American identity and neutral rights from independence to the War of 1812

Bukovansky, Mlada
March 1997
International Organization;Spring97, Vol. 51 Issue 2, p209
Academic Journal
This article analyzes the relationship between state identity and state interest in the development of neutral rights policy in the U.S., from its independence to the War of 1812. In its early statehood, the United States consistently pushed neutrality law in a more liberal direction, seeking to extend neutral rights and obligations and correspondingly to limit the scope of belligerent rights. A logical explanation of early U.S. neutral rights policy requires an understanding of the eighteenth-century maritime regime and of the principles by which the leaders conceived of their State's identity. State identity shapes state interests, which in turn shape policy over time. The author argues that early U.S. interpretations of neutrality were grounded in more general conceptions of, and discourse about the nature of the U.S. republicanism. The relationship between identity and interest is dialectical in that both identities and interests may be reconstituted in the political process; and it is through the political process that roles and policies are adopted and challenged.


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