H-Diplo Roundtable XX-19 on Caitlin Fitz. Our Sister Republics: The United States in an Age of American Revolutions

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Roundtable Review

Volume XX, No. 19

7 January 2019



Roundtable Editors: Thomas Maddux and Diane Labrosse

Roundtable and Web Production Editor: George Fujii


Introduction by Kathleen DuVal



  • Introduction by Kathleen DuVal, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill    2
  • Review by Ernesto Bassi, Cornell University    5
  • Review by Timothy Hawkins, Indiana State University    8
  • Review by J.M. Opal, McGill University    12
  • Review by Brian Rouleau, Texas A&M University    16
  • Author’s Response by Caitlin Fitz, Northwestern University    21


Caitlin Fitz.  Our Sister Republics:  The United States in an Age of American Revolutions.  New York:  Liveright, 2016.  ISBN:  978-1-63149-317-1 (paperback, $18.95).


URL: http://www.tiny.cc/Roundtable-XX-19




© 2019 The Authors.

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Introduction by Kathleen DuVal, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

In 2010, Rebecca Horn and Eric Hinderaker—a historian of colonial Latin America and a historian of the colonial United States, respectively—challenged their fields to see “American” history as hemispheric. They meant not just that we should compare different parts of the Americas, but that we should stop assuming that the way we divide the hemisphere is how people in earlier centuries saw their world. As they put it, “from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, varied though they were,” the Americas “share a common history,” with parallel processes and experiences. It was the nineteenth- and twentieth-century rise of the nation-state and the professionalization of our discipline during that same period that created our nation-centered approach, and those of us who study the colonial—and, indeed, precolonial—eras would be wise to rise above those later boundaries.[1]


One of the striking achievements of Caitlin Fitz’s Our Sister Republics: The United States in an Age of American Revolutions is to demonstrate the surprising early nineteenth-century recognition of a common hemispheric history at the very same time that a nation-state was growing that would drive the Americas in different directions. As Fitz shows, these were not simply simultaneous developments. U.S. nationalism obscured the earlier sense of commonality, as an assumed common destiny became the manifest destiny of one nation over everyone in its path.


The very history that Fitz tells has created the situation today in which, to review her book properly, we need Latin Americanists and U.S. historians. Fortunately, our two Latin American historians (Ernesto Bassi and Timothy Hawkins) and two U.S. historians (Jason Opal and Brian Rouleau) are broad thinkers whose reviews illuminate the book’s contributions on the nineteenth-century world. All praise Fitz’s range of sources and gripping prose and judge the book on its own terms, while also suggesting how historians, even though defined by the nation-states we study, might push Fitz’s themes even further in future work.


A U.S. historian, Fitz makes her main contributions to the political and diplomatic history of the early republican United States. In line with Hinderaker and Horn’s model, over the past few decades historians of the colonial-era United States have broadened their field into what the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture has termed “Vast Early America.”[2] However, the Revolutionary and Early Republic periods of U.S. history are only now shifting their focus away from English-speakers on the Atlantic coast and the story of how they created a nation and spread it westward. Fitz’s book and other works, including Emily Conroy-Krutz’s excellent Christian Imperialism: Converting the World in the Early American Republic, show the way.[3]


Opal and Rouleau connect Fitz’s story to American and American-British political and diplomatic history. Historians of the early U.S. republic have long seen it as a time of creating a national identity out of disperse colonial affiliations and revolutionary ambitions. Fitz argues persuasively that this self-identification came in part by looking at other revolutions and budding republics. Rather than fearing that their republic was alone in the world and probably short-lived, they could believe the United States was leading the way to a better future. Opal and Rouleau both suggest that Britain may have been the most important imagined audience of all this hemispheric talk and that changing relations with Britain after the War of 1812 are important to understanding the change in U.S. rhetoric regarding other former American colonies.


Whereas other Latin Americanist reviewers might have faulted the book for not being Latin American history, Bassi and Hawkins accept the book’s scope (and subtitle) for what it is and contextualize the book’s contributions. Fitz’s protagonists were in the United States, but they cast their eyes south, and she follows their gaze there. Bassi and Hawkins praise Fitz’s engagement with Latin Americanist historiography, but they also find themselves imagining a companion history that would examine how the United States influenced its neighbor revolutions and republics. Fitz’s work could also prepare the way for a truly hemispheric history, one that, as Bassi puts it, would “incorporate both U.S. and Latin American history without making one more important than the other.”


Perhaps the most challenging claim of Our Sister Republics is that U.S. enthusiasts of South American revolutions and republicanism could believe simultaneously that they were all comrades in the struggle and that the United States was superior. Hawkins notes that it may be Pollyannaish to read this kind of self-congratulation as anything but cynical proto-imperialism, but I am more with Fitz in believing in an immense human capacity for self-serving ignorance. Imagining one’s own country as leading a united republican hemisphere did not require accurate knowledge about other revolutions and allowed the United States to be the first of the republics against the monarchies. As various presidential administrations have shown, there are different ways to imagine the United States as a world leader, some of which are considerably more destructive than others.


Of course we do not have to go much further into the nineteenth century to find full-fledged imperialism. Indeed, the short-lived spirit of camaraderie brings into high relief the racialized nationalism of the 1820s and beyond. As Opal puts it, in Our Sister Republics we learn how the South American republics “became something foreign.”




Caitlin Fitz is an Associate Professor of History at Northwestern University. Her book, Our Sister Republics (W.W. Norton/Liveright, 2016), received the James Broussard Best First Book Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. She has also written about early U.S. history in The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Times, The Journal of the Early Republic, and The Journal of American History.


Kathleen DuVal is Bowman and Gordon Gray Professor in the History Department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She earned her Ph.D. in history at the University of California, Davis, and held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania before joining the faculty at UNC. She is the author of Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution (Random House, 2015) and The Native Ground: Indians and Colonists in the Heart of the Continent (Penn Press, 2006) and co-editor of Interpreting a Continent: Voices from Colonial America (Rowman and Littlefield, 2009). She is currently writing a book on Native dominance of North America from the eleventh to nineteenth centuries.


Ernesto Bassi is Associate Professor of history at Cornell University. His first book, An Aqueous Territory: Sailor Geographies and New Granada’s Transimperial Greater Caribbean World (Duke University Press, 2016), explores the role of mobility in the configuration of a geographic space he calls the transimperial Greater Caribbean and the ways in which those on the move (as well as those who stayed in place) used this geographic space to envision potential paths toward the future. His current research interests include the possibilities of using New Granada (present day Colombia) to develop an alternative narrative of the rise of capitalism, the configuration of Spanish-speaking communities in non-Spanish-speaking cities in the Americas, and the strategic role small Caribbean islands played in the imperial geopolitical imagination. His most recent publications include “Much More Than the Half Has Never Been Told: Narrating the Rise of Capitalism from New Granada’s Shores,” The Latin Americanist 61:4 (December 2017), 529-550 and “The ‘Franklins of Colombia’: Immigration Schemes and Hemispheric Solidarity in the Making of a Civilised Colombian Nation” (forthcoming in the Journal of Latin American Studies). In the archives, he follows ships, sailors, planters, bureaucrats, military men, exiled poets and journalists, diplomats, fishermen, slaves, and more as they crossed political borders and, in the process, drew their own geographies and developed interpretations of the places they visited and inhabited. In the classroom, he teaches Latin American, Caribbean, Atlantic, and transnational history.


Timothy Hawkins is a Professor of History at Indiana State University. His research focuses on late colonial Spanish America, with a particular emphasis on the Spanish imperial bureaucracy and its efforts to resist movements for independence. His first book, José de Bustamante and Central American Independence: Colonial Administration in an Age of Imperial Crisis, appeared in 2004. A second monograph entitled A Great Fear: Luís de Onís and the Shadow War against Napoleon in Spanish America, 1808-1812 will be released in 2018. Dr. Hawkins has published articles in the Colonial Latin American Historical Review and The Latin Americanist and has contributed book chapters to a number of edited collections.


J.M. Opal teaches at McGill University in Montreal. He is the author of Avenging the People: Andrew Jackson, the Rule of Law, and the American Nation (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017) and Beyond the Farm: National Ambitions in Rural New England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008) as well as recent essays in Time, The New York Daily News, and Jacobin. His new project is a global history of Barbados.


Brian Rouleau is Associate Professor of History at Texas A&M University. He is the author of With Sails Whitening Every Sea: Mariners and the Making of an American Maritime Empire (Cornell University Press, 2014). He is currently at work on a book about the connections between children, youth culture, and American foreign relations.


Review by Ernesto Bassi, Cornell University

On 10 July 1825, less than a week after attending a public dinner to celebrate the 49th anniversary of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, Colombia’s General Consul in Washington, D.C., Leandro Palacios, wrote to his country’s vice-president, Francisco de Paula Santander, to report on the events of the evening. Palacios recounted that the dinner’s organizers had honored Colombia’s hero and president, Simón Bolívar, by displaying his portrait next to those of George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. The homage was tainted by a problematic detail: Bolívar’s portrait “was so badly drawn that it shows [his] face extremely disfigured and resembling that of a mulato.” In Palacios’s view, the display of the three portraits invited potentially contradictory interpretations. On the one hand, partygoers could conclude that the three revolutionaries were equally important figures in the Atlantic struggle against monarchical power. On the other, guests could take Bolívar’s mulato-like appearance to conclude that in the revolutionary pantheon South American leaders, because of their darker skin, were lesser figures, less heroic than the real heroes Washington and Lafayette. Hoping to avert this second interpretation in future celebrations, Palacios considered it a matter of key diplomatic importance to hire painters who could draw “good” portraits of Bolívar and Vice-President Santander. Sending these portraits to diplomatic delegations in the U.S. and Europe, Palacios argued, could help prevent future misunderstandings and contribute to the establishment of the image of the nation that Colombia’s founding fathers wanted.[4]


Neither Palacios nor Santander appear in Caitlin Fitz’s Our Sister Republics: The United States in an Age of American Revolutions. They could have but did not need to. Palacios’s letter, however, includes several elements that are central to Fitz’s construction of “a U.S. history that uses Latin America to cast new light on the United States” (13). In particular, the letter highlights an event (a Fourth of July celebration), a character (Simón Bolívar), and a sentiment (revolutionary enthusiasm on a hemispheric scale) that are at the heart of Fitz’s recasting of the history of nineteenth-century U.S.-Latin America relations beyond narratives of “expansion, aggression, and war” (6). In Fitz’s approach, “conflict is important, pressing, and very real” (6), but hemispheric enthusiasm figures as the dominant sentiment. Our Sister Republics, in fact, uses Latin America and the enthusiasm that its revolutions generated to demonstrate that the rhetoric of aggressive expansion and manifest destiny of the 1840s and 1850s was predated by the enthusiastic and solidary (although also self-congratulatory) embracing of “the idea of a united republican hemisphere” (248), whose republics were aligned in a common anticolonial struggle of hemispheric dimensions.


Our Sister Republics draws on an impressive amount of archival and printed primary sources to uncover the general enthusiasm toward Latin America that spread through the United States from the end of the War of 1812 to the first conference of American nations, held in Panama in 1826. U.S. newspapers, which Fitz uses to count the number of July Fourth toasts celebrating hemispheric independence, allow her to identify a clear trajectory of rise and fall in hemispheric enthusiasm. While “[f]rom 1816 to 1825, about 55 percent of July Fourth parties had included toasts to Latin America,” by the end of the decade, in 1829, “there was just one southward-looking toast” (231). Census reports, in which Fitz finds hundreds of parents who displayed their hemispheric fervor by naming their sons Bolivar, and congressional debates, through which the author follows the embracement and successive abandonment of hemispheric fraternity at the highest echelons of political power, further strengthen her argument.


Rich in quantitative data derived from these sources, Fitz’s book is even richer in its presentation of life stories that fill it with an impressive cast of hemispheric enthusiasts and denizens of a variety of socio-economic and socio-racial backgrounds. Hailing from many locations in North and South America, these hemispheric figures did not necessarily share political agendas. Well-known political figures such as James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, and Andrew Jackson share book space with printers, sailors, revolutionary agents, farmers, smugglers, newspapers editors and other “denizen(s) of the revolutionary Americas” (74). Glimpses of these unknown individuals’ lives help Fitz nuance her argument about the existence of hemispheric solidarity to demonstrate that race, which proved critical to explaining the ultimate rise of apathy and disdain toward Latin America, played a key role even when enthusiasm was at its peak. Through biographical snippets of Brazilian pardo (black) rebel Emiliano Mundrucu, black editors John Russworm and Samuel Cornish, some of the hundreds of black Bolivars (babies called Bolivar to honor the Venezuelan general), and multiple other hemispheric enthusiasts, Fitz convincingly demonstrates that, while enthusiasm crossed racial lines, what “Latin American independence meant… to the white men and women who sang the rebels’ praises” diverged from “its meaning… for people of color” (148).


Racial lines are not the only ones that hemispheric enthusiasm crossed. In a more cartographical sense, Fitz’s hemispheric approach offers an invitation to rethink the hemisphere’s geography and the meaning of America itself. Acknowledging the slipperiness of the word ‘American,’ Fitz invites readers to think hemispherically by “reserv(ing) the term American to evoke the Western Hemisphere’s shared and interwoven histories of colonization, forced labor immigration, and, in many cases, revolution and independence” (16). This move deserves praise given the basic fact that, for most people in the world, America actually refers to the Americas from northern Canada to the tip of Patagonia. The move, however, does not imply that Fitz sees the hemisphere as a geographical unit of analysis unhindered by dividing lines. A key contribution of Our Sister Republics to remapping the Americas is that, through its focus on hemispheric enthusiasm, it blurs some lines while making others visible. The Mason-Dixon and 36º-30’ lines, for instance, remain important to understanding certain key aspects of U.S. history. When it comes to hemispheric enthusiasm, Fitz demonstrates, a longitudinal line separating New England from the U.S. West carries more explanatory weight. Politics (“Federalists were weakest in the West”), economics (“westerners had perhaps less to directly lose if trade with Spain and Cuba collapsed”), and “the anti-Spanish sentiment that had marked western regions for decades” explain her finding that hemispheric enthusiasts were “more common west of the Appalachians” (135). The enthusiasm for hemispheric independence, as expressed in Fourth of July toasts, also sheds light on the mental maps of U.S. enthusiasts. When toasting hemispheric independence, most revelers toasted to “South America” rather than to “Spanish America” (69). Fitz identifies two important elements in this finding. First, U.S. enthusiasts “seemed to look beyond their closest revolutionary neighbors, skipping over Mexico in favor of ‘the Southern Hemisphere’” (43). And second, revelers did not visualize South America as an entity divided in Spanish and Portuguese spheres. Instead, influenced by news of revolution that Pernambuco’s agents had planted in U.S. newspapers, U.S. onlookers envisioned “a republican Brazil” (70) in the making and perceived and toasted “to a combined South America” (72). Interestingly, this focus on the view from the U.S. offers a lesson to Latin Americanists, who have tended to use Spanish America as framework for the study of independence, using Cuba as an exception to the rule, and considering Brazil a case apart.[5] U.S. onlookers’ lumping together of Brazil and Spanish South America to express enthusiasm for Fitz’s “combined South America,” as well as the way in which revolutionary agents from Spanish America and Brazil came together in the U.S. as an early version of latinoamericanos that predates the coinage of the term ‘Latin America,’ seems to offer an analytical framework worthy of exploration from a Latin American perspective.


A line that Fitz’s book does not cross is what may be called a historiographical or intra-disciplinary line. While seriously engaging with Latin America (and its historiography, as revealed by her citation of important works produced by historians of Latin America), Fitz remains firmly grounded as a scholar of the early U.S. republic. Her interest, as she clearly states in the introduction, is to use Latin America to understand the United States. In this aim Our Sister Republics excels. Fitz’s book is an excellent study of the ways in which U.S. audiences interpreted and experienced Latin America’s wars of independence. By focusing on their hemispheric enthusiasm and the apathy and open hostility that superseded it, Fitz achieves her aim of recasting U.S. history through the study of discourses and attitudes toward Latin America. In doing so, the book not only recasts the history of U.S.-Latin America relations in the nineteenth century, but also, as this review argues, reframes the geography of the United States, Latin America, and the Americas via the reception and perception in the U.S. of the revolutions in Latin America. Our Sister Republics, in fact, deserves praise as one of the best examples of the recent trend of studying the early United States beyond its conventional political geography (#vastearlyAmerica). The book, at least for this reviewer, also generated a reflection on the current and future development of ‘hemispheric studies’ as a potential field. What shape should hemispheric studies take? What archives should hemispheric historians use? How does a historiography of the Americas incorporate both U.S. and Latin American history without making one more important than the other? In what ways can U.S. and Latin American historians develop productive dialogue? With these questions, it is worth returning to Palacios’s letter to Santander to reiterate that its absence from Fitz’s book does not affect any of the findings of Our Sister Republics. In a study that embraces Latin America from U.S. shores and archives, Palacios’s letter can be considered non-retrievable or outside the study’s realm. The letter, however, should also serve as a reminder that a study like Our Sister Republics (and other excellent studies viewing the hemisphere from U.S. shores) calls for a northward-looking counterpart that uses the U.S. to cast new light on the history of Latin America and the hemisphere. If Latin Americanists (like myself) want to be part of hemispheric studies, it is important to produce work that can counter the potential threat of a hemispheric takeover by the Colossus of the North.



Review by Timothy Hawkins, Indiana State University

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Juliet sought to reassure her Montague lover by denying the relevance of names, asserting dismissively ‘What’s in a name?’ This might seem a strange way to begin a review of a compelling new work on the interplay between the United States and Latin America in the early nineteenth century. However, in Our Sister Republics, Caitlin Fitz reminds us that names carry profound meaning and that their selection, especially when applied to places and people, can give us valuable insight into the mindset of those applying the labels. Her creative analysis of historical nomenclature during the Early Republic, which is one part of her larger source material, provides Fitz with an opportunity to undertake a broader reconsideration of the conflicted nature of hemispheric relations—at least from the perspective of ordinary Americans—during the Age of American Revolutions (1775-1825). This approach enables her to draw some surprising and provocative conclusions about the most controversial social and political forces—in particular, national identity, race relations, and slavery—that upended the American experience during the first decades of the nineteenth century. From her perspective, placing the United States in a wider hemispheric context is critical. Not only does this comparative perspective allow Fitz to set in sharp relief the fundamental contradictions built into U.S. society at this time, but, more importantly, it allows her to argue that American attitudes towards the independence and nation-building struggles of Latin America shaped how Americans saw themselves.


To return to the issue of names, what may appear trivial is in fact illustrative. It is not hard to explain the popularity among early nineteenth-century Americans of names like Washington, Madison, Jefferson, and even Columbus. As the population expanded west, the proliferation of place names associated with the heroes of the American Revolution enabled individuals and communities to reaffirm their support for the actions and ideologies of the founding generation. In Indiana, for example, which became a state in 1816, settlers largely replicated these patriotic trends over the next two decades. There were still the occasional outliers, such as the exotic and idiosyncratic Palestine, Montezuma, and Brazil. While the motivations behind such names likely varied depending on the settlers involved, these exceptions proved the rule. As they moved into the interior of the continent, Americans repeatedly turned to a consistent revolutionary and patriotic nomenclature for their new settlements. By mid-century, naming trends naturally incorporated the growing interest in the events and heroes of the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). Americans now chose place names that commemorated the great victories of that conflict. In 1850, for example, no fewer than four Buena Vistas appeared on the map of Indiana.


However, between the 1810s and 1820s an alternate naming trend swept the United States. For more than a decade, in fact, many Americans found it fashionable to name their towns, children, and even animals after Simón Bolívar, the great emancipator of Spanish America. What did it mean for Americans to look south at this time and find this kind of inspiration? In Our Sister Republics Fitz explains that the answer to this question is more significant than one might realize.


Fitz’s main thesis relies on the concept of the mirror as a rhetorical and analytical framing device, a literary technique that is particularly instructive. In her view, American national identity and popular views about race and slavery were not shaped exclusively or even primarily by internal dynamics. Rather, Fitz believes that Americans internalized certain ideals and modified their own self-image only after they began to observe and interpret the movements for independence in Spanish and Portuguese America. While their knowledge of that region was profoundly incomplete and stained by prejudice before 1800, the anti-colonial struggles that began there after 1808 caused Americans to confront and then reconsider their own experience with revolution, nation-building, and race relations in ways that would have long-term consequences. As Fitz explains, Americans rarely saw the South American revolts for what they were. Instead, when Americans looked south, they saw a reflection of themselves. For a time, this was a positive image, a likeness that Americans could recognize and embrace—thus, the relative popularity of the name ‘Bolívar.’ However, Americans also saw a disturbing reflection, one that increasingly seemed incompatible with their individual and national identities.


The principle argument of Our Sister Republics builds from a narrative that divides itself neatly in two parts.  While she devotes her first chapter to the loose commercial, political, and cultural bonds that linked the Americas before 1800, Fitz concentrates her analysis on the period from 1810-1830. Whereas eighteenth-century interest in what Americans casually referred to as South America—a complicated and confused geographic space that included both Spanish and Portuguese America but largely ignored Mexico and the Caribbean—was minimal, she demonstrates that news of the revolutions in the region reached deep into the farthest corners of the United States after 1808. During the 1810s, Fitz explains, Americans thrilled at the accounts of these movements, largely because the revolts appeared to validate the principle elements of a nascent national identity. According to that emerging narrative, the American Revolution was not sui generis. Rather, it precipitated what people began to recognize as a hemispheric drive for political emancipation. Viewed through this prism, the United States now served the world as the shining beacon of republican government and the ideal of equality at the expense of the European monarchies. Not surprisingly, Americans took pride in representing themselves as models of successful revolution and republicanism for the wider region. When Americans looked at South American rebels, they saw the natural heirs to their own experience of emancipation. In other words, these emerging nations could be perceived as sister republics within the extended American family.


During the 1820s, however, Fitz demonstrates how this perspective began to shift in a manner that suggested that Americans were not comfortable establishing such close associations with their southern neighbors. What had been a rather superficial understanding of the concept of emancipation in its political sense—freedom from foreign rule—evolved into a greater consideration (and concern) regarding emancipation as it pertained to personal freedom. Increasingly, this meant that Americans had to confront questions about race and slavery when they debated the merits of the now successful independence movements of South America and reflected on the region’s nation-building struggles. In a particularly persuasive argument, Fitz shows how most Americans avoided making race and slavery an issue as they celebrated the news of hemispheric emancipation during the 1810s. Thus, Bolívar’s associations with Haiti were glossed over; the ethnicity of José Antonio Paez and his llanero freedom fighters was played down; and, slave emancipation decrees were reprinted without comment—even in southern states.


To extend the domestic metaphor further, Fitz argues that by 1830 Americans had begun the process that would facilitate their imagined separation from the hemispheric family they had so recently claimed to lead. Instead of seeing republican equals reflected back when they looked south, Americans more often saw dark-skinned inferiors. The growing focus on race helped solidify perceptions that the United States had achieved its own success, which now stood in stark contrast to the apparent failures of nation building in Latin America, because it was unique, and that its providential Manifest Destiny derived from white superiority. Within a generation, Americans went from celebrating the achievements of their neighbors to disparaging them. This allowed the United States, now aspiring to an exclusive rather than universal identity, to justify invading a sister republic in 1846. The rise of racialized nationalism, Fitz argues, also made it more difficult, if not impossible, for many Americans to envision a practical end to slavery or a viable multiracial society.  


How does a history of the Early Republic effectively identify and track the evolution of a collective mindset? In terms of methodology, Fitz is not the first historian to build her conclusions about American public opinion on an analysis of various forms of media and other public expression, most notably newspaper articles and editorials. She is most innovative in her use of published proclamations, speeches, songs, and toasts, which she examines as a means to establish both the level of American interest in south-of-the-border events between 1808 and 1830 and the intensity of support for South American emancipation. As has been noted, U.S. census data and other records are also used to great effect to identify naming patterns during this period. The limitations of such evidence are apparent, as Fitz herself—to her credit—recognizes. While she notes that news and newspapers received widespread distribution across the U.S. at this time, she acknowledges that the content providers, creators, and consumers were a relatively narrow demographic segment of the overall population. Moreover, the presence of certain articles or editorials in contemporary newspapers often reflected highly partisan (often anonymous and sometimes foreign) efforts to manipulate public opinion. With white males driving this debate, the most convincing conclusions she draws about public sentiment towards South America illuminate regional variations, especially between New England and the Midwest, that contribute to our understanding of the evolution of political parties and partisan politics in the early 1800s.


Any consideration of the secondary sources underpinning Our Sister Republics must recognize that this is primarily a work of U.S. history and that Fitz identifies herself as a U.S. historian. As a Latin Americanist, I will limit my comments to her engagement with the historiography of U.S.-Latin American relations and the wider Latin American experience during the Age of Revolutions. A review of her notes demonstrates that Fitz has fully immersed herself in this scholarship, from Charles Griffin to James E. Lewis.[6] Of particular relevance to her study is the literature of filibustering, best exemplified by recent works from Robert E. May and Amy S. Greenberg that explore manifestations of popular sentiment behind expansion.[7] Fitz also benefits from the kind of transnational borderlands research produced by Kathleen DuVal.[8] As this last example suggests, a distinguishing feature of Our Sister Republics is that it is the product of a U.S. historian who has embraced an Atlantic World perspective. Thus, Fitz places herself among a historiographical cohort that includes such scholars as Janet Polasky, Lester Langley, Jeremy Adelman, and Ada Ferrer.[9] While this link is certainly warranted in terms of inspiration, there is one notable difference between Fitz and this particular group of historians. Notably, Fitz’s study is not concerned with exploring the transmission of revolutionary or republican ideals across the region. Instead, Our Sister Republics focuses on the impact of the Latin American revolutions on the American public. While the book explains how the hemispheric context shaped the United States, it does not provide insight into how the United States influenced its southern neighbors.


Here, perhaps, is where one of the primary arguments in Our Sister Republics falls short. Fitz claims that her book provides a counterbalance to the dominant narrative of U.S.-Latin American relations during the early nineteenth century. She believes, rightly so, that it is important to identify a period when the narrative of ‘republican brotherhood’ predominated and Americans viewed their neighbors to the south in a positive light. However, she is somewhat challenged to demonstrate that such views were either widespread or sustained. Fitz points out that American idealism was largely reserved for far-off South America, which was still well outside the U.S. orbit. At the same time, Americans regarded the nearby Caribbean, especially Cuba, and Mexico, as areas of potential exploitation and expansion. Fitz also admits that the American claims of brotherhood reflected more narcissism than idealism. While Our Sister Republics provides valuable insight into American popular sentiment during this period, it is hard not to conclude that the dominant historiographical portrait of the United States as cynical, aggressive, and proto-imperialistic remains largely valid.


Despite this specific reservation, I found Our Sister Republics to be an exemplary scholarly achievement that convinces on multiple levels. Above all, Fitz is a first-class writer with a remarkable flair for narrative history. She is especially adept at constructing finely crafted mini-biographies for the many remarkable individuals, including the multilingual Andean expatriate, Vicente Pazos Kanki, the Brazilian rebel leader, Emiliano Felipe Benício Mundrucu, and the American abolitionist writer, Benjamin Lundy, who fill these pages. Fitz also deserves credit for developing a creditable approach to what one might consider a ‘history of perception.’ At its heart, Our Sister Republics traces American views toward the other, and this work confirms that these perceptions tell us more about Americans than about their neighbors. Fitz has also shown the value in placing American history within a hemispheric framework. Her arguments concerning the evolution of U.S. race relations during this period may require more investigation, but they are substantive. Historians of American slavery will need to consider the hemispheric contradictions that Fitz presents here in future research. Our Sister Republics also provides scholars of American imperialism with a compelling explanation for the inconsistent motivations behind U.S. foreign policy between 1820 and 1850. Here, too, Fitz, will likely inspire additional scholarship.


Finally, good books always inspire their readers to further reflection, perhaps because they rarely answer all the questions they raise. In this respect, I would like to comment on three topics that caught my attention as deserving of additional study. Most notable, considering its implications for impending U.S. interventions, is the insight Fitz provides into American perceptions of the Caribbean and Mexico. These two regions, like ‘the curious incident of the dog in the night-time’ for Sherlock Holmes in “The Adventure of Silver Blaze,” stood out for their relative absence from popular debates about South America. Also of interest is Fitz’s passing reference to the number of veterans of the War of 1812 who sought to join revolutionary or filibustering forces after 1815. A more comprehensive historical accounting of these men seems overdue. Finally, Fitz draws on a number of examples to show how foreign revolutionary agents sought to manipulate American public opinion and foreign policy. While her focus is on the period after 1815, some of these individuals, as the case of Francisco Miranda suggests, began their operations before 1808. With the Spanish empire experiencing an unprecedented existential crisis at this time, historians should seek to understand the role of the United States as a staging ground for figures on all sides of this conflict.



Review by J.M. Opal, McGill University

Early U.S. presidents focused their Annual Addresses on other countries. They began with Great Britain—the “most respected Nation in the World,” (55) as the provincial government of Pernambuco, Brazil, put it in 1817—before moving on to the rest of Europe and the world, in that order. They talked about treaties and tariffs, embargos and envoys, friends and foes. By comparison, their discussions of domestic policy were rather lean, at least until John Quincy Adams called for national “improvement” in 1825 (200). In the early republic, the state of foreign relations was the state of the Union.


This is one reason that Caitlin Fitz’s Our Sister Republics is so important. Beyond all that she teaches us about American encounters with other American revolutions during the 1810s and 1820s, she makes a strong case for a clear shift in national politics at the end of that period. By showing how the South American republics became foils for a narrowed kind of U.S. nationalism, that is, Fitz does not just add to our knowledge of U.S. foreign relations. She also shows how they became something foreign.


Fired by “the egalitarian and universalist narrative of 1776,” (8) most Americans hailed the anti-Iberian revolts that spread through the hemisphere just as crowned heads regained control of Europe. U.S. citizens raised a republican salut not only to the stately Simón Bolívar but also to José Antonio Páez, a rough rider from the Venezuelan plains, and Emiliano Felipe Benício Mundrucu, a Pernambuco pardo inspired by Haiti. Citizens and statesmen alike sold weapons to rebel forces, opened commerce with rebel governments, and gave shelter to rebel exiles. They named horses, towns, and even some babies after Bolívar.


Their “perfunctory but sincere kind of universalism” (84) was strong enough—or perhaps just wide enough—to excuse the revolutionaries’ Latin heritage and Catholic faith. And, for a time, their abolitionism too. Even after Bolívar made a well-known promise in 1816 to end slavery in the breakaway republics, slave-owners from Henry Clay to John C. Calhoun  praised and supported them. Then, beginning in 1822, everything changed.


That year, one William Smith lost his U.S. Senate seat after opposing U.S. recognition of the South American republics. He retreated to South Carolina, shaking his head at do-gooder fools who would join hands with “blacks and mulattoes” (191). Also that year, an alleged conspiracy among the black population of Charleston terrified that seaport. The state government responded with the first of the so-called Negro Seamen Acts, which required black sailors to spend their shore leaves in jail. An “Association” of leading citizens pledged to “prevent ANY FREE COLORED PERSON FROM ANY PART OF THE WORLD ever entering again into the limits of the State of South Carolina, by LAND OR BY WATER.” No South American exceptions.[10]


Meanwhile, the firebrand abolitionist Benjamin Lundy brought his newspaper to bustling Baltimore, where whites and blacks had long competed for work and where black leaders now cited the noble example of multiracial South America. Among the white residents to recoil from this was Roger B. Taney, who had been critical of slavery but went on to write the Dred Scott decision. Then in 1825, President Adams outraged almost every white Georgian by noting that a recent removal treaty with the Creek Nation was fraudulent.[11]


Charleston, Baltimore, Georgia: these were focal points of a new white fundamentalism that had no patience with the universalism of ’76. Nor with black voters, gradual emancipation laws, or Indian treaties. It drew from older vocabularies of strict constructionism and states’ rights and found the perfect enemy in John Quincy Adams, the Yankee know-it-all who Congress (not the Electoral College) selected as President in early 1825.


In the first days of his administration, Adams’s enemies rejected an anti-slave trade treaty with Columbia. Then they jumped on his proposal to send delegates to a conference of American states in Panama. Joined by John Berrien of Georgia, congressmen from South Carolina, Virginia, and Missouri furiously disowned the sister republics as mixed-race monstrosities.


And the rest, as they say, is history. By the 1830s, “opposition southerners became Democratic southerners, core members of a party that dominated federal politics for much of the antebellum era” (236). Rather than New World comrades against Old World tyranny, the South American states became cautionary tales for the white man’s democracy. Americans began to see theirs as the only free country, a chosen nation that reluctantly made ‘foreign policy’ with everyone else.


Fitz explains this with patience and precision. Her book is a model of meticulous and multi-lingual research, all laid out in clear and vivid prose. Indeed, I would like to reinforce her argument for a mid-1820s turning point by focusing on the Anglo-American rapprochement that made it possible and the President who made it popular.


Famously, the British asked in August 1823 if the United States would go ‘hand in hand’ in stopping European re-colonization of the Americas. Also famously, the ensuing debate in President James Monroe’s Cabinet became a political chess match over who should succeed him. Less well known is that former President Thomas Jefferson called the British offer “the most momentous question” since independence. He had seen England in its imperial glory, had gaped at the huge fleets and the new mechanical technologies “carried to a wonderful perfection” that sleepy Virginia could never match. He trembled for his home state when he remembered that the British had allied with its black slaves—the “internal enemy”—as recently as 1814, and that His Majesty was increasingly hostile to slavery everywhere.[12]


Then the fear evaporated. In a flash, southern Anglophobes became southern Anglophiles. The change was easy to miss, for neither side wanted to open its arms too widely. Hard feelings and deep suspicions lingered. Monroe opted for his namesake Doctrine rather than an open alliance; the British grumbled about the Negro Seamen Acts but otherwise left their black sailors in southern jails; South Carolina newspapers quietly praised the 1826 agreement whereby London paid $1.2 million in damages for slaves carried away during the last war.[13]


Short-term economic interests sealed the deal. As cotton exports recovered from the ‘hard times’ of 1819-1822, southern leaders turned away from Henry Clay’s newfangled American System and back to the older, simpler plan of sending staples to Britain. “Now, that we are independent,” noted the South Carolina planter Robert J. Turnbull in his 1827 treatise, The Crisis, “Nature has bound [the two countries] together…We raise the raw material, and they manufacture it for us.” He demanded “a free and uninterrupted commerce with the whole world, and particularly with England” and welcomed British “capitalists” to bring their Bank of England notes to southern ports. Above all, he warned that federal activism was a threat to autonomous states and sovereign individuals, a “secret dagger” aimed at white families like his own.[14]


If pro-South American rhetoric had been clear but shallow, this new southern extremism was opaque but impassioned. Writing as Brutus, Turnbull, who sat on the first court to try the Charleston conspirators of 1822, referred to subjects of “exquisite sensitiveness” and “vital sovereignty.” He said he would “BLOW OUT” the “BRAINS” of anyone who meddled in his peculiar institutions. Some of his passages bear a close resemblance to what southern senators had just said against the Panama mission. Others showed up in Roger B. Taney’s arguments for the Negro Seamen Acts.[15]


The man who brought this strong brew of anti-black, anti-government, pro-slavery, and pro-British priorities to the White House was Andrew Jackson. Fitz notes that the legendary General kept his distance from the super-heated rhetoric against Panama in 1826 (206). Of course, he did not have to say much, because he had devoted his career to destroying native ground and runaway slaves. And although he voted for tariffs in the Senate in 1824, he had done more than anyone to expand slavery—clear evidence, for southern free traders, that he would not meddle with the “individual owners” of the nation in the name of “national welfare,” to say nothing of hemispheric solidarity.[16]


Once in the White House, Jackson made nice with the British while coordinating with certain figures in the Deep South to deport the southern Indians. Among his key appointments were Berrien as Attorney General and Taney as Supreme Court justice. As Indian Removal picked up speed, so did cotton exports to the mighty monarchy on the other side of the Atlantic—not the struggling republics beneath the Equator. It was during Jackson’s terms when the value of cotton surpassed that of all other U.S. exports combined and when British overseas investment swung dramatically from South America to the United States.[17]


Among the forgotten casualties of this world-beating alliance between the slaveholding republic and the abolitionist empire were the ‘patriots’ of North America, who took up arms near Montreal and Toronto in late 1837. Jackson’s successor, Martin Van Buren, decisively intervened on behalf of Her Majesty (Queen Victoria had just taken the throne) despite fervent pro-patriot sentiments from Maine to Ohio. The Canadian republicans were nothing but outlaws, Van Buren insisted, whereas the British were a “friendly nation.” Indeed, they were fellow Anglo-Saxons, white brothers with a unique gift for governing themselves and conquering others.[18]



Review by Brian Rouleau, Texas A&M University

We perhaps are too prepared to presume, Caitlin Fitz suggests, that a reflexive racism and predatory expansionism has forever poisoned relations between the United States and Latin America. Our Sister Republics posits something else entirely. The story of America’s hemispheric relations, as told here, is one of initial promise, possibility, and perceived kinship. Utilizing a range of sources—from newspaper coverage and Fourth of July toasts to census data regarding children’s names—Fitz demonstrates that Americans in the early nineteenth century looked south and saw in revolutions against the Spanish crown confirmation of their own country’s beneficent influence. The supportive and encouraging pose struck by a rigidly Protestant and increasingly white supremacist United States is doubly surprising given the generally Catholic and multiracial composition of the region’s many independence movements.  A survey of hemispheric enthusiasm, however, reveals the continued relevance of the Declaration’s universalist rhetoric that scholars too readily dismiss as so much slaveholder hypocrisy. And herein lies one of the author’s most important (and sure to be one of her most controversial) assertions: in the years from 1775 to 1825, republican solidarity trumped religion and race in public imaginings of Latin America. “At a gut moral level,” Fitz states, “white U.S. observers in the early nineteenth century were more open to the abstract ideas of abolition and racial equality than many historians have recognized” (8).


The book offers a broad array of evidence to help substantiate those claims. This is, first and foremost, one of the most comprehensive and sophisticated surveys of the postrevolutionary republic’s print culture we currently have. Newspapers serve as the bulk of Fitz’s primary source base, and she watches as Latin America slowly came into focus for readers ranging from Maine to Missouri. When mentioned at all during the 1790s, the Spanish empire manifested itself only in the haziest of stereotypes and Black Legend blathering. But as the region’s wars for independence gathered steam in the early nineteenth century, so too did favorable press coverage. The possibilities for prosperous commercial connection with newly minted countries attracted attention, but beyond the realm of pure self-interest, Fitz points to a real and growing sense of ideological and cultural affinity between the United States and its “sister republics” to the south. The amount of unabashedly enthusiastic coverage increased dramatically over time, as did the volume of recorded toasts (not to mention the volume of alcohol consumed) in honor of various revolutionary Latin American leaders and movements. The welfare of these fledgling states seemed like something that ordinary citizens concerned themselves with. The book buttresses these claims—particularly its insistence that an affection for the independence movements was broad-based and in part driven not by elites but a truly popular sentiment—with a highly creative exploration of naming conventions. Perusing birth records and atlases, Fitz found hundreds of babies and several towns named “Bolivar” in tribute to “El Libertador, who, it turns out, was quite the celebrated figure in U.S. popular culture during the 1820s. His struggle to supplant monarchical tyranny with republican liberty seemed to both replicate and vindicate the patriots’ own struggles against George III and Parliament.


That this was so reflected both an arrogant conviction on the part of the reading public that nascent republicans flattered Americans through imitation, but also the impact of more literal flattery which hundreds of Spanish-speaking agents—seeking to drum up support for their respective causes—strategically lavished on newspaper editors in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York. Yet Fitz finesses her findings in interesting ways. Jeffersonians seemed more invested (at least initially) than Federalists, westerners more so than easterners, with some blocs exhibiting more skepticism about the self-governing capacity of Catholics and nonwhites than others. But the naysayers appear here as a distinct minority, and the author presents pretty compelling proof that until the mid-1820s at least, even slaveholding southerners saw no contradiction in cheering on the emancipatory armies of South America. Our Sister Republics gestures to a curious moment indeed, one where, perhaps for the first and last time, the press below the Mason-Dixon line sounded strangely similar to then-emerging black and abolitionist presses that were also supportive of the independence movements, even if the emphases of their respective coverage differed slightly.


By the mid- to late 1820s, however, such universalist messaging had retreated in the face of more heavily racialized and exceptionalist narratives emphasizing the indolence and ineptitude of Latin America’s “mongrel” republics. Southerners, meanwhile, fixated upon the particular evils of anti-slavery policies pursued by revolutionary armies. Fitz points to earlier episodes which suggested that America’s colorblind coverage of events abroad would ultimately prove ephemeral. For example, the closer that emancipationist policy creeped toward the United States—in Florida or Mexico—the more guarded and reserved newspaper assessments became. But the real turning point here seems to have been the debate over American attendance at an 1826 hemispheric summit held in Central America. Resistance to the so-called Congress of Panama helped opposition to President John Quincy Adams’s administration coalesce into what would soon become the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, racist consternation regarding the imagined indignities the United States would suffer while negotiating with nonwhite diplomats and abolitionist nations helped solidify the proslavery ideology of an increasingly self-conscious South. Though an American delegate was eventually appointed, he arrived too late to participate. That failure signaled a more important attitudinal shift: rhetoric emphasizing a consanguine relationship between the United States and Latin America had been replaced by hierarchical assertions of white superiority. The American Revolution was more and more reframed as a uniquely rational and uniquely moderate event, standing in stark contrast to a hemisphere (and broader Atlantic world) riddled with political instability and chaotic bloodletting. U.S. nationalism assumed a narrower aspect as toasts proposing transhemispheric anticolonial camaraderie all but disappeared by 1830. It became far more common to raise a glass in honor of America’s swelling imperial ambitions in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.


The argument is a persuasive one, and represents both an important reperiodization and reframing of the historiography on U.S.-Latin American relations. And it is an argument, moreover, which is beautifully stated throughout the book. Indeed, even when taken purely as an exercise in prose, Fitz’s monograph is one of the more elegantly written works of history I have had the pleasure to peruse. Of course this fact does, in small but significant ways, sometimes leave the reader standing before what look to be interpretive impasses. Gorgeous turns of phrase, that is, periodically prove difficult to decipher at an analytical level. For instance, the practice of naming children after the heroes of South America is pithily portrayed by Fitz as a “Bolivar baby boom,” “grassroots” evidence, drawn from across both the nation and the socioeconomic spectrum, of ordinary people’s ideological investment in the wars for independence (129). But the raw data might belie what is arguably an overheated assessment; there do not seem to have been more than a couple hundred of such babies, and those at a moment when the U.S. birthrate was at a historical high. And when, in another sentence, we learn that American excitement over the spread of republican revolution “was perfunctory and complacent,” but also “genuine and heartfelt,” it muddles meaning (115). And again, while describing U.S. universalism: it was somehow “often passive and perfunctory [but] also emotional and intense” (8). Fitz, in other words, in an undoubtedly good-faith effort to speak to the range of opinions which existed on the issue of intrahemispheric relations, may blunt the interpretive power of her evidence. We are left to wonder how the ardor for Latin America she describes could be simultaneously sincere and insincere. There are a few moments like this throughout the book, wherein some carefully argued point is then just as carefully pared back, thus calling into question what had previously been established. This is not to say nuance should be discouraged, but rather that too much subtlety can create confusing expository cul-de-sacs.


Another question I have, one that is perhaps more substantive than quibbles over syntax and diction, related to the subject of Great Britain. Specifically, I wonder if Fitz’s singular focus upon U.S. reaction to hemispheric affairs might end up obscuring the outsized (and from the Latin American point of view, more materially significant) role played by the British Empire and its many agents in the former Spanish Empire. Upon reading Our Sister Republics, one could be forgiven for assuming that American citizens had been at the forefront of both the military and ideological warfare which ravaged Central and South America during the 1810s and 1820s. Only in the briefest of asides does the author acknowledge that both the British government and private British subjects sent more money, more weapons, more ammunition, more soldiers, and more sailors in support of the cause of Latin American independence. Surely the 1822 official U.S. diplomatic recognition of several new republics and the 1823 presidential address announcing a nonbinding hemispheric solidarity (later rebranded the Monroe Doctrine) mattered as symbolic gestures. But Jay Sexton has recently argued that the so-called Polignac Memorandum—wherein British foreign secretary George Canning announced Whitehall’s formal opposition to any effort on the part of the Spanish crown to reconquer its former colonies—proved vastly more influential in determining the outcome of events on the ground. And moreover, given the country’s anemic military establishment, any and all U.S. declarations denouncing European interference in the Western Hemisphere depended for their enforcement, ironically enough, on the Royal Navy. Did any of this mean that public professions of sympathy for the rebels’ cause was perhaps even stronger in Britain? And if so, what are the implications for Fitz’s findings? Americans might have named their babies after Simón Bolívar as part of some quixotic notion that their sister republics to the south had been inspired by the spirit of 1776. The eponymous Bolívar, meanwhile, busied himself with calling for a “union of the new [South American] states with the British Empire” and referring to England as “the envy of all countries in the world, and the pattern all would wish to follow in forming a Constitution and Government.” He mocked Yankee pretensions to power and influence, jeering that “the whole of America together is not equal to a British fleet.”[19]


On the one hand, these facts should come as little surprise. Britain was the era’s powerhouse, and possessed the martial, financial, and political infrastructure required to make a difference in the lives of countless Latin Americans. But I also think British power remains a relevant topic for discussion, even in a book devoted to reading the early republic’s reception of Latin America’s revolutionary moment. Can Fitz elaborate on where Britain fits into the story she’s telling? Yes, U.S. diplomacy, consular activity, and trade in, as well as the United States’ public perception of, South America is important, but Britain was still the international hegemon here, and it would be surprising to hear that American observers at the time did not also recognize this reality. Britain was trading with South America at orders of magnitude which dwarfed America’s commercial presence in the region, and it was Britain, at the close of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, which faced a huge arms surplus it then unloaded on the market in Mexico and points south. So how were American observers and newspapers navigating a world still dominated by the British crown, patrolled by the Royal Navy, and inundated by British goods? Part of me felt that a story left out here is the ways in which U.S. observers saw independent South American states less as important actors on their own terms, but rather, as a sort of proving ground where Americans might test their own influence vis-à-vis their former Mother Country, might experiment with their capacity to compete with Great Britain economically and politically, and therefore, begin, in effect, to demonstrate their ability to, borrowing Kariann Yokota’s phrase, ‘unbecome British.’[20] Yokota makes much of the budding U.S. presence in (and imaginings of) East Asia as an important locus in its struggle to transcend what she sees as an intellectually and culturally stultifying postcolonial moment in American history. I wonder if in obsessive public discussion of Latin America, as place but also as concept, we might learn even more about U.S. efforts to crawl out from under the postcolonial yoke. I also wonder if the very real and very important phenomenon which Fitz identifies—frequent and frequently positive coverage of Latin American revolutionary activity—might be usefully read in conjunction with the largely Anglophobic bent of that same media universe. Designating the United States as the catalyst for the spread of freedom throughout the hemisphere may have been, in part, an implicit means toward that always-popular nineteenth-century political end: twisting the lion’s tail.[21]


And, finally, the questions of race and slavery. As noted above, Fitz argues that the tenor and content of newspaper coverage of these revolutions suggests an underappreciated early American receptivity to abolition and antiracism. The evidence she provides to suggest as much is certainly credible and convincing. But it is difficult not to juxtapose her argument with that posthumously presented by Paul Naish in Slavery and Silence. Granted, Naish’s book arrived in early 2017, and so, it would not have been possible for Fitz to engage with its conclusions. And yet, they may be instructive both because Naish deals with a similar subject (U.S. perceptions of Latin America during the early republic and antebellum eras) and a broadly similar source base. He recognizes, as does Fitz, that Latin America, for most U.S. citizens, was always more strongly imagined than directly experienced or even properly understood. But, rather than finding a reading public roused by republicanism’s onward march, he asserts that race and slavery were the preeminent fixations of American discourse related to the United States’ hemispheric neighbors. This represented, as Naish argues, an “impulse to indirection,” a “way to talk about U.S. slavery without seeming to do so.” Latin America became a useful arena for Americans to “playfully trespass into foreign territory” for the purpose of airing opinions and grievances regarding nonwhites and bound labor which, in a domestic context, proved too politically and interpersonally poisonous.[22] It’s an intriguing formulation, at the very least, and one which Fitz may want to consider in relationship to her own assessment of early American nationalism.


Or, perhaps not. Both authors, after all, seem to agree on a basic premise, which is, that we have much to learn from histories of what another scholar calls “fictive travel”: moments or contexts where the American national imagination shifts decidedly toward the international.[23] The U.S. in the world, as a field of study, stands to benefit from such smart books as Our Sister Republics, work that reminds us how deeply important conceptualizations of abroad truly are. Yes, tracking the lives of Americans who actually fanned out across the globe is essential. But we still have much to learn about the mechanisms by which ordinary Americans—who at this time rarely traveled outside their respective regions—learned to think of themselves as hemispheric or world citizens. Fitz’s most important contribution to the literature, in my opinion, is exactly this. We now have such a richer and better understanding of how common people in the United States absorbed, reacted to, politicized, and became proactive regarding events which transpired overseas but still possessed profound ramifications for what we defiantly continue to mislabel as “American” history. Fitz shows us, in a couple hundred stirring pages, that we simply cannot tell the story of early American politics and popular culture without attention paid to events which occurred elsewhere.


And yet, I also feel compelled to express my disappointment over what else we find out from that same narrative. Disappointment, it bears mentioning, not related to the book’s obvious merits, but rather, with the people it describes. For it seems to me that no matter how enthusiastic or hopeful the pronouncement regarding the potential for partnership awaiting America in its “backyard,” most people in the U.S. seemed more than willing to disinherit their “sister republics” at the slightest sign of trouble. Indeed, as the book tells it, all that presumed goodwill dried up fairly fast after 1826, which has me wondering how genuinely felt it ever was. Fitz cleverly likens the country to Narcissus, who “came to a riverbank and fell in love with his own reflection”; “in celebrating foreign revolutions,” she wryly observes, “U.S. observers were celebrating themselves” (11). Beautifully stated. But given the apparently insubstantial nature of that investment in others’ independence, it seems we now know the name of the river before which the American Narcissus stood (and continues to stand). It would of course be Nebraska’s Platte River, which, as the expression goes, is a mile wide but an inch deep. So shallow a mirror, I worry, may reflect poorly on Americans as a people.



Author’s Response by Caitlin Fitz, Northwestern University

It is an honor to have my book reviewed by scholars whose work I so admire, and a pleasure to learn from their insights. I’m particularly excited that the roundtable is equally balanced between historians of the United States and historians of Latin America, as one of my hopes in writing Our Sister Republics was to bring together these two geographic fields.


How gratifying it is that the reviewers seem generally receptive to the book’s central arguments: that Latin America’s independence wars fueled U.S. nationalism and shaped U.S. politics, that excitement for republicanism’s southward spread outweighed concerns about racial and religious differences, and that a language of whitened U.S. exceptionalism increasingly challenged that earlier universalism by the United States’ fiftieth birthday in 1826. I am particularly flattered that Brian Rouleau calls my book “one of the most comprehensive and sophisticated surveys of the postrevolutionary republic’s print culture we currently have,” what Timothy Hawkins calls “a creditable approach to what one might consider a ‘history of perception’.” Aside from the immediate subject matter, after all, one of my primary interests was to find more systematic ways to gauge popular opinion.[24] Indeed, my book in some ways attempts an intellectual history of how ordinary people thought about equality in the fifty years after the Declaration of Independence. But because those ordinary people were usually too busy digging and chopping and sewing and shooting to write down their thoughts about inalienable rights and self-evident truths, I picked up the toolkits of social, political, and occasionally cultural historians, piecing together what the popular hemispheric enthusiasm tells us about how ordinary folk throughout the nation understood race, republicanism, and America itself. U.S. observers celebrated South America’s multiracial, antislavery, and republican revolutionaries even while slavery expanded at home; my book explores the space between those two positions and what it teaches us about the possibilities and the limits of egalitarian thinking in the early United States.


Most of my research was qualitative, and I am thrilled that all four reviewers appreciated the book’s narrative style and biographical sketches. As Ernesto Bassi adds, much of my research is also quantitative, because I sensed early on that readers would scarcely believe the scope of inter-American enthusiasm unless I was able to numerically contextualize it. Thus the figures on July Fourth toasts, congressional votes, news coverage, foreign agents, weapons trading, armed adventuring, and, of course, the ‘Bolivar baby boom.’


For all its qualitative and quantitative backing, I am not surprised that my evidence raises a few questions. Any work probing something as nebulous—and as important—as early U.S. ‘public opinion’ should invite scrutiny. Public opinion mattered—politicians, editors, activists, and countless others bent over backward to cultivate, shape, and claim it. And yet it was impossible to put your finger on—it’s still hard to put your finger on (I’m looking at you, Nate Silver!).


Hawkins’s otherwise very generous review posits that I remain “somewhat challenged to demonstrate” that the hemispheric enthusiasm was “either widespread or sustained.” I am clearly biased, but I think the evidence is actually quite strong. While songs, toasts, newspapers, baby names, and legislative votes all have their own distinct biases and blind spots, they point towards strikingly similar conclusions, as does the more qualitative evidence that forms the bulk of my account. Well over half of July Fourth parties toasting Latin America in the decade after the War of 1812, even taken independently of the other evidence, itself strikes me as a pretty good measure of the enthusiasm’s “widespread” status, especially with editors of varied political and geographic backgrounds attesting that hemispheric toasts were as common as toasts to the Declaration itself—which is to say, effectively universal. While one could certainly argue that the enthusiasm was not “sustained” (it only lasted a decade at peak levels), it lasted far longer than U.S. enthusiasm for the French Revolution or for Europe’s 1848 revolutions.[25] Rouleau ingeniously plays on my Narcissus metaphor by saying that hemispheric enthusiasm was like the Platte River, a mile wide and an inch deep. I would simply reiterate, as I do in my introduction, that “that narcissism is precisely what makes the international revolutionary ardor so interesting” (11). In talking about Latin America, people in the United States were talking about themselves—and, in the process, they were saying things about republican equality that historians have tended to overlook. White people in the United States were therefore “perfunctory and complacent” in their understanding of Latin America’s multiracial republics, but they were “genuine and heartfelt” in the conclusions they drew about themselves. This is ironic (maybe even disappointing, as Rouleau writes), but not contradictory.


Perhaps the underlying difference between my own confidence and Hawkins’s and Rouleau’s measured skepticism on this particular topic ultimately resides in our risk-to-reward calculations. Hawkins and Rouleau look at my evidence and, reasonably, highlight its limits. How representative are 200 babies in a ballooning population, they (and inquiring readers) wisely ask. Can drunken toasts really probe a person’s political ideals? How much did these people really care? I ask similar questions in the book, and I temper my conclusions accordingly. Having done that, however, I think the evidentiary rewards outweigh the risks. If we historians limit ourselves to things we can say with absolute certainty, after all, we will rarely be able to say anything interesting, particularly for populations who remain underrepresented in the archives—women, people of color, the poor, the hardscrabble farmers who lacked time, resources, education, or will to write extensive treatises about foreign revolutions and human equality. Rouleau emphasizes the risks of an “overheated” baby Bolivar assessment, but there are also risks in not writing about the baby Bolivars and their parents—mothers and fathers, black and white, captured here in incredibly intimate moments—simply because their numbers fall so short of, say, contemporary statistical significance tests. Should we leave the history of early U.S.-Latin American relations to statesmen, merchants, adventurers, and other cosmopolitan globetrotters, despite all the signs that those travelers were only part of the story? My answer is emphatically no, a point on which Rouleau and Hawkins agree. I will just add that if we are to conceptualize early U.S. foreign relations in that wider way—to encompass popular opinion at home—we will also need to marshal a wider range of evidence, embracing fuzziness, nuance, and ambiguity alongside our evidentiary limits.[26]


It is a little tricky to respond to Hawkins’s view that “the dominant historiographical portrait of the United States as cynical, aggressive, and proto-imperialistic remains largely valid,” because I am not sure we actually disagree. As I emphasize in my book, that dominant portrait is “important, pressing, and very real” (6). I simply maintain that there is more to the story, particularly when we join early U.S. audiences in looking beyond Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America (Hawkins’s own area of expertise) to South America. The United States, I argue, was “anticolonial and imperialistic, all in one” (135), full of heady revolutionary idealism and ruthless territorial expansionism that could be mutually and dangerously reinforcing.[27] Hemispheric enthusiasm predominated over hemispheric expansion principally in patriots’ own nationalist self-understandings; July Fourth partygoers before 1826 were far more likely to express pride in hemispheric republican leadership than in filibustering, for example, unlike their antebellum successors.[28]


Rouleau, meanwhile, offers several observations that might seem to qualify or complicate my argument. I would posit that none of them clearly undermine my argument, and some of them actually support it. Rouleau points, for example, to the important work of the late Paul Naish. Far from contradictory, Naish’s argument and my own reinforce each other for the crucial reason that we write about different time periods: Naish’s story begins where mine ends, with the 1826 Panama debates. His argument about antebellum fixation on Spanish American race relations is a perfect illustration of the retreat from revolutionary-era universalism that my final chapter—and his first—describes.[29]


Rouleau also emphasizes Anglo-American relations, perhaps not surprisingly given this subfield’s dynamism in the historiography of early U.S. foreign affairs. He astutely speculates that taking credit for Latin American independence helped U.S. patriots “crawl out from under the postcolonial yoke” and (paraphrasing Kariann Yokota) “unbecome British.”[30] I agree—in fact, I make this argument in a 2015 article about the War of 1812 era (although I now wish I’d thought to use the “twisting the lion’s tail” metaphor!).[31] While Our Sister Republics avoids some of the article’s detail, it gestures toward the same thesis—when showing how imagery of a hemispheric ‘Columbia’ helped U.S. patriots assert cultural independence from Great Britain, for example, and particularly when arguing that Latin American independence fueled U.S. nationalism after the War of 1812 by helping U.S. audiences imagine that they (and not their erstwhile British foes) stood at the helm of a worldwide movement for liberty. Whether Our Sister Republics should have developed this point at still greater length is certainly fair ground for debate, and the fact that J.M. Opal’s insightful, gratifyingly positive review further expands on Anglo-American relations suggests that my book (for better and for worse, I suspect!) opens more questions on this topic than it answers. Here too, however, Opal notes that a focus on Anglo-American relations ultimately “reinforce[s]” the book’s central claims, as growing “rapprochement” by the mid-1820s facilitated a sense of transatlantic Anglo-Saxon superiority. In any case, I will be delighted if my work helps convince scholars of Anglo-American affairs to look not just across the Atlantic but across the equator, too.[32]


I’m inclined to push against Rouleau’s more specific suggestion that I risk overstating U.S. influence in Latin America while “obscuring” Britain’s role. Beginning on the first page of the book and periodically thereafter, I argue that U.S. claims to hemispheric leadership were overblown. Drawing on longstanding work about Atlantic geopolitics and the Monroe Doctrine, I further emphasize that “Britain was a global powerhouse; the United States, a second-ring show in the high-strung Atlantic circus” (157). I call Britain “the bite behind America’s bark” (158), and I stress that Simón Bolívar himself saw Britain as a better model—and a stronger ally—than the United States. Based on original research throughout Brazilian, Spanish American, and U.S. archives, finally, I document Britain’s greater material support for Latin America’s insurgents. I could certainly have devoted still more attention to these transatlantic power differentials, but I saw little need to belabor what struck me as an already accepted geopolitical context for Latin American independence—particularly given that my book emphasizes Latin American influence in the United States, not the influence of the United States (or for that matter Britain, France, or, crucially, Haiti) in Latin America.[33] Beyond outlining what we already know of Atlantic geopolitics and offering a new estimate for U.S. weapon sales in particular, I leave the more comprehensive questions of comparative foreign influence to Latin Americanists, who are surely best equipped to answer them.


Nor, to answer another of Rouleau’s thoughtful questions, do I think popular British support for Latin American independence would have much bearing on my overall argument—aside from offering a welcome global perspective.[34] We interpret past people in their respective contexts, so a toast to Bolívar could mean very different things coming from an avowed British monarchist in London, an Irish-born Catholic in New York, a wealthy Virginia slaveowner, or a black antislavery Protestant in Pittsburgh, not to mention a Colombian politician or a Haitian privateer. Latin America, as I write in my introduction, was like “a funhouse mirror that reflected different images back to different people depending on where those people stood and how they carried themselves” (13). Our Sister Republics explores what people in the United States saw in that mirror; what Britons saw is a rich and important question that nonetheless remains outside the book’s scope.


I consider it high praise when Bassi says that, in situating Spanish America’s independence struggles alongside those of Brazil, Our Sister Republics may contain lessons for scholars of Latin America. In that analytical move, of course, I was simply following my actors. Perhaps those hemispheric enthusiasts, for all their self-serving nationalistic conceits, were onto something after all? Perhaps, Bassi speculates, Spanish Americans’ and Brazilians’ combined efforts to win foreign support nurtured a sense of common cause decades before the term Latin America existed. Revisiting Rouleau’s observation, this is one area where further research on Latin Americans in Britain could enrich our understanding.


Does my work further a “hemispheric takeover by the Colossus of the North,” historiographically speaking? I hope not! I would certainly never purport to speak for all of “hemispheric studies” (nor, of course, does Bassi suggest that I do). In some ways, in fact, I was following the lead of Latin Americanists and Caribbeanists, who, writing in the shadow of the contemporary U.S. Colossus, have long had to reckon with ‘the’ American Revolution of 1776 and its legacy for the hemisphere’s subsequent independence wars.[35] I am honored that Bassi thinks my work has furthered this conversation in such important ways, and I suppose my own concerns about encroaching on intellectual territory that is not my own are the ultimate reason that Our Sister Republics does not emphasize U.S. (or British or Haitian or French) influence in Latin America. That question, as I said, is best left primarily to Latin Americanists, with their deep and holistic understandings of Latin American politics, economies, and cultures; I will be pleased if I have helped fill in the picture from the U.S. side.


Again, my sincere thanks to Tom Maddux and to all of the roundtable participants for this enlightening exchange.



[1] Eric Hinderaker and Rebecca Horn, “Territorial Crossings: Histories and Historiographies of the Early Americas,” William and Mary Quarterly 67:3 (July 2010): 395-432.

[2] Karin Wulf, “Vast Early America” (blog), http://karinwulf.com/about-vast-early-america/

[3] Emily Conroy-Krutz, Christian Imperialism: Converting the World in the Early American Republic (Ithaca, 2015).

[4] Leandro Palacios to Francisco de Paula Santander, New York, 10 July 1825, in Roberto Cortázar (ed.), Correspondencia dirigida al General Francisco de Paula Santander, vol. 10. (Bogota: Academia Nacional de la Historia, 1964-68), 246-247.

[5] For classical studies that effectively use Spanish America as a framework to explain the general crisis caused by Napoleon’s invasion of Spain, see Jaime Rodríguez, The Independence of Spanish America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998) and Anthony McFarlane, War and Independence in Spanish America (New York: Routledge, 2014). For a recent work that explores Cuba’s path of loyalty to Spain, allowing space for the possibility of the island’s participation in the revolutionary process, see Ada Ferrer, Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014). For Brazil’s path toward independence, see Kirsten Schultz, Tropical Versailles: Empire, Monarchy, and the Portuguese Royal Court in Rio de Janeiro, 1808-1821 (New York: Routledge, 2001).

[6] See Charles C. Griffin. The United States and the Disruption of the Spanish Empire, 1810-1822 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1937) and James E. Lewis, Jr. The American Union and the Problem of Neighborhood: The United States and the Collapse of the Spanish Empire, 1783-1829 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998).

[7] See Robert E. May. Manifest Destiny’s Underworld: Filibustering in Antebellum America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002) and Amy S. Greenberg. Manifest Manhood and the Antebellum American Empire (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

[8] Kathleen DuVal. Independence  Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution (New York: Random House, 2015).

[9] See Janet Polasky. Revolutions without Borders: The Call to Liberty in the Atlantic World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015); Lester Langley. The Americas in the Age of Revolution, 1750-1850 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996); Jeremy Adelman. Sovereignty and Revolution in the Iberian Atlantic (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006); and, Ada Ferrer. Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of American Revolution (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

[10] Alan F. January, “The South Carolina Association: An Agency for Race Control in Antebellum Charleston,” The South Carolina Historical Magazine 78 (July 1977): 196 (quote) and 191-201; Philip M. Hamer, “Great Britain, the United States, and the Negro Seamen Acts, 1822-1848,” Journal of Southern History 1:1 (February 1935): 3-28.

[11] Timothy S. Huebner, “Roger B. Taney and the Slavery Issue: Looking Beyond—and Before—Dred Scott,” Journal of American History 97:1 (June 2010): 17-38.

[12] Ernest R. May, The Making of the Monroe Doctrine (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1975), 3 (“hand in hand”); Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 24 October 1823, in Adrienne Koch and William Peden, eds., The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson (New York: Modern Library, 2004), 646; Jefferson to John Page, 4 May 1786, in ibid., 365; Alan Taylor, The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 (New York: W.W. Norton, 2013).

[13] Don E. Fehrenbacher, The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government’s Relations to Slavery, completed and ed. by Ward M. McAfee (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 94-96; South Carolina State Gazette (Columbia), 20 January 1827.

[14] Robert J. Turnbull, [Brutus], The Crisis: Or, Essays on the Usurpations of the Federal Government (Charleston: A.E. Miller, 1827), 51 (“Nature”), 115 (“free and uninterrupted”), 155 (“capitalists”), 121 (“dagger”).

[15] The Crisis, 122 (“exquisite”); 26 (“vital,” emphasis in original); 159 (“BLOW OUT”) and 17-21 (risks of federal activism); David Brion Davis, Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of New World Slavery (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 226. Compare with Randolph speech discussed by Fitz (201) and anti-black warnings described in Michael Schoeppner, “Peculiar Quarantines: The Seamen Acts and Regulatory Authority in the Antebellum South,” Law and History Review 31:3 (August 2013): 559-86, esp. 565.

[16] The Crisis, 87 (“national welfare,” emphasis in original). William Branch Giles cited the primacy of the nation’s “individual owners” in an October 1829 letter to Jackson, and Jackson signaled his approval. See J.M. Opal, Avenging the People: Andrew Jackson, the Rule of Law, and the American Nation (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017), 215-16 and, for Jackson’s earlier career, 46-171.

[17] Worthy Putnam Sterns, “The Foreign Trade of the United States from 1820 to 1840,” Journal of Political Economy 8:4 (September 1900): 452-490; Davis, Inhuman Bondage, 175-92; Namsuk Kim and John Joseph Wallis, “The Market for American State Government Bonds in Britain and the United States, 1830-43,” Economic History Review 58:4 (November 2005): 736-764; J. Fred Rippy, “Latin America and the British Investment ‘Boom’ of the 1820s,” Journal of Modern History 19:2 (June 1947): 122-129.

[18] [Van Buren], “A Proclamation,” January 5, 1838, in James D. Richardson, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897, vol. 3 (New York : Bureau of National Literature , 1897), 481; Opal, Avenging the People, 223-24; Julien Mauduit, « Vrais Républicains d’Amérique: Les Patriotes Canadiens en Exil aux États-Unis (1837-1842),» Ph.D. Dissertation, Université de Québec à Montréal, 2016.

[19] Quoted in Jay Sexton, The Monroe Doctrine: Empire and Nation in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Hill and Wang, 2011), 69.

[20] Kariann Yokota, Unbecoming British: How Revolutionary America Became a Postcolonial Nation (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

[21] On Anglophobia and U.S. foreign relations, see Sam W. Haynes, Unfinished Revolution: The Early American Republic in a British World (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010).

[22] Paul D. Naish, Slavery and Silence: Latin America and the U.S. Slave Debate (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017), 3-4.

[23] “Fictive travel” in Kristin Hoganson, Consumers’ Imperium: The Global Production of American Domesticity (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007).

[24] My attempt to gauge popular opinion regarding Latin America owes hat tips to Edward Bartlett Rugemer, who meticulously counts newspaper articles in The Problem of Emancipation: The Caribbean Roots of the American Civil War (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2008), and Simon P. Newman, who briefly quantifies July Fourth toasts in Parades and the Politics of the Street: Festive Culture in the Early American Republic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997), 93. Also see Saul Cornell’s rigorous methodology regarding the circulation of Anti-Federalist essays in The Other Founders: Anti-Federalism and the Dissenting Tradition in America, 17881828 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999).

[25] There is a rich scholarship on U.S. reaction to the French Revolution; see, for example, Seth Cotlar, Tom Paine’s America: The Rise and Fall of Transatlantic Radicalism in the Early Republic (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011); Rachel Hope Cleves, The Reign of Terror in America: Visions of Violence from Anti-Jacobinism to Antislavery (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009); François Furstenberg, When the United States Spoke French: Five Refugees Who Shaped a Nation (New York: Penguin Press, 2014); Harry Ammon, The Genet Mission (New York, 1973); Susan Branson, These Fiery Frenchified Dames: Women and Political Culture in Early National Philadelphia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001). On U.S. reactions to 1848, see, for example, Timothy Mason Roberts, Distant Revolutions: 1848 and the Challenge to American Exceptionalism (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009).

[26] I am hardly the first to explore popular opinion on early U.S. relations with Latin America; see, for example, Laura Bornholdt, Baltimore and Early Pan-Americanism (Northampton: Smith College Studies in History, 1949); John J. Johnson, A Hemisphere Apart: The Foundations of United States Policy Toward Latin America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990); Ernest R. May, The Making of the Monroe Doctrine (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1975); Mark G. Jaede, “Brothers at a Distance: Race, Religion, Culture, and U.S. Views of Spanish America, 1800–1830” (Ph.D. diss., State University of New York at Buffalo, 2001). There have been more studies of popular opinion about Haiti and France. For U.S. responses to the French Revolution, see the previous note. For U.S. responses to the Haitian Revolution, see Ronald Angelo Johnson, Diplomacy in Black and White: John Adams, Toussaint Louverture, and Their Atlantic World Alliance (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2014); James Alexander Dun, Dangerous Neighbors: Making the Haitian Revolution in Early America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016); Ashli White, Encountering Revolution: Haiti and the Making of the Early Republic (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010); Donald R. Hickey, “America’s Response to the Slave Revolt in Haiti, 1791-1806,” Journal of the Early Republic 2:4 (Winter, 1982), 361–379; Rugemer, The Problem of Emancipation, 42-53.

[27] In this I invoke William Appleman Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (New York: Dell Publishing Company,  1972 [1959]), 18–58, as well as more recent scholars like Jay Sexton, The Monroe Doctrine: Empire and Nation in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Hill and Wang, 2011), and David E. Narrett, “Liberation and Conquest: John Hamilton Robinson and U.S. Adventurism Toward Mexico, 1806–1819,” Western Historical Quarterly 40:1 (Spring 2009), 23-50.

[28] J.C.A. Stagg likewise distinguishes between early nineteenth-century expansion and antebellum manifest destiny in Borderlines in Borderlands: James Madison and the Spanish-American Frontier, 1776-1821 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), esp. 5-6.

[29] Paul D. Naish, Slavery and Silence: Latin America and the U.S. Slave Debate (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017), esp. 29-63.

[30] Kariann Akemi Yokota, Unbecoming British: How Revolutionary America Became a Postcolonial Nation (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

[31] Caitlin Fitz, “The Hemispheric Dimensions of Early U.S. Nationalism: The War of 1812, Its Aftermath, and Spanish American Independence,” Journal of American History 102:2 (September 2015), 356-379; John E. Moser, Twisting the Lion’s Tail: American Anglophobia between the World Wars (New York: New York University Press, 1998).

[32] Emily Conroy-Krutz likewise expands our geographic approach to Anglo-American relations in Christian Imperialism: Converting the World in the Early American Republic (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2015).

[33] Jay Sexton emphasizes British power in his outstanding Monroe Doctrine. For an important cultural take on Anglo-American relations in the nation’s first few decades, see Yokota, Unbecoming British; for diplomacy and geopolitics, see Eliga Gould, Among the Powers of the Earth: The American Revolution and the Making of a New World Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012). Though not emphasizing Latin America, Sam W. Haynes’s Unfinished Revolution: The Early American Republic in a British World (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010) offers a useful account of Anglo-American relations from 1815 through approximately 1850. For a concise overview of Atlantic geopolitics that likewise stresses the fact of British power, see Rafe Blaufarb, “The Western Question: The Geopolitics of Latin American Independence,” American Historical Review 112:3 (June 2007), 742-763. For a classic account of British power in Spanish America, see Tulio Halperín Donghi, Hispanoamérica después de la independencia: consecuencias sociales y económicas de la emancipación (Buenos Aires: Paidós, 1972); for British power in Brazil, see, for example, Roderick J. Barman, Brazil: The Forging of a Nation, 17981852 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988), esp. 131-148. For earlier studies, also see J. Fred Rippy, Rivalry of the United States and Great Britain over Latin America (1808-1830) (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1929); R. A. Humphreys, “Anglo-American Rivalries and Spanish American Emancipation,” in Humphreys, ed., Tradition and Revolt in Latin America and Other Essays (New York: Columbia University Press, 1969), 130-153. Moving beyond an Anglo-American lens, finally, I would also like to note works about Haiti’s critical influence in Spanish America, including Sibylle Fischer, “Bolívar in Haiti: Republicanism in the Revolutionary Atlantic,” in Carla Calarge, Raphael Dalleo, Luis Duno-Gottberg, and Clevis Headley, eds., Haiti and the Americas (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2013), 25-53; Ada Ferrer, “Haiti, Free Soil, and Antislavery in the Revolutionary Atlantic,” American Historical Review 117:1 (February 2012): 40-66; Ernesto Bassi, An Aqueous Territory: Sailor Geographies and New Granada’s Transimperial Greater Caribbean World (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017); Edgardo Pérez Morales, No Limits to Their Sway: Cartagena’s Privateers and the Masterless Caribbean in the Age of Revolutions (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2018); Paul Verna, Pétion y Bolívar: Una etapa decisiva en la emancipación de Hispanoamérica, 1790–1830 (Caracas: Ediciones de la Presidencia de la República, 1980); Paul Verna, Bolívar y los emigrados patriotas en el Caribe (Trinidad, Curazao, San Thomas, Jamaica, Haití) (Caracas: INCE, 1983).

[34] For British support for (and influence on) Latin American independence, see, for example, Matthew Brown, Adventuring Through Spanish Colonies: Simón Bolívar, Foreign Mercenaries, and the Birth of New Nations (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2006); Rafe Blaufarb, “Arms for Revolutions: Military Demobilization After the Napoleonic Wars and Latin American Independence,” in Alan Forrest, Karen Hagemann, Michael Rowe, eds., War, Demobilization, and Memory: The Legacy of War in the Era of Atlantic Revolutions (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), 100-116; D.A.G. Waddell, “British Neutrality and Spanish-American Independence: The Problem of Foreign Enlistment,” Journal of Latin American Studies 19:1 (May 1987), 1-18; D.A.G. Waddell, Gran Bretaña y la independencia de Venezuela y Colombia (Caracas: Direcc. de Información y Relaciones, División de Publicaciones, Taller de Impr., 1983); Karen Racine, “‘This England and This Now’: British Cultural and Intellectual Influence in the Spanish American Independence Era,” Hispanic American Historical Review 90:3 (2010): 423-454; Karen Racine, “Imagining Independence: London’s Spanish-American Community, 1790-1829” (Ph.D. diss., Tulane University, 1996); Karen Racine, Francisco de Miranda: A Transatlantic Life in the Age of Revolution (Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, 2002). I am unaware, however, of comparable data on British toasts, baby names, and newspaper reports.

[35] Latin Americanists and Caribbeanists have long employed illuminating comparative and hemispheric insights—some as a primary methodology, others in passing. To name just a few, see Julia Gaffield, Haitian Connections in the Atlantic World: Recognition after Revolution (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015); Marixa Lasso, Myths of Harmony: Race and Republicanism During the Age of Revolution, Colombia, 1795-1831 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007); Jeremy Adelman, Sovereignty and Revolution in the Iberian Atlantic (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006); Jaime E. Rodriguez O., The Independence of Spanish America (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998); John H. Elliott, Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America, 1492-1830 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006).