University of Wisconsin–Madison

Foreign Assessments of the Constitution

As news spread of the completion of the Philadelphia Convention, interest in the Constitution was not confined to just this side of the Atlantic. European interests in events in the Americas ran high throughout the period. Ever desirous of maintaining a balance of power and how the American experiment might impact the Old World, individuals both public and private weighed in on the prospects of the United States with a new system of governance. Many in Europe were attentive to the Constitutional Convention and the Ratification process. We have selected some of these to give you a sense of how other nations assessed our prospects under the Constitution. You will notice that the French were particularly interested since they had a formal and long-standing relationship with the United States dating back the American Revolution.

British Assessments

The relationship that the United States had with Great Britain after the American Revolution was complicated to say the least. Although John Adams was the United States Minister Plenipotentiary in the Court of St. James in London, the British did not have a diplomatic contingency here in the United States. Thus, little official British diplomatic correspondence exists. However, there were businessmen and other private individuals that offered their thoughts about the events surrounding the Convention and ratification.

French Assessments

Unique among the European correspondence of the time, the French had representatives in many American cities. Dating back to their formal alliance with the Americans during the Revolution, the French had a long standing interest in the United States. Although many of these French Diplomats were simply reporting events, the New York based Consuls evaluated the process and progress of the Ratification Period.

Government Officials

Private Individuals

Other Assessments

Government Official

Private Individuals