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"Blood is Thicker than Water": Anglo-American Rapprochement in the Mid-Nineteenth Century, 1823-1872

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Historians of Anglo-American diplomacy in the nineteenth century tend to focus on the beginning of the century, when tensions ran high, or the end, when the United States and Britain

ABSTRACT

Historians of Anglo-American diplomacy in the nineteenth century tend to focus on the beginning of the century, when tensions ran high, or the end, when the United States and Britain sowed the seeds that would grow into one of the most fruitful alliances of the twentieth century. This dissertation bridges the gap between the century's bookends. It employs world history methodology, giving close attention to how each nation's domestic politics and global priorities played a vital role in shaping bilateral relations. In this manner, it explains how two nations that repeatedly approached the brink of war actually shared remarkably similar visions of peace, free trade, and neutral rights throughout the world. A careful consideration of the shifting priorities of the British Empire demonstrates that London approached trans-Atlantic relations as merely one part of a worldwide strategy to preserve its prestige and economic ascendancy. Meanwhile, naval inferiority, sectional tensions, and cultural affinity ensured that American belligerence never crossed the threshold from bluster to military action. By examining a handful of diplomatic crises originating far from the centers of power in London and Washington, this study argues that disputes between the United States and Britain arose from disagreements regarding the proper means to achieve common ends. During nearly half a century between the Monroe Doctrine and the Treaty of Washington, the two countries reached a mutual understanding regarding the best ways to communicate, cooperate, and pursue common economic and geopolitical goals. Giving this period its due attention as the link between post-Revolutionary reconciliation and pre-World War I alliance promotes a more comprehensive understanding of Anglo-American rapprochement in the nineteenth century.

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  • 2014