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Meeting the EnemyAmerican Exceptionalism and International Law$
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Natsu Taylor Saito

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814798362

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814798362.001.0001

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Establishing the Republic

Establishing the Republic

America as Exception

(p.54) 3 “A City on a Hill”
Meeting the Enemy

Natsu Taylor Saito

NYU Press

This chapter examines how the contradiction between democratic ideals and perceived colonial needs was reconciled within the framework of the U.S. Constitution and laws, largely by portraying Indigenous peoples as “savages”. It begins with an overview of the foundational principles and values that justified the establishment of the United States and formed the basis for its claims not only to its territory but also to an exceptional identity and status. It then considers the new republic's justifications for continued appropriation of American Indian territories and goes on to discuss the question of slavery and its impact on determining the beneficiaries of American liberty and equality—in other words, who was an “American.” It also explores the founders' attempts to demonstrate the legitimacy of the new republic under international law. Finally, it explains the construction of racialized identities that excluded American Indians and Africans from the American polity.

Keywords:   slavery, U.S. Constitution, Indigenous peoples, savages, United States, liberty, equality, international law, racialized identities, American Indians

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