The American Vision: Chapter 7, Becoming a World Power

The American Vision: Chapter 7, Becoming a World Power

The following is a selection of articles that will relate to information in Chapter 7. Previous Chapter Next Chapter

  1. Section 1: The Imperial Vision
    • Building Support for Imperialism
      • Great White Fleet
      • Alfred Thayer Mahan
    • American Expansion in the Pacific
      • Admiral Perry Opens Japan
      • Annexing Hawaii
    • Diplomacy in Latin America
      • Foreign Affairs under Cleveland
      • James G. Blaine
  2. Section 2: The Spanish-American War
    • The Coming of War
      • Cuba
      • William Randolph Hearts
      • Joseph Pulitzer
      • Yellow Journalism
      • Sinking of the Maine
    • The War on Two Fronts
      • Taking the Philippines from Spain
      • Admiral George Dewey
      • American Forces in Cuba
      • Rough Riders
    • American Empire
      • McKinley`s Uneasy Support for Annexing the Philippines
      • Anti-Imperialists
      • Teller Amendment
      • Platt Amendment
      • Puerto Rico
      • 830:Rebellion in the Philippines
  3. Section 3: New American Diplomacy
    • American Diplomacy in Asia
      • The Open Door Policy
      • Boxer Rebellion
    • Theodore Roosevelt`s Diplomacy
      • The Panama Canal
        • Hay-Pauncefote Treaty
        • Hay-Herrán Treaty
        • Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty
      • Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine
      • Dollar Diplomacy
    • Woodrow Wilson`s Diplomacy
      • General Pershing in Mexico
      • Nicaraguan Relations




P ART I: Reviewing the Chapter

1. Explain the beliefs of republicanism and radical Whigs that Britain’s American colonists had adopted by the eighteenth century.

The idea of republicanism was based on the belief that all citizens could pursue their own interests for the common good. Together the Whigs and Republicanism predisposed colonists to be alert for anything that infringed on their rights.

2. Describe the theory and practice of mercantilism, and explain why Americans resented it.

In mercantilism, a nation's wealth and power is measured by its treasury of gold or silver. The colonies supplied raw materials to England . America was being used for England's benefit in the form of ships, naval stores, lumber, tobacco, sugar, etc. They resented it because it hindered their economic growth.

3. Explain why Britain adopted policies of tighter political control and higher taxation of Americans after 1763 and how these policies sparked fierce colonial resentment.

After the French and Indian War, Britain felt that Americans should pay them back for all they spent helping them out during the war in order to protect them. They were left in debt. However Americans didn't see it this way and instead felt that they were taking away their sovereignty and imposing taxes without any representation.

4. Describe the first major new British taxes on the colonies and how colonial resistance forced repeal of all taxes, except the tax on tea, by 1770.

The first major British taxes on the colonies included the Stamp Act, the Navigation Laws only allowed colonists to legally trade with England and taxed Dutch imports, the Sugar Act which taxed colonist the sugar they got from the Indies and the Quartering Act which required colonists to shelter British soldiers and provide them with food.

5. Explain how colonial agitators kept resistance alive from 1770–1773.

They created protests and boycotted British goods. They refused to let any tea into their harbors and the most remarkable of these was the Boston Tea Party. Delegates from the colonies held meetings where they discussed infringement on colonial rights and made petitions to the British Crown to remove taxation laws. The Sons and Daughters of Liberty also exemplify colonial rebellion against the English in their efforts to scare law re enforcers in America.

6. Indicate why the forcible importation of taxable British tea sparked the Boston Tea Party, the Intolerable Acts, and the outbreak of conflict between Britain and the colonists.

Americans were limited in what they could produce. These laws hindered their economic growth and they resented being governed by the British because they wanted their own government and sovereignty. It was to keep America subordinate to England

7. Assess the balance of forces between the British and the American rebels as the two sides prepared for war.

The British had the best army and navy in the world as well as the great advantage of loyal Indians. They were helped by mercenaries as well and had lots of weapons. However, they lacked any real motivation and even the radical Whigs supported the colonists. On the other hand the colonists were well acquainted with the turf, they didn't have as much weapons and lacked ammunition but they had advanced gun technology. They had great leaders, French and Iroquois support and a just cause worth fighting for.


7a. The Evolution of the Presidency


South Dakota's Mt. Rushmore memorializes four of America's greatest Presidents. Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Lincoln are carved into this spectacular monument.

The 21st Century dawned on a very different presidency than the one created at the end of the 1700s. Constitutional provisions limited the early presidency, although the personalities of the first three &mdash George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson &mdash shaped it into a more influential position by the early 1800s. However, throughout the 1800s until the 1930s, Congress was the dominant branch of the national government. Then, throughout the rest of the 20th Century, the balance of power shifted dramatically, so that the executive branch currently has at least equal power to the legislative branch. How did this shift happen?

Constitutional Qualifications and Powers

Article II of the Constitution defines the qualifications, benefits, and powers of the presidency. The President must be at least 35 years old, and must have resided in the United States for no fewer than 14 years. Presidents must be "natural born" citizens. The Constitution states that the President should be paid a "compensation" that cannot be increased or decreased during a term. Congress determines the salary, which increased in 2001 to $400,000, doubling the salary that was set back in the 1960s.

Article II of the Constitution

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:


As Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, the President is responsible for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Here, President Clinton reviews troops at the Fort Myer base in Virginia.

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

[The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by Ballot one of them for President and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner choose the President. But in choosing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall choose from them by Ballot the Vice President.]*

*Changed by the Twelfth Amendment.

The Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

[In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.]*

*Changed by the Twenty-fifth Amendment.


Sixteenth President Abraham Lincoln, captured here in a daguerreotype, strongly defended the preservation of the Union and often acted without congressional consent during the Civil War.

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.''


Theodore Roosevelt was a grand statesman, conservationist, warrior, and sportsman, who said leaders must "speak softly and carry a big stick."

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by Law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

The Constitution assigned the following powers to the President:

The Strengthening of the Presidency

Because the Constitution gave the President such limited power, Congress dominated the executive branch until the 1930s. With only a few exceptions, Presidents played second fiddle to Congress for many years. However, those exceptions &mdash Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson &mdash provided the basis for the turning point that came with the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s.

Andrew Jackson , greatly loved by the masses, used his image and personal power to strengthen the developing party system by rewarding loyal followers with presidential appointments. Jackson also made extensive use of the veto and asserted national power by facing down South Carolina's nullification of a federal tariff law. Jackson vetoed more bills than the six previous Presidents combined.

Abraham Lincoln assumed powers that no President before him had claimed, partly because of the emergency created by the Civil War (1861-1865). He suspended habeas corpus (the right to an appearance in court), and jailed people suspected of disloyalty. He ignored Congress by expanding the size of the army and ordering blockades of southern ports without the consent of Congress.

Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson each expanded the powers of the presidency. Roosevelt worked closely with Congress, sending it messages defining his legislative powers. He also took the lead in developing the international power of the United States. Wilson helped formulate bills that Congress considered, and World War I afforded him the opportunity to take a leading role in international affairs.

Franklin Roosevelt, who was elected four times to the presidency, led the nation through the crises of the Great Depression and World War II . Roosevelt gained power through his New Deal programs to regulate the economy, and the war required that he lead the country in foreign affairs as well.

So, the powers of the modern presidency have been shaped by a combination of constitutional and evolutionary powers. The forceful personalities of strong Presidents have expanded the role far beyond the greatest fears of the antifederalists of the late 1700s.


Contents

Before 1898, there were several short-lived federal bankruptcy laws in the U.S. The first was the Bankruptcy Act of 1800 [2] which was repealed in 1803 and followed by the act of 1841, [3] which was repealed in 1843, and then the act of 1867, [4] which was amended in 1874 [5] and repealed in 1878.

The first modern Bankruptcy Act in America, sometimes called the "Nelson Act", [6] was initially entered into force in 1898. The current Bankruptcy Code was enacted in 1978 by § 101 of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978, [7] and generally became effective on October 1, 1979. The current code completely replaced the former Bankruptcy Act, the "Chandler Act" of 1938. [8] The Chandler Act gave unprecedented authority to the Securities and Exchange Commission in the administration of bankruptcy filings. The current code has been amended numerous times since 1978. See also the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.

Entities seeking relief under the Bankruptcy Code may file a petition for relief under a number of different chapters of the Code, depending on circumstances. Title 11 contains nine chapters, six of which provide for the filing of a petition. The other three chapters provide rules governing bankruptcy cases in general. A case is typically referred to by the chapter under which the petition is filed. These chapters are described below.

Chapter 7: Liquidation Edit

Liquidation under a Chapter 7 filing is the most common form of bankruptcy. Liquidation involves the appointment of a trustee who collects the non-exempt property of the debtor, sells it and distributes the proceeds to the creditors. Because all states allow for debtors to keep essential property, Chapter 7 cases are often "no asset" cases, meaning that the bankrupt estate has no non-exempt assets to fund a distribution to creditors. [9]

Chapter 7 bankruptcy remains on a bankruptcy filer's credit report for 10 years.

United States bankruptcy law significantly changed in 2005 with the passage of Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (US) —- BAPCPA, which made it more difficult for consumer debtors to file bankruptcy in general and Chapter 7 in particular.

Advocates of BAPCPA claimed that its passage would reduce losses to creditors such as credit card companies, and that those creditors would then pass on the savings to other borrowers in the form of lower interest rates. Critics assert that these claims turned out to be false, observing that although credit card company losses decreased after passage of the Act, prices charged to customers increased, and credit card company profits increased.

Chapter 9: Reorganization for municipalities Edit

A Chapter 9 bankruptcy is available only to municipalities. Chapter 9 is a form of reorganization, not liquidation. Notable examples of municipal bankruptcies include that of Orange County, California (1994 to 1996) and the bankruptcy of the city of Detroit, Michigan in 2013.

Chapters 11, 12, and 13: Reorganization Edit

Bankruptcy under Chapter 11, Chapter 12, or Chapter 13 is more complex reorganization and involves allowing the debtor to keep some or all of his or her property and to use future earnings to pay off creditors. Consumers usually file chapter 7 or chapter 13. Chapter 11 filings by individuals are allowed, but are rare. Chapter 12 is similar to Chapter 13 but is available only to "family farmers" and "family fisherman" in certain situations. Chapter 12 generally has more generous terms for debtors than a comparable Chapter 13 case would have available. As recently as mid-2004 Chapter 12 was scheduled to expire, but in late 2004 it was renewed and made permanent.

Chapter 15: Cross-border insolvency Edit

The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 added Chapter 15 (as a replacement for section 304) and deals with cross-border insolvency: foreign companies with U.S. debts.

Voluntary versus involuntary bankruptcy Edit

As a threshold matter, bankruptcy cases are either voluntary or involuntary. In voluntary bankruptcy cases, which account for the overwhelming majority of cases, debtors petition the bankruptcy court. With involuntary bankruptcy, creditors, rather than the debtor, file the petition in bankruptcy. Involuntary petitions are rare, however, and are occasionally used in business settings to force a company into bankruptcy so that creditors can enforce their rights.

The estate Edit

Except in Chapter 9 cases, commencement of a bankruptcy case creates an "estate". Generally, the debtor's creditors must look to the assets of the estate for satisfaction of their claims. The estate consists of all property interests of the debtor at the time of case commencement, subject to certain exclusions and exemptions. [10] In the case of a married person in a community property state, the estate may include certain community property interests of the debtor's spouse even if the spouse has not filed bankruptcy. [11] The estate may also include other items, including but not limited to property acquired by will or inheritance within 180 days after case commencement. [12]

For federal income tax purposes, the bankruptcy estate of an individual in a Chapter 7 or 11 case is a separate taxable entity from the debtor. [13] The bankruptcy estate of a corporation, partnership, or other collective entity, or the estate of an individual in Chapters 12 or 13, is not a separate taxable entity from the debtor. [14]

Bankruptcy court Edit

In 1982, in the case of Northern Pipeline Co. v. Marathon Pipe Line Co., [15] the United States Supreme Court held that certain provisions of the law relating to Article I bankruptcy judges (who are not life-tenured "Article III" judges) are unconstitutional. Congress responded in 1984 with changes to remedy the constitutional defects. Under the revised law, bankruptcy judges in each judicial district constitute a "unit" of the applicable United States District Court. [16] Each judge is appointed for a term of 14 years by the United States Court of Appeals for the circuit in which the applicable district is located. [17]

The United States District Courts have subject-matter jurisdiction over bankruptcy matters. [18] However, each such district court may, by order, "refer" bankruptcy matters to the Bankruptcy Court, [19] and most district courts have a standing "reference" order to that effect, so that all bankruptcy cases are handled by the Bankruptcy Court. In unusual circumstances, a district court may "withdraw the reference" (i.e., taking a particular case or proceeding within the case away from the bankruptcy court) and decide the matter itself. [20]

Decisions of the bankruptcy court are generally appealable to the district court, [21] and then to the Court of Appeals. However, in a few jurisdictions a separate court called a Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (composed of bankruptcy judges) hears certain appeals from bankruptcy courts. [22]

United States Trustee Edit

The United States Attorney General appoints a separate United States Trustee for each of twenty-one geographical regions for a five-year term. Each Trustee is removable from office by and works under the general supervision of the Attorney General. [23] The U.S. Trustees maintain regional offices that correspond with federal judicial districts and are administratively overseen by the Executive Office for United States Trustees in Washington, D.C. Each United States Trustee, an officer of the U.S. Department of Justice, is responsible for maintaining and supervising a panel of private trustees for chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. [24] The Trustee has other duties including the administration of most bankruptcy cases and trustees. [25] Under Section 307 of Title 11 of the U.S. Code, a U.S. Trustee "may raise and may appear and be heard on any issue in any case or proceeding" in bankruptcy except for filing a plan of reorganization in a chapter 11 case. [26]

The automatic stay Edit

Bankruptcy Code § 362 [27] imposes the automatic stay at the moment a bankruptcy petition is filed. The automatic stay generally prohibits the commencement, enforcement or appeal of actions and judgments, judicial or administrative, against a debtor for the collection of a claim that arose prior to the filing of the bankruptcy petition. The automatic stay also prohibits collection actions and proceedings directed toward property of the bankruptcy estate itself.

In some courts, violations of the stay are treated as void ab initio as a matter of law, although the court may annul the stay to give effect to otherwise void acts. Other courts treat violations as voidable (not necessarily void ab initio). [28] Any violation of the stay may give rise to damages being assessed against the violating party. [29] Non-willful violations of the stay are often excused without penalty, but willful violators are liable for punitive damages and may also be found to be in contempt of court.

A secured creditor may be allowed to take the applicable collateral if the creditor first obtains permission from the court. Permission is requested by a creditor by filing a motion for relief from the automatic stay. The court must either grant the motion or provide adequate protection to the secured creditor that the value of their collateral will not decrease during the stay.

Without the bankruptcy protection of the automatic stay, creditors might race to the courthouse to improve their positions against a debtor. If the debtor's business were facing a temporary crunch, but were nevertheless viable in the long term, it might not survive a "run" by creditors. A run could also result in waste and unfairness among similarly situated creditors.

Bankruptcy Code 362(d) gives 4 ways that a creditor can get the automatic stay removed.

Avoidance actions Edit

Debtors, or the trustees that represent them, gain the ability to reject, or avoid actions taken with respect to the debtor's property for a specified time prior to the filing of the bankruptcy. While the details of avoidance actions are nuanced, there are three general categories of avoidance actions:

All avoidance actions attempt to limit the risk of the legal system accelerating the financial demise of a financially unstable debtor who has not yet declared bankruptcy. The bankruptcy system generally endeavors to reward creditors who continue to extend financing to debtors and discourage creditors from accelerating their debt collection efforts. Avoidance actions are some of the most obvious of the mechanisms to encourage this goal.

Despite the apparent simplicity of these rules, a number of exceptions exist in the context of each category of avoidance action.

Preferences Edit

Preference actions generally permit the trustee to avoid (that is, to void an otherwise legally binding transaction) certain transfers of the debtor's property that benefit creditors where the transfers occur on or within 90 days of the date of filing of the bankruptcy petition. For example, if a debtor has a debt to a friendly creditor and a debt to an unfriendly creditor, and pays the friendly creditor, and then declares bankruptcy one week later, the trustee may be able to recover the money paid to the friendly creditor under 11 U.S.C. § 547. While this "reach back" period typically extends 90 days backwards from the date of the bankruptcy, the amount of time is longer in the case of "insiders"—typically one year. Insiders include family and close business contacts of the debtor.

Fraudulent transfer Edit

Bankruptcy fraudulent transfer law is similar in practice to non-bankruptcy fraudulent transfer law. Some terms, however, are more generous in bankruptcy than they are otherwise. For instance, the statute of limitations within bankruptcy is two years as opposed to a shorter time frame in some non-bankruptcy contexts. Generally a fraudulent transfer action operates in much the same way as a preference avoidance. Fraudulent transfer actions, however, sometimes require a showing of intent to shelter the property from a creditor.

Fraudulent transfer may involve an actual or a "constructive" fraud. Actual fraud is based upon the on intent of the transfer, whereas constructive fraud may be inferred based upon economic factors. [30] Factors that may lead to an inference of fraud include whether the transfer was for reasonably equivalent value and whether the debtor was insolvent at the time of the transfer. [31] [32]

The conversion of nonexempt assets into exempt assets on the eve of bankruptcy is not an indicia of fraud per se. However, depending on the amount of the exemption and the circumstances surrounding the conversion, a court may find the conversion to be a fraudulent transfer. This is especially true when the conversion amounts to nothing more than a temporary arrangement. When finding the conversion of nonexempt into exempt assets to be a fraudulent transfer, courts tend to focus on the existence of an independent reason for the conversion. For example, if a debtor purchased a residence protected by a homestead exemption with the intent to reside in such residence that would be an allowable conversion into nonexempt property. But where the debtor purchased the residence with all of their available funds, leaving no money to live off, that presumed that the conversion was temporary, indicating a fraudulent transfer. The courts look at the timing of the transfer as the most important factor. [ citation needed ]

Non-bankruptcy law creditor – "strong arm" Edit

The strong arm avoidance power stems from 11 U.S.C. § 544 and permits the trustee to exercise the rights that a debtor in the same situation would have under the relevant state law. Specifically, § 544(a) grants the trustee the rights of avoidance of (1) a judicial lien creditor, (2) an unsatisfied lien creditor, and (3) a bona fide purchaser of real property. In practice these avoidance powers often overlap with preference and fraudulent transfer avoidance powers.

The creditors Edit

Secured creditors whose security interests survive the commencement of the case may look to the property that is the subject of their security interests, after obtaining permission from the court (in the form of relief from the automatic stay). Security interests, created by what are called secured transactions, are liens on the property of a debtor.

Unsecured creditors are generally divided into two classes: unsecured priority creditors and general unsecured creditors. Unsecured priority creditors are further subdivided into classes as described in the law. In some cases the assets of the estate are insufficient to pay all priority unsecured creditors in full in such cases the general unsecured creditors receive nothing.

Because of the priority and rank ordering feature of bankruptcy law, debtors sometimes improperly collude with others (who may be related to the debtor) to prefer them, by for example granting them a security interest in otherwise unpledged assets. For this reason, the bankruptcy trustee is permitted to reverse certain transactions of the debtor within period of time prior to the date of bankruptcy filing. The time period varies depending on the relationship of the parties to the debtor and the nature of the transaction.

In Chapters 7, 12, and 13, creditors must file a "proof of claim" to get paid. In a Chapter 11 case, a creditor is not required to file a proof of claim (that is, a proof of claim is "deemed filed") if the creditor's claim is listed on the debtor's bankruptcy schedules, unless the claim is scheduled as "disputed, contingent, or unliquidated". [33] If the creditor's claim is not listed on the schedules in a Chapter 11 case, the creditor must file a proof of claim.

Executory contracts Edit

The bankruptcy trustee may reject certain executory contracts and unexpired leases. [34] For bankruptcy purposes, a contract is generally considered executory when both parties to the contract have not yet fully performed a material obligation of the contract.

If the Trustee (or debtor in possession, in many chapter 11 cases) rejects a contract, the debtor's bankruptcy estate is subject to ordinary breach of contract damages, but the damages amount is an obligation and is generally treated as an unsecured claim.

Committees Edit

Under some chapters, notably chapters 7, 9 and 11, committees of various stakeholders are appointed by the bankruptcy court. In Chapter 11 and 9, these committees consist of entities that hold the seven largest claims of the kinds represented by the committee. Other committees may also be appointed by the court.

Committees have daily communications with the debtor and the debtor's advisers and have access to a wide variety of documents as part of their functions and responsibilities.

Exempt property Edit

Although in theory all property of the debtor that is not excluded from the estate under the Bankruptcy Code becomes property of the estate (i.e., is automatically transferred from the debtor to the estate) at the time of commencement of a case, an individual debtor (not a partnership, corporation, etc.) may claim certain items of property as "exempt" and thereby keep those items (subject, however, to any valid liens or other encumbrances). An individual debtor may choose between a "federal" list of exemptions and the list of exemptions provided by the law of the state in which the debtor files the bankruptcy case unless the state in which the debtor files the bankruptcy case has enacted legislation prohibiting the debtor from choosing the exemptions on the federal list. Almost 40 states have done so. In states where the debtor is allowed to choose between the federal and state exemptions, the debtor has the opportunity to choose the exemptions that most fully benefit him or her and, in many cases, may convert at least some of his or her property from non-exempt form (e.g., cash) to exempt form (e.g., increased equity in a home created by using the cash to pay down a mortgage) prior to filing the bankruptcy case.

The exemption laws vary greatly from state to state. In some states, exempt property includes equity in a home or car, tools of the trade, and some personal effects. In other states an asset class such as tools of trade will not be exempt by virtue of its class except to the extent it is claimed under a more general exemption for personal property.

One major purpose of bankruptcy is to ensure orderly and reasonable management of debt. Thus, exemptions for personal effects are thought to prevent punitive seizures of items of little or no economic value (personal effects, personal care items, ordinary clothing), since this does not promote any desirable economic result. Similarly, tools of the trade may, depending on the available exemptions, be a permitted exemption as their continued possession allows the insolvent debtor to move forward into productive work as soon as possible.

The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 placed pension plans not subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), like 457 and 403(b) plans, in the same status as ERISA qualified plans with respect to having exemption status akin to spendthrift trusts. SEP-IRAs and SIMPLEs still are outside federal protection and must rely on state law. [35]

Spendthrift trusts Edit

Most states have property laws that allow a trust agreement to contain a legally enforceable restriction on the transfer of a beneficial interest in the trust (sometimes known as an "anti-alienation provision"). The anti-alienation provision generally prevents creditors of a beneficiary from acquiring the beneficiary's share of the trust. Such a trust is sometimes called a spendthrift trust. To prevent fraud, most states allow this protection only to the extent that the beneficiary did not transfer property to the trust. Also, such provisions do not protect cash or other property once it has been transferred from the trust to the beneficiary. Under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, an anti-alienation provision in a spendthrift trust is recognized. This means that the beneficiary's share of the trust generally does not become property of the bankruptcy estate. [36]

Redemption Edit

In a Chapter 7 liquidation case, an individual debtor may redeem certain "tangible personal property intended primarily for personal, family, or household use" that is encumbered by a lien. To qualify, the property generally either (A) must be exempt under section 522 of the Bankruptcy Code, or (B) must have been abandoned by the trustee under section 554 of the Bankruptcy Code. To redeem the property, the debtor must pay the lienholder the full amount of the applicable allowed secured claim against the property. [37]

Debtor's discharge Edit

Key concepts in bankruptcy include the debtor's discharge and the related "fresh start". Discharge is available in some but not all cases. For example, in a Chapter 7 case only an individual debtor (not a corporation, partnership, etc.) can receive a discharge. [38]

The effect of a bankruptcy discharge is to eliminate only the debtor's personal liability, [39] not the in rem liability for a secured debt to the extent of the value of collateral. The term "in rem" essentially means "with respect to the thing itself" (i.e., the collateral). For example, if a debt in the amount of $100,000 is secured by property having a value of only $80,000, the $20,000 deficiency is treated, in bankruptcy, as an unsecured claim (even though it's part of a "secured" debt). The $80,000 portion of the debt is treated as a secured claim. Assuming a discharge is granted and none of the $20,000 deficiency is paid (e.g., due to insufficiency of funds), the $20,000 deficiency—the debtor's personal liability—is discharged (assuming the debt is not non-dischargeable under another Bankruptcy Code provision). The $80,000 portion of the debt is the in rem liability, and it is not discharged by the court's discharge order. This liability can presumably be satisfied by the creditor taking the asset itself. An essential concept is that when commentators say that a debt is "dischargeable", they are referring only to the debtor's personal liability on the debt. To the extent that a liability is covered by the value of collateral, the debt is not discharged.

This analysis assumes, however, that the collateral does not increase in value after commencement of the case. If the collateral increases in value and the debtor (rather than the estate) keeps the collateral (e.g., where the asset is exempt or is abandoned by the trustee back to the debtor), the amount of the creditor's security interest may or may not increase. In situations where the debtor (rather than the creditor) is allowed to benefit from the increase in collateral value, the effect is called "lien stripping" or "paring down". Lien stripping is allowed only in certain cases depending on the kind of collateral and the particular chapter of the Code under which the discharge is granted.

The discharge also does not eliminate certain rights of a creditor to setoff (or "offset") certain mutual debts owed by the creditor to the debtor against certain claims of that creditor against the debtor, where both the debt owed by the creditor and the claim against the debtor arose prior to the commencement of the case. [40]

Not every debt may be discharged under every chapter of the Code. Certain taxes owed to Federal, state or local government, student loans, and child support obligations are not dischargeable. (Guaranteed student loans are potentially dischargeable, however, if debtor prevails in a difficult-to-win adversary proceeding against the lender commenced by a complaint to determine dischargeability. Also, the debtor can petition the court for a "financial hardship" discharge, but the grant of such discharges is rare.)

The debtor's liability on a secured debt, such as a mortgage or mechanic's lien on a home, may be discharged. The effects of the mortgage or mechanic's lien, however, cannot be discharged in most cases if the lien affixed prior to filing. Therefore, if the debtor wishes to retain the property, the debt must usually be paid for as agreed. (See also lien avoidance, reaffirmation agreement) (Note: there may be additional flexibility available in Chapter 13 for debtors dealing with oversecured collateral such as a financed auto, so long as the oversecured property is not the debtor's primary residence.)

Any debt tainted by one of a variety of wrongful acts recognized by the Bankruptcy Code, including defalcation, or consumer purchases or cash advances above a certain amount incurred a short time before filing, cannot be discharged. However, certain kinds of debt, such as debts incurred by way of fraud, may be dischargeable through the Chapter 13 super discharge. All in all, as of 2005, there are 19 general categories of debt that cannot be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and fewer debts that cannot be discharged under Chapter 13.

Valuation and recapitalization Edit

In a corporate or business bankruptcy, an indebted company that files bankruptcy is typically recapitalized so that it emerges from bankruptcy with more equity and less debt. During this process, many debts may be "discharged", meaning that the company will no longer be legally obligated to pay them. Which debts are discharged, and how equity and other entitlements are distributed to various groups of investors, typically turns on valuation issues. [41] Bankruptcy valuation is often highly contentious because it is both subjective and important to case outcomes. The methods of valuation used in bankruptcy have changed over time, generally tracking methods used in investment banking, Delaware corporate law, and corporate and academic finance, but with a significant time lag. [42] [43] [44]

Entities that cannot be debtors Edit

The section of the Bankruptcy code that governs which entities are permitted to file a bankruptcy petition is 11 U.S.C. § 109. Banks and other deposit institutions, insurance companies, railroads, and certain other financial institutions and entities regulated by the federal and state governments, and Private and Personal Trusts, except Statutory Business Trusts, as permitted by some States, cannot be a debtor under the Bankruptcy Code. Instead, special state and federal laws govern the liquidation or reorganization of these companies. In the U.S. context at least, it is incorrect to refer to a bank or insurer as being "bankrupt". The terms "insolvent", "in liquidation", or "in receivership" would be appropriate under some circumstances.

Status of certain defined benefit pension plan liabilities in bankruptcy Edit

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), a U.S. government corporation that insures certain defined benefit pension plan obligations, may assert liens in bankruptcy under either of two separate statutory provisions. The first is found in the Internal Revenue Code, at 26 U.S.C. § 412(n), which provides that liens held by the PBGC have the status of a tax lien. Under this provision, the unpaid mandatory pension contributions must exceed one million dollars for the lien to arise. [45]

The second statute is 29 U.S.C. § 1368, under which a PBGC lien has the status of a tax lien in bankruptcy. Under this provision, the lien may not exceed 30% of the net worth of all persons liable under a separate provision, 29 U.S.C. § 1362(a). [46]

In bankruptcy, PBGC liens (like Federal tax liens) generally are not valid against certain competing liens that were perfected before a notice of the PBGC lien was filed. [47]

In 2013, 91 percent of U.S. individuals filing bankruptcy hire an attorney to file their Chapter 7 petition. [48] The typical cost of an attorney was $1,170. [48] Alternatives to filing with an attorney are: filing pro se, meaning without an attorney, which requires an individual to fill out least sixteen separate forms, [49] hiring a petition preparer, [50] or using online software to generate the petition.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court also charges fees. The amounts of these fees vary depending on the Chapter of bankruptcy being filed. As of 2016, the filing fee is $335 for Chapter 7 and $310 for Chapter 13. [51] It is possible to apply for an installment payment plan in cases of financial hardship. Additional fees are charged for adding creditors after filing ($31), converting the case from one chapter to another ($10-$45), and reopening the case ($245 for Chapter 7 and $235 in Chapter 13). [52]

In the United States, criminal provisions relating to bankruptcy fraud and other bankruptcy crimes are found in sections 151 through 158 of Title 18 of the United States Code.

Bankruptcy fraud includes filing a bankruptcy petition or any other document in a bankruptcy case for the purpose of attempting to execute or conceal a scheme or artifice to defraud. Bankruptcy fraud also includes making a false or fraudulent representation, claim or promise in connection with a bankruptcy case, either before or after the commencement of the case, for the purpose of attempting to execute or conceal a scheme or artifice to defraud. Bankruptcy fraud is punishable by a fine, or by up to five years in prison, or both. [53]

Knowingly and fraudulently concealing property of the estate from a custodian, trustee, marshal, or other court officer is a separate offense, and may also be punishable by a fine, or by up to five years in prison, or both. The same penalty may be imposed for knowingly and fraudulently concealing, destroying, mutilating, falsifying, or making a false entry in any books, documents, records, papers, or other recorded information relating to the property or financial affairs of the debtor after a case has been filed. [54]

Certain offenses regarding fraud in connection with a bankruptcy case may also be classified as "racketeering activity" for purposes of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). [55] Any person who receives income directly or indirectly derived from a "pattern" of such racketeering activity (generally, two or more offensive acts within a ten-year period) and who uses or invests any part of that income in the acquisition, establishment, or operation of any enterprise engaged in (or affecting) interstate or foreign commerce may be punished by up to twenty years in prison. [56]

Bankruptcy crimes are prosecuted by the United States Attorney, typically after a reference from the United States Trustee, the case trustee, or a bankruptcy judge.

Bankruptcy fraud can also sometimes lead to criminal prosecution in state courts, under the charge of theft of the goods or services obtained by the debtor for which payment, in whole or in part, was evaded by the fraudulent bankruptcy filing.

On January 23, 2006, the Supreme Court, in Central Virginia Community College v. Katz, declined to apply state sovereign immunity from Seminole Tribe v. Florida, [57] to defeat a trustee's action under 11 U.S.C. § 547 to recover preferential transfers made by a debtor to a state agency. The Court ruled that Article I, section 8, clause 4 of the U.S. Constitution (empowering Congress to establish uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcy) abrogates the state's sovereign immunity in suits to recover preferential payments.

In 2008, there were 1,117,771 bankruptcy filings in the United States courts. Of those, 744,424 were chapter 7 bankruptcies, while 362,762 were chapter 13. [58] Apart from social and economic factors such as education and income, there is often also a correlation between race and bankruptcy outcome. [59] For example, for personal bankruptcy claims, minority debtors had an approximately 40% decreased chance of receiving a discharge in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. These racial disparities are aggravated by the fact that many minority debtors lack appropriate attorney representation. [60]

Personal bankruptcy Edit

Personal bankruptcies may be caused by a number of factors. In 2008, over 96% of all bankruptcy filings were non-business filings, and of those, approximately two-thirds were chapter 7 cases. [58]

Although the individual causes of bankruptcy are complex and multifaceted, the majority of personal bankruptcies involve substantial medical bills. [61] [62] Personal bankruptcies are typically filed under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Personal Chapter 11 bankruptcies are relatively rare. The American Journal of Medicine says over 3 out of 5 personal bankruptcies are due to medical debt. [63]

There were 175,146 individual bankruptcies filed in the United States during the first quarter of 2020. Some 66.5 percent were directly tied to medical issues. Critical illness insurance Association report June 2, 2020

Corporate bankruptcy Edit

Corporate bankruptcy can arise as a result of two broad categories—business failure or financial distress. Business failure stems from flaws in the company's business model that prohibit it from producing the necessary level of profit to justify its capital investment. Conversely, financial distress stems from flaws in the way the company is financed or its capital structure. Continued financial distress leads to either technical insolvency (assets outweigh liabilities, but the firm is unable to meet current obligations) or bankruptcy (liabilities outweigh assets, and the firm has a negative net worth). A company experiencing business failure can stave off bankruptcy as long as it has access to funding conversely, a company that is experiencing financial failure will be pushed into bankruptcy regardless of the soundness of its business model. The actual causes of corporate bankruptcies are difficult to establish, due to the compounding effects of external (macroeconomic, industry) and internal (business or financial) factors. However, some studies have indicated that financial leverage and working capital mismanagement are likely two of the major causes of corporate failure and bankruptcy in the US. [64]


Prophetstown

By the early 1800s, Tecumseh had settled in Ohio and was a respected leader, war chief and orator. In 1805, his younger brother Lalawethika experienced an alcohol-induced vision and declared his intent to lead Indians on a quest to reclaim their lands and culture. He changed his name to Tenskwatawa and became known as “the Prophet.”

After correctly predicting a solar eclipse in 1806, hordes of Indians from various tribes began following the Prophet. In 1808, Tecumseh and the Prophet moved their growing multi-tribal alliance to Prophetstown, near the Wabash and Tippecanoe rivers in present-day Indiana.


V. The War for Independence

The war began at Lexington and Concord, more than a year before Congress declared independence. In 1775, the British believed that the mere threat of war and a few minor incursions to seize supplies would be enough to cow the colonial rebellion. Those minor incursions, however, turned into a full-out military conflict. Despite an early American victory at Boston, the new states faced the daunting task of taking on the world’s largest military.

In the summer of 1776, the British forces that had abandoned Boston arrived at New York. The largest expeditionary force in British history, including tens of thousands of German mercenaries known as Hessians, followed soon after. New York was the perfect location to launch expeditions aimed at seizing control of the Hudson River and isolating New England from the rest of the continent. Also, New York contained many loyalists, particularly among its merchant and Anglican communities. In October, the British finally launched an attack on Brooklyn and Manhattan. The Continental Army took severe losses before retreating through New Jersey. 39 With the onset of winter, Washington needed something to lift morale and encourage reenlistment. Therefore, he launched a successful surprise attack on the Hessian camp at Trenton on Christmas Day by ferrying the few thousand men he had left across the Delaware River under the cover of night. The victory won the Continental Army much-needed supplies and a morale boost following the disaster at New York. 40

An even greater success followed in upstate New York. In 1777, British general John Burgoyne led an army from Canada to secure the Hudson River. In upstate New York, he was to meet up with a detachment of General William Howe’s forces marching north from Manhattan. However, Howe abandoned the plan without telling Burgoyne and instead sailed to Philadelphia to capture the new nation’s capital. The Continental Army defeated Burgoyne’s men at Saratoga, New York. 41 This victory proved a major turning point in the war. Benjamin Franklin had been in Paris trying to secure a treaty of alliance with the French. However, the French were reluctant to back what seemed like an unlikely cause. News of the victory at Saratoga convinced the French that the cause might not have been as unlikely as they had thought. A Treaty of Amity and Commerce was signed on February 6, 1778. The treaty effectively turned a colonial rebellion into a global war as fighting between the British and French soon broke out in Europe and India. 42

In this 1782 cartoon, the British lion faces a spaniel (Spain), a rooster (France), a rattlesnake (America), and a pug dog (Netherlands). Though the caption predicts Britain’s success, it illustrates that Britain faced challenges—and therefore drains on their military and treasury—from more than just the American rebels. J. Barrow, The British Lion Engaging Four Powers, 1782. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

Howe had taken Philadelphia in 1777 but returned to New York once winter ended. He slowly realized that European military tactics would not work in North America. In Europe, armies fought head-on battles in attempt to seize major cities. However, in 1777, the British had held Philadelphia and New York and yet still weakened their position. Meanwhile, Washington realized after New York that the largely untrained Continental Army could not win head-on battles with the professional British army. So he developed his own logic of warfare that involved smaller, more frequent skirmishes and avoided major engagements that would risk his entire army. As long as he kept the army intact, the war would continue, no matter how many cities the British captured.

In 1778, the British shifted their attentions to the South, where they believed they enjoyed more popular support. Campaigns from Virginia to South Carolina and Georgia captured major cities, but the British simply did not have the manpower to retain military control. And upon their departures, severe fighting ensued between local patriots and loyalists, often pitting family members against one another. The war in the South was truly a civil war. 43

By 1781, the British were also fighting France, Spain, and Holland. The British public’s support for the costly war in North America was quickly waning. The Americans took advantage of the British southern strategy with significant aid from the French army and navy. In October, Washington marched his troops from New York to Virginia in an effort to trap the British southern army under the command of General Charles Cornwallis. Cornwallis had dug his men in at Yorktown awaiting supplies and reinforcements from New York. However, the Continental and French armies arrived first, quickly followed by a French navy contingent, encircling Cornwallis’s forces and, after laying siege to the city, forcing his surrender. The capture of another army left the British without a new strategy and without public support to continue the war. Peace negotiations took place in France, and the war came to an official end on September 3, 1783. 44

Lord Cornwallis’s surrender signaled the victory of the American revolutionaries over what they considered to be the despotic rule of Britain. This moment would live on in American memory as a pivotal one in the nation’s origin story, prompting the United States government to commission artist John Trumbull to create this painting of the event in 1817. John Trumbull, Surrender of Lord Cornwallis, 1820. Wikimedia.

Americans celebrated their victory, but it came at great cost. Soldiers suffered through brutal winters with inadequate resources. During the single winter at Valley Forge in 1777–1778, over 2,500 Americans died from disease and exposure. Life was not easy on the home front either. Women on both sides of the conflict were frequently left alone to care for their households. In addition to their existing duties, women took on roles usually assigned to men on farms and in shops and taverns. Abigail Adams addressed the difficulties she encountered while “minding family affairs” on their farm in Braintree, Massachusetts. Abigail managed the planting and harvesting of crops, in the midst of severe labor shortages and inflation, while dealing with several tenants on the Adams property, raising her children, and making clothing and other household goods. In order to support the family economically during John’s frequent absences and the uncertainties of war, Abigail also invested in several speculative schemes and sold imported goods. 45

While Abigail remained safely out of the fray, other women were not so fortunate. The Revolution was not only fought on distant battlefields. It was fought on women’s very doorsteps, in the fields next to their homes. There was no way for women to avoid the conflict or the disruptions and devastations it caused. As the leader of the state militia during the Revolution, Mary Silliman’s husband, Gold, was absent from their home for much of the conflict. On the morning of July 7, 1779, when a British fleet attacked nearby Fairfield, Connecticut, it was Mary who calmly evacuated her household, including her children and servants, to North Stratford. When Gold was captured by loyalists and held prisoner, Mary, six months pregnant with their second child, wrote letters to try to secure his release. When such appeals were ineffectual, Mary spearheaded an effort, along with Connecticut Governor, John Trumbull, to capture a prominent Tory leader to exchange for her husband’s freedom. 46

American soldiers came from a variety of backgrounds and had numerous reasons for fighting with the American army. Jean-Baptiste-Antoine DeVerger, a French sublieutenant at the Battle of Yorktown, painted this watercolor soon after that battle and chose to depict four men in men military dress: an African American soldier from the 2nd Rhode Island Regiment, a man in the homespun of the militia, another wearing the common “hunting shirt” of the frontier, and the French soldier on the end. Jean-Baptiste-Antoine DeVerger, “American soldiers at the siege of Yorktown,” 1781. Wikimedia.

Black Americans, enslaved and free, also impacted (and were impacted by) the Revolution. The British were the first to recruit Black (or “Ethiopian”) regiments, as early as Dunmore’s Proclamation of 1775 in Virginia, which promised freedom to any enslaved person who would escape their enslavers and join the British cause. At first, Washington, an enslaver himself, resisted allowing Black men to join the Continental Army, but he eventually relented. In 1775, Peter Salem’s enslaver freed him to fight with the militia. Salem faced British Regulars in the battles at Lexington and Bunker Hill, where he fought valiantly with around three dozen other Black Americans. Salem not only contributed to the cause, he earned the ability to determine his own life after his enlistment ended. Salem was not alone, but many more enslaved people seized on the tumult of war to run away and secure their own freedom directly. Historians estimate that between thirty thousand and one hundred thousand formerly enslaved people deserted their enslavers during the war. 47

Men and women together struggled through years of war and hardship. For patriots (and those who remained neutral), victory brought new political, social, and economic opportunities, but it also brought new uncertainties. The war decimated entire communities, particularly in the South. Thousands of women throughout the nation had been widowed. The American economy, weighed down by war debt and depreciated currencies, would have to be rebuilt following the war. State constitutions had created governments, but now men would have to figure out how to govern. The opportunities created by the Revolution had come at great cost, in both lives and fortune, and it was left to the survivors to seize those opportunities and help forge and define the new nation-state.

Another John Trumbull piece commissioned for the Capitol in 1817, this painting depicts what would be remembered as the moment the new United States became a republic. On December 23, 1783, George Washington, widely considered the hero of the Revolution, resigned his position as the most powerful man in the former thirteen colonies. Giving up his role as Commander-in-Chief of the Army insured that civilian rule would define the new nation, and that a republic would be set in place rather than a dictatorship. John Trumbull, General George Washington Resigning His Commission, c. 1817-1824. From the Architect of the Capitol.


Sample Essays

Use these sample AP U.S. History essays to get ideas for your own AP essays. These essays are examples of good AP-level writing.

1. The ‘50s and ‘60s: Decades of Prosperity and Protest (DBQ)

The 1950s were characterized as a prosperous and conformist decade for many reasons. The first and most widespread of these reasons was the development of the suburbs. As masses of Southern blacks migrated northward to the big cities, more rich and middle-class families left to live in the suburbs t.

2. American Foreign Policy: Isolationism to Interventionism (DBQ)

World War I had left a bitter taste in the mouths of many Americans many believed that the U.S. had been tricked into joining the war for the wrong reasons, and they were determined to avoid making the same mistake twice. After the Great War, Americans were disappointed to realize that the war was .

3. American Identity and Unity

Throughout the 17 and 18 centuries Americans developed a unique system of government with revolutionary ideals &ndash never seen anywhere else before. Americans adopted representative governments with democratic principles that allowed each person to have a voice in the decisions about their countr.

4. Urbanization in the 19th Century U.S.A.

Cities attracted a diverse population composed of hundreds of ethnicities from around the globe. German and Scandinavian immigrants poured into America during the late 19 century, attracted by extravagant stories of the wonderful American lifestyle: three meals a day, freedom, and social equality. S.

5. Abraham Lincoln and the Struggle for Union and Emancipation (DBQ)

President Abraham Lincoln was faced with a monumental challenge during his two terms as Commander-in-chief of the United States: reuniting the shattered halves of the Union. This was his sole purpose in fighting the Civil War&mdashnothing more, nothing less. However, Lincoln was flexible enough to .

6. Roosevelt and the Revolutionary New Deal

President Franklin D. Roosevelt&rsquos &ldquoNew Deal&rdquo was the ultimate reform movement, providing bold reform without bloodshed or revolution. Although many Americans criticized President Roosevelt for his &ldquotry anything&rdquo approach and wasteful spending, Roosevelt saved the Americ.

7. Flip-Flopper Thomas Jefferson: From State’s Rights to Federalism

Throughout his early political career, Thomas Jefferson had always been a strong supporter of states&rsquo rights and a major critic of Federalist policies. However, after being elected as President in 1801, Jefferson altered his earlier philosophy of government. Documents A and B show Jefferson&r.

8. Agrarian Discontent in the Late 19th Century

Midwest farmers expressed further discontent with the U.S. government on the issue of taxes. During the Civil War, the U.S. government had increased taxes to raise revenue for the relentless war machine, but had neglected to lower them back down after the conflict had concluded. The high taxes and t.

9. Post-Civil War Reconstruction in the South

Even before the Civil War had concluded, Northern politicians were busy making Reconstruction plans for the Confederate States. Reconstruction&mdashthe process by which seceded states were to re-enter back into the Union&mdashwas a difficult process for the United States for two reasons. Firstly, .

10. Winners and Losers in the American Revolution

The American Revolution was an important event for the North American continent because it affected so many differing parties. As in all conflicts, the American Revolution resulted in &ldquowinners&rdquo and &ldquolosers&rdquo. The Patriots were the obvious winners in the Revolution they gained.

11. The Transformation of Colonial Virginia (DBQ)

During the time period between 1606 and 1700 hundreds of settlers flocked to the Virginia colony seeking riches &ndash only to find hardship, and no gold. However, after many years, and much effort, the Virginians managed to secure a solid social and economic system that would eventually make Virgi.

12. The United States: A Date with Manifest Destiny

Since the first Puritan settlement of America by the Massachusetts Bay Colony (&ldquoCity on a Hill&rdquo) to the United States&rsquo current involvement in the affairs of foreign countries, it is clear that Americans find a need to spread their democratic ideals abroad. The idea of Manifest Dest.

13. Challenges to American Democracy: Trends and Similarities

American democracy has faced numerous challenges from the 1700s to modern day. However, the American dream has never faltered for a moment even in the face of sure failure, and sure destruction, the United States has triumphed. The years 1805, 1905, and 2005 were no exception to this tradition tho.

14. "Duck Soup" and American Beliefs in the 1930s

The Marx Brothers&rsquo film was first released in 1933. At first, many critics deemed the film to be a commercial failure because its popularity paled in comparison to other Marx Brothers&rsquo productions like , , and . Furthermore, many sensitive American audiences were offended at the rampant.


Flip-Flopper Thomas Jefferson: From State’s Rights to Federalism

Throughout his early political career, Thomas Jefferson had always been a strong supporter of states&rsquo rights and a major critic of Federalist policies. However, after being elected as President in 1801, Jefferson radically altered his earlier philosophy of government. Documents A and B show Jefferson&rsquos strong opposition to federal power and his firm belief in a &ldquostrict construction&rdquo of the U.S. Constitution. However, Document C shows his abuse of federal authority by exercising power not specifically granted to the federal government by the Constitution.

Before Jefferson entered office, he was a states&rsquo right activist and a Democratic-Republican. He believed that the federal government should be given as little power as possible in his opinion the federal government was very prone to becoming tyrannical. He feared that, after a hard fought war of independence against Britain, Americans&rsquo might once again be governed by a tyrannical authority. His worst fears came true when, in 1794, Congress passed the excise law (Doc. A). Jefferson voiced his disgust in a letter to James Madison he believed the law to be &ldquoan infernal one&rdquo and a possible &ldquoinstrument of dismembering the Union&rdquo. According to him, the law was unconstitutional he believed that the federal government was abusing their authority by exercising powers that were not specifically granted to them in the Constitution. This is called &ldquoloose construction&rdquo. This illustrates his strong beliefs in limiting federal power and interpreting the extent of federal power through a strict construction of the Constitution. He furthered this same point when he wrote the Kentucky Resolutions in 1798 (Doc. B). In this piece of legislation, Jefferson openly opposes the Alien and Sedition Acts. This demonstrates his opposition of federal government controls on free speech and immigration&mdashand federal government controls in general. Jefferson believed that the federal government was granted &ldquocertain definite powers&rdquo and that the states were reserved &ldquothe residuary mass of right to their own self-government&rdquo. In other words, he believed in strict constructionism: that the federal government&rsquos powers should be expressly limited, and that the states should receive all the remaining powers. It is clear that before Jefferson was elected to office in 1801 he was a major advocate of states&rsquo rights and critic of federalist policies.

After Jefferson was elected to office, he significantly altered his philosophies about government. As president, Jefferson acted outside his legitimate authority on numerous occasions. One such occasion was when Jefferson authorized the Louisiana Purchase (Doc. C). In this situation, Jefferson clearly demonstrated a disregard for the limit of his powers. Jefferson knew that he did not have the authority to engage in such a deal with France, because it was not a power specifically granted to him in the Constitution. However, he completed the Louisiana Purchase anyway because he &ldquothought it his duty&rdquo to risk himself for the good of the United States. In other words, he knew what he was doing was wrong, but he felt justified in knowing that it was for the good of the country. Although Jefferson had good intentions, he clearly violated the Constitution by abusing his position as executive of the U.S. In another situation, Jefferson pushed the limits of presidential power by passing the Embargo Act of 1807. This act restricted trade with France and Britain because they did not respect the U.S. neutrality during the Napoleonic War. Although, his intentions were again good in this situation, he pushed the limits of what a president could constitutionally do while in office. Clearly, Jefferson exercised massive federal power to achieve his political goals.

It is obvious that after being elected as President, Jefferson radically altered his earlier philosophy of government. Before, he had strongly opposed federal power and fought for a strict constructionist view of the U.S. Constitution. However, once in office, he clearly abused his presidential authority by exercising power not specifically granted to the federal government in the Constitution. Despite his anti-Federalist upbringing, Thomas Jefferson turned out to be more a Federalist than Washington or Adams ever was.

You just finished Flip-Flopper Thomas Jefferson: From State’s Rights to Federalism. Nice work!


Mlk Birmingham Letter Summary Essay

In "Letter from Birmingham Jail" Martin Luther King strives to justify the need for nonviolent direct action in order to end all forms of segregation and helping the civil rights movement.

The Difference Between Leadership and Followership Essay

One of the biggest differences that separate leaders from followers is the fact that many leaders have charisma. Many followers have charisma, although it may be stifled…

Essay on The Toxic Chemistry Of Everyday Products

He explains some of the medical problems that can result from the chemicals being in a person’s blood—breast cancer, reproductive issues, endocrine issues, mutations in fetuses, etc.

The International Issue On Narcotics Essay

The international issue on narcotics and their domestic drug policies has been of great debate for decades. In this time, countries across the globe have joined the United States by declaring “war” on drugs.

Essay on Success

Success is not a gift, it should be hard to achieve and it matters how it is accomplished. That’s why I strongly disagree with this statement. "It is irrelevant how you achieve success".

Healthcare Has Changed over the Past 10 Years with the Help of Technology. Essay

Healthcare has changed a lot in the past 20 years. People now live on average at least ten years longer than they did in 1989, and medical advances have brought many breakthroughs.


Assessing Pluralist and Elite Theories

As a way of understanding power in the United States and other democracies, pluralist and elite theories have much to offer, but neither type of theory presents a complete picture. Pluralist theory errs in seeing all special-interest groups as equally powerful and influential. Certainly the success of lobbying groups such as the National Rifle Association and the American Medical Association in the political and economic systems is testimony to the fact that not all special-interest groups are created equal. Pluralist theory also errs in seeing the government as a neutral referee. Sometimes the government does take sides on behalf of corporations by acting, or failing to act, in a certain way.

For example, U.S. antipollution laws and regulations are notoriously weak because of the influence of major corporations on the political process. Through their campaign contributions, lobbying, and other types of influence, corporations help ensure that pollution controls are kept as weak as possible (Simon, 2008). This problem received worldwide attention in the spring of 2010 after the explosion of an oil rig owned by BP, a major oil and energy company, spilled tens of thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in the biggest environmental disaster in U.S. history. As the oil was leaking, news reports emphasized that individuals or political action committees (PACs) associated with BP had contributed $500,000 to U.S. candidates in the 2008 elections, that BP had spent $16 million on lobbying in 2009, and that the oil and gas industry had spent tens of millions of dollars on lobbying that year (Montopoli, 2010).

Although these examples support the views of elite theories, the theories also paint too simple a picture. They err in implying that the ruling class acts as a unified force in protecting its interests. Corporations sometimes do oppose each other for profits and sometimes even steal secrets from each other, and governments do not always support the ruling class. For example, the U.S. government has tried to reduce tobacco smoking despite the wealth and influence of tobacco companies. While the United States, then, does not entirely fit the pluralist vision of power and society, neither does it entirely fit the elite vision. Yet the evidence that does exist of elite influence on the American political and economic systems reminds us that government is not always “of the people, by the people, for the people,” however much we may wish it otherwise.

Key Takeaways

  • Pluralist theory assumes that political power in democracies is dispersed among several veto groups that compete equally for resources and influence.
  • Elite theories assume that power is instead concentrated in the hands of a few wealthy individuals and organizations that exert inordinate influence on the government and can shape its decisions to benefit their own interests.

For Your Review

  1. Do pluralist or elite theories better explain the exercise of power in the United States? Explain your answer.

The Thucydides Trap: Are the U.S. and China Headed for War?

In 12 of 16 past cases in which a rising power has confronted a ruling power, the result has been bloodshed.

When Barack Obama meets this week with Xi Jinping during the Chinese president’s first state visit to America, one item probably won’t be on their agenda: the possibility that the United States and China could find themselves at war in the next decade. In policy circles, this appears as unlikely as it would be unwise.

And yet 100 years on, World War I offers a sobering reminder of man’s capacity for folly. When we say that war is “inconceivable,” is this a statement about what is possible in the world—or only about what our limited minds can conceive? In 1914, few could imagine slaughter on a scale that demanded a new category: world war. When the war ended four years later, Europe lay in ruins: the kaiser gone, the Austro-Hungarian empire dissolved, the Russian tsar overthrown by the Bolsheviks, France bled for a generation, and England shorn of its youth and treasure. A millennium in which Europe had been the political center of the world came to a crashing halt.

The defining question about global order for this generation is whether China and the United States can escape Thucydides’s Trap. The Greek historian’s metaphor reminds us of the attendant dangers when a rising power rivals a ruling power—as Athens challenged Sparta in ancient Greece, or as Germany did Britain a century ago. Most such contests have ended badly, often for both nations, a team of mine at the Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs has concluded after analyzing the historical record. In 12 of 16 cases over the past 500 years, the result was war. When the parties avoided war, it required huge, painful adjustments in attitudes and actions on the part of not just the challenger but also the challenged.

Based on the current trajectory, war between the United States and China in the decades ahead is not just possible, but much more likely than recognized at the moment. Indeed, judging by the historical record, war is more likely than not. Moreover, current underestimations and misapprehensions of the hazards inherent in the U.S.-China relationship contribute greatly to those hazards. A risk associated with Thucydides’s Trap is that business as usual—not just an unexpected, extraordinary event—can trigger large-scale conflict. When a rising power is threatening to displace a ruling power, standard crises that would otherwise be contained, like the assassination of an archduke in 1914, can initiate a cascade of reactions that, in turn, produce outcomes none of the parties would otherwise have chosen.

War, however, is not inevitable. Four of the 16 cases in our review did not end in bloodshed. Those successes, as well as the failures, offer pertinent lessons for today’s world leaders. Escaping the Trap requires tremendous effort. As Xi Jinping himself said during a visit to Seattle on Tuesday, “There is no such thing as the so-called Thucydides Trap in the world. But should major countries time and again make the mistakes of strategic miscalculation, they might create such traps for themselves.”

More than 2,400 years ago, the Athenian historian Thucydides offered a powerful insight: “It was the rise of Athens, and the fear that this inspired in Sparta, that made war inevitable.” Others identified an array of contributing causes of the Peloponnesian War. But Thucydides went to the heart of the matter, focusing on the inexorable, structural stress caused by a rapid shift in the balance of power between two rivals. Note that Thucydides identified two key drivers of this dynamic: the rising power’s growing entitlement, sense of its importance, and demand for greater say and sway, on the one hand, and the fear, insecurity, and determination to defend the status quo this engenders in the established power, on the other.

In the case about which he wrote in the fifth century B.C., Athens had emerged over a half century as a steeple of civilization, yielding advances in philosophy, history, drama, architecture, democracy, and naval prowess. This shocked Sparta, which for a century had been the leading land power on the Peloponnese peninsula. As Thucydides saw it, Athens’s position was understandable. As its clout grew, so too did its self-confidence, its consciousness of past injustices, its sensitivity to instances of disrespect, and its insistence that previous arrangements be revised to reflect new realities of power. It was also natural, Thucydides explained, that Sparta interpreted the Athenian posture as unreasonable, ungrateful, and threatening to the system it had established—and within which Athens had flourished.

Thucydides chronicled objective changes in relative power, but he also focused on perceptions of change among the leaders of Athens and Sparta—and how this led each to strengthen alliances with other states in the hopes of counterbalancing the other. But entanglement runs both ways. (It was for this reason that George Washington famously cautioned America to beware of “entangling alliances.”) When conflict broke out between the second-tier city-states of Corinth and Corcyra (now Corfu), Sparta felt it necessary to come to Corinth’s defense, which left Athens little choice but to back its ally. The Peloponnesian War followed. When it ended 30 years later, Sparta was the nominal victor. But both states lay in ruin, leaving Greece vulnerable to the Persians.

Eight years before the outbreak of world war in Europe, Britain’s King Edward VII asked his prime minister why the British government was becoming so unfriendly to his nephew Kaiser Wilhelm II’s Germany, rather than keeping its eye on America, which he saw as the greater challenge. The prime minister instructed the Foreign Office’s chief Germany watcher, Eyre Crowe, to write a memo answering the king’s question. Crowe delivered his memorandum on New Year’s Day, 1907. The document is a gem in the annals of diplomacy.

The logic of Crowe’s analysis echoed Thucydides’s insight. And his central question, as paraphrased by Henry Kissinger in On China, was the following: Did increasing hostility between Britain and Germany stem more from German capabilities or German conduct? Crowe put it a bit differently: Did Germany’s pursuit of “political hegemony and maritime ascendancy” pose an existential threat to “the independence of her neighbours and ultimately the existence of England?”

The British Grand Fleet on its way to meet the Imperial German Navy’s fleet for the Battle of Jutland in 1916 (AP)

Crowe’s answer was unambiguous: Capability was key. As Germany’s economy surpassed Britain’s, Germany would not only develop the strongest army on the continent. It would soon also “build as powerful a navy as she can afford.” In other words, Kissinger writes, “once Germany achieved naval supremacy … this in itself—regardless of German intentions—would be an objective threat to Britain, and incompatible with the existence of the British Empire.”

Three years after reading that memo, Edward VII died. Attendees at his funeral included two “chief mourners”—Edward’s successor, George V, and Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm—along with Theodore Roosevelt representing the United States. At one point, Roosevelt (an avid student of naval power and leading champion of the buildup of the U.S. Navy) asked Wilhelm whether he would consider a moratorium in the German-British naval arms race. The kaiser replied that Germany was unalterably committed to having a powerful navy. But as he went on to explain, war between Germany and Britain was simply unthinkable, because “I was brought up in England, very largely I feel myself partly an Englishman. Next to Germany I care more for England than for any other country.” And then with emphasis: “I ADORE ENGLAND!”

However unimaginable conflict seems, however catastrophic the potential consequences for all actors, however deep the cultural empathy among leaders, even blood relatives, and however economically interdependent states may be—none of these factors is sufficient to prevent war, in 1914 or today.

In fact, in 12 of 16 cases over the last 500 years in which there was a rapid shift in the relative power of a rising nation that threatened to displace a ruling state, the result was war. As the table below suggests, the struggle for mastery in Europe and Asia over the past half millennium offers a succession of variations on a common story line.

(For summaries of these 16 cases and the methodology for selecting them, and for a forum to register additions, subtractions, revisions, and disagreements with the cases, please visit the Harvard Belfer Center’s Thucydides Trap Case File. For this first phase of the project, we at the Belfer Center identified “ruling” and “rising” powers by following the judgments of leading historical accounts, resisting the temptation to offer original or idiosyncratic interpretations of events. These histories use “rise” and “rule” according to their conventional definitions, generally emphasizing rapid shifts in relative GDP and military strength. Most of the cases in this initial round of analysis come from post-Westphalian Europe.)

When a rising, revolutionary France challenged Britain’s dominance of the oceans and the balance of power on the European continent, Britain destroyed Napoleon Bonaparte’s fleet in 1805 and later sent troops to the continent to defeat his armies in Spain and at Waterloo. As Otto von Bismarck sought to unify a quarrelsome assortment of rising German states, war with their common adversary, France, proved an effective instrument to mobilize popular support for his mission. After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, a rapidly modernizing Japanese economy and military establishment challenged Chinese and Russian dominance of East Asia, resulting in wars with both from which Japan emerged as the leading power in the region.

Each case is, of course, unique. Ongoing debate about the causes of the First World War reminds us that each is subject to competing interpretations. A great international historian, Harvard’s Ernest May, taught that when attempting to reason from history, we should be as sensitive to the differences as to the similarities among cases we compare. (Indeed, in his Historical Reasoning 101 class, May would take a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle of the page, label one column “Similar” and the other “Different,” and fill in the sheet with at least a half dozen of each.) Nonetheless, acknowledging many differences, Thucydides directs us to a powerful commonality.

The preeminent geostrategic challenge of this era is not violent Islamic extremists or a resurgent Russia. It is the impact that China’s ascendance will have on the U.S.-led international order, which has provided unprecedented great-power peace and prosperity for the past 70 years. As Singapore’s late leader, Lee Kuan Yew, observed, “the size of China’s displacement of the world balance is such that the world must find a new balance. It is not possible to pretend that this is just another big player. This is the biggest player in the history of the world.” Everyone knows about the rise of China. Few of us realize its magnitude. Never before in history has a nation risen so far, so fast, on so many dimensions of power. To paraphrase former Czech President Vaclav Havel, all this has happened so rapidly that we have not yet had time to be astonished.

My lecture on this topic at Harvard begins with a quiz that asks students to compare China and the United States in 1980 with their rankings today. The reader is invited to fill in the blanks.

The answers for the first column: In 1980, China had 10 percent of America’s GDP as measured by purchasing power parity 7 percent of its GDP at current U.S.-dollar exchange rates and 6 percent of its exports. The foreign currency held by China, meanwhile, was just one-sixth the size of America’s reserves. The answers for the second column: By 2014, those figures were 101 percent of GDP 60 percent at U.S.-dollar exchange rates and 106 percent of exports. China’s reserves today are 28 times larger than America’s.

In a single generation, a nation that did not appear on any of the international league tables has vaulted into the top ranks. In 1980, China’s economy was smaller than that of the Netherlands. Last year, the increment of growth in China’s GDP was roughly equal to the entire Dutch economy.

The second question in my quiz asks students: Could China become No. 1? In what year could China overtake the United States to become, say, the largest economy in the world, or primary engine of global growth, or biggest market for luxury goods?

  • Manufacturer:
  • Exporter:
  • Trading nation:
  • Saver:
  • Holder of U.S. debt:
  • Foreign-direct-investment destination:
  • Energy consumer:
  • Oil importer:
  • Carbon emitter:
  • Steel producer:
  • Auto market:
  • Smartphone market:
  • E-commerce market:
  • Luxury-goods market:
  • Internet user:
  • Fastest supercomputer:
  • Holder of foreign reserves:
  • Source of initial public offerings:
  • Primary engine of global growth:
  • Economy:

Most are stunned to learn that on each of these 20 indicators, China has already surpassed the U.S.

Will China be able to sustain economic-growth rates several times those of the United States for another decade and beyond? If and as it does, are its current leaders serious about displacing the U.S. as the predominant power in Asia? Will China follow the path of Japan and Germany, and take its place as a responsible stakeholder in the international order that America has built over the past seven decades? The answer to these questions is obviously that no one knows.

But if anyone’s forecasts are worth heeding, it’s those of Lee Kuan Yew, the world’s premier China watcher and a mentor to Chinese leaders since Deng Xiaoping. Before his death in March, the founder of Singapore put the odds of China continuing to grow at several times U.S. rates for the next decade and beyond as “four chances in five.” On whether China’s leaders are serious about displacing the United States as the top power in Asia in the foreseeable future, Lee answered directly: “Of course. Why not … how could they not aspire to be number one in Asia and in time the world?” And about accepting its place in an international order designed and led by America, he said absolutely not: “China wants to be China and accepted as such—not as an honorary member of the West.”

Americans have a tendency to lecture others about why they should be “more like us.” In urging China to follow the lead of the United States, should we Americans be careful what we wish for?

As the United States emerged as the dominant power in the Western hemisphere in the 1890s, how did it behave? Future President Theodore Roosevelt personified a nation supremely confident that the 100 years ahead would be an American century. Over a decade that began in 1895 with the U.S. secretary of state declaring the United States “sovereign on this continent,” America liberated Cuba threatened Britain and Germany with war to force them to accept American positions on disputes in Venezuela and Canada backed an insurrection that split Colombia to create a new state of Panama (which immediately gave the U.S. concessions to build the Panama Canal) and attempted to overthrow the government of Mexico, which was supported by the United Kingdom and financed by London bankers. In the half century that followed, U.S. military forces intervened in “our hemisphere” on more than 30 separate occasions to settle economic or territorial disputes in terms favorable to Americans, or oust leaders they judged unacceptable.

Theodore Roosevelt with U.S. troops at the Panama Canal Zone in 1906 (Wikimedia)

For example, in 1902, when British and German ships attempted to impose a naval blockade to force Venezuela to pay its debts to them, Roosevelt warned both countries that he would “be obliged to interfere by force if necessary” if they did not withdraw their ships. The British and Germans were persuaded to retreat and to resolve their dispute in terms satisfactory to the U.S. at The Hague. The following year, when Colombia refused to lease the Panama Canal Zone to the United States, America sponsored Panamanian secessionists, recognized the new Panamanian government within hours of its declaration of independence, and sent the Marines to defend the new country. Roosevelt defended the U.S. intervention on the grounds that it was “justified in morals and therefore justified in law.” Shortly thereafter, Panama granted the United States rights to the Canal Zone “in perpetuity.”

When Deng Xiaoping initiated China’s fast march to the market in 1978, he announced a policy known as “hide and bide.” What China needed most abroad was stability and access to markets. The Chinese would thus “bide our time and hide our capabilities,” which Chinese military officers sometimes paraphrased as getting strong before getting even.

With the arrival of China’s new paramount leader, Xi Jinping, the era of “hide and bide” is over. Nearly three years into his 10-year term, Xi has stunned colleagues at home and China watchers abroad with the speed at which he has moved and the audacity of his ambitions. Domestically, he has bypassed rule by a seven-man standing committee and instead consolidated power in his own hands ended flirtations with democratization by reasserting the Communist Party’s monopoly on political power and attempted to transform China’s engine of growth from an export-focused economy to one driven by domestic consumption. Overseas, he has pursued a more active Chinese foreign policy that is increasingly assertive in advancing the country’s interests.

While the Western press is seized by the story line of “China’s economic slowdown,” few pause to note that China’s lower growth rate remains more than three times that of the United States. Many observers outside China have missed the great divergence between China’s economic performance and that of its competitors over the seven years since the financial crisis of 2008 and Great Recession. That shock caused virtually all other major economies to falter and decline. China never missed a year of growth, sustaining an average growth rate exceeding 8 percent. Indeed, since the financial crisis, nearly 40 percent of all growth in the global economy has occurred in just one country: China. The chart below illustrates China’s growth compared to growth among its peers in the BRICS group of emerging economies, advanced economies, and the world. From a common index of 100 in 2007, the divergence is dramatic.

Harvard Belfer Center / IMF World Economic Outlook

Today, China has displaced the United States as the world’s largest economy measured in terms of the amount of goods and services a citizen can buy in his own country (purchasing power parity).

What Xi Jinping calls the “China Dream” expresses the deepest aspirations of hundreds of millions of Chinese, who wish to be not only rich but also powerful. At the core of China’s civilizational creed is the belief—or conceit—that China is the center of the universe. In the oft-repeated narrative, a century of Chinese weakness led to exploitation and national humiliation by Western colonialists and Japan. In Beijing’s view, China is now being restored to its rightful place, where its power commands recognition of and respect for China’s core interests.

A woodblock painting depicts the First Sino-Japanese War. (Toyohara Chikanobu / Wikimedia)

Last November, in a seminal meeting of the entire Chinese political and foreign-policy establishment, including the leadership of the People’s Liberation Army, Xi provided a comprehensive overview of his vision of China’s role in the world. The display of self-confidence bordered on hubris. Xi began by offering an essentially Hegelian conception of the major historical trends toward multipolarity (i.e. not U.S. unipolarity) and the transformation of the international system (i.e. not the current U.S.-led system). In his words, a rejuvenated Chinese nation will build a “new type of international relations” through a “protracted” struggle over the nature of the international order. In the end, he assured his audience that “the growing trend toward a multipolar world will not change.”

Given objective trends, realists see an irresistible force approaching an immovable object. They ask which is less likely: China demanding a lesser role in the East and South China Seas than the United States did in the Caribbean or Atlantic in the early 20th century, or the U.S. sharing with China the predominance in the Western Pacific that America has enjoyed since World War II?

And yet in four of the 16 cases that the Belfer Center team analyzed, similar rivalries did not end in war. If leaders in the United States and China let structural factors drive these two great nations to war, they will not be able to hide behind a cloak of inevitability. Those who don’t learn from past successes and failures to find a better way forward will have no one to blame but themselves.

Actors dressed as Red Army soldiers mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, in Beijing. (Kim Kyung-Hoon / Reuters)

At this point, the established script for discussion of policy challenges calls for a pivot to a new strategy (or at least slogan), with a short to-do list that promises peaceful and prosperous relations with China. Shoehorning this challenge into that template would demonstrate only one thing: a failure to understand the central point I’m trying to make. What strategists need most at the moment is not a new strategy, but a long pause for reflection. If the tectonic shift caused by China’s rise poses a challenge of genuinely Thucydidean proportions, declarations about “rebalancing,” or revitalizing “engage and hedge,” or presidential hopefuls’ calls for more “muscular” or “robust” variants of the same, amount to little more than aspirin treating cancer. Future historians will compare such assertions to the reveries of British, German, and Russian leaders as they sleepwalked into 1914.

The rise of a 5,000-year-old civilization with 1.3 billion people is not a problem to be fixed. It is a condition—a chronic condition that will have to be managed over a generation. Success will require not just a new slogan, more frequent summits of presidents, and additional meetings of departmental working groups. Managing this relationship without war will demand sustained attention, week by week, at the highest level in both countries. It will entail a depth of mutual understanding not seen since the Henry Kissinger–Zhou Enlai conversations in the 1970s. Most significantly, it will mean more radical changes in attitudes and actions, by leaders and publics alike, than anyone has yet imagined.


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