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Exporting the Revolution

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Tom Paine’s Liberal Internationalism and the Descent on England

image of Journal of Early American History

This essay explores the connections between Paine’s international thought and the theory of liberal internationalism in the field of Political Science. Paine was first to provide a coherent theory of how democracy, free trade, and limited military spending would promote both peace and prosperity. One troubling inconsistency in Paine’s liberal internationalism rests in his advocacy for both small military budgets and active military intervention to spread democracy. By comparing Paine’s divergent views regarding democracy promotion and intervention in Louisiana and in England, we emerge with a far more nuanced understanding of Paine’s promotion of democracy. I argue that Paine’s vision for active military interventionism is not inconsistent with a small military.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Political Science, Grand Valley State University,


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