On the homepage, Daniel Gullotta argues that today’s “Jacksonianism” doesn’t bear much resemblance to how Andrew Jackson actually thought. At Bloomberg Opinion, Hal Brands (a colleague of mine both there and at the American Enterprise Institute) makes the case that Jackson’s immediate predecessor has been the victim of distorted memory, too. His comment about not going abroad to seek our monsters to destroy was an important part of his thought but not the entirety of it.
That President Adams was not doctrinaire about foreign policy may be gleaned from a comment he made in a message to Congress in March 1826:
Mindful of the advice given by the father of our country in his Farewell Address, that the great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible, and faithfully adhering to the spirit of that admonition, I can not overlook the reflection that the counsel of Washington in that instance, like all the counsels of wisdom, was rounded upon the circumstances in which our country and the world around us were situated at the time when it was given.
There follow a few tightly argued paragraphs explaining how our circumstances had and had not changed in the intervening period, and what lessons we should draw about which aspects of our policy toward each hemisphere should change and which remain the same.