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Abstract

The Constitutional Convention of 1787 forged a new nation, but it’s only recently that the full picture of what nationhood meant to the founders has come into focus. The world of the founders was a far more interconnected and globalized one than had been generally realized—a world in which numerous global empires struggled diplomatically, economically and militarily for land, riches and influence. In European capitals and even in the American colonies, diplomats, generals and politicians widely believed that these interactions between nations were governed by a set of natural law principles called the Law of Nations and conflict could be best avoided precisely by observing its rules. This presents a new, international factor to consider in analyzing the motivations and compromises of the founders, a dimension that is only just starting to receive scholarly attention.

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