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The Political History of American Food AidAn Uneasy Benevolence$
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Barry Riley

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190228873

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190228873.001.0001

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The Early Episodes: 1794–1914

The Early Episodes: 1794–1914

(p.1) 1 The Early Episodes: 1794–1914
The Political History of American Food Aid

Barry Riley

Oxford University Press

Even while attempting to avoid “entangling alliances,” the elected officials of the newly formed United States were, as early as 1794, debating whether the government should provide economic aid to destitute residents of a foreign country. Congressman James Madison argued that the Constitution contained no authority allowing it. Others argued that it was not the intention of the founding fathers to prevent such acts of benevolence. For 120 years these arguments would be resurrected whenever a major calamity threatened innocent foreign residents with hunger and famine. Only occasionally would assistance be provided. Much more often, as with the Irish potato famine of the 1840s, there would be no provision of food aid to prevent starvation.

Keywords:   sympathy, James Madison, Irish potato famine, American food aid, Ireland, Venezuela, Adam Smith

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