292-303, 817-19. 


the Queen to the throne, Cleveland and Gresham had virtually assumed 
the power to make war without the consent of Congress. ^o 

Meanwhile, Democratic senators, in defense of the Administration, 
turned their wrath on ex-Minister Stevens. Most of the speeches ana- 
lyzed the evidence taken by Blount and argued that Stevens had improp- 
erly aided the revolutionaries. Therefore, according to his defenders, 
Cleveland could do nothing else but try to correct the wrong. ^^ 

During the period of Senate discussion on the annexation attempt, 
the House of Representatives decided to participate in the deUberations. 
Its discussion of the Hawaiian situation, like that of the Senate, was 
conducted along partisan lines — most Republicans condemned Cleve- 
land and Gresham while most Democrats criticized Stevens and defend- 
ed the Administration. On February 7, 1893, the House adopted, by vote 
of 177 to 78, a set of resolutions introduced on January 23 by Represen- 
tative .lames B. McCreary of Kentucky, Chairman of the House Commit- 
tee on Foreign Affairs. The resolutions condemned the actions of 
Stevens but also approved the principle of non-interference in the do- 
mestic affairs of an independent nation. They condemned annexation 
of Hawaii as uncalled for and inexpedient but warned that foreign inter- 
vention in the political affairs of the Islands would not be regarded with 
indifference by the Government of the United States. ^^ 

In the Senate a resolution, declaring that further consideration of 
any project of annexation at that time was unwise and inexpedient, was 
introduced by Senator Turpie of Indiana. It advocated a policy of letting 
the Provisional Government remain free to pursue its own line of policy, 
and it emphasized that any foreign interference would be regarded as 
unfriendly to the United States. This resolution was not approved be- 
cause of disagreement over the clause which seemingly endorsed recog- 
nition of the Provisional Government. 33 

On May 31 Senator Turpie brought in a substitute resolution. It 
read as follows: 

Resolved, That of right it belongs wholly to the people of the 
Hawaiian Islands to establish and maintain their own form of 
government and domestic policy; that the United States ought 
in nowise to interfere therewith, and that any intervention in 
the political affairs of these islands by any other government 
will be regarded as an act unfriendly to the United States. 

30 Cong. Rec. 53d Cong., 2d sess., 61-73, 128-32, 189-99, 621-28, 694-702, 1231, 


31 Ibid.. 204, 702-07. 2080-93, 2120-30, 2280-91, 3128-39. 

32 Cong. Rec, 53d Cong., 2d sess., 2001-08. 

33 Ibid.. 1220. 


This resolution was adopted by a vote of 55 to with thirty Senators 
not voting. 34 

Thus Congress passed the "poHtical football" back to the Cleveland 
Administration. There would be, so far as Congress was concerned, 
neither restoration of the Queen nor interference with the Provisional 
Government nor— for the time being at least— annexation of the Islands. 

As a result, the Cleveland Administration enjoyed the luxury of pre- 
serving and even tightening America's hold on the Islands while at the 
same time righteously rejecting the burdens of governing a polyglot 
population located two thousand miles from the mainland. This out- 
come established the broad features of what ultimately became known 
as the "open door" policy — a policy designed to allow America's pre- 
ponderent economic power to extend the American system throughout 
the world without the embarrassment and inefficiency of traditional 
colonialism. 35 

Although the anti-annexationists seemingly won the first round of 
the so-called "great debate" of the 1890's, the annexationists' desire 
for the Hawaiian Islands did not die but only became quiescent. In a 
few years it was actively expressed again under a Republican Adminis- 
tration that reintroduced the annexation question. 

Following the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings "Para- 
mount" Blount, feeling that he had once again served his country well, 
returned to Macon, Georgia. He was content to practice law and super- 
vise the cotton fields, peach orchards, and timber lands on his Jones 
County property for another decade. He continued to keep up with 
national and world affairs until his death on March 8, 1903.^6 

** The resolution and all proceedings in connection with it are found in Cong. 
Rec, 53d Cong., 2d sess., 5499-5500. 

35 See William Appleman Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (New 
York, 1962) for a study of the "open door" thesis from 1890-1961. 

36 It is interesting to note that one of Commissioner Blount's sons, Jim, was, 
like his father, a graduate of the University of Georgia. He enlisted in the Army 
as a volunteer in the Spanish- American War. President McKinley later appoint- 
ed him Judge of the First Instance in the Judiciary set up by the United States 
as a part of the civil government in the Philippines. He became an authority on 
Philippine affairs and wrote a book entitled American Occupation in the Philip- 
pines, 1898-1912. In the polidcal tradidon of his father's view of the rights of an- 
other island people, Jim Blount believed the Filipinos should be left in freedom 
to run their own affairs. As a result of this he became a vice-president of the 
Boston Anti-Imperialist League in the early 1900's. Lamar, When All Is Said and 
Done, 32-33, 98-99. Also see Report of the Eighth Annual Meeting of the Anti- 
Imperialist League (Boston, 1906), 15. 


^ > 


Volume XII 

June, 1973 


FEB 15 1974 


Published By 


A Division of the University System of Georgia 



Volume XII June, 1973 



An Introduction to Land Survey 
Systems in the Southeast Sam B. Hilliard 1 

The South Carolina Economy of the 
Middle Eighteenth Century: A View 
from Philadelphia Joseph A. Ernst and Harry Roy Merrens 16 

The North Carolina Piedmont: An 

Island of Religious Diversity W. Frank Ainsley and 30 

John W. Florin 

The Geographic Base of Urban Retardation 
in Mississippi, 1800-1840 Howard G. Adkins 35 

Home Manufactures as an Indication of 
an Emerging Appalachian Subculture, 
1840-1870 Leonard W. Brinkman 50 

The Historic Spas of Florida Burke G. Vanderhill 59 

Sugar Plantations in Louisiana: 
Origin, Dispersal, and Responsible 
Location Factors John B. Rehder 78 

Copyright © 1973, West Georgia College 

Printed in U.S.A. 

Thomasson Printing Co., Carrollton, Georgia 30117 


Price $3.00 


SAM B. MILLIARD holds baccalaureate and masters degrees from 
the University of Georgia and the Ph.D. degree in Geography from 
the University of Wisconsin (Madison). Dr. Hilliard's research in- 
terests center around aspects of the historical geography of the U.S. 
South. His writings have appeared in such journals as Proceedings of 
the American Philosophical Society and Annals, Association of 
American Geographers. He is the author of Hog Meat and Hoecake; 
Food Supply in the Old South 1840-1850. Dr. Hilliard is currently 
Associate Professor of Geography, Louisiana State University, 
Baton Rouge. 

JOSEPH A. ERNST was graduated from Brooklyn College and com- 
pleted the Ph.D. degree in History at the University of Wisconsin 
(Madison). He has published in several journals, and his most recent 
work is Money and Politics in America, 1755-1775: A Study in the 
Currency Act of 1764 and the Political Economy of Revolution (to 
be published in late 1973). Dr. Ernst is currently Professor of History 
York University, Toronto. 

H. ROY MERRENS received the B.A. degree from University Col- 
lege, London, the M.A. degree from the University of Maryland 
and the Ph.D. degree from the University of Wisconsin (Madison). 
He is presently engaged in research on the eighteenth-century geo- 
graphy of the Southern Colonies in general, and colonial South 
Carolina in particular. Dr. Merrens is the author of Colonial North 
Carolina in the Eighteenth Century: A Study in Historical Geography 
and is editor of The Colonial South Carolina Scene: Contemporary 
Views, 1697-1774 (forthcoming). He is currently Professor of Geo- 
graphy at York University, Downsview, Ontario. 

W. FRANK AINSLEY holds a Master of Divinity degree from South- 
eastern Baptist Theological Seminary and an M.A. degree in Geo- 
graphy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His 
research interests center around historical trends in population and 
social conditions in the United States, particularly as they relate to 
urban development. Mr. Ainsley is presently a Ph.D. candidate 
in Geography at the University of North Carolina. 

JOHN W. FLORIN holds the Ph.D. degree in Geography from the 
Pennsylvania State University. His teaching and research focus on 
population dynamics and social change in the United States. He 
is the author of Death in New England: Regional Variations in Mor- 
tality. Other published research has centered on aspects of school 
integration in the Southeast. Dr. Florin is presently Assistant Pro- 
fessor of Geography, University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill. 


HOWARD G. ADKINS received degrees from the University of 
Southern Mississippi and the Ph.D. degree in Geography from the 
University of Tennessee (Knoxville). His research interests focus 
on historical geography of the U.S. South. Dr. Adkins has read papers 
at various conferences and has published in Annals, Association of 
American Geographers. At present, he is Associate Professor of 
Geography at Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia. 

LEONARD W. BRINKMAN received the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees 
in Geography from the University of Wisconsin (Madison). He has 
done research in Australia and taught at the University of Melbourne. 
Dr. Brinkman's teaching and research interests include the historical 
geography of Appalachia and agricultural geography. He is currently 
Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Tennessee 

BURKE G. VANDERHILL is the recipient of degrees from Michigan 
State University, the University of Nebraska, and holds the Ph.D. 
degree in Geography from the University of Michigan. Dr. Vander- 
hill's research interests have focused on agricultural settlement 
and historical geography. He has contributed numerous articles 
to American and foreign professional journals, many of which have 
dealt with the northern frontiers of Canada. Dr. Vanderhill is present- 
ly Professor of Geography at the Florida State University, Tallahassee. 

JOHN B. REHDER received the B.A. degree from East Carolina 
University, and the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Louisiana State 
University. His teaching and research interests include cultural 
geography, rural settlement geography, and remote sensing. He is 
currently director and principal investigator for the NASA-ERTS 
Geography Remote Sensing Project: "Geographic Applications of 
ERTS-A Imagery to Rural Landscape Change." Dr. Rehder is pres- 
ently Assistant Professor of Geography at the University of Tennes- 
see (Knoxville). 



This volume represents a departure from the preceding issues of The 
Studies in The Social Sciences in that the services of two volume editors 
were used under the loose supervision of a general editor. The bulk of 
the work was done by them including the selection of a topic, the solici- 
tation of papers, the protracted correspondence connected with the 
completion of the individual articles, and the initial editorial refinement. 
The general editor's role was hmited to broad consultation, final editing, 
and liaison with the printer. 

In past issues volume topics have been rotated among the various 
social sciences, and this year the choice devolved on geography. It coin- 
cided with the 69th annual meeting of the Association of American 
Geographers which was held in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 15-18, 1973. 
The West Georgia Department of Geography served as one of the spon- 
soring institutions for the meeting. 

As in the past, this journal is financed by the University System of 
Georgia and is distributed free of charge to the libraries of colleges and 
universities in Georgia, both public and private; to the five largest in- 
stitutions o'f higher learning in each of the ten southern states; and to 
selected Georgia high schools. Interested individuals or other libraries 
may purchase copies for $3.00 to cover costs. This printing includes 
several hundred extra copies to accommodate a wider market. 

It is with pleasure that we submit to you this volume on historical 

Eugene R. Huck 
Professor of History 
General Editor 


No area of the United States has received more attention in terms 
of its general historical evolution than the Southeast. Literature on the 
subject is voluminous and continues to be amassed. Topics such as the 
colonial occupation, the Civil War, and the New South provide, as they 
have traditionally done, fertile fields for historical scholarship. However, 
the focus of analysis in the majority of these studies is placed almost 
entirely on basic social and political themes, and particularly on sub- 
jects such as slavery, the plantation, the Confederacy, and the hves of 
prominent political leaders. All of these subjects of course occupy an 
important place in the history of Southeastern regional development, 
but further study along traditional lines does not seem to promise suf- 
ficient explanation of the profound economic changes which have 
characterized the region over the last 200 years. 

By comparison relatively little attention has been devoted to the 
Southeast's economic development, even though historians have long 
stressed the importance of changing economic patterns in explaining 
the emergence of new political or social structures. The actual pro- 
cesses of regional economic development and their spatial expressions 
have been particularly ignored. The main reason for this seems to be 
one of purpose. Generally historians have not been interested in the 
Southeast's economic development as a problem in itself but rather for 
the light which it sheds on certain significant changes in other aspects 
of the region's society. Thus the general impact of economic activity 
is often deemed important and given proper consideration while the 
process by which it occurred remains somewhat outside the main 
area of interest of most investigators. 

Historians, of course, are not the only social scientists interested 
in the regional evolution of the Southeast. There are a number of other 
viewpoints concerning the process and structure of social and economic 
development. These include (1) the economists' consideration of changes 
in supply and demand and their effect on the allocation of resources; 
(2) the sociologists' view of the mores of society as the conditioners 
of economic action; (3) the geographers' concept of place and spatial 
relationships as important forces governing social and economic arrange- 
ments. The object of the papers contained in this volume is to attempt 
to interpret parts of the story of Southeastern social and economic 
development from the geographic perspective. 

John C. Upchurch 

Associate Professor and Chairman, 

Department of Geography 

David C. Weaver 

Assistant Professor of Geography 

Volume Editors 



By Sam B. Hilliard 

A fundamental yet often neglected element of the cultural land- 
scape is the system of land subdivision or survey. It is inherent in any 
organized society where individual land ownership or soil rights exists 
and was part and parcel of the "invasion" of North America by Euro- 
peans. A number of survey systems were used in the United States rang- 
ing in complexity from the simple delineation of a single headright 
grant to the elaborate and much publicized rectilinear "township and 
range" system employed by the Federal government. The latter was the 
most widespread survey system in the United States and is the one usually 
identified with the nineteenth century frontier. 

The Gulf South provides us with a number of examples of survey 
systems. Eastern Georgia mirrors the irregular pattern characteristic 
of most of Colonial America (usually called "metes and bounds") 
while Alabama and Mississippi were surveyed into square townships 
under the Federal Land Office system. Western Georgia was surveyed 
by the state into square lots though lot size varied considerably. Most 
of Lxjuisiana was surveyed under the Federal system, but the long 
French and Spanish tenure with their characteristic surveys added 
ever greater variety. The existence of these survey systems is not un- 
known to persons who have delved deeply into southern history, but the 
distribution and details of each seem not as well known as they should 
be. This paper is a brief introduction to the subject; it outlines the 
areas in which each survey type was used, describes them in some de- 
tail, and provides a number of notable examples. 

The survey system commonly identified with the southern colonies 
was the ancient method of "metes and bounds." It was used both in 
Europe and the New World and was the system under which land in 
Eastern Georgia was surveyed. The procedure for land acquisition and 
survey in Georgia was similar to that of other southern colonies. Both 
"headright" and "bounty" grants were available to prospective settlers, 
and survey usually came after the grant was made. Grants varied in 
size depending upon the grantee's family size and economic well-being, 
but usually ranged between 200 and 1,000 acr^s. Headright grants v/ere 
made to heads of families while bounty grants were made in reward 
for service during the Revolution. Each grantee chose the county in 
which he wished land and obtained a survey warrant stating the amount 
of land he was to receive but not specific location nor shape. The metes 
and bounds survey for both types of grants often resulted in irregular- 
shaped lots.^ The resulting landscape was one of an apparently hap- 
hazard arrangement of fields, roads, and forests. Due to irregular plot 


shapes the system sometimes resulted in incompleie coverage and over- 
lapping claims. Its chief advantage lay in its simplicity, ease of applica- 
tion, and freedom of choice in site selection. The grantee, particularly 
during the early stages of settlement, was free to seek out the best land 
and arrange his plot shape to contain very little undesirable land. Fre- 
quently he chose tracts some distance from known settlement to avoid 
conflicting claims. The system had been in operation in the New World 
for generations and was the most common method of land survey in 
the colonies. 

In Georgia the metes and bounds system was extended to cover the 
Creek cession of 1790 (west to the Oconee River and north to the foot 
of the Blue Ridge) with Washington and Franklin counties being created 
out of this huge cession (Figure 1). Revolutionary War bounties were 
especially important in this area, and settlement was rapid with Geor- 
gia's population doubling during the subsequent decade. Despite the 
rapid expansion immediately following the Revolution approximately 
two-thirds of Georgia remained in Indian hands until after the turn of 
the century when a drastic change in land survey and disposal was ini- 
tiated. From 1805 to 1832 the state of Georgia conducted the biggest 
land extravaganza the nation had yet seen. In a series of six land lotteries, 
the entire western two-thirds of the state was surveyed and passed into 
private hands. It was a unique system of land disposal and a unique 
survey system was devised to accomplish its purpose. The procedure 
of survey and disposal was a simple one, and though no two lotteries 
were identical, all were carried out in essentially the same fashion. 

Each eligible person registered in his county of residence and all 
names were sent to the state capitol. At the same time the prospective 
lands were surveyed into lots and the lot numbers also sent to the state 
capitol where the lottery commissioners drew the names and lot 
numbers from two separate containers after which names and lot 
numbers were matched. In cases where there were fewer lots than appli- 
cants, blank tickets were added to the land lot tickets to make them 
equal the number of applicant names. Persons drawing lots took out 
grants, paid the specified fee, and received title to the land. If he failed 
to take out a grant the lot reverted to the state. There were no residency 
or improvement requirements. 

Instructions for setting up the land districts and individual lot di- 
mensions were spelled out in detail in the individual acts creating the 
lotteries. Each county was divided into numbered land districts with 
each district subdivided into numbered square lots. The following in- 
structions are taken from the Act creating the first land lottery; they 
refer to Baldwin, Wilkinson, and Wayne counties. 

And be it further enacted. . . that the lands contained in the 
several districts shall be divided by lines running parallel with the 
dividing lines of districts, and by others crossing them at right 

40 acre "gold" lot 
l»'»*l 160 acre lot 
Wm 202 '/a acre lot 

Figure 1 

Survey systems in Georgia. Shading patterns show lot size in acres. Subdivisions 
of the shaded counties are land districts which are divided into lots. County 
boundaries and names are shown as they were at the time of their creation. 
Many were subdivided quickly thereafter 

angles, so as to form tracts of forty-five chains square, contain- 
ing two hundred and two and a half acres each . . . except the 
county of Wayne, which shall be laid off into tracts of seventy 
chains square, and to contain four hundred and ninety acres 
each . . .2 

Most districts were surveyed with their boundaries roughly north-south 

and east-west except for those of Baldwin. Gwinnett, Walton Wayne, 
Wilkinson, and parts of Habersham and Hall counties (Figure 1). Lot 
size varied from the 40 acre "gold"' lot of Cherokee County ^northwest 
Georgia) to the 490 acre lot of the Piney Woods in the southeast. Ration- 
ale for the different lot sizes is not explicit in any of the acts. Presum- 
ably, lot size reflected the prevailing attitudes toward land value. The 
discovery of gold on the Cherokee lands accounted for the small size 
of the "gold lots." Elsewhere, lot size increased toward the pine forests 
to the south except for the 250 and 490 acre lots near the Appalachians 
where, we can presume, lower value land was found. 

The Georgia survey was unique in two ways. First, it was the only 
large-scale land lottery ever attempted in the United States and, if its 
purpose was to dispose of state-owned land quickly, it was eminently 
successful. Second, it represented an early large-scale attempt at prior 
survey into like-sized square lots, a distinct departure from the systems 
used to survey headright and bounty lands. 

There was ample precedent for surveying into square or rectangular 
lots. The ordinance creating the Federal township and range system pre- 
dated the Georgia lotteries by two decades. In fact, lots in most of 
Cherokee County were 160 acres, corresponding to a quarter section 
of the Federal township. There were numerous European precedents, 
too, but we must not overlook the fact that many so-called "metes and 
bounds" tracts were square, rectangular or rectilinear (see below, 
figures 8, 9, and 10). There were basic differences, though, between 
the Georgia and Federal systems. Georgia's lottery lands lacked the 
coordinate system of meridians and base lines. The Federal system start- 
ed where the base line and principal meridian intersected at right angles 
and worked from that point, while the Georgia system started with 
square or rectangular "boxes" and created lots within them. Though 
both lots and land districts were numbered, the numbering system 
lacked uniformity, a fact not particularly surprising since a number 
of different surveyors were appointea and no uniform system was im- 
posed by law. Figure 2 shows portions of Early and Irwin counties im- 
mediately north of the Georgia-Florida boundary (present-day Thomas 
County). It illustrates the relative size of the 250 and 490 acre lots as 
well as the variation in lot numbering. 

The Georgia lottery surveys terminated abruptly at the Georgia- 
Alabama boundary, for Georgia had relinquished her claims to terri- 
tory west of this line after the Yazoo land scandals, and from these 
lands were created the states of Alabama and Mississippi. ^ It was in 
this area that the Federal township and range system was used, and 
except for a few areas where "prior grants" were recognized, the Fed- 
eral system prevailed. The basic principles of the Federal system are 
simple and, except where local conditions or attitudes dictated modi- 
fication, were standardized for the entire nation.^ Its basic elements 











49 90 95 136 














317 318 




















— DISTRItT }\i ■ 

47 92 93 






























































:t 2 





^ . _ 











3 ■ 




































_ 142 




Figure 2 

Portions of Early and Irwin counties on the Georgia-Florida boundary. Note 
the different numbering systems. District 23 in Early County starts with number 1 
in the northeast corner while district 14 in Irwin County starts in the northwest 
corner. District 13 of Irwin County starts with number one in the southwest 
corner but it numbers south to north. 

were: (1) measurement from a base line and a principal meridian and 
(2) creation of 36 square mile townships. Though simple in principle, 
survey under the Federal system was somewhat more elaborate than 
other surveys since it involved an accurate survey of both the base line 
and the principal meridian. Once these were surveyed and marked, 
townships six miles square were laid out and numbered from the inter- 
section of these lines. Townships were numbered in tiers north and 
south of the base Une (e.g., TIN, T3N, T17S). Location east and west 
of the principal meridian was accomplished by numbering "Ranges" 
in tiers east and west from the meridian (e.g. RIE, R3W, R12E). Thus 
each township was identified by its location relative to the intersection 
of the principal meridian and base line (Figure 3). Townships were 
subdivided further into 36 sections of one square mile each numbered 
1 through 36. Further subdivision of the sections into quarter sections 
and sixteenth sections was done, though not necessarily by the original 
surveyors. Virtually all of Alabama and Mississippi and most of Loui- 
siana was surveyed under the township and range system and Figure 4 
illustrates the location of meridians and base lines as well as survey 
districts. It shows the directions in which townships and ranges were 

numbered from the meridians and base lines. 

Although the Federal system was extended to encompass virtually 
all of the three states, a substantial portion of Louisiana and small parts 
of Alabama and Mississippi had been granted to individuals under 
previous governments, and one of the tenets under which the United 







































6 miles ' 






1 mile 

T3N , R 2 E 


R 2 W 


Rl E 


R 3 E 

R 4 E 

1^^^^— — — ^ ^^■^^— 







Figure 3 

Hypothetical view of the Federal survey systems. It shows the method of laying 
out and numbering townships along the base line and principal meridian. Ex- 
panded views ot townships and sections illustrate ideal subdivision, though in 
Lx)uisiana and parts of Mississippi and Alabama the existence of long lots and 
prior claims necessitated considerable modification. 

States survey operated was that bona fide prior grants would be honor- 
ed. Perhaps the most renowned of these was the French long lot, a 
system of granting plots alongside streams. Its characteristic patterns 
on the landscape and its orientation toward streams gave an identity 
that is unique. Sometimes referred to as the arpent system (from the 
French unit of measure), the long lot survey system is prevalent through- 
out southern Louisiana where large streams are found. ^ It was extreme- 
ly well suited to conditions in Louisiana and had been used in Europe 
for centuries. Its counterpart in the New World was the seigneurial 
system in New France (Quebec) but the two were by no means identi- 
cal. In New France the basic survey was the seigneurie or large feudal 
estate while in Louisiana plots were granted directly to individuals. 
Although the long lot should not be viewed as an adjustment to the New 
World environment, there was much to recommend it in Louisiana. 
From the very early years, Louisiana settlers recognized a basic fact 
of alluvial morphology— the best-drained land on a river floodplain 
is the "natural levee" immediately adjacent to the river. Early French 
settlement was along the Mississippi upriver from New Orleans, but 
with the arrival of large numbers of settlers in the 1700's the increased 

Figure 4 

Base lines and principal meridians in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. 
Arrows indicate directions in which townships and ranges are numbered in each 
district. Individual townships are too small to be shown at this scale. 

demand for land pushed settlement onto other available streams and 
bayous with favorite sites being the natural levees. Levees varied in 
size and height but most extended from a few hundred yards to more 
than a mile from the river terminating in poorly drained "backswamp." 
It was along these natural levees that settlement occurred and this pre- 
ference was shown in the early surveys. Both roads and buildings were 
located along levee crests making river frontage very desirable. Lots 
were surveyed with their long axes at right angles to the river; their 
widths varied depending upon lot shape. Due to the prevalence of 
stream meanders, few lots were true rectangles though many were 
parallelograms (Figure 5). Along the inside of stream meanders the 

Figure 5 

A part of Ascension Parish in Louisiana near Donaldsonville. Numbered plots 
represent individual tracts. Since it was surveyed under the Federal system, 
section numbers are provided, but the large number of "prior" grants prohi- 
bited the typical 36 section survey. 

lot tapered in width from front to back, while along the outside it taper- 
ed from back to front. The ideal width/length ratio was 5 x 40 arpents. 
The 40 arpent length came to be the standard, and often the back 
boundary is marked by the existence of a 40 arpent road running parallel 
to the streams (Figure 5). 

The method of land acquisition was similar to that of Eastern 
Georgia, though the process was more complicated. Instead of a survey 
warrant the prospective settler submitted a request for land, and sev- 
eral steps were involved before title was issued. It appears also that a 
major effort was made to ensure contiguous tract settlement while 
little more than lip service was paid to such orderliness in Eastern 
Georgia. Survey was by no means elaborate, though, since many sur- 
veyors simply surveyed the river line and marked the width leaving back 
lines unsurveyed for years.^ Complete survey did not come until after 
the Louisiana Purchase when the United States' rectangular survey was 
extended into Louisiana. 

Spanish control in Louisiana resulted in some departure from the 
French system. A number of grants were made in interior Louisiana 
which did not conform to the long lot pattern. Many small tracts were 
granted, but in areas especially well-suited to cattle ranching, huge 
tracts containing several thousand acres were made. Many Spanish 
grants were made in West Florida and in shape and size are scarcely 
distinguishable from the typical English or American irregular tract. 
Despite the introduction of the Spanish sido grants, they differed little 
from those of the previous administration, since the Spanish adopted 
the arpent system. 

Despite the existence of many early grants in Louisiana, adoption 
of the Federal system had a significant impact on the land system. It 
provided a relatively accurate survey of existing land grants, it surveyed 
the previously unsettled part of the state, and it continued the process 
of surveying long lots, though the procedure was somewhat different 
from that employed by the French and Spanish. 

In areas where prior grants had been made, the Federal survey 
superimposed a grid of township and range lines at six mile intervals 
thereby creating townships, but instead of subdividing into square mile 
sections the prior grants were treated as sections and numbered accord- 
ingly. Where townships were not covered by existing grants, which in- 
cluded much of the backswamp areas, surveyors marked off square 
mile sections surveying and numbering unclaimed land surveyed along 
with previously-made grants (Figure 6). 

The attractiveness of the long lot was well known to Louisiana 
settlers, and considerable resistance was encountered when the town- 
ship and range system was proposed. As a consequence, the Federal 
system was modified to allow survey of long lots, and along the bayous 
north of Vicksburg, a number of such lots were surveyed. They were 
a part of the Federal system and bore township and section numbers 

as well as additional numbers due to further subdivision into eighths 
(Figure 7). 

In the western part of the Natchez District of Mississippi and the 
Florida Parishes of Louisiana, much of the land was granted prior to 
the Federal survey. Consequently, township and range lines were super- 
imposed over existing plots. In some cases only one or two small prior 
claims existed but in other townships most, in some cases all, of the 
land had been granted previously. Figures 8, 9. and 10 illustrate the ka- 
leidoscopic patterns created in some of the townships. Figure 8 shows 
a number of irregular grants but most of the township was unclaimed 
at the time of survey. Figure 9 is a map of T5N, RIW which shows 
approximately one half of it in prior claims, some quite large; for ex- 

Figure 6 

Parts of two townships in Assumption Parish on Bayou Lafourche showing 
long lots and square mile sections. Note that two tiers of long lots were laid out, 
thus the two lines running roughly parallel to Bayou Lafourche are 40 and 80 
arpent lines. In some cases surveyors used the numbers 1 through 36 for square 
mile sections only, starting long lots with number 37. However, in many areas 
all lots were numbered consecutively. Shading indicates complex area of lots 
too small to show at this scale. 


Figure 7 

Townships T21N, R9W, and T21N, RlOW in the Natchez District of Mississippi. 
Most long lot sections contained from 600 to 700 acres arc the individual strips 
contained from 75 to 125 acres. Note the rectangular sections in the southeastern 
sector. The subdivision of sections into long lots and the special numbering of 
these sub-sections is a feature of the American long lot system. Note the paral- 
lel lots in section 10 and the fantail shapes in section 9 and 2 (2 is part of RlOW). 


ample, the surveyor lists the size of section 20 as 3,444 acres. Figure 10 
is a map of T7N, R2W, the township immediately east of Natchez, 
which contained no unclaimed land at the time of survey. A total of 95 
plots were claimed with most being irregular in size and shape. 

Figure 8 

TIN, RIW in the Natchez District of Mississippi. Shaded plots are prior claims. 
Overlapped shading indicates conflicting claims. In such cases both were sur- 
veyed leaving litigation up to other authorities. Although this map does not 
show drainage, the elongated rectangles were laid out along streams indicating 
some preference for such sites. 


Figure 9 

T5N RIW in the Natchez District of Mississippi. Shading indicates prior claim. 
Ovedapped patterns show conflicting claims. Note that ^^reams are sometirnes 
used as boundaries, but the most common type is a straight line Unhke some 
townships in Louisiana where the numbers 1 through 36 were reserved for regu 
lar square mile sections, these sections are numbered consecutively. 


'^ /A \ 12 




8 / 


' f 


y 7\ i3\ 

r~ ■ 

— — ~L_ 


16 17 / \ \ 

^<r^~^ / 


\ / ( y^ 


21 \ ^J, 
22 / 


\36i / K, / " 
S \J 33 

32 ^— — -l___j 29 




55 \r ____S 

53 J 

•43 ^^^ 



" uv 

56 I "^^ / 

■) /~' 58 y 

5' 60 

48 / 



-5^ ( ^\ 

././N/-C{^ /—-J 

>^ *' ^^N~~ 

— -T^ 


^'° w 

69 \ / —J 

65 \J 




T >J / 83 ; 

/ ^ X / 

78 \ 



\ 80 

/ / / '' 
1 88 / / \ / 

90 ]l "/V^ 

82 /__ 


^\^ 95 

Figure 10 

7"7M R2W in the Natchez District of Mississippi. All land was taken up by prior 
claims. A total of nine such townships were near the city of Natchez, but in 
Louisiana approximately 100 townships were completely taken up by prior 
claims, of which about a third were in the Florida parishes. 


Figure 11 m long lot system 
Major survey systems used in the Gulf South. 


These examples should serve to point out the complexity of land 
subdivision in the Gulf South. Virtually every major type of land survey 
ever used in the United States was employed. Figure 11 is a general- 
ized outline of the distribution of the major survey systems. Due to the 
map scale considerable detail has been omitted, but it does give a gen- 
eralized picture and should whet our appetites for further study. Clear- 
ly, it is a topic rich in promise to the prospective researcher. 


^ Proper terminology is elusive when we talk about such surveys. The old 
term "metes and bounds" refers to a plot of land bounded by natural (and pre- 
sumably somewhat permanent) features such as streams. Almost by definition 
it implies an irregular-shaped plot of no specific size or configuration. The 
term is used commonly in the United States to refer to any survey resulting in 
irregular-shaped plots, though "metes and bounds" are no longer used exclu- 
sively. In fact, most plots surveyed in eastern Georgia were irregular in shape 
but not necessarily bounded by natural features. Most were surveyed by chain 
and compass resulting in straight boundaries, either square or rectangular in 

^ Augustin S. Clayton, A Compilation of the Laws of the State of Georgia . . . 
(Augusta, 1812), p. 101. 

3 Samuel G. McLendon, History of the Public Domain in Georgia (Atlanta. 

^ For discussions of the Public Domain, its survey, and disposal see Benjamin 
H. Hibbard, A History of the Public Land Policies (New York, 1939); William D. 
Pattison, Beginnings of the American Rectangular Land Survey System. 1784- 
1800 (Chicago, 1957); Roy M. Robbins, Our Landed Heritage: The Public 
Domain, 1776-1936 (Lincoln, 1962); and Norman J.W. Thrower, Original Survey 
and Land Subdivision: A Comparative Study of the Form and Effect of Con- 
trasting Cadastral Surveys (Chicago, 1966). 

5 An excellent source for Louisiana is John W. Hall, "Louisiana Survey Systems: 
Their Antecedents, Distribution, and Characteristics," Unpublished Ph.D. dis- 
sertation, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, 1970. 

^ Hall, p. 44. For a similar situation in New France see Richard C. Harris, The 
Seigneurial System in Early Canada (Madison, 1966), p. 24. 





By Joseph A. Ernst and H. Roy Merrens* 

We do not have a full-scale study of the colonial South Carolina 
economy. But when that work comes to be written, its major theme will 
likely be the central importance of Charleston. The tradition is already 
well-established. The few histories of the early South Carolina economy 
that have appeared invariably present Charleston as "the hub" or the 
focus of the economic life of the province. And not without reason. 
Much economic activity did take place in Charleston. Moreover, the 
city's past proves especially interesting to scholars both because of the 
inherent importance of old Charleston — as the fourth largest urban 
centre in early America, it enjoyed a unique position among the Southern 
colonies— and because of the charms of the townscape that survive 
from the past.^ 

Nonetheless, the fact remains that despite the significance and 
attractiveness of Charleston, any account of South Carolina's economy 
as viewed from the metropolitan centre, fails to confront a number of 
basic issues. Existing Charleston-based studies, for instance, tell us 
virtually nothing about the structure, function, and operation of the 
rice or indigo trade— to mention but two of the most important commo- 
dities that were funnelled through the Charleston market. Nor do they 
reveal very much about the regional patterns of agricultural production, 
distribution, and consumption; the provincial system of currency and 
credit; or the distribution of British goods. ^ In a word, the difficulty 
v^'ith restricting one's view to Charleston is that much too much of the 
economic landscape remains hidden. It may be argued, then, that a 
necessary first step in the effort to describe and analyze the economic 
life of South Carolina during the mid-eighteenth century is to shift the 
focus of attention away from Charleston. 

An appropriate viewpoint for the study of South Carolina's economy 
remains necessary, of course, and ours is Philadelphia. For one thing, 
the eccentric whereabouts of that city relative to South Carolina under- 
scores the fact that the local economy— or better, economies— encom- 
passed not only all of South Carolina but to some extent the Mainland 
Colonies, the West Indies, the British Isles, Southern Europe, and 

* The authors are grateful for the financial assistance that has supported their 
individual projects and has been generously granted by the John Simon Guggen- 
heim Memorial Foundadon, the American Council of Learned Sociedes, the 
Faculty of Arts of York University, and Mr. George Townes, of Greenville, 
South Carolina. 


Africa. Clearly, then, what is needed is a series of studies of the regional 
economies of South Carolina as viewed from places as diverse as New- 
port, Rhode Island; Liverpool, England; Kingston, Jamaica; Oporto, 
Portugal; and Dahomey, West Africa. In the second place, the view 
from Philadelphia throws new light on old problems. More specifically, 
this view helps to analyze and relate a number of the inter-dependent 
and dynamic factors that give meaning and form to the over-all pro- 
vincial economy, namely, the movement of people, of goods, of informa- 
tion, and, finally, of capital. 

Typically, the movement of people from Philadelphia to South 
Carolina remained an anonymous process, but a few of those who moved 
are readily identifiable. The economic implications of their re-settle- 
ment in South Carolina are not too difficult to discern, because most 
of those who came from Philadelphia came either to farm or to engage 
in mercantile activities. 

Farmers presumably arrived in greater numbers than did merchants, 
and even if most of the farmers went unrecorded, the information bear- 
ing on the few who left a record of their move is revealing. Some of 
the settlers came in groups and their arrival in the 1730's played an 
important part in the establishment of the townships, a mode of settle- 
ment peculiar to South Carolina. Thus one group of over two dozen 
immigrants arrived in Philadelphia in the spring of 1735 to settle in the 
new township of Queensborough.^ Similarly, Welshmen moving from 
Philadelphia in the 1730's contributed to the settlement of the distinc- 
tively Welsh region of colonial South Carolina, known as the Welsh 
Tract and later as Welsh Neck.'* Immigration continued throughout 
the next decade but by then was less oriented towards townships. An 
entry in the Journal of The Council for March 16, 1748/49, for example, 
records about three or four dozen petitions for land made by new 
settlers. Few of these petitions reveal where the applicants came from, 
but of these few, no less than three specified Philadelphia. One, William 
Leonard, was granted 150 acres located on a major road in the back- 
country; another, Peter Renfro, received 500 acres in the fork of the 
Broad and Saludy Rivers; and the third, George Ebener, a coppersmith, 
successfully petitioned for 400 acres and a town lot in Saxe Gotha 

A final point with regard to the migrants who came from, or via, 
Philadelphia warrants further and deeper analysis than we can give 
it here. This involves the question of the onset of crop specialization 
and the commercialization of farming in the mid-eighteenth century. 
The subject has received scant attention thus far, but the testimony of 
newcomers from Philadelphia provides some clues to the emergence 
of one form of commercial specialization. Andrew Holman, for instance, 
reported in March, 1750, that after leaving Philadelphia to re-settle 
in the South Carolina backcountry he "planted three sorts of Wheat 


to carry on the Flour Trade."^ Similarly, Nicholas Boater, who moved 
into the same area at about the same time and who also came from 
Philadelphia, stated that his aim was to carry on wheat planting "which 
[he] hath been Bred to."'^ Certainly the pertinent evidence remains frag- 
mentary and tenuous; it is equally certain, however, that such develop- 
ments represent the expansion southwards of the colonial wheat belt, 
which, by mid-eighteenth century, extended through western North 
Carolina via parts of Maryland and Virginia through the Middle Col- 
onies to the Hudson Valley.^ 

Far fewer in number were the Philadelphia merchants who got to 
South Carolina. And generally they came as visitors rather than would- 
be residents. Nevertheless, they appear more conspicuous in the con- 
temporary record primarily because they invariably kept a journal 
of their trip. Their purpose in coming was to spy out the land, to eval- 
uate prospects for trade, and to establish useful personal contacts. 
Often they combined pleasure with business, happily exchanging the 
cold Northern winter and the slack season in Philadelphia for the mild 
southern clime and busy trading times in South CaroHna. One such 
visitor was Pelatiah Webster, a Philadelphia merchant, who arrived in 
Charleston in 1765. During his stay, he appears to have had more success 
in dining and wining with some of the affluent merchants and planters 
than he had in selling his Philadelphia flour, seemingly because he had 
failed to allow for the diminished prospects for this item in South Caro- 
lina at the time.^ Another visitor, Philadelphia merchant William 
Pollard, made only a brief stopover in Charleston during the winter 
of 1774, but his sojourn lasted long enough to enable him to evaluate 
the major mercantile houses and to send his English connections a 
list of the seventeen safest and strongest firms, ranked according to 
their reputed stabihty.^*^ 

A somewhat different group of visiting Philadelphia merchants 
were the Quakers. Quaker merchants interested themselves not only in 
economic conditions in Charleston but also in religious conditions 
among the little Society of Friends in the town.^^ Two representative 
figures who arrived in the 1740's were William Logan and James Pember- 
ton, both agents of important Quaker houses in Philadelphia. ^2 a 
later Quaker coming on a more protracted visit was William Dillwyn, 
who remained in South Carolina in 1772 and 1773. Dillwyn, it seems, 
left Philadelphia to set himself up in business with a South Carolinian, 
drawing upon knowledge and ties acquired in earlier ventures in South 
Carolina and leaning upon his continuing connections with major 
Quaker houses in Philadelphia. That he did not stay longer appears 
to be related to certain non-economic conditions in Charleston. Speci- 
fically, Dillwyn feared for the loss of his soul in a place where he found 
a "low State of Things in a religious Sense and Fewness of number in 
the same religious Profession. ^^ 


A related if more intricate movement was the flow of goods between 
Philadelphia and South CaroHna. Items and amounts of Pennsylvania 
products shipped from Philadelphia to South Carolina varied consid- 
erably, reflecting the fact that during the mid-eighteenth century Phil- 
adelphia merchants, such as Pollard, were groping to find lucrative ex- 
ports at the same time as the developing South CaroHna economy 
offered steadily diminishing prospects for continuing formerly profit- 
able kinds of traffic. Trade in flour, bread, and beer best illustrates 
this point. ^^ It is worth noting, however, that Philadelphia also shipped 
sizeable quantities of British goods to Charleston from time to time. 
It might even be argued that the Philadelphia merchants occasionally 
served as secondary suppliers of such goods in the Southern market. ^^ 
Flour and bread constituted the major export items of the Phila- 
adelphia merchants, and by the 1730's they regularly earmarked sub- 
stantial shipments for the South Carolina market. The trade continued 
through the next decade as reflected in the attempt by the Philadelphia 
house of Samuel Powel and Son to ship to South Carolina merchants 
the sizeable quantities of flour and bread they "regularly requested. 
Thus Gabriel Manigault, the Charleston merchant, received several 
hundred barrels of flour and bread per year from the Powels in the mid- 
40's. Even so Manigault did not obtain all he wanted, and by 1748 
seriously contemplated operating a small vessel of his own to ply reg- 
ularly between Charleston and Philadelphia in order to get the amounts 
he desired. 1^ But this traffic in flour and bread continued to be a viable 
enterprise only until wheat production spread to South Carolina, a 
development that elicited from Governor James Glen in 1749 the 
remark that New York and Pennsylvania: 

. . . used to drain us of all the little Money and Bills we could gain 
upon our Trade with other Places, in Payment for the great 
Quantities of Bread, Flour, Beer, Hams, Bacon and other Com- 
modities of their Produce wherewith they then supplied us: all 
which, excepting Beer, our new Townships, inhabited by Ger- 
mans, began to supply us with.^'^ 

Glen's remarks were contained in a report to the Board of Trade and 
a note of official optimism may have led to some exaggeration. None- 
theless, within a decade of the Revolution wheat cultivation had engaged 
the attention of a sufficient number of South Carolina settlers so that 
Philadelphia merchants could no longer be certain of profitable exports, 
as Pelatiah Webster discovered in 1765. 

A dependency on Philadelphia beer survived a little longer, as 
Governor Glen also noted in his 1749 report. Patterns of trade in bar- 
relled and bottled beer, however, were in any case more complex and 
more responsive to fads and fancies. Beer, which then as now consti- 
tuted something of a seasonal item, certainly arrived from Philadelphia 
as early as the 1730's and 1740's, presumably destined for a small and 


fastidious Carolina market comprising those who either did not relish 
or could not be seen drinking crude home brews. For example, accom- 
panying the bread and flour Philadelphia merchant John Reynell sent 
to South Carolina in February 1743, were 27 barrels of strong beer and 
seven barrels of best beer— and Reynell was only one of several Phila- 
delphia merchants regularly shipping to Charleston a variety of beers 
including two particularly desirable kinds, Matlock's Best Beer and 
Reben Haynes' Best Double Beer.^^ Imported beers had names and 
auras that undoubtedly enabled hosts to have them brought to table 
with some flourish, or more casually and modestly served with but a 
slight and passing mention of their reputable and far away origins. Even 
so the Carolinians seem to have increasingly preferred beer and ale 
from England and Scotland to the Philadelphia product. Perhaps 
this development reflected the growing affluence of the elite who 
constituted the beer market; perhaps the longer sea voyage gave British 
beer something extra; or perhaps imports from Britain were simply 
viewed with special favour. 

In any event, Charlestonians continued to import beer from England 
while the market for the Philadelphia product sharply contracted. An 
English visitor to South Carolina in 1774, for instance, after saying a 
few derogatory words about the inferiority of local brews, noted with 
some satisfaction that fortunately: 

Charles Town is very well supplied with Porter from England at 
9 Shillings per dozen Bottles, which is commonly Drank by most 
People of Property at Meals . . . . ^^ 

It seems that domestic beer production, which began on a systematic 
basis possibly as early as mid-century, always supplemented Philadel- 
phia beer to some extent. But the prospects of that trade were greatly 
diminished with the establishment of Mr. Edmund Egan's brewery in 
Charleston, a brewery said by 1774 to be: "Now in such a State as to 
rival our Northern Neighbours, and retain in this Province near 20,000 
pounds a Year."2o With the successful establishment of a reputable 
local brewery there was less need than ever to resort to Philadelphia 
beer— although presumably the inveterate and inflexible Anglophiles 
were still preferring to buy British. 

Movement of products in the opposite direction, from South Caro- 
lina to Philadelphia, is perhaps even more revealing of the changing 
economy of South Carolina at mid-century. Again, this movement would 
require an extended treatment to do it justice but we will resort to only 
five illustrations, centering around naval stores, livestock, citrus fruits, 
rice, and cloth, and we will simply make one or two points about each 
of the five. 

Trade in naval stores is of special interest, because it points to an 
early instance of regional specialization in South Carolina's economy. 
Production of naval stores took place largely in the northeastern part 


of the colony and was concentrated north and west of the town of 
Georgetown, the centre of the trade. This specialization is clearly re- 
vealed by the activities of Philadelphia merchant Robert Ellis in the 
i730's and 1740's.2i Much involved in business with all of the Southern 
Colonies as well as the West Indies, EUis regularly visited South Caro- 
lina for a spell during the winter in order to further his interests. In his 
dealings with several of the most important merchants in Georgetown, 
Ellis diligently sought to purchase the locally-produced tar, pitch, and 
turpentine. Whether this regional emphasis persisted during subsequent 
decades remains unclear. Nor are we certain just why this emphasis 
developed in this particular region. Certainly by the end of the colonial 
period it must have been relatively much less significant; by then large- 
scale production of tar, pitch, and turpentine in North Carolina eclipsed 
the production of naval stores elsewhere along the Seaboard. 22 

Movements of livestock from colonial South Carolina to Phila- 
delphia have been obfuscated by legends and so litde studied that it 
is best to approach the contemporary record with a bare minimum of 
assumptions. The evidence for such movements is meagre. But the little 
there is indicates that by the late 1760's drovers were moving cattle over- 
land from South Carolina to Philadelphia. This movement is almost 
incredible, given the quality of colonial stock, the distance that had to 
be covered, and the nature of the terrain traversed. That it really did 
take place, however, is evident from the record,^^ although from where 
in South Carolina, how frequently, and when the drives began are ques- 
tions on which the record is at best obscure. Inventories of estates clear- 
ly demonstrate that commercial livestock raising was less a small side- 
line of many farmers than a major emphasis of a small number of large 
planters. 24 The large-scale raisers of livestock maintained constantly- 
growing herds with animals numbering in the hundreds and even 
thousands. In 1761, Thomas Elliot's estate, to take an extreme example, 
listed almost five thousand head of cattle, distributed among four dif- 
ferent locations. 25 

The full story of the livestock industry warrants monographic atten- 
tion. Here we can only suggest a few hypotheses regarding this activ- 
ity. An emphasis on livestock must have functioned as a profitable low- 
capital investment form of land-use for large planters who had reached 
some sort of limit in rice and indigo planting, a limit presumably set 
not by land but by capital available for investing in slave-holdings. 
For such planters, livestock raising probably presented an attractive 
way of utilizing land. It required a minimal investment in labour yet 
afforded the prospect of furnishing a desirable source of income, which 
was probably usually supplemental, but occasionally might have con- 
stituted a crucial tide-over source of profits when rice prices or harvests 
were down. Evidence for the concentration of this activity in particular 
sections of coastal South Carolina is also revealing. It suggests localiza- 
tion in response to a number of factors— and a regionalization which 


bears little relationship to Turnerian formulations or to environmental 
conditions. Big-time cattle raising became concentrated in the area 
between Georgia and, roughly, the Combahee River, apparently be- 
cause of the prevalence of somewhat larger land-holdings in this area. 
In turn, this critical difference in size of holding was probably a result 
of land engrossment during the first decades of the eighteenth century. ^6 
This by no means reveals the whole story of large-scale livestock 
raising. Perhaps it provides the essence of it, however. If these hypothe- 
ses prove valid, then the overland drives to Philadelphia make some 
sense in terms of a quest for outlets that could be reached at minimal 
cost by planters who produced more stock than could be absorbed by 
South Carolina markets and who simply hired drovers to dispose of 
the animals in Philadelphia, or, presumably, at any good market they 
came across en route to the Pennsylvania city. 

No less interesting was the trade in oranges. In the long run, Caro- 
hna experiments with citrus and other exotic fruit came to little. For 
a time, however, the production of oranges held out some hope of com- 
mercial success. By the 1740's, the planting of orange trees, especially 
in the town of Charleston, had reached the point where production 
out-stripped local consumption. In 1744, for instance, local merchants 
prepared considerable quantities of oranges for shipment to Philadel- 
phia and some of the large cities of the north. The industry neverthe- 
less failed to live up to its promises. Winter weather took its inevit- 
able toll of the trees, and trade contracted. Crates of Charleston oranges 
still reaching Philadelphia by the 1760's came more often as favours to 
friends and business correspondents than as merchandise. In addition, 
it should be noted that the citrus trade between the two cities proved 
to be a two-way street. Years before oranges found their way north, 
barrels of limes and casks of lime juice from southern Europe regularly 
left Philadelphia for Charleston, both for private use in the form of 
presents and for public sale. In the Charleston market they competed 
with limes from the West Indies, although limes and lime juice turned 
out to be dispensable fare. The appearance of oranges and orange juice 
soon drove the rival fruit from local shelves.^'' 

Two final items of trade between Charleston and Philadelphia were 
dry goods and rice. Because of the larger northern outlets, Charleston's 
wholesale merchants who conducted the major part of the import bus- 
iness with Britain ordinarily sent their surplus dry goods to Philadelphia 
rather than dispose of them at a loss at Vendue, or public auction, in 
South Carolina — though resorting to Vendue became a familiar prac- 
tice in the mid-1760's when cloth of all kinds often choked the Phila- 
delphia market as well.^^ This general increase in Vendue sales in the 
period was an aspect of a larger structural development, which not only 
altered the patterns of trade between South Carolina and Philadelphia 
but also threatened the continuance of the existing commercial system 
in all the colonial ports and helped shape the gathering revolutionary 


movement. After the French and Indian War, Vendue masters in the 
great ports, who had heretofore provided the local merchant communi- 
ties with an outlet for their surplus, damaged, or obsolete goods, now 
began importing heavily on their own account directly from British 
merchant suppliers. The end result was a continuing glut in the dry 
goods sector throughout the 1760's and an even greater dependency on 
the Vendue.29 

Trade in rice, on the other hand, responded to a somewhat different 
set of economic factors. One certainly was the local demand for rice 
in the regional trade area serviced by Philadelphia. That market re- 
mained relatively small as compared with the demand for wheat and 
other grains which though more expensive were nevertheless preferred. 
Another factor was the demand in Charleston for products from the 
Middle Colonies. Since Philadelphia ships rarely, if ever, made an empty 
run, favourable markets in the Charleston area would at times attract 
more than enough ships to supply the northern city's rice needs. Under 
these circumstances Philadelphia shippers would take rice directly 
to Europe or the West Indies."^^ Likewise high freight rates in the rice 
trade would also draw additional sail from Philadelphia, although in 
such cases the rich would more likely be carried directly to foreign 
ports. 3^ 

The other two movements, of information and of capital, we will 
treat much more briefly and slighdy differendy. Colonial business cor- 
respondents regularly carried current news about crop conditions, 
commodity prices, sterling exchange rates, the market for British goods, 
freight rates, and the like.^^ But the flow of information between Phil- 
adelphia merchants and South Carolina revealed a special character 
which we have already touched upon incidentally, that is, the particular 
usefulness to Philadelphia merchants of news sent back to them by 
colleagues, partners, or family members who visited South Carolina. 
In this connection we have noted earlier the activities of Robert Ellis, 
William Pollard, and Pelatiah Webster, all of whom learned much about 
local trade and business conditions during their stay in South Carolina. 
Clearly some Charlestonians also made the trek in the opposite direc- 
tion, for reasons of business as well as pleasure, and served their cor- 
respondents at home in much the same way. Nevertheless, the record 
suggests that this kind of movement largely operated from north to 
south. This is possibly both a witness to the entrepreneurial abilities 
and aggressiveness of the Philadelphians and a reflection of the some- 
what different structure of trade and thus of mercantile functions in 
the Middle and Southern Colonies. In any event, especially impressive 
is the extent to which visiting merchants, Quakers in particular, kept 
their counterparts back in Philadelphia informed of what was happen- 
ing in South Carolina and of what opportunities prospects seemed to 


Quaker merchant William Dillwyn serves as a case in point. When 
Dillwyn sailed from Philadelphia for a visit to South Carolina in October, 
1772, his fellow passengers included several South Carolinians (as well 
as two Philadelphians heading south for the sake of the mild winter and 
of their health). Contact with them seems to have led to later business 
dealings and ventures. During his visit, Dillwyn kept a detailed diary of 
what he had observed, and of whom he met, and whiie in South Carolina 
he corresponded with Quaker merchants both in Philadelphia and in 
New Jersey, including the important Philadelphia house of Pemberton.33 
The Pemberton connection is significant in a somewhat different 
context, and it will serve as an introduction to the subject of the move- 
ment of capital at the time. An important development in South Caro- 
lina at mid-century was the rapid emergence of Camden (about 125 
miles northwest of Charleston) as an interior urban centre, based on 
functions revolving around trading and milling activities, and closely 
resembling urban growth taking place at about the same time in North 
Carolina and even further north. ^^ Camden differed from the other 
urban centres in its Quaker origins. Hence, given the strength and role 
of Quaker mercantile ties between Philadelphia and South Carolina, 
it would not be surprising if Camden's emergence was both another 
expression of the kind of axis we have been describing and, more to the 
point, of substantial Philadelphia investments. On the other hand, 
the fact that the Quakers who originally settled the Camden area around 
1750 came from Ireland suggests that the Philadelphia Quaker houses 
were largely irrelevant to Camden's early growth. ^^ But the rapid 
and boom-like growth of the town during the two decades prior to the 
Revolution was another matter. 

During this period of Camden's development the leading figure was 
Joseph Kershaw. Kershaw certainly played a major part in establishing 
the flour mills, sawmills, stores, and taverns that together with a couple 
of public buildings constituted the essential urban nucleus of Camden.^^ 
When Dr. James Clitherall passed through the town in 1776 (incidentally 
on a trip escorting two Charleston ladies going to Philadelphia), he saw 
much of Camden and its vicinity, and of Mr. Kershaw. After several 
days in the town he wrote that: 

Mr. Kershaw who originally planned, and was the Proprietor of 

Camden, seemed much respected and beloved. I believe [he] had 

much influence among the people and is their Representative in 

Assembly. Everyone seemed glad to see him and ready to serve 

him .... Camden is a well laid out Town, has some large Houses 

in it among which are the Court House and Gaol.^'^ 

Unlike Clitherall, William Dillwyn had not got to Camden during 

his South Carolina visit a few years before. But he had made a point 

of meeting Kershaw several times while Kershaw was wintering in 

Charleston. Dillwyn not only appreciated Kershaw's affluence, his 

popularity, and his large business activities but also took note of just 


one fact about Kershaw's wife: though Kershaw was not a Quaker, his 
wife was related to the Pemberton family of Philadelphia Quaker mer- 
chants.38 Admittedly while the marital tie may be of no particular 
import, Kershaw's business connections with a Philadelphia Quaker 
merchant, John Reynell, through the partnership of John Chestnut, 
William Ancrum, Aaron Loocock, Ely Kershaw and Joseph Kershaw, 
are a matter of record.^^ 

Whatever might be the precise role of the Quaker merchants as in- 
vestors in Camden, or in the South Carolina economy as a whole, it is 
clear that the movement of capital from Philadelphia to Charleston, 
and vice versa, took the usual form of the sale of goods and commodi- 
ties on short credit, although a certain amount of money-capital was sent 
either as drafts or sterling bills of exchange. In addition, money as a 
means of payment, whether as coin, promissory notes, drafts, inland 
or sterling bills of exchange, moved freely, in the ordinary course 
of business, in both directions.^*^ On those occasions when it did not 
move quickly enough— quick payment being held essential for the life 
of trade— it had to be coaxed or forced. Then as now the debt collector 
played a familiar role on the business scene, and anything was fair in 
dunning for debts. Thus when Philip Abraham and his family "Sneaked 
off" to Philadelphia, without clearing up their debts in Charleston, 
one of their creditors, Lionel Chalmers, wrote to Israel Pemberton, 
the great Philadelphia merchant, to "apply to their Synagogue, who 
perhaps would compel him to do Justice; the Method however I leave 
to yourself."'*^ 

There is a tendency in some quarters to look down on those students 
of the colonial past who still retain an interest in description and parti- 
cularism—that is, in describing and detailing the intricacies of the 
provincial economies. But the fact remains that the "new" economic 
approaches, like the "old," have failed to tell us very much about the 
shape or functioning of the whole of economic life in seventeenth and 
eighteenth-century America. Admittedly, our own approach has not 
been radical. We have simply looked at the economy of the whole 
colony from the vantage point of a well-known big city. Our point of 
departure has been the eccentric location of that city and our emphasis 
on the relationships among the movement of people, goods, informa- 
tion, and capital. The argument here is that what is required is a series 
of studies of the South Carolina economy as seen from numerous places, 
widely separated in both time and space, such as from Barbados in the 
late seventeenth century or from Bristol in the mid-eighteenth century. 

In sum, perhaps the time has come to forget new fashions and old 
modes, to get on with the task of seeing the changing colonial economies 
as a functional whole, and to use whatever conceptual tools prove neces- 
sary to do the job. 



^ Two notable examples of this interest are: Leila Sellers, Charleston Business 
on the Eve of the American Revolution (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1934); and George 
C. Rogers, Jr., Charleston in the Age of the Pinckneys (Norman. Okla., 1969). 

2 Despite its obvious importance, the colonial economy of South Carolina has 
received far less scholarly attention than have the economies of the other Main- 
land Colonies (with the possible exceptions of North Carolina and Georgia). 
A recent bibliographical assessment appears in M. Eugene Sirmans, Colonial 
South Carolina: A Political History, 1663-1763 {Chapel Hill, N.C., 1966), pp. 374- 
75. The most relevant recent study. Converse D. Clowse, Economic Beginnings 
in Colonial South Carolina, 1670-1730 (Columbia, S.C., 1971), does not concern 
itself with the basic issues identified above. 

3 South Carolina Council Journal, Mar. 7, 1734/35, and Mar. 29, 1735. (These 
manuscript journals, hereinafter identified as SCCJ, are located in the South 
Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, S.C. 

4 The story of this Welsh migration and settlement can be pieced together from 
clues in the records of land petitions and dispositions in the Council Journals 
for the late 1730"s: see, for examples, SCCJ, Aug. 13, 1736, Jul. 29, 1737, Dec. 14, 
1737, Jan. 20, 1737/38, May 11, 1739. and Jul. 7. 1739. 

5 SCCJ, Mar. 16, 1748/49. 

6 SCCJ, Mar. 6, 1749/50. 

7 SCCJ, Mar. 6, 1749/50. 

^ For more on the character of this wheat belt and on evidence pertaining to 
it, see H. Roy Merrens, Colonial North Carolina in the Eighteenth Century: 
A Study in Historical Geography (Chapel Hill, N.C. 1964), p. 118, and fn. 
52 on p. 239. 

^ Webster's account is presented in T.P. Harrison (ed.), "Journal of a Voyage 
to Charlestown in So. Carolina by Pelatiah Webster in 1765," Publications of 
the Southern History Association, II (Apr., 1898), 131-48. The original manu- 
script is in the South Carolina Historical Society, Charleston, S.C. 
^° Letter of William Pollard to Messrs. B. and J. Bower, Feb. 1, 1774, which is 
the manuscript William Pollard Letter Book, 1772-1774, in the Historical Society 
of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. 

11 The bare bones of the story of the Quakers in Charleston, and of their links 
with the Friends in Philadelphia, appear in some printed records: Mabel L. 
Webber (ed.), "The Records of the Quakers in Charles Town," South Carolina 
Historical and Genealogical Magazine, XXVIII (Jan., 1927), 22-43; (Apr., 1927), 
94-107; (Jul., 1927), 176-97. 

12 The visits of Logan and Pemberton are recorded in their accounts: the Diary 
and Journal of James Pemberton is in the Division of Manuscripts of the Library 
of Congress; "William Logan's Journal of a Journey to Georgia, 1745" is printed 
in Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, XXXVI (Jan., 1912), 1-16; 
(Apr., 1912), 162-86. 

13 Letter from William Dillwyn to James Pemberton, Jan. 27, 1773, in Pemberton 
Papers, vol. 24, 1772-1773 (manuscripts in the Historical Society of Pennsyl- 


vania). The visit is described in A.S. Salley (ed.), "Diary of William Dillwyn 
During a Visit to Charles Town in 1772," South Carolina Historical and Genea- 
logical Magazine, XXXVI (Jan., 1935), 1-6; (Apr., 1935), 28-35; (Jul., 1935), 
73-8; (Oct., 1935), 107-10. 

1^ Quantitative data on trade between South Carolina and Philadelphia for 
the two decades after 1750 was compiled from two principal sources: the Naval 
Office Records for South Carolina; and American Board of Customs, Exports 
and Imports, America, 1768-1773 (manuscripts in the British Public Record 
Office, also known as Customs 16/1). For the period after 1750, the Naval Office 
Records cover the years 1752, 1753, 1758, 1759, 1760, 1762, 1763, 1764, 1765, 
1766, and 1767. Customs 16/1 covers the years 1768-1772. These two sources 
are not altogether compatible. Even more unfortunate, however, was the recog- 
nition that the compilations do not constitute adequate foundations for an 
acceptably rigorous analysis. 

1^ See, for example, Henry Laurens to William Fisher, Jan. 9, May 29, 1764, 
and to George Morgan, Aug. 26, 1767, in Reel 3 of the microfilm edition of the 
Papers of Henry Laurens (microfilmed by the South Carolina Department of 
Archives and History, produced by Micro Photo, Inc., 1966, for the South Caro- 
lina Historical Society, and hereinafter cited as Laurens Papers). 

^^ The story of the trading relationship between Samuel Powel and Gabriel 
Manigault is revealed in communications between them, which are found in 
two collections of manuscripts in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania: Samuel 
Powel Letter Books, 1727-1747 (3 vols.); Samuel Powel, Commercial Correspon- 
dence, 1683-1749 (2 boxes). 

^'^ The words quoted appear in a version of Glen's report that has been printed: 
Chapman J. Milling (ed.). Colonial South Carolina: Two Contemporary Descrip- 
tions by Governor James Glen and Doctor George Milligen-Johnston (Columbia, 
S.C., 1951), p. 45. That the change was just getting underway at this time is 
underlined by the fact that when Glen first drafted the report, he wrote that the 
townships were supplying the commodities, and it was when the Commons 
House of Assembly objected that this was rather inaccurate that he modified 
the report so that it read they "begin to supply us" with these items. The reaction 
of the Commons House of Assembly to Glen's original text appears in J.H. 
Easterby and Ruth S. Green (eds.), The Colonial Records of South Carolina: 
The Journal of the Commons House of Assembly, March 28, 1749-March 19, 
1750 (Columbia, S.C, 1962), pp. 56-7; there are about a half-dozen slightly 
different extant versions of Glen's report, and these are identified in fn. 21 
on p. xiv of this same volume. 

1® The activities of Reynell, and others, are illustrated in the manuscript John 
Reynell Letter Books, 1729-1774 (12 vols., in the Historical Society of Pennsyl- 
vania). Brands of beer (and flour) are identified in the correspondence of Samuel 
Powel (see fn. 16, above), and other merchants. 

^^ "Charleston, S.C, in 1774 as described by an English Traveler," Historical 
Magazine, IX (Nov., 1865), 344. 

20 South Carolina Gazette, Feb. 21, 1774. More information on Egan's brewery 
is presented in Walter W. Walsh, "Edmund Egan: Charleston's Rebel Brewer," 
South Carolina Historical Magazine, LVI (Oct., 1955), 200-04. 


2^ Robert Ellis Letter Book, 1736-1748 (manuscript, Historical Society of Penn- 
sylvania). See also several letters of Charleston merchant John Guerard in the 
manuscript John Guerard Letter Book, 1752-1754 (South Carolina Historical 
Society), such as, for example, the letter from Guerard to William Jolliff, May 6, 

^ On the production of naval stores in North Carolina, see Merrens, Colonial 
North Carolina, pp. 85-92. 

23 See letter of Alice Blanchfield to [John Rudulph], Mar. 20, 1768, in Hollings- 
worth Manuscripts, Correspondence, Jun., 1761-Dec., 1777 (Historical Society 
of Pennsylvania). Also relevant is a letter from Warwick Miller of Chester County, 
printed in the Virginia Gazette (Rind), Sept. 22, 1768. 

24 This conclusion is based on a study of the manuscript inventories of estates. 
South Carolina Department of Archives and History. 

25 Inventory of Thomas Elliot, Senr., dated 25 Jul., 1761, in Inventories, T, 

26 These interpretations of the livestock industry will be elaborated and sub- 
stantiated in forthcoming publications on colonial South Carolina's geography 
by Merrens. 

2'^ The production of oranges in colonial South Carolina was of minor impor- 
tance, which is probably why historians have accorded it so little attention. 
The above summary interpretation of the production of, and trade in, oranges 
is based on a number of scattered references to oranges in the contemporary 
record, including the following: "Charleston, S.C. in 1774, as described by an 
English Traveler," Historical Magazine, IX (Nov., 1865), 344; letter from Thomas 
Lamboll in Charleston to John Bartram in Philadelphia, Nov. 11, 1763, and edi- 
torial comments, in Elise Pinckney (ed.), Thomas and Elizabeth Lamboll: 
Early Charleston Gardeners ("Charleston Museum Leaflet," No. 28: Charleston, 
S.C, Nov., 1969), pp. 19-20; account of Joseph Summers and Charles Pinckney, 
Jul. 8, 1747, in the manuscript Pinckney Papers, 1694-1782 (Library of Congress); 
letter of Henry Laurens to Felix Warley, Sept. 5, 1771, in Laurens Papers, Reel 4. 

28 See, for example, Henry Laurens to William Fisher, Apr. 26, 1763, and to 
Grubb and Watson, May 21, 1763, in Laurens Papers, Reel 2. 

29 See the discussion in Marc Egnal and Joseph A. Ernst, "An Economic Inter- 
pretation of the Revolution," William and Mary Quarterly, 3d Ser., XXIX 
(Jan., 1972), 156. See also Henry Laurens to Isaac King, Apr. 3, 1764, in 
Laurens Papers, Reel 3. 

30 See, for example, Henry Laurens to William Fisher, May 29, 1764, in Laurens 
Papers, Reel 2. 

31 See Henry Laurens to Coxe and Furman, Aug. 27, 1763, in Laurens Papers, 
Reel 2, and Laurens to William Fisher, Oct. 12, 1771, in Laurens Papers, Reel 

32 See Egnal and Ernst, "Economic Interpretation . . . ," William and Mary 
Quarterly, 3d Ser., XXIX (Jan., 1972), 12-3. 

33 The printed version of Dillwyn's diary is identified in fn. 13. above. 

34 Merrens, Colonial North Carolina, pp. 116-17. A case study of Camden is 
presented in a forthcoming article by the present authors, to appear in the 


William and Mary Quarterly entitled '"Camden's turrets pierce the skies!': 
The Urban Process in the Southern Colonies during the Eighteenth Century." 

^ The Quaker setders can be identified in the records of the South Carolina 
Council sessions, where they are named when they petitioned for land. For 
examples of such petitions by Quakers, see SCCJ, Oct. 25, 1751. The Quaker 
phase of settlement is reviewed in Thomas J. Kirkland and Robert M. Kennedy, 
Historic Camden: Part I, Colonial and Revolutionary (Columbia, S.C., 1905), 
pp. 73-7. 

^ No one has yet pieced together a coherent picture of Kershaw's political and 
economic activities, but assorted scraps of evidence suggest he was one of the 
leading members of a trading partnership that had its headquarters in Charles- 
ton, relied upon Kershaw to provide it with a crucial interior base of operations 
through his diverse trading ventures in Camden, and sought to enlarge its opera- 
tions by promoting trade at two or three other focal points in the interior. An 
informative source is a memorandum of agreement made between Kershaw and 
four others, which was to take effect on Jan. 1, 1764. This manuscript is among 
the Chestnut-Miller-Manning Papers, 1744-1900, in the South Carolina Histori- 
cal Society. A little more information on Kershaw's activities can be gathered 
from a few of the early items in the Joseph Brevard Kershaw Papers, 1766- 
1888, in the South Caroliniana Collection of the University of South Carolina, 
Columbia, S.C., and from the letter from Henry Laurens to Joseph Kershaw, 
Jul. 23, 1766, in the Henry Laurens Letter Book, 1762-1766, in the Historical 
Society of Pennsylvania. 

^'^ James Clitherall Diary, 1776, in the Southern Historical Collection of the 
University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill, N.C. 

^ Salley (ed.), "Diary of William Dillwyn . . . ," South Carolina Historical and 
Genealogical Magazine, XXXVI (Apr., 1935), 33. 

^ See memorandum of agreement cited in fn. 36, above. 

^ These problems are the subject of a forthcoming monograph. Money and 
Politics in America 1755-1775, A Study in the Currency Act of 1764 and the 
Political Economy of Revolution, by Joseph A. Ernst, to be published by the 
Institute of Early American History and Culture. 

■^^ Lionel Chalmers to Israel Pemberton, Oct. 10, 1769, in Pemberton Papers, 
vol. 21, 1767-1770. 



■ By W. Frank Ainsley and John W. Florin 

... A sub-region of peculiar interest is that located in the Caro- 
lina Piedmont, an area whose cultural distinctiveness has not been 
fully appreciated in the geographical literature. This sub-region 
is decidedly a portion of the South; but the significance of Pres- 
byterians, Friends, Congregationalists, and various Teutonic 
groups suggests a divergence in general demographic, cultural, 
and historical development from, say Virginia or South Carolina 
that even the casual student would have little trouble in detect- 

The above observation was offered by Wilbur Zelinsky after a carto- 
graphic analysis of religious data collected by the National Council of 
Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. in 1952. He was sufficiently struck by 
the religious anomaly that he identified the Piedmont section of North 
Carolina as a distinct sub-region in an otherwise strikingly homogeneous 
Southeast. In this article we hope to examine whether, within the con- 
text of spatial variations of religious affiliation in North Carolina, this 
is a valid identification, and if this is true, to delimit the actual sub- 
region according to the counties in the Piedmont which compose it. 
Furthermore, we will utilize religious data collected by the Bureau 
of the Census in 1890 and 1916, as well as the 1952 data, to see if any 
substantial changes have occurred in this apparent island of religious 
diversity over a 62 year period of profound economic and demographic 
alteration in the Piedmont. 

To simplify the data matrix— 12 denominations were included in 
the 1890 data, 11 in 1916, and 13 in 1952— a principal components analy- 
sis using orthogonal rotation was applied to each of the data matrices. 
We realize that the statistical validity of these solutions must remain 
suspect because of the lack of any possible test of significance for the 
results. However, we felt that the reduction of the original data matrices 
into a smaller number of key dimensions offered the hope of an im- 
proved spatial comprehension that was worth the obvious statistical 
risk. Component scores, which measure the relative importance of each 
component dimension for each data unit (or county), were generated 
and mapped. In most cases each county was assigned to the religious 
category or dimension on which it had the highest positive loading. 
In some instances, when a dimension was identified by a low negative 
loading, the counties with the lowest negative scores were assigned to 
that dimension. 

One evident aspect of all three of the rotated component matrices 
is the degree to which only a single denomination is associated with most 


of the components. Only the Baptists, with a negative association with 
Methodists on the first dimension in 1890 and 1916, and the Disciples 
of Christ on the first dimension and the Methodists on the eighth in 
1952, invariably load as high as the .3 level with any other denomina- 
tion. In fact, the only other clusterings that can be considered to be 
even moderately strong are the positive association between Lutherans 
and Reformed groups in 1890 and 1916. A lack of similarity in the dis- 
tributional patterns of the various groups is obvious here. 

The Piedmont section of the state stands out as an area of consid- 
erable internal diversity on the composite map of religious groups 
(Figure 1). Only one of the seven dimensions that constitute the high 
scores for all of the counties is not represented in the sub-region as 
defined by Zelinsky, and four of the seven are concentrated in that 
region. Only 31 of North Carolina's 100 counties fall within this region. 
The western third of the state is a homogeneous representation of the 
dominant Baptist-Methodist dimension, while the Coastal Plain section 
is of intermediate complexity. The Disciples of Christ load heavily 
on the component that dominates much of the middle coastal plain. 
This native American religious group developed indigenously in the 
region and seems to have competed strongly with the Baptist for a 
common constituency. ■ 

fjjl^i \ DISCIPLES OF CHRIST jvlx!;! LUTHERAN - REFORMED ■ y-, ; ti'v:'.'''-?/}! ""'" 

Figure 1 

Composite map of highest positive or lowest negative rotated component score 
for religious denominations in each North Carolina county, 1890. 


The 1916 components mapping reflects a continuation of the basic 
pattern that was present in 1890 (Figure 2). The Piedmont is still the 
area of greatest diversity while the Mountains are again identified by 
their homogeneity. The diversity of the Coastal Plain has been de- 
creased through the absence of the Disciples of Christ from the 1916 
census enumeration. The Lutheran-Reformed dimension continues 
to dominate much of the western Piedmont, the Moravian influence 
still centers on Forsythe County, the Friends are significant in the 
central Piedmont, and the Congregationalists appear strongest to the 
north and east. The Presbyterian foothold in the Scotch Highlander 
settlement area in the south-central area has expanded noticeably. 

Figure 2 

Composite map of highest positive or lowest negative rotated component score 
for religious denominations in each North Carolina county, 1916. 

The apparent importance of the Disciples of Christ in the Coastal 
Plain is substantiated by its reappearance with the 1952 National Council 
of Churches statistics (Figure 3). Still, the Piedmont's existence as an 
island of religious diversity continues to be evident. To the south and 
west this island has expanded into four additional counties, while in 
the northeast one has been lost. The Coastal Plain has lost representa- 
tion of all but the Baptist and Disciples of Christ dimensions. The Pres- 
byterian component has made slight inroads into the Baptist-Methodist 
domination in the Mountains. Five of the seven dimensions are again 
represented in the central parts of the state. 


Figure 3 

Composite map of highest positive or lowest negative rotated component score 
for religious denominations in each North Carolina county, 1952. 

The prime purpose of the research reported in this article was to 
statistically test the hypothesis that the "exotic" religious groups of 
Piedmont North Carolina composed an "island of religious diversity" 
within the state. The composite maps derived from principal compo- 
nents analyses run on the three data matrices indicate that this basic 
hypothesis is true. Some additional findings are also revealed by the 
composite maps. 

First, within the Piedmont region, the dominant religious groups 
are spatially separated into different sub-regional clusters. The Congre- 
gationalists dominate the northeast Piedmont. The Friends are located 
in a band of counties running from the northwestern section of the 
Piedmont to the central Piedmont. This band of Friends is bisected 
by the Moravians. The southwestern quarter of the Piedmont is dom- 
inated by a sub-region composed of Lutheran and Reformed Churches; 
this sub-region is split into two halves by a North-South strip of Scotch- 
Irish Presbyterianism. Sitting astride the physiological boundary be- 
tween the southeastern Piedmont and the adjacent Coastal Plain are 
the Scotch Highlander Presbyterians. 

Secondly, these clusters of exotic religious groups in the Piedmont 
have remained fairly stable since 1890. While a few counties have 
shifted through time from one exotic dimension to another, most of 
the clusters are clearly recognizable. With increasing urbanization, 
it seems that the counties of the Piedmont which are influenced by 
the Baptist-Methodist components have been decreasing. 

Also, m addition to the island of religious diversity in the Pied- 
mont, there exists one major and several minor islands within the Coast- 
al Plain. The east central Coastal Plain is clearly dominated by the 


Disciples of Christ. The area around Cumberland is a stronghold of 
Scotch Highlander Presbyterianism. By 1952, the Presbyterian influence 
is also beginning to dominate a strip running from North to South from 
Duplin through Pender to New Hanover County. 

Finally, the Piedmont island of religious diversity is closely asso- 
ciated with the major area of urban and industrial development in North 
Carolina. This includes the familiar Piedmont Crescent and its exten- 
sions via the major transportation routes to the other urban areas of 
the Piedmont. However, the existence of this diversity clearly preceded 
the period of urbanization. Virtually all of the denominational groups 
that together lend this region its peculiar character settled in the Pied- 
mont well before the time of the American Revolution, with the Scotch- 
Irish Presbyterians and the Lutheran and Reformed German groups, 
both found in the western portion of the area, the last to arrive in sub- 
stantial numbers. The rise of the urban, industrial arc of the Piedmont 
Crescent, then, has not been the creator of this island of diversity. 
Rather, its influence appears to have been to strengthen and expand 
an already clearly established religious region. 

V ';^,\ ' FOOTNOTE :!:;;\ ^V .!:■^^,''V'•!^'^'^-■.': 

^ Wilbur Zelinsky, "An Approach to the Religious Geography of the United 
States: Patterns of Church Membership in 1952," Annals, Association of Ameri- 
can Geographers, LI (1961), 164. 

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.(/; '\o-- ,r;6/(;iio a''! By Howard G. Adkins :/: xi':\s;;:;;-o-; •••:„• 

The state of Mississippi is characterized by a significantly low 
level of urbanization when compared with the great majority of other 
states in the Union. This is not a recent phenomenon but has existed 
since the earliest days of European settlement in eastern North Ameri- 
ca. The main circumstances affecting the size and spacing of cities 
in Mississippi have been a combination of physical, economic, demo- 
graphic, and historical factors peculiar to the region. This study ex- 
amines several such factors which were operative before 1840 when 
the state had a population of almost 375,000, only one percent of which 
was urban compared with eleven percent for the United States. 

The first white settlement in what is today Mississippi was establish- 
ed by the French at Old Biloxi, a coastal location, in 1699. It was follow- 
ed by Fort Rosalie, founded in the midst of the Natchez Indians, in 1716, 
and by Fort St. Peter, built along the Yazoo River, three years later. 
Of these early settlements, only the Fort Rosalie (Natchez) location 
seemed favorably disposed for large-scale settlement attempts, and by 
1729 a population count indicated 200 male colonists, 80 female col- 
onists, 150 children, 280 Negro slaves, and a garrison of 28 soldiers.^ 
This attempt at settlement was cut short by the 1729 Natchez Massacre, 
after which much French time and energy were taken up in military 
expeditions against the Natchez and Chickasaw Indians. Thus, other 
than selecting the sites of Natchez and Biloxi, the French had almost 
no effect on town building in Mississippi. 

In 1763, as a result of the Treaty of Paris ending the Seven Years' 
War, the British acquired all French territory east of the Mississippi 
River except for New Orleans. The new owners seem to have had little 
interest in colonizing the acquired territory but were mainly concerned 
with the establishment of a buffer between their Atlantic Seaboard 
colonies and Spanish settlements west of the Mississippi River. Natchez, 
which had partially been rebuilt after the massacre, persisted as an 
embryonic urban place, but its growth was slow. In 1776, for example, 
it consisted of 

. . . only ten log houses and two frame houses, all situated under 
the bluff .... About seventy-eight famihes, scattered in dif- 
ferent settlements, constituted the whole population of the dis- 
trict, few of which had immigrated to the country previous to 
1772. There were four small stores in the town.^ 
Biloxi was equally non-descript, and no other towns were founded prior 
to 1781 when the area was surrendered to the Spanish. 



Spaniards were the first Europeans to have an active town policy 
in the Mississippi Territory, but the results can best be characterized 
as unsuccessful. Part of the problem was that the Spanish Crown en- 
couraged settlement around a church, a guardhouse, or near a mili- 
tary commandant's residence. Such sites, often chosen for mili- 
tary reasons, were not always favorable for agriculture and thus could 
not support a large colony. Also, the region was being slowly settled 
from the east by self-reliant people of predominantly Anglo-Saxon ex- 
traction. Therefore, when Spain relinquished control of the Mississippi 
area to the United States in 1798, she had made no measurable contri- 
bution to its urban fabric.^ 

Even in the decade or so following 1798, settlement in Mississippi 
can only be characterized as slow. Two main factors seem responsible 
for this. First, the region was a fringe area on America's westward 
moving settlement frontier, which lay south of the main paths of migra- 
tion. Moreover, much of it was Indian country, which helped to con- 
centrate most immigrants within twenty-five miles of the Mississippi 
River in locales linked by four public roads of doubtful quahty.'* A 
second factor was that land sales were delayed until 1807 in order to 
clear up conflicting claims stemming from colonial land grants As an 
example, between 1800 and 1810, Tennessee's population increased 
by 156,125, Kentucky's by 185,516, and Mississippi's by only 31,502.^ 

However, once claims were settled and clear tides offered, immi- 
gration slowly gained momentum. Settlers recognized four broad sub- 
divisions of Mississippi based mainly upon differences in soil fertility, 
topography, vegetation, and drainage. These regions were the Delta, 
the Piney Woods, the Hills, and the Natchez District (Figure 1).^ It 
is obvious from Table 1, listing the population of each region, that the 
easily-worked soils of the Natchez District and the Hills were preferred 
by settlers. Because of the expense of clearing land and the threat of 
flooding, the Delta remained unsettled except for choice riverine 
sites until the 1870's and 1880's'' The Piney Woods was the second most 
populous subdivision in 1830, but its infertile soils caused it to increase 
in population least among the four zones between 1830 and 1840. 

Unlike settlers in the Middle West who went in "search of promising 
towns" and "opportunities in infant cities," immigrants entering Missis- 
sippi after 1800 were predominantly interested in land.^ Most were 
southerners familiar with cotton cultivation, a commodity of great pro- 
fit potential, who were anxious to convert the virgin Mississippi land- 
scape into cotton fields. Some established large plantations, others 
small farms. In a relative sense, size mattered little for "cotton was 
adapted to cultivation on any scale and one-horse farmers and hundred- 
slave planters competed on fairly even terms, acre for acre."^ 

Cotton was not the only crop produced commercially in Mississippi 
after 1800, but it was the one which attracted settlers and dominated 
the economy. During a good year, when cotton prices averaged fifteen 



Figure 1 

cents a pound at New Orleans, net profits to a farmer averaged 20 to 
35 percent.^° With this profit possibility, settlers were more interested 
in acquiring land and establishing plantations than in purchasing town 
lots and pursuing an urban-related economy. This interest in land to 
cultivate cotton attracted settlers in greater numbers after statehood 
in 1817. 

Cotton, slavery, and plantations thus became dominant elements in 
the Mississippi economy up to 1840. In that census year 52 percent of 









































- - '■:■■ '''■: 







Source: United States Census of Population, "Mississippi," 1800-1840. 

* Jack D.L. Holmes, Gayoso: The Life of a Spanish Governor in the Mississippi 
Valley, 1 789-] 799 {Baton Rouge, 1965), pp. 114-15. 

the inhabitants were slaves, which not only deprived the nascent towns 
of population but also of trade. Most large plantations tended to be eco- 
nomic units maintaining cotton gins, blacksmith shops and gristmills, 
and employing carpenters, masons, tanners, and mechanics. Cotton 
was marketed by factors. Also, for a commission, a factor would pur- 
chase supplies and furnish planters with funds and credit. Commission 
merchants serving Mississippi planters tended to concentrate in Mobile, 
New Orleans, and Memphis, and to a lesser extent at Natchez and Vicks- 
burg (Table 2). With the possible exception of the latter two places, 
the plantation system did not stimulate the growth of regional market 
towns with their many complementary amenities. ^^ 

In 1842 the Mississippi Free Trader made the following comparison 
between the planter class and small farmers: .„...„...,„ ....^J 

They [the small farmers] would crowd our streets [Natchez] with 
fresh and healthy supplies of home productions, and proceeds 
would be expended here among our merchants, grocers, and 





Merchant Houses 



Capital Invested 

Natchez District 
Piney Woods i , 
Hills v;|,:/i/i^ 

,-'")-.:h>V' Totals 


. 81 

'.; 317 

.". 25 
i 755 

,;:.:v . 366,116 
,,:;r,:jr. 2,021,129 
nv .'■ 184,616 

■■'^ t:^ $5,004,420 

Source: United States Census, 1840 Compendium, pp. 230-37. 

artisans. The large planters— the one-thousand-bale planters- 
do not contribute most to the prosperity of Natchez. They, for 
the most part, sell their cotton in Liverpool; buy their wines in 
London or Le Harve; their negro clothing in Boston; their plan- 
tation implements and fancy articles in New Orleans. The small 
planter has not the credit nor the business connections to do this; 
he requires the proceeds of his crop as soon as it can be sold; and 
he purchases and pays for, cash in hand, almost every necessary 
wanted during the year, in the same market where he sells his 
cotton. The small planter hoards no money in these times, he 
lends none at usurious rates of interest; he buys up the property 
of no unfortunate debtor for a few dollars; but he lays it all out 
for the purchase of supplies, and thus directly contributes his 
mite to the prosperity of our city.^^ 

Trade, which is the basic support of towns in any agricultural area, 
was seasonal in early nineteenth century Mississippi, and geared direct- 
ly to the production of cotton. Except for Natchez and a few other towns 
possessing similar situations, inland trade centers were viable units 
only during cotton marketing seasons. With no adequate or readily 
available funds, merchants, farmers, and planters were forced to pur- 
chase two-thirds to three-fourths of their merchandise on credit. ^^ 
Both the credit and factorage systems were highly sensitive to the 
market and instrumental in concentrating commerce at Natchez, Vicks- 
burg, and Port Gibson while shifting trade from the inland towns. ^^ 

The largest inland trade towns seldom exceeded 150 to 300 inhab- 
itants, and usually consisted of two or three general stores, a saloon 
or two, and a livery stable. In time, post office, gristmill, cotton gin, 
blacksmith, tan-yard, and possibly a bank might be added. ^^ More 
stores were in the Natchez District than in any other region (Table 2), 


but 80 percent of these were located in Adams (Natchez), Warren 
(Vicksburg), and Claiborne (Port Gibson) counties. Stores in other 
regions were more evenly distributed among counties. Nevertheless, 
the semi-colonial economy of the plantation-factorage system deprived 
inland towns of retail trade and hampered the rise of local manufact- 

As indicated in Figure 2, town development in less fertile regions 
was particularly hindered. Between 1830 and 1840, for example, the 
population in the Piney Woods increased by only 13,377 persons (Table 
1), while the overall increase in state population in the same period 
was 249,030 persons. Obviously settlers here were not satisfied with 
soil conditions, which often restricted cultivation to small tracts of 
easily-inundated second-river bottoms. After 1820, the Piney Woods 
counties of Greene, Jones, Perry, and Wayne experienced a net popu- 
lation loss to the more fertile soils of new purchase areas in the Hills 
region. ^'^ Illustrative of the problem was the fact that the Augusta land 
office offered 9,628,675 acres east of the Pearl River for sale during the 
period 1811 to 1847, but sold only 950,713 acres.^^ 

Towns which did emerge in the Piney Woods were small, unimpres- 
sive, and generally declined as people relocated in northern Mississippi. 
Traveling through the Piney Woods in 1841, Claiborne observed that 
Monticello, Columbia and Ellisville were in an advanced state of de- 
cay.^^ Augusta, possibly the most important town in the eastern Piney 
Woods in the early 1800's was similarly described as 

... an extensive parallelogram garnished round with some eight 
or ten miserable tenements . . . the wrecks of better times .... 
We never before saw such a picture of desolation. The vestiges 
of numerous and extensive buildings were still to be seen; the 
town itself had been planned on an imposing scale; the landing 
on the Leaf River where formerly barge and bateau deposited 
their rich cargoes, was pointed out; the courthouse . . . once 
thronged with suitors and defendants . . . but now all was silence 
and solitude.20 

It is probable in fact that as a result of the cotton economy very 
few towns would have developed in any of the inland areas had it not 
been for the need for area administration, for places where records 
could be kept, taxes paid, and courts held. Counties and county seats 
were created by individual enabling acts of the state legislature to serve 
as administrative units. In unsurveyed and unsettled territory the acts 
authorized a commission to select a site for the courthouse within 
five miles of the geographic center of an areally defined county if pos- 
sible. After selecting the site, the commission was authorized to acquire 
land on which to build the town. Generally a central one-acre square 
was reserved for the courthouse which served as the nucleus of the 
new settlement. The first courthouse, constructed with proceeds from 



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Figure 2 

the sale of lots, was most frequently a log or rough-hewn lumber building 
containing a small courtroom and jury room.^i To this early nucleus 
was added a jail, boarding house or hotel, two or three workshops, 
several stores, and houses. "Each courthouse town had one or more 
taverns which did their best business during court. "^2 gy 1340 there 
were fifty-six county seat towns in the state. Thus many towns were 
started at sites decided by politics. 

County seat towns, because of their centrality and accessibility, 
logically functioned as trade and social centers. The town of Gallatin, 
Copiah County, for example, contained two banks, a newspaper, several 
workshops making guns, shoes, carriages and cabinets, a large ware- 
house, a drug store, and several general merchandise and dry goods 
stores. Two hotels, a theater, a masonic lodge. Baptist and Presbyterian 
churches, a female seminary, an academy for boys, a grog shop, and 
race track were additional amenities. At least one small freight line 
operated between Gallatin and the river.^s The population of the town 
was estimated at 800 in 1836 but had declined to 203 by 1854.24 Appar- 
ently the Panic of 1837 had a decided influence on Gallatin, for in De- 
cember properties listed for sale in the Southern Star included house- 
hold items, farm equipment, two cotton gins, two gristmills, one 
sawmill, cattle, sheep, oxen, hogs, and corn.^^ Four months later the 
sheriff advertised for sale two lots and buildings, and Planter's Bank 
offered for sale eight lots, the Mansion House, a tavern, and several 
other buildings. The same issue noted that twenty slaves and 7,652 acres 
of land in tracts exceeding 20 acres were offered for sale. Almost half 
of the land was listed by twenty-six individuals. ^^ Gallatin never re- 
covered from the Panic of 1837, and when the New Orleans, Jackson, 
and Great Northern Railroad was surveyed three and one-half miles 
to the east, the town's trade was taken over by Hazlehurst.^'^ 

Although trade and commerce was the basic economic function 
of most towns in their early years of growth, manufacturing was almost 
always the mainstay of growth. The average settler in Mississippi was 
apparently willing to leave the manufacture of all but the basic domestic 
and farm implement needs to Europe and states in the north, and in- 
vested in the capital goods of farming — land, equipment, and frequently 
slaves. Wagons, cultivating tools, gins, presses, and other basic farm 
equipment were fabricated in local shops and by plantation blacksmiths. 
By 1840 Mississippi did not lag far behind other states in the farm im- 
plement industry, but with the possible exception of lumbering there 
was no industry in the state that depended on markets elsewhere. 

A manufacturing industry first appeared in the Natchez District in 
1795 when mechanics began to improve the Whitney gin and to fabri- 
cate new cotton gins. This, however, was pernicious to manufacturing 
because by 1801 improvements had been made to the extent that 
Natchez cotton was not injured in the ginning process and commanded 
a considerable premium on the market. Furthermore, the fact that 


Eleazer Carver was forced to transfer his gin manufacturing firm to 
Massachusetts to take advantage of skilled workmen and improvements 
in the design and manufacture of machine tools is indicative of the 
problems encountered in manufacturing. ^^ 

In the Mississippi Territory in 1810 there were twenty-two textile 
establishments containing 807 spindles and 1,330 looms producing 
over 342,400 yards of linen, and 7,890 yards of woolen goods valued 
at $419,073. There were also ten tanneries, six distilleries, one tinshop, 
and one hat manufacturer.^^ But insufficient capital and competition 
as well as inadequate machinery, shortage of skilled laborers, and the 
lack of coal for fuel were key factors retarding this industrial 
beginning. 3° 

Table 3 is indicative of the degree of manufacturing in the state in 
1840, and of the fact that it was geared to a domestic market. The general 
practice at that time was for manufacturing to locate outside the towns. 
At Gallatin several urban-related activities were dispersed about the 
countryside rather than concentrated within the city limits. An adver- 
tisement in the Southern Star in 1837 noted that a shop had opened two 
miles from Gallatin and was prepared to execute all orders for farm 
implements on short notice. Wool was carded at eight cents per pound, 















Wagons & Carriages 





Number of: 







Cotton Manufacturies 




Flour Mills 
















Capital Invested 






Source: United States Census, 1840 Compendium, pp. 230-37. 

or was received in payment if it was not convenient to pay cash, at a 
wool carding machine one and one half miles from Gallatin. ^i Perhaps 
equally as significant was the fact that industrial inertia did not evolve 
in any locality within the state. 


A final important factor affecting the location and development 
of towns in Mississippi before 1840 was transportation. The first towns 
in Mississippi were accessible by water. Vicksburg, Grand Gulf, Rodney, 
Natchez, Port Gibson, and Fort Adams owed their early existence to 
the movement of traffic along the Mississippi River and each served 
as ports through which cotton was shipped. The general situation of 
smaller river towns like Gravesport, Port Royal, Chocchuma, Nashville, 
and Amsterdam was similar to that of Vicksburg and Natchez. Both 
large and small towns were dependent upon a river frontage and a sup- 
porting hinterland, but because of spacing, early start, and hinterland 
size, the growth potential of Vicksburg, Natchez, Port Gibson, and 
Grand Gulf was more favorable. ^^ 

Towns tended to grow to some extent around landings in fertile 
areas but a great deal of commerce in the early cotton era was trans- 
acted on flatboats moving down the Mississippi River which accepted 
produce in exchange for goods and services. Many such boats, outfitted 
with shelves and counters, carried groceries, dry goods, hardware and 
liquors, and stopped wherever there was a landing and a chance for a 
sale. Occasionally they were fitted with gristmills operated by the force 
of the current and would grind meal and flour for settlers. Some carried 
tinsmiths, blacksmiths, and toolmakers willing to ply their trade. It 
was calculated that mercantile flatboats accounted for about eighty-five 
percent of the total commerce on the lower Mississippi, in the late 
1700's.33 By 1830 steamboats were operating on the Mississippi, the 
lower Yazoo, the Big Black to Amsterdam, and the Tombigbee to 
Columbus. As a general rule steamboats would stop to deposit or take 
aboard freight, passengers, and wood for fuel at any landing serving 
three or more families. ^^ The trade carried on by these so-called errand- 
running steamers and peddling boats had a diminishing effect on towns 
by diverting their business. ^^ 

Roads became an increasingly important factor in town develop- 
ment as choice riverine sites were taken and as the interior was settled, 
but they received relatively little public attention for a variety of reasons: 

(1) Capital and labor were not available for large-scale construction. 

(2) Planters located along navigable streams had little desire to support 
internal improvement programs. (3) Hauling of cotton was performed 
during the slack season, and supplies were brought in on the return 
trips. Speed was not essential because the major commercial items were 
nonperishable. (4) The seasonal nature of traffic allowed planters and 
farmers to act independently of freight companies, which no doubt re- 
tarded the development of professional wagoners. Had freight com- 
panies operated in the state, there would have been at least one element 
actively advocating a road building program. (5) In typical Anglo- 
Saxon tradition, citizens worked off road taxes by laboring on the roads 
for two or three days in the year. This sometimes resulted in little more 
than filling in ruts or clearing a path through the forest. ^6 


Most early roads in the state therefore were either cross-state 
throughways or feeder roads to the rivers. Towns were a rarity along 
the Natchez Trace, Three Chopped Way, Gaine's Trace, the Robinson 

Figure 3 


Road, and Jackson's Military Road because the roads passed through 
Indian territory, crossed soil areas uninviting to settlers, or experienced 
traffic that was unidirectional (Figure 3).37 For example, the Natchez 
Trace, perhaps the most traveled road in the Old Southwest, was used 
primarily by riverboat men returning northward after depositing their 
cargo at New Orleans, whereas the Robinson Road provided an access 
routeway into the state. 

A system of local roads although slow to develop, was essential if 
settlers were to market their produce and carry on necessary govern- 
mental functions. The first local roads sometimes followed Indian trails, 
but since this seldom led to settled areas new roads had to be constructed. 
Actually intercounty roads were more coincidental than planned, 
and official recognition consisted largely of a record of their estab- 
Hshment.38 A public road was defined by the state legislature in 1824, 
and by 1830 twenty-four state roads and six turnpikes were authorized; 
however, this proposed system did not advance beyond the paper 
stage. ^^ 

The result of high-cost surface transportation was a host of "general 
store" type service centers which never developed into real towns, and 
which were protected from competition with each other by the friction 
of distance. How much larger such commercial centers would have be- 
come had good roads existed is a matter of conjecture. Presumably the 
number of trading points would have been fewer, larger, had a wider 
variety of specialized functions, and been economically more viable 
had they been more accessible. Also, had good roads existed lower 
freight costs might have led to a concentration of retail trade in fewer 
towns. It is a fact, however, that almost no positive change occurred in 
the road system until the Federal Highway Act was passed in 1916. 

The few railroads constructed in Mississippi between 1831 and 1840, 
did not for the most part affect inland urban development because they 
arose less from the demands of the rural population for better transpor- 
tation, than from the desire of river and coastal towns to tap interior 
markets. Merchants and factors had argued that railroads were a more 
direct form of transportation and would bring prosperity to the state 
by opening up new areas of commercial cotton production.'*^ By 1840 
charters had been granted to twenty-four railroads. Many of the legis- 
lative acts under which railroads were chartered made it clear they were 
to transport cotton and other products from the interior to the Missis- 
sippi River for shipment.'*^ The Jackson-Vicksburg road is a good exam- 
ple. It formed an outlet to the Mississippi River for the rich cotton dis- 
■ trict between the Pearl and Big Black Rivers. This road also assured 
Vicksburg's future growth and position of supremacy over Natchez. 
The Panic of 1837, however, brought an end to most of the ambitious 
schemes of the initial period and the real effects of the railroad on the 
spatial disposition of commercial centers came after 1840. 


In 1840, Mississippi's urban hierarchy was composed of several 
easily discernible classes of towns. Bay St. Louis and other Mississippi 
coastal sites possessed adequate harbors but were cut off from a pro- 
ductive hinterland by the Piney Woods. Hence the seaport towns of 
Mobile and New Orleans were factorage centers which profited from 
the trade of Mississippi planters. Towns were established along the Mis- 
sissippi River at Vicksburg, Natchez, Grand Gulf, and other less strate- 
gic points. Not one location on the Tombigbee River north of Columbus 
had a strong advantage over another, so conditions were unfavorable 
for the growth and development of large towns. Competition for cargo 
increased as the number of steamboats increased, and captains were 
willing to call at almost any hastily constructed landing to pick up and 
deposit freight. The close spacing of such stops opposed the centraliza- 
tion of wholesale and retail trade in towns. 

State law required each county to have a county seat and to fix its 
location. Towns usually developed at these sites. Early courthouse 
communities had only superficial advantages over those depending en- 
tirely on trade, but as the system of local roads began to develop, the 
increased nodality of the county towns made them focal points of eco- 
nomic activity. Perhaps it is significant to note that in 1920, four years 
after the Federal Highway Act was passed, 91 percent of the urban 
population lived in county seat towns.'*^ 

Another group of towns owed their origin and growth to the patterns 
of trade of farmers and small planters. Like the county seats this class 
of towns was mainly interior and accessible to their trade constituents 
by poorly developed and maintained roads. Before 1840 these minor 
trade centers and county seats constituted almost the entire urban fabric 
of Mississippi. The economic base of these towns depended almost en- 
tirely on the seasonal cotton trade of small planters and yeoman farmers. 
The annual net income of these farmers amounted to only a few hun- 
dred dollars, and was certainly not enough to stimulate significant 
urban-related activities. Furthermore their cultural heritage was agrarian 
and they saw little future in towns. The role of larger planters, the 
money class in urban growth in Mississippi before 1840, was largely 
negative. In fact for more than a century cotton would continue to 
dominate the economy, and the base of Mississippi's urban pyramid 
would continue to expand in relation to the apex. 



^ "D'Artaguette to Maurepas," March 20, 1730, Mississippi Provincial Archives, 
1704-1743, French Dominion, II, pp. 541-45. 

2 Quoted in F.L. Riley, School Historv of Mississippi (Richmond, Virginia, 
1900), p. 60. 

^ J.F.H. Clairborne, Mississippi as a Province, Territory, and State (Jackson, 
Mississippi, 1880), p. 529. 

'* J.D.L. Holmes, Gavoso: The Life of A Spanish Governor in the Mississippi 
Valley, 1789-1799 (Baton Rouge, 1965) pp. 46-7. 

5 U.S Census, 1800, 1810. 

^ N.M. Fenneman, Phvsiography of Eastern United States (New York, 1938), 

pp. 65-99. 

'^ A. Kelley, "Levee Building and the Settlement of the Yazoo Basin," The 
Southern Quarterly. I (1963), 285-308; Laws of Mississippi, 1819, p. 78. 

8 R.C. Wade, The Urban Frontier: The Rise of Western Cities. 1790-1830 
(Cambridge, 1959), pp. 1-34. 

9 U.B. Phillips, Life and Labor in the Old South (Boston, 1931), pp. 127-28. 

^° Claiborne to Madison, December 20, 1801 in Dunbar Rowland, ed.. Letter 
Books of Claiborne, 1, 28; T. Bromme, Mississippi: A Geographic-Statistics- 
Typography Sketch for Immigrants and Friends of Geography and Ethnology 
(C. Scheld and Co., 1837), republished in the Journal of Mississippi History, 
IV (1942), 105. 

^^ Phillips, Life and Labor in the Old South, pp. 140-44. 

12 Mississippi Free Trader, Natchez, April 14, 1842. 

13 L.E. Atherton, "The Problems of Credit Rating in the Ante-Bellum South," 
Journal of Southern History, XII (1946), 534-35. 

14 Ibid.; T.P. Abernethy "Social Relations and Political Control in the Old 
Southwest," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XVI (1929-1930), 530. 

1^ "Madisonville," W.P.A. Federal Writers' Project, Department of Archives 
and History, Jackson, Mississippi. 

1^ A.H. Stone, "The Cotton Factorage System of the Southern States," Ameri- 
can Historical Review, XX (1915), 557-69; Phillips, Life and Labor in the Old 
South, p. 142. 

1^ L.A. Besancon, Besancon's Annual Register of the State of Mississippi 
(Natchez, 1838), p. 190; J.M. Wilkins, "Early Times in Wayne County," Publica- 
tions of the Mississippi Historical Society, VI (1902), 265-72. 

18 Report of the Secretary of the Treasury, 1848, 30th Congress, 2nd Session, 
Senate Executive Document 2 (1848), p. 247. 

1^ J.F.H. Claiborne, "A Trip Through the Piney Woods," Publications of the 
Mississippi Historical Society, IX (1906), 510-16. 

20 Ibid., pp. 518-19. 


2^ See Minutes of the Board of Police of those counties for which records are 
available; A.J. Brown, History of Newton County from 1834 to 1894 (Jackson, 
1894), pp. 2-3. 

22 W.H. Sparks, The Memories of Fifty Years (Macon, Georgia, 1872), p. 482. 

23 Laws of Mississippi, 1836, pp. 475, 389-90; 1840, p. 66; H.S. Fulkerson, 
Random Recollection of Early Days in Mississippi (Vicksburg, 1885), p. 30. 

24 Southern Star, Gallatin, Mississippi, April 7, 1838; J.D.B. DeBow, Statis- 
tical View of the United States (Washington, 1854), p. 385. 

25 Southern Star, Gallatin, Mississippi, December 23, 1837. 

26 Southern Star, Gallatin, Mississippi, April 7, 1838. 

2^ H.G. Adkins, "The Historical Geography of Extinct Towns in Mississippi" 
(unpublished Ph.D. dissertation. University of Tennessee, 1972), pp. 101-02. 
28 J.H. Moore, Agriculture in Ante-Bellum Mississippi (New York, 1958), p. 23. 

2^ T. Coxe, Tabular Statement of the Several Branches of American Manu- 
facturing in the Autumn of 1810, prepared for the Treasury Department (Phil- 
adelphia, 1813), pp. 2, 38, 139. 

30 D.C. James, Antebellum Natchez (Baton Rouge, 1968), pp. 204-05. 

31 Southern Star, Gallatin, Mississippi, December 23, 1837; April 7, 1838. 

32 H.S. Tanner, A Map of Mississippi with Its Roads and Distance, ca. 1836; 
W.A. Evans, "Steamboats on the Upper Tombigbee in the Early Days," Journal 
of Mississippi History, IV (1942), 216-24; Fulkerson, Random Recollections of 
Early Days in Mississippi, p. 20. 

33 L.D. Baldwin, The Keelboat Age on Western Waters (Pittsburgh, 1941), 
pp. 9, 186-87. 

34 Hunt's Merchant Magazine, I (1840), 449. 

35 Daily Tropic, New Orleans, October 2„ 1845. 

36 B.H. Meyer, History of Transportation in the United States Before 1860 
(Washington, 1948), pp. 249-50; G.R. Taylor, The Transportation Revolution: 
1815-1960 (New York, 1951), pp. 15-7. Studies of professional wagoners in 
Mississippi are to this writer's knowledge non-existent. 

3^ Tanner, A Map of Mississippi with its Roads and Distance. 

38 Revised Status of Mississippi, 1857, pp. 171-72. 

39 Hutchinson's Code of Mississippi, 1798-1848, pp. 137-56, 254. 

40 DeBow's Commercial Review, XII (1853), 435-54. 

41 See individual Acts of Incorporation for Railroads in Laws of Mississippi, 
1836, 1838, 1840. 

42 US Census, 1920. 





By Leonard W. Brinkman 

Dependence on goods manufactured in the home was widespread 
in eastern North America during the colonial period, and persisted 
well into the nineteenth century in some parts of the United States. 
Poor transportation facilities, especially in frontier or rugged areas, 
made it difficult to market agricultural produce, and the settler had to 
invest time and effort in the production of essentials or wants which he 
did not have the opportunity or means to purchase. 

In one of the few published works on the subject, Tryon emphasizes 
the importance of home manufacturing during the colonial period and 
its decline in the nineteenth century.^ He concludes that the transfer 
of the manufacturing process from the home to the shop and factory 
was generally complete by 1830, ^ certainly by 1860, and recognizes 
the difficulty inherent in making generalizations for any large section 
of the country.3 Data published in United States census materials from 
1840 to 1860 is included in great detail in tabular form,'* but Httle use 
is made of it in assessing the changing distribution of household manu- 
factures, and similar data published in 1870 is not included. 

By 1840, when nationwide data on the value of home-manufactured 
goods first appears in the census, the process was characteristic of rural 
areas and was reported as a part of the agricultural returns. Material 
explaining the census schedule was included in the instructions to the 
federal marshals and their assistants, who were responsible for taking 
the census in their own districts. Under the heading of value of home- 
made manufactures, enumerators were instructed to include the value 
of all articles manufactured in the year preceding June 1, in or by the 
family for their own use or for sale. The value of purchased raw 
materials was not to be included, since the object of the census inquiry 
was to find the value of the manufactured goods made by the family 
from their own raw materials, or the value of labor used to process raw 
materials produced outside the family.^ Apparently any product made 
in the home could be included under this definition, although Tryon 
found that in practice there were three main categories of home-manu- 
factured goods: (1) wearing apparel and household textile supplies, 
which were the most important and most generally produced items; (2) 
household implements, utensils, furniture, necessities, and comforts, 
which were purchased whenever possible, although maple syrup and 
sugar (and sorghum products in the South), cider and soap tended to 
remain as home products; and (3) farming implements, building ma- 
terials and general supplies, which remained as home products only 


under conditions of dire necessity.^ 

Although the importance of home-made manufactures was no doubt 
decHning at the time they were first reported by the United States 
Census in 1840, their distribution (Figure 1) still tended to reflect the 
general distribution and density of the rural population. "^ Areas with 
population densities between 45 and 90 persons per square mile, as was 
the case in western New York, eastern Ohio, the Bluegrass Region of 
Kentucky and the Nashville Basin of Tennessee, were also areas which 
produced high total values of home manufactures. The southern Pied- 
mont, from Virginia to west central Georgia, had intermediate popu- 
lation densities (18 to 45 persons per square mile) with a considerable 
production of home (or plantation) manufactured items. In contrast, 
rugged areas of western North Carolina, eastern Kentucky and western 
Virginia had lower population densities, including some areas with 
fewer than six persons per square mile, and lesser total values for home- 
made manufactures, although they were equal to other areas in produc- 
tion per capita.^ Settlers in these rather empty areas, which today are 
in the heart of Appalachia, do not seem to have been exceptionally 
different, or relatively more isolated, than were their contemporaries 
in other parts of the country in 1840.^ 

The distribution of the value of home manufactures in 1850 (Figure 
2) retained many of the characteristics of the pattern a decade earlier, 
especially in the interior and the South, areas that still lacked good land 
transportation facilities. There was a noticeable decline in the output 
of home manufactures in the northeast, where scattered rail lines were 
tied into a network, although not as yet into a rail system. ^° Some 
increases in the value of home manufactures can be noted in the southern 
uplands, where population was increasing and where sections of the 
mountainous country were beginning to be shut off from the surround- 
ing areas. ^^ 

By 1860 (Figure 3), the decline in production of home-made goods 
had spread to other parts of the interior, especially Ohio, and the be- 
ginnings of decline can be noted in the Piedmont in Virginia and Geor- 
gia, served by rail lines based on Richmond and Atlanta. The Bluegrass 
Region and the Nashville Basin continue to show high aggregate values 
for home-manufactured products, perhaps because these areas, engaged 
in supplying a variety of commodities to plantations in the deep South, 
also found outlets for home-manufactured products in that area. Popu- 
lation continued to increase in western North Carolina, eastern Ken- 
tucky and western Virginia, with resulting increases in the value of home 
manufactures. This southern Appalachian area was becoming increas- 
ingly isolated, with rail lines all around it, especially to the east and 
north, but only a single rail line from Richmond to Chattanooga via 
the valleys of southwestern Virginia and eastern Tennessee passing 
anywhere near its heart. 



• Less than 5,000 

• 5,000 to 9,999 

• 10,000 to 24,999 
25,000 to 49,999 
50,000 to 99,999 
100,000 or more 

Source: U. S. Census, 1840 

Figure 1 



• • 

* 99 ^Km # ••••V AA#ftftJ 

• • • J'Mf9[ 




• • • 






• Less than 5,000 

• 5,000 to 9,999 

• 10,000 to 24,999 

• 25,000 to 49,999 
^ 50,000 to 99,999 
A 100,000 or more 

Source: U. S. Census, 1850 

Figure 2 



Figure 3 



Figure 4 


After a brief revival in some areas during the Civil War, the pro- 
duction of home-made goods again declined in most parts of the country 
by 1870 (Figure 4), the last date at which the census reports the value 
of home-made manufactures. In contrast to the national situation, 
a definite concentration on home manufactures is evident in the rugged 
areas of the upper South, where there is a growing population, now 
relatively more isolated than ever before, with little to sell or barter 
for factory-made goods. Thus between 1840 and 1870 there was an 
almost complete reversal of the distribution of the production of home- 
made goods in the United States, with former concentrations declin- 
ing and other areas, notably those in the upper South, becoming the 
areas of concentration. 

The divergence of the upper South or the southern Appalachians 
from the mainstream of cultural development in the United States 
occurred mainly because of increasing isolation. As early as 1867 the 
North American Review hailed the railroad as an agent of economic 
and social change, removing class distinctions, changing dress and 
manners, and making the nation more cosmopolitan. ^^ Appalachia 
lagged behind other parts of the nation in the development of transpor- 
tation facilities. It had few miles of railway until the twentieth century, 
when lines were constructed to tap the timber and coal resources of 
the region. It had few paved roads until other developments called 
for them, or until they were built by outsiders. ^^ Thus physical isola- 
tion became mental and cultural isolation. ^^ 

The concentration of production of home-made goods which 
emerged in the southern Appalachians between 1840 and 1870 can be 
taken as a demonstration of the survival of a way of life (or perhaps the 
reversion to a way of life) which was increasingly different from that of 
other parts of the nation. ^^ The emphasis on home manufactures is 
representative of the self-sufficient aspect of this subculture, which 
was also characterized by independence and conservatism.^^ It is also 
an aspect of Appalachian life which was once part of a popular culture, 
but which increasingly became folk — that is, came to be a non-popular 
tradition which contrasted with the new popular tradition characterizing 
areas around it.^'^ 



1 Rolla M. Tryon, Household Manufactures in the United States, 1640-1860, 
Volume V in Reprints of Economic Classics (New York, 1966). First published 
in 1917. 

2 Ibid., p. 268. 

3 Ibid., p. 11. 

4 Ibid., pp. 312-69. 

5 Seventh Census of the United States, 1850, p. xxiv. It was requested that the 
cost of purchased raw materials be subtracted from the value of the product, 
so the census was attempting to report value added by the manufacturing 
process. No doubt there were inconsistencies in reporting, since value of pro- 
duction was based on estimates by the householder, but it is not felt that the 
magnitude of error is such that it would negate the use of the data in establish- 
ing the general patterns of home manufacturing. 

^ Tryon, Household Manufactures, pp. 188, 241. Tryon also excluded certain 
types of goods and goods manufactured under certain conditions from his study. 
There is no way of ascertaining whether or not respondents to census inquiries 
did the same. 

^ For maps showing the density of populadon see Charles PauUin and John 
K. Wright, Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, (New York 
and Washington, 1932), Plates 76 and 77. 

^ Tryon, Household Manufactures, pp. 312-69. 

^ There is some debate in regard to the quality of the early settlers in Appala- 
chia. Fiske stated that original settlers of the isolated mountain areas were in- 
ferior to pioneer settlers in other areas, a view recently reiterated by Caudill. 
See John Fiske, Old Virginia and Her Neighbors, vol. II (Boston, 1898), p. 311 
ff. and Harry M. Caudill, Night Comes to the Cumberlands (Boston, 1963), 
pp. 6-7. A more widely accepted view of the settlement of Appalachia caa be 
found in John C. Campbell. The Southern Highlander and His Homeland (New 
York, 1921), pp. 22-71. 

^° For maps showing the United States railroads see PauUin and Wright, Atlas 
of Historical Geography, Plates 138-40. 

^^ Campbell, The Southern Highlander, p. 49. 

12 "The Railroad System," North American Review, CIV (1867), 476-511. 

13 Caudill, Night Comes to the Cumberlands, pp. 75-6, 93-8, 123-24. 

14 Rupert Vance, "An Introductory Note", p. viii in Jack E. Weller, Yesterday's 
People, Life in Contemporary Appalachia (Lexington, 1965). 

1^ This is not intended to imply that there was no decline in the output of home- 
made items in Appalachia in the late nineteenth century. Apparently such a 
decline took place, and outside agencies attempted to revive crafts and fireside 
industries. Campbell, The Southern Highlander, p. 129; Bernice A. Stevens, 
"The Revival of Handicrafts", Chapter 18, pp. 279-88 in Thomas R. Ford, 
(ed.) The Southern Appalachian Region: A Survey (Lexington, 1962). On the 
other hand, there are numerous references to continued use of home-made 


goods, and in 1913 Kephart referred to the area as ". . . the land of make-it- 
yourself-or-do-without," Horace Kephart, Our Southern Highlander (New York, 
1922), p. 325. First published in 1913. 

^^ The Appalachian way of life seems to have come to the attention of writers, 
both popular and scholarly, about 1900. Much of this early writing contains 
strong elements of nostalgia and romanticism, presenting a society which had 
retained the characteristics of an earlier and more widespread American 
frontier. Examples are: Mary N. Murfree, (using the pseudonym of Charles 
Egbert Craddock), In the Tennessee Mountains (Boston, 1898); William G. 
Frost, "Our Contemporary Ancestors in the Southern Mountains", Atlantic 
Monthly (March, 1899), 311-19; Ellen Semple, "The Anglo Saxons of the Ken- 
tucky Mountains: A Study in Anthropogeography," Geographical Journal, 
XVI (1901), 588-623. More recent works retain traces of the nostalgia, but stress 
characteristics such as poverty, mental and cultural isolation, and exploitation 
by outside interests. Examples are: Caudill, Night Comes to the Cumberlands, 
and Weller, Yesterday's People. 

■^^ Henry Classic, Pattern in the Material Folk Culture of the Eastern United 
States, (Philadelphia, 1968), pp. 6ff.; 16ff.; 34ff. 



Burke G. Vanderhill 

Among the multitude of springs occurring in the state of Florida, 
dozens have been identified as mineral springs, although the nature and 
degree of mineralization varies widely. Man, in seeking cures for his 
afflictions, has long attributed miraculous properties to mineral waters, 
and those of Florida did not escape his attention. ^ Bottles and jugs 
have been lowered into Florida's mineral springs at least from the time 
of the first American settlement; and persons suffering from rheuma- 
tism, arthritis, and a host of other chronic disorders early came to im- 
merse themselves in the healing waters and sometimes to camp for 
extended periods. The intersection of Indian trails at some of the springs 
and the location of ancient mounds nearby seem to point to a much old- 
er tradition of therapeutic use. 

Shortly after 1840, roughly coincident with Florida's transition to 
statehood, health resorts began to develop around certain of the mineral 
springs, and such spas constituted a significant feature of the social 
and economic landscape of Florida for about three quarters of a century. 
All but one of these has now ceased to function, and that in a modern 
transformation. It is valid, therefore, to speak of them as a group as 
the "historic spas." 

Florida's historic spas have been overlooked as a focus of scholarly 
inquiry, despite the long time span involved and the reknown that some 
of them enjoyed during their heyday. Nor is there any organized body 
of information concerning them.^ Reference to one or more of the re- 
sorts is encountered in personal narratives and promotional literature 
of the period and occasionally in old newspapers filed away or preserved 
on microfilm. Some useful information has been made available by 
local or county historical societies. It is the purpose of the present 
study to assemble, collate, and carefully analyze such diverse and frag- 
mented data, supplemented by the product of field investigation, in 
order first to identify the historic spas of Florida and secondly to arrive 
at an understanding of the spatial and temporal patterns of their de- 


One might assume that a spa is a spa and that no question of iden- 
tity should arise. The standard definition — a resort based upon a mineral 
spring — seems straightforward. The problem stems in part from the 
fact that spas were health resorts and watering places, but the reverse 
was not necessarily the case. Also, since all waters have a measurable 
mineral component, the term "mineral spring" has been applied incon- 


sistently. Contemporary references are not always discriminating. 
The key to the identification of the Florida spas rests in the meaning 
implicit in the word "spa": that it involves improvement of a spring and 
the provision of facilities for therapeutic bathing and the drinking of 
mineral waters.^ These constitute the common denominator, and if 
a mineral spring does not offer at least minimum facilities for the in- 
valid, it is not functioning as a spa. Adhering to this definition, the con- 
tradictions of the record can be fairly well reconciled, particularly with 
the support of field evidence. Thus it has been possible to identify a 
total of nine historic spas in the state of Florida, not necessarily co- 
existent, and the mineral springs with which they were associated 
(Figure 1). 

Newport W 

Hampton Springs^ 

White Springs 
Suwannee Springs 

(5^ fl 

Worthington Springs^^ Green Cove Springs 


15 30 50 

Figure 1 


The spas of Florida were established to meet certain perceived 
human needs at a particular time in our cultural evolution when alterna- 
tives were more limited and may appear to have been components in 
a system. In reality, although they shared a number of features, and 
sometimes customers as well, they developed quite independently and 
were functionally isolated from one another. Let us then examine the 
circumstances in the case of each of the nine historic spas. 


The best known and most highly developed of the ante-bellum spas 
of Florida was White Sulphur Springs, after 1900 called White Springs, 
on the upper Suwannee River. The spring boil is located a few feet from 
the river's edge, and settlers from Georgia at the beginning of the 
territorial period were drawn to it along well-marked Indian trails. 
While informal use of the waters for therapeutic purposes came with 
settlement, facilities were not developed until after the Seminole War. 
A community was established in 1843^ and by 1845 it was said to be 
"offering the attractions of regular spas."^ White Sulphur Springs 
was within a then prosperous and expanding plantation region and ac- 
cessible to nearby areas by stage routes. By 1860, a railroad had been 
pushed west to Lake City from Jacksonville, and within a year another 
Hne reached Lake City from Tallahassee and the Panhandle area.^ 
Thus the territory from which the spa could attract visitors was greatly 
increased. Most of them detrained at Wellborn, eight miles by stage 
from White Sulphur Springs. By the outbreak of the Civil War, the spa 
had gained a reputation as a "fashionable" resort as well as a source 
of curative waters.^ 

After the hiatus of the war years, there was an attempt to recapture 
the resort trade of earlier times. During the summer of 1866, for ex- 
ample, a Tallahassee newspaper carried an adverdsement for White 
Sulphur Springs in every issue. ^ These efforts were only partially suc- 
cessful in a region economically and socially shattered and under- 
going military occupation. Nevertheless, most personal narratives and 
guidebooks of the 1870's recognize White Sulphur Springs among sev- 
eral well-known Florida health resorts and note its efficacy in the cure 
of rheumatism.^ Sometime prior to 1880, however, the resort fell into 
disuse, an event undoubtedly related to the continuing economic crisis 
of the area from which it drew its trade. 

The spa was reopened under new management in 1883,^° and sev- 
eral stimuli to growth appeared within the next few years. In 1889 a 
railroad line was completed through White Sulphur Springs from Val- 
dosta, Georgia, to Lake City, and by hnking existing lines, service was 
developed from Macon in central Georgia to Palatka on the St. Johns 
River. Further, Jacksonville was accessible via the Lake City inter- 


change. 11 Then in 1898, the lumber industry arrived, and in its wake 
came a rapid expansion of facilities. A retaining wall was constructed 
around the spring and a bathhouse was installed before 1900, and 
shortly thereafter a pavilion of unique four-level design was built en- 
circling the pool. A botding works was opened nearby, and diverse at- 
tractions including dance halls and a bowling alley were introduced. 
Such was the momentum that by 1907 four hotels had been constructed. 
There were Sunday excursion trains during the summer season, bring- 
ing throngs of visitors from Georgia points or from Jacksonville and 
Palatka. In the winter, however, the health resort function was para- 
mount, and improved facilities induced invalids to remain in White 
Springs for longer periods of time.^^ 

The boom ended with a great fire in 1911, and, while the pavilion 
escaped damage, the resort economy never completely recovered. 
The curative waters were advertised at least as late as 1950, but the 
numbers who came to partake of them dwindled sharply after the mid- 
twenties.i3 The pool was finally closed after 1950. Today the pavilion 
stands abandoned and dilapidated; across the street is the vast hulk 
of what was once a luxury hotel, and it is the Stephen Collins Foster 
Memorial which attracts traffic to White Springs. 


Another of Florida's early spas developed on the banks of the Su- 
wannee River only a dozen miles below White (Sulphur) Springs and 
at about the same time. This was variously called Lower Sulphur Springs, 
Lower Mineral Springs, and Suwannee Sulphur Springs, later simpli- 
fied to Suwannee Springs. A mineral spring arose a few feet from the 
river's edge and spilled over a rocky ledge to the river below. Suwannee 
Springs developed in association with the existing center of Live Oak 
seven miles distant, and no community grew up around the spa facili- 
ties for a number of years. 

It is probable that facilities were introduced near the spring as early 
as 1845. 1'l By 1851 it was reported that there were accomodations 
for about a hundred visitors, although the spring itself remained unim- 
proved. ^^ Through the ante-bellum period Suwannee Springs became 
a popular summer watering place as well as the resort of invalids and 
competed with its upstream counterpart for trade. ^^ Live Oak was 
reached by rail from the west in 1859, and its linkage to the east was 
completed in 1861, thus making it much more convenient to reach 
Suwannee Springs. 

The record is silent on the years of war and Reconstruction, but 
Suwannee Springs was able to benefit from a rail line constructed as 
a war measure from Live Oak to Dupont, Georgia, an interchange 
point. 1'^ The line passed within two miles of the spring, and following 
the war a station was established to serve the resort, reached by a two- 


mile tram road. Invalids were returning to Suwannee Springs at least 
by the mid-seventies,^^ and facilities for them were undergoing ex- 
pansion in the early 1880's.^^ Further rail construction was significant 
to the fortunes of Suwannee Springs. The so-called "Waycross Short 
Line", completed to Jacksonville in 1881, gave improved access from 
Savannah and the Atlantic Seaboard, while the Dupont-Live Oak line 
was extended south to Gainesville by 1884, thus becoming a trunk 
route. 20 Suwannee Springs reached its peak from the mid-1880's to 
about 1910, and through this period it was developed as a year-around 
resort. 21 It supported a large hotel with a separate annex for overflow, 
a double row of cottages, a bottling works, and the spring pool and 
bathhouse. The spring had been encircled by a heavy masonry wall 
sometime prior to 1890. The sulphur waters had gained a reputation, 
either earned or promoted, for their curative qualities. 22 

Much of the spa activity at Suwannee Springs was brought to an 
abrupt halt by the destruction of the hotel by fire just before World 
War I. The cottages remained and were used on into the 1950"s, but 
the visitors seldom came for therapeutic purposes. 23 Several cottages 
were demolished in 1948 to make way for a new highway, and today 
most of the remainder are abandoned and falling apart. Two of them 
have been refurbished as dwellings, and the former hotel annex has 
been converted to a grocery store. Twisted pipes and broken masonry 
mark the site of the hotel, and the base of the old bathhouse remains 
near the spring. The spring boil still rises within the walled enclosure 
at the river's edge, and the odor of sulphur is strong. 


A contemporary of the two spas just discussed was Orange Springs, 
located near the left bank of the Oklawaha River about 25 miles above 
its confluence with the St. Johns. The lands around the sulphur spring 
passed into private hands in 1843, and soon thereafter a boarding house 
was erected nearby.2'* By 1851 it was reported to be filled with "bron- 
chial and consumptive patients" and invalids.25 Patrons arrived either 
by stage over the Palatka-Ocala mail route or by steamboat up the 
Oklawaha to a landing a mile or so from the spring. Orange Springs 
derived advantage from its proximity to the valley of the St. Johns, 
which was the prime focus of Florida's winter trade at that time, and 
became a stop-over on many of the excursion trips up the Oklawaha to 
Silver Springs. With increasing familiarity its reputation for healing 
waters grew. 26 During the summer season a resort trade was attracted 
from the plantation areas of east Florida for reasons of both "health and 
society," while northerners frequented Orange Springs during the winter 
months. Undoubtedly it was on the seasonal circuit for some of them. 
Until the Civil War, Orange Springs was a small but well-established 
spa. 2'^ 


Resort activities at Orange Springs ended with the war, and appa- 
rently there was no meaningful development for over twenty years. 
All standard commentaries of the 1870's and early 1880"s describe 
it as a "former" resort of invalids.^^ With the return of prosperity in 
the mid-1880's and a revival of steamboating on the St. Johns and the 
Oklawaha, Orange Springs came back to life. Several modest hotels 
were opened, and a wharf was built along a little bayou at the rivers 
edge. Unfortunately, during this period of great railroad expansion in 
Florida, Orange Springs was by-passed. The line from Palatka to Ocala 
was routed through Gainesville, and Orange Springs was left largely 
dependent upon steamboats on a river which after 1890 rapidly lost 
its utility as a water route. At the same time. South Florida w'as being 
opened up to the winter trade. Visitors slowed to a trickle, and when 
a branch rail line finally reached Orange Springs in 1912, it was really 
too late as far as the spa was concerned. Some invalids, mainly arthri- 
tics, condnued to come until 1925, when the branch was abandoned. ^^ 

Since that time the spring has had only local use and has recently 
been converted to a kidney-shaped public swimming pool. Orange 
Springs is a tiny community presently rejoicing in their location near 
Lake Oklawaha, which was created in connection with the ill-starred 
Cross-Florida Barge Canal and whose waters have covered the steam- 
boat landings of the past. 


The shortest lived of the four ante-bellum spas of Florida was 
Newport, sometimes called Newport Springs, on the St. Marks River 
about three miles above its confluence with the Wakulla, and approxi- 
mately twenty miles south of the state capital, Tallahassee. Newport 
had been established as a small cotton shipping port in 1844. Not far 
upstream was a good-sized sulphur spring which must have been familiar 
to many of the first settlers, for it lay very near the remnants of an earlier 
town, Magnolia, from which they had moved some years before. Re- 
sort activity developed in connection with the spring at least by 1846, 
and in 1850 there were two hotels in operation, one at the big spring 
and a second thought to have been across the river near a smaller spring 
then running.3° 

In the years prior to the Civil War, Newport became a convenient 
health resort for the Middle Florida area, where much of the state's 
early development had been focussed. Reportedly it drew additional 
trade from beyond the South, perhaps stimulated through the port's 
commercial linkages with the Eastern Seaboard. ^i It offered facilities 
for bathing and drinking at the spring, but in addition it provided 
dancing and other social benefits, plus the opportunity for inlanders 
to enjoy fish and oysters in season. It functioned primarily as a summer 
resort. 32 There was no railroad to Newport, but the distance by stage 


from Oil Station on the Tallaiiassee-St. Marks line was less than four 
miles. Visitors from the capital came by way of mule-drawn cars over 
that railroad until 1859, when it was converted to steam. Meanwhile, 
after the mid-1850"s a plank road led directly to Newport from Talla- 
hassee, and Jefferson County areas east of Tallahassee were served by 
a branch of this wooden roadway. Arrivals by sea could not have been 
very significant to the spa activity of Newport, for it was far upstream 
and handled small cargo vessels brought up on the incoming tide. 
Newport was sacked by Federal troops during the Civil War, and 
by war's end the spring was described as "neglected and forsaken." 
The hotels were gone, and the bathhouse was abandoned and dilapi- 
dated. ^^ Never again were facilities to be provided for invalids. Newport 
the town revived in a small way, but the spring was used only by those 
who came to camp nearby for short periods. ^^ Many visitors during 
the last thirty years of the 19th century lamented the disuse of a spring 
whose waters were known to have marvelous curative properties. ^^ 
Since the turn of the century the spring has seen little more than 
recreational use. A private bathhouse and several cottages were erected 
near the spring about 1910 for such purposes. ^^ Only one of the cot- 
tages survives today, but the spring pool remains, its wooden walls 
rotting away. Occasionally used as a swimming hole, it lies on private 


The most highly touted and fashionable of Florida's spas was Green 
Cove Springs, developed just following the Civil War on the west bank 
of the St. Johns River north of Palatka. A small settlement had been 
made here as early as 1830, and the sulphur spring, visible from the 
river, became well-known prior to the war. No facilities were provided 
at the spring, apparently because of opposition of the owners to develop- 
ment. By the close of the war period, several private dressing houses 
had been constructed along the spring run, which is about a quarter 
mile in length. 

The first report of a hotel and boarding house near the spring ap- 
peared in 1869, indicating that they must have opened a year or so 
previously. The spa function was developing rapidly, for there were 
also rooms available for guests in private homes. While the spring it- 
self remained unimproved, its waters had already gained a reputation 
as a curative agent. ^'^ The main growth of Green Cove Springs came 
after the end of Reconstruction. The location of the spring on the St. 
Johns was advantageous to its development, for the river was at that 
time the principal highway of Florida. Suitable docking was soon con- 
structed on the waterfront, and Green Cove Springs became a regular 
stop on the steamship schedules up and down the river. A total of ten 


hotels were constructed here during the seventies and eighties, some of 
them open only during the winter, others the year around. ^8 Most of 
them offered therapeutic bathing, but their real base was the winter 
resort trade. Green Cove Springs drew its clientele almost entirely 
from beyond the borders of Florida and was the only Florida spa that 
could be said to have had a national reputation. ^^ The supporting 
features, such as band concerts, horse racing, dancing, and other amuse- 
ments, led some to call this the "Saratoga of the St. Johns." 

Magnolia Springs, a smaller but also fashionable resort three miles 
north of Green Cove Springs, was in a real sense an adjunct of the 
larger center. Its small spring was replaced by a driven well in 1882, 
and its patrons walked or rode to bathe in the mineral pools of Green 
Cove Springs.'^" 

Green Cove Springs was at its peak during the period 1875-1895. 
By its end the steamboat era was beginning to pass under competition 
from the railroads, and in turn the new rail lines were transporting 
winter visitors in larger numbers well south of Green Cove Springs as 
peninsular Florida entered its boom. Hotels began to close and decay 
by the turn of the century, and the northern trade was about over when 
steamboat traffic into Green Cove Springs was terminated in 1917."*^ 
A small in-state patronage kept the spa function alive until the Depres- 

The spring today is an attractive feature of a city park, complete 
with municipal swimming and wading pools. No therapeutic use of its 
waters has been made for forty years, but one of the smaller hotels 
of the 1880's still stands and accepts paying guests. 


One of three Florida spas developed during the decade of the 
1890's was Worthington Springs, on the north side of the Santa Fe 
River about seventeen miles north of Gainesville. It was based upon 
a very small sulphur spring discovered and enlarged by the original 
owner of the property in the early 1840's and used from time to time 
by invalids for fifty years before any facilities were constructed. A 
reference to a visit in 1854 suggests that the curative properties of the 
spring had been recognized prior to that date.^^ Such occasional use 
of the mineral waters seemingly continued throughout the years follow- 
ing the Civil War.^^ Qne might surmise that the location of the spring 
at the base of the valley slope made it possible for visitors to camp near- 
by unobtrusively. The lack of accomodations during this long period 
may have reflected the personal desires of the landowners, but whether 
or not this was the case, it is certainly true that Worthington Springs 
was relatively isolated, for a rail line did not reach this point until the 
turn of the century. 


Rail construction was extended as far as Lake Butler, a few miles 
to the north, in 1889, and the Jacksonville-Gainesville line was com- 
pleted through Worthington Springs in 1900. The spa dates from 1895, 
when the first shelter was constructed over the spring and a dressing 
room was built, while the pool was divided into two parts, one for men 
and one for women. '^ A hotel was built in the village, also in 1895, 
and before 1900 two others appeared. With the establishment of rail- 
road service, people also began to come to Worthington Springs for 
Sunday outings, some from Gainesville, but most of them from Jack- 
sonville. Excursion trains ran during the summer season and poured 
thousands of merrymakers into the spa. Few among them were interest- 
ed in hydrotherapy. However, retired people came to settle in Worthing- 
ton Springs to be close to the mineral waters, and bottled water was 
widely marketed. 

About 1906 the pool was enlarged, surrounded by a heavy concrete 
wall, and re-covered; and a two-story pavilion was built adjacent to 
it, equipped with dressing rooms and a dance hall. Cottages were built 
on the slope above the spring, while another hotel was constructed in 
town. Despite a disastrous fire in 1906 in which the older hotels were 
destroyed, and a later fire in 1910, the spa remained a popular recrea- 
tion spot until the Depression. The number of invalids among the 
visitors was always very small, and they ceased entirely with the de- 
struction by fire of the last of the hotels in 1937.^5 

The recreational functions of the spring and its facilities continued 
on a more and more local basis until abandoned in the mid-1950's. 
The structures were later torn down. Today the wall remains around 
the spring pool but is deteriorating, and the spring boil is difficult to 
detect. Two abandoned cottages still stand on the adjacent slope, but 
only the footings may be seen of the structures which rose beside the 


The most southerly of the historic spas and the only one of them still 
functioning is Safety Harbor, on the western shore of Old Tampa Bay. 
Although it is advertised as "Florida's first spa," the springs having 
been visited by DeSoto in 1539, its initial development came in the 
decade of the 1890's after railroad construction had opened up the 
Tampa Bay area. It was first known as Green Springs, and was based 
upon an unusual clustering of four springs within a radius of twenty- 
five feet, each offering a somewhat different mineral content. 

The few pioneer settlers along the eastern side of the Pinellas Penin- 
sula knew the springs and made some use of them from the 1820's. 
After the Seminole War, visitors began to come across the bay from 
Fort Brooke, which became the nucleus of Tampa, to spend varying 
lengths of time at the springs. This practice continued in the years 
following the Civil War, and groups camped along the bay shore near 


the springs, sometimes erecting palmetto-thatched huts for shelter. 
Several houses had been built in the vicinity by 1890, some of which 
were offered for rent. This informal grouping of dwellings was named 
Green Springs in 1892. although it had no post office, or even a store 
at that time. Shortly thereafter, the year not of record, a Tampa phy- 
sician established a sanitorium under canvas near the springs, and 
his patients formed a small tent city around it. This was a winter phe- 
nomenon and was a feature of Green Springs for several years. "^^ Thus 
a spa of sorts developed in the mid i890's. 

About at the turn of the century a less ephemeral type of health 
resort appeared at Green Springs. The springs property had changed 
hands, and the new owner erected a hotel and bathing pavilion, a shel- 
ter at the springs, and a plant for bottling the mineral waters. Pumps 
were installed in each of the four springs. On the bayfront, a dock a 
half mile in length was constructed, and to it began to come excursion 
boats from Tampa on weekends and holidays.'*'^ The long pier was 
a response to the tidal range over a gently shelving shore. Access was 
of necessity by water, for while all patrons came from or by way of 
Tampa, no rail had yet reached the Pinellas Peninsula; and the road 
from Tampa to Green Springs was a sandy trail around the rim of the 
bay. The community grew with the resort trade, and in 1910 a post 
office was established and named Safety Harbor, after an earlier center 
several miles to the north. A rail line being extended to St. Petersburg 
reached Safety Harbor in 1914, but the benefits were shortlived. In 
the following year a fire destroyed much of the town including the hotel 
and bathhouse, and for the next eight years there was no spa at Safety 

A new cycle of development was initiated in 1923, when a new re- 
sort hotel was built over the springs, and the commercial bottling of 
mineral waters was resumed.*^ It is the basic structure of these facili- 
ties which underlies the much enlarged spa of 1973. Redevelopment 
occurred during the Florida Boom and, compared to the other historic 
spas of the state. Safety Harbor was more favorably located with 
reference to the principal growth centers of the time. The Depression 
and changing habits, however, struck hard at Safety Harbor, and un- 
fortunately the inferior bay shoreline did not serve as a compensatory 

It was a very limited operation that new management took over in 
1945. Since that time the historic spa has been converted to a luxury 
winter resort, with 75% of its clientele drawn from the New York- 
Boston area, and much of the remainder from eastern Canada.^^ The 
four historic springs, fitted with glass covers, constitute part of the decor 
in the main dining room of the hotel, while their waters are piped to 
each room, where fountains numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4 identify the individ- 
ual sources. Water from one of them is still bottled and sold commercially. 
A fifth spring recently tapped, feeds a therapeutic pool. Safety Harbor 


is promoted as a health resort based upon mineral springs — a spa — and 
a limited use of the mineral waters is continuing. However, much of 
the treatment involves a regimen of exercise and diet, and few of its 
patrons could be classified as invalids. 


The third of the spas of 1890's origin is Panacea, located about 35 
miles south of Tallahassee on an arm of Apalachee Bay. It was de- 
veloped upon a concentration of small sulphurous springs, about twenty 
in number, of which several were at times put to use. An Indian mound 
less than a mile away suggests an ancient congregation at these springs, 
and in the years prior to the Civil War local people came seeking cura- 
tive waters from time to time.^° Such limited use of the springs, then 
called Smith Springs, continued through the long post-war years, and 
development of the property was discouraged by its relative isolation. 
In 1893, however, a railroad was completed from Tallahassee to Carra- 
belle on the Gulf, and this line passed within seven miles of Smith Springs 
at the community of Sopchoppy.^^ Also in 1893, the springs property 
was acquired by northern interests, who gave to it the name Panacea 
Springs. The stage was thus set for development. 

The Panacea Springs spa dates from 1898, when the first hotel was 
opened for business. Patrons arrived from or through Tallahassee and 
detrained at Sopchoppy, thence by stage to the springs. After 1902, 
through rail service was available from Georgia points over the Talla- 
hassee-Bainbridge line, and visitors could conveniently reach the 
springs from a greater distance. Excursion trains were operated during 
the summer resort season from Cuthbert, Georgia, to Carrabelle, and 
one of the connecting trips was to Panacea Springs from the station 
at Sopchoppy. The intervening seven miles was covered by a tram 
line using horses or mules for motive power. The tram line was aban- 
doned about 1917, and subsequently visitors to the spa came by buggy 
or the rare automobile over oystershell roads leading from the sta- 
tions at Sopchoppy or Arran. Panacea Springs was described as a 
"watering place of considerable repute," and it offered the additional 
attractions of boating and fishing. ^2 jyiq medicinal waters remained 
the focal point. A Bathing pool was built, with wooden sides and a 
roof, and the public was allowed free access to it. Some people came 
mainly to drink the waters. For those who could not come, mineral 
waters were bottled under label and marketed in north Florida and 
adjacent south Georgia. ^^ 

Despite a fire in 1924 in which a hotel was destroyed. Panacea 
Springs prospered, and in 1925 two additional hotels opened. Also 
during that year a pier was built with a dancing pavilion at the end. 
The years 1925-1928 were the peak period of spa activity here. A more 


direct connection with Tallaiiassee by way of improved roads converted 
Panacea Springs to a playground for the region, and the role of the 
mineral springs became less important. While the summer resort trade 
remained characteristic, an important winter season of fishing and 
hunting activities developed, particularly drawing upon a Georgia 
clientele. Many seasonal homes were built in the Panacea Springs area, 
and several subdivisions were developed. Invalids were rarely encoun- 
tered. The boom survived a hurricane in 1928, in which two hotels 
were badly damaged, but came to an end with the Depression. Reports 
of the time indicated great optimism for Panacea even late in 1929, 
well into the national crisis. ^^ By the mid 1930's, however, the remain- 
ing hotels and the pavilion were closed, and the springs property had 
fallen into neglect. ^^ 

Today Panacea is primarily noted for commercial and sports fish- 
ing, but evidences of its past may be seen. A community park has been 
developed on the springs land, and some of the improvements made to 
the springs at various times have been protected. The bathing pool 
remains, but its concrete wall is crumbling. One spring fitted out for 
drinking is still used to some extent. Two of the shelters standing are 
reputed to have been built during the boom period. While there is no 
indication of the alignment of the old tram line, and all of the hotels 
are now gone, a double row of weathered pilings mark the former posi- 
tion of the amusement pier. 


Last of the historic spas to develop was Hampton Springs, built 
around a long-used sulphur spring in the pine flatwoods five miles 
southwest of Perry, in Taylor County. Although the family for whom 
the spring was named came here before the Civil War, purportedly di- 
rected by an Indian medicine man, the healing power of its waters be- 
came more widely known only after the war, and the first references 
to it appear in the 1870's and 1880's.^^ Those who journeyed here for 
the cure made camp nearby. The mainstream of Florida's economic 
growth had by-passed Perry to this time, and the sulphur spring was 
far from any travelled route. 

The first development of the spring came after Perry had become a 
lumber center and rail connections had been established. In 1908 a 
small hotel and a bathhouse were built at Hampton Springs. While the 
resort centered upon the mineral waters, the hunting and fishing pos- 
sibilities in the area gave it a wider appeal. ^^ Water from the spring 
was bottled and sold commercially.^^ Railroad interests acquired the 
property in 1915 and extended a spur line from Perry. By the end of 
World War I, a new and larger hotel had been constructed, a nine- 
hole golf course had been added, and the winter resort was being pro- 
moted vigorously. Excursion trains arrived from Georgia points on 


weekends, and the road from Perry was improved. ^^ After 1920, how- 
ever, business decHned, and the hotel was closed by the mid-1920's. A 
new cycle of development began in 1927 with the leasing of the springs 
properties by a Chicago-based organization. In addition to benefitting 
from improvements in the road system of the Southeast, Hampton 
Springs was accessible to the Mid-west by through rail routes, utilizing 
an interchange at Adel, Georgia. Many of the spa's guests during the 
late twenties came from the Chicago area. The resort offered sulphur 
baths, either steam, tub, or shower, and boasted of the efficacy of its 
waters in a myriad of ailments. It also played up its recreational features 
and the attractions of the Gulf coast region. ^*^ Winter was its busy 

The third cycle of development at Hampton Springs was a short one, 
for the Depression eliminated most of its clientele. By 1937 the hotel 
was operating only on a part-time basis. ^^ A last attempt to revive the 
resort was made in 1946, in the boom days after World War II, and the 
hotel was renovated.^^ jhjg y^^s unsuccessful, and by 1950 the hotel 
had closed its doors, bringing the spa era here to an end. The build- 
ing was used as a boarding house until its destruction by fire in 1954. 

Today the springs property is fenced and the gates are chained 
shut, while the railroad spur has been torn up beyond the outer limits 
of Perry. Of the facilities at the spring, only concrete slabs and remnants 
of masonry mark the position of the hotel, which in its prime stretched 
for a length of 300 feet; and the foundations of the bathhouse and bottling 
works can be seen. The spring boil is still confined within walls con- 
structed years ago, and the paved driveway and some of the ornamental 
plantings remain. A village was never established around the spring, but 
a small grocery store nearby continues to serve residents dispersed 
through the area, and the name Hampton Springs is used for this loosely 
structured community. 


The historic spas of Florida developed far from the major concen- 
trations of the nation's population at a time when few people possessed 
the means by which to travel such distances and well after mineral 
springs more advantageously located had been developed. That several 
spas did arise within Florida is a reflection of a rather universal demand 
at the time for the benefits presumed to derive from the use of mineral 
waters and of a growing population within Florida and adjacent Georgia 
as the immediate source of that demand. Only in the case of Green Cove 
Springs was a clientele from afar an initial factor. It is significant to note 
that it was customary for the local trade to take the waters only during 
the summer months. Conversely, visitors from outside the area came 
almost without exception in the winter. It becomes obvious, then, that 
from the start the spas were at least as much vacation spots as health 


resorts. It is appropriate tiiat this was the case, for the benefits gained 
from a visit to a spa came largely from fresh air, balanced diet, cleanli- 
ness, relaxation, and pleasant companionship, rather than from some 
miraculous quality of the water.^^ 

Analysis of the development cycles of the Florida spas has revealed 
that they were responsive to changing economic and social conditions; 
and that while the resources upon which they were based — the mineral 
springs— could be considered as a constant and differed little in utility 
from one spa to another, their relative location and accessibility were 
critical variables subject to modification over time. Each spa was an 
independent entity in a functional sense, although its trade territory 
might overlap with that of another, and its time span was determined 
by its own unique set of controls; yet there were certain striking parallels, 
evidence that some factors operated across the board. A composite 
view of the era of the spas in Florida is provided by Figure 2, which per- 
mits a quick inspection of the general trends of development over a 130 
year period. Noteworthy are the effects of the Civil War and Recon- 
struction, the revival and expansion of the spas after 1870, the peaking 
of activity in the years 1910-1915, and the dramatic decline after 1930. 

Several pervasive factors may be recognized. The ante-bellum spas 
all drew their trade from the plantation belt and were therefore simi- 
larly affected by the economic and social disruptions of the Civil War 
and its aftermath. They languished until a new class of patron appeared 
on the scene, either the townsman or the wintering northerner. Both 
the old and the newer spas benefitted to varying degrees from the ex- 
pansion of railroad mileage across the state and the general return of 
prosperity. The crest of the wave of spa activity was reached about 
1910, when well developed public transportation influenced a concen- 
tration of people at certain playgrounds and vacation spots, and most 
of the Florida spas had provided attractive diversions in addition to the 
basic bathing and drinking facilities. 

The rather precipitous decline of the spas came largely in response 
to a set of external factors. The introduction and popularization of the 
automobile was one of these, and from the time of the first World War, 
the private auto had fostered the search for and use of alternative 
resort and recreational opportunities. Medical knowledge, both pro- 
fessional and lay, was discouraging reliance upon mineral springs as 
curative agents, and hydrotherapy itself was moving toward more so- 
phisticated treatment which did not require water with natural mineral 
content. Many of the old ailments had stemmed from poor diets, limited 
sanitation, and drafty homes, and were no longer prevalent. The rapid 
closing of Florida spas after 1930, however, was most immediately the 
result of the Crash of 1929 and the Depression which followed. Adjust- 
ment to most of these external factors was possible through a further 
emphasis on the broader resort functions, but it was difficult to com- 
pensate for a nearly complete loss of customers. 






- 0C6I 


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- 0Z8I 




00 r^ vD L/~i <)• ro CN 

SuT:iBj3do aaquirif^ 


It is probably fruitless to speculate about what might have been the 
fate of the Florida spas had there not been an economic crisis of major 
proportions, although one might suspect that obsolescence would have 
caught up with them eventually. The fact remains that the spa function 
did not survive the Depression in any meaningful way. Thus the Florida 
spas became features of historic interest. 


^ John Lee Williams, The Territory of Florida, facsimile reproduction of 1837 
edition (Gainesville, Fla., 1962), pp. 134, 147-48. 

2 The only comprehensive survey of Florida springs provides useful informa- 
tion on chemical analysis of their waters and on fluctuations in level. Minimal 
reference is made to use, and there is no emphasis on mineral springs. See G.E. 
Ferguson, C.W. Lingham, S.K. Lx)ve, and R.O. Vernon. The Springs of Florida, 
Florida Geological Survey, Bull. No 31, Tallahassee, 1947. 

^ This is clearly the interpretation in both American and European references. 
See, for example, J.J. Moorman, Mineral Springs of North America: How to 
Reach, and How to Use Them (Philadelphia, 1873); S.L. Bensusan, Some German 
Spas (London, 1926). 

4 Stephen Foster Music Club of White Springs, A Brief History of White Springs, 
Florida, First Ed., (Live Oak, Florida, 1950), p. 1. 

s Dorothy Dodd, "Florida in 1845," Florida Historical Quarterly, XXIV (July, 
1945), 26. 

6 George W. Pettengill, Jr., The Story of the Florida Railroads, 1834-1903, 
Bull. No. 86, The Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, Boston, July 
1952, pp. 21-6. 

^ Chades L. Norton, A Handbook of Florida (New York, 1895), pp. 337-38. 
8 The Semi-Weekly Floridian, Tallahassee, May 18, 1866; Aug. 20, 1866. Pre- 
sumably the period corresponded closely to the resort season of the time. 

^ For example, see Sidney Lanier, Florida: Its Scenery, Climate, and History 
(Philadelphia, 1876), p. 146. Unfortunately most writers of such volumes did not 
visit White Springs and depended upon older reports for their information, as 
Lanier seems to have done. 

10 Hamilton County Times, Jasper, Florida, 1883, n.d. (Photocopy of adver- 
tisement.) Special Collections, Strozier Library, Florida State University. This 
item noted the past reknown of the spring for the cure of rheumatism, dyspep- 
sia, neuralgia, scrofula, syphilis, general debility, kidney diseases, and "female 

11 Pettengill, The Story of Florida Railroads, p. 109. 

12 Stephen Foster Music Club, A Brief History of White Springs, p. 2. 

1-^ Herman Gunter, "Statistics of Mineral Production in Florida in 1928 and 
1929," 21st-22nd Annual Report, 1928-1930, Florida Geological Survey, Talla- 
hassee, 1931, p. 37. 


14 Dodd, "Florida in 1845," p. 26. 

1^ C.C. Clay, "Letters from Florida in 1851," edited by Olin Norwood, Florida 
Historical Quarterly. XXIX (April 1951), 279. 

16 The Floridian and Journal, Tallahassee, June 18, 1859, p. 3. 

1"^ Pettengill, The Story of Florida Railroads, p. 64. 

18 The Suwannee Springs, New York, n.d. This was a promotional brochure 
which included testimonial letters revealing evidence of use of the waters by 
invalids at least from the mid-1870's. The latest testimonial was dated July 
1893, pointing to possible publication in the period 1893-1895. Seventy percent 
of the letters were from Georgia, including many from Savannah. 

1^ A. A. Robinson, Florida — Its Climate, Soil, and Productions (Tallahassee, 
1882), p. 180. He reports that a number of new cottages were added in 1881 
and that the spring was yearly gaining a reputation for its medical qualities. 

20 Pettengill, The Story of Florida Railroads, pp. 65-8. 

21 William E. Arnold, Summer in the Winter Time (Philadelphia, 1892), p. 

22 W.H. Morse, Suwannee Springs (Westfield, N.J., 1896). This was a promotion- 
al pamphlet identified as a "voluntary opinion" which extolled the virtues of the 
"Saratoga of the South," and "the American Mecca," whose mineral water 
was an infallible cure for an incredible number of ailments. "Kidneys cannot 
be out of order in Eden." 

23 Interview with Mr. Virgil Jones, a long-time resident, at Suwannee Springs, 
Florida, January 25, 1973. 

24 Eloise R. Ott and Louis H. Chazal, Ocali Country (Ocala, Florida, 1966), p. 51. 

25 Clay, "Letters from Florida in 1851," pp. 641-42. 

26 The Floridian and Journal, Tallahassee, May 30, 1857, p. 4. 

27 "Florida:' DeBow's Review, XXX (June 1861), 641-42. 

28 Lanier, Florida: Its Scenery. Climate, and History, p. 328; Robinson, Florida- 
Its Climate, Soil, and Productions, p. 155. 

2® Interview with Mr. Don V. Chapman, Postmaster, Orange Springs, January 
20, 1973. 

30 Elizabeth Smith, "Life Along the Newport Road," Chapter II, Mag- 
nolia Monthly (February 1972), n.p.; Chapter III (March 1972), n.p. 

31 H.C. Rippy, "Middle Florida," The Semi-Tropical, II (February 1876), p. 97. 

32 Editorial comment, however, bewailed the tendency to frequent such resorts 
as Montvale Springs, Tennessee, rather than "their own watering places." The 
Floridian and Journal, Tallahassee, June 19, 1858, p. 2. 

33 The Semi-Weekly Floridian, Tallahassee, June 15, 1866, p. 2. 

34 Rippy, "Middle Florida," p. 92. 

35 See A Sojourner in Tallahassee, His Letters from Tallahassee (Tallahassee, 
1885), p. 15; Mrs. H.W. Beecher, Letters from Florida (New York, 1879), p. 26. 
Newport is referred to as "once deemed the Saratoga of Florida," but almost 
entirely destroyed during the war. 


^ George C. Matson and Samuel Sanford, Geology and Ground Waters of 
Florida, Water Supply Paper 319, United States Geological Survey Washington, 
D.C., 1913, p. 442. 

3'^ Ledyard Bill, A Winter in Florida (New York, 1869), pp. 96-100. 

38 Daniel F. Tyler, Where to Go in Florida (New York, 1880), p. 43. 

3^ Bushrod W. James, American Resorts, with Notes Upon Their Climate (Phil- 
adelphia, 1889), p. 131. 

^ Joseph W. Howe, Winter Homes for Invalids (New York, 1875), p. 46. 

4^ Interview with Mr. C.A. Geiger, Clay County Historical Society, Magnolia 
Springs, January 20, 1973. 

42 Rebecca Phillips (ed.), "A Diary of Jesse Talbot Bernard, 1847-1857," Florida 
Historical Quarterly, XVIII (October 1939), 121. 

43 Robinson, Florida — Its Climate, Soil, and Productions, p. 86. 

44 Mrs. Albert Miller, "Worthington Springs History," in History of Union Coun- 
ty Florida, 1 92 1-1971 (Lake Butler, Florida, 1971), p. 36. 

45 Ibid., p. 37. 

46 Gladys B. Tucker, Pioneer Life in Safety Harbor and Events in the Life of 
Dr. Odet Philippe, Ms. 1958, n.p. (Collection of Pinellas County Historical 
Museum, Clearwater, Florida.) These were personal reminiscences after many 
years and dating of events were imprecise. 

4"^ W.L. Straub, History of Pinellas County, Florida (St. Augustine, Florida, 
1929), p. 116. 

48 Ibid., p. 112. 

49 Interview with Mr. Salu Devanani, Managing Director, Safety Harbor Spa, 
Safety Harbor, Florida, January 18, 1973. 

50 Florida Highways, March 1951, p. 31. 

5^ Pettengill, The Story of Florida Railroads, p. 125. 

52 Roland M. Harper, "Geography and Vegetation of Northern Florida," Sixth 
Annual Report, Florida State Geological Survey, Tallahassee, 1914, p. 301. 

53 E.H. Sellards, "Geology Between the Ochlockonee and Aucilla Rivers in 
Florida," Ninth Annual Report, Florida State Geological Survey, Tallahassee, 
1917, p. 114. 

54 Tallahassee Daily Democrat, Tallahassee, Florida, November 22, 1929, p. 7. 
This also constitutes a refutation of an oft-repeated story that Panacea Springs 
was swept by fire in 1929. A careful review of all issues of this newspaper for 
the year 1929 revealed that the disastrous fire was in the village of Woodville, 
just south of Tallahassee, rather than in Panacea Springs. 

55 Kim's Guide to Florida (St. Augustine, 1935), p. 40. 

56 See Lanier, Florida: Its Scenery, Climate, and History, p. 333; Robinson, 
Florida — Its Climate, Soil, and Productions, p. 56. 

5'^ Louise Childers, "The Hampton Springs Hotel, 1908-1954," The Magnolia 
Monthly (September 1968), n.p. 

58 Matson and Sanford, Geo /og_y and Ground Waters of Florida, p. 415. 


^^ Childers, "The Hampton Springs Hotel." 
60 Hampton Springs (Chicago, 1927), p. 11. 
6^ Childers, "The Hampton Springs Hotel." 

62 Ferguson, et al., The Springs of Florida, p. 161. 

63 None of the historic spas were based upon thermal springs. Only since 1957 
has a warm spring (87° F.) been opened to the public in Florida. This is a salt 
spring located 12 miles south of Venice along the lower Gulf coast, named Warm 
Mineral Springs. It has no accommodations, but offers a pool and water for 
drinking, and is the center of a residential development. 





By John B. Rehder 

For over 200 years, planters have experimented with sugarcane cul- 
tivation on plantations in Louisiana. Their success or failure, and their 
location of enterprise and product are all related to a variety of location 
factors. The purpose of this paper is to analyze both present and past 
plantation distributions and to relate the physical, cultural, and eco- 
nomic factors which have contributed to the localization of sugar plan- 
tations in Louisiana. The sugar plantation which forms the basis of this 
study is an agricultural enterprise exhibiting a landscape complex of 
distinctive visual settlement features.^ Towering over the cane fields, 
the sugarhouse chimneys denote the location of a sugar factory— an 
agricultural factory in the field. ^ A cluster of barns and sheds usually 
surrounds the sugarhouse forming a centrally located outbuilding com- 
plex. Nearby is the quarters, a village grouping of nearly identical labor- 
ers' dwellings which is either centered upon a single road in a linear 
pattern or grouped in a block pattern based on a grid of streets. In a 
location separate and exclusive from the other buildings in the settle- 
ment complex, the big house, a prominent structure, is set usually amid 
moss-draped oaks. On larger plantation enterprises, a company store 
and sometimes a church are located on or near the plantation holdings. 
Extensive fields covering hundreds, even thousands, of acres unbroken 
by fences stretch long and narrow from levee crests at the stream 
banks to backswamps downslope from the streams. Long, straight 
ditches divide the fields and give them a characteristic linear appear- 
ance. Other cultural appurtenances related to the plantation landscape 
include artificial levees — long protective dikes which line the banks 
of flood-prone streams— and "levee roads'" which parallel the streams 
just inside the levees and connect plantation landings. Although now 
constructed and maintained by the United States Army Corps of 
Engineers, levees once were the responsibility of the individual land- 

Louisiana's sugar-plantation landscape is situated in a well-defined 
sugarcane growing region concentrated in the Mississippi River Flood- 
plain in south-central Louisiana (Figures 1 and 2). The region encom- 
passes nearly 12,000 square miles in 20 parishes where 318,177 acres 
are utilized for sugarcane cultivation (Figure l).^ 

Within the area, sugar plantations extend northward as far as Meeker 
and southward, 150 airline miles, to Ashland and Valentine. The eastern 
limit of the plantation area follows the east bank of the Mississippi River 


Figure 1 

Distribution index map showing parishes, rivers, bayous, and towns of southern 

from a point 15 miles south of New Orleans northward to Baton Rouge. 
At its widest point, the region extends 120 miles between New Orleans 
and Lafayette. The western limit follows a Hne from Meeker to the Ver- 
milion River. 

Sugar plantations are confined to the better-drained portions of 
natural levees of certain streams within the alluvial floodplain. The 
Mississippi River, Bayou Lafourche, Bayou Teche, Bayou Sale, Bayou 
Cypremort, the bayous of Terrebonne Parish, the upper Atchafalaya 
Basin and a small part of the lower Red River Valley on Bayou Boeuf 
are specific areas of plantation locations (Figure 2). 

Historically, sugar plantations first appeared in the vicinity of New 
Orleans between 1742 and 1795.^ Agriculture in the area was organized 
in the early 1700's with plantations of indigo and tobacco,^ and thus 
formed a plantation base upon which sugarcane could be commercially 
produced.^ New Orleans, the political, economic, and cultural center 
of colonial Louisiana served as a focal point for incoming ships from 
France and the French West Indies. The latter French area contributed 
significantly to the initiation of the sugar industry by supplying the New 
Orleans area with sugar makers, sugar technology, and above all the 


Figure 2 
Distribution of Louisiana sugar plantations in 1969. 

sugarcane plant itself. Thus, in 1742 New Orleans was the point of re- 
ception and initial cultivation for the first canes introduced by Jesuit 
priests from St. Domingue.'^ Also in the New Orleans area Louisiana's 
first sugar planter, Dubreuil, experimented with sugarcane cultiva- 
tion in 1752^ and DeBore later in 1795 produced granulated sugar on 
a commercial plantation scale. ^ Prior to these significant events, other 
plantation crops declined and thus enabled sugarcane to become the 
primary plantation crop of southern Louisiana after 1795.^° 

Litde is known of the distribution of plantations before 1802, but 
by that year, 75 sugar-enterprises of various sizes were distributed along 
both banks of the Mississippi River north and south of New Orleans. ^^ 
The northward expansion of contiguous sugar plantations by 1806 was 
probably no farther than St. John-the-Baptist Parish, 35 miles north 
of New Orleans. Even there, sugar was being planted less than cotton. 
Sugar cultivation was intermittently extended northward to Pointe 
Coupee Parish where an outpost of former tobacco enterprises was 
described by William Darby in 1806 as ". . . one of the most and best 
cultivated settlements on the Mississippi." Here commercially produced 
commodities were ". . . cotton, lumber and sugar; the latter yet in very 
small quantity. "12 Whereas the frontier of cane cultivation had reached 


Pointe Coupee by 1806, sugar plantations had not yet become a part 
of the landscape in the bayou regions to the west (Lafourche, Terre- 
bonne, and the Teche) at this time. 

The plantation landscapes of the sugar region west of the Missis- 
sippi did not develop until after 1812 when planters, the majority of 
whom were from the Upland Anglo-American South, began to arrive 
in Louisiana. 13 The region was made attractive by several writers who 
had traveled the area and told of a land of opportunity. Perhaps the most 
significant and far-reaching account was that of William Darby, who 
described Louisiana's lands as '". . . the most extensive unbroken, con- 
tinuous body of productive soil on the globe." ^'^ 

Attracted by the cheap, public lands of Terrebonne Parish, the 
lower Teche regions, and the backlands of the upper Lafourche, the 
Anglos came, some as land speculators, others as would-be planters. ^^ 
Between 1812 and 1850 they entered southern Louisiana by water, 
traveling on the Mississippi and on the western bayous. The rich, arable 
lands which they found available along portions of these waterways 
thus became the initial plantation sites where Anglo planters settled. 

These migrations of Anglo-Americans were of fundamental impor- 
tance to both the distributions and the internal character of plantations 
on the landscape. Borrowing from the French along the Mississippi, 
Anglo planters learned the techniques of sugar culture. ^^ Yet, they in- 
troduced their own ideas of the constituent parts of a plantation in terms 
of settlement patterns, buildings, dwelling types, and some agricultural 
practices. By 1844, a date by which most initial-occupance planta- 
tion patterns had been established, certain cultural patterns were evi- 
dent. As indicated in Figure 3, French-owned plantations (shown with 
the open symbol) were then concentrated along the Mississippi River; 
whereas, Anglo plantations (closed black symbol), whose arrival came 
later, appear on the extremities of the distributional pattern. 

The westward expansion of the sugar-plantation landscape reached 
only as far as the natural levees of Bayou Teche and the two lower 
distributary bayous of the Teche, Bayou Sale and Bayou Cypremort. 
A further westward expansion was discontinued because lands west of 
the Teche were not included in the Louisiana Purchase. Until 1819, 
they were still in the possession of Spain and later remained as a no- 
man's land buffer area between the United States territory and Spanish 
holdings farther west.^"^ Also, the drainable portions of southwest 
Louisiana, physiographically composed of Pleistocene terraces, were 
not well suited for sugarcane because of the poorer organic composition 
and hardpan character of the soils (Figure 4).^^ Other factors, such as 
the limited navigability of streams, the lack of good alluvial flood- 
plain soils, and distance from the New Orleans market, would have been 
additional limiting factors even if the territory had been included in 
the Louisiana Purchase. Furthermore, it was not until 1880 that the 
regions west of the Teche were effectively settled, and even then settle- 


ment was by midwestern grain farmers who adopted the growing of 
rice — the present dominant cultivation west of the Teche.^^ 

The southern extent of effective sugar-plantation settlement in the 
Lafourche, Terrebonne, and Teche areas was restricted by the extent 
of drainable lands, all of which are characterized by a progressive 



Figure 3 

French and Anglo-American sugar plantations in southern Louisiana in 1844. 
Compiled from: P. A. Champomier, Statement of Sugar Made in Louisiana in 
1844 (New Odeans, 1844). 

narrowing of natural levees averaging a quarter mile wide, or less, as 
compared to those of the Mississippi and upper Lafourche which are 
nearly three miles wide. Thus at points of extreme levee narrowing, 
sugar cultivation terminated. 

In the Teche area below New Iberia, plantation settlement was 
achieved in the first half of the 19th century by incoming Anglo- 
American planters.^^ After 1812, planters found available public lands 
in the sparsely settled Lower Teche, Bayou Cypremort, and Bayou Sale 
areas. 2^ By 1844, sugar plantations had extended southward to Berwick. 
Today, however, the lower limit of sugar plantations on the Teche is 



Figure 4 

The physical landscape of southern Louisiana showing the distribution of natural 
levees as sites for sugar plantations. 

at Patterson, five miles upstream. The lands north of St. Martinville 
were settled during the late 18th century by French Acadian and Spanish 
small-farming groups; consequently, plantations were never numerous. 

Economic factors were also responsible for the development of the 
sugar plantation and its specific localization in Louisiana. Under the 
French and Spanish domination sugar-producing areas were located 
elsewhere in Central America and the Caribbean, and each had its own 
European market. When acquired by the United States in 1803, however, 
LxDuisiana had sugarcane as an attractive product which could be mar- 
keted in the United States. ^^ In addition, the market was improved by 
the protection of a revenue duty of 2 1/2C per pound on brown sugar. In 
1812, the duty was raised to 5C as a war measure, but fell to 3C in 1816. 
Sugar selling for 8 1/2C in 1815 included a duty of from 3 to 5C per 
pound. With increasingly higher sugar prices potential planters were 
drawn into the sugar industry in southern Louisiana. ^3 

Besides the national market of consumers in the United States, Loui- 
siana sugar planters had the advantage of the local selling market of 
New Orleans, the primary outlet for products of the Mississippi Valley. ^^ 
Although by 1806 sugar plantations had expanded as far north as Pointe 
Coupee, they were, at best, meager secondary enterprises. Cotton as 
a primary staple had been cultivated as far south as St. John-the-Baptist 


Parish in 1806 and even westward on small farms in the Lafourche and 
Teche region, ^^ simply because cotton prices were good and sugar was 
still a rather new and developing crop. Besides, few individuals among 
the petits habitants of German, Spanish, and Acadian small-farmers 
possessed the necessary capital of S40,000 for a 50-hand enterprise for 
developing the sugar plantation in their respective parishes. ^6 

The sugar-plantation expansion north of Pointe Coupee to the Red 
River area and the conversion from cotton to sugar for plantations 
between Donaldsonville and Pointe Coupee came in the 1830's and 40's 
with the fall of cotton prices. ^'^ The northernmost sugar parishes and 
lower portion of the cotton region evolved into a transition zone where 
fluctuations in prices could cause one crop to advance and the other 
to retreat. Before 1825, cotton prices had remained relatively high; 
consequently, sugar was held back by the "high-price tide" of the cotton 
crops. Between 1826 and 1832, however, cotton prices fluctuated down- 
ward giving way to the slight northward expansion of sugarcane. Further 
expansion of the sugarcane industry came in the 1840's when cotton 
prices fell from 15C to 5C per pound (1835-1842). 28 

The expansion of sugarcane was encouraged more when a stronger 
protective tariff was applied to sugar in 1842.^9 Former cotton planta- 
tions converted to sugarcane in the parishes of East and West Feliciana, 
Avoyelles, and Rapides. The acceptance of cane was such that in 1845 
more than 60 new sugar plantations emerged in Louisiana; the majority 
of which were in these northern margins of sugar production. ^^^ The 
agricultural writer, Solon Robinson, in 1848 said of the area: 

Short crops and low prices of cotton combined with the fact of 
several planters in the hill lands between Woodville and Bayou 
Sara [Wilkinson County, Mississippi and West Feliciana Parish], 
having been very successful in the cultivation of cane the past 
season or two, is creating considerable excitement about making 
sugar in a region that it would have been considered only a few 
years since, madness to talk about. ^^ 

Although new and converted sugar plantations developed north- 
ward deep into the cotton parishes of Rapides, Avoyelles, and even Con- 
cordia, Catahoula, and East and West Feliciana, in the 1850"s the in- 
evitable was to happen— a northern Hmitation of the expansion. 

Sugarcane, a tropical crop, requires 12 to 15 months of growing 
season to reach full maturity. Louisiana, at best, provides a ten-month 
growing season in its southernmost parishes; therefore, the northern 
areas are extremely marginal for sugar plantations. ^^ Exceedingly 
critical is the first frost and freeze which, if too early, can bring devas- 
tation to the cane crop. Freezing causes sucrose contents to diminish, 
even sour, while an unseasonally warm period after a freeze (a not un- 
common occurrence), produces a sour, almost useless product. 
Although molasses can be made from some frost-damaged cane, gran- 
ulated raw sugar has always been the product desired by the planter.^^ 


Figure 5 

Northern limits of the Louisiana sugar region as indicated by climatic boundaries. 
Source: G.W. Cry, Freeze Probabilities in Louisiana, Lx)uisiana Cooperative 
Extension Service (Baton Rouge, 1968) pp. 12,15. 

In the early 19th century, planters had not ascertained the northern 
limits for successful production; consequently, some sugar cultivation 
extended beyond the critical frost limits. ^4 The northern expansion 
of the sugar plantation ended abruptly in 1856 when a severe early frost 
devastated the entire sugar region. The plantations along the northern 
fringes later reverted to cotton, a safer, more conducive crop for the 
northern margins of sugar cultivation, ^s Today, the northern climatic 
boundary is fairly well established along the 250-day isarithm, although 
it is more effectively delimited by the average first-frost date of No- 
vember 16 (Figure 5). 

Another factor important to the northern distribution was the nature 
of soils, particularly in the Red River Valley. In the vicinity of Meeker, 
the soils of Recent alluvium are rich, fertile, and well drained on natural 
levee slopes. ^^ Beyond the Red River Valley alluvium, other soils have 
formed on Pleistocene terraces and Tertiary deposits and thus are not 
as conducive to the drainage which sugarcane requires. Furthermore, 


the fertility levels of the terrace soils especially in phosphorus content, 
are not as high as those in the Red River and Mississippi floodplain 
alluvium.3'7 Variables in soil conditions thus contributed to a locahzed 
concentration of plantations in the Red River Valley. 

Very little expansion, dispersal, or otherwise significant movement 
of the sugar plantation went very far east of the Mississippi. In only 
one small area, in the parishes of East Baton Rouge and East and West 
Feliciana, did the sugar industry expand, and even then the movement 
was short-lived. Plantations above Bayou Manchac on the east bank 
of the Mississippi were limited by several factors. Primary limitations 
were poor Pleistocene terrace soils, early frosts, an economy long 
based on cotton, and an early cultural separation from southern sugar 

Deficient soils have constituted one of the more significant and con- 
tinuous limitations in the eastern margins of the sugar region (see Figure 
4). Pleistocene terrace soils form the primary surfaces where drainage 
is inadequate and oxidation has significantly weakened the soils so that 
fertility levels have been unsuitable for sugarcane. ^^ 

The crucial isostade of November 16 for the first freeze passes south- 
ward and across the center of West Feliciana Parish and down through 
the eastern part of East Baton Rouge Parish (see Figure 5). This cli- 
matic limitation places the parishes northeast of that line beyond the 
limits of effective sugar cultivation for expected granulated sugar. 

Historically, during Louisiana's experimental period of sugar cul- 
tivation (1750-1705), the eastern area above Bayou Manchac was under 
British and later Anglo-American domination. ^^ Furthermore, its eco- 
nomy was already successfully based upon cotton. ^° Anglo planters, 
experienced with cotton cultivation, were reluctant to attempt sugar 
cultivation particularly when cotton prices were high. Moreover, when 
sugarcane cultivation began to spread northward after 1812, the new 
crop was not widely accepted because it was anomalous to the area, 
expensive to process, and a common belief was maintained that sugar- 
cane could not be successfully cultivated beyond Bayou Manchac. ^i 

With the collapse of the cotton prices in the 1840"s,42 however, com- 
mercial cane cultivation temporarily extended to the terrace soils north 
of Baton Rouge. Here a number of cotton planters attempted the cul- 
ture and manufacture of sugar, doing so with a view that sugar was to 
be their financial salvation. Some degree of success was achieved be- 
cause in 1855 the Feliciana parishes together produced 10,793 hogs- 
heads of sugar.'^^ The years following 1855 were marked by damaging 
frosts, the Civil War, the planters' realization of inadequate soils, and 
an agricultural reversion to cotton; all of which were detrimental to the 
perpetuation of the sugar industry northeast of Baton Rouge. 

Technology has been an important factor in the development and 
perpetuation of the sugar plantation and its industry. Of all the techno- 
logical improvements, four elements: cane varieties, sugar mills, boil- 


ing apparatus, and mechanical-harvesting improvements, emerge as 
the more significant factors which allowed the perpetuation of the sugar 

The earliest known sugarcane grown in Louisiana was the Creole 
variety. Its cultivation continued from the time of introduction in the 
1740's until the 1830's, but because of the soft stalk's susceptibility to 
frost and insects, Creole cane declined in use** Another variety, the 
Otaheite cane, was introduced to Louisiana in 1797*5 as a companion 
cane to the Creole, but it also diminished in use as a result of its sus- 
ceptibility to frost and failure to annually regenerate, or ratoon. Both 
canes, though soft and easily milled by animal-powered grinding appa- 
ratus common at the time,*^ did little towards the northern expansion 
of sugar plantations because the canes lacked cold-weather resistance. 

The introduction of other more useful varieties of cane came in 
1824. Because of their hard outer rinds, the Purple (Cheribon) and 
Striped (Ribbon or Striped Preanger) varieties were significant to the 
sugar industry because they could be cultivated farther north. ^"^ The 
protective rinds were detrimental at first because they could not be 
easily milled by animal-powered equipment. However, the milling prob- 
lem was overcome in 1825 when the steam-powered sugar mill entered 

Besides being more effective at milling the hard Ribbon and Purple 
cane varieties, the steam engine was far faster than the cattle-and 
horse-powered mills.*^ Speed in milling at grinding time constituted 
a significant step in stabilizing the industry and its plantations. Planters 
could allow the canes to reach a greater degree of maturation by de- 
laying harvest because they could grind more quickly with the steam 

Refinements came to the plantation in the 1840's and 50's when a 
change from the crude, open-kettle boiling method to the sealed vacuum- 
pan processing of cane juices began. 5*^ Plantations- with vacuum-pan 
equipment in the sugarhouse could process more cane juice, faster, and 
with better quahty control. This technical improvement not only accel- 
erated sugar processing but also contributed to the stability of the 

Although most of these improvements occurred during the 19th 
century, one of the more important innovations has been the me- 
chanical cane harvester, invented in 1935. ^^ The harvester has allow- 
ed for greater speed and efficiency in harvesting the cane crop than 
was formerly achieved with hand labor. With this improvement, 
planters have been able to delay the cane harvest and thus benefit 
from the greater sucrose in the more mature crop. 

Except for the Ribbon and Purple canes (which were replaced in 
the 1920's by mosaic-resistant hybrids imported from Java),^^ steam- 
powered mills, vacuum boiling apparatus, and mechanized harvesters 
continue to operate today as technological elements upon which the 


sugar industry and its plantations vitally depend. 

Although the Civil War dealt the sugar industry a severe eco- 
nomic blow, by 1870 the industry was approaching recovery. ^^ xhe 
sugar area diminished somewhat in size after 1860, but it did not 
shrink to any smaller area than its 1844 pattern of distribution (Figure 
3). More importantly, the post-war plantation maintained the same 
morphologic character that it had in antebellum times. The same 
settlement patterns, identical field patterns, and undoubtedly many 
of the same plantation buildings remained on the landscape. Unhke 
the Upland cotton plantations where the quarter houses were dis- 
persed when freed slaves and other laborers became sharecroppers 
and tenants, ^'^ the compact settlement of the sugar plantation re- 
mained the same in post-war times. 

Figure 6 

The place of origin and routes of dispersal of sugar plantations in southern 

In summary, Louisiana sugar plantations and their distinctive 
landscapes originated with French-Creole planters in the New Orleans 
vicinity and dispersed northward along the banks of the Mississippi 
River. Incoming Anglo-Americans later stimulated a dispersal of sugar 
plantations into the western bayous of the Lafourche, Terrebonne, 

and Teche regions. By the mid- 19th century, sugar plantations had 
expanded up to and beyond the limits of successful sugarcane cul- 
tivation. Throughout the period of initial sugar-plantation origin 
and dispersal, the routes followed the lines of current travel via 
streams and bayous. Specific sites for plantation location were on 
the banks of these streams, on the natural-levee crests and back- 
slopes (Figure 6). 

The distribution of Louisiana's sugar plantations has been influenced 
by several location factors. Physical factors operated in southern Lou- 
isiana in setting particular distributions and locations of sugar planta- 
tions. Among the more important factors have been: climate — as ex- 
pressed in the first-frost date for the northern extent of sugarcane grown 
for granulated sugar; landforms— which provided natural-levee sites for 
sugar-plantation settlement; waterways— which served as routeways 
for the arrival and dispersal of planters as well as for the transport of 
sugar products; and soils— which differed between the more fertile 
soils of the Mississippi Floodplain and the weaker and harder-to-drain 
Pleistocene terrace soils. 

Particularly significant are the historical factors, such as the demise 
of other plantation crops and the introduction of sugarcane. Early con- 
tacts between the French colony of Louisiana and the French West 
Indies sugar industry resulted in the arrival from the French Caribbean 
of sugar mills, sugar makers, immigrants from St. Domingue, dwelling 
traits, and even the sugarcane plant itself. 

Cultural factors were instrumental in the origin, dispersal, and dis- 
tributions of plantations in the area. The initiation of sugar plantations 
near New Orleans followed by a dispersal along both banks of the Missis- 
sippi were precipitated by French Creoles. Anglo-Americans, with their 
former experience with cotton, carried the plantation system based on 
sugarcane into the western and northernmost margins of the sugar re- 
gion. Peasant farmers, such as the Acadians, Germans, and Spaniards, 
hindered the expansion of sugar plantations by their occupation of po- 
tential plantation lands, and thus influenced incoming planters to seek 
lands elsewhere. 

Political factors also affected the early sugar industry and its plan- 
tation localization. The Louisiana Purchase opened the Louisiana Terri- 
tory to waves of incoming Anglo-American planters. Conversely, terri- 
torial boundary disputes hindered land settlement and plantation ex- 
pansion west of the Teche region. The differing policies of Louisiana's 
colonial possessors affected origins and dispersals of sugar enterprises. 
France and Spain discouraged the development of sugar and indigo as 
commercial crops in Louisiana. After 1803, Louisiana's budding sugar 
industry was encouraged by government support. Today plantations are 
politically and economically supported and controlled by United States 
government subsidies, tariffs, and quota systems which effectively per- 
petuate the plantation and its sugar industry. ^^ 


In addition, economic factors have played a role historically in the 
development of sugar plantations in Louisiana. The initial establishment 
of an American market for Louisiana sugar and protective tariffs, 
although a result of political policies, were basically economic factors 
which encouraged the spread of sugarcane plantations. Also significant 
was the fluctuation of sugar and cotton prices which were partially 
responsible for dispersing the sugar plantation northward into the cotton 

Perhaps the silent factor of inertia is the real reason that sugarcane 
plantations persist as they do in Louisiana today. With all economics 
and politics aside, inertia has fostered a traditional continuation of a 
plantation landscape and its product to the present time. 


^ John Burkhardt Rehder, "Sugar Plantation Settlements of Southern Louisi- 
ana: A Cultural Geography" (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Louisiana State 
University, 1971), pp. 10-2. 

2 Today only one out of every four plantations has a sugarhouse because of a 
centralization of sugarhouses and milling functions. During the 19th century, 
however, every sugar plantation maintained some semblance of a mill (either 
steam or horse-powered) and a boiling facility collectively called a sugarhouse. 

3 U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, United States Census 
of Agriculture: 1964, Vol. I, State and County Statistics, pt. 35, Louisiana, p. 400. 
'^ Avequin, "Sugarcane in Louisiana," DeBow's Review, XXII (1857), 616. 

^ Nancy M. Miller Surrey, The Commerce of Louisiana During the French 
Regime 1699-1763, Columbia University Studies in History, Economics, and 
Public Law, Vol. LXXI (1916), pp. 157-59. 

^ Lewis C. Gray, History of Agriculture in the Southern United States to 1860, 
2 vols. (Gloucester, Mass., 1958), I, 302. 

"^ C.C. Robin. Voyage to Louisiana, trans, and abridged by Stuart O. Landry, 
Jr. (New Orleans, 1966), pp. 108-09; Jean Delangles, The French Jesuits in 
Lower Louisiana 1700-1763 (Washington, 1935), p. 390. 

^ Henry P. Dart, "The Career of Dubreuil in French Louisiana," Louisiana His- 
torical Quarterly, XVIII (1935), 286. 

^ Charles Gayarre, "A Louisiana Sugar Plantation in the Old Regime," Harper's 
Magazine, LXXIV (1889), 607. 

10 Avequin, "Sugarcane in Louisiana." pp. 615-19. 

11 Robin, Voyage to Louisiana, p. 109. 

12 William Darby, A Geographical Description of the State of Louisiana (2nd. 
ed.; New York, 1817), p. 143. 

13 American State Papers: Documents Legislative and Executive of the Con- 
gress of the United States, Class III, Public Lands (Washington. D.C.: Gales and 
Seaton, 1843), Vol. Ill, pp. 119-21, 67-77; and in Pierre A. Degalos, "Statement 


of Sugar Made in 1828 and 1829," Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer, 
IX (July 23, 1892), 67. 

^'* Darby, Louisiana, p. 45. 

15 W.W. Pugh, "Bayou Lafourche from 1840-1850: Its Inhabitants, Customs, 

PuTsxihs," Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer, I (1888), 143-67. 

1^ Pugh, "Bayou Lafourche," p. 167; American State Papers, III, pp. 119-21. 

1^ Frank Bond, Historical Sketch of 'Louisiana" and the Louisiana Purchase, 
General Land Office U.S. Department of Interior (Washington, 1912), pp. 3-12; 
Charles Wilson Hackett, ed. and trans., Picardo's Treatise on the Limits of 
Louisiana and Texas, 4 vols. (Austin, 1946), IV, pp. ix, 214. 

1^ This fact was recognized by Darby in 1806, Louisiana, p. 103. 

1^ Mildred Kelly Ginn, "A History of Rice Production in Louisiana to 1897," 
Louisiana Historical Quarterly, XXIII (1940), 559-60. 

20 E.D. Richardson, "The Teche Country Fifty Years Ago," Southern Bivouac, 
IV (1886), 593. 

21 American State Papers, III, pp. 119-21. 

22 Richard Pares, War and Trade in the West Indies 1739-1763 (London, 1963), 
pp. 327-28, 506; J. Carlyle Sitterson. Sugar Country (Lexington, 1953), pp. 188-93; 
J.D.B. DeBow, "Louisiana and Her Industry," DeBow's Review, VIII (1850),35. 

23 Gray, History of Agriculture, 11,744; February 1815-8-1/2C per lb.; December 
1815-13C; May 1816-16C. By comparison when sugar was selling at 4-1/2C per 
lb. and cotton at 6C per lb. the profits were considered about equal. 

24 "Commerce of American Cities: New Orleans," DeBow's Review, IV (1847), 
391-400; "The Present and Future of New Orleans," DeBow's Review, XIX 
(1855), 688-93; Sitterson, Sugar Country, pp. 169-70, 188-93. 

25 Darby, Louisiana, p. 78; William O. Scroggs, "Rural Life in the Lower Missis- 
sippi Valley about IS03,'' Mississippi Vallev Historical Association, VIII (1914), 

26 An Account of Louisiana, Being an abstract of documents in offices of the 
Departments of State and Treasury (Washington, 1803), pp. 6-7; Robin, Voyage 
to Louisiana, pp. 114-15; Darby, Louisiana, p. 222. 

2"^ "Extension of the Louisiana Sugar Region." DeBow's Review, II (1846), 442; 
Gray, History of Agriculture, II, 748-1027. 

28 Gray, History of Agriculture, II, 697, 715, 1027. 

29 I. Smith Homans and William B. Danna, eds., "Tariffs of the United States 
for 1842, 1846, 1857, and 1861," Hunt's Merchants' Magazine and Commercial 
Review, XLIV (1861), 511. 

^ P. A. Champomier, Statement of Sugar Made in Louisiana in 1844 (New Or- 
leans, 1844), p. 10. 

31 Herbert Anthony Kellar, ed., Solon Robinson, Pioneer and Agriculturalist: 
Selected Writings, 2 vols. (Indianapolis, 1936), II, 146. 

32 L.P. Herbert, Culture of Sugarcane for Sugar Production in Louisiana, Agri- 
culture Handbook No. 262, Agriculture Research Service, U.S. Dept. of Agri- 
culture (Washington, 1964), pp. 2-4. 


33 R.E. Coleman, "Studies on Keeping Quality of Sugarcane Damaged by Freez- 
ing Temperatures During the Harvest Season, 1951-52," Sugar Bulletin, XXX, 

342-43, 377-80. 

^ "Extension of the Louisiana Sugar Region," p. 442. 

^ Champomier, Statement of Sugar Made in Louisiana in 1856 (New Orleans, 

36 S.A. Lytle, The Morphological Characteristics and Relief Relationships of 
Representative Soils in Louisiana. Louisiana State University Agricultural Ex- 
periment Station, Bulletin 631, November 1968, pp. 17-8. 

3'^ D.S. Byrnside and J.B. Sturgis, Soil Phosphorus and its Fractions as Related 
to Response of Sugar Cane to Fertilizer Phosphorus, Agricultural Experiment 
Station Bulletin 513 (Baton Rouge, 1958), pp. 13-6; W.J. Peevy and R.H. Brup- 
backer, "Fertility Status of Louisiana Soils: No. 3: Phosphorus," Louisiana 
Agriculture, V (1962), No. 4, pp. 12-3. 

3^ Ibid.; Lytle, "Soils in Louisiana," pp. 17-8. 

39 Judge Carrigan, "Statistical and Historical Sketches of Louisiana: Baton 
Rouge," DeBow's Review. XI (1851), 616; Cecil Johnson, "The Distribution of 
Land in British West Florida," Louisiana Historical Review. XVI (1933), 539-53. 

40 Ibid.: Berquin-Duvallon, Travels in Louisiana and the Floridas in the Year 
1802. trans, by John Davis, (New York, 1806), p. 166. 

4^ "Extension of the Louisiana Sugar Region," p. 442. 

42 Gray, History of Agriculture, 11, 687, 748, 1027. 

43 One hogshead = 1000 lbs. of sugar; Louisiana's total sugar production for 
that year was 346-635 hogsheads. Champomier, Statement of Sugar. 1860, p. 3. 

44 J.D.B. DeBow, The Southern States (Washington, D.C. and New Orleans, 
1856), pp. 196, 275; Noel Doerr, "The Identity of the Creole Cane of the West 
Indies" International Sugar Journal, XXX (1928), pp. 11-2. 

45 Avequin, "Sugarcane in Louisiana." p. 618. 

46 F.S. Earle, Sugar Cane and Its Culture (New York, 1928), pp. 62-3. 
4"^ Avequin, "Sugarcane in Louisiana," p. 619. 

4^ DeBow, The Southern States, p. 275. 

49 J.D.B. DeBow, ed., "Sugar, Its Cultivation, Manufacture and Commerce," 
DeBow's Review, V (1849), 157-59. 

^ J. P. Benjamin, "Louisiana Sugar," DeBow's Review, II (1946), pp. 334-43; 
Norbert Rillieux. "Sugarmaking in Louisiana," DeBow's Review. V (1848), 
285-88, 291-93. 

51 F.A. Vought, "Windrowing and Harvesting Machines," Gilmore's Louisiana 
Sugar Manual. 1940-1941 (New Orleans, 1941), p. IX. 

52 Herbert, Culture of Sugarcane, p. 8. 

53 Walter Prichard, "The Effects of the Civil War on the Louisiana Sugar In- 
dustry," Journal of Southern History, V (1939), 318-32. 


^ Oscar Zeichner, "The Transition from Slave to Free Agricultural Labor in 
the Southern United States," Agricultural History, XIII (1939). 22-32; David 
C. Barrow, "A Georgia Plantation," Scribner's Monthly, XXI (1880-1881), 

^ Marcel Voorhies and W.M. Grayson, "An Outline of Recent Sugar Control 
Programs and their Effect on the Louisiana Sugar Industry/' International 
Society of Sugarcane Technologists Proceedings of the Sixth Congress (Baton 
Rouge, 1938), pp. 514-23. 






Volume XIII 

June, 1974 





Published By 


A Division of the University System of Georgia 




Volume XIII June, 1974 



Introduction Robert W. Sellen and 1 

Thomas A. Bryson 

Isolationists of the 1930s 
and 1940s: An Historiographical 
Essay Justus D. Doenecke 5 

The Resurgence of Isolationism 

at the End of World War II Thomas M. Campbell 41 

Untapped Resources for American 
Diplomatic History in the 
National Archives Milton O. Gustafson 57 

Texts and Teaching: A Profile 
of Historians of American 

Foreign Relations in 1972 Sandra C. Thomson and 65 

Clayton A. Coppin, Jr. 

Copyright © 1974, West Georgia College 

Printed in U.S.A. 
Thomasson Printing Co., Carrollton, Georgia 30117 

Price $2.00 


ROBERT W. SELLEN received the B.A. degree from Washburn Uni- 
versity, and the A.M. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Chicago. 
His teaching and research interests are in American foreign relations. 
Dr. Sellen has contributed numerous articles to American and foreign 
journals, including Mid-America, International Journal, The Pennsyl- 
vania Magazine of History and Biography, and // Politico. He is the 
author of Myths and Misperceptions: American Images of China and 
Japan and (with Paul S. Holbo) The Eisenhower Era. Dr. Sellen is Pro- 
fessor of History at Georgia State University, Atlanta. 

THOMAS A. BRYSON received the B.A. degree from Georgia 
Southern College and the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University 
of Georgia. His teaching and research interests are in the field of Ameri- 
can foreign relations, especially in the area of American diplomacy 
with the Middle East. Dr. Bryson has published widely, contributing 
articles to Muslim World, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 
Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Records of the 
American Catholic Historical Society, and other journals. He is the 
author of American-Middle Eastern Diplomacy, 1945-1973 and The 
Philadelphia Lawyer: Walter George Smith. Dr. Bryson is Associate 
Professor of History at West Georgia College. 

JUSTUS D. DOENECKE received the B.A. degree from Colgate Uni- 
versity and the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton. His teaching 
and research interests have focused on American isolationism, an area 
of American foreign relations on which he has published widely. Dr. 
Doenecke is the author of The Literature of Isolationsim, and his latest 
essay, a brief history of the No Foreign War Committee, will appear in 
a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Contemporary History. He is 
Associate Professor of History, New College, Sarasota, Florida. 

THOMAS M. CAMPBELL received the B.A. degree from Randolph- 
Macon College and the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University 
of Virginia. His teaching and research interests have broadly focused 
on American foreign relations. Dr. Campbell is the author of several 
journal articles published in International Organization and The Mas- 
querade Peace: America's U.N. Policy, 1944-45. He is presently editing 
the papers of Secretary of State Edward R. Stettinius, Jr. Dr. Campbell 
is Associate Professor of History at Florida State University, 

MILTON O. GUSTAFSON received the B.A. degree from Gustavus 
Adolphus College and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of 
Nebraska. His research interests include U.S. foreign relations since 

World War II, the administrative history of the Department of State, 
and archival topics. He has edited The National Archives and Foreign 
Relations Research (forthcoming), which represents the proceedings of 
a recent National Archives Conference. Dr. Gustafson is Chief of the 
Diplomatic Branch of the National Archives of the United States, 

SANDRA C. THOMSON received the B.A. degree from Stanford and 
the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Colorado. Her 
teaching and research interests center on American-East Asian rela- 
tions. Dr. Thomson has published in the Pacific Historical Review 
and the Journal of Religious History. She is Associate Professor of 
History, University of Utah, Salt Lake City. 

CLAYTON A. COPPIN, JR. received the B.A. and M.A. degrees from 
the University of Utah and is presently a doctoral candidate at the 
same institution. His principal area of academic interest is twentieth 
century American diplomatic history. Mr. Coppin is an instructor at 
the University Extension Branch, University of Utah, Woods Cross. 



This volume continues the precedent of utilizing the services of two 
volume editors working under the loose supervision of a general editor, 
a policy which began with last year's issue of The Studies in the Social 
Sciences. The volume editors were responsible for selecting the theme 
and papers herein included, and initial editorial refinement. The general 

editor's role was limited to broad consultation, final editing, and liaison 
with the printer. 

The journal is financed by the University System of Georgia and is 
distributed gratis to libraries of colleges and universities in Georgia, 
and to the larger institutions of higher learning in each of the southern 
states. Interested individuals or other libraries may purchase copies for 
$2.00 to help defray printing costs. 

It is with pleasure that we submit to you this volume on American 
diplomatic history. 

John C. Upchurch 
Associate Professor and Chairman 
Department of Geography 
General Editor 


The essays in this volume were presented before a regional meeting 
of members of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Rela- 
tions held at Georgia State University on February 24, 1973. All have 
been edited for purposes of publication, but Justus Doenecke and 
Thomas Campbell revised their essays extensively. 

The conference consisted of two sessions, one on the tensions be- 
tween American involvement and non-involvement abroad and one on 
"what are the boundaries of American diplomatic history?" The two 
themes were chosen because a majority of the members of the society 
in the Southeast considered them to be the most pressing topics for 

The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations was 
founded in 1967, has several hundred members, and for several years 
has held sessions at the annual meetings of the American Historical 
Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the Southern 
Historical Association. It is now moving to its own independent 
meetings, and the conference in Atlanta was the first such among mem- 
bers of the society. 

The volume editors, who were co-chairmen of the conference, ex- 
press their thanks to the Departments of History at West Georgia 
College and Georgia State University, which sponsored the meeting, 
and to the Georgia State University Foundation for financial aid. Ap- 
preciation is also extended to West Georgia College for its publication 
of this volume. 

Robert W. Sellen 
Professor of History 
Georgia State University 

Thomas A. Bryson 

Associate Professor of History 

West Georgia College 

Volume Editors 



Louis J. Halle, former State Department official and now Professor 
of International Relations in the Graduate Institute of International 
Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, has identified a constant theme in 
American foreign relations from the founding of the republic to the 
present. It has dominated almost every debate and decision in foreign 
policy, he writes, and 

takes the form of a tension, a polarity in our thinking, a con- 
flict in our national desires or attitudes which at critical mo- 
ments in history has divided our people, sometimes bitterly. 
The tension is that between participation in world politics 
and withdrawal or aloofness or abstinence; between involvement 
and isolation, between alignment and neutrality. ^ 

Halle's words of 15 years ago remain valid. Though World War II 
supposedly made the United States a permanent participant in world 
affairs, even a dominant one, the war in Vietnam revived the tension 
between involvement and withdrawal. "Hawks" argued that such in- 
volvement was necessary to American interests as well as future peace, 
while "doves" demonstrated against the war's unsavory aspects and 
argued that America could not do everything, everywhere. 

Not only have scholars begun to rethink the question, ^ but Richard 
Nixon, who in 1954 had urged American intervention in then French 
Indochina, as President promulgated in 1969 the "Nixon Doctrine" of 
selective involvement instead of world-wide commitment. 

A fourth Arab- Israeli war and an Arab oil embargo have made the 
Middle East another region which causes Americans to be ambivalent 
about involvement. To remain aloof and heedless of Israel's fate would 
cost Americans emotionally, for there is a sentimental attachment to 
Israel. Perhaps this arises in part from American guilt over the fate of 
millions of European Jews during World War II, a time when anti- 
semitism was widespread in the United States and when government 
officials discouraged migration to America. Yet there is real economic 
pain in being deprived of oil from the Arab countries, along with per- 
sonal discomfort. 

Sentiment thus opposes national interest, leading many Americans 
to wish to escape such a dilemma by non-involvement. One senses 
an emotional atmosphere similar to that of previous times of crisis, 
when Americans were torn between sentimental attachments and what 
they conceived to be the national interest. 

Justus Doenecke returns to the most famous period of ambivalence, 
the years preceding, during and after World War II. Examining the 
people known as "isolationists," he summarizes their reputation, new 
revisionist analyses of events which the isolationists criticized (especial- 
ly U.S. entry into World War II), and summarizes what we know about 

His paper is of value to students of American history generally, 
and especially to diplomatic historians in explaining what remains to 


be studied in American isolationism. His analysis ranges from isolation- 
ist groups not yet studied through isolationism's intellectual roots and 
sociological aspects, isolationists' activities during World War II and 
the Cold War, and, most intriguing of all, areas of agreement between 
isolationists and interventionists. Some of the latter, he suggests, include 
defeating the Axis and promoting free enterprise captialism. 

Few if any historians have seen any blurred edges where isolationism 
and interventionism could meet. Thomas Campbell finds a startling 
one in his study of the last years of World War II. Seeking to learn what 
happened to isolationism during the war and what Americans thought 
about involvement abroad after the war, he reveals that many looked 
to the new United Nations as "an inexpensive means of keeping peace" 
and of avoiding the burden of large armies or direct involvement over- 
seas. When these hopes proved futile and faith in the UN at least par- 
tially misplaced, many "reacted initially by a growing hostility to Russia 
and communism" and America experienced the "red scare" of the late 
1940s and early 1950s. 3 

Campbell's study of American attitudes toward the nascent UN 
reveals the tensions within the government and in the public between 
isolation and involvement in world affairs. It challenges historians' 
previous assumptions about American acceptance of a world role. 

There are tensions, too, within the community of American diplo- 
matic historians. A "generation gap" may exist, for at least three groups 
are active. There are those who began their careers as early as the 1920s 
or before, the depression-war group of the 1930s and early 1940s, and 
the Cold War generation,'* which might be subdivided into those now 
becoming "middle Turks" and those who began their careers in the late 
1960s and since. 

More than age is involved. Norman Graebner, in his presidential 
address to the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations in 
December 1972, raised the question of a relationship between knowledge 
of history and effective democratic government. Would deeper knowl- 
edge of history safeguard us against future Vietnam type wars? Did we, 
in 1964, "lack information which mieht have oredicted the consequences 
of a major United States involvement in Vietnam?" Or was the problem 
"inertia of established policies" within the government and "the inertia 
of apathy" in the public? Since a majority of Americans were "hawks" 
the "educational system was either performing heroic service on behalf 
of United States policy or education in foreign affairs was quite properly 
uncritical, irrelevant, or nonexistent on American college and uni- 
versity campuses."^ 

Is the teaching of American diplomatic history effective? How is 
it done? On what, if anything, do diplomatic historians agree? 

There is yet another division among diplomatic historians. A com- 
mittee of Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations mem- 
bers, charged with exploring the possibility of a new bibliographical 
guide to the history of American diplomacy, reported that in the guide 
published in 1935,^ Samuel Flagg Bemis and Grace Gardner Griffin 

defined diplomatic history narrowly, as the execution of or implemen- 
tation of the U.S. government's foreign policy. This was the traditional 
definition, accepted then by most diplomatic historians. As the com- 
mittee pointed out, however, diplomatic history has changed radically 
since 1935, and now includes studies of pressure groups, international 
economics, cultural-social relations, and other such topics.'^ 

Apropos of changing diplomatic history, Milton Gustafson explains 
the kinds of material available in the National Archives, how they are 
arranged, how they can be used, and what sorts of material have never 
been used or are little used. His essay is thus of deep interest to estab- 
lished historians as well as beginning students. 

Even by the traditional definition of diplomatic history, Gustafson 
points out, historians have not dealt with all the interesting tales of 
American diplomacy. But certain files outside the traditional area have 
been ignored, such as those of the Division of Defense Materials, crucial 
in World War II logistics, or the Research and Analysis Branch of the 
Office of Strategic Services, which "prepared reports for informational 
and intelligence purposes on cultural, economic, military, political, 
and social matters of most areas of the world. "^ 

Other untapped records include those of the consular courts in 
countries where the United States had extraterritoriality, which reveal 
the quality of justice in such courts and what kinds of difficulty Ameri- 
cans got into abroad. At a higher level, records of American participa- 
tion in international conferences contain much unpublished and unused 
material, including private remarks by Winston Churchill to Franklin 
Roosevelt at Yalta. 

Historians differ in their definition of diplomatic history, in their 
use of materials and also in attitudes. A deep division exists among 
"traditionalists" (who accept American successes such as the acquisition 
of territory during the 19th century), "realists" (who seek to analyze 
power relationships and other such factors), and the "New Left" (whose 
members generally "tend to measure success, not by the policy's rela- 
tionship to the national welfare, broadly defined, but by its capacity 
to achieve the specific objectives of governing elites").^ 

Sandra Thomson and Clayton Coppin explore these divisions 
through historians' views of themselves and their field. By means of a 
questionnaire sent to all members of the Society for Historians of Amer- 
ican Foreign Relations, they ascertained diplomatic historians' age 
groups, choice of teaching materials, political attitudes, and inter- 
pretations of American foreign relations. They also discovered in what 
ways diplomatic historians have changed their views and, perhaps, to 
what extent the war in Vietnam is responsible for such changes. Their 
essay reveals something of a "generation gap" but an even larger atti- 
tudinal gap (the split among radicals, moderates and traditionalists), 
and also the fact that most make at least some attempt to keep their 
own political views out of the classroom. 

Campuses in general are quieter now than in the 1960s, when every- 
thing was open to question from scholarly topics to life styles. Deepen- 

ing war in Vietnam, inconclusive and frustrating as it was, radicalized 
many American academicians. One wonders if the combination of 
American withdrawal from Vietnam and the crisis of energy supply 
will bring the study of American foreign relations back to an emphasis 
on realism and national interest. 

Robert W. Sellen 
Thomas A. Bryson 


^ Louis J. Halle, Dream and Reality: Aspects of American Foreign Policy 
(New York, 1959), p. 1. 

2 One example is Robert W. Tucker, A New Isolationism: Threat or Promise? 
(New York, 1972). 

3 See p. 43 below. 

"* Robert H. Ferrell, "Three Generations of Diplomatic Historians," The So- 
ciety for Historians of American Foreign Relations Newsletter, III (May 1972), 

^ Norman A. Graebner, "The State of Diplomatic History," The Society for 
Historians of American Foreign Relations Newsletter, IV (March 1973), 2-3. 
^ Samuel Flagg Bemis and Grace Gardner Griffin, Guide to the Diplomatic 
History of the United States (Washington, 1935. 

^ Bibliographical Planning Committee of the Society for Historians of American 
Foreign Relations, The Case for a New Bibliography in American Foreign Re- 
lations (mimeographed), pp. 1-7. 

^ See p. 61 below. 

^ Graebner, "State of Diplomatic History," pp. 4-7. 

ISOLATIONISTS OF THE 1930s and 1940s: 


Isolationists have seldom had a good press. Perhaps the first battle 
they lost was the battle over definition. The very label "isolationist," 
at least by the 1940s, connotes an ostrich-type mentality, oblivious to 
impending threats. Like those religious groups whose popular identity 
originally came from the epithets of critics— Mormons, Quakers, "the 
people sometime called Methodists"— isolationists have been given a 
name they do not want and yet cannot change. 

Whenever possible they would contest the name. Professor Edwin 
Borchard of Yale, for example, said that the term was "essentially dis- 
honest," an effort to vilify those "who preferred not to enter a European 
or Asiatic war" whose aims could only lie "in visions." Colonel Robert 
R. McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune, declared, "Every 
traitor calls every patriot an isolationist."^ His newspaper would refer 
to kindred spirits as "nationalists," while historian Charles A. Beard 
called his policies "continentalist." The commentator Lawrence Dennis 
often used the term "neutralist." 

Yet careful scholars are also troubled. Professor Wayne S. Cole 
finds the term "isolationist" misleading. The people to whom it usually 
applied, he declares, believed in America's unilateral freedom of action. 
While opposing binding alliances, particularly in Europe, they differed 
from pacifists in favoring strong military preparations and at times 
certain forms of imperialism. Says Cole, referring to their opposition to 
conflict with the Axis, "It was just that they opposed American involve- 
ment in that particular war at that particular time." Manfred Jonas con- 
curs, writing that the isolationists of the 1930s sought only to avoid 
long-term political commitments. They opposed economic autarchy 
and did not want "literal isolation of the United States from the rest 
of the world. "2 Yet this inaccurate and misleading term, which has 
muddled meaningful political dialogue from the days of Roosevelt to 
the days of Nixon, will probably remain with us, perhaps one more 
example of man's continued insistence upon irrationality. 

The Pearl Harbor attack at once cast the isolationists in the role 
of poor prophets, with the supposed wartime "repudiation" of isola- 
tionism setting the tone for the history books. The classic account of 

*The author wishes to express thanks to the National Endowment for the Hu- 
manities and the Institute for Humane Studies for aid in research through such 
collections as the America First Committee manuscripts and the papers of such 
isolationists as John T. Flynn, Herbert Hoover, Harry Elmer Barnes, Oswald 
Garrison Villard, and Frederick J. Libby. He is also much indebted to Harriet 
Schwar and Joan Lee for varied bibliographical suggestions and to James J. 
Martin for editorial ones. All viewpoints remain the author's own. 

American diplomacy during the late 1930s tells how most Americans 
"beguiled themselves" with a dual belief: first, that war was inherently 
evil, and second, that "the first duty of Americans is to maintain their 
unique civilization." The most widely quoted of the war memoirs even 
claimed that isolationists who opposed draft extension in 1941 had 
placed political expediency ahead of the nation's security (the author 
perhaps forgetting his own role in the drafting of Roosevelt's "again 
and again" speech). The first comprehensive history of anti-intervention- 
ism, Selig Adler's The Isolationist Impulse: Its Twentieth-Century Re- 
action, possessed— as Wayne S. Cole noted— "all the detached objectiv- 
ity of a trained historian whp was at the same time a crusading prohibi- 
tionist writing a history of the liquor industry." The title alone connotes 
irrationality, for Adler described a movement which in 1940 "might have 
destroyed the fighting will of those nations still resisting the Axis," and 
which, during the Cold War, had become "antithetical to national 
survival." At the same time, the first general essay on American paci- 
fism asserted that such doctrines as universal disarmament and neu- 
trality merely revealed that the peace movement was "intellectually 
incapable of fitting its ideas to the facts of international life after 1918. "^ 

Hence if the isolationists ever received compliments, they were 
usually backhanded. Respected historians went so far as to say that 
the nation's predominantly non-interventionist sentiments justified 
presidential duplicity. Professor Thomas A. Bailey might well have 
spoken for many war-time intellectuals when he said that "because the 
masses are notoriously shortsighted, and generally cannot see danger 
until it is at their throats, our statesmen are forced to deceive them into 
an awareness of their long-run interests.""* 

Throughout the 1950s few professional historians dissented, or— 
for that matter— offered less impassioned treatment. George F. Ken- 
nan's classic American Diplomacy, 1900-1950, intimated that a less dog- 
matic policy could have at least avoided the Pacific war. Arthur A. 
Ekirch, Jr., in a critique of war involvements, elaborated upon Charles 
A. Beard's comment that "in actual truth, internationalism may be a 
coverina ideologv for the aggressive nationalism of one or more coun- 
tries." Wayne S. Cole's monograph of America First, showing that its 
leadership was by no means sympathetic to fascism, offered a marked 
contrast to Walter Johnson's strident account of the Committee to De- 
fend America by Aiding the Allies. But aside from a school of revision- 
ism led by Harry Elmer Barnes, which claimed that Roosevelt had 
plotted the Pearl Harbor attack, few scholars attacked America's inter- 
ventionist diplomacy.^ 

Within the last fifteen years, however, the whole meaning of World 
War II has been called into question. The assault came in several areas. 
First, a historian of modern Europe, applying Metternichian "realism" 
to American-Japanese relations, found the United States provoking a 
needless war with Japan. Paul Schroeder's prize-winning study of Japa- 
nese-American relations before Pearl Harbor claims that the United 
States unrealistically insisted upon Japan's total evacuation from China, 

when wisdom would have at least demanded a temporary accommoda- 
tion with Japan on the China issue. By giving way, if only for a brief 
time, the United States could have focused upon the defeat of Germany. 
Second, the "Wisconsin school" of diplomatic history has found Ameri- 
ca's participation in the conflict rooted primarily in the effort to main- 
tain Open Door capitalism at home and abroad. It was, in the words 
of William Appleman Williams, "the war for the American frontier," 
an effort to dissolve the closed economic blocs of the Axis. Arguing in 
a similar vein, Noam Chomsky, noted linguist and Cold War critic, finds 
America's waging of the Pacific war hypocritical, for Japan's suppression 
of Chinese nationalism— and the rationale for it— differed little from 
later efforts by the United States in Vietnam.^ Now, with the publica- 
tion of Bruce M. Russett's No Clear and Present Danger, a third stage 
has been reached. The Yale political scientist claims forthrightly that 
the United States should have remained aloof from the entire conflict. 
Without American participation, the European war would have resulted 
in mutual exhaustion on the Eastern front, while Japan would have been 
bogged down on the Asian mainland. "Just possibly," he writes, "the 
isolationists were right in their essential perspective."'^ 

At the same time the conduct of the war itself has undergone radical 
re-examination. While only obscure neo-Nazi tracts attempt to justify 
Hitler, new monographs from Western scholars find little to defend 
either in the way the Allies waged the war or in the material goals that 
they apparently sought. First, while Administration spokesmen often 
defined the conflict in humanitarian terms, recent research discloses 
official indifference toward those whom Nazism claimed as its greatest 
victims. An entire spate of monographs has found Roosevelt timid, and 
his State Department hostile, toward relief efforts for Europe's doomed 
Jews.^ Second, the callousness of Allied war methods is now stressed, 
with British historians A.J. P. Taylor and B.H. Liddell-Hart offering 
scathing commentary upon the saturation bombing of Germany. In 
the words of Professor Taylor, "The British outdid German frightful- 
ness first in theor>', later in practice, and a nation which claimed to be 
fighting for a moral cause gloried in the extent of its immoral acts."^ 

Third, Allied diplomacy is coming under a many-sided attack. Lid- 
dell-Hart calls the conflict "the unnecessary war," triggered by a foolish 
guarantee to Poland and prolonged by the folly of the unconditional 
surrender policy. The war, he writes, "proved of profit only to Stalin— 
by opening the way for Communist domination of central Europe." 
Roosevelt's latest biographer, James MacGregor Burns, by no means 
unsympathetic to the man he considers the war's leading "soldier of 
freedom," declares that the President's cloudy rhetoric and expediential 
diplomacy not only led to cynicism at home, but "helped sow the seeds 
of the Cold War." At the same time, writing in an entirely different vein, 
some of the newer revisionists portray the Allies as a counter-revolu- 
tionary coalition. Gabriel Kolko, for example, claims that the United 
States supported forces of reaction everywhere, while Stalin (described 
in terms that a Trotskyite would relish) made continued efforts to sup- 

press national liberation movements in both Europe and Asia.^'' Al- 
though some of these critiques originated before the Vietnam crisis 
was well underway, events in Southeast Asia have led to renewed at- 
tention to such topics as terror bombing and supposed Soviet com- 
pliance with Western counter-insurgency. 

Revisionists of the "Wisconsin School" believe that American Open 
Door imperialism — strengthened immeasurably by World War II 
victories— led inevitably into confrontation with Russia. Of course, 
not all historians of this persuasion go as far as Gar Alperovitz in claim- 
ing that the atomic bomb was deliberately dropped upon cowed Japa- 
nese in order to prevent Russian control of Eastern Europe and Man- 
churia. However, the broader sweep of Cold War revisionism— with 
its stress upon America's own responsibility— is well under way, find- 
ing evidence of a United States bid for world hegemony in such issues 
as postwar credits, access to Eastern Europe and an atomic monopoly. ^^ 

Such diverse but hardhitting attacks upon New and Fair Deal diplo- 
macy were bound to lead to wholesale reevaluation of isolationists and 
pacifists. Several new students have pioneered. Manfred Jonas, examin- 
ing the non-interventionists in the years immediately before Pearl Har- 
bor, finds more to their views than "simple obstructionism based on 
ignorance and folly." Contrary to myth, the isolationists had "a positive 
view of the world and of the role that should be played in it by the 
United States." While other historians should elaborate upon his study 
to differentiate further between isolationists and pacifists, his lucid work 
places all subsequent historians in his debt. Thomas G. Paterson uses 
Jonas' findings— among others— to declare that impassioned politicans 
and academicians, by maligning isolationsim, have distorted "a useful 
heritage." According to Paterson, such liberal isolationists as Gerald 
P. Nye and William E. Borah offered trenchant critiques of a burgeoning 
military-industrial complex, opposed United States armed intervention 
in Latin America, and predicted the "garrison" nature of a warfare state. 
While Paterson's interpretation is still by no means the dominant one, 
such a universally respected scholar as Otis L. Graham, Jr., questions 
whether "Roosevelt was a wiser liberal than those few old reforms that 
went from a domestic liberalism that was considerably warmer than his 
own to the America First Committee." 

Pacifism, too, has been reexamined. Charles Chatfield's sensitive 
history of interwar pacifism, written with an unmatched grasp of the 
sources, reveals its often penetrating analysis of global power rivalries 
as well as early experimentation with direct action and radical non- 
violence. Similarly, Lawrence Wittner's organizational study of World 
War II and Cold War pacifism finds its proponents often more "realis- 
tic" than its critics, for they saw through the shams of wartime hysteria 
and predicted the destructive impact of total conflict. ^^ There has, 
however, been no similar survey of Cold War isolationists. 

It would, however, be unfortunate if the more recent interpretations 
simply led to a refighting of the old battles of "isolation" versus "inter- 
vention," a return to what William Appleman Williams used to call 


the "era of violent partisanship." The historical task requires far more 
than simplistic polemics over who— in the long run— was "right." 
Rather, it involves examining the entire ethos of a society in order better 
to gain perspective on our own. 

Wayne S. Cole suggested, as far back as 1957, that historians devote 
far more attention to the ideological and emotional factors leading to 
American participation in World War II. Much of the energy then going 
into the debate between "revisionists" and "court historians" could— 
according to Cole— have been better spent attempting to understand 
the foreign policy perceptions of an entire generation of Americans. 

There was, he said, special need for investigation into biography, 
ethnic and religious groups, and economic and psychological in- 
fluences. ^^ Since the time that Cole issued his call for a less polemicized 
and more comprehensive pattern of research, there has been an abun- 
dance of specialized studies, at times showing new patterns of looking 
at the relatively recent past, at times opening entirely new fields for 
further investigation. 

Such detailed studies, shedding light on more narrow topics, avoid 
one pitfall of the generalist: the danger that broad unqualified inter- 
pretation can lead to serious distortion. Both Roosevelt's defenders 
and detractors are still sometimes guilty of not qualifying their con- 
clusions, which at times more resemble legal indictments than cogent 
analysis. Robert H. Ferrell has wisely said, "It is possible to plunge into 
the morass of research materials and come out with something re- 
sembling support of almost any thesis." George Dangerfield commented 
that "any young historian who has a gift for research, who doesn't cook 
his evidence, and who keeps his hypotheses within reasonably scientific 
limits can 'overthrow' any earlier interpretation."^"* No serious historian 
today can afford to call a halt to the continued revision of accepted 
tenets. Yet more accurate revision, leading to fresher ways of viewing 
the past, might better be discerned by building upon smaller blocs of 
research. Wholesale (and often preconceived) assaults upon major 
interpretations usually end up eventually in equally sweeping retaliation. 
Progress is of course made, but often at a disproportionate cost. 

At long last there are significant public opinion studies for the 1930s. 
If carried through with sensitivity and thoroughness, they can greatly 
aid in a study of American isolationism. While mass sentiment was not 
measured systematically until public opinion polls were collected in 
1935, few could argue with Gabriel Almond's longtime focus upon a 
relatively small group of "opinion elites." It is this "attentive public," 
he claims, whose editorials and mass organizations articulate the senti- 
ments and offer the proposals which determine the boundaries in which 
policy-makers must operate. ^^ 

Newer studies of both diplomacy and public opinion reveal much 
initial reluctance to check what later became the Axis. Arnold A. Off- 
ner has traced Roosevelt's appeasement of Hitler, while Dorothy Borg 
shows America's continued reluctance to engage the Japanese. ^^ Rich- 
ard W. Alsfeld notes that the American public found little conflict be- 

tween its hatred of the Nazi regime and its desire for non-involvement 
in Europe. Daniel S. Day shows that American business was not overtly 
hostile towards Hitler until 1936, when Germany adopted a "socialis- 
tic" four year plan. Frederick I. Murphy reveals that much of the de- 
nominational press, determined not to repeat the anti-German excesses 
committed by religious spokesmen during World War I, bent over 
backwards in an effort to be fair to the Third Reich. While of course 
deploring the Nazi dictatorship, it blamed Versailles and harsh Allied 
policies for Hitler's rise. Donald Mcllvenna asserts that immediately 
after Pearl Harbor the isolationists were still reluctant to fight Germany, 
hoping that the conflict could be limited to Japan." Yet even more 
research is necessary, for while there is an abundance of sources show- 
ing America's reaction to the Spanish Civil War, there are as yet no full- 
scale treatments of such crises as the Rhineland, Austria, Munich, and 
Danzig. 1^ 

American reaction to Italy and Japan has been sporadically covered. 
John P. Diggins observes that much American public opinion approved 
of Italian fascism until the Abyssinian venture. ^^ Justus D. Doenecke 
notes that most opinion leaders were outraged by Japan's invasion of 
Manchuria and hoped for her immediate withdrawal from the area. 
Yet, as in the case of Germany, proposals for economic coercion met 
with firm resistance, with many Americans believing that internal eco- 
nomic pressures alone would cause Japan's downfall. While older studies 
by John W. Masland, Ernest B. Bader, Eleanor Tupper, and George 
E. McReynolds trace many of the various elements at work in the form- 
ing of public response to events in the Pacific, only Manny T. Koginos, 
in passing, shows public reaction to a single crisis. Justin H. Libby, how- 
ever, has taken advantage of recently opened Congressional manu- 
scripts to note the growing erosion of any pro-Japanese sentiment with- 
in Congress. 20 A systematic survey of American public opinion from 
1933 to 1941. focusing upon Asian events after the Marco Polo Bridge 
attack, would prove most fruitful. 

Studies concerning American reaction to Russia are fairly plenti- 
ful. The opening of new manuscripts would probably cause considerable 
expansion of Ira S. Cohen's 1955 study of Congressional attitudes, ^i 
James J. Martin describes liberal hostility towards Nazi Germany and 
diverse liberal reactions to Stalin's purges and the Molotov-Ribbentrop 
pact. Frank A. Warren III stresses great diversity of opinion among 
the Left, which was by no means unanimously sympathetic (particularly 
after the Hitler-Stalin Pact) either to the cause of Russia or to domestic 
Communism. Raymond H. Dawson shows how strongly isolationists 
opposed lend-lease aid to Russia, even during the crucial battles of 
autumn, 1941.22 Still needed is a thorough account of America's re- 
sponse to the Finnish war, for both the French and British Right con- 
sidered extensive intervention on Finland's behalf. ^3 

It has also been argued— though not always with success— that anti- 
Bolshevism had been the prime impetus in western appeasement of 
Hitler. 24 Hence, it might be helpful to discover the degree to which 


"isolationism" was ever transformed into latent containment of Russia. 
Surely Lindbergh was not alone in feeling that continuation of the Euro- 
pean war could only result in a Communist-dominated Europe, for even 
the pacifist leader Frederick J. Libby shared similar sentiments. Nor 
was Herbert Hoover alone in predicting that unsettling social change 
at home would invariably result from American intervention. 

New studies now cover the entire range of American "fascism." 
During the 1940s popular tracts had tried to link the isolationists with 
both Axis espionage and domestic forms of 'subversion. '^5 In the 1950s 
efforts to search the American past in order to account for the supposed 
mass base of McCarthyism also led scholars to portray homegrown 
"fascist" movements as demented forms of Populism. ^6 Such interpre- 
tations of the extremist forms of non-interventionism have been an- 
swered in a number of ways. First, Manfred Jonas claims that many 
Congressional isolationists— far from applauding the rise of dictator- 
ships—sympathized with such besieged groups as Ethiopians, Spanish 
Loyalists, Chinese, and, in 1940, the British. ^'^ Second, recent research 
on the German- AmericanBund portrays it as a foundering organization, 
never a serious threat to American institutions and even an embarrass- 
ment to the Wilhelmstrasse.2^ Third, fresh examinations of domestic 
"fascism" reveal that any American brand had little in common with 
Europe. Both James Shenton and Charles J. Tull deny that Father! 
Coughlin— who combined his inflationary panaceas with anti-Semitism 
and isolationism— was ever a fascist, while David H. Bennett and David 
O. Powell find the Couglin-backed Union Party of 1936 essentially 
an effort to restore rural and frontier values. ^^ 

There is additional research. Geoffrey S. Smith claims that the inept 
ideologies of Bundist Fritz Kuhn, Coughlin, and Silver Shirt leader 
William Dudley Pelley were linked to the broader isolationist movement 
by its enemies in order to create support for Roosevelt's interventionism. 
Victor K. Ferkiss' "Populist" explanation for American "fascism" has 
been challenged by Paul S. Holbo, while Leo Ribuffo stresses diconti- 
nuity between European and American brands of extremism. Ribuffo 
claims, for example, that Lawrence Dennis (branded as a European- 
type fascist by those who never read his Coming American Fascism) 
was motivated primarily by a vision of a corporatist economy which 
would keep the nation aloof from world embroilments. Similarly, the 
Reverend Gerald Winrod (sometimes called the "Jayhawk Nazi") can 
only be understood in light of the premillennial theology he adopted, ^o 

Such claims are supplemented by biographies of those long consid- 
ered fascists. Albert E. Stone, Jr. shows that Seward Collins' American 
Review was primarily concerned with the economics of distributfon- 
alism— an economic system centering around the restoration of a rural- 
based society— and values of neo-scholasticism and Humanism. Collins 
preferred G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Irving Babbitt, and T.S. 
Eliot to such Nazi sages as Gottfried Feder, Alfred Rosenberg, and 
Dietrich Eckart. Victor Ferkiss' claim that Ezra Pound was essentially 
a populist, flailing out at the "money power," is placed in a far wider 


context by Noel Stock. Niel M. Johnson's study of George Sylvester 
Viereck denies that the German propagandist acted simply as a tool 
of the Third Reich or that his isolationism was merely expediential.^i 
However, broader studies are needed of Axis propaganda.32 

There is no question that the America First Committee has been 
the victim of many a false stereotype. Wayne S. Cole has shown that 
most AFC leaders did not want a British defeat, endorsed strong conti- 
nental military defense, made efforts to purge anti-Semites from their 
ranks, and forced Roosevelt to temper his interventionism. Students, 
however, could supplement Cole by detailed accounts of local chapters 
whose leadership was at times less responsible. Once Harriet Schwar's 
forthcoming study of the interventionists is ready, one might be able 
to compare their doctrines and techniques to those of America First. ^ 

Despite the plethora of recent research, there is still far more to be 
done. First, studies could be made of several other isolationist groups. 
Textbooks are extremely misleading when they associate isolationism 
per se with the activities of the America First Committee. Justus Doe- 
necke has briefly surveyed Verne Marshall's No Foreign War Com- 
mittee, showing why it could never hope to rival America First's activi- 
ties. Yet more could still be done on this group, as well as on the activi- 
ties of Norman Thomas. Thomas' Socialist Party spearheaded such 
groups as the Keep America Out of War Congress, the Labor Anti- 
War Council, and the Youth Committee Against War (whose national 
chairman was a young black named James Farmer).** One also looks 
for studies of both Communist and Trotskyite opposition to 

Second, systematic investigation of the isolationist press is in order. 
So far we have studies of Father Coughlin's Social Justice, Colonel Mc- 
Cormick's Chicago Tribune, Garet Garrett's editorials in the Saturday 
Evening Post (which fatalistically accepted the inevitability of inter- 
vention by 1941), the LaFoilette house organ the Progressive, and Al- 
fred M. Bingham's Common Sense.^^ Research, however, is still needed 
for such isolationist journals as the Socialist Call, the rightist Scribner's 
Commentator, Porter Sargent's Bulletin, the Writer's Anti-War Bureau 
newsletter Uncensored, George Seldes' In Fact (which became inter- 
ventionist with the invasion of Russia), and the rural conservative weekly 
Pathfinder. While we have some popular accounts of the McCormick 
dynasty, namely the Colonel and his sister "Cissy", ^6 good studies are 
still needed of Captain Joe Patterson of the New York Daily News, 
Frank E. Gannett of the up-state New York newspaper chain, Joseph 
Pulitzer, Jr. of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and William Randolph 
Hearst. 3'^ 

Radio is finally coming under study. David H. Culbert notes that by 
1941 almost all news commentators were so pro-interventionist they 
"were no longer fulfilling their function as an independent critic." Iso- 
lationist Boake Carter, possessing a "zoot suit voice" and given to such 
banalities as "The ferment in Europe continues to gurgle and bubble," 
was taken off the air by 1938. Thereafter the only remaining anti-inter- 


ventionists were Fulton Lewis, Jr., and Quincy Howe.^ 

Isolationist groups and publications active during both World War II 
and the Cold War still need research, as do organizations which strongly 
attacked the isolationists. Such groups as Edward Rumely's Committee 
for Constitutional Government, Merwin K. Hart's National Economic 
Council, Joseph Kamps' Constitutional Educational League, Stanley 
Burke's American Defense Society, John B. Trevor's Coalition of Patrio- 
tic Societies, and Catherine Curtis' Women Investors of America await 
fuller investigation, as do such post- World War II groups as American 
Acti6n, America's Future, Spiritual Mobilization. We, the People, the 
Congress of Freedom, the Committee of Endorsers, the Mansion For- 
um, For America, and Students for America.'*'' Most studies available 
of the American Legion do not delve deeply into the internal politics 
of that organization, nor are there good studies of such Legion wheel- 
horses as General Hanford MacNider. There have been no major dis- 
cussions of such periodicals as Felix Morley and Frank Hanighen's 
Human Events, Frank Chodorov's analysis (even manifesting its in- 
dividualism by use of the lower case in its title), Garet Garrett's Ameri- 
can Affairs. Spiritual Mobilization's Faith and Freedom, J. Russell 
Maguire's American Mercury, and John Chamberlain's Freeman. Only 
recently has an historian examined the absolutist isolationism of Law- 
rence Dennis, editor of the Weekly Foreign Letter and later the Appeal 
to Reason, and leading defendant in the Sedition Case of 1944.'*^ By 
the same token, one should look at such opponents of isolationism and 
political extremism as Henry R. Luce's Council for Democracy, the 
journal The Hour, the Reverend L.M. Birkhead's Friends of Democracy, 
Rex Stout's Society for the Prevention of World War III, the Non- 
Sectarian Anti-Nazi League to Champion Human Rights, James Loeb, 
Jr.'s Union for Democratic Action, the Council Against Intolerance in 
America, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, the Committee 
for National Morale, the American Council on Public Affairs, Freedom 
House, the Institute for Living Law, Joseph P. Lash's International 
Student Service, United Youth for Defense, and Student Defenders of 
Democracy (the latter three opposing Communist influences in the 
American Youth Congress and the American Student Union). 

A third category of investigation concerns the agrarian roots of 
isolationsim. While this factor is most heavily stressed in Wayne S. 
Cole's life of Gerald P. Nye, other biographies— Alfalfa Bill Murray, 
George N. Peek, William Langer, and William Lemke— all note the 
Populist roots of non-interventionism.^^ Yet one should realize that in 
prosperous farm areas— such as Senator Hugh Butler's Nebraska or 
Congressman John Taber's upstate New York — farm grievances were 
not at the root of isolationism. ^^ Yet even as the agrarian backbone to 
Populist non-interventionism grew more conservative as it became more 
prosperous, it could scarcely empathize with those advocates of a "large 
policy" who saw America's interest tied to French and British hegemony 
in Europe or to the survival of an independent China. 

This naturally leads to a fourth area of investigation, geography. 
Many Gordian knots could be cut if, instead of continually referring to 


Midwestern isolationism, historians spoke more in terms of an urban/ 
rural split. ^^ Ralph Smuckler, for example, shows that during much of 
the 1930s Congressmen from northern New England were relatively 
more isolationist than those from any other region. While not complete- 
ly denying the "Mid-western hypothesis," Smuckler stresses that dis- 
tance from the oceans is not an accurate gauge. Similarly, David L. 
Porter notes that Pacific Coast Senators and New England Congressmen 
voted interventionist far less than one would expect, while George 
Grassmuck emphasizes the general factor of party affiliation.'*^ Such 
explanations might account for such eastern rural legislators as Daniel 
Reed, George Aiken, Robert Rich, and Joseph W. Martin, Jr. 

The South still deserves another look. Wayne S. Cole, in attempting 
to discern why America First did not take strong hold south of the 
Mason-Dixon line, notes the region's militaristic background. Demo- 
cratic Party leanings, almost pure Anglo-Saxon stock among whites, 
and dependence upon federal relief and defense spending.'*^ Julian M. 
Pleasants offers a lengthy life of "Buncombe Bob" Reynolds (the only 
senator to kiss Jean Harlow on the Capitol steps), and William E. Coffey 
has analyzed "The Boy Senator" Rush Holt.^' Yet a wider framework 
is necessary. Attention is needed for such isolationist-leaning solons 
as Hugh Peterson, John Rankin, Allen Ellender, and "Cotton Ed" Smith. 
In addition, southern foreign policy attitudes need to be seen more in 
the light of the section's economic and social changes during the 1930s 
and 1940s. 

A fifth area for research involves American business. While both 
William A. Weinrich and Roland N. Stromberg have examined the busi- 
ness press, individual editors deserve focus. John H. Bunzel's analysis 
of the isolationist perception of the small businessman could also apply 
to certain larger firms, particularly if they are family-owned and self- 
financing. Lloyd C. Gardner's study of New Deal diplomacy needs a 
counterpart dealing with the critics of Roosevelt and Hull. It is probably 
no accident, for example, that defenders of the economic autarchy 
promoted during the First New Deal— George Peek, Hugh Johnson, 
Charles A. Beard, and Raymond Moley— moved to the isolationist camp 
by 1940. Wayne S. Cole has noted that the Nye Committee itself offered 
a broad economic interpretation for American entry into World War I, 
an explanation perhaps similar to Open Door arguments advanced more 
recently by the "Wisconsin School" of historians.^ 

Other investigations are being made. Justus D. Doenecke, survey- 
ing lists of leading America First contributors and the committee's eco- 
nomic pronouncements, claims that the isolationist productive orbit- 
based upon the union of "wheat" and "steel," spanning an area ranging 
from the Chicago stockyards and Duluth grain elevators to Gary steel 
mills and River Rouge auto plants— permitted the isolationists to remain 
firm believers in economic self-sufficiency. Yet, while acquiescent to 
Axis domination of the Old World, non-interventionist businessmen 
often saw Latin America as their natural "frontier." Such a claim is 
buttressed by Gabriel Kolko, who stresses industrial ties to Axis 


Biographies of isolationist business leaders are still needed. While 
both hostile and friendly accounts exist of Henry Ford, such individuals 
as General Robert E. Wood of Sears, Ernest Weir of National Steel, 
Sterling Morton of the salt company bearing his name, and Edward L. 
Ryerson of Inland Steel are not covered. Sidney Hyman's life of liberal 
businessman William Benton notes his enthusiasm for America First. 
However, Benton's advertising partner, a man named Chester Bowles, 
conveniently begins his autobiography with Pearl Harbor, hence skirt- 
ing his deep involvement in that isolationist lobby. ^° 

Sixth, the whole role of American labor needs study. Maxwell C. 
Raddock has given us a biography of "Bie Bill" Hutcheson, the car- 
penters' leader who served on the national committee of America First, 
and Henry W. Berger has just offered a picture of John L. Lewis' isola- 
tionism. Lewis, represented on the America First Committee by his 
daughter Kathryn, endorsed non-intervention in Europe while hoping 
to preserve Latin America for United States economic penetration. ^^ 
Treatment is also needed of the Labor Anti-War Council, as well as the 
isolationism of various railroad brotherhood leaders. 

Seventh, research dealing with Congressional issues and parties re- 
mains spotty. While there has been prodigious research on the Nye 
Committee^^ and the Ludlow Amendment, ^3 o^e must wait until 
Wayne S. Cole finishes his general study of Roosevelt and the isolation- 
ists before one has a survey-in-depth. In the meantime, Thomas N. 
Guinsberg promises an exciting book on Senatorial isolationism from 
1919 to 1941. Denying that most Americans during the inter-war period 
were rigid isolationists or that there was a large and cohesive Senate 
bloc, Guinsberg plays down ethnic, sectional, and party factors to stress 
the ideological dedication of such men as Borah and Johnson. David 
L. Porter has surveyed Congress at the outbreak of the European war, 
while Robert A. Divine has offered an extensive account of the neu- 
trality debates. As yet there has been no indication of the role that 
isolationism might have played in the Democratic speculation concern- 
ing the short-lived 1940 Presidential candidacies of Burton K. Wheeler 
and James A. Farley, or in the Republican bids made before the 1940 
convention by Robert A. Taft, Herbert Hoover, Arthur V'andenberg, 
publisher Frank Gannett, Iowa businessman Hanford MacNider, Gov- 
ernor Harlan Bushfield of South Dakota, or Senator Arthur Capper of 
Kansas. Even though the Herbert Hoover papers are now open, we do 
not yet have a full account of Hoover's post-presidential years nor biog- 
raphies of such Hoover stalwarts as William R. Castle or J. Reuben 
Clark. While full-scale studies exist of Alf Landon, Frank Lowden, and 
the Wilkie movement and its opponents, much could be learned by ex- 
amining such party wheelhorses as national chairman John M. Hamilton 
and Governor John W. Bricker of Ohio.^ 

The record for Senatorial and Congressional biographies is also 
sketchy. James T. Patterson's new life of Robert A. Taft stresses the 
Ohio Senator's partisanship and fervent anti-Communism, which — 
Patterson claims— led him easily into McCarthyism and an Asia-first 


strategy. Henry Berger, on the other hand, emphasizes Taft's principles 
of non-intervention, while Russell Kirk focuses upon Taft's anxiety over 
global Communism. ^^ C. David Tompkins has surveyed Arthur Vanden- 
berg's career to 1945, but one must depend upon those excerpts included 
in his published diary to cover his Cold War career. Hopefully, future 
historians will ask more pointedly if Vandenberg's so-called conversion 
to internationalism in January, 1945, was not simply a more sophis- 
ticated form of his militant nationalism.^ The influence of both Taft 
and Vandenberg has yet to be appraised. Did Taft really lead the "Taft- 
ites" into slightly more accommodating positions, and was Vandenberg 
doing anything more than speaking to a mere handful of the already 

A few other isolationist senators have been surveyed. The opening 
of the Hiram Johnson papers has resulted in two new studies, with Peter 
G. Boyle finding Johnson's isolationism a well-reasoned manifestation 
of his progressivism, and Howard A. DeWitt claiming that the Cali- 
fornia Senator has greater insight than either his rhetoric or voting 
record might suggest.^'' "The Lion of Idaho," William E. Borah, remains 
as much a subject of controversy as he did during his lifetime. While the 
New Left finds Borah a prophet against global anti-communism and a 
garrison state at home, other monographs still stress his agrarian pro- 
vincialism.^ Unfortunately, Burton K. Wheeler's autobiography and 
the one dissertation devoted to the Montana Senator do little with his 
isolationism, and biographies of such senators as Henry Cabot Lodge, 
David I. Walsh, and Arthur Capper are hardly more helpful. ^^ Henrik 
Shipstead's biographer merely stresses the courage of his dogged non- 
interventionism, offering no real explanation. More thorough accounts 
have appeared of the LaFollette brothers— Phil and "Young Bob"— 
and also of the "merry mortician," Senator Kenneth Wherry.^ Yet 
most isolationist senators, including C. Wayland Brooks, Edwin C. 
Johnson, Charles W. Tobey, and Bennett Champ Clark, are still 

There are even greater gaps in our knowledge of the House isola- 
tionists. The published memoirs of Joe Martin, Jr. are singularly unre- 
vealing, as is a biography of Charlie Halleck. Richard K. Hanks' study 
of Hamilton Fish might be a model for further research in his area. 
Hanks finds the Hudson Valley congressman as wisely neutralist in Asia, 
and unfairly branded as pro-Nazi for a mistaken isolationism in 
Europe. 6^ While the left seems to hold major interest for academi- 
cians—as in recent studies of Vito Marcantonio^^ —such colorful 
rightwing isolationists as Dewey Short, Clare Hoffman, Lawrence Smith, 
Howard Buffett, and Frederick C. Smith are still neglected. 

Eighth, ethnic and religious factors need closer examination. While 
few historians wholeheartedly support Samuel Lubell's claim that iso- 
lationism is fundamentally rooted in pro-German and anti-British senti- 
ment, ^^ many groups deserve another look. For example, while there 
are several studies of American Catholicism and the New Deal, only 
J. David Valaik's survey of Catholic responses to the Spanish Civil War 


offers a detailed study of foreign policy attitudes.^ While it is common 
knowledge that most Catholics were strong isolationists,^^ the very 
fact that opinion was so overwhelming shows that more must have been 
at work than mere Irish-American Anglophobia and fear of Russian 
expansion. An examination of the Catholic press— ranging from such 
rightist periodicals as Father James Gillis' Catholic World and Patrick 
Scanlon's Brooklyn Tablet to such liberal journals as Dorothy Day's 
Catholic Worker— is needed, as is a discussion of such influential clergy 
as Fathers Robert I. Gannon and Fulton J. Sheen. 

Historians are beginning to note non-interventionism among black 
Americans. Richard M. Dalfiume discovered that many militant Afro- 
American spokesmen opposed intervention, remaining suspicious even 
during the war itself. At the same time, a conservative stratum of black 
lawyers, doctors, and fraternal leaders was affiliated with America 
First. 66 

As yet, however, there is no study concerning Jewish foreign policy 
attitudes. While most American Jews espoused some degree of inter- 
ventionism, it would be helpful to examine more closely those Jews who 
opposed intervention. 6'' Ill-informed and sensationalist critics focus 
upon the anti-Semitism of such isolationists as Congressman John Ran- 
kin, Merwin K. Hart, and Father Couglin, forgetting that the number 
of Congressional non-interventionists who backed Zionism was ex- 
tremely large. Even as staunch an isolationist as Hamilton Fish, who 
had introduced a Zionist resolution twenty years earlier, said in 1944, 
"I was a Zionist back in 1922, I am a Zionist today. . . ."6* Not only did 
Senator Taft co-sponsor a resolution calling for a Palestinian homeland 
for American Jews, but the American Committee for a Free Palestine 
was headed by the Conservative isolationist and former senator from 
Iowa, Guy Gillette. The Emergency Conference to Save the Jewish 
People of Europe listed Herbert Hoover among its honorary chairmen. 

Historians of American Protestantism have generally glorified the 
"Christian realists," centering around Reinhold Niebuhr and the faculty 
of Union Theological Seminary, at the expense of the pacifist-leaning 
"Utopians," who found their spokesman in Charles Clayton Morrison's 
Christian Century. ^^ Irritated by such bias, Robert Moats Miller writes, 
"To fairly judge a debate it is necessary to hear the arguments of both 
sides and not many scholars have troubled to listen carefully to what 
the pacifists were saying." Miller uses his biography of the Methodist 
peace leader, Ernest Fremont Tittle, to claim that the "idealists" were 
"the true realists," as they best understood "the demonaic nature of 
modern war."''*^ 

While we have autobiographies of such Protestant pacifist leaders 
as John Haynes Holmes and Harry Emerson Fosdick, church history 
remains neglected. Moral Rearmament, whose head— the Reverend 
Frank N. Buchman— was rumored to be friendly to Hitler, is finally 
being studied, yet biographies are needed of such isolationist and theo- 
logically-conservative clergymen as Baptist William Ward Ayer and 
Walter A. Maier of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, as well as 


the pacifist E. Stanley Jones. Also deserving coverage are such isola- 
tionist-leaning groups as the Latter-Day Saints; the denominational 
press; and inter-denominational journals aimed at fundamentalist 
Protestants. ^1 

A ninth topic, and one which is related, concerns research in the 
area of pacifism. While Charles Chatfield has written thorough and 
analytical history, and John K. Nelson has offered a survey of major 
debates, surprisingly few pacifist organizations have found their his- 
torians. Allen A. Kuusisto covers the National Council for the Preven- 
tion of War only from 1935 to 1939, and Frederick J. Libby has briefly 
told of his own experience in heading this movement. Yet there is no 
scholarly account covering its life from 1921 efforts to promote the 
Washington Disarmament Conference to activities on behalf of rebuild- 
ing Germany after World War 11. '^^ ^or are good histories available 
of such prominent pacifist organizations as the Women's International 
League for Peace and Freedom, '^^ i\^q Fellowship of Reconciliation, 
the War Resisters League, and the American Friends Service Committee. 

Few studies have been made of prominent pacifist leaders. Ronald 
Schaffer has placed Jeanette Rankin in the general framework of Ameri- 
can progressivism, and Jo Ann Robinson has analyzed the thought of 
A.J. Muste.'^^ Penina M. Glazer has surveyed such radical pacifist 
spokesmen as Dwight MacDonald.'^^ Chatfield promises a life of De- 
vere Allen as does William McKee of Edmund Chafee and Robert 
Moats Miller of Harry Emerson Fosdick. However, there are still no 
biographies of such prominent peace leaders as Kirby Page, Bishop 
Paul Jones, Charles Clayton Morrison, Albert Palmer, and a host of 

Tenth, the intellectual roots of isolationism deserve far more ex- 
amination. Revisionists are now coming under renewed examination, 
though one needs the kind of thorough syntheses of World War II 
revisionism which Warren Cohen has given to that of the Great War. 
Arthur Goddard has edited a rich anthology concerning the multidi- 
mensioned work of Harry Elmer Barnes. However, an extensive life of 
the "learned crusader" — based upon the rich collection of his papers 
at the University of Wyoming— is much needed. Justus D. Doenecke, 
for example, has brought together new material on the Barnes' efforts 
to challenge orthodoxies of Nazi war guilt and atrocities. '^^ Of all the 
studies of Charles A. Beard, Richard Hofstadter's is the most rich and 
perceptive. A life of Charles C. Tansill has just been written. As the 
major publishers of World War II revisionism had all been non-inter- 
ventionists before Pearl Harbor, an examination of Devin Garrity's 
Devin-Adair Company of New York, the Henry Regnery Company of 
Chicago, and James Gipson's Caxton Printers of Caldwell, Idaho, would 
be helpful. 7^ 

Revisionism, however, is just one aspect of the intellectual roots of 
isolationism. Richard Kendall's study of Edwin Borchard's doctrines of 
neturality (a position also adopted by such international scholars as 
Philip Jessup and John Bassett Moore) could serve as a model for the 
study of other anti-war intellectuals. The anti-war posture of Harvard 


philosopher Wilham Ernest Hocking has also been examined, as well as 
have such iconoclastic isolationists as Edmund Wilson, Stuart Chase, 
John Chamberlain, and H.L. Mencken.'^^ Autobiographies are the only 
source available for several opponents of Roosevelt whose World War 
II isolationism was rooted in their hatred of Russia. '^^ Similarly, studies 
have now been made of such libertarian isolationists as John T. Flynn, 
Albert Jay Nock and Caret Garrett, but material is still needed on play- 
wright Francis Neilson and editors Frank Chodorov, Felix Morley, and 
Frank Hanighen.^° 

There are other questions. To what degree were both students^^ and 
faculty^2 non-interventionists? A study of student newspapers during 
the 1939-1941 period would be helpful, as would a survey of those 
intellectuals^^ and entertainers^ who opposed intervention. To what 
degree were isolationist spokesmen muffled?^^ Conversions, usually 
from isolationism to interventionism, should also be studied.®^ While 
Joseph P. Kennedy's role as ambassador to England has been heavily 
researched, ^'^ the role of John Cudahy, the isolationist ambassador to 
Belgium, has not yet been covered. And while the recently published 
Lindbergh diaries add much revealing information concerning the "lone 
eagle," many questions concerning Lindbergh's idology remain unre- 
solved.^^ One still wonders, given Lindbergh's continental imperialism, 
if Lindbergh was longing for a world in which one hemisphere might 
be policed by the United States, the other by Germany. One also won- 
ders the degree to which Democratic Party affiliation prevented such 
people as James A. Farley and Harry Woodring from taking a more 
active isolationist role?^^ 

An eleventh area takes us into the realm of sociological investiga- 
tion. Here we run into expected troubles, perhaps revealing the truth 
of Professor John Roche's comment that such disciplines had best be 
limited to consenting adults only. Isolationists on the right are explained 
in terms of upward mobility if they are Catholic and moderate in in- 
come; downwardly mobile if they are wealthy, Protestant, or old stock. 
On the surface, it appears to be a "heads we win, tails you lose" ap- 
proach to scholarship. Similarly, examinations of the "authoritarian per- 
sonality" at times involve more in the way of sophisticated polemic than 
objective analysis. Fortunately, such investigations are being challenged 
by newer research.^ 

A twelfth area for research is most intriguing. Several historians 
have found that so-called partisans possess more consensus than one 
might first think. Robert E. Gamer stresses that both isolationists and 
interventionists desired ultimate defeat of the Axis, while William M. 
Tuttle, Jr. traces William Allen White's break from the more extreme 
interventionists. Robert Freeman Smith claims that both groups merely 
differed over "the kind of foreign policy tactics best suited to promote 
the prosperity of private-enterprise capitalism in the United States." 
Clifton E. Hart and Charles Sanford assert that both wings found the 
United States a superior nation with a unique, world-redeeming mission. 
Could not one then argue that both groups saw the nation as "the world's 


last, best hope," and that both ultimately longed for a Wilsonian world 
where traditional spheres of influence would be at end? The immediate 
issue then becomes the best means for preserving what Henry Nash 
Smith calls "the Garden of the World": by building the Chinese Wall, 
or by defeating the enemy without? In turn, the long-range issue be- 
comes the best vehicle for the world's "Americanization": by example 
alone or by conscious expansion?^^ 

The thirteenth area of investigation concerns the wartime activi- 
ties of the isolationists. Robert A. Divine has shown the support of many 
isolationists for mild forms of international organization. As was noted 
by Senator David Walsh (who was not writing with tongue-in-cheek): 
"A nation which does not pursue peace will find soon enough that it is 
involved in the wars of other nations." Yet not all isolationists were en- 
thusiastic about the San Francisco conference, Senator Alexander Wiley 
commenting that "international music could do more for spiritual values 
and international peace" than the "bunkum" of the United Nations 
sessions.^ More serious criticism of the United Nations Charter came 
from such isolationists as William Henry Chamberlin and Felix Morley, 
who both feared that the Security Council committed America to a 
new Holy Alliance, insuring the supremacy of the Old World power 
blocs of Russia and England, and thereby preventing any fruition of 
the Wilsonian dream of self-determination. 

Other areas need exploration. Since the Republicans made surpris- 
ing gains in the 1942 Congressional elections, with such strong isola- 
tionists as Hamilton Fish and Stephen A. Day being returned to office, 
this election in particular deserves study. The forthcoming sequel to 
D. Clayton James' first volume of General MacArthur's life should 
have material on the Mac Arthur-for- President booms of 1944 and 1948, 
efforts backed by such America First leaders as General Robert E. 
Wood, Philip LaFollette, and Hanford MacNider. The role of the iso- 
lationist press (which often advocated an Asia-first strategy) remains 
untapped, as does the suppression of Father Coughlin's Social Justice, 
wild charges against "fifth columnists," and Administration considera- 
tion of legal action against the Chicago Tribune and New York Daily 
News.^^ Good histories are needed of the Sedition Case of 1944,^ 
as well as the Peace Now Movement of 1943, led by the socialist and 
pacifist professor George Hartmann. Such topics as conscientious ob- 
jection,^^ reactions to area bombing,^ unconditional surrender, and 
alleged atrocities committed by American troops in the Pacific^'' need 

World War H pacifism needs more study. Lawrence Wittner offers 
a sensitive if brief treatment of wartime passions, indicating the pos- 
sibility of far more research, but Ray Abrams' short essay on the war- 
time clergy hardly approaches the possibilities of this topic. ^ Prob- 
ably not all clergymen agreed with the stormy Texas preacher Frank 
Norris, who opened his service by telling the congregation to rise, say 
"To Hell with Hitler," and sing "Amazing Grace." Nor were all laymen 
like the person who wrote the Tampa Morning Tribune, declaring, "I 


am glad that I believe that God is against any nation that starts a war on 
Sunday, as Japan is guilty of doing. "^ Indeed the whole topic of or- 
ganized religion at war needs systematic coverage. 

Some recent research indicates that those liberals among the iso- 
lationists were— at least on some issues— more humanitarian than their 
interventionist counterparts. Thomas McDaid, for example, has shown 
that former isolationists on the national committee of the American 
Civil Liberties Union called for far stronger protests against the Nisei 
internment than did such interventionists as Max Lerner, Stephen Vin- 
cent Benet, and Corliss Lamont.^^ Similarly, such non-interventionist 
authors as Alfred Kazin and Lenore Marshall protested vehemently when 
Rex Stout, mystery writer and chairman of the Writer's War Board, 
used the rhetoric of anti-racist racism to make such comments as "I 
hate Germans, and am not ashamed of it."i°^ Similarly, one finds the 
strongest objection to the atomic bombing of Japan coming from such 
humane isolationists as Haverford president Felix Morley, while Norman 
Thomas went so far as to refer to the entire Pacific war as "an organized 
race riot." Yet, many anti-interventionists must have sided with the call 
of their kinsman Senator Bennett Champ Clark, who, upon hearing of 
the Bataan Death March, called for bombing the Japanese people out 
of existence, or with isolationist Senator Edwin Johnson who simply 
noted, "God Almighty in his infinite wisdom has dropped the atomic 
bomb in our laps.''^^^ 

The fourteenth and last topic concerns the Cold War activities of 
the isolationists. Did, as Manfred Jonas claims, the years 1935 to 1941 
mark the "swan song" of genuine isolationism? Was there, as is main- 
tained by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and Norman Graebner, a "new isola- 
tionism," adopting a warlike stance in order to "make the world safe 
for American retreat from it"?i03 Were the isolationists "seeking an 
inexpensive way to impose America's will on the world while re-es- 
tablishing the pre-1933 America?" Did the Congressional elections after 
Pearl Harbor mark any repudiation of isolationism? To what degree 
did the isolationist coalition break up over Cold War issues? Here 
perhaps a study similar to that made by Otis J. Graham, Jr., concerning 
the Progressive response to the New Deal might be appropriate. Might 
not economic changes in Michigan and New England have helped ac- 
count for the shift of Vandenberg, Lodge, and Charles Tobey toward 
bipartisanship?^^ How much was continued non-interventionism sim- 
ply a matter of Republican opposition to Truman's program? One notes 
that once Eisenhower was president, such isolationists as George Bender 
and John Taber usually followed his lead. 

One thing appears certain: if the isolationists harbored secret doubts 
about their position immediately after Pearl Harbor, the advent of the 
Cold War quickly removed them. The spread of communism was 
blamed upon the nation's war-time diplomacy, occasionally upon 
participation in the war itself. ^^^ Not only did most anti-intervention- 
ists fail to follow Vandenberg in his supposed change of heart, but 
they pressed with renewed vigor against foreign commitments. Ideo- 


logical hatred of communism was coupled with a reluctance to en- 
gage in further land ventures. As isolationism became somewhat more 
of a right-wing phenomenon, ^°^ it was argued that the rest of the 
world was so far on the road to socialism (almost indistinguishable 
from communism) that only by domestic retrenchment and a For- 
tress America could the nation survive. And if the Republic herself 
faced physical peril, air supremacy made possible decisive and crip- 
pling strikes to the heart of the enemy. ^'^'^ 

Other Cold War topics need investigation. While the pre-World 
War II activities of the revisionists are well covered, the opening of 
new archival sources can add to our knowledge of their financial 
backing, their penchant for conspiracies, their supposed lack of 
access to archival sources, i°^ and the possibility of a "historical 
blackout." 1°^ Wayne S. Cole's excellent survey of revisionist litera- 
ture, published in 1957, needs to be brought up to the 1970s, and his- 
tories of the varied Pearl Harbor investigations and the controversy 
of American coding clerk Tyler Kent need to be written. ^^^ Also 
demanding study is the Foundation for Foreign Affairs, established 
in 1945 by pacifist Frederick J. Libby and financed by the Regnery 
family of Chicago. While never meeting the hopes of its original 
founders, the organization was founded to counteract the interven- 
tionist influences of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Carne- 
gie Endowment for International Peace. 

Domestic market concerns also deserve exploration. While Thomas 
G. Paterson has shown that many businessmen supported the Marshall 
Plan and Point Four in an effort to avoid postwar recession and expand 
American markets, other investigators— such as John P. Mallen, Walter 
S. Poole, and Robert J. Chasteen — note those forces within business 
and the Republican Party which remained suspicious of such 
expansion. ^11 

Germany and Asia deserve special treatment. Isolationist opposi- 
tion to Truman's Atlantic policies must be put in the wider context of 
continual concern for the recovery and integration of Germany. Al- 
though Herbert Hoover was perhaps the most respected spokesman for 
German advancement, many other isolationists called for food relief, 
protested against denazification and war trials, and desired an end to 
the dismantling of factories. With Germany and Spain (another area 
demanding investigation) serving as linchpins of Western defense, one 
could avoid such costly multilateral alliances as NATO.^^^ 

Then there is Asia. Before Pearl Harbor, the Chiang regime found 
many more partisans within the Roosevelt administration than among 
the isolationists. ^13 Probably few isolationists then agreed with Douglas 
MacArthur, who claimed in 1945 that "the history of the world will be 
written in the Pacific for the next ten thousand years." Indeed, studies 
show isolationist apathy until the fall of 1949, when it suddenly became 
the "greatest disaster in American history."^^^ Similarly, most isola- 
tionists were mildly acquiescent concerning United States entry into the 
Korean War. Yet, once the Chinese entered, they vacillated between 


calls for withdrawal from the Korean peninsula and adopting MacAr- 
thur's strategies (which might possibly have been aimed not merely 
at Korean victory but at ousting the Communists from China itself). ^^^ 
Still to be explored is the degree to which the "China Lobby" and pro- 
Chiang sentiment shifted isolationist opinion from extreme caution to 
Pacific policies involving equally extreme risk. Russell Buhite's bio- 
graphy of Patrick Hurley sheds light on some of the dynamics behind 
the growing isolationist concern with China. ^^^ 

The whole issue of McCarthyism is being reevaluated. With several 
historians now stressing how much paranoia was rooted in Truman's 
own rhetoric and policies, it is perhaps time to note that liberals were 
not above red-baiting isolationists. For example, in 1952 Averell Harri- 
man called Taft "the Kremlin's candidate," while in 1950 the Nation 
had declared that Hoover's plea for global withdrawal "should set the 
bells ringing in the Kremlin as nothing since the triumph of Stalin- 
grad." ^^'^ As some isolationists had been branded as Nazi dupes them- 
selves ten years before, it might have seemed sweet revenge to try to 
even up the score. While McCarthy himself began his senatorial career 
as a Vandenberg internationalist,^^^ his conspiracy theses well fit the 
thought-patterns of those isolationists already infuriated by Yalta and 
Pearl Harbor "intrigues," and who were hence ripe for new revelations. 

Yet neither the "New Conservatives" of the 1950s nor the "Radical 
Right" of the 1960s are necessarily descendants of the old isolationists. 
True, both Robert Welch, founder of the John Birch Society, and Wil- 
liam F. Buckley, Jr., editor-in-chief of National Review, boasted of their 
early support for America First, but Barry Goldwater himself was 
pledged to Eisenhower, not Taft, in the crucial Republican convention 
of 1952. Going back earlier, columnists David Lawrence and West- 
brook Pegler were moderate interventionists by 1941, as were Republi- 
can leaders Styles Bridges and William F. Knowland. As the 1950s 
revealed fresh involvements in Formosa and Indochina, it was hard for 
such veteran isolationists as Frank Chodorov and John T. Flynn to 
reconcile themselves to the unilateral globalism preached by the chief 
editors of the Freeman and National Review.^^^ 

It would be relatively simple to stress, by a skillful use of quotations, 
the "prophetic insight" found in those isolationists and pacifists who 
have been unjustly maligned by a previous generation of historians and 
partisans. It is far more fruitful, however, to place such groups within 
the context of their own time and, hopefully, to gain some perspective 
upon our own era. After all, we— like they— are people whose choices 
are equally tentative and equally colored by our environment. If we miss 
the confidence accorded to Clio's more fervent polemicists, we can sym- 
pathize with Ranke's claim that "Every epoch stands in immediate rela- 
tionship with God and its value rests not upon what results from it, but 
rather in its own existence, in its own self." Reference to the Deity, 
particularly coming from one who tended at times to confuse Divine 


will with Prussian advancement, might grate on some modern ears. 
Yet surely his general point— the necessity of judging leaders and move- 
ments within their own era, rather than looking for heores, villains, 
or "the lessons of history" — can only prove fruitful. If some still argue 
that the isolationists do not deserve more favorable treatment, they still 
deserve a more accurate one. From the research carried out thus far, 
the task seems well in hand. 


^ E.S. Borchard to Frederick J. Libby, July 31, 1942, Libby Papers, Swarthmore 
College Peace Collection; Chicago Tribune, November 22, 1950. 

2 Wayne S. Cole. Senator Gerald P. Nye and American Foreign Relations 
(Minneapolis, 1962), pp. 4-5; letter from Wayne S. Cole to the author, August 
27, 1972; Manfred Jonas, Isolationism in America, 1935-1941 (Ithaca, N.Y., 
1966), pp. 4-5. 

^ William L. Langer and S. Everett Gleason, The Challenge to Isolation: The 
World Crisis of 1937-1940 and American Foreign Policy (New York, 1952), 
p. 13; Robert E. Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins: An Intimate History (New 
York, 1950), pp. 191, 367-368; Selig Adler, The Isolationist Impulse: Its Twen- 
tieth-Century Reaction (New York, 1957), pp. 280, 393; Wayne S. Cole, review 
of Adler, Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XLV (1958), 162; Robert H. 
Ferrell, "The Peace Movement," in Alexander DeConde, (ed.). Isolation and 
Security: Ideas and Interests in Twentieth Century American Foreign Policy 
(Durham, N.C., 1957), p. 106. 

'* Thomas A. Bailey, The Man on the Street: The Impact of American Public 
Opinion on Foreign Policy (New York, 1948), p. 13. Arthur M. Schlesinger, 
Jr. paraphrased Bailey with approval, declaring that the "realities of democratic 
politics" gave Roosevelt "no choice but to trick them [the people] into acting 
for what he conceived to be their best interests." See his review of Bailey in New 
York Times, May 9, 1948, pp. 1, 18. Selig Adler wrote, "Reasons of state, es- 
pecially in time of crises, force even democratic statesmen to resort to Machia- 
vellian conduct." See p. 281. 

^ George F. Kennan, American Diplomacy, 1900-1950 (Chicago, 1951); Arthur 
A. Ekirch, Jr., The Decline of American Liberalism (New York, 1967); Wayne 
S. Cole, America First: The Battle Against Intervention, 1940-1941 (Madison, 
Wis., 1953); Walter Johnson, The Battle Against Isolation (Chicago, 1944). 
The arguments of many in Barnes' school can be found in Harry Elmer Barnes, 
(ed.). Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace (Caldwell, Idaho, 1953). Not all his- 
torians who were occasionally affiliated with Barnes were as extreme as he was 
in their conclusions. Note, for example, Richard N. Current, Secretary Stimson: 
A Study in Statecraft (New Brunswick, N.J., 1954), and William L. Neumann, 
America Encounters Japan: From Perry to MacArthur (Baltimore, 1963). Both 
offer trenchant critiques of American diplomacy without adopting Barnes' 
conspiratorial tone. 

^ Paul Schroeder, The Axis Alliance and Japanese-American Relations, 1941 
(Ithaca, N.Y., 1958), pp. 177-178, 215. William Appleman Williams, The Tragedy 
of American Diplomacy (rev. ed.; New York, 1962), pp. 183-184; Lloyd C. Gard- 
ner, Economic Aspects of New Deal Diplomacy (Madison, Wis., 1964); Noam 
Chomsky, "The Revolutionary Pacifism of A.J. Muste: On the Backgrounds of 
the Pacific War", American Power and the New Mandarins (New York, 1969). 


'^ Bruce M. Russett, No Clear and Present Danger: A Skeptical View of the 
U.S. Entry Into World War II (New York, 1972), 30, 62-63. 
^ Arthur D. Morse, While Six Million Died: A Chronicle of American Apathy 
(New York, 1967); David S. Wyman, Paper Walls: America and the Refugee 
Crisis, 1938-1941 (Amherst, Mass., 1968); and Henry L. Feingold, The Politics 
of Rescue: The Roosevelt Administration and the Holocaust, 1938-1945 (New 
Brunswick, N.J., 1970). Wyman promises to continue his research through 
World War II. One should also note two doctoral dissertations: Shlomo Shafir, 
"The Impact of the Jewish Crisis on American-German Relations, 1933-1939" 
(Georgetown University, 1971) and Barbara M. Stewart, "United States Govern- 
ment Policy on Refugees From Nazism, 1933-1940" (Columbia University, 1969). 

9 A.J.P. Taylor, English History 1914-1945 (Oxford, 1965), p. 518; B.H. Liddell- 
Hart, A History of the Second World War (New York, 1971), Chapter 33. 

10 Liddell-Hart, p. 713; James MacGregor Bums, Roosevelt: The Soldier of 
Freedom, 1940-1945 (New York, 1970), p. 609; Gabriel Kolko, The Politics of 
War: The World and United States Foreign Policy, 1943-1945 (New York, 1968). 

11 The most thorough revisionist accounts include Walter LaFeber, America, 
Russia, and the Cold War, 1945-1971 (2nd ed.; New York, 1972); Lloyd C. Gard- 
ner, Architects of Illusion: Men and Ideas in American Foreign Policy, 1941- 
1949 (New York, 1967); Kolko, The Politics of War, and Gabriel and Joyce 
Kolko, The Limits of Power: The World and United States Foreign Policy, 
1945-1954 (New York, 1972). For critiques of these and similar works, see Robert 
W. Sellen, "Origins of the Cold War: A Historiographical Survey," West Georgia 
College Studies in the Social Sciences, IX (1970), 57-98; Davis S. McClellan and 
John W. Reuss, "Foreign and Military Policies," in Richard S. Kirkendall, (ed.). 
The Truman Period as a Research Field (Columbia, Mo., 1967); the doctoral 
dissertation by Joseph M. Siracusa, "New Left Diplomatic Historians and His- 
tories: A Critical Analysis of Recent Trends in American Diplomatic Historio- 
graphy, 1960-1970" (University of Colorado, 1971); Robert W. Tucker, The 
Radical Left and American Foreign Policy (Baltimore, 1971); Charles S. Maier, 
"Revisionism and the Interpretation of Cold War Origins," in Perspectives in 
American History, IV (1970), 313-347. Siracusa's dissertation is published as 
New Left Diplomatic Histories and Historians (Port Washington, N.Y., 1973). 

12 Manfred Jonas, Isolationism, pp. viii, 3; Thomas G. Paterson, "Isolationism 
Revisited," Nation, CCIX (Sept. 1, 1969), 166-169; Otis L. Graham, Jr., An En- 
core for Reform: The Old Progressives and the New Deal (New York, 1967), 
p. 34; Charles Chatfield, For Peace and Justice: Pacifism in America, 1914- 
1941 (Knoxville, 1971), p. 343; Lawrence Wittner, Rebels Against War: The 
American Peace Movement, 1941-1960 (New York, 1969), pp. 285-286. 

13 Wayne S. Cole, "American Entry Into World War II: A Historiographical 
Appraisal," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XLIII (1957), 595-617. 

1'* For the comments of Ferrell and Dangerfield, see John A. Garraty, (ed.), 
Conversations with Historians (New York, 1970), Vol. I, p. 240; Vol. II, p. 221. 
1^ Gabriel Almond, The American People and Foreign Policy {'^Q^Yor\i, 1950), 
pp. 137-143. For initial surveys, see Hadley Cantril and Mildred Strunk, (eds.). 
Public Opinion: 1935-1946 (Princeton, N.J., 1951). Harwood Childs began edit- 
ing the Public Opinion Quarterly in 1937. 

1^ Arnold A. Offner, American Appeasement: United States Foreign Policy and 
Germany, 1933-1938 (Cambridge, Mass., 1969); Dorothy Borg, The United 
States and the Far Eastern Crisis of 1933-1938: From the Manchurian Incident 
Through the Initial Stage of the Undeclared Sino-Japanese War (Cambridge, 
Mass., 1964). 


^'^ Doctoral dissertations include Richard W. Alsfeld, "American Opinion of 
National Socialism, 1933-1939" (Brown University, 1970); Daniel S. Day, "Ameri- 
can Opinion of German National Socialism, 1937-1938" (University of California 
at Los Angeles, 1958); Frederick I. Murphy, "The American Christian Press 
and Pre-War Hitler's Germany, 1933-1939" (University of Florida, 1970); Donald 
Mcllvenna, "The Anti-Interventionists, the Administration, and a Two-Front 
War," in William Appleman Williams, (ed.). The Shaping of American Diplo- 
macy: Readings and Documents in American Foreign Relations, Vol. II (2nd 
ed.; Chicago, 1970), pp. 253-257. One should also note Margaret K. Norden, 
"American Editorial Responses to the Rise of Adolf Hitler: A Preliminary Con- 
sideration," y4mer/can Jewish Historical Quarterly, LIX (1970), 290-301. 
^® Opinion studies include Allen Guttmann, The Wound in the Heart: America 
and the Spanish Civil War (New York, 1962); Stanley Weintraub, The Last Great 
Cause: The Intellectuals and the Spanish Civil War (New York, 1968); Hugh J. 
Parry's doctoral thesis, "The Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939: A Study in American 
Public Opinion, Propaganda, and Pressure Groups" (University of Southern 
California, 1949). See also two general surveys: Richard P. Traina, American 
Diplomacy and the Spanish Civil War (Bloomington, Ind., 1968), and F. Jay 
Taylor, The United States and the Spanish Civil War (New York, 1956). 
^^ John P. Diggins, Mussolini and Fascism: The View from America (Prince- 
ton, N.J., 1972). See also the doctoral thesis by John Booth Carter, "American 
Reactions to Italian Fascism, 1919-1933" (Columbia University, 1953) and John 
Norman, "Influence of Pro-Fascist Propaganda on American Neutrality, 1935- 
1936" in Dwight E. Lee and George E. McReynolds, (eds.). Essays in History 
and International Relations in Honor of George Hubbard Blakeslee (Worcester, 
Mass., 1949), 193-214. 

^ Justus D. Doenecke, "American Public Opinion and the Manchurian Crisis" 
(Ph.D. thesis; Princeton University, 1966); John W. Masland, "Group Interests 
in American Relations with Japan" (Ph.D. thesis; Princeton University, 1938); 
Masland, "Commercial Influence upon American Far Eastern Policy, 1937- 
1941," Pacific Historical Review, XI (1942), 281-299; Masland, "Missionary 
Influence upon Far Eastern Policy," ibid., X (1941), 664-673; Ernest B. Bader, 
"Some American Public Reactions to Franklin D. Roosevelt's Japanese Policy, 
1933-1941" (Ph.D. thesis; University of Nebraska, 1957); Eleanor Tupper and 
George McReynolds, Japan in American Public Opinion (New York, 1937); 
Manny T. Koginos, The Panay Incident: Prelude to War (Lafayette, Ind., 1967); 
Justin H. Libby, "The Irresolute Years: American Congressional Opinion To- 
wards Japan, 1937-1941" (Ph.D. thesis; Michigan State University, 1971). 

21 Doctoral dissertations on American public opinion and Russia include Ira 
S. Cohen, "Congressional Attitudes Towards the Soviet Union" (University of 
Chicago, 1955); Robert C. McClelland, "The Soviet Union in American Opinion, 
1933-1942" (University of West Virginia, 1951); Ronald E. Magden, "Attitudes 
of the American Religious Press Towards the Soviet Union, 1939-1941" (Uni- 
versity of Washington, 1964); and Lee E. Lowenfish, "American Radicals and 
Soviet Russia, 1917-1940" (University of Wisconsin, 1968). 

22 James J. Martin, American Liberalism and World Politics, 1931-1941 (2 vols.; 
New York, 1964); Frank A. Warren III, Liberals and Communism: The Red 
Decade' Revisited (Bloomington, Ind., 1966); Raymond H. Dawson, The Deci- 
sion to Aid Russia, 1941: Foreign Policy and Domestic Politics (Chapel Hill, 
N.C., 1959). 

23 General surveys include Andrew J. Schwartz, America and the Russo-Finnish 


War (Washington, 1960), and Robert Sobel, The Origins of Interventionism: 
The United States and the Russo-Finnish War (New York, 1961). Sobel notes 
how some— but not all— isolationists favored an emergency loan to Finland. 

24 The debate may be followed in A.L. Rowse, Appeasement: A Study in Poli- 
tical Decline, 1933-1939 (New York, 1961), and Donald N. Lammers, Explaining 
Munich: The Search for Motive in British Policy (Palo Alto, Calif., 1966). Mar- 
tin Gilbert's The Roots of Appeasement (New York, 1966) is more balanced 
than either. 

25 Examples of such McCarthyism of the Left include John Roy Carlson [pseud. 
Avedis Derounian] Under Cover (New York, 1943) and The Plotters (New 
York, 1946); and Michael Sayers and Albert E. Kahn, Sabotage: The Secret 
War Against America (New York, 1942). Morris Schoenbach's lengthy doc- 
toral dissertation, "Native Fascism During the 1930's and 1940's: A Study of Its 
Roots, Its Growth, and Its Decline" (University of California at Los Angeles, 
1958), is by no means of this category, but still stresses the "subversive" forces 
at work. 

26 Victor Ferkiss, "The Populist Influences on American Fascism," Western 
Political Quarterly, X (1957), 350-373, and his "The Political and Economic 
Philosophy of American Fascism" (Ph.D. thesis; University of Illinois, 1954). 
2^ Manfred Jonas, "Pro-Axis Sentiment and American Isolationism," The His- 
torian, XXIX (1967), 221-237. Jonas' denial that anti-British feelings were pri- 
mary to isolationist thinking is disputed in Warren F. Kimball, The Most Unsor- 
did Act: Lend-lease, 1939-1941 (Baltimore, 1969). 

2^ Studies of the Bund and other para-military groups include Neil R. McMillen, 
"Pro-Nazi Sentiment in the United States, March, 1933-March, 1934," Southern 
Quarterly, II (1963), 48-70; Leland V. Bell, "The Failure of Nazism in America: 
The German-American Bund, 1936-1941," Political Science Quarterly, LXXXV 
(1970), 585-599; Joachim Remak, "'Friends of New Germany': The Bund and 
German-American Relations," Journal of Modern History, XXIV (1957), 38- 
41; and Sander Diamond's forthcoming book, based upon his doctoral disserta- 
tion (State University of New York at Binghamton, 1971). For some of Dia- 
mond's preliminary findings, see "The Years of Waiting: National Socialism in 
the United States, 1922-1933," American Jewish Historical Quarterly, LIX 
(March, 1970). 

2^ James Shenton, "Fascism and Father Coughlin," Wisconsin Magazine of His- 
tory, XLIV (1960), 6-11; Charles J. Tull, Father Coughlin and the New Deal 
(Syracuse, 1965); David H. Bennett, Demagogues in the Depression: American 
Radicals and the Union Party, 1932-1936 {New Brunswick, N.J., 1969); and David 
O. Powell, "The Union Party of 1936," Mid-America, XLVI (1964), 126-141. 
One should also note Philip V. Cannistraro and Theodore P. Kovoleff, "Father 
Coughlin and Mussolini: Impossible Allies," Journal of Church and State, XIII 
(1971), 427-443. The authors claim that while Father Coughlin made frequent 
and favorable mention of Italian fascism, the Italian government found the 
Royal Oak priest too controversial to support openly. Students should also note 
the recent study by John M. Werly, "The Millenarian Right: William Dudley 
Pelley and the Silver Legion of America," South Atlantic Quarterly, LXXI 
(Summer, 1972), 410-423, based upon a doctoral dissertation at Syracuse 

* Geoffrey S. Smith, To Save A Nation: American Counter-Subersives, the 
New Deal, and the Coming of World War II (New York, 1972); Paul S. Holbo, 


"Wheat or What? Populism and American Fascism," Western Political Quarter- 
ly. XVI (1961), 727-736; Leo Ribuffo's forthcoming doctoral dissertation at 
Yale is previewed in his critical review of Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl 
Rabb, The Politics of Unreason: Right-Wing Extremism in America, 1790- 
1970 (New York, 1970, located in "Pluralism and American History," Dissent, 
XVIII (1971), 272-277. 

31 Albert E. Stone, Jr., "Seward Collins and The American Review: Experi- 
ment in Pro-Fascism, 1933-1937," American Quarterly, XII (1960), 4-19; Victor 
Ferkiss, "Ezra Pound and American Fascism," Journal of Politics, XVII (1955), 
173-197; Noel Stock, The Life of Ezra Pound (New York, 1972); Niel M. Johnson, 
George Sylvester Viereck: German-American Propagandist (Urbana, 111., 1971). 
See also the Freudian study of Phyllis Keller, "George Sylvester Viereck: The 
Psychology of a German-American Militant," Journal of Interdisciplinary 
History, II (1971), 59-108. 

^ Harold Lavine and James Wechsler's War Propaganda and the United States 
(New Haven, Conn., 1940) is still useful. Leonard Liggio's introduction to the 
1972 edition notes the work of Clyde Miller's Institute for Propaganda Analysis, 
but a detailed study of this organization and its bulletin Propaganda Analysis 
is still much needed. 

^ Cole, America First, passim. For a discussion of the Fight for Freedom Com- 
mittee, see Mark L. Chadwin, The Hawks of World War H (Chapel Hill, N.C., 

** Doenecke, "Verne Marshal's Leadership of the No Foreign War Committee, 
1940," Annals of Iowa, XLVI (Winter. 1973), 1153-1172, and Doenecke, "Non- 
Interventionism of the Left: The Keep America Out of War Congress, 1938- 
1941" (paper presented before Conference on World War II sponsored in 1973 
by the American Committee on the History of the Second World War; avail- 
able at cost of photoduplication from the author). For additional material on 
the KAOWC, see Chatfield, For Peace and Justice, chapters 11 and 12; Howard 
R. Penniman, "The Socialist Party in Action; The 1940 Campaign" (Ph.D. the- 
sis; University of Minnesota, 1942); Bernard K. Johnpoll, Pacifist's Progress: 
Norman Thomas and the Decline of American Socialism (Chicago, 1970), 
chapter 7. 

^ Sheldon Marcus, "Social Justice: The History of a Weekly Journal" (D.Ed, 
thesis; Yeshiva University, 1970); Jerome E. Edwards, The Foreign Policy of 
Col. McCormick's Tribune (Reno, 1971); Carl G. Ryant, "From Isolation to 
Intervention: The Saturday Evening Post. 1939-42," Journalism Quarterly, 
XLIII (1971); John A. Ziegler, ''The Progressive's Views on Foreign Affairs, 
1909-1941: A Case Study of Liberal Economic Isolationism" (Ph.D. thesis; Syra- 
cuse University, 1970); Donald L. Miller, "Alfred M. Bingham and Common 
Sense: Study of Non-Marxian Radicals in the New Deal Era" (Ph.D. thesis; 
University of Maryland, 1972); and Frank A. Warren III, "Alfred Bingham and 
the Paradox of Liberalism," The Historian, XXVIII (1966), 255-267. 
^ Frank Waldrop's impressionistic McCormick of Chicago: An Unconven- 
tional Portrait of a Controversial Figure (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1966) comes 
the closest to understanding the Colonel, though John Tebbel's hostile An 
American Dynasty: The Story of the McCormicks. Medills and Pattersons 
(Garden City, N.Y., 1947) surveys the intricate family network. Both Alice A. 
Hoge, Cissy Patterson (New York, 1970), and Paul F. Healy, Cissy (Garden 
City, N.Y., 1966) touch upon the isolationism of the editor of the Washington 


^ W.A. Swanberg's Citizen Hearst (New York, 1961) hardly touches upon 
Hearst's World War II and Cold War views. 

^ David H. Culbert, "Tantalus' Dilemma: Public Opinion, Six Radio Com- 
mentators and Foreign Affairs, 1935-1941" (Ph.D. thesis; Northwestern Uni- 
versity, 1970), p. 233. Culbert covers Carter and Lewis but the most vehement 
radio commentator of all, Upton Close [pseudo. Josef Washington Hall], who 
also published an anti-Semitic newsletter Closer-Ups, remains unresearched. 
^ Richard Polenberg, "The National Committee to Uphold Constitutional 
Government, 1931-1941 :' Journal of American History, LII (1965), 582-598, 
tells of the group's early life but its Cold War career remains untapped. 
"^ See Eckard V. Toy, Jr.'s doctoral dissertation, "Ideology and Conflict in 
American Ultra-Conservatism, 1945-1960" (University of Oregon, 1965). 
■^^ Justus D. Doenecke, "Lawrence Dennis: Cold War Revisionist," Wisconsin 
Magazine of History, LV (Summer, 1972), 275-286. 

■^ Glenn H. Smith, "Senator William Langer: A Study in Isolationism" (Ph.D. 
thesis; University of Iowa, 1968); Keith L. Bryant, Jr., Alfalfa Bill Murray (Nor- 
man, Okla., 1968); Gilbert C. Fite, George N. Peek and the Fight for Farm Parity 
(Norman, Okla., 1954); Edward C. Blackorby, Prairie Rebel: The Public Career 
of William Lemke (Lincoln, Neb., 1963); and Blackorby, "William Lemke: 
Agrarian Radical and Union Party Presidential Candidate," Mississippi Valley 
Historical Review, XLIX (1962), 67-84. See also George W. Garlid, "Politics 
in Minnesota and American Foreign Relations, 1921-1941" (Ph.D. thesis; Uni- 
versity of Minnesota, 1967); Garlid, "The Anti-war Dilemma of the Farmer- 
Labor Party," Minnesota History, XL (1967), 365-374; Robert P. Wilkins, "The 
Non-Ethnic Roots N?f North Dakota Isolationism," Nebraska History, XLIV 
(1963), 205-211; and Wilkins, "The Non-Partisan League and Upper Midwest 
Isolationism," Agricultural History, XXXIX (1965), 102-109. 
'^ Justus F. Paul, "The Political Career of Senator Hugh Butler" (Ph.D. thesis; 
University of Nebraska, 1966); Gary S. Henderson, "Congressman John Taber: 
Guardian of the People's Money" (Ph.D. thesis; Duke University, 1954). 
'^ Ray Allen Billington offers a sectional explanation in his "The Origins of 
Middle Western Isolationism," Political Science Quarterly, LX (1945), 44-64, 
as does Jeanette P. Nichols, "The Middle West and the Coming of the World 
War II," Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Quarterly, LXII (1953), 
122-145. Such reasoning is challenged by William G. Carleton, "Isolationism 
and the Middle West," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XXXIIl (1945), 
377-390. Both Billington and Carleton find the area interventionist through the 
Spanish-American War. Yet Billington claims that the free silver issue pro- 
moted hatred of England and the East, while Carleton asserts that the Republican- 
oriented section remained imperialist down to World War 1. Carleton stresses 
political partisanship in accounting for area opposition to World War II, a factor 
also emphasized by Nichols as well as by LeRoy N. Reiselbach, "The Basis of 
Isolationist Behavior," Public Opinion Quarterly, XXIV (1960), 645-657. It 
should be emphasized that all essays noted in this footnote and the one im- 
mediately below offer multicausal explanations. 

^ Ralph Smuckler, "The Region of Isolationism," American Political Science 
Review, XLVII (1953), 377-390; David L. Porter, "Congress and the Coming of 
War" (Ph.D. thesis; Pennsylvania State University, 1970); George Grassmuck, 
Sectional Biases in Congress on Foreign Relations (Baltimore, 1951). 
'^ Cole, "America First and the South, 1940-1941," Journal of Southern His- 
tory, XLIV (1956), 36-47. For other material on the South, see also Alexander 

29 i 

DeConde, "The South and Isolationism," ibid., XXIV 332-346; Marion D. Irish, 
"Foreign PoHcy in the South," Journal of Politics, X (1948), 308-326; Charles 
O. Lerche, Jr., The Uncertain South (Chicago, 1964); and Arthur O. Hero, 
The Southerner and World Affairs (Baton Rouge, 1965). See also two doctoral 
dissertations, Irving Howard, "The Influence of Southern Senators on Ameri- 
can Foreign Policy from 1939 to 1950" (University of Wisconsin, 1955), and Elmo 
Roberds, "The South and United States Foreign Policy, 1933-1952" (Ph.D. the- 
sis; University of Chicago, 1955). 

'*^ Julian M. Pleasants, "The Senatorial Career of Robert Rice Reynolds" (Ph.D. 
thesis; University of North Carolina, 1971); William E. Coffey, "Rush Dew Holt: 
The Boy Senator, 1905-1942" (Ph.D. thesis; University of West Virginia, 1970). 
Other studies of southern senators with isolationist leanings are Seth S. McKay, 
W. Lee O'Danieland Texas Politics, 1938-1942 (Lubbock, Texas, 1944), and J. 
Harvey Wilkinson, Harry Byrd and the Changing Face of Virginia Politics, 
1945-1966 (Charlottesville, Va., 1969). 

'^ William A. Weinrich, "Business and Foreign Affairs: The Roosevelt Defense 
Program, 1937-1941" (Ph.D. thesis; University of Oklahoma, 1972); Roland N. 
Stromberg, "American Business and the Approach of War, 1935-1941," Wes- 
tern Political Quarterly, XV (1962), 713-728; John H. Bunzel, The American 
Small Businessman (New York, 1962), 214-228; Gardner, Economic Aspects . . . ; 
Cole, Nye, pp. 95-96. It should be noted, however, that most pacifists opposed 
high tariffs and autarchy. Oswald Garrison Villard, for example, endorsed Hull's 
reciprocity and called for even lower economic barriers. See his Free Trade. 
Free World (New York, 1949). 

*^ Justus D. Doenecke, "The Isolationist World View" (paper presented at the 
symposium on New Deal Foreign Policy sponsored in 1971 by the Institute for 
Humane Studies; available at cost of photoduplication from the author); Gabriel 
Kolko, "American Business and Germany, 1930-1941," Western Political Quar- 
terly, XV (1962), 713-728. 

^ See Allen Nevins and Ernest Hill, Ford: Decline and Rebirth. 1933-1962 
(New York, 1963), for a friendly account, and Keith Sward, The Legend of 
Henry Ford (New York, 1948), for a hostile one. Note also George Davidson, 
"Henry Ford: The Formation and Course of a Public Figure" (Ph.D. thesis; 
Columbia University, 1966). Sidney Hyman, The Lives of William Benton 
(Chicago, 1969). Chester Bowles, Promises to Keep: My Years in Public Life, 
1941-1969 (New York, 1971). 

^^ Maxwell C. Raddock, Portrait of an American Labor Leader: William L. 
Hucheson (New York, 1958); Henry W. Berger, "Crisis Diplomacy," in William 
Appleman Williams, (ed.). From Colony to Empire: Essays in the History of 
American Foreign Relations (New York, 1972), pp. 293-336. 
^2 Cole, Nye. chapters 5-7; John E. Wiltz, In Search of Peace: The Senate 
Munitions Inquiry. 1934-36 (Baton Rouge, 1963); Wiltz, "The Nye Committee 
Revisted," The Historian. XXIll (1961), 211-233; Paul A.C. Koistinen, "The 
'Industrial-Military Complex' in Historical Perspective: The Inter War Years," 
Journal of American History. LVI (1970), 819-839; Agnes A. Trotter, "The De- 
velopment of the Merchants of Death Theory for World War I" (Ph.D. thesis; 
Duke University, 1966). 

^ Richard Burns and W.A. Dixon, "Foreign Policy and the 'Democratic Myth': 
The Debate on the Ludlow Amendment," Mid-America, XLVII (1965), 288- 
306; Walter L. Griffin, "Louis Ludlow and the War Referendum Crusade, 1935- 
1941," Indiana Magazine of History, LXIV (1968), 267-288; Harold W. Holtz- 


claw, "The American War Referendum Movement, 1914-1941" (Ph.D. thesis; 
University of Denver, 1965); and Ernest C. Bolt, Jr., "The War Referendum 
Approach to Peace in the Twentieth Century" (Ph.D. thesis; University of Geor- 
gia, 1965). 

^ Thomas W. Guinsburg, "Senatorial Isolationism in America, 1919-1941" 
(Ph.D. thesis; Columbia University, 1969); Porter, loc. cit.\ Robert A. Divine, 
The Illusion of Neutrality (Chicago, 1962); Donald McCoy, London of Kansas 
(Lincoln, Neb., 1966); William T. Hutchinson, Lowden of Illinois (Chicago, 
1957); and Donald Bruce Johnson, The Republican Party and Wendell Will- 
kie (Urbana, 111., 1960). 

^ James T. Patterson, Mr. Republican: A Biography of Robert A. Taft (Bos- 
ton, 1972); Henry Berger, "Senator Taft Dissents From Military Escalation," 
in Thomas G. Patterson, (ed.). Cold War Critics: Alternatives to American 
Foreign Policy in the Truman Years (Chicago, 1971); Berger, "A Conservative 
Critique of Containment: Senator Taft on the Early Cold War Program," in 
David Horowitz, (ed.). Containment and Revolution (Boston, 1967); and Russell 
Kirk and James McClellan, The Political Principles of Robert A. Taft (New York, 
1967). Patterson offers a thorough Taft bibliography. 

^ C. David Tompkins, Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg: The Evolution of a 
Modern Republican, 1884-1945 (East Lansing, Mich., 1970); Tompkins, "Senator 
Arthur H. Vandenberg: Middle Western Isolationist," Michigan History, XLIV 
(1960), 39-58; Vandenberg (Boston, 1952). For other literature on Vandenberg, 
see Justus D. Doenecke, The Literature of Isolationism: A Guide to Non-In- 
terventionist Scholarship, 1940-1972 (Colorado Springs, 1972), pp. 30-31; here- 
after cited as Doenecke, Literature. 

^^ Peter G. Boyle, "The Study of an Isolationist: Hiram Johnson," (Ph.D. the- 
sis; University of California and Los Angeles, 1970); Boyle, "The Roots of Iso- 
lationism: A Case Study," Journal of American Studies, VI (1972), 41-50; and 
Howard A. DeWitt, "Hiram Johnson and American Foreign Policy" (Ph.D. 
thesis; University of Arizona, 1972). 

^ Revisionist interpretations of Borah include William A. Williams, The Trage- 
dy of American Diplomacy (rev. ed.; New York, 1962), pp. 118-123; Orde S. 
Pinckney, "William E. Borah: Critic of American Foreign Policy," Studies on 
the Left, I (1960), 48-61. For other material on Borah, see Marian McKenna, 
Borah (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1961); Charles W. Toth, "Isolationism and Emer- 
gence of Borah: An Appeal to the American Tradition," Western Political 
Quarterly, XIV (1961), 555-568; James E. Hewes, Jr., "William E. Borah and 
the Image of Isolation" (Ph.D. thesis; Yale University, 1955); Averill Berman, 
"Senator William Edgar Borah: A Study in Historical Agreements and Contra- 
diction" (Ph.D. thesis; University of Southern California, 1955). 
59 Burton K. Wheeler, Yankee From the West (Garden City, N.Y., 1962); 
Richard R. Reutten, "Burton K. Wheeler of Montana: A Progressive Between 
the Wars" (Ph.D. thesis; University of Oregon, 1961); William J. Miller, Henry 
Cabot Lodge: A Biography (New York, 1967); William J. Grattan, "David I. 
Walsh and His Associates: A Study in Political Theory" (Ph.D. thesis; Harvard 
University, 1957); Dorothy G. Wayman, David I. Walsh: Citizen Patriot (Mil- 
waukee, 1952); Homer E. Socolofsky, Arthur Capper: Publisher, Politician and 
Philanthropist (Lawrence, Kan., 1962). 

^ Sister Mary R. Lorentz, "Henrik Shipstead: Minnesota Independent, 1923- 
1946" (Ph.D. thesis; Catholic University, 1963); Alan E. Kent, Jr., "Portrait in 


Isolationism: The LaFollettes and Foreign Policy'' (Ph.D. thesis; University of 
Wisconsin, 1957); Harl A. Dalstrom, "Kenneth S. Wherry" (Ph.D. thesis; Uni- 
versity of Nebraska, 1965); Marvin E. Stromer, The Making of a Political 
Leader: Kenneth S. Wherry and the United States Senate (Lincoln, Neb., 1969). 
For other sources on the LaFollettes and the Progressive Party of Wisconsin, 
see Doenecke, Literature, pp. 33-34. 

61 Joe Martin, Jr., My First Fifty Years in Politics (New York, 1960); Henry 
Z. Scheele, Charlie Halleck (New York, 1966); Richard K. Hanks, "Hamilton 
Fish and American Isolationism" (Ph.D. thesis; University of California at 
Riverside, 1971). 

^ The best work on the stormy East Harlem Congressmen is found in Alan 
Schaffer, Vito Marcantonio: Radical in Congress (Syracuse, 1966), and Norman 
J. Kaner, "Vito Marcantonio and American Foreign Policy" (Ph.D. thesis; 
Rutgers University, 1968). For other sources, see Doenecke, Literature, p. 36. 
63 Samuel Lubell. The Future of American Politics (New York, 1952). For a 
study of eastern Nebraska which stresses German-American opposition to 
Roosevelt's foreign policy, see Robert W. Cherney, "Isolationist Voting in 1940: 
A Statistical AnsAysisr Nebraska History, LII (1971), 293-310. 
6* J. David Valaik, "American Catholics and the Spanish Civil War" (Ph.D. 
thesis; University of Rochester, 1964); "Catholics, Neutrality, and the Spanish 
Embargo, \937-l939," Journal of American History, LIV (1967), 73-85; "Ameri- 
can Catholic Dissenters and the Spanish Civil War," Catholic Historical Review, 
LIII (1968), 537-555; "American Catholics and the Spanish Republic," /ourna/ 
of Church and State, X (1968), 13-28; "In the Days Before Ecumenicism: Ameri- 
can Catholics, Anti-Semitism, and the Spanish Civil War," ibid., XIII (1971), 
465-477. Valaik differs with Guttmann, loc. cit., in emphasizing the genuine 
isolationism of Roman Catholic opinion. Contrary to Guttmann, Valaik sees 
more than pro-Franco sympathy at work. For studies of Catholics and Roose- 
velt's domestic policies, see David J. O'Brien, American Catholics and Social 
Reform: The New Deal Years (New York, 1968), and George 0- Flynn, Ameri- 
can Catholics and the Roosevelt Presidency, 1932-1936 (Lexington, Ky., 1968). 
The dissertation by Robert B. Clements, "The Commonweal, 1924-1938: The 
Williams-Schuster Years" (Notre Dame, 1972), reveals the possibilities of more 
intensive work in the entire area of the religious press. 

65 The interventionist minority included Major General "Wild Bill" Donovan, 
ex-governor Al Smith, Monsignor John Ryan, historian Carleton J.H. Hayes, 
educator William Agar, Cardinal Francis Spellman, and poet Theodore 

66 Richard M. Dalfiume, "The 'Forgotten' Years of the Negro Revolution," 
Journal of American History, LV (1968), 90-116; Ruth Sarles, "A Story of Ameri- 
ca First" (manuscript on deposit at the Hoover Library of War, Peace, and Revo- 
lution, Palo Alto, California; undated), p. 90. 

6"^ Such a survey might include philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, journalists 
George E. Sokolsky, Charles Fleischer, and Morris Rubin, industrialist Philip 
Liebman, professor Edwin M. Borchard, Congresswoman Florence Prather 
Kahn, merchant Ira A. Hirschmann, socialist leaders Harry Fleishmann and 
Sidney Hertzberg, labor leader Will Herberg, and songwriter Morris Ryskind. 
Pacifists would include Milton Mayer, Abraham Kaufman, Rabbi Isador B. 
Hoffman, Rabbi David de Sola Poole and Dr. Henry Newmann. 
6® For a full listing of pro-Zionist Congressmen, as well as their public state- 
ments, see Reuben Fink, (ed.), America and Palestine: The Attitude of Official 


America and of the American People Toward the Rebuilding of Palestine as 
a Free and Democratic Jewish Commonwealth (New York, 1944). Further ma- 
terial on Zionism and Israel may be found in Samuel Halperin, The Political 
World of American Zionism (Detroit, 1961), Richard P. Stevens, American 
Zionism and Foreign Policy, 1942-1947 (New York, 1962), and John G. Snet- 
singer, "Truman and the Creation of Israel" (Ph.D. thesis; Stanford University, 

® See, for example, Donald B. Meyer, The Protestant Search for Political 
Realism, 1919-1941 (Berkeley, Calif., 1960). 

'^^ Miller continues, "The Niebuhrians extolled stouthearted resistance to ty- 
ranny but neglected to spell out this noble phrase in terms of hundreds of thou- 
sands of German, Italian, and Japanese old men, pregnant women, youths and 
infants whom we blinded, scalded, boiled, flayed, buried alive, disembowled, 
eviscerated." Robert Moats Miller, How Shall They Hear Without a Preacher? 
The Life of Earnest Fremont Tittle (Chapel HilU N.C., 1971), pp. 452, 456. 
'^^ John Haynes Holmes, / Speak for Myself (New York, 1959); Harry Emerson 
Fosdick, The Living of These Days (New York, 1956); Elston J. Hill, "Buchman 
and Buchmanism" (Ph.D. thesis; University of North Carolina, 1972). For an 
excellent bibliography of research in religion, which includes many doctoral 
dissertations, see James W. Smith and A. Leland Jamison, (eds.), Religion in 
American Life (4 vols.; Princeton, N.J., 1961). 

^2 Charles Chatfield, For Peace and Justice, loc. cit.; Chatfield, "Alternative 
Antiwar Strategies of the Thirties," American Studies, XIII (Spring, 1972), 81- 
93; Allan A. Kuusisto, "The Influence of the National Council for the Preven- 
tion of War on United States Foreign Policy, 1935-1939" (Ph.D. thesis; Harvard 
University, 1950); Frederick J. Libby, To End War: The Story of the National 
Council for the Prevention of War (Nyack, N.Y., 1969). 

'^^ Dorothy Detzer tells of some of her own experiences as EIL lobbyist in 
Appointment on the Hill (New York, 1948). 

'^'* Ronald Schaffer, "Jeanette Rankin, Progressive-Isolationist" (Ph.D. thesis; 
Princeton University, 1959); Jo Ann Robinson, "A.J. Muste and Ways to Peace," 
American Studies, XIII (Spring, 1972), 95-108. For a journalistic account of 
Muste's life, see Nat Hentoff, Peace Agitator: The Story of A.J. Muste (New 
York, 1963). Sketches from Muste's own autobiography appear in Hentoff, 
(ed.). The Essays of A. J Muste (New York, 1970). 

^^ Penina M. Glazer, "A Decade of Transition: A Study of Radical Journals 
of the 1940s" (Ph.D. thesis; Rutgers University, 1970). 

^^ Warren Cohen, The American Revisionists: The Lessons of Intervention in 
World War I (Chicago, 1967); Arthur Goddard, (ed.), Harry Elmer Barnes: 
Learned Crusader {Colorado Springs, 1968); Justus D. Doenecke, "Harry Elmer 
Barnes" (unpublished paper presented before the Conference on Peace Re- 
search in History, 1972 session of the Organization of American Historians; 
available at cost of photoduplication from the author). The extreme revisionism 
promoted by Barnes includes David L. Hoggan, Der Erzwungene Krieg (Tubin- 
gen, 1963), and Paul Rassinier, Le Mensonge d'Ulysse (Paris, 1950). The former 
book claims that the British — not the Germans— bear the brunt of war guilt 
in 1939, the latter asserts that only between one and two million Jews died in 
1939, and denies that German concentration camps possessed gas chambers. 
For a modified form of the Hoggan argument, see Kurt Glaser, "World War II 
and the War Guilt Question," Modem Age, XV (Winter, 1971), 57-69. 
^ Richard Hofstadter, The Progressive Historians: Turner, Beard, Parrington 


(New York, 1968); Frederick L. Honhart III, "Charles Callan Tansill: Ameri- 
can Diplomatic Historian" (Ph.D. thesis; Case Western Reserve University, 
1972). For material on Garrity and Regnery, see Cleveland Amory, "Trade 
Winds," Saturday Review of Literature, XXXVll (Sept. 25, 1954), 6-8. Note 
also Thomas D. Parrish. "How Henry Regnery Got That Way," The Reporter, 
XII (April 7, 1955), 41-44; "Henry Regnery: A Conservative Publisher in a Lib- 
eral World," The Alternative (October, 1971). 

^ Richard Kendall, "Edward M. Borchard and the Defense of Traditional 
American Neutrality, 1931-1941" (Ph.D. thesis; Yale University, 1965); Douglas 
W. French, "William Ernest Hocking and Twentieth Century International Ten- 
sions, 1914-1966" (Ph.D. thesis; State University of New York at Buffalo, 1970); 
Paul H. Mattingly, "Journey Without Baedeker: Edmund Wilson in the Twenties 
and Thirties" (M.A. thesis; University of Washington, 1964); James C. Lanier, 
"Stuart Chase: An Intellectual Autobiography, 1888-1940" (Ph.D. thesis; Emory 
University, 1970); Douglas Stenerson, H.L. Mencken, Iconclast From Balti- 
more (Chicago, 1971). John Chamberlain is one of the figures studied in Frank 
A. Annunziata, "The Attack on the Welfare State: Patterns of Anti-Statism from 
the New Deal to the New Left" (Ph.D. thesis; Ohio State University, 1968). 
'^ Freda Utley, Odyssey of a Liberal (Washington, 1970); William Henry Cham- 
berlin. The Confessions of an Individualist (New York, 1940). Both authors need 
full-scale studies. 

^ Richard C. Frey, Jr., "John T. Flynn and the United States in Crisis, 1928- 
1950" (Ph.D. thesis; University of Oregon, 1969); Michael Wretzin, Superflous 
Anarchist: Albert Jay Nock (Providence, 1972); Robert M. Crunden, The Mind 
and Art of Albert Jay Nock (Chicago, 1964); J. Sandor Cziraky, "The Evolution 
of the Social Philosophy of Albert Jay Nock" (Ph.D. thesis; University of Penn- 
sylvania, 1959); Carl G. Ryant, "Garet Garrett's America" (Ph.D. thesis; Uni- 
versity of Wisconsin, 1968). Neilson offers an autobiography, My Life in Two 
Worlds (Appleton, Wis., 1940-46). Chodorov offers a playful account. Out of 
Step: The Autobiography of an Individualist (New York, 1962). Joseph Strom- 
berg has chapters on Morley's and Chodorov's opposition to the Cold War in 
his "The Cold War and the Transformation of the American Right: The De- 
cline of Right Wing Liberalism" (M.A. thesis; Florida Atlantic University, 1971). 
^^ For a preliminary survey of student antiwar opposition, see Patti McGill 
Peterson, "Student Organizations and the Antiwar Movement in America, 
1900-1960," American Studies, Xlll (Spring, 1972), 131-147. James Wechsler, 
The Revolt on Campus (New York, 1935) is a lively primary account. Far dif- 
ferent were those students involved in America First. From Yale alone they in- 
cluded R. Sargent Shriver, Gerald Ford (who quit when informed this would 
interfere with his duties as a football coach). Potter Stewart, and Kingman Brew- 
ster. John F. Kennedy contributed $100 (on behalf of his father, though there is 
no reason to believe he did not favor their aims). Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. and 
Robert A. Taft, Jr. were with the Harvard Committee Against Military Inter- 
vention. See the papers of the America First Committee, Hoover Library of 
War, Peace, and Revolution, Stanford University; hereafter cited as AFC 

^ The presidents of Vassar, Michigan, Stanford, the University of Chicago 
(Robert Maynard Hutchins), Earlham, Louisville, and Rochester opposed inter- 
vention, as did such intellectuals as Alexander Meiklejohn, George Lundberg, 
John Dewey, Harlow Shapley, Anton J. Carlson, George H. Whipple, William F. 
Ogburn, P.A. Sorokin, Daniel Gregory Mason, and Will Durant. Historians and 
political scientists included Arthur May, Edward C. Kirkland, Joseph H. Moody, 


Leonard Larrabee, Bernhard Knollenberg, Eugene P. Chase, E.C. Helmreich, 
William B. Hesseltine, Henry F. May, Jr., Howard K. Beale, William G. Carle- 
ton, William A. Orton, Brocks Emeny, Edward S. Corwin, Arthur N. Holcombe, 
Broadus Mitchell, and Burton B. Kendrick. AFC Papers contain references to 
many of the above. The Papers of John T. Flynn at the University of Oregon con- 
tain a masterlist of all members of America First, organized by state and chapter. 
^ Here one should note Sinclair Lewis, Frank Lloyd Wright, Edmund Wilson, 
H.L. Mencken, John P. Marquand, William Saroyan, Margaret Sanger, Kenneth 
Roberts, Irving S. Cobb, Kathleen Norris, Kenneth Rexroth, James T. Farrell, 
Selden Rodman, and Samuel Hopkins Adams. AFC Papers plus debates in the 
liberal press. 

** Among those supporting America First were Irene Castle, Lillian Gish, Mary 
Pickford, Edward Arnold, Michael Strange, and Geraldine Farrar. Gary Cooper 
and Fred MacMurray were rumored to favor isolationism. AFC Papers. 
^ Both Chester Bowles and Quincy Howe felt they could speak with less than 
openness. Ernest L. Meyer and Dorothy Dunbar Bromley were dropped from 
the interventionist New York Post, as was Harry Barnes from the Scripps- 
Howard chain. 

^ Here one might note such converts to interventionism as legislators Maury 
Maverick, George Norris, John M. Coffee, Everett Dirksen, George Bender, 
and Arthur Capper, as well as labor organizer A. Philip Randolph, socialist Paul 
Porter, New Republic editor Bruce Bliven, radio commentator Elmer Davis, 
Rabbi Sidney E. Bernstein, and writer Max Eastman. The one convert to a more 
isolationist position was Harry Noble MacCracken, president of Vassar College. 
^ Robert C. Bjerk, "Kennedy at the Court of St. James: The Diplomatic Career 
of Joseph P. Kennedy, 1938-1940" (Ph.D. thesis; Washington State University, 
1972); Richard J. Whalen, The Founding Father: The Story of Joseph P. Ken- 
nedy (New York, 1964); and William M. Kaufman, "Two American Ambassa- 
dors: Bullitt and Kennedy," in Gordon A. Craig and Felix Gilbert, (eds.). The 
Diplomats, 1919-1939 (Princeton, N.J., 1953), pp. 649-681. 

^ The Wartime Journals of Charles A. Lindbergh (New York, 1970); Justus 
D. Doenecke, "The Lone Eagle," review essay in Libertarian Forum, IV (March, 
1972), 6-8. The best works on Lindbergh to date include Lowell C. Fleischer, 
"Charles A. Lindbergh and Isolationism, 1939-1941" (Ph.D. thesis; University 
of Connecticut, 1963); Paul Seabury, "Charles A. Lindbergh: The Politics of 
Nostalgia," History, II (1960), 123-144; Kenneth S. Davis, The Hero: Charles 
A. Lindbergh and the American Dream (Garden City, N.Y., 1959). 
^ Hints may be found in James A. Farley, Jim's Farley's Story (New York, 
1948); Keith McFarland, "Secretary of War Harry H. Woodring and the Prob- 
lems of Readiness, Rearmament and Neutrality, 1936-1940" (Ph.D. thesis; Ohio 
State University, 1969). 

* Seymour Martin Lipset, "The Sources of the 'Radical Right,'" in Daniel 
Bell, (ed.). The Radical Right (New York, 1964); T.W. Adorno, et al.. The 
Authoritarian Personality (New York, 1950); Herbert McClosky, "Personality 
and Attitude Correlates of Foreign Policy Orientation," in James N. Rosenau, 
(ed.). Domestic Sources of Foreign Policy (New York, 1967), 51-104. Such 
hypotheses are challenged in R. Christie and Marie Johoda, (ed.). Studies in 
the Scope and Method of the Authoritarian Personality' (New York, 1954); 
and Robert A. Schoenberger, (ed.). The American Right Wing: Readings in 
Political Behavior (New York, 1969). 
^^ Robert E. Gamer, "Consensus: Poland to Pearl Harbor" (Ph.D. thesis; Brown 


University, 1965); William M. Tuttle, Jr., "Aid-to-the-Allies Short-of-War ver- 
sus American Intervention: A Re-appraisal of William Allen White's Leader- 
ship " Journal of American History, LVI (1970), 841-858; Robert Freeman Smith, 
"American Foreign Relations, 1920-1942," in Barton J. Bernstein, (ed.), Towards 
a New Past: Dissenting Essays in American History (New York, 1968), p. 248; 
Clifton E. Hart, "The Minor Premise of American Nationalist Thought" (Ph.D. 
thesis; University of Minnesota, 1962); Charles Sanford, The Quest for Paradise: 
Europe and American Moral Imagination (Urbana, 111., 1961); Henry Nash 
Smith, Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth (Cambridge, 
Mass., 1950). 

^ Robert A. Divine, Second Chance: The Triumph of Internationalism in 
America During the Second World War (New York, 1967); Walsh, in Nation, 
CLIX (Sept 9, 1944), 291; Wiley, in New Republic, CXII (June 4, 1945), 792. 
^3 D. Clayton James, The Years of MacArthur, Volume I: 1880-1941 (Boston, 
1970); "The 'Fifth Column,'" Propaganda Analysis, III (July 8, 1940); Richard 
Polenberg, War and Society: The United States, 1941-1945 (New York, 1972), 
pp. 44-47. 

^ For a debate on the Sedition Case, see defendant Lawrence Dennis and Max- 
imilian St. George, A Trial on Trial: The Great Sedition Case of 1944 (Chicago, 
1946), and prosecutor O. John Rogge, The Official German Report (New York, 

^ While Mulford Q. Sibley and Philip E. Jacob, Conscription of Conscience: 
The American State and the Conscientious Objector. 1940-1947 (Ithaca, N.Y., 
1952) remains definitive, Wittner, loc. cit., has used enough manuscripts to 
command a fresh look. 

^ Press reaction to both area bombing and Peace Now are covered in James 
J. Martin, "The Bombing and Negotiated Peace Questions— in 1944," in Mar- 
tin's Revisionist Viewpoints: Essays in a Dissident Historical Tradition (Colo- 
rado Springs, 1971). For the rationale behind American bombing, see Gary J. 
Shandroff, "The Evolution of Area Bombing in American Doctrine and Prac- 
tice" (Ph.D. thesis; New York University, 1972). 

^ For one protest against such atrocities, see the Lindbergh Journals, loc. 
cit., pp. 812, 853-854, 875, 880-881, 883-884, 902-903. 

^ Wittner, chapter IV; Ray Abrams, "The Churches and Clergy in World War 
II," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, CCLVI 
(1948), 110-119. See also the suggestive essay, George E. Hopkins, "Bombing 
and the American Conscience During World War II," The Historian, XXVIII 
(1966), 451-473. 

^Norris in New Republic, CVII (August 3, 1942), 144; letter noted in ibid., 
CVI (May 4, 1942), 308. 

^** Thomas M. McDaid, "The Response of the American Civil Liberties Union 
to the Japanese-American Internment" (M.A. essay; Columbia University, 
1969). The myth that Senator Taft opposed the internment itself, rather than 
merely the sloppy wording of the bill, is disposed of in Jacobus ten Broek, et. 
al., Prejudice, War and the Constitution: Causes and Consequences of the Japan- 
ese-Americans in Wi Id War // (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1970), p. 115. 
^^1 Rex Stout, "We Shall Hate, or We Shall Fail," New York Times, January 
17, 1943; "American Writers on Germany," Common Sense, XIII (June, 1944), 
206-212; Robert T. Howell, "The Writer's War Board: Writers and World War 
11" (Ph.D. thesis; Louisiana State University, 1971). 
102 Public response to atomic warfare is ably covered in Michael J. Yavendetti, 


"American Reactions to the Use of Atomic Bombs on Japan, 1945-1947" (Ph.D. 
thesis; University of CaHfornia at Berkeley, 1970). Isolationists are noted on 
pp. 408-409. Yavendetti notes that while Roman Catholic and liberal Protes- 
tants tended to oppose such bombing, the Niebuhrian Christianity and Society 
remained equivocal. See also Norman Thomas, "Our War With Japan," Com- 
monweal, XLII (April 20, 1945), 8-10; Clark quoted in Yavendetti, p. 15; John- 
son quoted in New Republic, CXIII (December 17, 1945), 838. 
^^ Jonas, Isolationism in America, p. 287; Norman Graebner, The New Isola- 
tionism: A Study in Politics and Foreign Policy Since 1950 (New York, 1956); 
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., "The New Isolationism," Atlantic, CLXXXIX (June, 
1952), 34-38. Quotation is from Wilkins, "Non-Partisan League . . .," loc. cit., 
p. 57. 

^^ Graham, loc. cit.: for possible role of General Motors in causing a shift in 
Vandenberg's position, see Cole, Nye, p. 71. I might be reading more into this 
than Cole intends. For general coverage of the response of isolationist senators 
to Truman's foreign policy— written by a student of Professor Cole — see the 
unpublished doctoral dissertation by Joan Lee (University of Maryland, 1972). 
^05 In January, 1970, I sent a questionnaire to about forty people active in 
non-interventionism from 1939 to 1941 who were still aln'e. About twenty-five 
responded. The overwhelming majority did not regret their activity. Said one 
of the more articulate, a newspaper editor, "The tangible result of the war 
was to install the Soviet Union over much of Europe and to replace the friendly 
Nationalists in China with another communist regime. Only communism 

^* Direct continuity with liberal prewar isolationism can be seen in many 
stands taken by The Progressive, Norman Thomas and the Socialist Party, 
Senator William Langer, Congressman Usher Burdick, Harry Elmer Barnes, 
William L. Neumann, and Oswald Garrison Villard. Michael Wretzin's Oswald 
Garrison Villard: Pacifist at War (Bloomington, Ind., 1965) unfortunately 
omits Villard's comments concerning the conduct of World War II and the 
initial years of the Cold War. 

^^ The isolationists have always been enamored of air power. Boake Carter 
promoted it in his broadcasts, and such air leaders as Colonel Lindbergh, Major 
Al Williams, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, and Igor Sikorski were active in 
America First. During the Cold War isolationists often cited the writings of 
General Bonner Fellers, author of Wings for Peace (Chicago, 1953) and once 
a friend of America First, and of Major Alexander P. De Seversky, who had 
been critical of Lindbergh's isolationism in 1941. Air power was cheaper, avoid- 
ed unpopular conscription, and could be used without entangling alliances. 
One might note in passing that John M. Swomley, Jr., former director of the 
National Council Against Conscription, informed me that "There was more 
opposition to Roosevelt and Truman by Republicans who feared indoctrination 
of troops with liberalism than those who ever thought of isolationism." Letter to 
author, January 29, 1970. But for Swomley's cooperation with the isolationists, 
see his The Military Establishment (Boston, 1964). For the whole issue of air 
versus ground forces, see William W. Cover, "Neo-Isolationism and Type of 
Military" (M.A. thesis; Iowa State University, 1956). Yet far fuller investiga- 
tion is needed. 

1* Thomas C. Kennedy, "Charles A. Beard and the 'Court Historians,'" The 
Historian, XXV (1963), 439-450, claims that Beard exaggerated in his accusa- 
tion that the State Department would deny him access to crucial papers. In 
my own research, which involves reading many Beard letters, I find that Beard 


firmly believed he could never have obtained the access to official and un- 
official sources secured by Langer and Gleason. 

109 Richard T. Reutten, "Harry Elmer Barnes and the 'Historical Blackout,"' 
The Historian, XXXIII (1971), 202-214. While declaring that Barnes exaggerated 
the suppression of revisionism, Reutten claims that revisionists raised necessary 
questions about presidential warmaking powers, and that pro-Roosevelt his- 
torians seemed all too anxious to defend the actions of their Commander-in- 

110 Wayne S. Cole, "American Entry into World War II," loc. cit. Kent was an 
American coding clerk in the American embassy in London who supposedly 
saw secret messages from Roosevelt to Churchill committing the United States 
to the European war. Because of the wartime emergency, the Kent documents 
were closed and now still remain so. The isolationists tried to turn the Kent 
case into a cause celebre in 1946, but the government forbade Kent to testify. 
For some information, see Whalen's life of Joseph P. Kennedy, loc. cit., pp. 309- 

m Paterson's research is found in his "The Economic Cold War: American 
Business and Economic Foreign Policy, 1945-1950" (Ph.D. thesis; University 
of California at Berkeley, 1968), and in his essay, "The Quest for Peace and 
Prosperity: International Trade, Communism, and the Marshall Plan," in Bar- 
ton J. Bernstein, (ed.), Politics and Policies of the Truman Administration 
(Chicago, 1970), 78-112. Other research includes John P. Mallen, "Conserva- 
tive Attitudes Toward American Foreign Policy: With Special Reference to 
American Business, 1945-1952" (Ph.D. thesis; Harvard University, 1964); Robert 
J. Chasteen, "American Foreign Aid and Public Opinion, 1945-1952" (Ph.D. 
thesis; University of North Carolina, 1957). 

1^ Louis Lochner, Herbert Hoover and Germany (New York, 1960). William 
J. Bosch's balanced study of the debate over the international war tribunal 
could extend to America's entire German policy. See Bosch, Judgment on Nu- 
remberg: American Attitudes Toward the Major German War-Crime Trials 
(Chapel Hill, N.C., 1970). 

113 Freda Utley, who wrote Japan's Feet of Clay (New York, 1937) and China 
at War (New York, 1939), is a marked exception. 

11'* See doctoral theses by Virginia M. Kemp, "Congress and China" (Univer- 
sity of Pittsburgh, 1966); John R. Skettering, "Republican Attitudes Towards 
the Administration's China Policy, 1945-1949" (State University of Iowa, 1952); 
James A. Fetzer, "Congress and China, 1941-1950" (Michigan State University, 
1964). Poole's dissertation, loc. cit., stresses Republican anger from the time of 
the Marshall mission. The MacArthur quotation is found in Walter Millis, (ed.). 
The Forrestal Diaries (New York, 1951), p. 18. 

11^ Ronald J. Caridi, The Korean War and American Politics: The Republican 
Party as a Case Study (Philadelphia, 1968) is limited to the Senate. One should 
also note a new work, James R. Riggs, "Congress and the Conduct of the Korean 
War" (Ph.D. thesis; Purdue University, 1972). 

11^ Debate over the "China Lobby" can be followed in Joseph Keeley, The 
China Lobby Man: The Story of Alfred Kohlberg (New Rochelle, N.Y., 1969), 
and Ross T. Koen, The China Lobby in American Politics (New York, 1960). 
Though the Koen volume is hard to find, as pressures upon the publisher caused 
its withdrawal soon after circulation, one may find much of Koen's argument 
in his doctoral thesis, "The China Lobby and the Formulation of American 
Foreign Policy" (University of Florida, 1958). For the argument of linkage be- 


tween the China Lobby and the isolationists, see Leonard Liggio, "Isolationism. 
Old and New," Left and Right: A Journal of Libertarian Thought, II (Winter, 
1966), 28-31. One should note Russell D. Buhite, Patrick J. Hurley and Ameri- 
can Foreign Policy (Ithaca, 1973). 

^^'^ For revisionist accounts of McCarthyism, see Athan Theoharis, Seeds of 
Repression: Harry S. Truman and the Origins of McCarthyism (Chicago, 1971), 
and Richard M. Freeland, The Truman Doctrine and the Origins of McCarthy- 
ism (New York, 1971). Harriman in New York Times, July 11, 1952, p. 5; 
"Hoover's Folly," Nation, CLXXI (December 30, 1950), 688-689. 

^^^ Robert Griffith, The Politics of Fear: Joseph R. McCarthy and the Senate 
(Lexington, Ky., 1970), p. 13. Richard Rovere, Senator Joe McCarthy (New 
York, 1950), p. 141, denies that the Wisconsin senator was ever an isolationist, 
or, for that matter, a reactionary. 

^^^ Frank Chodorov, "The New Imperialism," Freeman, V (November, 1954), 
162; Chodorov, "A War To Communize America," ibid., V (November, 1954), 
171-174; William F. Buckley to John T. Flynn, October 22, 1956 and J.T. Flynn 
to W.F. Buckley, October 23. 1956, the Papers of J.T. Flynn, University of Ore- 
gon. See also Murray Rothbard, "The Transformation of the American Right," 
Continuum, II (1964), 220-231, and "Confessions of a Right Wing Liberal," 
Ramparts, VI (June 15, 1968), 47-52. 




The trauma of Pearl Harbor plunged the United States into its 
second world war in a quarter century. Japan by her audacious attack 
achieved what a public declaration of war might not have done; she 
unified the contentious Americans in a flash. So dastardly was her deed 
that she must be punished, along with her Nazi ally, Germany. The 
Americans were united, but we might ask, what on? Aside from their 
anger and lust for revenge, the evidence of the wartime years makes 
abundantly clear that the country never settled on clearly defined 

This is not to say that there was any lack of consensus on abstract 
war aims: peace, justice, freedom— there was the noble language of the 
Atlantic Charter. The nation also had major economic ambitions, 
which, while not always clearly grasped by the man on Main Street, 
were assiduously pursued by the government: a broader system of free 
trade, such as breaking down the British system of imperial preferences, 
and securing a stronger position in controlling raw materials areas in 
the oil rich Middle East, and the markets of Asia. There were highly 
publicized government plans to fulfill these aims: the Bretton Woods 
agreements for a new international money system and the Dumbarton 
Oaks Proposals which charted a course toward a new international 
peace organization. 

Despite the work and publicity attending these efforts, Americans 
never achieved consensus on how their postwar foreign policy should 
be implemented. It is thus misleading to look at expressions of involve- 
ment in world affairs, to examine the feverish activity associated with 
Bretton Woods and the United Nations and conclude that the spirit of 
internationalism triumphed in America during the war. Historians have 
accepted the wartime idea that isolationism died with the sinking of 
the Arizona at Pearl Harbor. During the war years it seemed to many 
people that America must not again turn its back on the world, as it 
had in 1919. They took as proof of their new maturity in world affairs 
the highly publicized campaigns for postwar involvement in the United 
Nations, but, as William H. McNeill astutely observed, the UN was too 
easily seen as a talisman possessing inherent power to settle disputes 
among nations. ^ 

In fact, there remained throughout the war a strong cross current 
of opinions about the nature of America's postwar involvement. Despite 
its great effort through lend-lease to supply our allies with the economic 
sinews of war, there were doubts that Congress would provide large 
scale postwar aid to Russia and Britain. Despite all of the attention 
on the UN, the nation failed to resolve the crucial question of how 
American forces would be committed to action under the new postwar 


security arrangements. The U.S. also accepted a more extensive veto 
power than either the government or the pubHc really wanted. The 
public and government seemed fickle about wartime political and 
territorial problems. 

Based on the public record alone, we can see that the expectations 
the American people placed in the UN to assure peace almost immedi- 
ately proved a vain hope. From its opening sessions in 1946, when the 
former wartime allies clashed over Iran, the UN was primarily a battle- 
ground for the emerging Cold War. I contend that the disillusionment 
of the American people in the years from 1945 to 1950, the period which 
Herbert Feis aptly called "From Trust to Terror," was greater than they 
experienced after World War I. 

In the context of the theme of this session, "tensions between in- 
volvement and non-involvement," the entire decade of the 1940s saw 
many examples that show conclusively how Americans agonized over 
this problem. It may be that isolationism was not the pre-eminent motif 
in the orchestration of foreign policy. I believe, however, that its in- 
fluence was present to an extent most historians have missed. Its major 
ramification was negative— the ways in which it impeded strong, clear, 
affirmative actions in foreign policy. Like the spectre of Christmas 
Past torturing Dickens' Scrooge for a mean life, isolationism haunted 
Americans in the form of Wilson's tragic experience. 

To see its full impact in World War II requires consideration of 
the term itself. I raise the question of whether isolationism is a term that 
assumes a somewhat different form in the forties. That is, it was not 
a matter of the nation shutting itself off from the world by adopting neu- 
trality laws and burying its head in international sands. Isolationism 
in a world conflict and in the uncertain period immediately thereafter 
needs to be defined in terms of what was meant by world involvement 
in a half destroyed world — particularly a planet thrust suddenly into 
the atomic era. The times demanded vision on questions involving 
colonialism, nationalism, re-thinking of accepted political ideologies, 
sovereignty, race, and population growth, as well as resource use and 
allocation, to say nothing of controlling arms technology. Facing up 
to these matters would have necessitated embracing the kind of pro- 
gram espoused by Wendell Wilkie, Henry Wallace, and other exponents 
of "one world" ideas. 

Most American leaders and the public at large shied away from ad- 
vanced commitments in international relations. While embracing with 
naive enthusiasm American participation in an international organiza- 
tion, the people within a short time after the end of the war were advo- 
cating a strongly nationalist program. Recently, historians have pointed 
out that Truman's anti-communist rhetoric, from the time of the Tru- 
man Doctrine speech on, contributed to the rise of McCarthyism. It 
should be stressed more, I think, that it was the public that expressed 
greater fear and hostility to Russia and communism while Truman's 
public statements were more conciliatory in the period between VJ 
Day and March 1947.2 


What occurred was that the public's enthusiasm for the UN was 
more an infatuation than a commitment. The American people looked 
to the UN as an easy means of security. By placing faith in an inter- 
national organization they could achieve an inexpensive means of keep- 
ing peace. It would not be necessary to maintain large armed forces. 
As was their traditional bent, Americans wanted only to end the war, 
demobilize, and return to their individual domestic pursuits. When 
international realities showed this to be impossible, the people reacted 
initially by a growing hostility to Russia and communism — for there had 
always been a solid one-third of the people who distrusted Russia even 
at the high tide of wartime cooperation — and began taking out their 
fear and frustration in the postwar "Red Scare." ^ Here it is important 
to note that McCarthy was a relative latecomer to the movement, the 
tide of which began running by 1946. This anti-communist hysteria, 
which peaked in the early fifties, contains strong overtones of isolation- 
ism: an uncritical assumption of the superiority of domestic institutions; 
demands for conformity; super-patriotism; the search for scapegoats, 
blaming international ills on foreign countries; immigration restrictions; 
obsession with foreign subversion; exorcising of past mistakes in foreign 
policy. In short, by the later 1940s the nation had swung from support 
of international organization to a mood of paranoiac self-purification. 
This condition precluded rational examination of crisis situations. 
During this time of national myopia the government moved the country 
solidly into its role as world policeman, with all of the tragic ramifica- 
tions that have since become apparent. 

Perhaps the peak of optimistic internationalism in the decade oc- 
curred in the months after the Teheran conference of November 1943. 
Congressional resolutions had buoyed public confidence; polls showed 
strong support for international organization; and Hull secured Roose- 
velt's unenthusiastic acquiescence to his more advanced views of a 
powerful league, as outlined by the State Department's draft plan of 
December 1943.^ Erosion set in by the time the major powers^ gathered 
in Washington for the Dumbarton Oaks conference on August 21, 1944. 
Numerous fissures had appeared by then in the earlier unity of public 
and governmental support. 

Among the first such fissures was critics' charge that the conference 
represented nothing more than an attempt by the great allied powers 
to impose their will on the postwar world. Some claimed that Dumbar- 
ton Oaks would result in a twentieth century Holy Alliance. The power- 
ful nations would plan the future of the smaller countries without con- 
sulting them; Dumbarton Oaks would confront the world with a fait 
accompli in the dark art of power politics. The most prominent person 
expressing this fear was New York governor Thomas E. Dewey, that 
year's Republican presidential candidate. The theme was quickly picked 
up by the isolationist press, notably the Patterson, McCormick, and 
Hearst newspaper chains. It also sparked debate in Congress.^ As evi- 
dence that it touched a deep-seated popular fear, the great power dom- 
inance theme received serious discussion in many middle of the road 


and liberal papers and journals during the early phase of the Dumbar- 
ton Oaks talks. '^ 

The Roosevelt administration, already extremely sensitive about 
dredging up old isolationist shibboleths, went into a private frenzy as 
Roosevelt, Hull, and Stettinius became certain that they were about 
to share Wilson's dreadful fate. Dewey's barrage threatened to make 
foreign policy a major campaign issue; the administration feared that 
this course would plunge the entire question of international organiza- 
tion into a thicket of partisan debate, as had occurred in 1919-1920. 
To prevent this, Hull brought the Republicans into the administration 
tent by holding several lengthy discussions with John Foster Dulles, 
Dewey's adviser on foreign policy matters. Contact with the Dewey 
campaign continued quietly through the liaison work of Hugh R. Wil- 
son, a Republican and former ambassador. Promised consideration of 
their views and reassured about the administration's commitment to 
a genuinely democratic UN, Republican leaders conducted a low key 
and generally uncritical campaign on foreign policy. Much has been 
made of this bi-partisan cooperation and its success. In fact, it was an 
understanding honored more by the GOP than the Democrats. Late in 
the campaign Roosevelt resorted to partisan tactics himself when he 
lambasted the Republicans as spokesmen of isolationism in American 
life and captured much of the internationalist vote by his emphatic 
endorsement of granting the US representative on the Security Coun- 
cil the power to commit American troops.^ 

Perhaps because foreign policy questions were not candidly dis- 
cussed, there was an even stronger protest against the secrecy surround- 
ing the Dumbarton Oaks conference than might have occurred other- 
wise. The government was partly to blame. Having heralded the gather- 
ing of the powers then meeting in the capital to prepare the UN blue- 
print and having opened the proceedings amid loud fanfare, the delega- 
tions proceeded to operate in close to absolute secrecy. Undersecre- 
tary Edward R. Stettinius, who headed the American group, handled 
the publicity matter badly from the outset. The irritation of capital cor- 
respondents, who had anticipated a freer flow of information, soon was 
reflected in stinging editorials attacking "Dumb Oaks" and asserting the 
public's right to know what was happening. Thus, another isolationist 
characteristic — dislike of secret diplomacy— reentered the picture.^ 

The private negotiations produced significant agreement, yet this 
success should not blind us to problems the diplomats postponed. One 
example was the future of dependent peoples. The British opposed 
discussion of the topic, and the Americans agreed, because of bureau- 
cratic conflicts between the State Department and military leaders in 
in the Pentagon over postwar bases. ^° Although this problem involved 
not so much isolationist elements as it did the security question, the 
whole issue of postwar security via the UN did pose a dilemma, which 
at its root was tied in with fears of isolationism. This was the issue of 
the procedure by which the government would commit American troops 
to action under the UN. Would the representative on the Security Coun- 


cil hold this power; would Congress, in effect, turn over its war declar- 
ing power to the executive branch? Or would Congress insist that this 
authority remain in its own hands, with Congress having to approve 
in advance each authorization of force via the UN? 

No more serious constitutional issue faced the Americans as they 
forged ahead with the UN. Why was it not satisfactorily resolved? 
The problem was certainly recognized; it received considerable treat- 
ment at the time, ranging from scholarly treatises to popular radio 
forums. Despite this public attention, in which the preponderant theme 
was recognition that some standing authorization from Congress should 
be given to allow for rapid action in light of changes in military techno- 
logy, the administration preferred to allow the matter to drift. Even 
though the president later came out for placing power in the hands of 
the executive branch, neither he nor the State Department pushed 
Congress for a commitment to this change. As had been the case in 
dealing with Congress in the thirties, the administration did not exert 
as much pressure on Congress as might have been justified by public 
support, out of fear of a head-on clash over the direction of foreign 

Hull and his successor, Stettinius, carefully courted congressional 
leaders on all UN questions. By this means the administration knew how 
sensitive and reluctant Congress was to diminish its control over war 
declaratory powers. The outcome was really a conspiracy of silence, 
in which the problem was postponed to be faced after the Senate had 
approved the yet to be written UN charter. ^^ The entire episode was 
reminiscent of the struggle between the executive and legislative branch- 
es during 1919-1920. Even though less open than the bitter confronta- 
tions of the Wilson years, the issue at the time of Dumbarton Oaks was 
more significant. The Constitution's allocation of the power to declare 
war to Congress and the power to make war to the executive branch 
was one of the most important checks against the misuse of national 
power built into the federal system. The question was not squarely faced 
in the forties owing to fear both within the Roosevelt administration 
and among congressional UN supporters that it would raise antagonisms 
that might undercut the whole UN movement. Inherent in this failure 
was fear of isolationist opposition building around the question once 
it was faced. The pattern of the postwar years, in which presidents 
have resorted to police actions and waged war by gaining congression- 
al support in a crisis situation, has created a condition in which 
the original provisions of the constitution have been twisted almost 
beyond recognition. That the question was not frankly broached during 
the war illustrates the problem inherent in the tension between involve- 
ment and non-involvement. 

The administration's sensitivity over isolationism also possibly re- 
sulted in its failing to stand by an initial demand for veto free voting 
procedures in the UN in cases where a permanent power was party to 
a dispute. There were strong differences in the American delegation 
at Dumbarton Oaks over the extent of the veto, with the military repre- 


sentatives and Breckinridge Long, Assistant Secretary of State, favor- 
ing a more complete veto to mollify the Russians. ^^ Roosevelt, Hull 
and Stettinius favored the more limited veto. Even after compromise 
on this issue at Yalta, the US delegation to the San Francisco conference 
wished there were some way to go back to the original US position. 
Truman shared this view, but at no time did the Americans press their 
private views. Partly this was out of concern that Russia would not 
accept it, but doubts that Congress would agree to any diminution of 
sovereignty were significant in the picture. ^^ 

As with the war declaring jurisdiction, the executive branch had no 
wish for confrontation with Congress. In both cases part of the motiva- 
tion was to cooperate with Congress to assure smooth Senate approval 
of the UN Charter. There was also the real fear that these controversial 
questions would stir an isolationist reaction. Thus, relations between 
Congress and the executive branch were clearly limited. Interestingly, 
during the period when these important issues were being considered, 
there occurred an alarming weakening in public confidence about the 
future course of international relations. This coincided with the govern- 
ment's campaign to educate the public about the Dumbarton Oaks 
Proposals, October 1944 to June 1945. In looking at this period his- 
torians have emphasized the overwhelming support for membership in 
the UN, pointing to the successful completion of the United Nations 
Conference in San Francisco as proof of the pudding. Indeed, one can 
cite impressive evidence: certain opinion polls; the overwhelming 
approval of the Senate; the warm support of newspaper editorials, 
speeches, and official statements. ^^ Closer examination reveals, I 
think, that some reappraisal is in order. 

What occurred to crack the public optimism is primarily tied in 
with the events of the war in Europe. There was widespread anticipa- 
tion in September and October 1944 that Germany would surrender 
soon, perhaps before the end of the year. Hitler's counter offensive on 
the western front in December shocked many Americans, who were 
surprised at this apparent evidence that Germany was stronger than 
previously believed. Public estimates of the length of the war shifted 
sharply, with most people thinking the war would continue as long as 
another full year.^^ 

To this depressing circumstance was added a more significant one — 
the jockeying of Russia and Britain for advantage in Europe. Evidence 
of this developing struggle had accumulated in the form of reports from 
Harriman and other ambassadors on the President's and Secretary of 
State's desks for some months prior to December, when the Anglo- 
Soviet rivalry hit the American people fully for the first time.^^ Having 
been led down the primrose path marked by government statements 
lauding Allied closeness and cooperation, the public was shocked to 
discover that out of the horror of war the old European depravities (as 
Americans saw them) of the balance of power, interference in internal 
affairs, and power politics seemed to be emerging once again. 

The unpleasant truths first surfaced in Italy where the Bonomi 


government grew steadily weaker in the fall and collapsed at the end 
of November. The emerging leadership of Count Carlo Sforza as pos- 
sible premier or foreign minister signaled a leftward move. Churchill 
regarded Sforza as a Communist puppet and charged that he was vio- 
lating an earlier pledge to abstain from political involvement. In De- 
cember Churchill announced that Britain would withhold support of 
any Italian government which included Sforza in the cabinet. ^^ 

From London, Ambassador John G. Winant reported that Churchill 
was acting capriciously out of personal pique. Winant contended that 
Sfroza's presence in the government did not portend a Communist 
takeover and that no vital British interests would be threatened by 
Sforza becoming foreign minister. Rather, the real culprit was Churchill 
who wanted an Italian government completely subject to British will. 

The American press roundly criticized Churchill, arguing that the 
British were forgetting the Atlantic Charter and lapsing into their 
familiar style of power politics. Reporters besieged the State Depart- 
ment with inquiries as to the government's position on the Italian ques- 
tion. Secretary Stettinius responded personally by reading a statement 
on December 5: 

The position of this Government has been consistently that the 
composition of the Italian Government is purely an Italian af- 
fair. . . . This Government has not in any way intimated to the 
Italian Government that there would be any opposition on its 
part to Count Sforza. . . . We have reaffirmed to both the British 
and Italian Governments that we expect the Italians to work out 
their problems of government along democratic lines without 
influence from the outside. This policy would apply to an even 
more pronounced degree with regards to governments of the 
United Nations in their liberated territories.^^ 

Newspapers blazoned the American statement and by December 6 
millions of people were reading about an Anglo-American split. 

News from Greece compounded the Anglo-American crisis. A civil 
war erupted in Athens in early December in which British backed roya- 
list forces were pitted against the Communist guerrilla National Libera- 
tion Front (EAM). American press coverage portrayed the guerrillas as 
freedom fighters, making light of their communist connections, while 
reporters' accounts and editorials painted the British as imperialists. 
The struggle in Greece raged throughout December with British mili- 
tary units in a conspicuous role. Finally Churchill and Foreign Minister 
Eden visited Athens and emerged with a truce. ^^ 

Much of the American anger with Britain represented a deep- 
seated distrust of British motives, harkening back to World War I and 
earlier, a feeling that the British were trying to use the Americans 
to keep their empire intact. Editors and commentators welcomed the 
State Department statement as proof that the United States was uphold- 
ing the Atlantic Charter and telling Britain that Washington would not 
tolerate a return to imperialism. Statements of righteous indignation 


came from Congress. In the Senate Allen Ellender (D.-La.) castigated 
Britain for "taking the lead in causing the disunity among the Allies." 
He charged that the British hoped to expand their already vast empire 
by forming power blocs "here and there all over the world." Stettinius 
reported to the President that members of the Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee were "considerably aroused" by British actions in the Medi- 
terranean. The committee had expressed itself as wanting the peoples 
to have complete freedom in choosing their government, ^o 

During this same period American alarm over Russian actions in 
Europe reached a new high. Russia's conduct in the earlier Warsaw up- 
rising and the harsh armistice terms imposed on Rumania and Bulgaria 
created public uneasiness in America as to what the future held for 
Eastern Europe. By mid-December Stalin had concluded a twenty year 
alliance with the DeGaulle regime in France and seemed ready to recog- 
nize a separate Moscow dominated government for Poland. Hoping to 
forestall this last action, Roosevelt and Churchill had urged Stalin to 
wait until they could discuss Poland at the forthcoming Yalta meeting. 
Additionally, the two western allies issued statements indicating willing- 
ness to approve territorial changes mutually agreed upon between Rus- 
sia and Poland. 21 

These European developments upset many Americans. They re- 
garded Russia as generally preparing the ground for domination of 
Eastern Europe, while the British scrambled to control governments 
in Western Europe and the Mediterranean. There was particular sensi- 
tivity on Poland. Many citizens, notably the large ethnic groups of other 
eastern European nations, feared that the State Department was con- 
niving at the political dissembling of the great powers and abandoning 
the promises of the Atlantic Charter. The President of the American- 
Polish Congress sent a wire to Roosevelt denouncing the British "aban- 
donment of the Atlantic Charter" and claimed that both Russia and 
Britain were pursuing their own national interests at the expense of the 
common war aims of the United Nations. 22 National concern over the 
erosion of American war aims was expressed with growing alarm as 
the month passed. The Catholic bishops of the United States, mindful 
of the fate of millions of the Church's faithful in Europe and the in- 
fluence of their American descendents in the United States, issued a 
peace manifesto in early December condemning allied actions in Eu- 
rope. "If public opinion is indifferent or uninformed, we shall run the 
risk of a bad peace and perhaps return to the tragedy of 'power polities', 
which in the past divided nations and sowed the seeds of war. . . . We 
have no confidence in a peace which does not carry into effect, with- 
out reservations or equivocations, the principles of the Atlantic 

Roosevelt returned to the capital on December 19 from a three 
week vacation at the Little White House in Georgia. He immediately 
added to the furor over the Atlantic Charter when he responded to a 
reporter's question with the off-hand remark that neither he nor 
Churchill had ever signed an agreement at their Atlantic Conference 


meeting in August 1941. He explained that the Charter was put out in 
the form of a press release and not a state paper. When the newspapers 
reported this remark as evidence that the administration was discarding 
the principles of the Charter, Roosevelt, at a press conference on 
December 22, tried to close the proverbial barn door by asserting that 
the goals of the Atlantic Charter still represented his views and that 
he stood squarely behind them.^^ 

To those in the Department of State who advocated the early es- 
tablishment of an international organization, the most disturbing im- 
pact of the crisis in Allied relations was the damage to the people's 
faith in the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals. The energetic campaign by the 
Department and private internationalist groups to sell the proposals 
to the people had stimulated wide discussion. There had been hundreds 
of suggestions for modification, all of which was healthy enough until 
the analysis of the Dumbarton Oaks agreements got entangled in the 
disillusionment with events in Europe. Reports coming across Stettinius' 
desk by December 21 plainly showed that dangerous development. 

A State Department survey of leading newspaper editors from all 
over the Midwest indicated that, while they supported the idea of a 
postwar organization, recent developments in eastern Europe and the 
Balkans had led them to conclude that a substantial reappraisal of the 
Dumbarton Oaks Proposals was necessary. Stettinius warned the Presi- 
dent that unless the chief European Allies altered their policies in the 
liberated areas, "favorable action on the world security organization 
may be jeopardized," and the United States might retreat into isolation- 
ism. ^^ Despite efforts to publicize the proposals, opinion polls indicated 
,that ignorance of the structure and functions of the projected organi- 
zation was widespread. The superficial knowledge thus demonstrated 
was ominous, for it indicated that national devotion to the cause of inter- 
national organization might be artificial and turn toward isolationism. ^6 

Stettinius worked to elicit a vigorous, clarifying statement from the 
President on the goals and directions in United States foreign policy. 
At the first meeting of his Staff Committee Stettinius dwelt on the 
need to have the White House issue a strong statement, and Assistant 
Secretary Archibald MacLeish added that there was real danger that 
the presidential silence on foreign policy might make the public angry 
over what it deemed attempts to keep them in ignorance. Stettinius 
directed MacLeish to work with presidential speech writer Sam Rosen- 
man on including a positive, forthright declaration of American goals 
in the forthcoming State of the Union message. When the Secretary of 
State met with Roosevelt, however, on December 30 he found the 
President inclined to avoid such a clear statement. Roosevelt believed 
that State Department recommendations "went a bit far at this time" 
and preferred to keep the State of the Union message confined to 
generalities, "that he should primarily say we had gone to war because 
we had been attacked by aggressors and that it was our desire to end 
the war and bring our troops home as soon as possible." Stettinius was 
distressed at Roosevelt's inclination to avoid asserting strong leadership 


over developments in Allied relations. He pressed his point by showing 
Roosevelt public opinion polls gathered by the State Department which 
reflected increasing discontent among the people. He also noted pri- 
vately of the President, "He did not show in his discussion with me the 
keen grasp I had hoped he would get from the memorandum we had 
sent to him." But Stettinius had no alternative under orders from the 
President except to have MacLeish and Matthews re-draft the foreign 
policy section of the State of the Union message. ^'^ 

Reports from public opinion expert Hadley Cantril emphasized the 
importance of Stettinius' effort to obtain a strong presidential statement 
on foreign policy. Cantril reported to the White House and State De- 
partment a deterioration in public confidence regarding the conduct 
of foreign policy. While Americans backed the UN concept, their 
attitudes were disjointed. There was no clear, deep commitment: 

With opinion uncrystallized and with people generally disinter- 
ested in the mechanics needed to achieve lasting peace, there is 
little doubt that they expect and desire strong leadership and 
would support the policies and mechanics the President felt 
necessary to achieve the ideals he has expressed. . . .^s 

With the President relying too much on his own influence over 
Stalin and Churchill, the State Department, which had taken charge 
of building public support for the UN, was left to look at the gloomy 
harvest of public attitudes in the difficult period of the winter of 1944- 
1945. On January 3, the Division of Public Liaison reported to Secretary 
Stettinius that the public "continues to feel a marked deterioration" 
in international relations. Experts attributed this to distaste for British 
and Russian power politics and efforts to carve out spheres of influence. 
Polls showed the people suffering "basic conflicts"; idealists were 
pressing for a greater sense of moral purpose and adherence to the 
Atlantic Charter; nationalists questioning the magnitude of sacrifice 
and thinking the US had better pull out of European affairs altogether; 
realists wanting to continue prosecuting the war and fearing a trend 
toward isolationism. The report indicated deepening pessimism as to 
whether Congress would back membership in the UN and concluded: 

In view of the volatile character of American opinion— its exces- 
sive sensitivity to specific events frequently oversimplified and 
inadequately understood — a heavy responsibility devolves on 
those who can, in their day-to-day writings, do much to estab- 
lish a valid /ram^ of reference for the public judgment. ^9 

Simultaneously, Archibald MacLeish told the top-level Staff Com- 
mittee that the people were confused over the purpose of the Dumbar- 
ton Oaks Proposals and could not tell if the proposals were simply a 
trial balloon or constituted an actual basis for negotiations. In a special 
report to Roosevelt the State Department had to admit that after three 
months of publicity only 43% of the people had even heard of the Dum- 
barton Oaks Proposals. Of those who knew of them half "have no 
opinion as to whether the Proposals provide a real and practical' basis 


for setting up an international organization to maintain world peace. "^o 

Further deterioration in support of the UN policy resulted from 
recent events in Europe. A mid-January analysis of opinion, prepared 
for Roosevelt, found that 52% of the public disapproved of Britain's 
military role in Greece, yet people opposed the US taking a more active 
role in direct aid to liberated nations. The number of Americans dis- 
contented over relations with Britain and Russia had nearly doubled 
during December, rising from 28% to 44%. Most significant, half of the 
people believed that European developments would make it harder 
for the UN to succeed, six percent thought the UN could not possibly 
succeed now, while only 20% thought European events would have 
little impact on it.^i 

At the heart of the problem was the dilemma between the idealism 
expressed in world cooperation through the UN and the self-interests 
of the great powers. State Department officials clearly recognized it. 
In a Secretary's Staff Committee meeting on February 9 top officials 
considered a report which warned that government spokesmen had 
misrepresented the UN by claiming it could stop war by force. Perhaps 
because many Americans continued to lack understanding of the essen- 
tial nature of the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals, they had grasped this 
unreal concept of the UN's powers. Assistant Secretary Dean Acheson 
warned that the government must make clear that the UN's success 
depended upon great power cooperation. This unity, in turn, rested 
on the powers' reaching accommodation among themselves outside 
of the UN framework regarding wartime political and territorial prob- 
lems. Nelson Rockefeller added, "if we should follow this policy of 
candor the American people would probably feel at first a sense of 
shock, but . . . this would be followed by a feeling of much greater 
realism." MacLeish concurred that unless the administration made the 
public aware of the differences between disputes of the smaller nations, 
which the UN could handle, and the differences among great powers, 
which they must settle among themselves, ". . . the disillusionment of 
the American people will be greater than after the last war."32 

Roosevelt counted on personal diplomacy at the summit and the 
agreements he reached as sufficient to bolster flagging public support 
and divert congressional criticism. For a brief period after publication 
of the Yalta communique public confidence did revive; the mood might 
even be called euphoric. Events in Europe, deadlocks among the powers 
over Poland, and other issues soon showed that Yalta had simply raised 
false hopes. If anything, Roosevelt misled the people about the depth 
of Allied unity, thus contributing to the public disillusionment after 
the war. 

Although State Department spokesmen were anxious to correct 
errors in public thinking, they never succeeded. This was largely be- 
cause the President persisted in believing that he could provide suf- 
ficient public guidance through his summit diplomacy, reports to the 
nation, and news conferences. Roosevelt never acknowledged that the 
gap perceived by the State Department existed. Secretary Stettinius, 


abroad at the Mexico City conference and then preoccupied with pre- 
paring the American delegation for the UN conference, neglected to 
urge a more candid policy on the President. Thus, although public 
opinion continued by a large majority to support US participation in 
the UN, Americans remained ignorant of how the UN would actually 
work and what limitations existed in its powers. The State Department's 
Division of Public Liaison concluded on the eve of the San Francisco 
Conference that: 

The significant increase in popular support for American partici- 
pation in an international peace organization has not been ac- 
companied by widespread familiarity with the facts about Amer- 
ica's record of international cooperation. Despite public dis- 
cussion of the League of Nations and other international organ- 
izations; the general public remains largely uninformed as to whe- 
ther the United States had participated in the most outstanding 
international organizations. ^^ 

This lack of public comprehension raised questions in the State 
Department about the stability of American commitment to the UN 
policy. In fact, events showed that public commitment was shallow. 
The war conditioned Americans to think in black and white terms. 
In the shock of the early cold war the public easily transferred its anti- 
pathy from fascism to communism, thereby missing almost completely 
the noncommunist force of revolutionary nationalism that was at work. 

In the spring of 1945, the UN policy was becoming increasingly 
illusory. To most people it offered an easy means of avoiding hard 
thinking about foreign problems. It was easy to support the general 
idea without knowing what responsibilities membership would entail. 
The UN promised a maximum of security for a minimum American mili- 
tary investment, and in its idealistic cloak, it appealed to the Utopian 
streak in Americans. 

The administration continued to rely on the UN policy, but was now 
using it to cover its secret review of Soviet relations. This review was 
undermining the UN policy, though government simultaneously assured 
the public that all was well. Thus in the spring of 1945 the gap between 
official rhetoric and official fears grew ever wider. 

Recurring signs of isolationism can be found, of course, in areas 
other than America's UN policy. There was a greater preoccupation 
among Americans with post-war domestic matters than with foreign 
policy. Roosevelt had continually been concerned that the American 
people would not support any long-range troop presence overseas; and 
the pressure for rapid demobilization after the war backs up his per- 
ception as accurate. Americans were manifesting their time honored 
penchant for winning the war, then returning to their primary concerns 
with opportunities at home. People were more interested in and anxious 
about jobs, staving off a new depression, and higher wages, than the 
shape of postwar foreign policy. Public attitudes after the war, at least 
to the point of the Truman Doctrine message, reflected a war weari- 
ness and a wariness toward overseas involvement. For example, a ma- 


jority of people believed that allied nations should repay lend-lease 
aid, and 60% of the people opposed postwar loans to Britain and Russia. 
The Truman administration had doubts about its ability to persuade 
the public to assume the burdens of confronting the Russian challenge, 
and not until after a strong presidential and government propaganda 
campaign did it succeed in winning support for the Marshall program 
in 1947.34 

The opposition of Ohio's Robert Taft toward the Marshall plan and 
later on committing US troops in Europe's NATO defense is well known. 
Contemporary observers even saw in the early 1950s a "new isolation- 
ism" in America. 35 

Was isolationism in this period influential? Yes, in that it reinforced 
the tendency of spokesmen in both the second Truman administration 
and Eisenhower's administration to make promises in Congressional 
hearings on proposed defense treaties which understated the possi- 
bilities of committing US forces overseas.^^ Its influence was not criti- 
cal in that the American government had earlier adopted the course 
of building a western entente and making the US the bulwark of the 
free world's struggle against communist expansionism. The point at 
which isolationism exerted a policy changing influence came in 1944- 
1945. The Roosevelt administration approached the Dumbarton Oaks 
negotiations on international organization in the grip of the fear of the 
havoc isolationism had wrought in past years. In fact, numerous isola- 
tionist elements surfaced between August 1944 and June 1945. Wise 
and determined presidential leadership during this critical period, I 
contend, could have put to rest the fears of many Americans. Despite 
their misgivings, most people looked with hope toward international 
organization and would have supported a stronger charter than was 
written by the San Francisco conference. The people cried out for 
greater candor from the White House. 

Why did Roosevelt fail to exercise the needed initiative? Was it 
because of his deteriorating health? In part, perhaps, for the time in 
question coincides with the president's steady physical decline. It could 
be argued that he no longer had the resources required for bold leader- 
ship. 3'^ Yet he rose to the occasion during the 1944 election and at Yal- 
ta he maintained a demanding schedule and seemed able to make 
numerous major decisions. Roosevelt bowed to isolationist pressures 
less out of reasons of health than because it went against his political 
nature to be fully honest with the American people. Perhaps Roose- 
velt's guile is best understood when we realize that he was never as fully 
committed to internationalist thinking as Wilson. 38 

To what degree was the President a realist? A realistic policy in 1945 
required that he frankly inform the public about the security interests 
of Russia and Britain and utilize government agencies to educate the 
people about limitations in the principle of self-determination for re- 
gions such as eastern Europe. Secondly, Roosevelt would need to have 
pushed harder for a stronger UN. It may not be too far-fetched to en- 
vision Russian agreement to a more limited veto in exchange for Ameri- 


can support of the Soviet proposed UN air force and a genuine role for 
Russia as a trustee nation. 

These alternatives to Roosevelt's actual course of action should 
not ignore the problem of Russia's motives and policies. Given Stalin's 
situation in 1944-1945, serious postwar tensions were probably unavoid- 
able. This still does not absolve Roosevelt of missing a great oppor- 
tunity—perhaps the only chance— of avoiding the bitterness of the Cold 
War. For whatever reasons, Roosevelt did miss his chance. The impact 
of isolationism at the end of World War II left the people confused and 
fearful as they moved into the postwar years. It was the seedbed of dis- 
illusionment and the turn toward nationalism and reliance on military 
force in the following years. 


^ William H. McNeill, America, Britain, and Russia: Their Co-operation and 
Conflict, 1941-1946 (London, 1953), p. 501. 

2 Athan Theoharis, "The Rhetoric of Politics: Foreign Policy, Internal Security 
and Domestic Politics in the Truman Era, 1945-1950," in Barton J. Bernstein 
(ed.), Politics and Policies of the Truman Administration (Chicago, 1970), pp. 

3 Warren B. Walsh, "American Attitudes toward Russia," The Antioch Review, 
7 (1947-1948), 185. 

^ Robert A. Divine, Roosevelt and World War II (Baltimore, 1969), pp. 65-66. 
^ The United States, Russia, Britain, with China replacing Russia for a second 
phase of the conversations. 

^ The New York Times, Aug. 17, 1944; Chicago Tribune, Aug. 21, 1944; New 
York Herald-Tribune, Aug. 22, 1944; Brooklyn Eagle, Aug. 22, 1944; New York 
Journal-American, Aug. 28, 1944; Congressional Record, 78th Cong., 2d sess., 
pt. 6, pp. 7334-7336. 

"^ New York Times, Aug. 18, 1944; Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 21, 1944; 
Philadelphia Inquirer, Aug. 21, 1944; New Republic, 111 (Aug. 28, 1944), pp. 
237, 247. 

^ Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., calendar notes, Aug. 21 and Aug. 22, 1944; Stettinius- 
Hull, transcript of telephone conversation. Aug. 20. 1944, The Edward R. Stet- 
tinius, Jr. Papers, Charlottesville, Va.; Josephus Daniels to Hull, Sept. 12, 1944, 
The Papers of Cordell Hull, Library of Congress; Stettinius, Dumbarton Oaks 
Diary, Sept. 17, 1944, Stettinius Papers; Hugh R. Wilson to Dulles, Oct. 14, 1944, 
The John Foster Dulles Papers, Princeton University Library; Robert A. Divine, 
Second Chance: The Triumph of Internationalism in America during World 
War II (New York, 1967), pp. 237-242. 

^ Washington Star, Aug. 21, 1944; New York Herald-Tribune, Aug. 21, 1944; 
Chicago Tribune, Aug. 22, 1944; Washington Post, Aug. 23, 1944; Brooklyn 


Eagle, Aug. 24, 1944; New York Sun, Aug. 24, 1944; Christian Science Monitor, 
Sept. 2 and Sept. 13, 1944; Dept. of State, Press and Radio News Conferences, 
transcript, Sept. 4, 1944; Stettinius, Dumbarton Oaks Diary, Sept. 4, 1944, 
Stettinius Papers. 

^^ Dept. of State, Foreign Relations of the United States (Hereafter, FRUS), 
1944, vol. I, General, pp. 699-705; Ruth Russell, A History of the United Nations 
Charter: The Role of the United States, 1941-1945 (Washington, 1958), pp. 175- 

1^ Examples of important works in 1944 include Dexter Perkins, America and 
Two Wars (Boston, 1944); Edward S. Corwin, The Constitution and World Or- 
ganization (Princeton, 1944); Kenneth Colegrove, The American Senate and 
World Peace (New York, 1944); Stettinius, Dumbarton Oaks Diary, Sept. 17, 
1944; S. Shephard Jones to Breckinridge Long, Nov. 22, 1944; Stettinius-Con- 
nally, transcript of telephone conversation. Mar. 15, 1945, Stettinius Papers. 
Significant insight into why the Republicans did not push for a decision on the 
use of force issue is provided by correspondence in the Dulles Papers: letters be- 
tween Vandenberg and Dulles, Sept. 6, 9, and 11, 1944, July 3, 1945; Dulles to 
Hugh R. Wilson with enclosure, Sept. 21, 1944; Wilson to Dulles, Sept. 23, 1944, 
Dulles Papers. 

^2 Thomas M. Campbell, The Masquerade Peace: America's UN Policy, 1944- 
1945 (Tallahassee, 1973), pp. 38-40, 53-55. 
^^ Stettinius calendar notes. May 23, 1945, Stettinius Papers. 
^'^ Dorothy B. Robins, Experiment in Democracy: The Story of U.S. Citizens 
Organizations in Forging the Charter of the United Nations (New York, 1971), 
pp. 62-72, 79-80, 82-84, 91-99. 
^^ Public Opinion Quarterly, 9 (Spring, 1945), 91. 

16 FRUS, 1944, IV, Europe, pp. 233-289, 855, 883-884, 908-911, 1372, 1415- 

1'^ Anthony Eden, The Reckoning (Boston, 1968), pp. 574-582; Stettinius Re- 
cord, vol. I, pp. 7-10, Stettinius Papers. 

18 Washington Times-Herald, Dec. 7, 1944; New Republic, 111 (Dec. 11, 1944), 
783-784; Dept. of State Bulletin, 11 (Dec. 10, 1944), 722. 

19 FRUS, 1944, vol. 5, The Near East, South Asia, Africa, the Far East, pp. 
141-161; Eden, The Reckoning, pp. 574-582. 

2^ Gabriel Kolko, The Politics of War: The World and United States Foreign 
Policy, 1943-1945 (New York, 1968), pp. 99, 96-98; Time, 44 (Dec. 18, 1944), 
17; Congressional Record, 78th Cong., 2d sess., 1944, pt. 7, pp. 8975-8976. 

21 House of Commons Debates, Dec. 14, 1944, 5th ser., vol. 406, col. 1481; 
New York Post, Dec. 18, 1944; Kolko, The Politics of War, pp. 150-151. 
^ Chicago Polish Daily News, Dec. 15, 1944; Congressional Record, 78th 
Cong., 2d sess., 1944, pt 7, pp. 9662-9663. 

23 Congressional Record, 78th Cong., 2d sess., 1944, pt. 11, pp. A4643-A4644. 

24 New York Times, Dec. 20 and Dec. 23, 1944. 

25 Stettinius to Roosevelt, Memorandum with enclosed "Observations from 
the Midwest," Dec. 21, 1944, Stettinius Papers. 

26 Dept. of State, "Fortnightly Surveys of American Opinion on International 
Affairs, December: Last Half," No. 18, Jan. 6, 1945, Stettinius Papers. 

2^ Secretary's Staff Committee, minutes, Dec. 20, 1944; Stettinius calendar 
notes, Dec. 30, 1944, Stettinius Papers. 


^ James MacGregor Burns, Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom (New York, 
1970), p. 559. 

29 Dept. of State, Div. of Public Liaison, "The Present Climate of Opinion in 
the U.S. on International Developments," Jan. 3, 1945, Stettinius Papers. 
^ Secretary's Staff Committee, minutes, Jan. 3, 1945; memorandum for the 
President, "Latest Opinions in the U.S.A.," Jan. 6, 1945, Stettinius Papers. 
3^ Hayden Raynor, memorandum for the President, "American Opinion on 
Selected Questions," Jan. 16, 1945, Stettinius Papers. 

^ Secretary's Staff Committee, minutes, Feb. 9, 1945; Staff Committee Docu- 
ment #48, "Information Program with Respect to the Dumbarton Oaks Propo- 
sals," Feb. 6, 1945, Stettinius Papers. 

^ Dept. of State, Div. of Public Liaison, "Latest Opinion Trends," Feb. 23 
and Mar. 10, 1945, and "Public Reaction to the Voting Formula for the Proposed 
Security Council," Mar. 27, 1945, Stettinius Papers. A poll by the American In- 
stitute of Public Opinion on April 24, 1945 bears out the worry of government 
leaders. While 67% of the people claimed to have read or heard about the UN 
Conference in San Francisco, only 34% of this group correctly knew its actual 
function. Public Opinion Quarterly, 9 (Summer, 1945), 248. 
34 Ibid., 9 (Winter, 1945-1946), 532-533; John L. Gaddis, The United States 
and the Origins of the Cold War. 1941-1947 (New York, 1972), pp. 337-338, 
341-346. One of the best analyses of Roosevelt's leadership dilemma is in Burns, 
Soldier of Freedom, pp. 548-552, 590-593. 

^ E.g., Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., "The New Isolationism," Atlantic Monthly, 
189 (May, 1952), 34-38. 

^ Walter LaFeber, America, Russia, and the Cold War. 1945-1966 (New York, 
1967), pp. 77, 166-167. 

3'^ On various stages of Roosevelt's health during his last year see Burns, Sol- 
dier of Freedom, pp. 447-450, 498, 533, 573, 581-582. A good earlier summary 
was done by Henry E. Bateman, "Observations on President Roosevelt's Health 
during World War II," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 46 (June, 1956), 
^ Divine, Roosevelt and World War II, pp. 56-71. 






My subject is untapped resources for American diplomatic history. 
Not everything I am going to mention is really untapped— although 
some of it is— but these resources all have not and are not being fully 
exploited. I will discuss the records resources in the custody of the 
National Archives and Records Service, and, more specifically, those in 
the custody of the Diplomatic Branch of the National Archives. 

The first step to understand the untapped resources of the National 
Archives and Records Service is to know what NARS is and does. Since 
1950 NARS has been one of the constituent services of the General 
Services Administration, the independent agency that provides build- 
ing, equipment, supply, communication, and other services to all other 
federal agencies. NARS provides records service. 

One office in NARS, the Office of Records Management, helps agen- 
cies, when asked, to solve problems in the creation and filing of current 
records, in reducing paperwork, and cutting red tape. Last year their 
studies resulted in a saving to the taxpayer of $31 million. 

Another office is in charge of the fourteen federal records centers 
located throughout the country. Each year these centers receive over 
one million cubic feet of records no longer needed in offices, thus 
avoiding about $10 million in storage and filing costs. 

When the records of a federal agency are deemed worthy of per- 
manent value, they are transferred to a third office — the Office of the 
National Archives. Our job is to preserve these records and make them 
available for use. To do so, we must arrange and describe them, and, 
increasingly, declassify them. 

A fourth office has charge of presidential libraries. The papers of 
the President, and the records of the White House during his presi- 
dency, belong to him and are not legally federal records to be deposited 
in the National Archives. Recent Presidents have chosen to preserve 
those documents and make them available for use in their own build- 
ings. Although the presidential library is built privately, it is adminis- 
tered by NARS. 

A fifth office of NARS provides resources through its publications. 
The Office of the Federal Register publishes the administrative rules 
and regulations of federal agencies in the daily Federal Register and the 
periodic compilations in the Code of Federal Regulations. It publishes 
laws in the Statutes at Large. And it publishes what the President says 
and does in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents and 
the annual Public Papers of the President. 

Now that I have explained what NARS is and does, we can turn to 
a discussion of those untapped records resources in the National Ar- 


chives and how you can find out more about them. 

Unfortunately, the only comprehensive guide to the records in the 
National Archives was published in 1948. It is out of date and out of 
print. A new Guide has been written, and will be published as soon as 
it can move successfully from the hands of computer technicians to 
the printed page. But there are numerous other guides and finding aids 
that are currently available. 

There are guides to materials relating to the Civil War, World War I, 
World War II, and Latin America, and reference information papers 
on materials relating to Russia, the Middle East, the Independence of 
Latin American Nations, and Rumania. In addition, there are pre- 
liminary inventories or special lists that describe specific groups of 

Another good way to find out what is available is to read Prologue: 
The Journal of the National Archives. Most of the articles are based 
on records in NARS and illustrate how they can be used. One of the 
best examples is the article by Thomas A. Bryson, "The Federal Career 
of Walter George Smith," in the Fall 1972 issue. There is also a section 
in Prologue that provides information about new accessions of records 
in the National Archives, the Presidential Libraries, and the Federal 
Records Centers. 

The best means to determine the availability of NARS material 
related to your topic is to write a letter to NARS, Washington, D.C. 
20408. That letter will be opened and sent to all of the offices that might 
have information necessary for a reply. The reply might well indicate 
that records of interest to the pertinent topic are available on microfilm 
through our microfilm publication program. 

At the present time there are approximately 100,000 rolls of micro- 
film containing about 100 million pages of documentary materials 
available. Included are practically all of the correspondence 
files of the State Department through 1906, and many of the most im- 
portant subject files for the 1910-29 period. The next edition of the 
National Archives Catalog of microfilm publications— when it can 
successfully move from the hands of the computer technicians to the 
printed page— will provide a roll-by-roll breakdown of all of these 
microfilm publications. 

The reply to your letter might indicate that there are certain spe- 
cific documents or files that relate to your topic, and these can be 
microfilmed or xeroxed and sent to you. Or, the reply might state that 
the records of interest to you have not been microfilmed, or that there 
are no single documents and files that can be reproduced, and that 
there is no alternative for you except to come to the National Archives, 
find your own records, and do your own research. And that does not 
have to be the terrifying experience that many people think it will be. 

The National Archives Building is located at 8th and Pennsylvania 
Avenue and opens at 8:45 a.m. The first step is to get a research card 
and talk to a reference specialist who will direct you to offices and 
archivists who will provide specific assistance. The records you choose 


to examine will be sent to a central research room, and they will be kept 
there as long as you want them. That room is open until 10 p.m. Monday 
through Friday, and 8:45 to 5:00 on Saturday. 

The historical researchers who use our resources, either by mail 
or in person, can be divided into three main categories. The first are 
those who have comprehensive topics, such as U.S. relations with Japan 
from 1937-1941, and who must examine a vast amount of material among 
the holdings of several different offices. The second are those who wish 
to examine a small and specific body of records relating to a specific 
topic, usually for a master's thesis or article or perhaps a dissertation. 
The third are those who want to examine only a few isolated documents 
that relate in some way to a larger theme or topic. Researchers in this 
third category usually know exactly what they want, and it is a relatively 
easy job for us to assist them. For those in the first or second categories, 
it would probably be helpful if they knew a little about the way the 
records of the State Department are arranged. 

The National Archives has organized the records of the State De- 
partment into eleven different record groups. Record Group 59 is the 
General Records of the Department of State. The 19,000 cubic feet of 
records in this record group are divided into two large sub-groups called 
central file records, which have been the ones most used by diplomatic 
historians, and non-central file records. It is helpful to know that the 
central file records are divided into three main time periods (1789-1906, 
1906-10, 1910-49) because of the way the State Department originally 
filed its records. 

The records in the central file dated before 1906 consist primarily 
of correspondence— instructions, despatches, notes, and letters— filed 
by country or city in chronological order. Because of this arrangement, 
it is much easier to use records of this period for biographical topics 
or general topics relating to U.S. relations with a specific country. All 
of the reports or despatches that our first Minister to China, Caleb Gush- 
ing, sent to the State Department are filed together in chronological 
order in two bound volumes, and there are 131 bound volumes of des- 
patches from the U.S. Minister in China to the State Department for 
the period from 1843 to 1906. 

There are countless stories reported in these letters that could be 
retold by historians. For example, there was the incident at Toulon on 
May 1, 1834, when the frigate United States fired a 21-gun salute in 
honor of the birthday of the French King. Unfortunately, three cannon 
were armed with shot. A direct hit was scored on a French battleship, 
killing two and wounding four. The speed with which Congress voted 
pensions for the widows tells us something about U.S. -French relations 
during the age of Jackson. 

The central file for the 1906-10 period is a subject file called the 
Numerical File. That filing system lasted less than five years because 
it was impossible to determine what was a subject. There was no way to 
determine, for example, if a despatch from the U.S. Minister in Cuba 
should be the first document in a new subject file previously created. 


As the number of different subject files approached 29,000, the State 
Department switched to a more complex subject filing system— the 
Decimal File. 

In the Decimal File, each subject has a predetermined decimal file 
number, like 763.72119 for documents relating to the ending of World 
War I, or 862.20212 for German military activities in Mexico, or 
393.1163 for protection of American religious missions in China. There 
are literally thousands of separate subject files in the Decimal File that 
have never been used. Decimal file 800.6232, for example, relates to 
international protection of migratory birds and the conflicts between 
treaties and state hunting laws. There are other environmental and 
ecological subjects that are waiting to be studied. 

The Numerical File and the Decimal File are more valuable for his- 
torical research than the earlier files because they also contain internal 
memorandums of the State Department as well as correspondence. 
Some of these memorandums are formal position papers, but more 
often they are simply chits or notes attached to the correspondence. 
The need to write and file memorandums reflected the growth of the 
diplomatic bureaucracy in the twentieth century. The geometric growth 
of that bureaucracy during World War II resulted in a breakdown in 
the record-keeping system. Since action offices could no longer depend 
on finding important documents in the central file, they began to estab- 
lish their own office files. 

For example, anyone working on postwar planning must use the 
Harley Notter files. Notter, who later wrote a State Department publica- 
tion on postwar foreign policy planning, gathered together during the 
war a master file of documentation of the various committees involved 
in postwar planning. Leo Pasvolsky, a special assistant to Cordell Hull, 
also kept his own file of records relating to his activities. Documenta- 
tion relating to the Office of European Affairs during the war may be 
found among the files of H. Freeman Matthews and John D. Hickerson. 
While he was Secretary of State, Edward Stettinius kept a diary or 
record of notes and summaries of events written from his vantage 

There are other records in Record Group 59, not in the central file, 
that are untapped resources. Some 350 feet of letters relate to applica- 
tions and recommendations for positions in the foreign service and 
other offices for the period 1789-1901. Who were these people, what 
were their qualifications, why did they apply, and what differences are 
there between those who received appointments and those who did 
not? The significance of a single letter, such as A. Lincoln's letter to 
Daniel Webster in 1849 recommending a "tired printer" for a consular 
post in Scotland because his wife was Scotch and wanted to visit Scot- 
land, has to be judged in relationship to other letters in the file. They 
do tell us a lot about local politics. 

There is a small quantity of records relating to the activities of John 
A. Kasson, the Reciprocity Commissioner from 1897 to 1907. This 


office had full powers to negotiate reciprocal trade agreements with 
foreign governments. 

Although the State Department established a War History Branch 
to draft studies and compile a history of the Department's activities 
during World War II, the office was abolished before its work was com- 
pleted. Nevertheless, anyone working on World War II ought to ex- 
amine these records to gain a better understanding of the administra- 
tive history of the Department during the war. 

One of these wartime offices was the Division of Defense Materials, 
established in 1941 to assist in developing policies and programs for 
procurement, siiipping, and supplying pf strategic materials for the war 
effort. No one has used these records. 

Also during World War II, the Research and Analysis Branch of 
the Office of Strategic Services, which moved to the State Department 
after the abolition of the OSS, prepared reports for informational and 
intelligence purposes on cultural, economic, military, political, and 
social matters of most areas of the world. Topics of these reports range 
from a study of the importance of salt in a country's economy to a strate- 
gic survey of Pitcairn's Island. 

Another untapped resource are the records relating to General 
George Marshall's mission to China, 1945-47. Many of these documents 
have been published in several volumes of the Foreign Relations series, 
but the original records have not been used because of declassification 
problems. Although the State Department documents in this file have 
been declassified, the military documents have not. Until the Joint 
Chiefs of Staff issues guidelines to our newly-functioning Declassifica- 
tion Division, there is nothing that it can do. 

My final example from Record Group 59 is a small body of records 
dated 1960-62 relating to activities of the United States Citizens Com- 
mission on NATO, established to meet with similar citizens commissions 
in the other NATO countries "to explore means by which greater co- 
operation and unity of purpose may be developed to the end that demo- 
cratic freedom may be promoted by economic and political means." 

The second record group for State Department records is Record 
Group 84, the records of the Foreign Service posts of the Department 
of State. These are the records created, received, and filed at the U.S. 
embassies, legations, and consulates all over the world. Most researchers 
prefer to use State Department records for correspondence between 
the Department and the post, but the post records do have some unique 
documentation. The records of the diplomatic missions, for example, 
include correspondence with subordinate consular offices and the notes 
exchanged with the foreign office of the host country. The most valuable 
part of the records of the consular posts is the miscellaneous correspon- 
dence—correspondence with American businessmen or local officials 
not otherwise referred to Washington. 

It is not easy to use the post records for research. Records from 
many posts have been lost or disarranged, and record-keeping prac- 
tices were not uniform. In general, before 1912 the records are arranged 


by series, similar to the Department's filing system for records dated 
before 1906; after 1912 the posts used the same decimal filing system as 
the State Department, but the files were broken yearly. 

An example of untapped resources in this record group are those 
records that relate to the work of the consular courts established in 
those countries in which the United States had extraterritorial juris- 
diction. For the period 1927-47 there are 20 boxes of Casablanca Con- 
sular Court records containing 333 civil case files and 182 criminal case 
files. What was the quality of justice provided by the American Consul 
in Casablanca? One American, charged and convicted for assault and 
battery in 1935, was fined 10 francs and costs. Since court costs were 32 
francs, the total fine was 42 francs, or $1.63. 

Records relating to American participation in international con- 
ferences and commissions are in Record Group 43. For the most part 
these are the conference documents and records maintained at the site 
of the conference, and there are related records in the central file in 
Record Group 59. Included in Record Group 43 are the records of the 
European Advisory Commission, established in 1943 and superceded 
by the Council of Foreign Ministers in 1946. There are also separate 
series of records for the World War II conferences at Moscow, Teheran, 
Cairo, Alexandria, Bretton Woods, Yalta, and Potsdam. Much of this 
material has been printed in Foreign Relations of the United States, 
but some of the items that were not printed may also be useful. For 
example, omitted from the printed account in the Yalta volume of the 
dinner of the heads of states on February 10, 1945, is the following: 
"The Prime Minister in an aside to the President said he did not have 
a very high opinion of Ernest Bevin who he felt had merely been waiting 
during the war for the worst catastrophes to happen." 

There are four other State Department record groups that relate 
to the history of the World War II period. Record Group 353 has records 
of intra- and inter-departmental committees, such as the State- War-Navy 
and State-Army-Navy-Air Force Coordinating Committees. There are 
also separate record groups for the records of the Office of War In- 
formation, the Office of Inter- American Affairs, and the Foreign Econo- 
mic Administration. 

For the World War I period, there is a separate record group for 
the records of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace. Besides 
a large subject file of records relating to the work of the conference, 
this record group also contains the reports and correspondence of the 
American Inquiry that preceded the peace conference. 

Very few people use the records in Record Group 76 relating to 
boundary commissions, claims commissions, and American participa- 
tion in internal arbitrations. For example, the boundary between Costa 
Rica and Nicaragua was set by treaty in 1858, but questions of interpre- 
tation were submitted to President Grover Cleveland as the arbitrator, 
and the United States was also represented on the boundary commission 
which marked the boundary in 1900. 


Another area of research that is little used is that relating to the 
negotiation of treaties and other international agreements. These agree- 
ments have all been printed, but David Hunter Miller's multi-volume 
scholarly analysis of these documents— that rank with the Constitution 
and laws as the supreme law of the land — ends in 1863. Practically 
nothing has been done with the unperfected treaties, those treaties that 
have been signed but have not gone into effect for a variety of reasons— 
the refusal of the Senate to approve them, or the President to ratify 
them, or a failure of ratification in the other country. One of these un- 
perfected treaties, the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War 
of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological 
Methods of Warfare, signed at Geneva in 1925, has been formally with- 
drawn from the unperfected treaty file and is now (February 1973) 
before the Senate. 

The earliest records in the custody of the Diplomatic Branch are 
the papers of the Continental and Confederation Congresses. In 1971 
NARS established a Center for the Documentary Study of the American 
Revolution to provide assistance for scholars working in the 1774- 
1789 period. The records of this period have never been satisfactorily 
indexed. With the aid of a two-year $150,000 grant from the Ford Foun- 
dation, the Center is preparing a computer-assisted index to these 

Diplomatic historians of the American Revolution and the Confed- 
eration period have relied on the printed compilations of documents, 
but some of this reliance may be misplaced. Jared Sparks first published 
The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, but his 
carelessness and obvious errors of omission and commission led to the 
publication of a new edition by Francis Wharton. But Wharton's edition 
also has its defects. A comparison of the originals of six Adams letters 
with the Wharton versions reveals at least 30 errors of omission and 

Although no comparison has been made, to my knowledge, between 
the printed diplomatic correspondence for the 1783-1789 period and 
the originals, it would be very surprising if there are not gaps as well 
as numerous transcription errors in these as well. The materials were 
compiled under the direction of a State Department clerk, William A. 
Weaver, who prepared the seven volumes for publication in only two 

The printed diplomatic correspondence by itself, of course, tells 
only part of the story of our diplomacy. When using the microfilm copy 
of the original records, researchers have available to them the com- 
mittee reports, journals, drafts and proposals for treaties and agree- 
ments, as well as other pertinent documentation that is not included in 
the Wharton and Weaver publications. 

I wish to emphasize that researchers need to recognize the limita- 
tions of federal records in the National Archives. The people who write 
the papers that get filed in federal agencies do so for a bureaucratic 


reason, and that reason is sometimes not related to history as it really 
happened. It is not "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the 
truth." With a seal and a ribbon I can authenticate copies of documents 
in my custody, but I cannot authenticate the accuracy of what is stated 
in the document— only that it is a true copy. It is the task of the research- 
er, the historian, to evaluate the authenticity of the documents he 








How do teachers of the history of American foreign relations see 
themselves and their discipline? What teaching methods do they use, 
what strengths and weaknesses do they identify in the field, and how 
have recent events affected their outlook? Probably every diplomatic 
historian has his own opinions on these matters, gathered as our own 
were from informal talks with colleagues, ideas exchanged at profes- 
sional meetings, and from the media. For more than idle speculation, 
however, some concrete data was required. After some thought, the 
authors of this paper decided to compose a questionnaire, to acquire 
factual data about age, training, personal opmions about approach to 
the subject, and to look at the effect of certain events on one's outlook. 
In order to obtain a sample which would include most of those teaching 
diplomatic history in colleges and universities in the United States, 
we mailed the questions (see Appendix) to those on the current member- 
ship list of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. 
Of the 450 we mailed out, 197 were returned and of those, 182 were 
usable, a relatively large response. Our tacit assumption (unfortunately 
untested), was that the great majority of the SHAFR membership were 
historians trained in, and teaching American diplomatic history. 

The areas of interest we addressed ourselves to were several. First, 
we sought some data on those who are teaching courses on the history 
of American diplomacy or American foreign relations. We wished to 
learn the ages of the recipients, where they had been educated, and how 
they taught the subject— what texts, problems and documentary collec- 
tions and monographs were used. Second, we were curious as to their 
particular interpretation of the subject matter. Did the "labels" applied 
in problems books correspond to the self-perceptions of those teach- 
ing the subject? Third, we wished to determine the effect of current and 
controversial events on the respondents. Few events in American his- 
tory have provoked such agonizing and soul-searching as the American 
involvement in Vietnam. Since 1968 when President Lyndon Johnson 
chose not to seek reelection rather than to risk repudiation for his war 
policies, Americans in all walks of life have sought answers to the many 
problems posed by our continuing involvement in the war. Several 
years ago, Daniel Ellsberg reached his private verdict against further 
implication in a policy he could no longer support, and began the un- 
authorized publication of the famed Pentagon Papers. 

The popular debate over the war, of course, has helped stimulate 
the revision of American history being undertaken by the scholars gen- 


erally termed the "New Left." It was apparent that some American diplo- 
matic historians, concerned about the war itself, were perceiving impli- 
cations for earlier periods of American foreign policy from their con- 
clusions about Vietnam and the Cold War. Judging from the endless 
variety of problems books and readers pouring from the presses, diplo- 
matic historians were as disturbed as the general public by the Vietnam 
debate, and questions asked about the war were leading some to a re- 
examination of long held assumptions about the wisdom of formerly 
unchallenged decisions in foreign affairs. 

How many in the field of American foreign relations were so moved? 
Was the "New Left" just a strident and vocal minority among the con- 
servative or moderate majority? We sought to quantify the data about 
the effect of the war, the publication of the Pentagon Papers and politi- 
cal preferences and to compare these data to reach some conclusions. 
The results of the study have been gratifying, enlightening, and frustrat- 
ing, for we discovered some of the limitations of the questionnaire ap- 
proach and the difficulties in analyzing the information we had obtained. 

Before explaining the outcome of the project, we must identify some 
of the problems encountered. One respondent remarked, "You will 
learn less than you think," which was, thanks to the computer, quite 
untrue. We learned much more than can be presented in this brief 
paper. However, composing a questionnaire is in the same league with 
wording a true-false test. The gap between what the questioner seeks 
to learn and the way in which the respondent reacts to the words used 
is hard to perceive in advance, and thus poses problems very difficult 
to overcome. A few, perhaps a half-dozen of the recipients, were so 
offended by the questions that they not only refused to answer but also 
sent us hostile communications heaping opprobrium on our heads, damn- 
ing our motives, and even suspecting our source of funds (which came 
largely from our own pockets). Others raised quite legitimate complaints 
about our use of a 1-7 rating scale (which, for purposes of computerizing 
the results, was far too broad, allowing too many choices). They also 
castigated our use of such undefined terms as "traditional" and "radi- 
cal." A number objected to our limiting their response to the Vietnam 
War to a simplistic continuum from "immediate withdrawal" to "indefi- 
nite presence." Some felt that, despite our guarantees of their anony- 
mity, questions about their political behavior were, to quote, "none of 
your damned business." Some of these complaints we had anticipated 
but had decided to ignore because of another consideration: The desire 
to make the questionnaire short enough to tempt more people to take 
the time to answer it. In this day of the deluge of paper, brevity and 
simplicity are sometimes greater virtues than absolute accuracy of 
detail. And, after all, we are all called upon to make choices between 
less-than-optimal alternatives and denied the opportunity to make our 
feelings "perfectly clear" by means of a position paper. Since we wished 
to computerize the results, we had also to keep the questions simple 
so the results could be transferred to punch cards. 

Having perused the responses rather thoroughly, we can now make 


some further criticisms of the approach. The wording did lead to am- 
biguity, although for some questions that was probably unavoidable. 
The profession itself cannot agree on whether to call those interpre- 
tations of American foreign policy that are generally supportive of past 
administrative decisions as nationalist, "establishment," traditional, 
consensus, or by the more obviously offensive label, "court historians." 
The term traditional seemed to us to be a fairly neutral one. An item we 
had not expected to be so controversial was the phrase "diplomatic 
history." A number of respondents felt the subject matter should proper- 
ly be designated foreign relations, and from some of their criticisms it 
was apparent that the Association's membership is split among his- 
torians, some of whom took the opportunity to castigate the "social 
scientists" for infringing on their "turf," and political scientists and 
international relations specialists, some of whom felt that any associa- 
tion with the word "history" was contaminating; others wished in addi- 
tion to avoid the narrowness implied by the original phrase. It was ob- 
vious that we should have asked the respondents to identify the specific 
area of their own training. 

The nature of the sample also can be open to some criticism. From 
the data on age groups, it will be seen that the respondents covered the 
spectrum well. However, it was impossible to determine, since the ques- 
tionnaire specified anonymity, just who answered; did we hear primarily 
from the younger or less-well-known members of the group? We can 
state only that the respondents were all members of SHAFR; not all 
of them are currently teaching diplomatic history, although most are. 
About a dozen recipients returned unanswered questionnaires because 
they were not now teaching the subject. However, we did use responses 
from teachers trained in foreign relations who were not currently teach- 
ing it, including a few from graduate teaching assistants, and historians 
working in research positions for the federal government. And, of 
course, we did not solicit responses from the many teachers of diplo- 
matic history who are not members of SHAFR. 

A further limitation in the usefulness of this project is the neces- 
sarily "dated" nature of the response. Political questions were exciting 
and very relevant in October 1972, but are perhaps less so now. With 
the end ot ttie Vietnam War, the highly emotional effect it had on the 
study and teaching of American foreign relations will perhaps be lessen- 
ed. The publication of the Pentagon Papers was replaced as an 
emotional issue by the Ellsberg-Russo trial, but the larger issue sur- 
rounding the extensive classification of government documents still 
remains. One respondent urged us to "applaud Nixon (if he wins) for 
dropping the majority of the restrictions on World War II documents 
and encourage him to drop the ban on material up through 1960. It 
might even make him look good." On this sensitive issue the views of 
the SHAFR membership can still be of considerable utility. 

Since we were previously inexperienced in the use of the computer, 
we neglected to ask as many questions of it as we might have. We also 
found ourselves with far more data than we had imagined, and further 


analysis seems to be merited along several lines. The project was itself 
a "learning experience," and the results have, in our minds, only con- 
firmed the need for continuing self-evaluation of this branch of 
the academic profession. 


The average age of the respondents was 40.85 years. Those who 
answered the questionnaire ranged in age from 22 to 75. The regional 
location of the institutions where the respondents obtained their 
terminal degrees can be seen from Table 1. The mid-west produced 
34.1% of the highest degrees (overwhelmingly Ph.D.'s). It was further 
apparent that no one school dominates in the production of doctorates 
in the history of American foreign relations. U.C. Berkeley, Wisconsin, 
and Harvard led with 10, 9, and 8 respectively, followed by Yale, Stan- 
ford, and the University of Virginia, but 130 were graduates of schools 
other than those. 79.7% said that U.S. Diplomatic was their primary 
area of interest, and they were apparently historians by and large. 

Regional Location of Terminal Degrees 


Number of Responses 



Mid Atlantic 








Rocky Mt. West 


Pacific West 




No response 


Percent of Responses 









The average enrollment of the institutions where the respondents 
taught was between 7,500 and 10,000; however, 59% taught in schools 
with enrollments less than 5,000. 79% of the institutions were secular. 
22.5% teach in the midwest, which produced more Ph.D.'s than are em- 
ployed there. (See Table 2 for regional location of teaching institutions.) 
125 of the respondents taught in universities, as opposed to colleges 


(47) and junior colleges (5), but the universities were small (indicating 
that the more well-known of the diplomatic historians from the major 
state and private universities probably did not reply.) 62.1% of the in- 
stitutions were urban. There were an average of two classes in diplo- 
matic history per department, and class size ranged as large as 500 stu- 
dents, with the average 41.6. Over one-half the classes are smaller than 
29 students. 

Regional Location of Teaching Institutions 


Number of Responses 

Percent of Responses 



20.9 + 

Mid Atlantic 





8.8 — 






8.8 + 

Rocky Mt. West 


2.7 + 



6.6 + 

Pacific West 


13.2 same 




No Response 



Total 182 100.0 

In the percentage column, regions marked + employ more than they 
educate, while those marked — educate more than they employ. 

Of the respondents, 70.9% indicated that they usually used a text- 
book. Table 3 shows the preferences named. Some did indicate that 
they switched materials yearly in an attempt to "keep up to date." The 
heavy preference for the text by Thomas A. Bailey would seem to indi- 
cate that a sizeable number prefer to stick with this well-known and es- 
tablished work. 10% favored Wayne Cole's work, which does represent 
a different approach, an "interpretive" history. 20% selected the texts 
by Daniel Smith and Alexander DeConde, indicating, aside from stylis- 
tic and content preference, perhaps a desire to use works available in 
paperback, and thus cheaper for the student, enabling the instructor 
to combine them more readily with other materials. 



Textbooks Used in Courses in History 
of American Foreign Relations 


Number of Respondents 

Percent of Replies 




























No Response 





69 of the 182 respondents reported using a problems book, while 63 
used a documents collection (Table 4). The most-used titles can be seen 
in Tables 5 and 6. Great variation emerged when we attempted to assess 
the combination of materials used. While the figures were not fully 
analyzed, a study of the questionnaires indicated that about 36 respon- 
dents used both text and problems, about 15 used text, problems and 
documents as well, while about 25 used text and documents. A smaller 
number, less than 20, indicated they used problems or documents with- 
out a text. 88.6% reported using monographs, either entirely or in 
combination with a text or other materials. This no doubt reflects the 
success of the "paperback revolution," as well as the diligence of 
bofjk salesmen. 

Useage of Textbooks, Problems Books, and Documents 





Using Textbook 





Using Problems 





Using Documents 






Most Used Problems Books 













Heath Series 





















Most Used Documents Collections 





















The question as to which monographs have had the greatest in- 
fluence on the respondent's teaching (see ji'j^ll, Appendix) lent itself to 
several interpretations. Younger scholars and graduate students often 
named works that had influenced their own development as teachers, 
while older historians also saw the question in terms of the works that 
were most effective as teaching devices, even if they themselves did 
not agree with the interpretation. Many did not answer the question, 
and one irritated (or irritable) respondent replied sharply, "How the 
hell should I know?" Of the works mentioned, however, those by the 


radical historians led the field. 38 respondents mentioned William 
Appleman Williams, usually his Tragedy of American Diplomacy, 
occasionally his Roots of the Modern American Empire. Walter La- 
Feber's The New Empire was mentioned by 29, and works by Gabriel 
Kolko by 12. It should be noted that a number of those who named 
works by radicals specifically disclaimed agreement with the viewpoint 
presented, however. Other influential authors were also named: George 
F. Kennan by 19, and the following scholars by 5 to 13 respondents each: 
Samuel F. Bemis, T.A. Bailey, Hans Morgenthau, Norman Graebner, 
Robert Osgood, and Albert Weinberg. 

The item concerning the interpretations of foreign policy stressed 
by the academician in his courses produced some interesting data as 
well as many complaints (see Table 7). Since the great majority of re- 
spondents checked more than one interpretation, and the interpreta- 
tions listed were not perceived by most as mutually exclusive, it is not 
possible to separate out economic determinists on an absolute basis. 
A rough calculation of the number that chose only one or two interpre- 
tations showed, for example, that only six selected economic motiva- 
tion by itself; about 20 chose it in combination with special interests, 
an intellectual approach, or politics. About 12 chose intellectual alone, 
while 15 selected national security by itself (several wrote in national 
interest as well). The great majority of historians stressed their attempt 
to follow a multi-causal approach, or at least to present various inter- 
pretations in contrast to each other. Many other ideas were written in, 
such as psychological, social, ideological, balance of power or "real- 
politik," options and alternatives, peace studies, public opinion, and 
realist. Only two respondents condemned the question itself as "silly;" 
most seemed to understand what we were interested in. Our aim was to 
determine if historians did attach ideological labels to their approach 
to foreign relations, especially since so many of the problems books do 
so identify them. We found, however, that most teachers try to avoid 

Interpretations of American Foreign Relations 


Total number checking 

Number choosing 

that item 

that item alone 

National security 






Polit. leaders, politics 



Special interests 










As to the method of presentation, approximately 54.2% favored a 
topical over a chronological approach, although some expressed pref- 
erence for a combination of the two. The average time spent lecturing 
was 62.14%. 55% spent between 50-75% of their class time in lectures, 
which would tend to confirm the rather prevalent view of history as an 
essentially conservative discipline in terms of teaching technique. Sev- 
eral respondents did, however, mention elsewhere on the questionnaire 
their interest in the use of audio-visual, media materials, and oral his- 
tory or outside lecturers in an attempt to be innovative, and some 
decried the large classes that made the lecture format obligatory. 

How much have historians changed their interpretation of American 
foreign policy in the last five years? On a scale of 1 to 7, the mean 
score was 3.7 (1 corresponded to a significant change.) The data would 
appear to confirm that in the last five years there has been, on the 
average, a moderate change in approach. However, we might have had 
more conclusive data if we had asked how long the respondent had been 
teaching. The results of the next question asked, as to how much the 
Vietnam War had affected interpretation, showed that the war had had 
a moderate overall effect. However, because this question was subjected 
to a more thorough computer analysis, we will save further comment 
on it for later in the paper. 

The item on classification of government documents produced a 
more dramatic tabulation. 72.7% felt that classification procedures are 
too strict, while some 3.9% of the respondents indicated that they be- 
lieved classification policies are not strict enough. This response is in 
line with the next item, the publication of the Pentagon Papers. 57.5% 
agreed with the way in which the Papers were released to the press; 
36.3% thought they should have been published, but in a different 
manner; while 6.1% denied that they should have been published at 
all (see Table 8 for the data.) 


On the interrelated questions of the effects of the Vietnam War 
on interpretation, political preferences, teaching objectivity, and chang- 
ing approaches to diplomatic history, computer analysis provided us 
with the most interesting results of the study. The data are shown in 
Table 9, which lists first the attitudes on the Vietnam War and then 
political preference. A majority of the respondents favored withdrawal 
from the war over a so-called "neutral" position, while very few favored 
maintaining an indefinite presence in that country. This would appear 
to be highly related to their political persuasions in past presidential 
elections. In 1964, when the country was presumably offered a clear 
choice on the war in the candidacies of Lyndon B. Johnson and Barry 
Goldwater, diplomatic historians favored the Democratic candidate 
by an overwhelming margin — 87.8%. They still remained with the Demo- 
crats, though by a less impressive (69.47o margin, in the 1968 Humphrey- 


Nixon contest. However, the 1972 election showed them somewhat 
more spUt, with a 66.5% margin for McGovern (with many written com- 
ments indicating much soul-searching over the choices offered). How- 
ever, since the academicians were still 2 to 1 for McGovern, what is 
more striking is how different their preferences were from the nation's 
as a whole. 

Government Documents and Pentagon Papers 

Opinion on Classification of Government Documents 
umber checked on scale Number of Responses 

- 2 (Much too strict) 130 

- 4 (Somewhat strict) 41 

- 7 (Classification not strict enough) 8 

Total 179 

Opinion on Publication of the Pentagon Papers 

dumber approving of publication 103 

avoring a different method of publication 65 

)pposed to any publication at all 11 

fo opinion 3 

Total 182 

Vietnam and Voting Patterns 

Opinion on Vietnam 

Number of Responses 

avoring immediate withdrawal (1-2)*^ 119 

o strong response (3-5)^ 38 

avored prolonged presence there (6-7)^ 10 

indicates number 

lecked on 1-7 scale. Total 167 

Voting Patterns 

































An additional comparison was made of the respondent's personal 
interpretations of American foreign relations with their self-evaluations 
of political persuasion. The results, which are not surprising, appear in 
Table 10. By a large margin they preferred to avoid ideological ex- 
tremes. This is further confirmed by their reluctance to identify them- 
selves with only one or two overall interpretations of America's foreign 
relations (question 12). 

Political Persuasion and Classroom Interpretation 

Personal interpretation of 

Personal political 

American foreign relations 


Radical (1-2 on scale) 



Moderate (3-5) 






(6-7 on scale) 

The age of the respondents showed a predictable relationship to 
their feelings about the war. Of those most affected by the Indochina 
conflict (checking item 1 on question 16), the average age was 32.6. 
Those who indicated a moderate effect (checking 3-5 on the scale) 
averaged 40.5 years of age, while those unaffected (checking 7) were 
an average of 45.5. The age relationship was even more pronounced on 
the question involving classification of government documents; those 
favoring a more liberal policy were 39.5, while those taking the most 
opposed stance averaged 60. Likewise, the age of the respondents 
seemed to affect their personal political evaluation in a predictable 
fashion: the radicals (1-2) averaged 35 years old, the moderates (3-5) 
41.8, while the conservatives (6-7) averaged 44.8. 

A variety of further relationships were examined in the data involv- 
ing Vietnam. Those who felt that the conflict had had a pronounced 
effect on their interpretation of foreign policy reported a marked 
change in their approach in the last five years, while those who denied 
any effect on their views professed a moderate to negligible change in 


years, while the radicals professed a great deal. A similar picture emerg- 
ed in comparing personal political identification (radical vs. conserva- 
tive) with the amount of change. The degree of change also showed a 
high parallel to the effect of the Vietnam War; tiiose who reported 
pronounced change in approach were also those who indicated the 
greatest effect of the war on their perspective. 

A further analysis revealed that those who thought the classifica- 
tion of government documents was too strict (124 of 173 responses on 
that item) were at least rather strongly affected by Vietnam (3.8 on the 
1-7 scale). Those few who jlt classification was not strict enough were 
virtually uu>.ffected by the war. 

The item on teaching objectivity did not lend itself to easy analysis; 
those who admitted mixing personal political beliefs into their classroom 
presentation are to be found across the spectrum of viewpoints (Table 
11). One's response to this question is probably more likely related to 
one's philosophy of teaching and conceptions about the possibility or 
desirability of injecting or omitting bias from presentation than to the 
other factors studied. Many radicals admitted that they did not separate 
their own opinions from their classroom analyses, although they often 
claimed to label them as such. The conservatives, on the other hand, 
usually claimed to separate totally their beliefs from classroom presen- 
tation, although they generally identified their interpretation as mod- 
erate or traditional in approach. The question of objectivity does, in 
effect, involve a value judgement as well as a self-evaluation, and thus 
it would not seem to relate strictly along lines of political persuasion. 
Perhaps there is a better relationship to be drawn along age lines; 
younger scholars, having been more exposed to newer ideas in educa- 
tional and social psychology, are perhaps more able to recognize that 
racial and ethnic biases are implicit in virtually all standard teaching 
materials as well as in personal attitudes, thus making total objectivity 
impossible. Further study on this item seems desirable. 


Classroom Objectivity 

Number of Responses Percent 

Total separation of own political 

beliefs from classroom inter- 72 40.7 

pretation (1-2 on scale) 
Moderate separation of own beliefs 

(3-5 on scale) 80 45.2 

Little or no separation of own 

beliefs (6-7 on scale) 25 14.1 

Total 177 100.0 


The following is a printing omission at the end 
of page 75" 

their classroom interpretation. Age may well have had 
a bearing here, too. The great number favoring im- 
mediate withdraxval from Vietnam (checking 1 - 2 on the s 
scale), who numbered 112 of the 163 replying to that 
question (#21), reported a moderate amount of change 
in their approach to foreign policy. The mean response 
was 3.5. Interesting is the picture that emerges as 
one considers how much change in interpretation has 
been made by those who see themselves as radicals or 
traditionalists . The latter had changed very little 
in outlook in the last five 

One further comment on the issue of objectivity. Those who said 
that they totally separated their personal beliefs from their classroom 
interpretations were far less affected by the Vietnam War than those 
who admitted that their beliefs emerged in their teaching. The parallel 
here seems logical to anyone who became emotionally involved in the 
war issue; it was very hard to keep one's own feelings from entering into 
the discussion. In fact, here the reverse would not follow; "no comment" 
or no criticism of the war was itself a strong statement about it. In fur- 
ther comparisons it was seen that the "traditionalists" were less moved 
to change their interpretation of past foreign policies by the war than 
were the radicals. 

Those who approved the manner of publication of the Pentagon 
Papers agreed that the classification of government documents is too 
strict, while those who disagreed on the first count also strongly dis- 
puted the second. Radicals agreed, as one might expect, that classifi- 
cation of documents is overly extensive and rigid, but they were joined 
in that assessment by the vast majority who could be termed moderates. 
Only the four self-proclaimed conservatives disagreed sharply, indicat- 
ing a preference for even stricter classification. A similar trend was 
evident in comparing those who felt classification was too strict with 
those favoring immediate withdrawal from Vietnam; only a similar 
handful disagreed with both propositions. 

Attitudes about the war and its effect on interpretation of diplo- 
matic history seemed to have little bearing on the way respondents 
voted. This may have resulted from the heavy preference of these 
academicians for the Democratic candidates, presumably often for 
reasons unrelated to the war issue, on which there was no simple choice. 
The data did indicate that those who reported that the war had pro- 
foundly affected their interpretation of diplomatic history tended much 
more to see themselves as radical politically (5.67 on the 7-point scale). 
Those who reported little effect from Vietnam were generally moder- 
ates (3.6). This also makes sense; the war has, to most observers, been 
responsible for radicalizing the political beliefs of a significant segment 
of the academic world (see Table 12 for data). However, there was no 
such dichotomy on the issue of classification of government documents; 
the vast majority of respondents agreed that classification was too strict, 
regardless of their political persuasions. 

Those who termed themselves radicals differed from moderates 
and conservatives in several other particulars. Radicals reported a much 
stronger degree of change in their classroom interpretations in the last 
five years; other data indicated that the war had affected them much 
more than the moderates. Conservatives were more critical of the pub- 
lication of the Pentagon Papers, while moderates preferred the "yes, 
but . . ." choice. Again, on the sticky issue of the separation of personal 
belief from classroom interpretation, it was much more difficult to 
separate out the ideologies. 

The way in which the respondents intended to vote in November, 


Effects of Vietnam on Personal Interpretation 

Item checked on 1-7 scale 

(One=^very strong effect of war, 
seven;=war had minimal effect) 









[>f Responses 

Average response 


















Average 4.16 

1972, likewise was seemingly little affected by their attitudes on the 
war and the documents. Some academicians in the field of foreign re- 
lations may well have had the same problems with the McGovern can- 
didacy as the public at large; they were troubled about his domestic 
policy and often grudgingly praiseworthy of Nixon's policy toward China 
and the Soviet Union. Others tended to vote Democratic anyway, prob- 
ably through long preference for the party. Those who favored an in- 
definite presence in Vietnam were voting Republican; the radicals 
favored the candidacy of Benjamin Spock or McGovern, while tradi- 
tionalists and moderates were more split between Nixon and McGovern. 
Despite the great preference for the Democratic party, the McGovern 
candidacy clearly did not command as great a hold over diplomatic 
historians as had Lyndon Johnson's. 

The Vietnam War was closely related to the amount of interpreta- 
tion change which these teachers reported for the last five years. The 
data indicated that the more one was affected by the war, the greater 
the amount of change in interpretation of the history of America's 
foreign relations. Those who were least affected by the protracted con- 
flict were least likely to have changed their approach to the subject. 
Those showing the greatest change were also likely to be those who also 
favored withdrawal from Vietnam. On that question, 85 of 163 respon- 
dents favored immediate withdrawal from the war. In a cross-tabula- 
tion of those 85 it was clear that the more affected by the war. the more 
likely the respondent was to have changed his interpretation of Ameri- 
can foreign relations. Among those 85, the war had had a predictably 
strong effect. However, there was a great spread in response to the 
question about changes in interpretation, probably because some of 
the younger and more radical scholars had always been radical in their 
approach to American foreign policy and thus did not modify their 
interpretation because of Vietnam. 


Although much further work remains to be done with the data, 
some conclusions are already apparent. Among historians of American 
foreign relations there is a perceptible difference in opinion and outlook 
which is in part attributable to age— the "generation gap." On the issues 
of Vietnam and the publication of government documents relating to 
our involvement m that conflict, their reactions are mixed, but sub- 
stantially in favor of an end to the conflict and greater access to the evi- 
dence concerning policy decisions about it. They showed a verv strong 
preference for the Democratic party, although support for its presi- 
dential candidate has been declining since the Johnson landslide of 1964. 
However, most placed themselves as moderates politically, and that 
general attitude seemed to carry over to their approaches to the history 
of American foreign relations. Most favored a multi-causational ap- 
proach and hesitated to identify with any single "label." They try to be 
objective in their portrayal of their subject matter, but a strong minor- 
ity admitted that some of their own beliefs filtered in, whether identi- 
fied as such or not. The overall picture that emerged from this study, 
then, is of a group, (perhaps better described as a subgroup of the larger 
discipline of history), basically moderate in approach but stronelv 
moved by the controversies of the last decade. 


One of the most informative areas of this questionnaire was not 
subject to computer analysis; these were the personal comments about 
the field of history of American foreign relations. There was a wide 
variation of opinion on the "state of the discipline." Thirty-five replied 
that they saw nothing wrong with the teaching of diplomatic history 
today, or that they couldn't comment without more knowledge of what 
others were doing. However, many did have complaints. A narrow, 
parochial approach was criticized by 35, who felt the subject was pre- 
sented with too ethnocentric a view. A similar number condemned what 
they called a polemical, "true believer" approach, which they often 
linked to the New Left. About 20 criticized the so-called "Establish- 
ment," the "old boys" who they saw as having too great a tendency to 
"snuggle up to the national government." A dozen or more condemned 
what they felt was an excessively presentist attitude, while others noted 
the tendency toward outmoded approaches— excessive lecturing, nar- 
rative history, an obsession with names and dates, and dull writing, 
which filled the journals with masses of unread articles. Most of those 
complaining tended to mention several of these themes. 

While many did find areas to praise, such as the generally high 
quality of textbooks, monographs and journal articles, and the wide 
diversity of viewpoints debated, there were many suggestions for im- 
provement. About ten noted the historians' general lack of training in 
social science methodology and asked that these techniques be made 
more available. An equal number specifically requested a journal for 
articles dealing with the history of American foreign relations. There 
were several suggestions for more general get-togethers, especially for 


informal sessions dealing with new approaches in teaching diplomatic 
history. There were very few specific suggestions as to what new 
methods might be tried, though some suggested a broader approach, 
placing more emphasis on the domestic influences on foreign policy, 
and a multi-national way of looking at the topic. Others urged narrow- 
ing topics for study so that the student could become more aware of 
the difficulties of choice among the various options open on a prob- 
lem. Some suggested the use of outside speakers who could explain 
the way in which policy is actually formulated by the government. 
In sum, the questionnaire indicated a wide interest in a continuing 
self-analysis, an awareness of some general problems in the field such 
as is indicated by those loaded words, "lack of relevance." Respon- 
dents noted declining numbers of students as well as a lack of jobs and 
an oversupply of applicants. They seemed to be aware of the tendency 
toward a narrow, parochial approach but were not too clear on ways 
to modernize teaching methods to overcome this. The continuing ex- 
change of ideas about the field itself as well as its content seemed to 
many to be one of the most encouraging prospects of all. 


^ Percentage totals in the tables accompanying this article are rounded off 
to 100.0 where necessary. 




All responses are confidential 

1. Age 

2. Where did you receive your academic training 

3. Is U.S. Diplomatic your primary area? Yes ; No 

4. Enrollment of institution where you teach 

5. Regional location 

6. Secular ; Protestant ; Catholic ; Other 

7. Junior college ; College ; University 

8. Rural ; Urban 

9. Do you usually use a textbook? Yes ; No ; Author 

10. Do you usually use a problems book? Yes ; No ; Editor 

Selected documents? Yes ; No ; 

Editor Monographs? Yes ; No 

11. What monographs do you feel have had the greatest influence on 
your teaching? a) ; b) ; c) 

12. Which of the following interpretations do you usually use: (a) Na- 
tional security ; (b) Economic ; (c) Political leaders 

& partisan politics ; (d) special interests ; (e) intel- 

tellectual ; (f) other 

13. Do you prefer a topical approach? Yes ; No 

14. What per cent of time do you lecture in your teaching? 

15. How much have you changed your classroom interpretation in the 
last five years? Significantly Not at All. 

12 3 4 5 6 7 

16. How much has the Vietnam War affected your interpretation? 
Significantly Not at All. 

12 3 4 5 6 7 

17. Do you feel that the government classification of documents is 
Too strict Not Strict Enough. 

12 3 4 5 6 7 

18. Do you believe the Pentagon Papers should have been published? 
Yes ; Yes, but in a different manner ; No 

19. What is your average enrollment in diplomatic history courses? 

20. How many different courses does your department offer in U.S. 
Diplomatic history? 

21. How do you feel about U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War? 
Immediate withdrawal Indefinite Presence. 

12 3 4 5 6 7 


22. How much do you separate your personal political beliefs from 

your classroom interpretations? Significantly Not 

at All. 12 3 4 5 6 7 

23. How did you vote in: 1964 ; 1968 

24. How do you see your personal diplomatic history interpretations? 
Traditional Radical. 

12 3 4 5 6 7 

25. How do you see yourself politically? 
Radical Conservative. 

12 3 4 5 6 7 

26. What do you feel is wrong with the teaching of diplomatic history 

27. What do you feel is wrong with the profession of diplomatic history 

28. What do you feel is done best in the field of U.S. diplomatic his- 
tory today? 

29. What changes would you like to see in the way graduates and under- 
graduates are taught U.S. diplomatic history? 

30. What are the most challenging new areas or subjects in diplomatic 
history today? 

31. What is your political preference in the 1972 presidential election? 


U If ^' 


Volume XIV June, 1975 




Published By 


A Division of the University System of Georgia 



Volume XIV June, 1975 



Causes and Cures of 
Political Corruption George C. S. Benson 1 

Politics, Corruption, and 
Power S. J. Makielski, Jr. 21 

The Interlocking of Power and Morality: 

C. Wright Mills' The Power Elite Mark Stern 31 

Frameworks for 
Democratic Reform Gerald M. Henson 41 

The Quest for the American 

Public Orthodoxy: An Assessment Gerald De Maio 49 

Existentialism and Liberal Democratic Values: 
Reflections on Individualism and 
Corruption in American Politics Kenneth L. Deutsch 67 


Vol. II, 1963, Georgia in Transition. 

Vol. Ill, 1964, The New Europe. 

Vol. IV, 1965, The Changing Role of Government. 

Vol. V, 1966, Issues in the Cold War. 

Vol. VII, 1968, Social Scientists Speak on Community Development. 

Vol. VIII, 1969, Some Aspects of Black Culture. 

Vol. XI, 1972, Georgia Diplomats and Nineteenth Century Trade 

Vol. XII, 1973, Geographic Perspectives on Southern Development. 

Vol. XIII, 1973, American Diplomatic History: Issues and Methods. 

Price, each title, $2.00 

Copyright '- , West Georgia College 

Printed in U.S.A. 

Darby Printing Co., Atlanta, Georgia 

Price, $3.00 



GEORGE C. S. BENSON received the M.A. degree from the Univer- 
sity of Illinois and the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Political Science 
from Harvard University. He is President Emeritus of Claremont 
Men's College, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Edu- 
cation), former Director of the Administrative Division of the Office 
of Price Administration, and has served as president of the Indepen- 
dent Colleges of California, the Western Association of Schools and 
Colleges, and the Town Hall of Los Angeles. He has served as editor 
of State Government magazine and has published numerous articles 
on intergovernmental relations and ethics in American life. Dr. Ben- 
son is the author of The Politics of Urbanism, The New Centraliza- 
tion, Financial Control and Integration, Civil Service in Michigan, 
and The State Administrative Board in Michigan. Dr. Benson is 
presently Director of the Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual 
Freedom in the World. 

S. J. MAKIELSKI, JR., received the Ph.D. degree in PoHtical Sci- 
ence from Columbia University. He taught at the University of Vir- 
ginia from 1964 to 1971, where he was also Research Associate in the 
Institute of Government. His publications include Beleaguered Mi- 
norities: Cultural Politics in America. Dr. Makielski is presently Pro- 
fessor of Political Science at Loyola University, New Orleans. 

MARK STERN received the Ph.D. degree in Political Science from 
the University of Rochester. His primary teaching and research inter- 
ests lie in the fields of American politics, political socialization, par- 
ties, and political behavior and methodology. He is the author of 
"Measuring Interparty Competition," which appeared in the Journal 
of Politics, and "The Pro-Civil Rights Congressional Districts of the 
South," in Politics 1974. Dr. Stern is presently Assistant Professor of 
Political Science at Florida Technological University. 

GERALD M. HENSON received the M.A. degree from East Carolina 
University and the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Political Science from 
the University of Maryland. His primary teaching and research inter- 
ests lie in the fields of empirical theory and methodology. Dr. Henson 
is presently Assistant Professor of Political Science at Western Illi- 
nois University. 

GERALD DE MAIO received his undergraduate degree from Man- 
hattan College, the M.A. degree in Political Science from New York 
University, and is presently a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at 


New York University. His primary teaching and research interests lie 
in the field of political theory. He is co-author with Robert Burrowes 
of "Domestic External Linkage: Syria, 1961-1967," in Comparative 
Political Studies. His dissertation topic is "American Conservatism: 
A Viable Public Orthodoxy?" 

KENNETH L. DEUTSCH received the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in 
Political Science from the University of Massachusetts. His primary 
teaching and research interests lie in the fields of normative political 
philosophy, epistemology and political science, political ideologies 
and political culture. He is the author of Political Obligation and 
Civil Disobedience. Dr. Deutsch is presently Assistant Professor of 
Political Science at the State University of New York at Genesco. 



This volume continues the precedent of utiHzing the services of a 
volume editor working under the loose supervision of a general editor, 
a policy which began with the 1973 issue of Studies in the Social 
Sciences. Responsibility for selecting the theme and papers herein 
included, and initial editorial refinement, was that of the volume 
editor. The role of the general editor was limited to broad consulta- 
tion, final editing, and liaison with the printer. 

In past issues, volume topics have been selected from various 
social sciences, and this year the choice devolved on political science. 
It was a propitious occurrence because of the effects on American 
political life engendered by the Watergate scandals and our nation's 
Southeast Asia policies. Clearly Americans are assessing and evaluat- 
ing their political institutions, the processes leading to political 
decision-making, and politicians. Questions emerging from the de- 
bate ensure the timeliness of this issue. 

As in the past, the journal is partially financed by The University 
System of Georgia. It is distributed gratis to libraries of colleges and 
universities in Georgia, and to selected institutions of higher learning 
in each southern state. Interested individuals or other libraries may 
purchase copies for $3.00 to help defray printing and mailing costs. 
Standing orders for the series are available at reduced rates. 

It is with considerable pleasure that we submit to you this volume 
on political morality, responsiveness, and reform in America. 

John C. Upchurch 
Associate Professor and Chairman 
Department of Geography 
General Editor 

New York University. His primary teaching and research interests lie 
in the field of political theory. He is co-author with Robert Burrowes 
of "Domestic External Linkage: Syria, 1961-1967," in Comparative 
Political Studies. His dissertation topic is "American Conservatism: 
A Viable Public Orthodoxy?" 

KENNETH L. DEUTSCH received the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in 
Political Science from the University of Massachusetts. His primary 
teaching and research interests lie in the fields of normative political 
philosophy, epistemology and political science, political ideologies 
and political culture. He is the author of Political Obligation and 
Civil Disobedience. Dr. Deutsch is presently Assistant Professor of 
Political Science at the State University of New York at Genesco. 



This volume continues the precedent of utilizing the services of a 
volume editor working under the loose supervision of a general editor, 
a policy which began with the 1973 issue of Studies in the Social 
Sciences. Responsibility for selecting the theme and papers herein 
included, and initial editorial refinement, was that of the volume 
editor. The role of the general editor was limited to broad consulta- 
tion, final editing, and liaison with the printer. 

In past issues, volume topics have been selected from various 
social sciences, and this year the choice devolved on political science. 
It was a propitious occurrence because of the effects on American 
political life engendered by the Watergate scandals and our nation's 
Southeast Asia policies. Clearly Americans are assessing and evaluat- 
ing their political institutions, the processes leading to political 
decision-making, and politicians. Questions emerging from the de- 
bate ensure the timeliness of this issue. 

As in the past, the journal is partially financed by The University 
System of Georgia. It is distributed gratis to libraries of colleges and 
universities in Georgia, and to selected institutions of higher learning 
in each southern state. Interested individuals or other libraries may 
purchase copies for $3.00 to help defray printing and mailing costs. 
Standing orders for the series are available at reduced rates. 

It is with considerable pleasure that we submit to you this volume 
on political morality, responsiveness, and reform in America. 

John C. Upchurch 
Associate Professor and Chairman 
Department of Geography 
General Editor 


Seldom in the history of America have questions of political mor- 
ality, governmental responsiveness, and political reform been of 
greater moment than during the period of the Watergate scandals 
and our withdrawal from the Vietnam conflict. Seldom in our na- 
tional history have Americans questioned with greater intensity and 
concern the morality of those in public life and the degree to which 
political practices in America comport with the democratic values so 
fundamental to our political system. The political environment of the 
years since 1972 has constituted a strong influence upon the theme 
for this issue: "Political Morality, Responsiveness, and Reform in 

The articles which appear in this issue approach this theme from 
either an historical or a theoretical perspective, instead of focusing 
upon specific proposals for political reform, as have so many recent 
essays prompted by Watergate and Vietnam. In the first article, 
George C.S. Benson considers the history of political corruption in the 
United States, compares political corruption here to that in other 
political systems, argues that the facts of American history only par- 
tially support Huntington's modernization and functional theory, 
and concludes that American corruption stems from an over- 
emphasis upon the values of business or free enterprise. He further 
concludes that American political corruption is a result of the heri- 
tage of the political machine, oft-corrupt law enforcement machinery, 
and failure to teach adequately moral standards. 

S.J. Makielski, Jr., contends that corruption in politics is tied to 
power, that power without limits of responsibility tends toward self- 
magnification and political corruption, and that meaningful propos- 
als for reform must come to terms with this basic relationship. Mark 
Stern focuses upon the relationship between political power and pol- 
itical morality posited by C. Wright Mills, contending that Mills' 
analysis is synthesized within his moral framework, constitutes the 
basis of his perception of the American polity as one governed by a 
"higher morality," and should be given greater consideration in 
analyses of contemporary American politics. 

The focus of the articles by Gerald Henson, Gerald De Maio, and 
Kenneth Deutsch is essentially theoretical. Henson considers the the- 
oretical frameworks of praxis democracy and poiesis democracy, sug- 
gests that possible areas of reform follow from each, and concludes 
that debate on reform should carefully distinguish between the two. 
De Maio explores some of the literature which attempts to explain 


the American political experience and which introduces into the con- 
tinuing debate over the American political experience the classical 
concept of the politeia or public orthodoxy. It is his contention that 
the documents of the American political experience are grounded in 
Hobbesean assumptions and thus reveal a liberal public orthodoxy. 
He concludes that the failure to recognize the philosophical assump- 
tions contained in America's public orthodoxy has, for the most part, 
resulted in prescriptions which merely restate those assumptions and 
keep the discourse within the parameters defined by the prevailing 
public orthodoxy. The final article by Kenneth Deutsch presents a 
critical analysis of American liberalism and political morality from 
the perspective of existentialism. He argues that existentialism pro- 
vides a more effective justification of liberal democratic values than 
do the other major philosophies of recent years by focusing upon the 
individual and upon problems of moral choice and by speaking di- 
rectly to issues of individualism and public interest in American poli- 

The object of this issue is the consideration of broad questions of 
political morality, political responsiveness, and political reform in 
America as the nation approaches her bicentennial. The trauma of 
Watergate and Vietnam, with the attendant intense public and pri- 
vate debate and assessment of the broad philosophical questions pos- 
ited by those events, emphasizes the timeliness of a reconsideration 
of these fundamental concerns. Hence, the focus of this issue is upon 
historical and philosophical considerations, rather than upon propos- 
als for specific reforms of institutions and political practices in Amer- 
ica, as we approach our two-hundredth national anniversary. 

Dudley McClain 
Assistant Professor 

of Political Science 
Volume Editor 



George C. S. Benson 

This article briefly summarizes the record of political corruption 
in the United States, on the assumption that most readers are aware 
of the historical background. It then reviews a number of reasons 
advanced for corruption by writers and other observers, primarily 
over the past decade. Finally, the article advances the reasons for 
corruption which seem most important to the author, including one 
which has been adumbrated by several distinguished writers, but 
which has not been fully stated before. 


Leonard White, in his series on administrative history of the 
United States, has suggested that the first third of the century of the 
Republic was relatively free of corruption. The "leading citizens," 
whom both Federalists and Republicans tended to appoint to office, 
were likely to be fairly honest. We were still largely an agricultural 
country, which reduced the chances for corruption, and we still had 
a degree of revolutionary pride in our democratic institutions. 

With the election of President Andrew Jackson in 1828 and the 
widespread acceptance of the theory of rotation in office, the level of 
appointees to office began to decline rapidly. Almost at the same time 
the movement of masses of immigrants who were unused to American 
institutions of democracy, and the irresponsible type of city charters 
adopted in the nineteenth century, made possible the rise of the 
urban political machine.' The machine almost invariably brought 
with it a high degree of political corruption. There were occasional 
reform mayors, but cities like New York and Philadelphia have prob- 
ably had substantial on-going corruption, especially in their police 
departments, from 1850 to date. The political power of the machines 
made it possible to extend some of this corruption to state govern- 
ments and to a limited extent to the federal government. The latter 
had perhaps its worst scandals in the Grant Administration (1869- 
1877), but serious scandals also appeared in the Cleveland, Harding, 
Truman, and Nixon administrations. 

Reform tendencies have often appeared. At the turn of the cen- 
tury, for example, under the prodding of the muckrakers, there were 
signs of a general reform movement. Cities like Milwaukee, reformed 
by Socialists, Cincinnati and Kansas City, reformed by upper-middle 

class citizen groups, and Los Angeles, where a major machine was 
never formed, have had continuous records of relative honesty. Some 
states, such as California since 1910 (except for the Samish regime 
in the state legislature), Wisconsin since LaFoUette's time, and New 
York since 1920, have had excellent records. Virginia has been an 
interesting example of a machine-run state which has furnished hon- 
est if not inspired government for several decades. 

The writer, judging the corruption situation for the benefit of his 
own course in Municipal Government in 1932, predicted that political 
machines and corruption were on their way out. Except in Chicago 
the machine has indeed lost power, and it shows signs of tottering 
there. Universal education has made many people independent of 
machine help. Ethnic groups have found their places in American 
life. Federally sponsored welfare programs have made the machine, 
with its sham benevolence, less useful. 

What the writer did not foresee, however, was the continuation of 
large amounts of corruption after the political machine disappeared. 
Mayor Lindsay, one of the long line of reform mayors, was forced in 
1970 to investigate the New York City police department, which was 
still over half corrupt, in spite of Tammany Hall's loss of political 
power. In a study of Boston, Chicago, and Washington, it was noted 
that "Excluding any participation in syndicated crime, roughly 1 in 
5 officers was observed in criminal violation of the law. This observa- 
tion was made by persons who had little time to be acquainted with 
the policemen. The lawbreaking was almost always acceptance of 
money or merchandise."^ 

A. J. Reichley writes in Fortune: 

The last two years alone have seen: the conviction of Federal 
Judge Otto Kerner for taking a bribe in the form of race track stock 
while he was Governor of Illinois; the conviction of Attorney General 
of Louisiana Jack Gremillion for perjury; the conviction of Gus 
Mutscher, former Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, 
for participation in a stock swindle; the conviction of former U. S. 
Senator Daniel Brewster for taking a bribe; the indictment of close 
associates of Governor William Cahill of New Jersey for promoting 
a scheme to evade income tax laws covering campaign contribu- 
tions. None of these deeds approached Watergate in seriousness, but 
all are evidences of the low level to which ethical standards have 
fallen in many areas of government.' 

Undoubtedly the most publicity ever given to political corruption 
in this country is that given the Watergate episodes, in which a Presi- 
dent of the United States quite deliberately assisted in the cover-up 
of two illegal burglaries. It will probably be a long time before the 
complex of causes leading to President Nixon's breakdown in admin- 

istrative integrity will be fully explained. Of more importance to this 
article is the question of what the intense publicity on Watergate will 
do to political corruption in this country. At present it has led to 
federal and state laws on campaign financing sponsored by Common 
Cause. If this is the only result, there may be little beneficial effect 
upon some of the on-going types of corruption described herein. It is 
even possible that limits on campaign spending and/or public financ- 
ing will help incumbent legislators stay in power, and thus increase 
the possibility of corrupt action. We cannot tell until we have had a 
chance to observe the results of such legislation. 

Today it is probably fair to say that America has more corruption, 
both absolutely and proportionately, than any other modern democ- 
racy. Corruption, for example, occurs very seldom in the modern 
British national government and infrequently in British local govern- 
ment. Of course, Britain did have a great deal of corruption in the 
first quarter of the last century — probably more than occurred in the 
U.S.A.; but what Professor Friedrich describes as a "miraculous" 
reform movement overcame this corruption and incompetence.^ Later 
in the century, the British central government succeeded in helping 
local government eliminate most of its corruption. The late Hiram 
Stout, in British Government, states that "On the score of integrity, 
no major scandal has touched the Civil Service in recent years. "^ A 
1972 New York Times article corroborated this by indicating that 
corruption is negligible in the British judiciary, as well as being low 
in France and West Germany." 

Roland Huntford, on the other hand, is sharply critical of Swedish 
governmental policies, but comments: "It is vital for an understand- 
ing of Swedish society to realize that public corruption, in the form 
of personal bribery, does not exist. "^ Professor Heidenheimer tells us 
that the German Civil Service had a minor wave of corruption in the 
fifties, but the German public official is still widely admired.* Hans 
Rosenberg gives us some background of the more-than-century-old 
Prussian bureaucratic efforts to maintain honesty.* Holland, more- 
over, after a good deal of effort, has succeeded in setting high stan- 
dards against corruption of government officials;'" and Switzerland 
seems to maintain high standards of honesty in its government." In 
fact, the only modern democracy which may have had amounts of 
corruption parallel to ours was France under the Third Republic.'^ 
Despite this it is our impression that France now has less corruption 
than the United States. 

It is, of course, clear to all that political corruption has become a 
serious liability to American life. One acute observer believes that 
trade union corruption, which Senator McClelland and Counsel Rob- 

ert Kennedy valiantly tried to explore, could have been cured if gov- 
ernment had been honest.'^ It is hard to know how much union cor- 
ruption has added to costs of production or reduced benefits to work- 
ers. The Watergate aberration of the Nixon Administration clearly 
cost the country a good deal in the loss of progress in foreign policy 
formulation and implementation and in domestic legislation.'^ Cor- 
ruption is also essential to organized crime and is probably an impor- 
tant cause of on-going crime (in which America also unfortunately 
leads advanced modern democracies), at great cost to our economy.'^ 
But the financial losses of corruption may well be outweighed by what 
Professor Friedrich calls the damage to our "ideatic core."'* 

Following this brief introduction to the history and extent of the 
corruption problem, it will be appropriate to analyze the causes of 
corruption suggested by various political observers. This analysis will 
include "modernization" and the "functional" theory of corruption 
suggested for developing countries by Professor Samuel P. Hunting- 
ton. Another explanation revolves around the lack of a social or bu- 
reaucratic "class" structure in America. A third explanation is our 
over-emphasis on business or free enterprise, which is complemented 
by the obverse suggestion of Senator Paul Douglas that corruption 
comes from too much government regulation of business. Dominance 
of party machines is also offered as a reason, with Civil Service and 
stronger city charters given as control mechanisms. Weakness of na- 
tional moral standards has been suggested by other observers. 

After discussing each of these theories, the writer will present his 
own view of the cause of on-going corruption. It involves a complex 
of factors, including the corrupt tradition set by decades of machine 
rule, the decentralization and poor administration of law enforce- 
ment machinery, and the failure of most American institutions to pay 
attention to ethical standards. 

As these theories of the causes of corruption are analyzed, the 
reader will naturally be thinking of the "cure" for each cause. Accord- 
ingly, remedies will be discussed with causes. The reader is cau- 
tioned, however, that there may be different kinds of corruption 
which require different kinds of remedies. There is little similarity, 
aside from moral disapprobrium, between the act of the New York 
police detective who demands protection money from a brothel and 
the actions of the giant milk cooperatives which finance campaigns 
of both national political parties in order to secure support for a milk 
price increase. 

The second warning to the reader is that we Americans — thinking 
in constitutional, legal terms — probably have too much confidence in 
purely legal reforms. Our belief in checks and balances has led us to 

seek a change in the law or the charter or the constitution on numer- 
ous occasions, when the election of better people to the office is the 
only real answer. 


Political scientists have written much in recent years about a 
"functional" theory of corruption. One of the principal statements of 
this is in Professor Samuel Huntington's book, Political Order in 
Changing Societies, in which he argues that corruption comes with 
"rapid social and economic organization."'^ New sources of wealth 
and power make new demands on government and resort to bribery 
or other forms of corruption if their demands are not met legiti- 
mately. Modernization has changed the values of society toward 
"universalistic and achievement-based norms." It also creates new 
sources of power and wealth. It increases the laws and regulations 
operating over society, sometimes establishing "unreasonable puri- 
tanical standards." Reducing corruption may involve scaling down of 
norms for officials, as well as leading the behavior of those officials 
toward the norms. 

Corruption, says Huntington, is also lessened in a highly stratified 
society which has a highly developed system of norms. Since corrup- 
tion involves exchange of political action for economic wealth, the 
form of corruption depends upon whether wealth or political power 
is easier to gain. "In the United States, wealth has more commonly 
been a road to political influence than political office has been a road 
to wealth.""* In societies which have fairly strong national political 
institutions, the incidence of corruption is likely to be greater in the 
lower levels of government. 

Huntington's "functional" theory of corruption is best given by a 

Just as the corruption produced by the expansion of political 
participation helps to integrate new groups into the political system, 
so also the corruption produced by the expansion of governmental 
regulation may help stimulate economic development. Corruption 
may be one way of surmounting traditional laws of bureaucratic 
regulations which hamper economic expansion. In the United States 
during the 1870s and 1880s corruption of state legislatures and city 
councils by railroad, utility, and industrial corporations undoubt- 
edly speeded the growth of the American economy." 

Huntington grants that corruption weakens a governmental bu- 
reaucracy. However, he believes that corruption may help party or- 
ganization, which in the long run helps to overcome corruption. 

Huntington's theses have been followed by several other writers. 
Even the usually hard-headed C. J. Friedrich has paid a fair amount 
of deference to the "functional" theory of corruption in his Pathology 
of Politics.''' 

The thesis that corruption comes with rapid social and economic 
organization is valid for nineteenth century America, where an econ- 
omy was expanding, cities were developing, and new immigrant 
groups were entering communities. During most of the nineteenth 
century, many American cities, some states, and at times the na- 
tional government became very corrupt. "Modernization" was not 
creating new norms, as Huntington suggests (perhaps he was discuss- 
ing only developing countries), but there were new forms of wealth 
and power. The third effect of modernization, creation of new laws 
and regulations, was not very notable in the U.S.A.; in fact, we were 
probably as busy shedding old regulations as we were adopting new 
ones. However, the whole problem of the application of the Hunting- 
ton theory of corruption in nineteenth century America deserves close 
historical analysis. 

If two of Huntington's three reasons for the creation of corruption 
by modernization did not apply in nineteenth century America, the 
theory is probably not an adequate explanation of the extent of our 
corruption. It certainly does not explain the surprising amount of on- 
going corruption in twentieth century America; in fact, Huntington 
probably would not maintain that it does. His observation that class 
stratification may help save a country from corruption, however, 
seems to be borne out of our experience. It is generally granted that 
America has not had a class structure comparable to that of the 
Northwestern European countries, and it is probable that their class 
structure did help those countries establish traditions of governmen- 
tal honesty. Class structure is more fully discussed in the next sec- 

The theory of the functional uses of corruption seems to be one of 
Huntington's positions which is least applicable to America. It does 
not explain a large fraction of American nineteenth century corrup- 
tion or the preponderant fraction of our continued twentieth century 
corruption. The histories of Tammany Hall show a great amount of 
looting of the New York City treasury, which had no significant 
connection with advancement of economic life. Exorbitant prices 
paid for city purchases, "kickbacks" on city contracts, and large 
paychecks to non-working people are simply methods of stealing. The 
Tweed Ring's activities were largely of this simple type of plundering. 
The granting of franchises for operating street cars and for selling 
gasoline may be interpreted as "functional," though it is also possible 

that the bribes used to secure these franchises were extorted from the 
utility and its customers rather than spent for a functional activity. 
If these are to be regarded as normal economic activities, corruption 
hindered rather than helped them. 

Examination of municipal corruption in twentieth century Amer- 
ica also leaves little place for the "functional" theory. Most utilities 
are now regulated at the state or federal level. The continued corrup- 
tion evidenced by fraudulent contracts, police exactions, and protec- 
tion payments for organized crime is not "functional." 

Nevertheless, some elements of "functional" corruption do con- 
tinue at the federal and state level, where regulations regarding 
prices, rates, types of service, amount of imports, and other controls 
do affect economic groups, which in turn sometimes try to influence 
government action corruptly. It is quite possible that there should be 
careful consideration of such regulations to see if the amount of regu- 
lation could not be reduced or the process of regulation made more 
impersonal and automatic to reduce the possibility of corruption. But 
elimination of all such "functional" corruption would leave intact the 
great mass of on-going local government corruption, which is much 
more personal exploitation than economic functionalism. 


Several discerning observers have noted that the lack of rigid class 
structures in America has facilitated the development of political 
corruption in this country. Ernest Griffith has stated this theory in 
terms of respect for officials rather than class, but since high office 
in Britain (of which he was writing) went to members of the upper 
or upper-middle class at that time, he was addressing himself to the 
same phenomenon: 

A respect for office-holding that surrounds the official with a 
kind of political halo has a profound effect on the official himself. 
It postulates noblesse oblige. In America this respect passed with the 
entry of the new democracy. Rotation in office and the spoils system 
destroyed well nigh completely any feeling that office-holding in- 
volved obligations. Office-holding had come to be looked upon not 
as a privilege but as a reward or even as a right. Noblesse oblige is 
impossible in such an attitude. This was and is the root of American 
corruption; its converse is the reason for the high British standard^^ 

Other observers have put the same point differently, that other 
modern democracies have a ruling class or an upper class which has 
more responsibility for governing honestly than do the constantly 
changing groups which find themselves in charge of government in a 
less class-minded America. Huntington, in developing the theories 

referred to above, comments: 

The degree of corruption which modernization produces in a so- 
ciety is, of course, a function of the nature of the traditional society 
as well as the nature of the modernizing process. The presence of 
several competing value systems or cultures in a traditional society 
will, in itself, encourage corruption in that society. Given a rela- 
tively homogeneous culture, however, the amount of corruption 
likely to develop during modernization would appear to be inversely 
related to the degree of social stratification in the traditional society. 
A highly articulated class or caste structure means a highly devel- 
oped system of norms regulating behavior between individuals of 
different status. ^^ 

Britain is today so little concerned with political corruption that 
the writer has not been able to discover contemporary studies of the 
relationship of the class structure (now becoming a "meritocracy" of 
intellectual rather than hereditary choice) to the lack of corruption. 
But there are two comparative studies of practice regarding corrup- 
tion in the House of Commons and in Congress which indicate that 
the British desire to treat M.P.s as "gentlemen" has resulted in 
higher ethical requirements for membership in the legislative body 
than exist in America. ^^ 

A sociological variation of the class theory has come from the 
fertile pen of Seymour Martin Lipset. Comparing the United States 
with Canada, he concludes that Canadians are less motivated by 
equality and individual achievement than Americans, but value an 
educational "elite" more. Canadians stress moral values more in edu- 
cation, where Americans emphasize "citizenship, patriotism, social 
skills, and family living." Not surprisingly, there is substantial evi- 
dence that Canadians have more respect for law, for Canada is more 
"collectively oriented" and less "business" oriented than the United 
States. 2^ 

This writer does not presume to pass judgement on the validity 
of Lipset's interesting generalizations. For our purposes his com- 
ments may be viewed as an illustration and extension of the theory 
that class stratification may help resist corruption. Lipset extends 
the theory to indicate that the citizen frame of mind which accepts 
an elite also accepts government, authority, and honest procedures. 

How valid is this theory of social class versus corruption? A strong 
objection is that classes in some societies, for example the aristocratic 
class in Czarist Russia, were to some extent carriers of a tradition of 
corruption. The corrupt Britain of 1800 was probably more socially 
stratified than the more nearly honest Britain of 1900. Caste-ridden 
India has been much bothered with corruption; and upper classes in 
Italy have not been a group favoring honest conduct of government. 


Nevertheless, the writer beheves that there is some truth in the 
theory that the lack of an hereditarily or educationally determined 
upper group in American life since 1829 has been a contributing 
factor to political corruption; or, perhaps more accurately, it has 
meant that we lack one possible piece of sociological machinery to 
work against corruption. 

However, it does not follow that we should undertake to establish 
an elite in America as a method of controlling political corruption. 
The vertical mobility of American society has many advantages 
which most Americans would not like to lose. It provides the oppor- 
tunity to achieve in all areas of human endeavor. It means that no 
one group needs to feel that it is kept at a lower level of American 
society. Indeed, vertical mobility is part of an egalitarian objective 
to which we have long been committed. 

The real lesson to be drawn from the class-against-corruption 
theory is that America should try to eliminate corruption without 
taking on the disadvantages of rigid class stratification. One way is 
by the process of indoctrinating most members of the society with the 
sense of public responsibility which class stratified societies have 
given only to the elite. How this may be done is explained more fully 
toward the end of this article. 

The other possiblity is that we educate those citizens who are 
going to have special responsibilities in the public obligations of their 
future jobs. The American armed forces have certainly been able to 
produce disciplined, patriotic, courageous, and honest leaders 
through a long process of education, both in institutions and on the 
job. The civil service and foreign service have been a bit less success- 
ful in inculcating ideas on the job, but their final product has gener- 
ally been able, conscientious, and honest. Individual state and local 
governments have also produced incorruptible public servants. 

But this piecemeal way of producing noblesse oblige can be only 
partly successful. It is nearly impossible to prescribe it to legislators, 
whether federal, state, or local. There are many governmental tasks 
for which it is not possible to educate a meritocracy. The very free- 
dom of upward mobility in American life makes it difficult to plan 
out education in ethical responsibilities for small groups. 


Another reason which is often cited for continuing corruption in 
American life is our emphasis on business or on free enterprise. The 
theory as advanced by Lincoln Steffens was that most of the bribes 
came from business; the problem was to get business Under control. 
It was on this theory that prosecutors of the Ruef-Schmitz machine 

in San Francisco turned loose most of the bribe receivers. The goal 
was to convict the bribers. ^^ An elaboration of this view is that Ameri- 
can emphasis on success in business encourages efforts to "get mine" 
regardless of ethical scruples. 

An important reverse twist to the "business system" explanation 
of political corruption was advanced by Senator (also Professor) Paul 
Douglas of Illinois. In a thoughtful book, he suggested that elimina- 
tion of a number of statutes by which government tried to control 
business would reduce the occasion for political corruption.^" 

At first sight, the theory of business fault sounds quite plausible. 
Who, indeed, but the briber starts the corruption? If the Southern 
Pacific Railroad had not wished to secure a monopoly of transporta- 
tion, would California have had to bear the Octopus? Was not the 
Gas Ring the source of Philadelphia's corruption problems? The 
theory is especially attractive because it gives us the involved corpo- 
ration to oppose. 

Another element of truth in the "business" explanation of Amer- 
ica's on-going political corruption is to be found in the mistakes made 
by a number of businessmen when appointed to public office. A large 
fraction of the aberrations of political executives in the Eisenhower, 
Kennedy, and Johnson administrations were a result of carrying over 
into government a lax business practice of accepting gifts or weekend 
vacations." If some businesses make a habit of giving expensive pres- 
ents to purchasing agents, it may not wreak great havoc in a competi- 
tive market where the purchasing agent presumably makes the best 
buy regardless of gifts. But if the practice of accepting gifts is carried 
over into government, which has a monopoly of control, it may be 
very bad indeed. 

More careful reflection tells us that "business" has not always 
been the major source of corruption in America. Some of the exam- 
ples used against the "functional" theory of corruption are applicable 
here. Most of Tammany Hall's exploitation of citizens was not at the 
behest of business but was governmental exploitation of brothel own- 
ers, saloon keepers, gamblers, and their clients. The unhappy situa- 
tion of many big city police forces today is not a result of business 
corruption; in fact, the business leaders of most of those cities would 
probably welcome more honest urban government. As Henry Jones 
Ford points out in his article on "The Shame of the Cities," Steffens 
himself states that "Several companies which refused to pay black- 
mail had to leave. "^* 

If we look at other countries, we can see that the free operation of 
business need not bring political corruption. Sweden and Switzerland 
rival America in per capita income, based on business enterprise, 


with little political corruption. West Germany, revived by a free eco- 
nomic system, rigidly enforces laws which send bribers of officials to 
jail. Britain, original home of the Industrial Revolution, keeps its 
businesses from corrupting its government. 

An answer to the above suggestions may be that America empha- 
sizes business and free enterprise more than these other nations. This 
answer may or may not be true. We talk of free enterprise but we 
regulate some businesses which are not regulated elsewhere. We prob- 
ably make more speeches for free enterprise than do other nations, 
but we make more speeches on other topics, too. 

The conclusion which the writer cannot avoid is that business- 
men, like other groups in society, will work for and support honest 
government if the intellectual leaders of society persuade them that 
honest government is best for everyone. No one has made great effort 
to persuade them of this fact in recent decades. 

The reverse twist of this "business causes corruption" argument, 
raised by Paul Douglas, deserves careful consideration. A good many 
of our economic control statutes should be carefully reviewed. Why 
does the President of the United States have to set the price of milk? 


A fourth reason advanced for corruption, especially in the last 
quarter of the nineteenth and the first quarter of the twentieth cen- 
tury, was the dominance of party machines. Direct primary elections, 
the right of voting referenda on legislation, and recall of public offi- 
cials were mechanisms intended to reduce the dominance of party 
leaders. White cites Charles Francis Adams, who put the blame for 
corruption on party organization "bred in the gutter of New York 
politics. "2" 

The obvious difficulty with this theory is that other nations have 
learned to operate non-corrupt politics through party machinery. 
Huntington assumes, probably correctly, that party organization will 
end corruption. Adams' theory was an example of a frequent Ameri- 
can mistake: the assumption that mechanical changes would elimi- 
nate our political difficulties. A current example of a similar effort 
to reform by mechanics is the Common Cause effort to limit the size 
of campaign funds. As already noted, this reform may or may not 
make for more moral campaigns; it is unlikely to result in any serious 
reduction of the amount of corruption of government in this country. 


In the tradition of the Founding Fathers, Americans have long 


sought changes in statutes or ordinances or charters or state constitu- 
tions which would presumably eliminate corrupt practices. A few 
examples follow: 

Civil Service 

From the Civil War to the middle of this century, it has been 
assumed that civil service, protecting government workers from spoils 
politics, was a reform which would help eliminate political corrup- 
tion. In some ways this has been an echo of the theory of class against 
corruption — the difference being that members of the class are chosen 
by competitive examination instead of aristocratic birth. 

In the second half of the last century, civil service reform groups 
existed in most large cities. Many of their members undoubtedly 
believed that civil service was a major cure for corruption, perhaps 
because it was a part of Britain's major reform.^" 

Unfortunately, civil service proved to be only a partial answer to 
our problems. It certainly helped pull the federal administration out 
of some third-class political traditions and helped produce the rela- 
tively honest federal administration of today. It has helped states like 
California, New York, and Wisconsin and cities like Los Angeles and 
Milwaukee do creditable administrative jobs. But it has not kept 
cities like Boston, Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia from a great 
deal of on-going corruption. Civil service may help the administration 
of a city or state through one four-year term of a bad mayor or gover- 
nor; but it will not help much if many bad top executives are elected. 

Stronger Chief Executives 

Another legal reform which has frequently been advanced for re- 
form is the concentration of political responsibility in a strong chief 
executive. In the middle of the last century, many city charters and 
state constitutions, perhaps following the Jacksonian rotation in off- 
ice theory, provided for election of many department heads, judges, 
and boards of control. In the words of Ernest Griffith: 

... in the hodge podge of elected officials in America, in the indefi- 
nite relationship between the council and the executive, and be- 
tween both and the state, and in lack of any sort of statutory budget- 
ary procedure, some coordinating force was needed. In fact, some 
such force was inevitable if the government was to function at all. 
The boss was a necessary evil.^' 

Accordingly, reform groups worked for city manager or strong mayor 
charters for cities and for state constitutions which gave governors 
more power. In general these changes have been good. Mayors, man- 


agers, or governors have functioned better. In some cities and states 
the reform has remained permanent. 

But the strong chief executive is no panacea. Substantial amounts 
of state and local corruption have continued under strong mayors in 
New York and Chicago, and under strong governors in Illinois and 
Maryland. This reform is helpful but not enough. 

Give Up Separation of Powers 

American observers have not missed the fact that American fed- 
eral and state government is unique in its doctrine of separation of 
powers, as well as its corruption. Henry Jones Ford has written an 
article indicating that the separation of the executive and legislative 
function encourages efforts of special interests to capture individual 
legislators. Walter Bagehot had a similar thought.'^ The City Man- 
ager Plan is itself closer to British responsible government than to our 
separation of powers. Recent Watergate difficulties have led many 
people to wonder if we do not need some system by which the execu- 
tive branch of the national government is more responsive to the 
legislative branch. 

However, we have no certainty that this particular legal change 
would improve our position. As a panel of public administrators 
pointed out in commenting on Watergate, a series of episodes like 
Watergate could easily have occurred under a responsible system of 
government. 3^ Separation of powers has served American well for 
almost two centuries and is likely to continue, at least at state and 
national levels of government. 


Several acute observers have commented on the possibility that 
weakness in American ethical standards lay behind the on-going 
problem of corruption. Ostrogorski believed that the "Caucus" was 
diminishing America's moral reserve. ^^ Senator Paul Douglas wrote 
in 1952: 

. . . more important than the institutional improvements which I 
have suggested is our need for a deeper set of moral values. . . . The 
faults which we see in governments are all too often the reflection 
of our own moral failures. All this may dawn upon us, so that we 
will not only help to reform government but also to reform our- 
selves. '' 

Professor and former Civil Service Commissioner Leonard D. White, 
writing in 1957 about the period 1869 to 1901, was concerned about 
general moral standards but believed that improvement was coming. 


He commented that "vigilance was still necessary," a remark which 
is still true almost twenty years later. 

This writer believes that Ostrogorski and both of his highly- 
esteemed former colleagues did not go quite far enough in recognizing 
that America does have an underlying problem of inadequate ethical 
education. Elsewhere, the writer and his colleague. Dr. Thomas S. 
Engeman, have developed this position more fully. ^* America's high 
rates of crimes of violence as well as political corruption seem to us 
to be related to our failure to teach ethics consistently in schools, 
churches, and other media of instruction. 


The writer would welcome further research, but is inclined at the 
moment to regard the main causes of on-going political corruption in 
this country as the following: 

(1) Although the political machine is dying, the traditions of eth- 
nic voting, of semi-corrupt police forces, and of bribe-offering con- 
tractors continue strongly in many American cities, especially those 
with large poverty areas. As an example. New York City's mayoral 
election in 1969 was one of the most ethnic in its history. ^^ Police 
Commissioner Murphy, serving under a reform mayor, commented 
that he had vastly underestimated the difficulty of developing an 
honest police force in New York. The writer's guess is that New York, 
Philadelphia, Chicago, and Boston have rarely had honest police 
forces — reform mayors and police chiefs or commissioners not having 
time to root out or change the habits of all the dishonest men on the 

If corruption continues in large cities, some of it is almost certain 
to spread to state governments and to some portions of the federal 
government. For example, organized crime is most strongly rooted in 
a few cities like New York and Chicago, which are still influenced by 
political machine traditions; but organized crime spreads itself to 
control state legislators, judges, prosecutors, or congressmen, as may 
be needed for its tasks. New York State has held this extension to a 
minimum; Illinois has been less successful. 

(2) A second fundamental difficulty with ensuring rectitude of 
American political life is our slow, clumsy, and ineffective law en- 
forcement machinery. Our extensive decentralization is an especially 
difficult problem. All the other modern democracies retain some de- 
gree of supervision of law enforcement machinery by central govern- 
ment agencies. If a British city police force becomes corrupt, the 
inspector of the national government makes suggestions to the appro- 
priate local authorities. In France the Ministry of Interior would order 


corrections. But in the United States the badly run city or county is 
usually left to wallow in its own corruption, with federal assistance 
limited to sporadic income tax prosecutions. 

(3) The third underlying reason for America's on-going political 
corruption relates to ineffective teaching of moral standards. This 
problem may arise from the great variety of religions in America, or 
from the failure of any religion to prepare its youth for the complex 
ethical problems of our society, from the almost complete elimination 
of ethical education in the public schools to the amorality of televi- 
sion, or both. 

It may be true that the churches, traditional purveyors of ethics, 
have tried from time to time to stem the tide of corruption. White, 
in discussing the worst corruption of the Grant era, says: "The 
churches did not waver in holding man's duty to his fellowman before 
him. . . ."^* And clearly individual clergymen have led movements 
against corrupt political machines. 

But the instruction given by most churches to youth involves 
almost nothing which would lead a young man or woman to avoid 
corrupt political action. The nineteenth century teaching of Biblical 
texts opposed corruption only indirectly; the twentieth century 
teaching of social ethics does not oppose corruption at all. Professor 
Clebsch, after noting that denominations have concerned themselves 
with their own ritual and dogma, queried: "What American denomi- 
nation has developed moral norms that are at once realistic and genu- 
inely religious to guide persons who are perplexed by a welter of new 
problems such as abortion, divorce, euthanasia, extra-marital sexual 
intercourse, financial manipulation. . . ?"^'* He might have added 
political corruption and ordinary crime as items that are ignored. 

The schools have largely eliminated ethical instruction from their 
programs, perhaps because of fear that teaching ethics was as uncon- 
stitutional as teaching of religion, perhaps because certain intellec- 
tual attitudes, like those of John Dewey and Sigmund Freud, were 
antagonistic to teaching ethics.^" There is now a slow change in educa- 
tional attitudes toward ethics, but there is still a long way to go before 
young people will enter political life with firm ethical convictions. 

The media are, with some exceptions, apathetic toward moral 
standards. Newspapers are more responsible than television, but nei- 
ther one views ethical education as part of its responsibility. 


What is needed to reduce corruption in American life? The follow- 
ing suggestions are made with the belief that they are not ultimate 
answers; rather, they are devices worth trying. 


First, America needs better ethical instruction by mechanisms of 
society. The present system of relying on parents for almost all ethical 
instruction is grossly inadequate, as the experiences of Watergate, 
Governor Kerner, Equity Funding, and large amounts of local corrup- 
tion tell us. 

Schools need to restore some study of the responsibility of the 
individual for honesty, truth, courage, and helping others. Case stud- 
ies are probably the best means of doing this at the secondary level, 
but other methods are available."" Schools have not always been suc- 
cessful in teaching civics, but this may be partly because their text- 
books have avoided the real ethical problems in government. ^^ Their 
work in race relations has been better, but it, too, would probably be 
helped by more careful study of individual ethics. 

The churches, like the schools, need to pay greater attention to 
instruction in individual ethics. Sunday School instruction could be 
greatly improved. ^^ 

Television and the newspapers have great possibilities for curing 
political corruption if they would work on the problem. If one-quarter 
of the television time and newspaper space devoted to Watergate 
were spent on state and local corruption, we would soon have better 
government in the United States. But it is unlikely that the media 
will turn major attention to such an appetizing diet as local corrup- 

Second, we need an effort to establish enough central supervision 
of law enforcement machinery, so that no jurisdiction can continu- 
ously operate a corrupt regime. Only by continuous raising of the 
standards of law enforcement agencies can we help people learn to be 
law-abiding themselves. Grants-in-aid to local law enforcement units 
should be conditioned on honest conduct of affairs. 

Third, we need continuing and more intelligent efforts to cure the 
"poverty pockets" which continue to be a blemish on American life 
and a place for corruption to gain special footholds. We need espe- 
cially better schools, better housing, better police protection, and 
better jobs for the people living in those areas. 

Clearly by addressing ourselves with vigor and purposefulness, to 
each of these possible "cures," we might begin to lessen the strangle- 
hold of corruption on the many aspects of American life. It is, after 
all, a battle worth waging. 


' Leonard D. White, The Federalists (New York: Macmillan Co., 1956); 
Leonard D. White, The Jack sonians (New York: Macmillan Co., 1954); Er- 
nest S. Griffith, The Modern Development of City Government, 2 vols. (Lon- 


don: Oxford University Press, 1927), vol. 1. 

^ Albert J. Reiss, Jr., The Police and the Public (New Haven: Yale University 
Press, 1971), pp. 156-163. 

' A. James Reichley, "Getting at the Roots of Watergate," Fortune (July, 
1973), p. 91. 

^ Carl J. Friedrich, The Pathology of Politics (New York: Harper and Row, 
1972), p. 136. See also Sidney D. Bailey, British Parliamentary Democracy 
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971), pp. 98-103 and 166-172; and Alexis de 
Tocqueville, Letter to Henry Hallam, May 29, 1835. 

5 New York: Oxford University Press, 1953, p. 278. 

' Alvin Schuster, "Graft Charges Rare in Western Europe's Judiciary," New 
York Times, 8 October 1972. 

' Roland Huntford, The New Totalitiarians (New York: Stein and Day, 
1972), p. 129. 

* Arnold J. Heidenheimer, The Governments of Germany (New York: 
Thomas Y. Crowell, 1971), pp. 210-216. 

° Hans Rosenberg, Bureaucracy, Aristocracy, and Autocracy (Boston: Bea- 
con Press, 1958). 

'" H. A. Brasy, "Administrative Corruption in Theory and Dutch Practice," 
in Arnold J. Heidenheimer, ed., Political Corruption (New York: Holt, Rine- 
hart & Winston, 1970). 

" Denis de Rougement, La Suisse (Paris: Hachette, 1965), p. 120; G. A. 
Chevallaz, La Suisse on Le Sommeil Du Juste (Lausanne: Payot, 1967), 
chapter 12. 

'2 William L. Shirer, The Collapse of the Third Republic (New York: Pocket 
Books, 1971), pp. 57, 187. 

" John Hutchinson, The Imperfect Union (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1972), 
pp. 380-385. 

'^ Frederick C. Mosher et al., Watergate: Implications for Responsible 
Government (New York: Basic Books, 1974), pp. 9-10. 

'' Donald R. Cressey, Theft of the Nation (New York: Harper and Row, 

•« Friedrich, The Pathology of Politics, Part III. 

" New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968, p. 59. 

•« Ibid., p. 67. 

'» Ibid., pp. 68-69. 

2« Part III. 

2' Griffith, The Modern Development of City Government, vol. 2, p. 614. 

^^ Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies, p. 64. 

^' H. R. Wilson, Congress: Corruption and Compromise (New York: Rinehart 
and Co., 1951); Robert S. Getz, Congressional Ethics (Princeton: Van Nos- 


trand, 1966). 

^* Seymour Martin Lipset, Revolution and Counterrevolution (New York: 
Basic Books, 1968). 

^' Walter Bean, Boss Ruef's San Francisco (Berkeley: University of Califor- 
nia Press, 1968); Lincoln Steffens, The Shame of the Cities (New York: Hill 
and Wang, 1957), p. 3. 

^° Paul H. Douglas, Ethics in Government (Cambridge: Harvard University 
Press, 1952). 

^' David A. Frier, Conflict of Interest in the Eisenhower Administration 
(Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1969). 

^* Henry Jones Ford, "Municipal Corruption," Political Science Quarterly, 
19 (1904), pp. 673-686, reprinted in Arnold J. Heidenheimer, Political 
Corruption (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1970). 

2" Leonard D. White, The Republican Era (New York: Macmillan Co., 1958; 
Free Press paperback, 1965), p. 366. 

^" Art Hoogenboom, Outlawing the Spoils (Urbana: University of Illinois 
Press, 1968). 

'' Griffith, The Modern Development of City Government, vol. 1, p. 27. 

'^ Henry Jones Ford, "Municipal Corruption," in Walter Bagehot, The Eng- 
lish Constitution (New York: D. Appleton, 1908), p. 87. 

^^ Mosher, Implications for Responsible Government, pp. 16-18. 

^* M. Ostrogorski, Democracy and Political Parties (New York: Macmillan 
Co., 1902), vol. 1, pp. 598-599. 

'^ Douglas, Ethics in Government, pp. 102-103. 

^* George C. S. Benson and Thomas S. Engeman, Amoral America, forth- 
coming, 1975. 

^' Nathan Glazer and Daniel P. Moynihan, Beyond the Melting Pot, 2nd ed. 
(Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1970). 

'« White, The Republican Era, p. 380. 

'° William A. Clebsch, "American Religion and the Cure of Souls," in 
McLaughlin and Bella, Religion in America (Boston: Beacon Press, 1968), p. 

*" George C. S. Benson and Thomas S. Engeman, "Dewey, Freud, and 
American Morality," The Political Science Reviewer, 4 (Fall 1974). 

** George C. S. Benson and Joseph Forcinelli, "Individual Ethics in the High 
School," Bulletin of the National Association of Secondary School 
Principals, forthcoming (1975). 

" Richard M. Merelman, Political Socialization and Educational Climate 
(New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1971), pp. 6-7. 

'•' George C. S. Benson and Thomas S. Engeman, "Ethical Instruction and 
the Churches," Religious Education, 69 (September-October 1974), pp. 



** Bill and Nancy Boyarsky, Backroom Politics (New York: Hawthorne 
Books, 1974), Chapter 11. 




S. J. Makielski, Jr. 

James Q. Wilson, writing well before Watergate, suggested that 
one of the problems of corruption is the "Problem of Corruption,"' 
that is, generally decent, potentially effective politicians are deprived 
of their capability to act because of public attitudes toward any signs 
or symptoms of corrupt behavior. Thus, the political leader, in his 
effort to avoid the appearance of corruption, will often fail to act, 
appoint advisors who are inexperienced but look "clean," and spend 
more time on image than on getting on with the business of govern- 
ing. Underlying this argument is an important assumption: the task 
of the public man is to act, and as long as he acts so that public 
benefits substantially outweigh public costs, it is hardly fair to quib- 
ble over any private "leakage" that might occur. 

It is necessary to give some thought to this assumption because it 
has appeared elsewhere,^ and, adopting as it does the posture of mod- 
em "realistic" political science, it stands to influence the thinking of 
many political scientists. In turn, this means that those who are 
equipped to offer the best-reasoned and most knowledgeable sugges- 
tions for reform, as well as being the most attentive audience for 
reform proposals, perhaps will be tempted to assume that a little 
corruption is not a serious problem but perhaps even a good thing.^ 

The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship among 
power, corruption, and moral behavior in public life, assuming that 
our understanding of the relationship shapes our thinking about the 
behavior of public officials, and, one hopes, ultimately that very be- 
havior itself. 


As A. A. Berle has argued, power must be a central feature in any 
society: it is the means by which chaos is held back.^ Put more posi- 
tively, we can think of power for our purposes as the ability to act or 
to cause others to act.' As such, it can be viewed as distinct but not 
necessarily separate from authority, that is, the legal or customary 
right to act or to cause others to act.* Those with authority often 
possess power, as we shall see, but they may on occasion be powerless. 
Significantly, authority is one of the more useful tools or bases of 
power, giving the power-holder the legal sanction and often public 
deference to act as he chooses. 


In American society, we have striven to make power and authority 
coterminous, on the logical democratic premiss that power should be 
sanctioned by authority, thus subjecting the power-holder to the re- 
straints that go with authority, restraints usually summarized in the 
term "responsibility." Thus, power without responsibility becomes a 
feared and fearful object, as can be seen by the contemporary litera- 
ture on the "the corporations" and "organized crime," and the older 
literature on "the bosses" and "the interests." In each case, the 
threat is seen to be an institution, interest, or set of interests that is 
free of the restraints of authority and thereby able to make its own 
rules of political behavior without suffering the consequences inher- 
ent in democratic processes. 

It goes without saying that the struggle to mesh power, authority, 
and responsibility has not always been successful. Even the bitterest 
critics of the "power elite" interpretation of American society must 
admit that there are at least times and places where individuals or 
organized interests exercise power without confronting the hmits 
imposed by authority. 

As troubling as this problem is (and it will no doubt continue to 
vex us), there is another side to the power-authority-responsibility 
combination which is at least as troublesome, perhaps as dangerous, 
and which raises some of the more serious questions of the morality 
of politics. It regards authority and responsibility-laden positions 
which give their holders power, and with that power the opportunity 
to exploit their positions in immoral ways. This serves, in effect, to 
give the powerful an opportunity that they would not otherwise pos- 

The simplest, and perhaps most familiar example concerns the 
policeman, usually a relatively ordinary citizen, who is given a brief 
screening, a short period of training, sworn in, supplied with a badge, 
a uniform, a set of weapons, and assigned a duty area. He carries with 
him an awesome authority embodied in "the police power" when he 
steps or drives onto the streets. 

The policeman also carries substantial power as an extension of 
that authority: to use his weapons, to use his power to correct, intimi- 
date, detain, bully, arrest, with the relatively confident knowledge 
that he is supported by his fellow policemen and, more than likely, 
by the judicial process. It must be granted that he experiences some 
degree of formal supervision through the police hierarchy and some 
degree of informal supervision through the possibility of citizen com- 
plaints. Even granting this, however, we must also recognize that he 
is nonetheless placed in a situation of power that reaches beyond his 
authority and responsibility and yet is simultaneously protected by 


his position of authority. It is Uttle wonder that some policemen will 
occasionally enforce the law with their fists, clubs, or blackjacks; that 
they will not infrequently be found "on the pad"; that some will 
choose to ignore certain classes of law-breakers while bullying catego- 
ries of other people, or that some, once in a while, will engage in 
larceny themselves. 

To say as much is not to explain or excuse the corrupt policeman 
as much as it is to restress the essential quality that made Watergate 
so traumatic. Men possessing authority, and with it great power, used 
those positions of presumed responsibility with utter disregard for 
responsibility. That is, the carefully constructed triad of power- 
authority-responsibility was broken; and when the disposable items 
were shed, it came down to a matter of the exercise of power alone. 
To press the problem one step further, it must be recognized that it 
was by virtue of access to authority that the opportunity to wield the 
power came into being. Authority made the FBI and CIA subject to 
intense pressures to provide a cover for the "top men," those holding 
greater positions of authority. Authority clearly provided the succes- 
sive lines of retreat from "executive privilege" to "national security" 
to "preserving the Presidency."^ 

Although Watergate is very much in the forefront of the people's 
awareness today, it must not be assumed that it is a special case, 
aside from its cast of characters. There is no essential difference 
between those who covered up the Watergate crimes and the crooked 
cop, the county official who accepts construction company bribes, the 
zoning official who accepts a developer's Christmas present, the 
building inspector who "overlooks" violations of the code, or the pur- 
chasing officer who writes specifications so they can be met by only 
one firm. Each is in a position of authority which has been granted a 
degree of power; each chooses to break the triad to rely on power to 
act and authority to conceal. 

The important element here is that the very nature of authority 
provides certain power situations which can then be turned to indi- 
vidual, partisan, or special-interest advantage. What we confront is 
a syllogism: (1) power is a necessary social force; (2) power is in theory 
restrained and sanctioned by authority in order to grant the necessary 
power for social action; (3) but these positions of authority in turn 
create power situations in which power may act outside the realm of 
or contrary to the dictates of responsibility. 

It does not follow, of course, that all persons in positions of author- 
ity will use them to extend their power and to violate the precepts of 
responsibility; but the incentives to do so are strong indeed. 

One final aspect of the power-authority-responsibility triad must 


be discussed. Aside from the political advantages of wedding power 
and authority (that is, making the power-holder subject to public 
controls), responsibility acts as a reasonable substitute for a political 
code of morality. The responsibilities of public office are established 
by constitutions, charters, and statutes in the first instance. These 
are usually enlarged upon by common and equity law practice — 
mandaumus, injunction, and the doctrine of ultra vires, for example. 

Further, a body of social conscience usually surrounds a public 
office: a collection of attitudes transmitted by predecessors, custom- 
ary modes of behavior, and anticipated attitudes of public perform- 
ances.* Therefore, a public office is a role — a bundle of expectations 
— shaped by law and attitude, assumed to be larger and more perma- 
nent than its transient holder. There are, of course, broad ranges of 
interpretation for acting out the role. A policeman catching a 10-year- 
old shooting out the windows in the public school building swats him 
on the behind and confiscates the air rifle. Is the policeman engaged 
in brutality? Illegal seizure of property? Should he turn the child over 
to the juvenile authorities? A good argument can be made for both 
lines of behavior. Yet we can detect an underlying theme: the obliga- 
tion of the duties of office and an intent to perform those duties in a 
manner appropriate to the authority given and to the public trust 
that granted that authority. 

This, however, raises a major problem. Responsibility does imply 
a responsibility to someone or something. A moral code implies a 
system in which it is anchored. It has been suggested, obviously, that 
responsibility finds its anchor in the role it establishes; but the mesh- 
ing of power and responsibility creates serious problems, for power 
has its own internal logic. 


Power is the ability to act. Power and authority mean the ability 
to act in a way that tradition, law, and custom establish for the public 
good. Without power, much injustice would exist without a chance 
for correction; many wrongs would be endured without hope of right- 
ing them. In the absence of some other totally unknown and totally 
untested social system, power is essential to the day-to-day and the 
long-term welfare of most humans. 

If power is necessary, then, what forces impel the power-holder to 
use it to good ends? As already discussed, it can be hoped that the 
doctrine of responsibility works to this effect. In the event that re- 
sponsibility is not clear, due to ambiguities or because it is too confin- 
ing to be "realistic," what other forces, if any, may be relied upon to 


leash power? 

In the abstract, the answer is "very few." Power implies, indeed 
means, mastery. The greater the power, the greater the mastery over 
others and the circumstances surrounding the power-holder. As a 
consequence, the power-holder has fewer constraints on him and his 
behavior than the man with no power. Power is dominance: the ca- 
pacity to impose one's ego on the world around the individual. Thus, 
power is subservient only to greater power. 

Given its nature, the moral code of power is that one must have 
it to act; one must keep it to act; one must have more to act un- 
checked by a greater power. To the extent freedom to act is good, 
power is good. For the public official, the politician, power is good in 
itself because it is the capacity to act more forcefully and with greater 
binding power than others." The public official who cannot act is not 
only pathetic but a waste of public resources and personal opportuni- 

Stated in these bald terms, such a description seems to stretch the 
concept of a moral code beyond a breaking point. In the world of 
human affairs, however, where the struggle to act is often frustrated, 
power occasionally means more than what immediately appears. The 
laborious process of gaining the agreement of tens or even hundreds 
of individuals, the slow process of building the endless physical and 
human blocks to action, all are real enough that the power-holder is 
apt to find himself eagerly seeking more power, not merely to en- 
trench himself or even to empire-build, but to be able to do more — to 
achieve those things that others block or have failed to do. 

This does not necessarily establish any relationship between 
power and corruption, however. Neither power itself nor the power- 
holder establish conditions of corruption in and of themselves. It is 
rather the situation of power, a situation already briefly discussed in 
relation to authority. 

All power situations give the power-holder a scope of formal au- 
thority and power over a number of other people and their actions. 
The population of this formal scope may be quite small: the power 
of the head of the typists' pool, for example, or that of the warden of 
the county jail. On the other hand, it may be enormously large — that 
of the President of the United States. 

Power situations also usually include a degree of informal scope, 
most clearly seen in those who tie their own political hopes to the 
success of the power-holder or who depend on him in other ways. 
Thus, the power- holdef and those who fall within his scope are linked 
in a situation in which the former can more or less directly affect the 
actions or opportunities of those within his scope. 


It seems safe to assert that in almost all power situations there will 
be some people whose preference is to have the power-holder use his 
position to their explicit advantage. That is, the power situation cre- 
ates a pattern of interaction, and within that interactional pattern 
will be those who hope to enlarge their opportunities, wealth, or own 
power through a skewing of the actions of the public official. In short, 
the power situation makes it possible to bring together corrupter and 

To so argue appears to relocate the moral decision onto the shoul- 
ders of those who fall within the scope of power rather than to focus 
on the power-holder, the public official, himself. But it must be kept 
in mind that the power-holder also lies within the scope of power. He 
is playing a power and authority role. But two more serious points 
need to be made. First is the impact of power on those who come near 
to it: "Lord Acton stopped on a half truth; and that, the less impor- 
tant half. Power corrupts all right. If you have enough of it, it may, 
in the end, absolutely corrupt you, but you only need the least little 
bit . . . to do a good job corrupting other people."'" The hypothesis 
can be offered that the broader the scope of power, the greater the 
number of those who will be tempted to use it to corrupt purposes 
as, sadly, Watergate and the role of "lower officials" in the White 
House hierarchy seem to indicate. 

Second, the moral code of power does not establish any standard 
for the interactions between power-holder and those who would seek 
special-interest uses of that power, except for the criterion: Will it 
increase my power? Power tends to try to maximize itself. If it is 
accomplished by corruption, there is nothing in tradition, practice, 
or the "hard-nosed" realities of power that inherently discourages 
corruption. We have tended to assume that responsibility would un- 
dertake that task. 

What of simple greed, however? That is, the public official who 
has chosen politics as a means of attaining small or large wealth by 
whatever means possible? At first glance, greed would seem to invali- 
date our foregoing argument. One can point out that politics as an 
economic investment is both a long-standing American practice and 
also a case in which power is not the central concern but simply a 
means of making a prosperous living. It appears that money is too 
closely tied to power in America to separate the two except in unusual 
cases. Some men of power choose to forego wealth; some wealthy men 
do not choose to become involved in the exercise of power. But there 
has been and continues to be a close meshing of the two. The corrupt 
official who grows wealthy because of his corruption often extends 
and amplifies his power at the same time; and his motives may be a 


mystery even to himself. 

The model of power suggested here closely follows the aphorism 
laid down by Thucydides: "The strong do what they have the power 
to do and the weak accept what they have to accept."'' Power is both 
means — to wealth, fame, achievement, more power — and end. But 
it must be kept in mind that its influence is not limited to the formal 
power-holder but includes those within its scope. The latter are rarely 
burdened with any of the dictates of responsibility and may become 
instrumental in helping or causing the power-holder to break the 
power-authority-responsibility triad. 

Thus, while power can be said to have a moral code, it is one 
which bears little resemblance to morality in the deeper sense of that 
word. Rather, the moral code of power is capable of tolerating corrup- 
tion if corruption will give to those who lie within power's scope what 
they want. 

In realistic terms, then, it seems unwise to attempt to attribute 
corruption in politics to "rythmic effects" in a nation's moral climate, 
or to relativistic attitudes toward politics that may shift with the next 
public opinion poll, or to such simple correlations as poverty engen- 
dering greedy politicians, and so forth. Corruption is potentially a 
permanent companion of power; it is a "logical" one in the sense that 
where there are greater and lesser degrees of power there will always 
be those who want more, who want to share in it, and who want to 
benefit personally from the use of it. 

The puzzle we confront is that society requires power; but power 
unchecked by responsibility is a breeding ground for corruption. Any 
eff"ort at reform must begin with this puzzle and must attempt to 
solve it. 


The Sheriff of Alpha County has held office for twenty years. In 
the last three elections he has not been challenged either in the pri- 
maries or the general election. Although his duties are formally hm- 
ited to law enforcement and maintenance and operation of the county 
jail, those who do business with the county have long been accus- 
tomed to "clear it first with the Sheriff." In consultation with mem- 
bers of the school board, a separately elected body, he determines 
who will be the vendor for all school supphes, who will get the mainte- 
nance contract for school buildings and grounds, and who will be the 
prime contractor for new school buildings. Of the five members of the 
school board, one is his brother, one is his wife's uncle, and one owes 
him a large sum of money. 


He is a silent partner in the Alpha Building and Supply Company, 
the same company that wins the bids on five out of six proposals for 
the county road work. He is also a member of the Board of Directors 
of the Second National Bank of Alpha. All the county's idle funds are 
on deposit at that bank, and no interest is paid to the county. 

He is regularly consulted by the Governor on matters that affect 
his county. Those planning to run for governor routinely come to visit 
him at least two or three times during the campaign or in the precam- 
paign jockeying. Although the county represents only a third of his 
U. S. Congressional district, it has received more than $5,000,000 in 
federal funds for public works in the last eight years. He can call both 
U. S. Senators from his state and know that his calls will be answered 
by the senators, in person, within the hour. His annual salary has 
never been more than $12,000 per year, but when he dies, his estate 
will be valued at over a half- million dollars. 

The Sheriff of Alpha County is hypothetical, but he and others 
like him are familiar enough in every state. They are the "profession- 
als" of American politics, professionals as politicians and as office- 
holders. They also demonstrate vividly what has been referred to as 
the scope of power in this paper. 

Any proposals for reform must be addressed less to the Water- 
gates, Teapot Domes, or Credit Mobiliers, than to the on-going 
linkage of authority and power without responsibility, which so often 
appears to be the skeleton and musculature of "the system." But 
what reforms are appropriate to this power system? If one keeps the 
Sheriff of Alpha County in mind, it becomes clear that election com- 
missions, campaign finance laws, and voluntary declarations by can- 
didates on the sources of their financial support are attractive 
nostrums, but they have very little relation to the problem of corrup- 
tion in American politics. Although it is possible that a person seek- 
ing office will barter his future behavior in return for a campaign 
contribution, the more serious problem is his scope of power once in 
office: the gradual build-up of promises, favors, connections, commit- 
ments, threats, and friendships that consoHdate power, that increase 
it, that expand its scope beyond its limits of authority and responsi- 

It would seem that we have very few if any proposals for reform 
that address themselves to the Sheriff of Alpha County, or to those 
like him in state government, the federal bureaucracy. Congress, or 
wherever men and women hold power. It is probably true that the 
scarcity of proposals is directly related to our rather dim understand- 
ing of how these men and women use their offices, what they feel are 
their real obligations, and whether they seek to create their scope of 


power or have it thrust upon them. 

It would appear that the first and most urgent concern is to reform 
our own modes of thinking. As social scientists and socially attentive 
persons, we have been quick to admire the "politically skilled" man 
and slow to wonder if technique is the end of the politics. Perhaps we 
have also been too willing to accept a "little" corruption as "func- 
tional to the system," without asking what it is the system is doing 
or why it does what it does. What is being suggested here is that any 
valid reforms must come from a valid assessment of the realities of 
power and a commitment to understanding why so much powerful 
action is only to enhance power at the cost of responsibility. 

Until we are willing to come to terms with our analytical stan- 
dards and to question why we have been willing to ignore what is 
easily apparent around us, the prospects for reform will continue to 
rest upon "tinkering," rather than upon deep-seated and lasting 


' James Q. Wilson, "Corruption is Not Always Scandalous," in John A. 
Gardiner and David J. Olson, eds., Theft of the City (Bloomington: Indiana 
University Press, 1974) p. 29. 

^ Daniel Elazar, "The New Federalism," The Public Interest, 35 (Spring, 
1974), pp. 96-97. 

^ It is worth recalling that at least from the turn of the century until well into 
the 1930s, political scientists were commonly activists in various reform 

* A. A. Berle, Power (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1969), pp. 6- 


' There is, of course, no commonly accepted "operational" definition of 
power. The one used here is only one of many and as subject to analytical 
criticism as any other. 

" The distinction made here between "power" and "authority" is a common 
one. See Edward C. Banfield and James Q. Wilson, City Politics (Cam- 
bridge: Harvard University Press, 1963), p. 101. 

^ Parallel lines of retreat tend to appear in police corruption investigations: 
first, that the investigation is "destroying the morale" of the force; then, "it 
will give the poUce a bad name"; and finally, "we will be prevented from 
protecting the citizen from the real criminals." 

* During the course of a lengthy interview, a local treasurer commented to 
the author, "Sure, my job is political in the elections sense of the word. You'd 
better believe it. But I'm also obliged to do a good job, to be efficient, keep 
good records, and so forth. And I take that seriously." 

' Robert A. Caro, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York 


(New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974), traces this evolution in a vivid and 
fascinating account. 

'" James Gould Cozzens, Guard of Honor (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1948), 
p. 434. 

" Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, Book V, Section 89, trans, by 
Richard Crawley (Chicago: Encyclopedia Brittanica, 1952), p. 505. 






Mark Stern 

The plural elite-single debate in political science often centers on 
the question of "Who holds power?".' The implications of this debate 
for political ethics and the moral basis of a polity are seldom made 
explicit. Perhaps the single most important study in which morality 
and ethics follow from a given power structure is C. Wright Mills' The 
Power Elite, a work which sets forth a hypothesis of power that has 
probably received more critical attention than any other contempo- 
rary theory.^ Moreover, Mills himself has been called "one of the 
intellectual precursors of the New Left movement of the 1960s. "^ 

This essay focuses upon the connection between the theory of 
political power expressed by Mills in The Power Elite and his concep- 
tion of political morality resulting from such power relationships in 
the United States. Mills' theory of power and morality is applied in 
a case study using the trans-Alaska oil pipeline controversy.^ 


Mills' theory of power stems from his ideas of what man ought to 
be. To Mills, to have control over decisions which affect one's life, or 
at least to participate meaningfully in the making of such decisions, 
is the essence of self-respect and power for one's self in democratic 
society.^ This is precisely what the average man does not have in 
contemporary society, and it is what sets the elite apart from the non- 
elite in society. The first words in Mills' work are: 

The powers of ordinary men are circumscribed by the everyday 
worlds in which they live, yet even in these rounds of job, family, 
and neighborhood they often seem driven by forces they can neither 
understand nor govern. "Great changes" are beyond their control 
.... [They] feel that they are without purpose in an epoch in 
which they are without power. 

The power elite is composed of men whose positions enable them to 
transcend the ordinary environments of ordinary men and women; 
they are in positions to make decisions having consequences.' 

To Mills, the ordinary man "ought" to be able to control his 
immediate environment, his immediate situation, in order to have a 


modicum of self-respect and autonomy. But the ordinary man is but 
a powerless part of a powerless mass, even within the immediate 
institutions which surround him. Churches, schools, families are all 
shaped and molded to fit the needs of those who run the major insti- 
tutions in society: the giant corporations, the national political execu- 
tive, and the military.^ 

The power elite thesis put forth by Mills is more than just a 
description of decision-making in the United States; it is a picture of 
the process of power and "it is a conception of who is involved in the 
process" and of the result of the process.* Historical determinism is 
not a component of this process, as elucidated by Mills. Responsibil- 
ity for what happens in society rests on human decisions, not on some 
immutable laws of history, biology, or God-given forces. What can be 
done by men at any given point in history is dependent upon what 
has happened in prior times. The past, however, serves only to define 
the present, not to determine it. In the contemporary period the 
limits placed upon elites are fewer than ever before, and the means 
of power are more enormous than ever. Thus, how the powerful mem- 
bers of society handle power is a question more important today than 
ever before. 

Power in contemporary society is vertically organized. Those at 
the top, the power elite, control what happens in society and do so 
through a systematically organized, interlocked, and overlapped se- 
ries of groups.* The power elite is not existent in one realm, but rather 
in the three most powerful realms simultaneously: the major corpora- 
tions, the national political executive, and the military. 

The top members of these powerful institutions share a common 
set of objectives, generally common origins, educational backgrounds 
and socio-psychological orientations, common career patterns, and 
common social and business interests. Individuals in the "middle 
level of power," a level exemplified by Congress, deal with secondary 
issues and are secondary bargainers in the political process. They 
may be involved in a balance of power among their coequals, but the 
power they balance is of secondary nature. The decisions made at the 
middle level of power are either those not deemed important enough 
for the most powerful to deal with, or are severely constrained by 
those in the most powerful institutions. The power elite make the 
decisions related to "slump, war, and boom." The Presidency is part 
of the power elite in American society, and the executive branch of 
government is involved in resolving the fundamental political issues 
of society. 

At the bottom of the power pyramid is the pubhc, which is in- 
creasingly a "mass public,"'" one manipulated by the elite through 


mass media. Political candidates are sold to the public much as any 
other product for mass consumption, and political decisions are pre- 
sented to the public as givens. The public is provided an education, 
not for knowledge and citizen responsibility, but for economic train- 
ing so as better to serve corporations. The public is a mass used by 
elite-dominated institutions from which they have less and less au- 

To Mills, the United States has a vertically-structured, elite- 
dominated political and social system in which the mass public is 
manipulated for the private ends of those at the top. It therefore 
cannot be a moral society, for a moral society must allow for individ- 
ual autonomy within the democratic framework and self-direction 
without overt manipulation by others. Though much may be done in 
the name of "public interest," it is not the public's interest that is 
really considered in the making of public policy, but rather the inter- 
ests of "the higher immorality." 

The pursuit of success as measured by money is the real determi- 
nant of public policy. Old values disappear. Absolute codes of right 
and wrong are irrelevant. Success as measured by the accumulation 
of wealth is the mark of virtue. "The higher immorality" is "a sys- 
tematic feature of the American elite, and its general acceptance is 
an essential feature of the mass society."" Anything is permissible in 
the pursuit of success, and anything is to be expected from those at 
the top, for after all they are the most successful. "As news of higher 
immoralities breaks, they [the public] often say, 'Well, another one 
got caught today,' thereby implying that the cases disclosed are not 
odd events involving occasional characters but symptoms of a wide- 
spread condition. "'^ 

A society which lacks an elite with any firm moral sense is be- 
lieved to be comprised of a network of small rackets, producing the 
"sharp operator" and the shady deal at all levels. The best operators 
rise to the top, and knowledge is neither a prerequisite to nor neces- 
sary corequisite of power. And as knowledge grows ever more divorced 
from power, those in power seek a substitute in the "expert."'^ The 
leadership thus has its experts and knows what is best, and the public 
is to follow for the national good. Action, not bound by reason nor 
exposed to the realm of public debate, then becomes mindless and 
capricious. "America . . . appears now before the world a naked and 
arbitrary power as, in the name of realism, its men of decision enforce 
their . . . definitions upon world reality."" To Mills, power and mo- 
rality are clearly interlocked, and a socio-political system which oper- 
ates from the premise of the "higher immorality" is a "system of 
organized irresponsibility."" 



One cannot help but shudder at Mills' uncanny sense of prophecy 
when reflecting upon the Watergate and Vietnam tragedies. But it 
may be argued that Watergate and Vietnam are but isolated epi- 
sodes, not typical of most of the events of our time; and while they 
may help define our time, they are not all that is our time. The 
remainder of this essay, therefore, examines a controversy that is 
rather typical of our time, the trans- Alaska oil pipeline question, and 
does so in the light of C. Wright Mills' analysis of power and morality 
in the contemporary era. Although no claim is made that this contro- 
versy is the same as all others which involve major economic conse- 
quences for the United States, it is used here as a case study which 
might help provide a clearer answer to whether or not Mills' model 
of power and politics in the United States is operative. 

The controversy over the trans-Alaska oil pipeline began in 1967 
with the discovery of oil beneath the north slope of the Brooks 
Range.'* One of the primary difficulties which had to be overcome 
before the oil could be marketed was that of developing a method of 
transporting it from Prudhoe Bay, near the Arctic Ocean, to the 
continental United States. The oil companies involved in the project 
decided almost immediately that a hot oil pipeline from Prudhoe Bay 
to the warm water port of Valdez, augmented by tankers which could 
then carry the oil southward to our west coastal states, would be the 
most economical method of delivering it to the marketplace. 

The oil companies holding leases on the north slope — Atlantic 
Richfield, British Petroleum, and Humble Oil (a subsidiary of Stan- 
dard Oil of New Jersey) — formed a group called the Trans-Alaskan 
Pipeline System to construct the proposed line. After completion of 
the 1969 Alaskan land-lease auction, held by the State of Alaska to 
raise revenues and promote further oil company exploration and pro- 
duction, the original north slope developers merged with new lease 
holders in the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.'^ However, the 
three original lease-holders retained control of 95 percent of the 
proven reserves in the north slope area and maintained control over 
the consortium involved in the over-all project.'* 

The path of the pipeline, as proposed by the Alyeska group, 
crossed federal lands, and thus its construction could not begin until 
a permit had been obtained from the Department of Interior. The 
Interior Department was inclined to issue quickly the necessary per- 
mit, but environmental groups obtained an injunction halting its 
issuance until the Department satisfied the requirements of the Na- 
tional Environmental Policy Act of 1969 by undertaking an environ- 


mental impact study. In March 1972, the court-ordered construction 
ban was lifted when the Interior Department completed the environ- 
mental impact statement, which showed the project to be in conform- 
ance with the Environmental Policy Act. In May of the same year, 
Interior Secretary Rogers C. B. Morton announced the intention of 
his department to issue the necessary permit forthwith.'* 

Within a year, environmental groups again brought the project to 
a halt by a court ordered injunction based on the 1920 Mineral Leas- 
ing Act. The basis for the granting of the injunction was that the 1920 
Act limited rights-of-way to twenty-five feet on either side of a pipe- 
line: but the north slope line had to have a much wider right-of-way 
in order to be constructed. The Supreme Court upheld the district 
court decision, and the ban on construction of the pipeline was con- 
tinued. On November 13, 1973 the Senate passed S 1081, which had 
been approved the previous day by the House of Representatives. 
This bill sealed the fate of the environmentalist opposition to the 
Alaska oil pipeline by lifting the earlier limitations on widths of fed- 
eral rights-of-way so that the pipeline could be constructed. The bill 
prohibited further court actions based on the National Environmen- 
tal Policy Act of 1969, and directed the Secretary of Interior to issue 
immediately the necessary authorizations so that pipeline construc- 
tion could begin. ^^ 

In his discussion of the mass society. Mills posits two important 
factors related to the oil pipeline question: the decline of the volun- 
tary organization as an effective instrument of the public, and the 
transformation of the public into a mass media market.^' Both factors 
figure significantly. First, the only effective opposition to the project 
was organizational. Environmental groups twice brought the pipeline 
to a halt. When the Department of Interior submitted its pro-pipeline 
environmental impact statement. The Wilderness Society, Friends of 
the Earth, and the Environmental Defense Fund issued a thirteen- 
hundred page rebuttal. ^^ Mills argues that the effective political or- 
ganization in modem society is the large organization, and the large 
organization is "inaccessible to the individual who would shape by 
discussion the policies of the organization to which he belongs." The 
individual thus loses contact with the voluntary organization to the 
extent that it is effective. The organization becomes mass in scale as 
the individual becomes more dependent upon it and less able to have 
access to it.^^ 

Second, the public was subjected to a major media campaign on 
the pipeline issue. There is little question, however, that the media 
campaign was dominated by those favoring its construction.^^ Not 
only did the private corporations carry on an extensive media cam- 


paign directed at the mass public, but from the beginning of the 
controversy the executive branch of government was also carrying on 
its media campaign aimed at generating public support for the pro- 
ject. The Interior Department even published a booklet, Special Re- 
port to the People: The Potential and the Promise, in which the 
virtues of the pipeline project were extolled while minimizing the 
environmental dangers. ^^ The publication was issued before the de- 
partment had undertaken its environmental impact study. Moreover, 
the President publicly called for construction of the pipeline and, 
after the Arab oil boycott, stressed the need for it to help meet the 



The media battle and the administration's push for the pipeline 
were essentially public battles to justify decisions already made in 
private. The pipeline was going to be built; the investment had been 
made and agreement reached between government and the private 
sector to secure a return on the investment. Mills maintains that the 
giant corporations in tandem with the political executive would dom- 
inate in any decision of this magnitude and would, through an inter- 
locking of personnel and perspective, be in common agreement." 

By late 1969, private industry had invested millions in the 
Prudhoe Bay-Valdez pipeUne and had orders not subject to cancella- 
tion for pipe and equipment worth additional millions.^* Shortly be- 
fore becoming Secretary of Interior, Walter Hickel, as Governor of 
Alaska, had the state government financially committed to the pro- 
ject by ordering construction of an access highway to the north 
slope. ^' In 1969 the State of Alaska also auctioned off new leases for 
further development of oil production in the north slope area.^" In 
1970, as Secretary of Interior, Hickel assured Alyeska officials "the 
pipeline will be built. "^* In 1969, President Nixon appointed a federal 
task force to develop plans for the exploitation of Alaskan oil. Later 
in the same year the Interior Department lifted a federal lands freeze 
in Alaska to allow the construction of a service road for the pipeline. 
The freeze had been imposed to protect the claims of native Alas- 
kans. ^^ 

Instances of the interlocking of personnel between the private 
corporate sector affected by the pipeline decision and the public offi- 
cials involved in making the decisions are numerous. Walter Hickel 
was the sole owner and President of the Hickel Investment of Anchor- 
age, a director of the Alaska Pipeline Company, board member of the 
Anchorage Natural Gas Company, and a member of the Petroleum 
Club of Anchorage. ^^ Robert 0. Anderson, Chairman of the board of 
Atlantic Richfield, was a member of Richard M. Nixon's presidential 
finance committee, ^^ and was identified as "the kingmaker who influ- 


enced Nixon to choose Hickel ... as his Secretary of Interior."'^ 
Frank N. Ikard, a former Congressman appointed to presidential 
committees by Mr. Nixon, is president of the American Petroleum 
Institute, which has lobbied for the Alaska pipeline.^* The National 
Petroleum Council advises the Secretary of Interior on fuel and oil 
matters; its membership includes, among others, Anderson, Ikard, 
and also John K. Jamieson, president of Standard Oil of New Jersey, 
whose subsidiary is a major participant in the Alyeska group." 

Mills asserts that the balance of power and the center of initiative 
on major political decisions has shifted increasingly from the Con- 
gress to the Executive branch during the twentieth century. Congres- 
sional debate is structured to limit the consideration of a host of 
fundamental issues; and their prerogatives have been further weak- 
ened by readily granting emergency powers to the Executive.^* And 
as noted above, the Executive played a prominent role in defining the 
public debate early in the development of the pipeline controversy. 

Only a scattering of articles were inserted into the Congressional 
Record by Congressmen discussing the problems of oil shortages and 
environmental dangers. However, Congress was forced by private cor- 
porations and the Executive branch of government to confront the 
issue, in order to nullify the efforts of environmental organizations to 
block the project. The major sections of S 1386 were all geared to 
ending the construction stalemate, which had been based upon court 
decisions involving earlier laws. 

Representative Morris K. Udall, a member of the House Interior 
and Insular Affairs Committee, complained that the pipeline bill had 
been considered in an "atmosphere of confusion, controversy and 
urgency, real and imagined. ..." Representative John P. Saylor, 
the ranking Republican member of the committee, felt this was "an 
outstanding example of 'pressure' legislation . . . hasty and ill ad- 
vised, far-reaching and precedent setting." Many other members of 
the committee voiced concern over the lack of debate and the short- 
circuiting of the National Environmental Policy Act.'* Representative 
Michael J. Harrington, in words further reminiscent of Mills' work, 
charged that "Congress was not asked to formulate a poHcy but 
rather to rubber-stamp a fait accompli."'" The President and his 
aides, in cooperation with the executives of the major oil corpora- 
tions, had structured the public debate from the start and deter- 
mined the nature of the congressional debate at the conclusion of the 
political decision-making process. 


Morality and power are interlocked in Mills' The Power Elite. 


Power is linked to position in the contemporary polity, but is devoid 
of any firm base of morality. Getting what one wants regardless of the 
consequences for the public realm is the watchword of the successful. 
The masses are the powerless recipients of decisions made by the 
elites; the masses are manipulated by the elites. Whether in terms 
of the private ends of the elites or the new realpolitik so prized by 
them, a moral vision of the public realm does not enter into the public 
or private debates of those who are in control. 

The Alaska oil pipeline controversy, as a case study, lends support 
to Mills' view of the relationship between power structure and moral- 
ity in the United States the early 1970s. The public debate was cir- 
cumscribed and weighted heavily in favor of oil interests. Both the 
private sector giants and the national political Executive took much 
the same public stance on the issue. Many of the national administra- 
tive actors had private interests in the oil companies involved in the 
controversy. Moreover, Congress's role in the resolution of the issue 
was limited by constraints imposed by the national political 
Executive and the private corporate interests. Congress entered the 
controversy under the pressure of an "emergency" and basically en- 
acted the agenda set before it by the Executive branch. 

The trans-Alaska oil pipeline issue is but one among many in the 
public realm. It is only a single case and therefore not conclusive, 
merely suggestive of the relationship between power elites and the 
public. But clearly the public debate over the public realm was 
muted in the case of the Alaska pipeline in deference to private power 
and private need. In this sense there may be an analogy between this 
issue and the old English commons or land set aside for public use. 
In our day the "common" is likely to gain in importance as it becomes 
less bountiful and as other alternatives become more costly. 


' The literature in this area is voluminous, but no single piece of work has 
caused as much debate among contemporary political scientists as has C. 
Wright Mills, The Power Elite (New York: Oxford University Press, 1956). 

^ There are several critiques of Mills writings. See, for example, Kenneth 
Prewitt and Alan Stone, The Ruling Elites (New York: Harper and Row, 
1964); G. William Domhoff, The Higher Circles (New York: Random House, 
1970); Arnold Rose, The Power Structure (New York: Oxford University 
Press, 1967). 

^ Prewitt and Stone, The Ruling Elites, p. 83. 

* Other case studies utilizing a single-elitist approach may be found in G. 
William Domhoff, The Higher Circles. Case studies utilizing a plural-elitist 


approach may be found in Arnold Rose, The Power Structure. 

' This theme is more eloquently stated in Mills, The Sociological 
Imagination (New York: Oxford University Press, 1963). 

« Mills, The Power Elite, pp. 3-4. 

'Ibid., p. 6. 

* Ibid., p. 21. 

» Ibid., pp. 11, 198, 235, 265, 269-297. 
» Ibid., pp. 303-304. 
' Ibid., pp. 343-344. 
2 Ibid., p. 347. 
' Ibid., p. 324. 
^ Ibid., p. 361. 
5 /bid. 

* The general synopsis of events presented in this section is drawn from: 
"Laying it on the Line for Alaskan Oil," Business Week (November 29, 1969), 
p. 31.; and Congressional Quarterly Almanac (Washington: Congressional 
Quarterly, Inc. 1969-1973), vols. 24-29. The most comprehensive summary of 
the pipeline controversy may be found in volume 29, pp. 596-614. See also 
Charles J. Cicchetti, Alaskan Oil (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University 
Press, 1972). 

" Robert Sherrill, Nation, 216 (June 22, 1973), p. 746. 

'* Muriel Allen and Richard Levey, "Whose Alaskan Oil?," New Republic, 
168 (July 28, 1973), p. 73. 

'» Sherrill, Nation, p. 748. 

2" Congressional Quarterly, (1973), p. 597. 

2' Mills, The Power Elite, p. 307. 

22 Sherrill, Nation, p. 748. 

2=' Mills, The Power Elite, pp. 306-307. 

^* Congressional Quarterly (1973), p. 604. 

2* Washington: Government Printing Office, 1970. 

2« See the "Energy Message" sent by President Nixon to the Congress, re- 
ported in Congressional Quarterly (1973), p. 50-A. 

2' Mills, The Power Elite, pp. 274-277. 

2» Business Week (November 29, 1969), p. 31. 

2" Tom Brown, Oil on Ice (San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1971), p. 42. 

=» Sherrill, Nation, p. 747. 

^' Ibid. 

'2 Business Week (November 29, 1969), p. 31. 

^ Paul A. Theis and Edmund L. Henshaw, Jr., eds.. Who's Who in American 


Politics, 3rd ed. (New York: R. R. Bowker Company, 1971), p. 464. 

'* Ibid. , p. 23. 

^' Sherrill, Nation, p. 747. 

^" Who's Who in Finance and Industry 17th ed. (Chicago: Marquis Who's 
Who, 1971), p. 473. 

3' Ibid., pp. 94, 473, 481. 

'' Mills, The Power Elite, p. 255. 

^' Congressional Quarterly (1973), p. 607. 

^» Ibid., p. 614. 




Gerald M. Henson 

Ideas of political morality and ethics are very closely connected 
with the perceived need in the minds of many for political reform. 
However, the political frameworks to which people adhere demon- 
strably affect their selection of what is in need of reform. To many, 
politically moral man is a product of the institutional devices which 
he creates, and therefore they believe that the improvement or reform 
of political mechanisms will achieve a more ethical citizenry. Others 
feel that a totalistic environmental manipulation of the citizenry is 
necessary to achieve the desired end. 

Even so widely accepted a regime as democracy has adherents of 
both these outlooks. Often the arguments concerning political reform 
in a democracy compose a debate that is not joined due to the failure 
on the part of many to distinguish analytically differing frameworks 
of democratic thought. Indeed, even some political scientists appear 
to ignore, or to be unaware of, the differing frameworks. For instance, 
Thomas R. Dye, after concluding that few linkages exist between the 
forms of democracy in the fifty American states and their policy 
outputs, states: 

The legitimacy of the democratic form of government has never 
really depended upon the policy outcomes which it is expected to 
produce: rather, it is based upon the assertion that this mode of 
decision-making maximizes opportunities for the individual's par- 
ticipation in formation of public policy.' 

With this statement Dye sweeps aside an entire school of demo- 
cratic thought, one which judges the legitimacy of democracy not 
only by its form but also by the effects policy outputs have upon the 
maximization of individual participation, the improvement of public 
welfare, and the enhancement of the total cultural milieu of society. 

The purpose of this essay is to distinguish analytically these two 
modes of democratic political thought with the expectation that the 
reform debate may be joined in a form more closely resembling a 
dialogue. A less ambitious purpose is to correct the historical inaccu- 
racies of statements such as that of Dye.^ To accomplish this, one 
needs to consider some of the theories of democracy. 


Conceptualizing democracy is quite difficult, and differing mean- 


ings are expected. According to Zoll, the number of definitions is 
equal to the number of writers on the subject.^ Salvadori estimates 
that there are about two hundred different definitions of democracy/ 
Clearly this great variation in definition poses problems for analysis. 
The concept must be further demarcated. 

Aristotle stated that constitutions may be classified by (1) "the 
nature of the end for which the state exists," and (2) "the various 
kinds of authority to which men and their associations are subject."' 
In Nichomachean Ethics Aristotle defines that which has an end 
other than itself as art or production (poiesis) and that which is good 
in itself as science or action (praxis).^ These are typologies of govern- 
ments in general and need to be transferred to the concept of democ- 

Ranney and Kendall distinguish between the identification of 
democracy as a "way of life" and its understanding as a "form of 
government."^ The "way of life" school views democratic government 
as having an end other than itself and its legitimacy rests upon the 
quality of its decisions. Advocates of democracy as a "form of govern- 
ment," on the other hand, are concerned only with the process by 
which ordinary citizens control their leaders and participate in the 
decisions made by their government. Hereafter democracy as a "way 
of life" will be referred to as poiesis democracy and democracy as a 
"form of government" will be termed praxis democracy.* 


The praxis school of democracy stresses the mechanisms for mak- 
ing political decisions, and praxis advocates can be identified by their 
definitions of democracy. Lord Bryce, for example, defines demo- 
cratic government as one in which at least three quarters of the in- 
habitants are qualified to vote, regardless of class status. He stresses 
numbers and form.® 

Another praxis theorist is Schumpeter, who views democracy as 
a form of government unassociated with any particular ideals. Demo- 
cratic theory is a theory of means, not of means and ends. Schumpe- 
ter stresses method, institutional arrangements, competition, and 
participation by citizens.'" Unlike Bryce, however, the number of 
participants is not so important to Schumpeter. Indeed, he fears high 
levels of participation, insisting: "The electoral mass is incapable of 
action other than a stampede."" 

Giovanni Sartori shares Schumpeter's fear of high levels of mass 
participation and warns that such levels lead to totalitarianism. '^ 


Sartori's criticism of poiesis democratic theory places him, by nega- 
tion, in the praxis school: "... the ingratitude typical of the man 
in our time and his disillusionment with democracy are the reaction 
to promised goals that cannot possibly be reached. "'' 

Recent empirical studies have suggested that the individual does 
not satisfy the "requirements for a democratic citizen."'* The authors 
of The American Voter describe "the electorate's slight involvement 
in politics and limited awareness of public affairs. . . ."'^ Demo- 
cratic theorists of the "realist" school, like Carl Cohen, having taken 
note of these findings, have tried to define democracy as something 
that exists empirically.'" 

For the praxis adherent, the reform question is clearly institu- 
tional. Schumpeter and Sartori would set up restrictions to enable 
only the "qualified" to participate in decision-making. Most contem- 
porary praxis adherents, however, probably agree with Bryce and 
Cohen that some ideal of democratic participation is imperative. 
Therefore, they would stress mechanistic reforms that would facili- 
tate procedurally citizen participation. Some of these reforms might 
include: shorter residency requirements for voting, a national policy 
for lengthening the period that voting polls stay open, easier proce- 
dures for obtaining absentee ballots, permanent and facilitative voter 
registration policies, more safeguards to assure equal apportionment 
of legislatures, etc. Institutional reforms to facilitate participation are 
intended, in the mind of the praxis adherent, to make a political 
system democratic and, hence, more ethical. Democracy demon- 
strates, on the part of the ruling forces, an expression of trust in the 
people. Indeed, it presumes that all may participate, and it "deterio- 
rates when minorities within it are arbitrarily excluded by law . . . 
from participation."" 

For the praxis adherent, therefore, participation is the most im- 
portant element in judging a democracy. And most contemporary 
praxis adherents probably agree with Cohen when he stresses the 
importance of participation to the democratic character of a com- 


The poiesis school of democratic thought stresses not only a par- 
ticular form of government but also goals for democracy. It is a theory 
of means and ends. In twentieth century America, poiesis democracy 
can be broadly classified along a conservative-liberal dimension. To 
a conservative, the goal of democracy is to assure individual liberty. 
The question of liberty is conceived as one in which the individual 


and government are separate. Governmental intervention in the so- 
cial activity of the individual is regarded as a violation of one's inher- 
ent possession of liberty. The proper sphere of governmental 
action — and therefore the goal of conservative poiesis democracy — is 
to prevent an individual in the exercise of his liberty from infringing 
upon the liberty of another. Failing this, the role of government is to 
secure redress for the individual whose liberty has been infringed.'^ 

To a liberal, individual liberty is not inherent, but achieved. The 
individual and government are not separate, but are joined as part- 
ners in a search for the attainment of liberty. Liberty can be re- 
stricted by the social conditions in which the individual (through no 
fault of his own) finds himself. The role of government, the end for 
which it exists, is to reconstruct or at least to alter dramatically the 
environment in a manner allowing the individual to achieve liberty.'* 
The poiesis theory of democracy is a highly value-laden one.^" 

There is no way to prove which view is the proper end of democ- 
racy. Choice is necessary, however, and this essay next considers one 
school of poiesis democracy. Since the liberal view is the one most 
studied, continuity of presentation suggests it should be the one dis- 
cussed here. 


Zevedei Barbu sees democracy as a frame of mind which has the 
basic traits of a feeling of change, a belief that man has the capacity 
to direct and control this change, and confidence in human reason.^' 
This outlook is shared by liberals (although not confined to them), 
given their definition of reasonable change. To this school, democracy 
as a way of life involves the belief "that if man creates the proper 
institutions, then his better possibilities will actualize themselves. "^^ 
This school sees democracy as an "overarching moral idea," not 
merely as a form of government. ^^ 

Perhaps the best expression of this ideal has been stated by John 
Dewey, who defined liberal democracy as the "intelligent use of mod- 
ern technology in behalf of the broadest public welfare. "^^ The demo- 
cratic conception of the general welfare involves participation mecha- 
nisms such as the ballot (with no disfranchisement for any group of 
the population), the use of direct primaries in choosing candidates, 
and other politcal factors deemed democratic. Again, the central pol- 
itical ideal is participation: intelligent, responsible participation. In 
theory, educational systems advance the necessary rationality.^^ 

Further, there must be a level of economic development, coupled 
with relative economic equality, whereby the goods of modem tech- 


nology are available to as many people as possible.^* In addition, 
democracy is the "belief in the capacity of every person to lead his 
own life free from coercion and imposition by others provided right 
conditions are supplied."" The right conditions include a good educa- 
tion, the absence of poverty and social misery, and the presence of 
democratic political structures. ^^ 

Dewey views the state as a "causal agency having power to pro- 
duce action," and it is therefore the duty of the state to supply the 
right conditions.^" He rejects the notion that democracy is merely a 
form of government; it is primarily a mode of associated living, a 
conjoint communicated experience."'" This mode of living, moreover, 
is a state which does not yet exist; but the purpose of a democratic 
form of government is to attain such a condition. *' 

Barbu and Dewey are rather vague concerning just what programs 
a democratic state is to implement so that men may become more 
democratic. Two liberal-poi'esis thinkers who are more specific con- 
cerning what a democratic government must do are Charles Beard 
and Walter Lippman. The former indicated that the policies of a 
democratic state are legitimate if they make the ordinary citizen 
wealthier,'^ while the latter implied that policies are legitimate only 
if they make the citizenry wealthier and healthier.'* 

Dewey, Lippman, and Beard all suggest that policies of govern- 
ment are legitimate only if they are intended to make citizens 
"healthy, wealthy, and wise." These are at least some of the "right 
conditions" which must be supplied if the citizenry is to participate 
wisely. Moreover, the more citizens participate wisely, the more these 
types of policies should be implemented. The democratic process is 
ongoing and reciprocal.'^ 

For the liberal-poi'esfs adherent, the areas in need of reform are 
not merely institutional. The total environmental milieu, including 
political institutions, is subject to manipulation. This faith in the 
ability of man to improve his entire society stems from the philosophy 
of pragmatism and its adjunct epistemology of empirical experimen- 
tation. Society is the laboratory and government the experimenter. 
Such a conception presupposes not only that the ruling forces trust 
the people, but that the rulers themselves can be trusted to have high 
standards of ethics and morals. Recent political events, however, 
might well lead to opposite conclusions concerning leaders. What is 
needed is a dialogue that not only takes moral and ethical standards 
into consideration, but one that also helps to determine just what is 
meant by democracy. If the latter question is debated vigorously, 
perhaps we can decide what role we wish to government to play in 
our lives and what sorts of reforms are necessary for that role. 


Whether the role of government is considered to be narrow-gauged 
{praxis) or broad-gauged (poiesis) appears crucial in focusing that 


' Thomas R. Dye, Politics, Economics, and the Public: Policy Outcomes in 
the American States (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1966), p. 300. 

^ A critique of Dye's model and a reconsideration of his data findings will be 
presented in a forthcoming paper. 

^ Donald A. Zoll, Reason and Rebellion (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice- 
Hall, 1963), p. 20. 

* Massimo Salvadori, Liberal Democracy (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & 
Co., 1957), p. 110. 

^ Ernest Barker, The Politics of Aristotle (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 
1946), p. 110. 

" Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, trans. J. E. C. Welldon, (New York: The 
Macmillan Co., 1902), p. 184. 

^ Austin Ranney and Willmore Kendall, Democracy and the American Party 
System (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1956), pp. 12-14. 

" For a discussion of the two schools of thought see Donald J. Devine, The 
Attentive Public (Chicago: Rand McNally & Company, 1970), chapter 1. 
This delineation between poiesis and praxis democracy suggests two oppos- 
ing schools of thought which are mutually exclusive. Such, of course, is not 
the case. These are ideal types and it is probably impossible to find anyone 
who would be a poiesis or praxis adherent under every conceivable condition. 
' James Bryce, Modern Democracies, vol. I (New York: The Macmillan Co., 
1924), pp. 20, 22. 

'" Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (New 
York: Harper and Row, 1950), pp. 262-269. 

" Ibid., p. 283. 

'^ Giovanni Sartori, Democratic Theory (Detroit: Wajoie State University 
Press, 1962), p. 90. 

'^ Ibid., p. 54. 

'< B. R. Berelson, P. F. Lazarsfeld, and W. W. McPhee, Voting (Chicago: 
University of Chicago Press, 1959), p. 312. 

'^ Angus Campbell, Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller, and Donald E. 
Stokes, The American Voter (New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1969), 
p. 290. 

'" Carl Cohen, Democracy (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1971). p. 31. 

" Ibid. , pp. 49-50. 


'* See Friedrich A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty (Chicago: University 
of Chicago Press, 1960), Chapter 9. 

'" John Dewey, "Creative Democracy - The Task Before Us," in Carl Cohen, 
ed.. Communism, Fascism, and Democracy, pp. 683-689. 

™ See Devine, The Attentive Public, p. 4. 

^' Zevedei Barbu, "Democracy as a Frame of Mind," in Carl Cohen, ed.. 
Communism, Fascism, and Democracy (New York: Random House, 1962), 
pp. 683-689. 

^^ Jerome Nathanson, John Dewey: The Reconstruction of the Democratic 
Life (New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Company, 1951), p. 83. 

23 Ibid., p. 90. 

'' Ibid. 

'' Ibid., pp. 93-95. 

2« Ibid., pp. 95-100. 

" John Dewey, "Creative Democracy - The Task Before Us," in The Philoso- 
pher of the Common Man (New York: Greenwood Press, 1968), p. 224. Em- 
phasis added. 

2* George Geiger, "Dewey's Social and Political Philosophy," in Paul 
Schilpp, ed., The Philosophy of John Dewey (Chicago: Northwestern Univer- 
sity, 1939), p. 350. 

29 Ibid., p. 351. 

™ John Dewey, Democracy and Education (New York: The Macmillan Com- 
pany, 1916), p. 87 

3' John Dewey, Freedom and Culture (New York: Putnam's Sons, 1939), p. 
173, and The Public and Its Problems (Denver: Allan Swallow, 1927), p. 143. 

32 Saul K. Padover, ed., "Essentials of Democracy," in The Meaning of 
Democracy (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1963), p. 80. 

33 Walter Lippman, Drift and Mastery (London: T. F. Unwin, 1914), p. 254. 
3^ Dewey, "Creative Democracy," p. 227. 



Gerald De Maio 

The American political tradition has been the subject of a con- 
tinuing debate among American academicians, especially since the 
era of the Progressivist historians. The differing interpretations of the 
American political experience all implicitly attempt to discern the 
political ethos of the American people, that is, the operative political 
values by which the American polity constitutes itself as a political 
society acting in history. The objective of this essay is two-fold: First, 
we assess the revisionist interpretation of the American political ex- 
perience offered by Kendall and Carey, an interpretation which is 
organized around the concept of the public orthodoxy. It is the 
writer's contention that while this revisionist interpretation fails, it 
nevertheless raises important questions about the core symbols and 
documents which embody the nation's operative political ideals. Sec- 
ond, we argue that only by taking into account the nation's public 
orthodoxy can discourse concerning political morality and reform be 


The methodological premise from which this essay proceeds is 
that a public orthodoxy is a requisite for any viable society. It is 
therefore incumbent upon us to make as perspicuous as possible the 
idea of a public orthodoxy before we undertake an examination of the 
American public orthodoxy. 

Although this concept and its use as a technical term in contem- 
porary political science is associated with Willmoore Kendall, the 
theoretical groundwork was laid by Eric Voegelin in The New Science 
of Politics, which has become a contemporary classic, and his 
subsequent writings.' Voegelin speaks of the articulation of political 
societies which render them "capable of representing themselves for 
action."^ He conceives of political society as a cosmion, a little world 
illuminated from within by the use of symbols and myths which aid 
its members in the internal self-interpretation of the society. To be 
politically viable or — to use Voegelin's terminology "in form for ac- 
tion" — requires an internal structure by which those in authority are 
capable of eliciting response from the populace. 

Building upon the theoretical explorations of Voegelin, Kendall 


and Wilhelmsen define the public orthodoxy as: 

that tissue of judgments, defining the good hfe and indicating the 
meaning of human existence, which is held commonly by the mem- 
bers of any given society, who see in it the charter of their way of 
life and the ultimate justification of their society. . . . What we 
"point to," in a word, is that matrix of convictions, usually en- 
shrined in custom and "folkways," often articulated formally and 
solemnly in charter and constitution, occasionally summed up in the 
creed of a church or the testament of a philosopher, that makes a 
society The Thing it is and that divides it from other societies as, 
in human thought, one thing is divided always from another.* 

They are stating a concept which includes a legal orthodoxy as a 
constituent element, which provides the political instruments used to 
govern a community, and much more. The concept of a public ortho- 
doxy may be equated with the Greek term politeia, which Barker 
defined as a "system of social ethics," or with Strauss' characteriza- 
tion of the term regime.* The public orthodoxy is a definitive way of 
life; it is those public truths which give a society its character and 
tone and enable it to be an acting unit in history. 

Although the term public orthodoxy connotes rather traditionally 
oriented or closed societies, with perhaps an official civil religion, its 
use as a theoretical term need not be limited to such societies. 

Not only can society not avoid having a public orthodoxy; even when 
it rejects an old orthodoxy in the name of "enlightenment," 
"progress," "the pluralist society," "the open society" and the like, 
it invents, however subtly, a new orthodoxy with which to replace 
the old one . . . theoretically orthodoxy refers to any public doctrine 
accepted unconditionally by a community, even if the orthodoxy in 
question is somebody else's heresy.' 

The public orthodoxy points to the undergirding set of operative val- 
ues which make possible communal interaction. For without this 
overarching set of values, communication among members of a so- 
ciety becomes impossible. The public orthodoxy makes political life 
possible. Its use as a technical concept in political science enables us 
"to get inside" a society and discern the means by which a people 
understands itself and the modes of participation of its political life. 
Other political scientists, operating from a philosophical perspec- 
tive quite different from that of the aforementioned theorists, have 
developed a conceptual framework which is analogous to the concept 
of the public orthodoxy. An example is Sheldon Wolin's adapatation 
of Thomas Kuhn's depiction of conflicting paradigms within aca- 
demic disciplines. From Wolin's perspective, political society "would 
be envisaged as a coherent whole in the sense of its customary politi- 


cal practices, institutions, laws, structure of authority and citizen- 
ship, and operative behefs organized and interrelated."' The congru- 
ence of these definitions should not surprise us, since the public or- 
thodoxy is essentially a societal paradigm which focuses on a people's 
attempt at self-understanding. 

Wolin borrows Kuhn's terminology and draws the distinction be- 
tween a paradigm creator and a paradigm worker. A striking example 
of paradigm creation, one directly relevant to this essay, is Hobbes' 
debunking of the archetectonic pretensions of classical political phi- 
losophy and substitution of a nominalist and profoundly skeptical 
philosophy appropriate to the emerging bourgeois man. The para- 
digm creator who articulates the public orthodoxy for his society is a 
giant; yet work remains to be done in order to solve what Kuhn calls 
puzzles. Locke may be conceived of as a problem solver or paradigm 
worker. He was to make Hobbes' paradigm for a society premised on 
transactional relations among men palatable, as the studies of 
Strauss and MacPherson have demonstrated. One might add that 
American political theorists who have generally been regarded as 
second-rate political philosophers might be more appropriately con- 
ceived of as paradigm workers within a liberal public orthodoxy, 
whose roots can be traced ultimately to Hobbes. 

A major task Kendall set for himself was to ferret out the Ameri- 
can public orthodoxy from its basic symbols and documents. His 
conclusion was that "the American political tradition is clearly un- 
derstood as such by those who live the American way of life and love 
it. . . ."^ This statement, in effect, challenges the standard interpre- 
tations of the American political experience. It directly challenges 
Hartz's assertion that Americans live by a truncated form of Lock- 
eanism, and therefore liberalism. 


The quest for the American public orthodoxy by intellectuals per- 
haps reached its apogee during the 1950s when American Studies as 
an academic discipline experienced its most fertile period. It was a 
decade which produced several classics purporting to explain the 
American political experience. Today we still go back to the books of 
this era, such as Boorstin's Genius of American Politics (1953) and 
Hartz's The Liberal Tradition in America (1955). The field is not 
closed, however, as evidenced by a statement from Kendall and 
Carey's Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition (1970): 
"Up to a recent moment — just what moment we need not say pre- 
cisely — the American political tradition did not constitute a problem 


whereas today it does."* The intervening decade and a half between 
the Boorstin and Hartz books and the 1970s witnessed several notable 
political assassinations, Vietnam, racial unrest, and the impending 
impeachment of a President, which led to his forced resignation. It 
is indeed time again to ask: "What is the American public ortho- 

Kendall's thesis, in sum, is that there have been two political 
traditions in America, one conservative and one liberal, which have 
been vying as the legitimate embodiment of the public orthodoxy. 
Kendall states the problem thusly: "... the American political tra- 
dition is a Conservative tradition, and to a very considerable extent 
the great political decisions of recent decades have reflected Liberal 
ideas."" The tradition which embodies the public orthodoxy, Kendall 
maintains, has been derailed. He sought to recover this older, "con- 
servative" tradition. In order to do so, however, Kendall had to take 
on the "official custodians" of the heritage who have written the 
"official literature" by which the liberal or "new" tradition finds 

The prevalence of a liberal way of life or orthodoxy in America has 
been noted by a number of commentators. We focus on Hartz simply 
because his work is generally credited with being methodologically 
the most sophisticated of the genre of books which underscore the 
basic consensual and liberal nature of American values. Hartz's book 
is superior for the reason that unlike most of the other books empha- 
sizing America's uniqueness. The Liberal Tradition in America at- 
tempts to present a comparative view of the American experience 
from the vantage point of European intellectual history. This 
perspective aff'ords an explanation for the consensus Hartz and others 
see with respect to the nation's operative political values. America 
lacked a feudal past and with that the intellectual adversaries of 
eighteenth century liberalism. Locke could assume a Filmer and "the 
myriad associations of class, church, guild and place. , . ."'" 
Americans were, to use Hartz's phraseology, "born free," thereby 
lacking the tradition of classical political philosophy which Locke 
could presume as a counterpoise to his articulations. An orthodoxy 
necessarily becomes petrified when it has merely one vocabulary with 
which to conceptualize politics. "The ironic flaw in American liberal- 
ism lies in the fact that we have never had a real conservative tradi- 

Kendall's revisionist thesis directly confronts the prevalent aca- 
demic view exemplified by Hartz. Guided by the concept of a public 
orthodoxy, Kendall argues that American society has a set of shared 
values which indentifies it as an acting unit in history. In short, there 


is a basic consensus about the American Way of Life. But Kendall 
views this consensus differently than Hartz, stipulating that 
conservative values are reflected by the basic documents of the tradi- 
tion. He asks us to go back to the founding fathers to re-educate 
ourselves as to the meaning of the American political heritage. The 
two core documents which embody the nation's public orthodoxy, 
Kendall maintains, are the Constitution and the Federalist Papers. 
These documents, he asserts, are (to use Voegelian terminology) in 
differentiated form.'^ 

Public orthodoxies, as we have mentioned previously, embody a 
people's understanding of the way politics should be conducted in 
their society. Discerning which documents reveal a nation's ortho- 
doxy can be a difficult methodological task for scholars. However, 
students of American political thought have often noted that antago- 
nists throughout the nation's history have gone to much the same 
sources, namely the Constitution and, to a lesser extent, the 
Federalist. The controversy arises over the interpretation of the docu- 
ments. It can be demonstrated (convincingly we think) that the basic 
documents of the American public orthodoxy rest upon Hobbesean 
assumptions, which are fundamentally liberal. These assumptions 
have operative consequences which strike at the heart of the nation's 
political life and which must be considered in any discussion concern- 
ing political morality and reform. 

The ensuing sections focus upon the core documents of the Ameri- 
can political tradition, which proponents of differing interpretations 
of the American political experience agree embody the nation's pub- 
lic orthodoxy. The philosophical assumptions underlying the 
Federalist Papers, which Kendall and Carey remind us are essential 
for understanding the Constitution, are considered first. Next, con- 
sideration is given the negativity of the Constitution, which under- 
scores its basically liberal nature. Finally, we consider the implica- 
tions that the core documents of the American public orthodoxy have 
for political reform. The primary thesis is that the Kendall-Carey 
reading of the Constitution and the Federalist obfuscates the Hobbe- 
sean character of these documents. The questions Kendall raises are 
particularly crucial, for we must understand the nature of a nation's 
public orthodoxy before we can talk meaningfully about that nation's 


Kendall and Carey contend that "To treat the Constitution and 
The Federalist separately is diflicult. The two documents are closely 


associated in most people's minds, as well they should be . . . ." 
They also insist that "The Federalist is a 'must' for anyone who seeks 
an 'intellectual' understanding of our tradition and of the political 
system under which we have governed ourselves. . . ."'* No student 
of American political thought would find much to disagree with in 
these statements, although this was not the case before the recogni- 
tion of the Federalist as a classic in political theory. The primary 
credit for this intellectual rescue operation, which commenced some 
fifteen years ago, belongs to Martin Diamond and Gottfried Dietze, 
as well as to Kendall and Carey. The controversy arises when Kendall 
and Carey try to rescue the Federalist Papers from their ideational 
affinity to Hobbes and Locke. 

Kendall was no stranger to the expositors of the liberal orthodoxy 
and was fully aware that to read an authentic conservatism into the 
Federalist, he would have to show an ideational break with Hobbes 
and Locke. It is the writer's contention that his revisionist reading 
fails, and that Hobbes and Locke are indeed the theoretical progeni- 
tors of the liberal way of life permeating American society. 

The Leviathan and Second Treatise articulate a public orthodoxy 
which is premised upon the absolute will of the individual. Rights 
derived from this principle, foremost among which is the right of self- 
preservation, lack corresponding or correlative duties. The classics of 
the liberal orthodoxy make little provision for the fostering of com- 
munity on the part of the state. This role is relegated to the private 
sphere. The function of the state is primarily that of maintaining the 
rights of individuals. 

Kendall tried to show that the Federalist and the Constitution are 
divorced from the Leviathan and Second Treatise. He saw the expres- 
sion of the American public orthodoxy embodied in the Constitution 
and Federalist Papers more closely akin to the classical conception 
of an harmonious relationship between the good of individuals and 
the good of society in which rights and duties are correlative. Kendall 
maintains that in the American context, this concern for community 
is symbolized by a representative assembly attempting to ascertain 
a deliberate sense of the community. In this respect, he stated: 

the false myths produce fanatics amongst us. They are misrepresen- 
tations and distortions of the American political tradition and its 
basic symbols which are, let us remind you, the representative as- 
sembly deliberating under God; the virtuous people, virtuous be- 
cause deeply religious and thus committed to the process of search- 
ing for the transcendent Truth. And these are, we believe, symbols 
we can be proud of without going before a fall.'^ 

Americans, Kendall asserts, live under a Federalist Papers Con- 


stitution "which lays down for us a constitutional morality, a political 
ethos that is as natural to us as the air we breathe."'^ This morality, 
he argues, fosters a politics of discussion and dialogue among repre- 
sentatives of a virtuous people. 

Kendall fully agrees with other political scientists who argue that 
the Constitution grants weapons to the three branches, expecially the 
legislative branch, which could conceivably stymie the functioning of 
government. He further argues that this possible "war of all against 
all" among the several branches has not occurred because the 
Federalist instructs the various branches that "they must act merely 
as equal and co-ordinate branches and not throw their weight 
around."'^ In short, the constitutional morality urges upon the several 
branches a sense of restraint and cooperation for the good of the 
community, thus forestalling a breakdown. And as an embodiment 
of the nation's public orthodoxy, this morality is internalized and 
lived by. 

There are several problems with Kendall's reading of the 
Federalist. First, cooperation and self-restraint among the separate 
branches might be antagonistic cooperation and not the harmonious 
state of affairs he sees. Second, the reading rests upon the core sym- 
bol of the virtuous people, deeply religious, whose representative as- 
sembly seeks to ascertain the common good. Yet he admits that nei- 
ther Publius nor the Constitution made any provision for keeping the 
people virtuous; there is no conception of character formation 
through education conveyed by the Greek term paideia in these docu- 
ments. Furthermore, the deeply religious people, through their repre- 
sentative assembly in Virginia and later in Philadelphia, consciously 
chose to drive a wedge between the public and spiritual orders. Also, 
given a different set of assumptions, say liberal ones, the protection 
afforded to minorities by the Federalist to thwart irredentism could 
readily translate into the Calhoun doctrine of concurrent majorities 
disavowed by Kendall. 

It seems advisable, therefore, to take another look at the philo- 
sophical assumptions underlying the Federalist, which lay down the 
political ethos for the American regime. This political ethos is thor- 
oughly grounded in the liberal orthodoxy, which is premised upon the 
absolute will of the individual who seeks to secure his inalienable 
rights through the institution of the office of the sovereign. The func- 
tion of the sovereign is to enforce the system of rules for conflict 
resolution; he is to be an umpire, to use Locke's description of his 
office. Publius emerges as a paradigm worker who labors within the 
parameters of the liberal orthodoxy. A cardinal tenet of the liberal 
orthodoxy expounded by Hobbes and Locke is the assumption of 


individualism and of its corollary, self-interestedness. In the very first 
Federalist Paper, Publius explicitly states he will discuss the pro- 
posed Constitution with reference to "The utility of the UNION to 
your political prosperity . . . and . . . the additional security which 
its adoption will afl^ord to the preservation of that species of govern- 
ment, to liberty and to property."*' 

Self-interest is the main encapsulator of the Federalist, not the 
sense of community of a virtuous people, which Kendall and Carey 
read into the work. The fostering of community has been historically 
a conservative project, but the Federalist fails in this respect. As 
such, it cannot be construed as a conservative document. Publius is 
notably silent with respect to the promotion of communal sentiments 
and virtue in the classical sense, as Martin Diamond aptly notes: 

Other political theories had ranked highly, as objects of government, 
the nurturing of a particular religion, education, military courage, 
civic-spiritedness, moderation, individual excellence in the virtues, 
etc. On all of these the Federalist is either silent, or has in mind only 
pallid versions of the originals, or even seems to speak with con- 

This is quite logically so because the document the Federalist cele- 
brates is an extremely negative one whose affinity to Hobbes' societal 
paradigm has been well documented.'* Publius emerges as a para- 
digm worker who accepts the basic assumptions of the liberal ortho- 
doxy and from them seeks to fashion a solution appropriate to the 
problems of governing a large commercial republic. 

The liberal societal paradigm or orthodoxy assumes fragmenta- 
tion and conflictual behavior among men resulting from their trans- 
actional relations. The function of public authority is to secure for 
private men their individual rights by providing rules and mecha- 
nisms for conflict resolution. Publius' central concern is "this pro- 
pensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities. . . ."^^ This 
concern, clearly Hobbesean, necessitates a politics geared "to the 
great principle of self-preservation; to the transcendent law of nature 
and of nature's God, which declares that the safety and happiness of 
society are the objects at which all political institutions aim . . . ."^' 
This stark affinity to Hobbes led Diamond to write "the primary 
fears of the Federalist are Hobbesean, that is, fears of 'foreign war and 
domestic convulsion'."^^ 

Publius addresses himself in the tenth paper to the fear of domes- 
tic convulsion, which expresses itself through the violence of faction. 
He pessimistically reminds us that nothing can be done about the 
causes of faction, since these are sown in the nature of man and are 
occasioned by opining, passions, and the unequal distribution of 


property. He seeks rather to offer a solution to control the effects of 
faction. As a paradigm worker, he adapts the Hobbesean statement 
of the problem to a new situation, that is, to a large commercial 
republic. The largeness or extensiveness of the republic affords the 
solution. He is arguing for a society in which individuals' self- 
interests are subjected to cross-cutting cleavages, so celebrated by 
contemporary political scientists, thus preventing a potential cohe- 
sive and tyrannical majority faction from arising. 

The tenth paper is revealing in a number of other ways. It renders 
extremely tenuous the Kendall-Carey reading of the Federalist as 
embodying a symbol of a virtuous and deeply religious people. Con- 
sider Publius' stipulation that "neither moral nor religious motives 
can be relied on as an adequate control" for the violence of faction. ^^ 
These are hardly sentiments befitting a virtuous people who seek to 
arrive at a sense of community through discussion and dialogue. 
Some of the language is even very suggestive, as when Publius speaks 
of the "aggregate interests of the community." Society conceived of 
as an aggregation conveys the image of atomistically related political 
actors, a core liberal symbol. Aggregation of interests does not make 
a community of virtuous people. The conservative ideal Kendall and 
Carey hint at in these papers is clearly rejected by Publius. 

The Hobbesean assumptions of individualism and societal frag- 
mentation are carried over by Publius in his exegetical treatment of 
the type of government provided by the Constitution. Publius contin- 
ually stresses the need for mechanisms to thwart the "encroaching 
spirit of power" or the "ambitious intrigues" of executive magistrates 
which render difficult the Hobbesean task of "providing some practi- 
cal security for each, against the invasion of others."^* This potential 
"war of all against all" among the branches of government is rooted, 
Publius reminds us, in the "degree of depravity in mankind which 
requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust. "^^ He boldly 
states his general solution to the problem in Federalist 51: "Ambition 
must be made to counteract ambition."^" After all, Publius reminds 
us, government is but a reflection on human nature. More appropri- 
ately, one might say that assumptions about human nature have 
resulting consequences in the way one thinks about the functioning 
of government. Publius clearly demonstrates his acceptance of the 
liberal paradigm articulated by Hobbes and Locke. His goal is 
Hobbesean, for he states that the primary function of government is 
to provide security for the individual against the invasion of his rights 
by others. The proposed Constitution, Publius maintains, succeeds 
in doing this. 

Publius therefore states the mechanisms by which the Constitu- 


tion provides the stability requisite for accomplishing this goal 
through separation of powers and checks and balances. The intellec- 
tual backdrop for separation of powers was, of course, provided by the 
classical theory of mixed government. The Constitution's framers 
learned their lesson well, Publius states in Federalist 9, for they im- 
proved over the prescriptions of the classical masters. 

It is interesting to note that when Publius acknowledges classical 
writers, he focuses upon their pessimistic side. For instance, the com- 
munal ideas contained in Book III of Aristotle's Politics are given 
little, if any, play. Instead, the founding fathers borrow from Aristo- 
tle's cycle of decay and fashion a solution which will "cage the whole 
of the cycle within the framework of a single constitutional struc- 
ture."^^ But they parted from the classical formula which called for 
combining into one governmental structure an executive or monar- 
chical office, a patrician upper house, and a plebian lower house. 
Rather, Publius' new science seeks to improve on the classical pre- 
scription. The Constitution, the Federalist tells us, thwarts the po- 
tential "war of all against all" among the branches by giving each 
branch partial agency or control over the others so that "their mutual 
relations [will] be the means of keeping each other in their proper 
places."^** In order to exercise power, the political actors of one branch 
must be able to compromise with political actors of other branches, 
resulting in a politics of negotiation. 

Publius' analysis of the Constitution is premised upon the as- 
sumptions of self-interestedness, fragmentation, individualism, and 
an incessant craving for power which must be countered in kind. A 
case in point is the Federalist's depiction of the legislature as an 
"impetuous vortex" against which "the people ought to indulge all 
their jealousy and exhaust all their precautions."^^ Publius is quite 
emphatic in telling us that we must fear legislatures. This language 
is rather incongruous with Kendall and Carey's depiction of the legis- 
lature as a representative assembly deliberating under God to ascer- 
tain a sense of the community. Rather, what comes across is the 
Hobbesean assumption of an incessant quest for power and the ne- 
cessity to check it. In number 48, Publius goes on to tell us that 
political corruption in the form of pecuniary rewards or bribes is to 
be expected and that the legislature is most apt to exercise this form 
of influence. Again one sees the maxim of self-interestedness en- 
shrined by the framers and Publius as a philosophy of government. 
In short, they are operating within the theoretical paradigm con- 
structed by Hobbes and Locke. They are paradigm workers within 
the liberal orthodoxy. 

At this point, we may summarize by stating that the Federalist, 


which embodies the pubHc morality of the American polity, rests 
upon Hobbesean, and hence fundamentally liberal, assumptions 
about political society. The Constitution, as a document within the 
parameters of the liberal orthodoxy, conceives of the functions of 
government narrowly and negatively. Having located the philosophi- 
cal underpinnings of the Federalist, one may well ask, as Martin 
Diamond does of Publius Madison, "Whether his remedy for one 
disease has not had some unfortunate collateral consequences."^" We 
now turn to a discussion of the Constitution to discern the translation 
of Publius' theoretical arguments into operative orthodoxy by which 
the nation lives. 


The Constitution is fully consonant with liberal orthodoxy in that 
it evidences a negative concept of the role of government, displaying 
this negativity in two major respects. First, as the so-called enabling 
or delegated powers section of the Constitution lays bare, the docu- 
ment addresses itself to economic matters — to the minimum neces- 
sary conditions by which a large commercial republic can be a going 
concern. Second, and perhaps most crucial, the document has little 
to say about other things, such as fostering a sense of community, 
promotion of virtue, and civic responsibility. It is the omission of 
these other objects of government which renders untenable the 
Kendall-Carey reading of the Constitution and Federalist Papers as 
embodying the symbols of a virtuous people. The basic flaw is that 
no provision is made for keeping this presumably virtuous people 
virtuous. Rather, the document is concerned with avoiding the hor- 
rors Hobbes so poignantly described in that famous passage in Chap- 
ter 13 of the Leviathan in which he speaks of the incommodities of 
war and domestic convulsion." 

The Constitution's affinity to the Hobbesean paradigm is best 
illustrated by Article I, Section 8, the so-called "enabling" or "dele- 
gated powers" clause, which Jacobson dubbed a (Hobbesean) "de- 
monology of politics, foreign and domestic. "^^ What does one find 
upon reading it? He finds that the interests of liberal men are pro- 
tected, and the Hobbesean fears are thwarted. Jacobson emphasizes 
that the accent of this crucial article is definitely on the negative or 
coercive functions of government. ^^ And this article is not an excep- 
tion; negative spirit permeates the Constitution. Sections 5 and 6 of 
this article make provision for the expulsion of members guilty of 
disorderly behavior, and explicitly mention illicit emoluments as 
though the framers expected these to be more than occasional occur- 


rences. In the same manner, Section 4 of the second article deals with 
the impeachment of the President, Vice-President, and all civil offi- 
cers of the United States. Fear of legislative power translates into 
Section 9 of Article I, which are not provisions to promote a sense of 
community. Rather, they deal with the central Hobbesean tenet 
— that public peace is to be maintained so that private happiness 
may be pursued. The key assumption upon which the nation's public 
orthodoxy is constructed is expressed by Jacobson: "Venality and 
recalcitrance are as natural to men as the air they breathe. "^^ 

With such a philosophy of government and human nature embod- 
ied in the nation's fundamental law, it is difficult, almost impossible, 
to make good on the stipulation made by Publius in Federalist 57: 
"the aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to 
obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most 
virtue to pursue, the common good of society. "^^ It is with respect to 
this question — "how to keep the people virtuous" — that the Constitu- 
tion's negativity is most clearly manifest and damning. It is more 
what the Constitution does not include than what it does, which 
renders it a document fully within the paradigm constructed by 
Hobbes and Locke. 

Character formation was not to be the business of the nation's 
fundamental law. The primary function of a liberal state is to thwart 
the Hobbesean horrors. Freedom in such a state is conceived of as 
freedom from. Anything not proscribed by law is generally permitted, 
or, as Hobbes aptly put it: "in all kinds of actions by the laws praeter- 
mitted men have the liberty of doing what their own reasons shall 
suggest, for the most profitable to themselves."^" 

In Federalist 30, Publius states quite boldly that "Money is, with 
propriety, considered the vital principle of the body politic. "^^ This 
concern is reiterated in number 53, in which Publius enumerates the 
principal tasks of legislation: interstate commerce, foreign trade, 
taxes, and the militia. This had led Diamond to write that: "What 
is striking is the apparent exclusion from the functions of government 
of a wide range of non-economic tasks traditionally considered the 
decisive business of government."^* And Publius in Federalist 84 tells 
us that "a Constitution like that under consideration is merely in- 
tended to regulate the general political interests of the nation, [and 
not] a constitution which has the regulation of every species of per- 
sonal and private concerns. "^^ Public and private spheres are sepa- 
rated as they necessarily must be in order to be consonant with the 
liberal societal paradigm. 

The promotion of non-economic tasks such as the fostering of 
community and civic virtue is relegated in a liberal order to the 


private sphere. Churches, and charitable and civic associations, are 
expected to fill the void left by the nation's fundamental law. This 
sort of communalism, typified by the church supper, is not allowed 
to penetrate the public order. In fact, Kendall and Carey tell us that 
both the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the Philadelphia Consti- 
tution drive "a wedge between politics and religion."^" Still, they 
argue, the secularistic government which is provided for in these 
documents is not to be antagonistic toward religion. 

But Publius did not have a vision of religious sects acting in con- 
cord, each in its own way promoting civic virtue. Rather, his vision 
is starkly Hobbesean: religious sects promote discord which must be 
thwarted. "In a free government the security for civil rights must be 
the same as that for religious rights. It consists in one case in the 
multiplicity of interests, and in the other in the multiplicity of 
sects. "^' Publius here articulates a negative civil theology whose theo- 
retical groundwork can be traced to the liberal theorists, Hobbes, 
Locke, and Spinoza. Religion clearly must not intrude upon the pub- 
lic sphere. 

This renders almost meaningless the seemingly endless contro- 
versy over just how much religious penetration into the public order 
is permitted by the First Amendment. Francis Wilson has written 
with respect to our civil theology that Americans today "have much 
in common with Hobbes."" But Americans have been operating 
within Hobbesean parameters all along; and the negative civil theol- 
ogy Wilson sees in contemporary America was not laid by Justices 
Holmes, Black, or Douglas. It can be traced to the documents which 
embody the nation's public orthodoxy, since they separate the public 
and spiritual orders. A negative civil theology merely complements 
the negativity which suffuses the Constitution in other respects. 

A public order grounded in Hobbesean presuppositions does not 
rely upon religious or moral motives to promote the common good. 
That solution, Publius told us in Federalist 10, is visionary. The 
Constitution's solution, which Publius articulates in his famous 
maxim in number 51, is to let "ambition counteract ambition." This 
is possible because the nation's fundamental law provides for a num- 
ber of power centers which can be relied upon to guard jealously their 
respective prerogatives. This in turn gives rise to a style of politics 
which places a premium on compromise and stability. 

This style of politics has, of course, had its defenders among pro- 
fessional political scientists. The pluralist school dominated the 
study of American politics for many years. The existence of multiple 
access points occasioned by rival power centers has led pluralists such 
as Robert Dahl to write optimistically that "few groups in the United 


States who are determined to influence the government — certainly 
few if any groups who are organized, active, and persistent — lack the 
capacity and opportunity to influence some officials somewhere in 
the political system to obtain at least some of their goals."" Of 
course, this celebration of the American style of politics has been 
decried in recent years, and consequently we are subjected to calls for 


Given the American political system's ills, it is not surprising that 
within the last decade or so a number of perceptive critiques have 
emerged questioning the celebration of the American system. Invaria- 
bly, they pinpoint methodological shortcomings of the behavioral 
(chiefly pluralist) approach to American politics, such as its concen- 
tration upon safe, visible issues and not upon nondecisions; its focus 
upon legitimate and strongly organized pressure groups, neglecting 
latent groups and the powerless, making stability the key value, and 
implicitly acting as apologists for the regime while maintaining a 
value-free posture. ^^ Unfortunately, too few of these critiques trace 
these ills to the roots of the nation's public orthodoxy. And although 
such critiques are written from differing philosophical perspectives, 
there seems to be a yearning for a sense of community, for a public 
interest, for a common good that the nation's operative political style 
does not foster and which this essay has contended it cannot foster 
because of the public orthodoxy by which the nation organizes its 
political life. The call to introduce normative considerations into 
American political discourse emerges, in part, as a response to the 
behavioral persuasion in American political science. But the behav- 
ioral persuasion is only symptomatic and rose in response to the 
operative political style occasioned by the nation's liberal public or- 
thodoxy. The concerns of today's behavioralists can be traced to 
Madison and Calhoun, as has been done by some political scientists, 
and ultimately to Hobbes and Locke. ^^ The debate over various re- 
forms and the disputes between contemporary American conserva- 
tives and liberals tend to fall within the basic parameters of the 
liberal orthodoxy, which is premised upon the assumptions of societal 
fragmentation and conflict. 

Hobbesean assumptions loom large in American political thought, 
and it is no accident that Kendall and Carey, despite their symbol 
of Americans as a virtuous and deeply religious people, describe the 
operative style of American politics in transactional terms. The 
American style of politics, they and so many other commentators tell 
us, is consensual politics. The function of the political process is to 


"strike 'deals' that render . . . programs palatable to a greater num- 
ber within society."^'' Kendall and Carey also note that a political 
system, such as the American system, requires "rules and procedures, 
analoguous to those of a poker game . . . .''" Their analysis is replete 
with images of deception and potential conflict, which are precisely 
the images Publius assumes in the Federalist. 

The assumptions (Hobbesean) of communal fragmentation, con- 
flict, individualism, and self-interestedness, which are part of the 
American public orthodoxy, are so much a part of our political dis- 
course that they subtly reappear in the reformist literature which 
seeks to effectuate more responsibility in American government. 
Often the prescriptions of reform-minded political scientists tend to 
be palliatives which can be encompassed within the parameters of the 
nation's public orthodoxy and which do not really challenge it. In 
fact, the recommendations tend to take on the familiar ring of "more 
of the same," which only goes to further strengthen the assertion of 
a monistic liberal orthodoxy permeating the political community. For 
example, Ted Lowi wants the "restoration of the Federalist No. 10 
ideology in which 'factions' are necessary evils that require regula- 
tion, not accommodation," and Vincent Ostrom suggests "extending 
the principle of self-government to wider and wider realms, each with 
limited jurisdiction ... to create new political structures — new pol- 
itical artifices."^** The familiar liberal fear of accumulation of power 
and the assumption of a fragmented community continually reap- 
pear; and the discourse is carried on within very narrow parameters. 


In order to discuss meaningfully political morality and the feasi- 
bility of reform, we must begin with an examination of the nation's 
public orthodoxy. In doing this, it is necessary to start with a people's 
attempt at self-understanding as it actualizes itself as an acting unit 
in history. The concept of a public orthodoxy helps us discern the way 
a people organizes its political life. The style of politics reform- 
minded political scientists want to change is premised upon assump- 
tions embedded in the nation's public orthodoxy. Failure to recognize 
this leads those advocating reform to propose measures which are 
either doomed to failure or are merely calls to resuscitate the opera- 
tive mechanisms the framers have set in motion. An example of the 
latter is Lowi's call for the restoration of the Federalist 10 ideology. 
We must learn to reintroduce the conception of the politeia, or public 
orthodoxy, to our political vocabulary and not merely relegate it to 
the study of classical political philosophy as if it has no meaning for 


The application by Kendall and Carey of Voegelian methodology 
to the American polity reveals that the nation's public orthodoxy is 
embodied in the Constitution and Federalist Papers. In this essay, we 
have parted from them by tracing the American public orthodoxy to 
Hobbesean, hence fundamentally liberal, premises. Our reading of 
these documents largely supports Hartz's thesis that American pub- 
lic life is permeated with a monistic liberal ideology. Any realistic 
assessment of the American political system must start with a discus- 
sion of the core documents which embody the nation's public ortho- 
doxy and with the philosophical assumptions contained therein. 


' Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago 
Press, 1952); Order and History, 3 vols. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Uni- 
versity Press, 1956). 

Voegelin The New Science of Politics, p. 38. 

^ Frederick Wilhelmsen and Willmoore Kendall, "Cicero and the Politics of 
The Public Orthodoxy," The Intercollegiate Review, 5 (Winter 1968-69), pp. 

^ Ernest Barker, The Politics of Aristotle (New York: Oxford University 
Press, 1958), p. Ixvi; Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History (Chicago: Uni- 
versity of Chicago Press, 1953), pp. 136-137. 

* Wilhelmsen and Kendall, "Cicero," p. 88. 

' Sheldon S. Wolin, "Paradigms and Political Theories," Politics and Expe- 
rience: Essays Presented to Michael Oakeshott, P. King and B. C. Parekh, 
eds. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968), p. 149; see also Thomas 
S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd. ed. (Chicago: Univer- 
sity of Chicago Press, 1970). 

^ Willmoore Kendall, "Three on the Line," National Review (August 31, 
1957), p. 180. 

* Willmoore Kendall and George W. Carey, The Basic Symbols of the Ameri- 
can Political Tradition (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 
1970), p. 3. 

» Kendall, "Three on the Line," p. 180. 

'" Louis Hartz, The Liberal Tradition in America (New York: Harcourt, 
Brace & World, 1955), p. 60. 

" Ibid., p. 57. 

'^ Voegelin distinguishes between compact and differentiated symbols. Com- 
pact symbols contain potentiality for development in diverse, and perhaps 
contradictory, directions. Differentiated symbols, on the other hand, are suf- 
ficiently developed to contain political principles. See Voegelin, Order and 


History, vol. I, p. 5; Kendall and Carey, Basic Symbols, pp. 17-29. 

'' Kendall and Carey, Basic Symbols, p. 96; Kendall and Carey, "How to 
Read 'The Federalist'," Contra Mundum, Nellie D. Kendall, ed. (New Ro- 
chelle: Arlington House, 1971), p. 403. Kendall and Carey adopt the method- 
ological stricture of treating The Federalist as the work of Publius represent- 
ing a consensus or common ground on which Madison, Hamilton, and Jay 
could argue for the proposed Constitution. We will abide by their stricture, 
agreeing that there does exist a commonalty of views. 

'* Kendall and Carey, Basic Symbols, p. 154. 

'^ Ibid., p. 142. 

'« Ibid. 

" Federalist 1, p. 36. The edition of the Federalist used is The Federalist 

Papers, intro. by Clinton Rossiter (New York: New American Library, 1961). 

'* Martin Diamond, "Democracy and The Federalist: A Reconsideration of 
the Framers' Intent," American Political Science Review, 53 (March 
1959), p. 64. 

'" See, for example, Frank M. Coleman, "The Hobbesian Basis of American 
Constitutionalism," Polity, 7 (Fall 1974), pp. 57-89. 

2» Federalist 10, p. 79. 

2' Federalist 43, p. 279. 

^^ Diamond, "Democracy and the Federalist," p. 62. 

23 Federalist 10, p. 81. 

^* Federalist 48, p. 308. 

2^ Federalist 55, p. 346. 

=" Federalist 51, p. 322. 

" H. Mark Roelofs, The Language of Modern Politics (Homewood: Dorsey 
Press, 1967), p. 235. Roelofs develops at some length the theme of Aristotelian 
bias in American constitutional arrangements in pages 229-235 of this work. 
For a discussion distinguishing Publius' solution from the classical theory of 
mixed government, consult Martin Diamond, Winston Mills Fisk, and Her- 
bert Garfinkel, The Democratic Republic (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1966), 
ch. 3. 

2« Federalist 51, p. 320. 

2» Federalist 48, p. 309. 

3" Diamond, "Democracy and The Federalist, " p. 67; Mark Roelofs cogently 
develops this theme in "The Adequacy of America's Dominant Ideology," 
Bucknell Review, 18 (Fall 1970), pp. 3-15. He is much more critical of 
the founding fathers and what we have called the nation's liberal orthodoxy 
embodied in the Federalist than is Diamond, whose view is that it is a second- 
best regime and therefore worthy of celebration. 

" Leviathan, ch. 13, p. 82. The references to the Leviathan are from Hobbes' 


Leviathan, intro. by Michael Oakeshoot (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1960). 

^^ Norman Jacobson, "Political Science and Political Education," American 
Political Science Review, 57 (September 1963), p. 562. 

'' Ibid. 

'' Ibid. 

35 Federalist 57, p. 350. 

^' Leviathan, ch. 21, p. 138. 

3' Federalist 30, p. 188. 

3* Diamond, "Democracy and The Federalist," p. 63. 

3» Federalist 84, p. 513. 

*" Kendall and Carey, Basic Symbols, p. 149. 

*' Federalist 51, p. 324. 

" Francis Wilson, "The Supreme Court's Civil Theology," Modern Age, 
13 (Summer 1969), p. 251. 

" Robert A. Dahl, Pluralist Democracy in The United States: Conflict and 
Consent (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1967), p. 386. 

" Two representative collections of essays which critique the behavioral per- 
suasion in political science, and by implication the American style of politics, 
written from what may be described as left and right perspectives, respec- 
tively, are: Charles A. McCoy and John Playford, eds.. Apolitical Politics: A 
Critique of Behavioralism (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1967); and Her- 
bert J. Storing, ed.. Essays in the Scientific Study of Politics (New York: 
Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1962). 

*^ See, for example, Jacobson, "Political Science and Political Education," 
pp. 566-68; Ralph Lerner, "Calhoun's New Science of Politics," American 
Political Science Review, 57 (December 1963), pp. 918-932; and Cole- 
man, "The Hobbesian Basis," pp. 57-89. 

^' Kendall and Carey, Basic Symbols, p. 111. 

" Willmoore Kendall and George Carey, "The 'Intensity' Problem and Dem- 
ocratic Theory," American Political Science Review, 62 (March 1968), p. 19. 

^* Theodore Lowi, "The Public Philosophy: Interest-Group Liberalism," 
American Political Science Review, 61 (March 1967), p. 23; Vincent 
Ostrom, The Political Theory of a Compound Republic (Blacksburg: Center 
for the Study of Public Choice, 1971), p. 125. 






Kenneth L. Deutsch 

"Crisis" is a term much used to reflect the contemporary human 
condition. Wherever we look, the mood of crisis and malaise is about 
us. During the past half century the expectation of inexorable prog- 
ress and human perfection has been tragically refuted by crises such 
as world wars, superpower intervention into the aff"airs of small na- 
tions, bloody civil wars, bureaucratic manipulation, and political cor- 
ruption. The philosopher Eliseo Vivas has commented that "it is one 
of the marks of human decency to be ashamed of having been born 
into the twentieth century."' Perhaps on subtler grounds, we cannot 
deny the fact that though technology has produced material abund- 
ance for some persons, our epoch is characterized by mass unrest, 
social and political alienation, and continued skepticism toward our 
unifying political myths. 

By the onset of the twentieth century, the "Grand Designs" of 
Western intellectual life began to collapse. The Enlightenment 
Weltanschauung of science and education, which promised so much 
in terms of "rational man" and technological panaceas, have not 
reduced political conflict and despair. Empirical science alone no 
longer provides us with an unshakeable faith in resolving socio- 
political problems. Environmental problems and the "irrationality" 
of an extensively educated voter place into question absolute faith in 
science and education as the foundations of liberal democracy. The 
scientific rationality of August Comte or the utilitarian educational 
faith of John Stuart Mill or the re-establishment of community 
through social reconstruction of John Dewey have been placed into 
severe doubt. 

Likewise, faith in Natural Law and the essential dignity of man 
has been shaken by positivist and linguistic analysis, as well as by 
the secularization of our political life. John Locke's theory of Natural 
Law as the absolute and objective standard of political legitimacy, 
which claimed for man a priori natural rights of life, liberty, and 
estates, no longer has the efficacy of creating political unity (not even 
the Supreme Court utilizes this approach in interpreting law). Nor 


does the intellectual community (with some exceptions) continue to 
show fidelity to the precepts of Natural Law as an adequate justifica- 
tion of liberal democratic values. 

Given the severity of contemporary crises, the weltanschauungen 
of Empiricism and Natural Law have been substantially weakened 
as explanatory designs for comprehending our predicament or as uni- 
fying myths for concerted human action for resolving those crises. It 
is the purpose of this essay to show that Empiricism and Natural Law 
are not the only political philosophies available as explanatory or 
normative theory for democratic practice. It is the author's position 
that the philosophical themes and exemplary human image of Exis- 
tentialism offer a more efficacious outlook in dealing with political 
problems of bureaucratic manipulation, authoritarianism, corrup- 
tion, apathy, and support for liberal democratic values. 


The Existentialist position emerged as a result of the concrete 
problems of freedom facing Western man during the past three de- 
cades. Existentialism is the philosophical response to the "unauthen- 
tic" arguments of those who practiced or accepted brutality with the 
following claims: "I was only following orders"; "Everyone was doing 
it"; "You cannot fight the bureaucrats"; "Politics is always lying"; 
"One person cannot make a difference"; "The leadership must pro- 
tect national security." 

Existentialism is a philosophical outlook concerned with the sub- 
mergence of the individual to overwhelming political, military, and 
ideological structures, which serve to reduce the individual to a ma- 
nipulated thing rather than an authentic person capable of exercising 
freedom of choice. The Existentialist claims that human beings can 
freely choose not to obey inhumane orders; we can refuse to submerge 
ourselves within the social group; we can choose to disobey an unjust 
law; we can choose to fight a bureaucratic decision. Authentic exist- 
ence, then, is accepting one's freedom to choose and recognizing the 
limitations and restrictive attempts of other philosophical and socio- 
political positions which attempt to define human nature according 
to predefined and essential categories (whether it is the category of 
"natural law," dialectical materialism, nationalism, or that of the 
physical needs of utilitarianism). We are capable of transcending the 
confining and unauthentic thought systems that reduce human be- 
havior to the definitions of humanity proffered by the ideologue, the 
scientist, the technician, or the abstract philosopher. 

For the Existentialist, man is the basic point of departure. His 


concrete existence and the realization that he alone originates his 
interests must be our central concern. As Ernst Breisach indicates in 
his survey of Existentialist thought, there are recurring themes that 
characterize this posture: (1) the hostility to closed systems of 
thought and to all attempts to view "truth" from the outside, as an 
absolute; (2) the radical and personal questioning of the purposes of 
life, designed to "keep one's soul on tiptoe"; (3) the fervent appeal 
to every person to live life as an adventure; and (4) the search for an 
"authentic existence."^ Although it is correct that Existentialists 
have taken diverse normative political postures, they all share one 
dominant theme, namely that existence precedes essence; man is 
what he chooses and, by choosing, man is determined by his free or 
voluntary choices rather than by external manipulation. As is argued 
below, some Existentialists apply this position consistently and con- 
sequently defend a reformulated liberal democracy as the best means 
of realizing their values of authentic existence and a sense of com- 
pleteness and fulfillment. 



It is very easy to misunderstand Existentialism. It does not rest 
its case with trembling, with anxiety, or all the other dreary meta- 
phors of human existence — alienation and absurdity — notwith- 
standing the importance of these notions to the philosophy. Exis- 
tentialism does not ask us, with the onset of the awarness of death 
as finality and the absurdity of existence, to lapse into a physcho- 
logical depression. Rather as a philosophical posture, it summons 
us to act beyond these initial psychic states to a new level of 
awareness: of self, of freedom of choice, of human responsibility, of 
authenticity. It summons us to take charge of our own condition, to 
take personal control over our anxiety to act and to choose; in other 
words, to make it the occasion for achieving an authentic life. Miguel 
de Unamuno, in his poignant book The Tragic Sense of Life, stated 
the intense message of Existentialism when he quoted Etienne de 
Senancour: "Man is perishable. That may be; but let us perish resist- 
ing, and if it is nothingness that awaits us," let us so act that that 
would be an unjust fate.' To confront nothingness and absurdity, to 
deny it by filling it up with a life that ought never to be lost or 
annihilated, to live one's life in such a way as to be something better 
than nothingness and human destruction, is the key to the Existen- 
tialist political ethic of the reaffirmation of human social and politi- 
cal action. 


At first glance, there would seem to be little reason to expect a 
close relationship between the themes of Existentialism and the pol- 
itical commitment of liberal democratic theory. The general thrust 
of Existentialism has been toward individual experience, toward our 
awareness of our subjective condition. But as Henry Kariel has said 
of Existentialists: 

They support skepticism regarding ultimate values, self- 
determination as an individual right, and whatever practical ar- 
rangements are likely to reconcile the individual to his defeats as he 
struggles to make his values prevail. To be sure, these writers do not 
address themselves to the specific problem of making a constitu- 
tional political order a durable and workable one. But . . . they do 
clarify the imposing psychological demands on those who, in consti- 
tutional regimes, are empowered to govern. They stress, moreover, 
the agonizing choices men must make in public life, revealing the 
moral burden of all political arrangements. Under the pressures of 
recent European history and politics, they trimmed the theory of 
constitutionalism to essentials, depriving it of all tinges of Platon- 
ism, natural law and idealism. Without explicitly attempting it, 
they developed the basis for a cogent political doctrine.^ 

Before one examines the Existentialist justification of liberal 
democratic values, we should explicate the pivotal values of liberal 
democracy. To be sure, it is impossible to provide a comprehensive 
model of modem Hberal democratic values to which all of us would 
subscribe. However, a core set of political values can be identified, 
which come under the general rubric of modern liberal democracy, 
ones that most of us would agree are essential to this political posture. 
The central political values are: 

(1) the postulate that the idea of freedom is central to the develop- 
ment and realization of the human personality; 

(2) the peaceful voluntary adjustment of disputes; 

(3) the insurance of peaceful change in a changing society, 

(4) the orderly and honest succession of rulers; 

(5) a minimum use of coercion; 

(6) a recognition of diversity and pluralism; 

(7) effective competition for the reins of power; 

(8) popular and responsive control of policy-makers, asserted 
through periodic elections, parties and pressure groups; 

(9) popular control requires freedoms of speech, assembly, press, 
petition and association, and political opposition is tolerated and 
accepted, and minorities are free to criticize and agitate, and; 

(10) modern liberal democracy stresses "fraternity" by treating 
others not simply as atoms or objects, but with the concern for their 
welfare, what John Stuart Mill termed "benevolence" and the "so- 
cial feelings of mankind" rather than the atomism and "possessive 


individualism" more characteristic of the "older" or classical Hberal 

Albert Camus best represents those Existentialists who have con- 
sistently applied their concepts of Absurdity, freedom of choice, and 
human responsibility to concrete problems of democratic politics. 
Camus, and particularly American Existentialists, confront us with 
a wide-ranging yet unified vision of man's situation and condition, 
which is articulated with a total critique of authoritarian and totali- 
tarian ideological postures and an affirmation and justification of the 
liberal democratic values discussed above. By justification of liberal 
democracy, the author is referring to the prudential reasons or argu- 
ments that the Existentialists like Camus oflfer for liberal democratic 
values that have been or can conceivably be challenged. 


The esteem in which Albert Camus is held in France and in Eu- 
rope is due primarily to his attempt to surpass the contradictions in 
post-war Existentialist thought and found a positive political ethic. 
As the French intellectual historian Pierre-Henri Simon put it, 
"Camus has not only sought for, but he has found the evidences of a 
way of salvation, he has set up the land-marks for a positive human- 
ism."* The basis for Camus' positive political ethic and his justifica- 
tion of liberal democratic values is his concept of the Absurd line of 

In providing arguments for the logic of the "absurd," Camus 
states that nature or the world is distinct from and foreign to the 
understanding of man, but is still his home where he is fascinated, 
suppressed and finally conquered. The second argument is that death 
is the final and inescapable destiny of all men, and that we must 
adjust our lives and behavior to this inescapable destiny. The other 
four arguments are the hopelessness of life, the need to refuse the 
world without renouncing it (revolt), purity of heart (accepting our- 
selves for what we are and demanding others to accept this fact), and 
a happiness which is the reaffirmation of the dignity and unique 
value of human life in a world which does not call man his own. As 
Camus puts it: 

But what is happiness if not the simple accord between a being and 
the existence which he leads? And what more legitimate accord can 
unite man to life than the double consciousness of his desire for 
duration and his destiny of death? In this way one at least learns to 
count on nothing and to consider the present as the only truth given 
us by "grace."' 


When Camus argues that all human life is led in exile, that man 
is a stranger in his world, his connection with Existentialism becomes 
quite clear. Central to Camus' thought is man's experience with the 
Absurd; and it is the description and discussion of the Absurd which 
is undertaken in The Myth of Sisyphus. For Camus, the foundation 
for this philosophical essay is the type of experience which has be- 
come the profound personal event in our times: the breakdown of our 
normal, habitual rhythm of intercourse with the world and the conse- 
quent discovery of the meaningless, cyclical pattern of these habitual 
activities, a pattern which once appeared to us as progress but now 
appears to be a purposeless, never-completed circle about which the 
individual turns until the inevitable moment of death ends his turn- 
ing. Camus states: 

This world in itself is not reasonable, that is all that can be said. 
But what is absurd is the confrontation of this irrational 
[existence] and the wild longing for clarity whose call echoes in the 
human heart. The absurd depends as much on man as on the world. 
For the moment it is all that links them together. It binds them one 
to another as only hatred can weld two creatures together. This is 
all I can discern clearly in this meaningless universe where my ad- 
venture takes place.' 

The experience of the Absurd is the undeniable datum of modern 
social life. From the Homeric tales, Camus has chosen Sisyphus to 
represent Absurd Man, the person who was condemned to the most 
terrible of punishments: the eternally futile and hopeless labor of 
rolling a boulder up a hill only to see it topple down and then be 
required to roll it up again and again in his endless torment. Sisyphus 
is clearly conscious of the extent of his own misery. Yet it is in the 
recognition of his destiny for what it is that Sisyphus has become his 
own master. Since the Absurd cannot be conquered completely, the 
problem for man is how to deal with this basic aspect of our condition. 
Once the individual has discovered the Absurdity of the habits, obli- 
gations, and necessities which his social and political role forces upon 
him, then the question must be faced: Is life still worth living, is 
suicide the only honest action, or do we have good reason to hope? If 
the Absurd is the contradiction between the anguished demand of our 
consciousness and the indifferent silence of the world, can we be 
prevented from committing "philosophical suicide" or surrendering 
ourselves to the Absurd by renouncing not only physical action but 
also mental action and thereby rejecting the independence of the 
mental act? Should we reconcile ourselves to this Absurdity by em- 
bracing God's mystery or by immersing ourselves wholly in ideologi- 
cal movements? 


In responding to the Absurd, Camus enjoins us in The Plague to 
adopt a positive concern for mankind. He rejects suicide or capitula- 
tion as "human" ways of dealing with the Absurd. Only life makes 
possible the "encounter between human inquiry and the silence of the 
universe," and hence Camus affirms the value of life. He rejects 
suicide because although it eliminates the problem, it does not solve 
it. He rejects "faith" (or hope) because it is an attempt to solve the 
problems of the Absurd with "knowledge" that is beyond man (such 
as "God" or "History" or "Reason"). The only proper posture toward 
Absurd existence is to live with it and rebel against those forces which 
reduce the prospect for saving human life and authentic existence. 

Professor Maurice Friedman clearly states Camus' concept of re- 
bellion against the Absurd when he analyzes Camus' prototype of the 

It is Doctor Rieux who recognizes the plague, who organizes resist- 
ance to it, who patiently fights it. . . . It is through his unsentimen- 
tal, day by day fight against the plague in a community of men 
pushed to the limits of their humanity that he is able at the end to 
"bear witness in favor of those plague stricken people" and, while 
leaving a memorial "of injustice and outrage done them," to "state 
quite simply that we learn in a time of pestilence: that there are 
more things to admire in man than to despise. ..." His affirma- 
tion at the end of the book . . . is a witness to humanity wrested 
from the absurd. Ricux's dialogue with the absurd implies a trust 
that, though the absurd will never be anything but absurd, meaning 
may emerger from man's meeting with it.° 

While Doctor Rieux accepts the unremitting, endless struggle 
with "the plague" as an inescapable part of the human condition, he 
also affirms that meaning and value in life may arise from that strug- 
gle — if one rebels against the Absurd and meets the Absurd rather 
than assuming it does not exist. By supporting life for others and 
assuming a responsibility for the condition of man in the "plagues" 
we experience in common, the rebel affirms life and gives meaning 
to his own existence. For the Absurd man (the man who lives with 
and resists unauthentic existence) suffering is individual, but in re- 
belling he views suffering as a common experience, "a mass plague," 
Rebellion then affirms our existence, "Within the human condition," 
as Fred H, Willhoite, Jr,, has expressed Camus' position, "revolt 
assumes the same place as Descartes cogito ergo sum in the realm of 
abstract thought; rebellion reveals the initial certainty luring the 
individual from his solitude,"'" And as Camus has put it, rebellion 
"founds its first value on the whole human race. I rebel — therefore 
we exist,"" 


By rebelling for authentic existence, the rebel must respect the 
limit he discovers in himself — a limit where minds meet and, in meet- 
ing, begin to exist. This meeting Camus views as a dialogue, not just 
in the sense of people talking to each other, but a sustained effort at 
mutual understanding, mutual acknowledgment, and mutual re- 
spect. It is dialogue that is Camus' highest value in interpersonal 
relationships. It is the highest value in the sense in which men have 
created their life together, in their co-operation and in their struggles 
for existence. Rebellion which promotes dialogue will "deny servi- 
tude, falsehood and terror."'^ This is Camus' persistent desire to say 
NO to injustice, affirm his own existence, and encourage civility 
among men in promoting a common authentic life. 

Existentialism does not invent values, nor create them as an ex- 
pression of power from Above; it discovers them in the concrete exist- 
ence of life. Man creates his essence only after he has existed. Man 
can deny the injustice of servitude, falsehood, and terror only through 
the civility of the dialogue. As Camus expresses it: 

If injustice is bad for the rebel, it is not because it contradicts an 
eternal idea of justice, but because it perpetuates the silent hostility 
that separates the oppressor from the oppressed. It kills the small 
part of existence that can be realized on earth through the mutual 
understanding of men. In the same way, since the man who lies 
shuts himself off from other men, falsehood is therefore proscribed 
.... The mutual understanding and communication discovered 
by rebellion can survive only in the free exchange of conversation." 

Camus specifically rejects the "conspiracy of silence" in which the 
terror of ideological thinking or physical coercion takes the place of 
persuasion. He rejects those revolutionary ideologies which want to 
submerge man in dialectical materialism or national myths. He re- 
jects, in effect, those acts of rebellion which coerce others, which 
reduce the prospect of dialogue, which place man into predefined 
categories and roles. Therefore, rebellion is limited. The revolution- 
ary ideologue and the authoritarian ruler both try to place us into a 
Procrustean bed. 

We live in a world of abstractions, of bureaus and machines, of 
absolute ideas and of crude messianism. We suffocate among people 
who think they are absolutely right, whether in their machines or in 
their ideas." We must reject the rebellion of the ideologue. We must 
go beyond ideology to the concreteness of human problems of exist- 
ence. We must meet the real "plagues" facing us and respond to them 
by rebelling in a way which maximizes dialogue and human freedom 
when faced with human slavery, manipulation, injustice and lies. 
Camus' precept of rebellion requests that we must, to use Ernst 


Breisach's felicitous phrase, try to "keep one's soul on tiptoe"; we 
thereby respect humanity, intelligence, and mutual understanding. 
If we lose this, we capitulate to the Absurd and thereby become 
more likely to invite dictatorship with its trappings of physical and 
mental coercion — the unauthentic political life. 

Camus' concepts of the "plague" and "rebellion" certainly bring 
to mind the past ten years of poHtical manipulation, deception, and 
injustice which this nation has witnessed. In responding to our "polit- 
ical plague," Camus would most probably have supported Dr. Daniel 
Ellsberg's diagnosis and remedy of the "Vietnam War Plague," which 
was the result of the systems analysts, game theorists, and exponents 
of "national prestige" who had placed us into ten long years of war. 
It was Dr. Ellsberg's expressed purpose to rebel against these systems 
of thought by making clear the necessity for dialogue on the war and 
providing the public with the "Pentagon Papers," which were to ex- 
pose the political deceptions and dangerous abstractions which were 
part of the executive decision -making process. For Ellsberg, as for 
Camus, the essence of liberal democracy is an informed populace 
which is capable of making the governmental structure truthful and 
responsive. Likewise, Camus' position on "plague" and "rebellion" 
would give support to the Washington Post investigative reporting of 
the "Watergate Affair" and its consequent political and legal cov- 
erup. A free and untrammeled press, too, is essential to the life of 
political dialogue. Finally, Camus' position would also be sympa- 
thetic to the non-violent civil disobedience campaigns of Dr. Martin 
Luther King as they stimulated a dialogue on the subject of Black 
repression and rebelled against the unauthentic life of the Black man 
who could not live in a "civil" and peaceful manner. 


Albert Camus' political ethic, exemplified in his concepts of "Ab- 
surdity," "plague," "rebellion," and "dialogue," provide our age of 
political pathology with the most meaningful justification of the lib- 
eral democratic values of individual integrity, fraternity, civil liber- 
ties, and peaceful resolution of disputes that has been proferred in our 
epoch of "mass man." Camus enjoins us to recapture the Athenian 
concept of measure, to reject Utopian schemes of human perfection, 
whether of the Left or the Right. Liberty is essential to a meaningful 
or authentic human existence, yet Camus' "rebel" must act in lucid 
cognizance of his responsibility for dialogue and "for finding proxi- 
mate solutions for insoluble problems,"'^ This approach to political 
life is a reaffirmation of the value of political openness, political 


debate, political compromise as a result of dialogue and social justice 
for all elements of the polity. Liberal democracy without "rebellion" 
is an impossibility. The Hobbesian conception of aggressive man and 
the Utopian conception of man's perfectibility must be replaced with 
the image of the fraternal man of dialogue. This can be achieved only 
by "true" and "responsible" rebellion which rejects nihilism and uto- 

Albert Camus was quite aware of the failure of many so-called 
"liberal" democratic regimes to correct political, economic, and so- 
cial injustices (such as the Black problem in the United States). 
However, he was forced to conclude that: "Perhaps there is no good 
type of political regime, but democracy is assuredly the least bad 
one."'* Pure participatory democracy is impossible, since unlike the 
Athenians with their slave labor, contemporary man must work and 
does not have the leisure necessary to contemplate daily political 

Camus, the man of political measure and prudence, saw our only 
real hope for a free and limited political system in the absolute pro- 
tection of freedom of expression and in a competitive political party 
system. The pluralism of political parties is the basic hallmark of 
liberal democracy, since "it alone allows one to denounce, hence to 
correct, injustice and crime. It alone today allows one to denounce 
torture, disgraceful torture, as contemptible in Algiers as in Buda- 
pest.""* Freedom of speech, press, and association is defended not in 
John Stuart Mill's terms as the empirical verification of an increasing 
quantity of propositions which may have part of the truth, but be- 
cause political freedom of expression brings us to realize our common 
problems, helps to create a vita actiua, solidarity, and the communal 
dialogue. As Camus puts it, "Liberty is the ability to defend what I 
do not think, even in a regime or world that I approve. It is the ability 
to admit that the adversary is right."" 

In addition to the "liberty" of individuals and the plurality of 
parties, it is necessary that institutional checks exist which protect 
us from the abuse of power. Camus agrees completely with Lord 
Acton's dictum that "power tends to corrupt and absolute power 
tends to corrupt absolutely." Camus reiterates Acton's words when 
he states that "nowhere in the world has there been a party or a man 
with absolute power who did not use it absolutely."^" 

In addition to the conventional liberal checks on the abuses of 
power, Camus was very much concerned with incorporating social 
and economic justice as part of his justification of the liberal demo- 
cratic outlook. The oppressed do not only seek political freedoms. 
This is not adequate to a life of solidarity and dialogue. Freedom to 


speak with an empty stomach and an unjust wage will not produce 
solidarity and a civilisation du dialogue. Camus' sympathy for the 
common working man is patent when he states that "The oppressed 
do not want simply to be liberated from their hunger, they also desire 
to be freed from their masters."^' For Camus the polity must provide 
not only negative freedom, or the absence of government restraints, 
but it also must provide positive freedom, positive acts which bring 
all parts of the polity to a level of well-being where all can participate 
in the civilisation du dialogue. The sense of human compassion for 
all segments of the polity is basic to the continuation of liberal demo- 
cratic values. Liberal democracy without fraternity is impossible. 

Finally, the Existentialist shares the liberal democrats' hostility 
to the unresponsiveness and impersonality of modern bureaucratic 
life. To Camus, organizational societies tend to perceive people in 
terms of their adaptability instead of their personal uniqueness, their 
productivity rather than the quality of their action. One can be cer- 
tain that Camus would look with disdain on our cost/benefit analysts 
and the Planned Program Budget Systems used for gauging national 
priorities. Large bureaucratic structures also reduce the prospect for 
dignity and meaning of work. "When work is a degradation, it is not 
life, even though it occupies every moment of a life. Who, despite the 
pretensions of this society, can sleep in it in peace when they know 
that it derives its mediocre pleasures from the work of millions of 
dead souls. "^^ Albert Camus would certainly agree with another lib- 
eral, John Stuart Mill, who viewed the bureaucratic life as a regular- 
ized structuring of human life, which if not checked would limit 
severely the prospect for creativity and self-direction.^' And as Mill 
stated, our self-expressive faculties like "perception, judgment, dis- 
criminative feeling, mental activity, and even moral preferences are 
exercised only in making a choice," and therefore can be developed 
only by being exercised. ^'' It is at this juncture that the liberal and 
Existentialist themes of individual spontaneity and human political 
action merge. If liberal democracy is to be viable, we cannot have one 
without the other. 

In short, the link between Existentialism and the political posture 
of liberal democracy is in the shared optimistic view of man's poten- 
tial for political rebellion against tyranny, the relationship of political 
dialogue, the prospect of fraternity and the maximization of human 
choice. Camus has provided us with an approach to responsible polit- 
ical action which could help us achieve many of the liberal demo- 
cratic values which have yet to be realized. With the diminution of 
the prestige of Empiricism and Natural Law as the conventional 
methods of political reasoning in liberal democracy, perhaps our edu- 


cational system and the political socialization process in this nation 
could become more sensitive to the experiential validity and useful- 
ness of the "Absurd" and "measured" reasoning of Albert Camus. He 
has provided us with a new political language that can channel our 
thought into a new organ of conduct. 


Contemporary Existentialists in this nation have suggested re- 
forms of American "liberal democracy" on four levels: the attack on 
the "pyramidal prism" in which underdeveloped or unauthentic indi- 
viduals have become "colonists" in an overdeveloped nation; the 
need for a peaceful political process which will replace authoritar- 
ianism with more political participation; a redefined socio-political 
ethic; and an educational and political socialization process which 
will resist training automatons and begin educating individuals will- 
ing to accept the tensions of human freedom. Only by solving these 
basic problems within our own polity can our so-called "liberal" de- 
mocracy begin to realize the rhetorical values we have so long es- 
poused. As Marcus Raskin has put it, the task of a philosophy of 
reconstruction of American "democracy" requires us "to break the 
bounds of absurdity — an absurdity created by institutions, expressed 
in official ideologies and reflected in much of man's inner life. The 
reconstructive aspect of a philosophy that overcomes absurdity con- 
cerns itself with the shared associative authority and a politics be- 
yond violence and " magic. "^^ Certainly these themes are Existential- 
ist in mood and criticism. But what specifically have been oflJ'ered 
within this tradition as concrete reforms? We can only suggest and 
sketchily outline some of the more provocative attempts of contempo- 
rary American Existentialists to apply these themes to democratic 
institutional forms. 


Marcus Raskin, of the Institute for Policy Studies and possible 
"think tank" chairman for a "new Establishment," has provided an 
Existentialist analysis of the American pyramidal State and of our 
colonized reality. His thesis, found in Being and Doing, is that the 
American socio-political order is dominated by a "colonized reality," 
where a new citizenship has emerged which shapes the individual to 
accept exploitation. Consciousness and the colonized State become 
one. The United States, according to Raskin's theoretical analysis, is 
in the thrall of this colonialism, the American Revolution notwith- 


standing. Specifically there are four internal colonies that frequently 
overlap. There is the Violence Colony or the nation-state itself, which 
uses its citizens as hostages in wars in which hardly anyone believes. 
Commerce and industry compose the Plantation Colony, in which 
jobs are parceled out by huge corporations beyond the reach of demo- 
cratic control and where the workers are locked into a rhythm of 
working at meaningless jobs. Raskin sees our schools as a Channeling 
Colony in which youngsters are graded and conditioned for the organ- 
ization life. What is learned in schools is the specialization which 
buttresses the pyramidal authority structure. Finally, there is the 
Dream Colony, which provides the masses with an opiate of fantasies 
confected by the mass media for the purpose of cultivating the popu- 
lar taste for the Plantation and Violence Colonies}^ 

These colonies constitute a pyramidal structure which justifies 
the authority of the colonies, and their authority provides a basis for 
insuring that the pyramidal structure does not become dismantled. 
Each colony arises as a result of the expression of the bureaucratized 
society, and each is a result of a highly rationalized process by which 
society can create people who are merely agents for its support. 

The purpose of relating Raskin's analysis is to provide us with a 
theoretical construct which will help reformists to "reconstruct" the 
vertical oppression of this pyramidal system and indicate how the ego 
must undergo a conversion from its submission to the depersonalizing 
"beside-himself" which becomes "the outer layer by which the indi- 
vidual is characterized by our roles in the pyramidal state."" In ef- 
fect, "our senses are dulled by a language/thought process which 
stems from the social structures that create our problems."^* 

The reconstruction of our pyramidal State can only occur when 
men feel free. They must learn to accept their instinctive feeling for 
freedom or they cannot act independently of their pyramidal role. 
Raskin's concept of the "colony" is not only to be used as an explana- 
tory theoretical construct useful in examining exploitation and poten- 
tial reconstruction, but it also helps us to identify the kind of power 
that is behind various types of superficially voluntary political action. 

Since any comprehensive analysis of Raskin's Existentialist re- 
forms is clearly beyond the scope of this paper, I would like to suggest 
some of the reforms that can aid in political reconstruction. In addi- 
tion to an absolute concept of First Amendment liberties, Raskin 
claims that consciousness-seeking projects (like the People's Park 
project in Berkeley), communities that operate by contract (the 
"communal" movement), and social units that are not coordinated 
by central policies can aid man in rejecting the "hierarchic other," 
can help us to resist being "characterized" and resist playing the 


"role" that the pyramidal State either seduces, coerces, or implores 
us to play. 

Raskin's reforms also find a role for certain modes of political 
power. The general thrust of his political recommendations include 
the decentralization of authority and the democratization of political 
power. Among the reforms he recommends "neighborhood sover- 
eignty" and worker assemblies within unions to indicate the import- 
ance of "being and doing," of thinking independently and acting in 
Raskin's Existentialist political posture. Raskin's treatise makes a 
major Existentialist contribution to dismantling the unauthentic col- 
onies of pyramidal paternalism. 


The Existentialist ideal for modern organizations requires the 
kind of leadership which assumes the responsibility of changing or- 
ganizations through action and which provides for the welfare of 
society by being cognizant of the purposes and behavior of others. 
"Man is responsible for what he is, and determines what he is by his 
actions."^* As the landmark Nuremberg Tribunal indicated: 

The official position of Defendants, whether as heads of State, 
or responsible officials in Government departments, shall not be 
considered as freeing them from responsibility, of mitigating punish- 
ment. . . . The fact that the Defendant acted pursuant to order of 
his Government or of a superior shall not free him from 
responsibility. . . .^'' 

Certainly this is the very point that the Existentialist posture makes 
about the relationship between doing and being. 

In addition to the problem of the degradation of irresponsible 
bureaucrats, the Existentialists "decry the bureaucratization of life 
and the loss by individuals of the ability to see others as persons."'' 
They do not want to see men treated as the "agglomeration of func- 
tions" or reduced to "apparatus," 

As has been indicated, one theme which is dominant throughout 
Existentialist literature is choice. Failure to act is choice as well as 
deciding to act. By choosing, we become what we are. As Anders 
Richter has put it, "It is no good for Eichmann to say that he was 
not responsible, for if he is passive it is because he has chosen passiv- 
ity. The confrontation with choice is a never-ending existential pro- 
cess. Choice and consciousness are one and the same thing. "'^ 

If we are to resist viewing man as the "agglomeration of func- 
tions," the responsible bureaucrat must be openminded. He must be 


ready to alter his choices as he receives new information from his 
many sources. Making choices based on changing information gives 
the executive a sense of personal commitment and may produce 
higher or more efficient output. A behavior of choice requires the 
executive to take risks. This is, of course, made difficult by the prob- 
lem of job security. Job security alone may create passivity, and 
passivity is a choice. By frustrating policy by passivity an executive 
still makes policy. His problem of risk-taking and job security re- 
mains problematic. 

Authenticity is another persistent theme of Existentialist political 
thinkers. The organization and management analysts, Beatrice and 
Sydney Rome, have offered a description of the authentic executive 
and organization: 

A hierarchical organization, in short, like an individual person, is 
"authentic" to the extent that, throughout its leadership, it accepts 
its finitude, uncertainty, and contingency; realizes its capacity for 
responsibility and choice; acknowledges guilt and errors; fulfills its 
creative management potential for flexible planning, growth and 
. . . policy formation; and responsibly participates in the wider 
community. ^^ 

The Existentialist executive must also be sensitive to what Jean 
Paul Sartre has stated "in wanting freedom we discover that it de- 
pends entirely on the freedom of others, and that the freedom of 
others depends on ours. . . ."^^ The Existentialist recommendation, 
then, is to be sensitive to the conditions of others in making decisions, 
to be aware of our common plague. The Existentialist would then be 
most concerned about the "terrible isolation" of the presidency, and 
would recommend that at least some of his advisors should be gener- 
alists who are capable of "widening the agenda of attention to encom- 
pass a new basis for the solution" of pressing problems facing the 

Since it remains difficult to curtail government power in our so- 
ciety, it becomes necessary for the Existentialist to try to tame the 
"bureaucratic beast" and to foster authentic interpersonal relation- 
ships by making the bureaucracy politically responsible, efficient, 
and sensitive to the needs of persons. Although institutional checks 
are basic to responsible and authentic government, a fundamental 
question remains for any fully developed Existentialist liberal 
democratic political outlook: how can the spirit of Existentialist re- 
construction be injected into a population that is still the product of 
pyramidal paternalism? 


Plato in his ideal State, discussed in The Republic, made it quite 


clear that education was the basic channel by which individuals 
would be socialized into the State and a means by which we could 
determine their "just" role in society. To the Existentialist, on the 
other hand, education for the individual must help the person unravel 
the mystery of existence in the face of his cognitive comprehension 
of the fact that it cannot be unraveled. It is in this inquisitive expedi- 
tion that the person marks out the particular zone which he creates 
for himself and makes the person human, the zone where values are 
created in the act of an individual living a life. To encourage the 
youth of this nation to invade this zone and stake out their own social 
and political plots — this is an Existentialist education. As Professor 
Van Cleve Morris has put it, the role of the teacher is to arrange the 
learning situation in such a way as to make clear for the student the 
importance of the following three propositions: 

(1) I am a choosing agent, unable to avoid choosing my way 
through life. 

(2) I am a free agent, absolutely free to set the goals of my own life. 

(3) I am a responsible agent, personally accountable for my free 
choices as they are revealed in how I live my life.^° 

The basic method of the teacher must be one of asking questions 
to which no one knows the perfect answer. This requires both imagi- 
nation and insight. But only the dialogue of questioning will yield an 
awakened student who is aware of choice, freedom, and responsibil- 
ity. Teaching in the Existentialist mode begins and ends in paradox. 
Freedom in education creates the possibility of communion between 
teacher and student. This means reducing the hierarchy of authority 
in the school, no external standards of achievement or success visited 
upon the young. The students must be aware they are establishing 
their own standards, in terms of which they choose to learn. When 
they select their mode of evaluation, they then must be made respon- 
sible for that selection. Finally, the teacher has encouraged learning 
when the student has come to hold something to be true only when 
the student has come to this truth without imitating the teacher. The 
student must be brought to his own ideas. As Ralph Harper has put 
it, the Existentialist teacher "aims to produce, not replicas, but men 
and women who stand apart from him even more distinctly than 
when he first met them"'^ 

What might an Existentialist curriculum look like in fostering 
authentic political man?^* 

(1) Literature and the Humanities — The Existentialist educator 
would seek to intensify the normative aspect of all subject matter. 
This is where personal judgment can be particularly encouraged. Lit- 
erature is not just syntax, it is the attempt of an author to arouse 


feeling to an intense level of awareness. Let the student have the 
opportunity to empathize with the author. 

(2) The Arts — The student must be encouraged to feel his own expe- 
rience; then later he might become more familiar with technique. The 
"copying" phase of art instruction should be rejected. 

(3) The Social Sciences — History and the social sciences are not to 
be viewed as something to be used. Rather the past and social analy- 
sis is something we create. We create the past and set up methods to 
understand that creation. What man creates, he can also re-create. 
Any major contemporary topic could be discussed in this way. An 
example would be the question of our law enforcement system. Ques- 
tions such as the need for jails, the causes of crime, which disputes 
get solved in courts, the protections needed for a citizen in the courts, 
the ways a police force can operate, the possibility of some disputes 
being resolved at the neighborhood level, etc., can all serve to indi- 
cate the problematic quality of social and political questions and the 
realization that the present situation is a result of what humanity has 
created and chosen, and consequently can be re-created and another 
choice be made.^* 

This kind of education by the use of Absurd reasoning can create 
a new political man, an authentic-responsible man that stresses 
Camus' aims of self-identification, acceptance of others as they are, 
proficiency in the technique of moderation, dialogue between isolated 
persons, and the development of values based on the human variables 
present in each immediate context.^" 



Authenticity is the ultimate yardstick for evaluating an individ- 
ual life. Unauthenticity, to lose oneself, is the supreme evil. "There 
are those who choose in awareness of their responsibility, freedom and 
risk, and there are the others who say what [external] norms de- 
mand." A political system must be organized in such a manner that 
the authentic individual can create his "dialogue" with his fellow 
men vis-a-vis their common problems. As we have indicated, Camus' 
Existentialism recommends liberal democracy as that form of organi- 
zation which creates its ideal of individualism, restraint, moderation, 
and dialogue. Camus readily admitted that there is no simple key to 
history, no objective ethic which will satisfy all men and foster free- 
dom. Therefore we will be constantly struggling to achieve a true 
communication with other existences. Tolerance and humility be- 


come necessary and prudential norms when seen in this light. 

The most profound concept of the Existentialist justification of 
liberal democratic values is individualism. Such a concept of the free 
and responsible person will continue to prove the most secure founda- 
tion of liberal democratic life. Without the "authentic individual," 
the liberal democratic posture will be mere rhetoric at best and politi- 
cal manipulation at worst. 

The basic principle of liberalism has always been the worth of the 
individual; it has been the politics of personal dignity. There have 
been two broad strands of theory within Liberalism as to what consti- 
tutes "the idea that the highest reahty and value is the person. "^^ One 
approach finds the person as basically hostile to society and the 
world. The most important role of political organization comes to be 
the protection of the person from hostile surroundings; the world 
must be made to accept persons. The second approach is founded on 
a more optimistic perspective. Its hope is to transform the world to 
make it more compatible to the person — the personalization of the 

Liberalism in its stress on the privacy of the individual and the 
need for constitutional limitations on political power has tradition- 
ally viewed the political world as a jungle that has to be tamed and 
restrained; the "world" itself cannot be changed in any fundamental 
way. The liberal atomistic conception of the State has consequently 
contributed in some areas to social fragmentation and depersonalized 
environment by fostering the ruthless independence of economic 
groups and a bureaucratic apparatus which views individuals as iso- 
lated atoms rather than persons." 

The dominance of liberal atomism in the American polity with its 
attempt to provide a justification for the limitation of political power, 
group competition, and the civil liberties of the populace has been 
criticized by Sheldon Wolin for its "sublimation of the political." Its 
supporters, "the pluralists," argue that by fragmenting political 
power and then treating the fragments, individuals and their inter- 
ests, we have the essence of politics. "Politics," for the "pluralist 
liberals," then becomes the reconciliation of the conflict of interest. 
Any attempt to develop a sense of community or public interest is 
sublimated or eclipsed by the concept of "politics" as that realm of 
action when atomized and discrete individual and group interests 
create demands which are to be dealt with by clearly defined pro- 
cesses and transformed into public policies. These interests are not 
viewed as "rational" in the sense of reflecting real social needs. 
Rather they are viewed as mere psychological facts — as demands. 


desires, and preferences. They are idiosyncratic desires that play 
their role in the political process. Politics is nothing more than the 
competitive, atomized interaction of these desires or interests. 

Although the advocates of the politics of interest state their con- 
ception of politics in terms of groups, the basic "political space" is 
usually reducible to discrete individuals pursuing their own personal 
desires or interests. The notions of community and public interest are 
sublimated if not denied; there can be no genuine "pubUc" separated 
from the aggregate of individuals who form a majority or dominant 
coalition. There exists no public interest which cannot be reduced to 
individual and group interests as they compete and are processed by 
the political system." 

The politics of interest in America, or what Theodore J. Lowi has 
called the concept of "politics"-interest-groups liberalism, reflects a 
dominant normative paradigm which isolates certain phenomena and 
calls this the totality of "politics." This conception of politics claims 
that power can be checked by atomization and competition. Corrup- 
tion can be checked by a plurality of groups presenting contrasting 
aspects of political information and a political process which repre- 
sents plural constituencies and coalitions. 

Corruption, in interest-group liberal terms, is an act of deviant 
behavior associated with a particular motivation, namely that of pri- 
vate gain at public expense (the dominant group coalition). The pri- 
vate gain does not have to be a monetary one. It could include rapid 
promotion, family gain, or the status of a particular group. Implicit 
in this concept of corruption is the view that there is gain for corrup- 
ter and corrupted, and a disadvantageous position for the majority 
coalition of groups. The conventional interest- group liberal shares 
Lord Acton's explanation for corruption in his famous dictum that all 
power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This 
deep suspicion of unchecked power and the prospect for corruption 
has deep roots in the liberal atomists' (or interest- group liberals') 
view that unbridled power will not be used in the interest of the 
majority coalition at any given time. "Corruption" from this perspec- 
tive is the political situation in which individuals are given un- 
checked power and subsequently act with expediency and for per- 
sonal gain. 

For the "interest-group liberal," then, corruption as part of poli- 
tics is merely viewed as the buying and selling of public office. Any 
notion of corruption as being endemic to interest-group politics, 
given its neglect of crime, pollution, urban decay and the special 
interest politics of "milk pricing," "grain deals" and capitulation to 
the "monopolistic" desires of I.T.T., is alien to their political world 


view. Robert Paul Wolff has stated this point well: 

To deal with such problems, there must be some way of constituting 
the whole society, a genuine group with a group purpose and a 
conception of the common good. Pluralism rules this out in theory 
by portraying society as an aggregate of human communities rather 
than as itself a human community; and it equally rules out a con- 
cern for the general good in practice by encouraging a politics of 
interest group pressures in which there is no mechanism for the 
discovery and expression of the common good.''* 

Politics, then, is a mechanical process for balancing power; it is an 
artificial contrivance rather than an activity in the pursuit of public 
virtue and over-arching public need. Corruption in these terms is 
limited to a discussion of overt acts of the selling and purchase of 
political office. Social injustice, "special interest" influence on 
decision-makers, and campaign contributions used to extract future 
benefits have therefore not been conceived as corruption in the 
interest-group liberal perspective. 

"Interest-group liberal" advocates have devoted much attention 
to political power; to its sources, nature and limits; to its corruptions 
(in the limited sense of the term we have discussed), uses, and eff'ects. 
The "interest-group liberals," though, have neglected the converse of 
the focus, namely powerlessness. The normative focus of the interest- 
group liberals has been primarily concerned with the limitation of 
power of the State, particularly in the area where threats to personal 
liberty were perceived. The foremost targets of normative indignation 
were (and are) the abuses and excesses of power. The essence of 
normative reality in politics is to be concerned with power, not 
powerlessness. The intellectual and political price for this identifica- 
tion of power with the totality of normative discourse has been to view 
the unfortunate in this society, the poor and the racial minorities, as 
victimized by the power-holders of the political system or its elites. 
This view of the victimized stresses piecemeal amelioration of their 
plight by a governmental bureaucracy which will "protect" them. 
Viewing the unfortunate from the perspective of powerlessness and 
the unequal distribution of power in the political system represents 
a radical transformation in the American political paradigms of both 
political norm and political knowledge. By expanding political real- 
ity, the Existentialist perspective reveals new dimensions of a real 
politics of dialogue which might be useful to the powerless in acting 
out their demands and making them manifest to a larger public. The 
concept of powerlessness opens up a broader analytical universe 
which not only includes the decision-making process with its stress 
on power, but additionally incorporates the concept of "non-decision- 



The "decision-making" process in American politics focuses upon 
"safe" issues which concern those with power. "Non-decision-mak- 
ing" sheds Ught upon the poHtical system's ignorance and rejection 
of those groups whose needs have not been articulated by the use of 
political power, as well as exposing the blinders to inveterate social 
problems that are not in the specific interest of the holders of political 
power. Corruption as a political phenomenon is a political plague 
which transcends the interest- group liberal perspective of the use of 
public power for personal profit, preferment, or prestige. Corruption, 
from the Existentialist perspective, also includes that public situa- 
tion which fails to recognize the full dimensions of socio-political 
injustice and the basic social problems of a community. 

Existentialism has retained some of the features of the above 
themes of liberalism, namely the need for personal freedom and con- 
stitutional restraints on political power. However, Camus' Existen- 
tialist position also calls for the reformulation of the liberal outlook. 
Contemporary industrial and bureaucratic conditions make it mani- 
fest that the protection of the individual against manipulation is not 
enough. The isolated and atomized individual's freedom, the concept 
of "negative freedom," is also not adequate. The Hberal concept of 
individual freedom and dignity must additionally incorporate a view 
of the social environment that is fully personal, responsible, and dial- 
ogic, and thereby sustains the individual's desire to be "authentic." 
The "positive freedom" concept of the Existentialist involves the use 
of political power in new ways to reduce organizational manipulation 
and enhance individual political participation and efficacy by creat- 
ing the kind of educational mode and political experiments (such as 
neighborhood government or citizen participation committees) which 
will foster authentic personal existence and reduce corruption in the 
fullest sense. 

Perhaps a growing awareness of our political and social "plagues" 
will create a willingness to use the dialogical method and to recon- 
struct our polity employing the perspective of Albert Camus' Existen- 
tialism. Camus enjoins us to choose, in open recognition of the Ab- 
surdity of our existence, and to be aware that good always presents 
itself as a provisional disposition of human energies for the creation 
of a new and better — though not perfect — humanity. The awareness 
of the Absurd is a necessary control on man's aspiration to meaning 
in a universe that lacks meaning; it is a recognition of the notion that 
because man is alone and capable of becoming whatever he wills, he 
is capable of tremendous evil as well as goodness. The true rebel 


shows a truly generous attitude to a living present. In so doing, the 
rebel provides "the only original rule of life today: to learn to live and 
to die, and in order to be a man, to refuse to be a god."^^ 


' Donald Atwell Zoll, The Twentieth Century Mind: Essays on Contempo- 
rary Thought (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1967), p. 119. 

^ Ernst Breisach, Introduction to Modern Existentialism (New York: Grove 
Press, 1962), pp. 4-7. 

^ Miguel de Unamuno, The Tragic Sense of Life, trans, by J. E. Crawford 
Flitch (New York: Dover Press, 1954), p. 263. 

* Henry Kariel, In Search of Authority (New York: Free Press, 1964), pp. 167- 

° For an exposition of liberal democratic principles that have been considered 
seminal, see the following: Austin Ranney and Wilmoore Kendall, 
Democracy and the Party System (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 
Inc., 1956), pp. 18-39; H. Mark Roelofs, The Language of Politics (Home- 
wood, Illinois: The Dorsey Press, 1967), chapter 5. 

° Cited in Thomas Hanna, The Thought and Art of Albert Camus (Chicago: 
Henry Regnery Co., Gateway edition, 1958), p. xiii. 

' Ibid., pp. 10-11. 

* Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus, trans, by J. O'Brien (New York: 
Vintage Books, Random House, 1959), p. 21. 

' Maurice Friedman, Problematic Rebel (New York: Random House, 1963), 
p. 437. 

'" Fred H. Willhoite, Beyond Nihilism: Albert Camus's Contributions to Pol- 
itical Thought (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1968), p. 75. 

" Albert Camus, The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt, trans, by Anthony 
Borver (New York: Vintage Books, Random House, 1956), p. 22. 

" Ibid., p. 283. 

'=> Ibid. 

'^ Albert Camus, "Neither Victims Nor Executioners," trans, by Dwight 
MacDonald, in Paul Goodman, ed.. Seeds of Liberation (New York: George 
Braziller, 1964), p. 27. 

'^ Willhoite, Beyond Nihilism, p. 175. 

" /6id., p. 175. 

" Albert Camus, Notebooks 1942-1951, trans, by J. O'Brien (New York: 
Alfred A. Knopf, 1961), p. 161. 

" Albert Camus, Resistance, Rebellion and Death, trans, by J. O'Brien (New 
York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1961), p. 161. 


" Camus, Notebooks 1942-1951, p. 105. 

2" Willhoite, Beyond Nihilism, p. 176. 

2' Ibid., p. 178. 

22 Camus, The /?efee/, p. 209. 

2^ Michael P. Smith, "AUenation and Bureaucracy: The Role of Participa- 
tory Administration," The Public Administration Review, XXI (Nov. -Dec, 
1971), p. 659. 

^* John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (Indianapolis: Library of Liberal Arts, 1956), 
p. 71. 

2^ Marcus Raskin, Being and Doing (New York: Beacon Press paperback, 
1973), pp. xi, xii. 

2' Ibid. , chapters 2-5. 

" Ibid., p. 6. 

2« Ibid. p. 7. 

2" Anders Richter, "The Existentialist Executive," The Public Administra- 
tion Review, XXX (1970), p. 416. 

^» Ibid., p. 417. 

^' Lewis C. Mainzer, Political Bureaucracy (Glenview: Scott, Foresman, 
1973), p. 2. 

^2 Richter, "The Existentialist Executive," p. 417. 

^^ Beatrice and Sydney Rome, "Humanistic Research on Large Social Organ- 
izations," in James T. Bugental (ed.). Challenges of Humanistic Psychology 
(New York: McGraw Hill and Co., 1967), p. 185. 

'* Richter, "The Existentialist Executive," p. 421. 

'' Ibid. 

^" Van Cleve Morris, Existentialism in Education (New York: Harper and 
Row, 1966), p. 135. 

" Ralph Harper, "Significance of Existence and Recognition for Education," 
chapter VII in N. B. Henry,(ed.) Modern Philosophies and Education, Fifty- 
Fourth Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education (Chi- 
cago: Published by the Society, 1955), p. 245. 

^* Morris, Existentialism in Education, pp. 137-147. 

^' Raskin, Being and Doing, p. 351. 

" David E. Denton, "Albert Camus: Philosopher of Moral Concern," 

Educational Theory, XV (April, 1964), pp. 99-103. 

^' Breisach, Introduction to Modern Existentialism, p. 22. 

^2 Glen Tinder, The Crisis of Political Imagination (New York: Scribners, 
1964), p. 120. 

« Ibid., pp. 120-125. 

" Clark E. Cochran, "The Politics of Interest: Metaphysics and the Limita- 


tions of the Science of Politics," paper delivered at the American Political 
Science Association, 1971, pp. 1-8. 

^^ Robert Paul Wolff, The Poverty of Liberalism (Boston: Beacon Press, 
1968), p. 159. 

" Peter Bachrach and Morton S. Baratz, Power and Poverty: Theory and 
Practice (New York: Basic Books, 1970), pp. 39-51. 

" Camus, The Rebel, p. 237.