Idea(s) of Dutch neutrality in the American debate on neutral rights (1793 - 1807)

Ariane V. Fichtl*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since the latter part of the seventeenth century trade and war had become increasingly entangled due to the bellicose commercial rivalry of European colonial powers, who emulated one another in a system dominated by ‘jealousies of trade'. European economic thinkers therefore felt increasingly compelled to search for means to uncouple trade and war. Propositions for potential solutions to cure these commercial conflicts are to be found throughout the eighteenth century. The strengthening of neutral rights, especially, was regarded as offering a possible remedy. Leading up to the War of American Independence, a debate began in the Dutch Republic on how neutrality could be advantageously defined to promote commerce without becoming involved in wars of ‘entangling alliances'. The actors in this debate would produce arguments that were later adopted by members of George Washington’s cabinet. Alexander Hamilton was the advocate of ‘strict' neutrality, while Thomas Jefferson was in favour of ‘active’ neutrality. These two concepts of Dutch foreign policy are examined in this research article with special attention given to their influence on the direction of American foreign policy from 1793 to 1807.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalGlobal Intellectual History
VolumeLatest Articles
Early online date20 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Mar 2024


  • United States
  • Britain
  • France
  • Neutral rights
  • Internationall aw
  • Trade


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