Caitlin Fitz on her book “Our Sister Republics” (2016)

Our Sister Republics: The United States in an Age of American Revolutions “exhumes a forgotten moment in the history of the Americas, a time when residents of the newly formed United States came to see Latin Americans as partners in a shared revolutionary experiment. In the half century after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Fitz argues, faith in the egalitarian principles outlined by Thomas Jefferson trumped concerns about racial difference below the equator. That ecumenical attitude gave way in the 1820s to a rival interpretation of American exceptionalism grounded not in a common hemispheric project but in the dream of a white man’s republic.’

Fitz: ‘The inter-American universalism of the 1810s and early 1820s simultaneously fueled patriotic arrogance (or “particularism,” as you call it). When white people in the United States celebrated Latin American insurgents, there was often a sense that they’re following us, that we’re the center and they’re our satellites. That tension persists today: the United States often presents itself as defending freedom around the world, but we simultaneously prioritize our own particular interests, to a degree that sometimes alienates our allies. What most concerns me about our current moment, however, is the degree to which Donald Trump is actually spurning universalism with his “America First” foreign policy and his critique of “the false song of globalism.” It will be fascinating to see how his belligerent isolationism fares in our pluralistic electorate.’