Revolutionary Diplomacy in the Age of Federalism

23 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2013

See all articles by Michael S. Kochin

Michael S. Kochin

Tel Aviv University - Political Science

Date Written: March 22, 2013


Diplomacy under the ancien régime was reserved for elites. Burke in 1793 quotes Vattel that "it is a violation of the law of nations to persuade those subjects to revolt who actually obey their sovereign, though they complain of his government." It is the French Revolutionaries, who "never have abandoned... for one instant, their old, steady maxim of separating the people from their government," Burke writes in 1796. Washington's Secretary of State Edmund Randolph on 6 May 1794 instructs John Jay, Envoy to Great Britain, to do that which Burke forbids: "To prevent the British ministry, should they be resolved on war, from carrying with them the British nation…" American statesmen knew that their government was the product of a revolution, and might require the export of revolution in defense of its own. In this paper I explore American readiness to export revolution. Washington, Adams and their officials are successful revolutionaries, defending the revolutionary government created by the revolutionary constitution of 1787. The party strife between Federalists and Republicans is a disagreement about how to defend that revolution.

Keywords: revolution, republicanism, partisanship, public diplomacy

Suggested Citation

Kochin, Michael S., Revolutionary Diplomacy in the Age of Federalism (March 22, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Michael S. Kochin (Contact Author)

Tel Aviv University - Political Science ( email )

Tel-Aviv, 69978


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