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.The Louisiana Purchase had added avast new domain to the United States, leading less optimistic observersto fear  that the enlargement of our territory would endanger itsunion. 1 But Jefferson looked forward to the proliferation of free repub-lican states, bound together by ties of common principles and harmo-nious interests.The Enlightenment vision of a benign imperial order,predicated on the reciprocity of benefits and the security of naturalrights, would be fulfilled with the union s progressive expansion.Powerwould be diffused and decentered in the federal republic: the Americanswould no longer be subject to the domineering rule of a distant metrop-olis, as they had been before declaring and securing their independence.Their new regime would be imperial in scope, far exceeding the mostambitious designs of a corrupt and despotic British ministry.As Indiannations faded from view, overwhelmed by the rising tide of Americansettlement and deprived of crucial support by European patrons therepublican union would spread westward, irresistibly.Once its independence was firmly established, Jefferson s new nationwould be invulnerable.Its strength could not be measured in conven-tional military terms but rather in the loyalty of the patriotic citizenswho would rise up in defense of their own liberties and their country sindependence whenever they were threatened.It was strong preciselybecause it had not concentrated authority and resources in a singlecentral place, so inviting the assaults of hostile, counter-Revolutionary53 54 Republican Empirepowers.Jefferson s  federative principle was based on the equality andindependence of its members.Because their union was consensual, theexercise of coercive force (the despotic principle) was unnecessary to itssurvival and prosperity.Like the  honest patriot[s] who constituted thenation, the separate state-republics would rally to each other s defense intime of emergency.2 For Jeffersonians, the American Revolution was theprototype for the spontaneous popular mobilization that made a strongcentral government unnecessary and dangerous.Within the communityof sentiment and interest that defined the new republican empire, a self-governing people would mobilize men and resources much more effec-tively than any despotic regime.Banishing metropolitan power from theNew World, Jefferson imagined a great nation, a dynamic and expansiveunion of free peoples.Montesquieu, author of the influential Spirit of the Laws, taught hisreaders that republics must be small to survive, that virtue, the animat-ing principle of republics, could flourish only in closely knit civic soci-eties.In opposing ratification of the federal Constitution, Antifederalistshad invoked Montesquieu s authority in arguing against a more power-ful,  consolidated regime that they feared would subvert the state gov-ernments and destroy civil liberties.3 But Jefferson, drawing inspirationfrom James Madison s Federalist No.10, came to believe that Mon-tesquieu s  doctrine, that small States alone are fitted to be republics,will be exploded by experience. The Revolution had shown that theAmerican people could transcend  local egoisms, evincing the most ex-alted patriotic sentiments on a continental scale.Indeed, as Jeffersonsuggested to his Genevan friend Franois d Ivernois in 1795, it would bemuch easier to discover a majority  free from particular interests in thenation as a whole than in the respective states:  The smaller the soci-eties, the more violent and more convulsive their schisms.Under the new constitutional regime, Americans could become con-scious of themselves as a people in their common dedication to  princi-ples of justice ; having overthrown the despotic power of a distant me-tropolis, they would also avoid the tyranny of evanescent majorities inlocal assemblies. We have chanced to live in an age, Jefferson toldd Ivernois,  which will probably be distinguished in history, for its ex-periments in government on a larger scale than has yet taken place. In Republican Empire 55the Old World, as the French Revolution showed, such experiments will be accompanied with violence, with errors, and even withcrimes. 4 But freedom would prosper in the New World, Jeffersonpromised in his inaugural addresses: Americans would enjoy the bene-fits of  government on a larger scale that the Revolutionaries hadsought to secure first within the British empire and then as an inde-pendent people.Jefferson s conception of republican empire, an ideal-ized vision of the old regime purged of corruption, thus provided theframework for his inspiring vision of a new national identity.An empirewithout a metropolis would be sustained by the patriotism of a free andunited people.Jefferson s conception of a new republican empire in the Americanhemisphere met with considerable skepticism in his own day (the  can-did apprehension of antiexpansionist critics that he acknowledged inhis Second Inaugural) and derision in our own.The thrust of the criti-cism then and now has been that Jefferson did not have a firm grasp ofgeopolitical reality, and that his penchant for ideological posturing andempty abstractions led him dangerously astray.Federalists warnedagainst the centrifugal effects of an overextended polity, invoking theteachings of contemporaneous political science.They were not alwaysopposed to expansion: national security might dictate an aggressive, ex-pansionist policy, as when Federalists urged a preemptive strike againstNew Orleans before Jefferson s diplomacy (and good luck) gained theprize by peaceful means.The premise of Federalist foreign policy wasthat there should be a correspondence between military force and strate-gic objectives, that the expansion of the union should never run aheadof the federal government s ability to enforce its authority against for-eign and domestic threats.The annexation of New Orleans might beimperative, but Federalists were equally certain that the acquisition ofthe Louisiana Territory would be a disaster [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]

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