The Contours of American History
William Appleman Williams
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Original year of publication: 1961; 2011 - fwd
William Appleman Williams was the American history profession’s greatest critic of US imperialism. The Contours of American History, first published in 1961, reached back into British history to argue that the relationship between liberalism and empire was in effect a grand compromise, with expansion abroad containing class and race tensions at home.
Coming as it did before the political explosions of the 1960s, Williams’s message was a deeply heretical one, and yet the Modern Library ultimately chose Contours as one of the best 100 nonfiction books of the 20th Century. This fiftieth anniversary edition will introduce this magisterial work to a new readership, with a new introduction by Greg Grandin, one of today’s leading historians of US foreign policy.
Source: Overdrive Retail EPUB
seductive heathens of Hawaii and China. In Hawaii, their powers of persuasion led to churches, marriages, and land titles. Together with traders, whalers, and shippers—who carried their own versions of the true gospel—the missionaries soon created a situation very similar to the coincident colonization of Texas. “Could I have forgotten the circumstances of my visit,” one tourist remarked of Hawaii in 1833, “I should have fancied myself in New England.” Pioneer farmers, planters, and speculators
have our throats cut.” “No, Sir,” Calhoun added, “the Union can be broken.” And extremists like Robert Barnwell Rhett of South Carolina, who had been talking about seccession ever since 1845, made it clear that the south could at least manufacture its own version of the Garrison repealer. Supposedly a power that adjusted the myriad of competing self-interests into the general welfare, Adam Smith’s Hidden Hand was instead beginning to trace a vicious circle. “Here it is, this black question,”
industrial system would need foreign markets for its surpluses; hence high tariffs would only invite retaliation abroad. In the first years after the war, however, these various elements were too weak to disrupt the radical program once it was put into operation. Radical difficulties began with the collapse of the alliance between Pennsylvania entrepreneurs and New England textile and manufacturing interests. Originally the product of a happy union between laissez-faire idealism and
threatened the United States. But when European nations like France, Germany, and Austria raised tariff barriers against American surpluses, the act was viewed as threatening American wealth and welfare. Not even England escaped a share of the blame. For though it was clearly deciding that it would be wise to work out an underlying entente with America, England gave no evidence that it would cease to compete with the United States within that framework. And in Asia, where China was rapidly
territory but small in extent,” Luther Martin of Maryland also attacked the Constitution on those grounds. He thought it the work of men who wanted “one great and extensive empire, calculated to aggrandize and elevate its rulers and chief officers far above the common herd of mankind, to enrich them with wealth, becircle them with honors and glory.” Though Edmund Randolph finally voted for ratification, George Mason, Richard Henry Lee, and those in the north such as George Clinton fought to the