After 1898 the United States not only solidified its position as an economic colossus, but by annexing Puerto Rico and the Philippines it had also added for the first time semi-permanent, heavily populated colonies unlikely ever to attain statehood. In short order followed a formal protectorate over Cuba, the "taking" of Panama to build a canal, and the announcement of a new Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, proclaiming an American duty to "police" the hemisphere.
Empire had been an American practice since the nation's founding, but the new policies were understood as departures from traditional methods of territorial expansion. How to match these actions with traditional non-entanglement constituted the central preoccupation of U.S. foreign relations in the
early twentieth century.
International lawyers proposed instead that the United States become an impartial judge. By becoming a force for law in the world, America could reconcile its republican ideological tradition with a desire to rank with the Great Powers. Lawyers' message scaled new heights of popularity in the first decade and a half of the twentieth century as a true profession of international law emerged. The American Society of International Law (ASIL) and other groups, backed by the wealth of the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace, held annual meetings and published journals. They called for the creation of an international court, the holding of regular conferences to codify the rules of law, and the education of public opinion as to the proper rights and duties of states. To an extent
unmatched before or since, the U.S. government-the executive branch if not always the U.S. Senate-embraced this project. Washington called for peace conferences and pushed for the creation of a "true " international court. It proposed legal institutions to preserve order in its hemisphere. Meanwhile lawyers advised presidents and made policy. The ASIL counted among its first members every living secretary of state (but one) who held office between 1892 and 1920. Growing numbers of
international lawyers populated the State Department and represented U.S. corporations with business overseas. International lawyers were not isolated idealists operating from the sidelines. Well-connected, well-respected, and well-compensated, they formed an integral part of the foreign policy establishment
that built and policed an expanding empire.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 296
Weight: 534 g
Dimensions: 242 x 164 x 27 mm
Legalist Empire is a major contribution to a deeper understanding of a decisive era in US foreign policy * Jochen von Bernstorff, European Journal of International Law *
Legalist Empire helps to expand the historiography of U.S. foreign relations by placing international law alongside military, economic, and cultural hegemony. It also complicates our understanding of international law, often treated solely as a post-1945 phenomenon, by chronicling its development and deployment in an earlier period. * Katherine Unterman, Journal of Interdisciplinary History *
[Coates] paints a complex picture of when US leaders followed and even moved to promote international law and when they chose to disregard it ... Legalist Empire has added a much-neglected legal dimension to the study of American foreign relations. Coates has thrown enormous light on the role of international lawyers in American foreign policy. His book illuminates not only the ambiguous nature of international law, but also the subtle ways power is
exercised. Moreover, it is a wonderful example of cross-fertilization between history of American foreign relations and international law. It is therefore exemplary in its interdisciplinary approach as well. It suggests how one can benefit from an outside perspective by working across disciplines and literatures. * Jingbin Wang, H-Empire *
provides a fresh account of the developing profession of international lawyers ... Legalist Empire represents a striking and eminently well-researched account of the development of international law and international lawyers in America over the Progressive Era and beyond. It successfully problematizes the role of international law and legalist thinking in Empire - 'for international law has long cast an imperial shadow, and even as Americans sought ways to
avoid the chill, they imagined extending it to others' * William Heisey, Osgoode Hall Law Journal *