The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987 Page: 211
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his foreign policy. The traditional view, as John M. Belohlavek correctly
argues, is that Jackson exhibited scant interest in foreign affairs and
never developed a coherent policy to further American international
objectives. The only exceptions were the few crises during which Jack-
son blustered and threatened to defend American honor and rights,
sometimes taking the United States to the brink of war.
"Let the Eagle Soar!" successfully revises many of these stereotypes.
Belohlavek demonstrates that Jackson took considerable interest in for-
eign affairs and adopted a policy of "promoting commercial expansion,
demanding worldwide respect for the American flag, restoring Ameri-
can prestige and honor, and fostering territorial growth" (p. 2). In
short, nationalism and the search for markets underlay Jackson's diplo-
matic activity. Moreover, while occasionally venting his anger at what
he considered insults to American honor, for the most part Jackson dis-
played tact, patience, and finesse in managing international relations.
In order to establish these themes, Belohlavek discusses the structure
of the diplomatic service and the substance of policy toward Europe,
Asia, South America, and the Mediterranean region. Of particular in-
terest to readers of this journal, Belohlavek outlines Jackson's policy to-
ward Mexico and Central America, including his efforts to purchase
and annex Texas. Belohlavek takes the reasonable position that Jackson
initially opposed the Texas Revolution, believing that it hindered his
diplomatic efforts and did not encourage American citizen involve-
ment. Yet once under way, Jackson accepted the revolution and worked
patiently and skillfully to recognize the new republic.
In general, Belohlavek concludes that Jackson's foreign policy was
moderately successful. He improved the consular and diplomatic ser-
vice, resolved a number of longstanding claims disputes, especially with
France, and expanded American commercial involvement in the West
Indies, Russia, Turkey, and elsewhere. Yet many of Jackson's diplomatic
appointments were inferior and politically motivated, and he achieved
little immediate commercial or political success in Latin America or the
"Let the Eagle Soar!" is a fine survey of Jackson's foreign policy, and
makes a long overdue revision of Old Hickory's concern for American
honor and commercial expansion. The study, to be sure, has some
problems. Inevitably, given the book's broad scope, there is a surface
quality to Belohlavek's discussion. Jackson's thoughts about the implica-
tions of markets and commerce are derived more from his actions than
from his own words. And perhaps too little attention is given to the
constituency that profited from Jackson's program. But these slips do
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987, periodical, 1986/1987; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117152/m1/249/: accessed December 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.