FACT: “In the 1824 election John Quincy Adams received fewer popular votes than Andrew Jackson. But neither received the requisite majority in the Electoral College; Henry Clay and Georgia’s William Crawford were also on the ballot. It thus fell to the House of Representatives to decide the winner. Clay, the House speaker, announced his support of Adams. The House voted to elect Adams president.”

Empire for Liberty: A History of American Imperialism from Benjamin Franklin to Paul Wolfowitz
by Richard H. Immerman

How could the United States, a nation founded on the principles of liberty and equality, have produced Abu Ghraib, torture memos, Plamegate, and warrantless wiretaps? Did America set out to become an empire? And if so, how has it reconciled its imperialism—and in some cases, its crimes—with the idea of liberty so forcefully expressed in the Declaration of Independence? Empire for Liberty tells the story of men who used the rhetoric of liberty to further their imperial ambitions, and reveals that the quest for empire has guided the nation’s architects from the very beginning—and continues to do so today.

Historian Richard Immerman paints nuanced portraits of six exceptional public figures who manifestly influenced the course of American empire: Benjamin Franklin, John Quincy Adams, William Henry Seward, Henry Cabot Lodge, John Foster Dulles, and Paul Wolfowitz. Each played a pivotal role as empire builder and, with the exception of Adams, did so without occupying the presidency. Taking readers from the founding of the republic to the Global War on Terror, Immerman shows how each individual’s influence arose from a keen sensitivity to the concerns of his times; how the trajectory of American empire was relentless if not straight; and how these shrewd and powerful individuals shaped their rhetoric about liberty to suit their needs.

But as Immerman demonstrates in this timely and provocative book, liberty and empire were on a collision course. And in the Global War on Terror and the occupation of Iraq, they violently collided.

“Immerman has written one of the best descriptions and analyses of ‘American empire’—its meaning, evolution, and key figures that have impacted the idea. Empire for Liberty is essential reading for students and enthusiasts of American history and the United States’ place in and approach to the world, historically and contemporarily.”—Stefan Fergus, Civilian Reader

We invite you to read the Introduction here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9118.pdf

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  1. Thank you for this book review. It seems to some of us in “old Europe” that in this postmodern world anachronistic visions of empires do not make any sense anymore. Thus trying to dominate the world as the last super power via military spending seems less efficient than economic hegemony. However, it seems Mr. Immerman has picked up on that notion in his book as well.