Hamiltonianism : Alexander Hamilton on American foreign policy.


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American foreign policy-making often involves a choice between various “traditions.” Hamiltonianism is one such tradition that has informed decision making throughout American history. However, Hamiltonianism has not been previously well-defined in terms of its namesake. This dissertation asks two questions: what are the principles of Alexander Hamilton’s foreign policy? And are those principles reflected in the foreign policies of other American foreign policy makers throughout history? Through a close-reading of several of Hamilton’s most important essays, letters, and other documents, the dissertation better defines Hamiltonianism by pointing towards several foundational principles in the tradition. The dissertation begins by examining Hamilton on the national interest, then on human nature, international law, war, commerce, and diplomacy. It examines Hamilton’s writings on justice, and determines that it is just for states to take care of their own but also to fairly take into account the interests of others when possible. It examines Hamilton on institutional responsibility in foreign policy, and on the importance and use of national honor in policy making. Finally, the dissertation looks for Hamiltonian principles in action in various policy-makers throughout American history. In the end, the dissertation does determine that there are principles in Hamiltonianism and where we can find them in Hamilton’s writings, as well as where those principles have been used from future policy-makers in American history.



Alexander Hamilton. Foreign policy. American foreign policy.