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Cosmopolitan Patriots

Americans in Paris in the Age of Revolution
Philipp Ziesche

BUY Cloth · 256 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813928913 · $43.50 · Feb 2010
BUY Ebook · 256 pp. · ISBN 9780813928982 · $32.50 · Feb 2010
BUY Paper · 256 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813935959 · $29.50 · Jun 2014

This truly transnational history reveals the important role of Americans abroad in the Age of Revolution, as well as providing an early example of the limits of American influence on other nations. From the beginning of the French Revolution to its end at the hands of Napoleon, American cosmopolitans like Thomas Jefferson, Gouverneur Morris, Thomas Paine, Joel Barlow, and James Monroe drafted constitutions, argued over violent means and noble ends, confronted sudden regime changes, and negotiated diplomatic crises such as the XYZ Affair and the Louisiana Purchase. Eager to report on what they regarded as universal political ideals and practices, Americans again and again confronted the particular circumstances of a foreign nation in turmoil. In turn, what they witnessed in Paris caused these prominent Americans to reflect on the condition and prospects of their own republic. Thus, their individual stories highlight overlooked parallels between the nation-building process in both France and America, and the two countries' common struggle to reconcile the rights of man with their own national identities.


There is much to praise in Cosmopolitan Patriots. The clarity of the writing and the originality make it a pleasure to read. This is a terrific book, remarkable in its mastery of both American and French history. Cosmopolitan Patriots is smart, original, and important and makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the age of the democratic revolution.

Jan Ellen Lewis, Rutgers University

By focusing on the experiences and attendant anxieties, thrills, and frustrations of a small number of highly literate Americans residing in Paris in the 1790s, Philipp Ziesche offers us a fresh vantage point for considering a classic historical question: What was the relationship between the American and French Revolutions? Cosmopolitan Patriots eschews simplistic answers and, in fascinating detail, reveals nation-building as a complex process that posed similar problems of inclusion and exclusion on both sides of the eighteenth-century Atlantic world.

Sophia Rosenfeld, University of Virginia · author of A Revolution in Language: The Problem of Signs in Late 18th-Century France

The relationship between the American and French Revolutions has been covered in many earlier books, but Ziesche's short volume manages to offer fresh perspectives. He explores the fluid and sometimes contradictory forces of idealistic universalism and nationalistic particularism. This book is thoughtful, clearly written, and based on extensive research.

Library Journal

[An] outstanding contribution to the historiography of the French Revolution and early U.S. politics and diplomacy.... Ziesche uses an enormous number of sources in several languages, all the while adding fresh details to well-known subjects.


Rarely has a historian used the well-combed papers of America's founding elites in a more innovative, insightful, and compelling manner.

Journal of Southern History

About the Author(s): 

Philipp Ziesche is Associate Editor of the Papers of Benjamin Franklin at Yale University.

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