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America and the Law of Nations 1776-1939 is a unique exploration of the ways in which Americans have perceived, applied, advanced, and frustrated international law. It demonstrates the varieties and continuities of America's approaches to international law. The book begins with the important role the law of nations played for founders like Jefferson and Madison in framing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It then discusses the intellectual contributions to international law made by leaders in the New Republic -Kent and Wheaton- and the place of international law in the 19th century judgments of Marshall, Story, and Taney. The book goes on to examine the contributions of American utopians -Dodge, Worcester, Ladd, Burritt, and Carnegie- to the establishment of the League of Nations, the World Court, the International Law Association and the American Society of International Law. It finishes with an analysis of the wavering support to international law given by Woodrow Wilson and the emergence of a new American isolationism following the disappointment of World War I.
For anyone who hopes to understand the important place of international law in America and the complex role of America in the development of international law, America and the Law of Nations 1776-1939 is a crucial read.