The Imperial Republic: A Structural History of American Constitutionalism from the Colonial Era to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

The Imperial Republic

A Structural History of American Constitutionalism from the Colonial Era to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century, 1st Edition

By James G. Wilson


280 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9781138727861
pub: 2017-11-22
SAVE ~$27.00
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315190204
pub: 2018-02-06
from $65.00

FREE Standard Shipping!


This title was first published in 2002. The Imperial Republic addresses the enduring relationship that the American constitution has with the concept of empire. Early activists frequently used the word to describe the nation they wished to create through revolution and later reform. The book examines what the Framers of the Constitution meant when they used the term empire and what such self-conscious empire building tells Americans about the underlying goals of their constitutional system. Utilizing the author’s extensive research from colonial times to the turn of the twentieth century, the book concludes that imperial ambition has profoundly influenced American constitutional law, theory and politics. It uses several analytical techniques to ascertain the multiple meanings of such fundamental words as empire and republic and demonstrates that such concepts have at least four levels of meaning. Relying on numerous examples, it further concludes that American leaders frequently (even proudly) used the word with some of its most domineering implications.


’Much thought these days demands our attention because of its urgency and it is surely a matter of great urgency to understand the imperial cast of the polity of the United States. It is to such an understanding that this bravura offered by James Wilson contributes enormously.’ Professor Peter Fitzpatrick, University of London, UK ’This deeply-informed and insightful study challenges preconceptions and offers new and provocative perspectives for understanding of the nature and roots of our society and culture and its place in the world. It should be essential reading for those who take seriously the responsibilities of citizenship in a free society.’ Professor Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA 'This very fine, thought provoking book provides a fresh perspective on American constitutional development from the Founding to the end of the 19th century…If it gets the attention it deserves, Wilson's book will generate new thought and new ideas from critics and supporters alike.' Constitutional Commentary

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Constructing a model of republican empires; Early constitutional structures; Creating the imperial constitution; The struggle over the form, character, and direction of the new empire; The republican empire of conquest; Chief Justice John Marshall’s Hamiltonian empire: turning constitutional conventions into constitutional law; Imperial competition during the ante-bellum era; John C. Calhoun, Dred Scott v. Sandford and the Lincoln-Douglas debates: turning constitutional theories and conventions into constitutional law; The formation of the modern American empire; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

About the Series

Routledge Revivals

Are there elusive titles that you need and have been trying to source for years but thought that you would never be able to find?

Well this may be the end of your quest – here is a fantastic opportunity for you to discover past brilliance and purchase previously out of print and unavailable titles by some of the world’s most eminent academic scholars.

Drawing from over 100 years of innovative, cutting-edge publishing, Routledge Revivals is an exciting programme whereby key titles from the distinguished and extensive backlist of the many acclaimed imprints associated with Routledge will be re-issued.

The programme draws upon the illustrious backlists of Kegan Paul, Trench & Trubner, Routledge & Kegan Paul, Methuen, Allen & Unwin and Routledge itself.

Routledge Revivals spans the whole of the Humanities and Social Sciences, and includes works by some of the world’s greatest thinkers including Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Simone Weil, Martin Buber, Karl Jaspers and Max Beloff.

If you are interested in Revivals in the Behavioral Sciences, please visit

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Constitutional