The emergence of the early American republic as a new nation on the world stage conjured rival visions in the eyes of leading statesmen at home and attentive observers abroad. Thomas Jefferson envisioned the newly independent states as a federation of republics united by common experience, mutual interest, and an adherence to principles of natural rights. His views on popular government and the American experiment in republicanism, and later the expansion of its empire of liberty, offered an influential account of the new nation. While persuasive in crucial respects, his vision of early America did not stand alone as an unrivaled model.

The contributors to Rival Visions examine how Jefferson’s contemporaries—including Washington, Adams, Hamilton, Madison, and Marshall—articulated their visions for the early American republic. Even beyond America, in this age of successive revolutions and crises, foreign statesmen began to formulate their own accounts of the new nation, its character, and its future prospects. This volume reveals how these vigorous debates and competing rival visions defined the early American republic in the formative epoch after the revolution.

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