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“Architect of Empire” by Edward P. Crapol Research Paper

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Updated: Oct 10th, 2021


Literature is a rather specific matter for writing. Giving an evaluation to the arguments presented in this or that book is rather difficult, especially if a historical book is under consideration. Thus, assessing the book presenting the biography of one of the most prominent persons in the history of the United States is a challenging task but this is exactly what the present paper will focus on. The book under consideration is James G. Blaine: Architect of Empire by Edward P. Crapol. This author is famous for his comprehensive view of historical events and figures, and the present book is dedicated to James Blain who is considered to be the founder of the USA as the dominant power in the international politics for the next centuries. So, the present paper will examine the accuracy of calling James Blaine Architect of Empire and the relevance of the evidence the author presents in support of his viewpoint.


The book under consideration is dedicated to the personality of the famous American politician and statesman James Blaine (1830 – 1893) who represented Republicans in six subsequent Congresses from 1863 till 1876. His career reached its top when he became the Secretary of State two times but was a bit spoiled by the failing attempts to contest for the presidential seat with the Republican ticket. Being a rather talented and gifted person, James Blaine early began to participate in public life of Maine and further of the whole country. From 1859 till 1862 he served as the Speaker of the House in the Main House of Representatives, and than took up the career of the politician dealing with the issues important to the whole country, and especially the issues of foreign policy of the United States of America. His activities, which will be considered further contributed greatly to the formation of the USA as a dominant and the largest economic and political power in the world, while Blaine’s ideas are nowadays considered to be blueprints for the development America carried out in the twentieth century (Crapol, 2000).


Thus, the universal accuracy of the point that James Blaine can be considered as the Architect of the American Empire should not be doubted, especially taking into consideration the legislative initiatives he made and practical steps he carried out for the fastening of the US positions in foreign policies and domestic wealth of the USA. Consequently, the title of the book is also right as of the book depicting the life of the person who did much for the international recognition of the USA. However, different opinions about Blaine’s role in the American history exist.

Basically, they are grounded by the evidence that his ideas were not knew at the time when he proposed them or managed to stand for their legislative implementation. Also, the opponents of recognizing Blaine as the architect of the American empire claim that his views were not dominant in the society and other politicians of the same period expressed close ideas, and Blaine can not be singled out from their number. Nevertheless, the main areas of disagreement in this question are the place of Blaine in the history, the importance of his personality and views, and his relation to the other similar theories that were expressed by Henry Clay, William Seward or some other politicians. While the major agreement areas lie in the plane of recognition that Blaine was a notable figure in the US history and exactly his ideas are accepted as the blueprints for the development of the United States foreign policies in the 20th century (Crapol, 2000).


The author of this very paper, however, has a sure opinion that James Blaine has a full right to be considered as the actual architect of the American Empire and of the dominant position that the USA takes nowadays in the world’s politics and economics. To prove this, the evidence presented by Edward Crapol in his book James G. Blaine: Architect of Empire will be of great help. To speak generally, James Blaine was the architect of the US hegemony in the international arena of political and economic affairs by drawing the blueprints of the most effective ways of development that further generations took as guidelines (Crapol, 2000).

In more detail, the ideas expressed by Blaine in the middle of the 19th century were rather original and revolutionary. The United States were the country of the internally-oriented economy where the Civil War and the further stage of the Reconstruction dominated. The agriculture and industry of the country were in a rather poor state while the idea of foreign relations and dominating them was not even expressed by politicians. However, by the late 1890s, the American economy was already the largest and the most powerful in the world. This change happened mainly due to the efforts James Blake took up while serving the Secretary of State in the cabinets of Garfield, Arthur and Harrison (Crapol, 2000).

First of all, the inner strengthening of the country was carried out by Blaine through adopting the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution that allowed for the equal representation of all states in the voting process during Congress of Presidential elections. Also, the boundary between religious and public funding was established by Blaine, as well as educational reform all of which were directed at the establishment of the strong country with the perspective of becoming strong internationally (Crapol, 2000).

In the foreign policy, Blaine as the Secretary of State was the first person of the American Government to conclude the Pan-American Congress featuring the USA and Latin American countries. This step allowed the USA to obtain control over territories disputed about with Germany of Great Britain. Also, the partnership relations with the neighboring countries provided for the development of international trade, access to cheap labor force of those countries, and their support in arguments with other countries, like Spain in Spanish-American war that ended in 1902. Also, under Blaine the merchant marine of the US was revived while the perfect high-standard navy was only established. All these steps allowed the USA to control the Panama Canal and be a rightful competitor to Great Britain and Spain on the sea and in respect of other international relations, including military power and trade extents. All this proves that the role of James Blaine in forming the powerful America and his being the architect of the Empire of America can not be doubted (Crapol, 2000).


However, the opposing point of view exists, and its essence lies in the plane of criticism of too admirable attitude towards Blaine. According to this point, James Blaine was only one of the myriad of politicians who contributed to the political and economical development of the United States. Thus, according to this viewpoint, the major economic progress of the US was achieved before the office of the Secretary of State was taken by Blaine, while his initiatives are so notable nowadays due to the fact that his position in the society was higher than positions of those who proposed the same ideas at the same time. Thus, Blaine had enough tools to promote his ideas while others did not. The supporters of this point of view quite often refer to the case of corruption in which Blaine was involved as the one who helped one railway building company get the deal instead of another one (Crapol, 2000).

However, this point of view is not reliable one due to the fact that documentary evidence exists for the achievements of Blaine, while statements about his irrelevance to the development of the US society sound ungrounded and lacking support. For example, the fact that others politicians proposed the same blueprints for economic and international development, does not proof this point, as Blaine managed to launch his proposals while other theorists did nothing to help their country in practice. Moreover, the economic state of the US in the middle of the 19th century was far from the great one, and the claims that Blaine did little to increase the influence of the USA in the international arena are groundless as well (Crapol, 2000).


To sum up the arguments considered in the present paper, it is necessary to state that James Blaine deserves the title of the architect of the American Empire. His initiatives were mainly directed at strengthening of the domestic and international power of the United States. The steps that Blaine did not manage to carry out were further implemented by American governments of the 20th century, and this fact allows the author to state that Blaine’s ideas were blueprints for the formation of influential and powerful America. Although sometimes conflicting with Great Britain, Spain or other countries, USA under Blaine managed to establish good relations with Latin American countries and proclaimed its Pan-American orientation. Trade, commerce and military influence of the country were also increased, while the name of James Blaine deserved its place among the most notable figures in the American history.


Crapol, Edward P. 2000. James G. Blaine: Architect of Empire. Wilmington, DE: SR Books.

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