During the Revolution, American policymakers were divided into two factions—radicals and moderates. Radicals saw the United States as a great power, equal to France and worthy of alliances with as many foreign powers as possible. Moderates, however, doubted American military power and were content to rely on military assistance from France alone. In each case, battlefield results determined who held the upper hand when it came to diplomacy. Radicals prevailed when the war went well, but power quickly shifted in favor of the moderates when it went poorly. In this lecture, Robert Smith, professor of history at Worcester State University, discusses the turbulence surrounding American diplomacy during the Revolution and how the Treaty of Paris was the final diplomatic triumph for the radicals.
About the Speaker
Robert Smith is a professor and graduate coordinator at Worcester State University in Worcester, Mass., where he teaches history and political science. He received his Ph.D. from the College of William and Mary, and his research focuses on the history of American diplomacy and foreign relations, American constitutional history, English constitutional history, the early American republic and the age of Jackson. Throughout his academic career, he has authored several books and articles, including Keeping the Republic: Ideology and Early American Diplomacy (Northern Illinois University Press, 2004) and Amid a Warring World: Diplomacy and Foreign Policy in the Early Years of the American Republic (The University of Nebraska Press, 2012). He is currently working on a study of Virginia’s foreign policy in the 1780s and the ratification of the Constitution.