Abstract

abstract:

The founding generation made extensive use of history in the framing of the American republic. The Swiss confederation did not figure as prominently in American thought as ancient and English history, but it does illustrate how American statesmen used history in political arguments. John Adams saw the histories of the individual Swiss cantons as proof that every society, no matter how simple, needed a balanced government to preserve liberty. For the Federalists, the Swiss, along with all other loose confederacies, demonstrated the inadequacy of a league of friendship, as provided by the Articles of Confederation, and the need for a stronger union. The Anti-Federalists made great use of Swiss history in two particulars. First, they saw the Swiss as a successful confederacy, pointing to its survival rather than its instability. The Swiss demonstrated there was no need for a stronger union. Furthermore, the Anti-Federalists believed the Swiss proved that a nation could survive in the midst of hostile nations without recourse to a standing army. The Framers' use of Swiss history demonstrated how their reading of history was shaped by their political agendas.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-0895
Print ISSN
1543-4273
Pages
pp. 377-395
Launched on MUSE
2019-07-23
Open Access
No
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