Empire of Liberty

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American Empire is a a concept used to describe--and often criticize--the global influence of the United States and its political principles.

America was founded, settled and fashioned by the British Empire, but then broke away in the American Revolution, declaring independence in 1776 in the name of republicanism.

Thomas Jefferson saw America's mission as creating a global "Empire of Liberty" -- that is promoting freedom and liberty around the globe by example, by expansion, and by intervention. Major exponents included Abraham Lincoln (in the Gettysburg Address (1863), Woodrow Wilson and Wilsonianism, and George W, Bush in the drive for liberty and democracy around the world.

In American Foreign Policy the Empire of Liberty has meant opposition to tyranny and totalitarianism, especially in the Spanish American War (1898), World War I, World War II, the Cold War and the War on terrorism.

Conservative Henry Nau has argued that conservative internationalism is the foreign policy of Thomas Jefferson, James K. Polk, Harry Truman, and Ronald Reagan. They did more to expand freedom abroad through the assertive use of military force than any others.[1]. They expanded freedom on behalf of self-government, local or national, not on behalf of central or international government, as liberal internationalists advocate, and they used force to seize related opportunities to spread freedom, not to maintain the status quo, as realists recommend.

Other dimensions

Economic dimensions include the spread of American management, as for example in the Marshall Plan in the 1940s.

Cultural dimensions of the American Empire include the spread of American music and movies--and even more important the spread of Christian values by missionaries.

Anti-American forces in the Third World often capitalized on local hatred of oppressive empires by using the label in a negative sense. On the far left in the U.S. it is also a hostile theme, as represented by Noam Chomsky. Their argument is that America represents the evils of capitalism and religion and should be stopped from influencing the people of the world.

See also

Further reading

  • Bacevich, Andrew J. American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy (2004) by a conservative political scientist excerpt and text search
  • Ferguson, Niall. Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire (2005), by an eminent conservative historian except and text search
  • Gordon, John Steele . Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power (2005) by a conservative popular historian excerpt and text search
  • Kagan, Robert. Dangerous Nation: America's Place in the World from Its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the Twentieth Century (2006), by a conservative
  • Nau, Henry R. "Conservative Internationalism," Policy Review #150. 2008. pp 3+. by a conservativeonline at QUESTIA
  • Tucker, Robert W., and David C. Hendrickson. Empire of Liberty: The Statecraft of Thomas Jefferson (1990).
  • Wood, Gordon. Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 (2009) by conservative historian excerpt and text search


  1. At home, Abraham Lincoln sis even more more to expand freedom by force.