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Rethinking American Grand Strategy$
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Elizabeth Borgwardt, Christopher McKnight Nichols, and Andrew Preston

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780190695668

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190695668.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 01 December 2021

Grand Strategy of the Master Class

Grand Strategy of the Master Class

Slavery and Foreign Policy from the Antebellum Era to the Civil War

(p.106) 5 Grand Strategy of the Master Class
Rethinking American Grand Strategy

Matthew Karp

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the role of Southerners and slavery in US foreign policy from the antebellum era to the Civil War. Studies that explore slavery's specific impact on foreign policy have generally confined themselves to the ways that slaveholders worked to secure fugitive slave laws, enact restrictions on black sailors, or, at most, fight to add new slave states to the Union. However, the kind of domination that slaveholders desired went beyond the need to reinforce their narrow property rights, or even the desire to expand the amount of territory under slave cultivation. Antebellum slaveholders assumed national Cabinet posts to command the power of the entire United States, and then, crucially, to use that power to strengthen slavery in world politics. If grand strategy is “the intellectual architecture that gives form and structure to foreign policy,” slaveholding leaders were not merely provincial sectionalists but bold and cosmopolitan strategic thinkers. Their profound ideological commitment to slavery did not merely affect domestic politics within a divided republic; it left a deep imprint on the “strategic culture” of American foreign policy.

Keywords:   Southerners, slavery, US foreign policy, antebellum era, Civil War, South, antebellum slaveholders, slaveholding leaders, grand strategy, strategic culture

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