The Significance of United States History
By Joseph A. Bagnall

The significance of United States history is that it provides us with an American Testament, a splendid record of human achievement under the oldest written constitution on earth. This record is the story of an enduring federal union, a union that has survived the transition from an agricultural to an industrial society, a momentous civil war, the monumental economic collapse of the Great Depression, two world wars, and numerous other foreign and domestic challenges. In addition, the American nation has emerged from the second world war and a forty year challenge known as the Cold War, as the super power of the world.

But what does this record of American achievement mean in the troubled, tentative, world of 2010? A pantheon of statesmen and scientists have reminded us that in order to survive in the world of environmental and nuclear threats, we must build a world security system.. John F. Kennedy repeatedly called for a strengthened United Nations and the development of enforceable world law (1:3-82). President Truman called for the development “of the United Nations organization as the representative of the world as one society” in his First State of the Union message, and he also organized an international police force, fighting under a U.N. flag, to contain North Korean aggression.  President Eisenhower called for a world community under law, and in a dramatic letter sent to Senator Hubert Humphrey, he called for the strengthening of the International Court of Justice.(3:128-130).. Albert Einstein, in an address on NBC television on February 19, 1950, proposed a world security system (4:302). This plea was repeated numerous times in the book, Einstein on Peace, published in 1960. “ Dr. Edward Teller, Father of the H. Bomb (5:209), and Walter Cronkite, broadcast journalist (6:128), have sounded similar themes.

A compelling case can be made for the United States Constitution as a model for a world security system:

The Case for American Federalism

I.          In the tradition of American federalism, world federalism could institutionalize freedom, harbor ideological differences, and foster pluralism and diversity throughout the world. In President John F. Kennedy’s words, the “world could be made safe for diversity.”

II.        The United States’ system of checks and balances could be utilized to curb tyranny at the world level by specifying and limiting the powers granted to three strengthened branches of the United Nations.

III.       The United States’ system of division of powers between the national government and the states could be adapted in a world system with a division of power between world authority and national authority.

IV.       World federalism could provide the central structure for control of nuclear weapons  and the enforcement mechanisms for world law..

V.        World federalism could protect, for all time, the rain forests and the natural habitat that sustains all life on earth, just as American federalism has protected millions of acres of national parks and forest reserve.

VI.       Under world federalism, with vigorous enforcement of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, personal freedom and civil liberties could be protected and promoted worldwide. American federalism has been the protector of American freedom since its inception. Patriots who fear that central federal authority will destroy our freedoms should be reminded that a sacred Bill of Rights is part of our national constitution. Our federal Constitution is the source of our freedoms and our federal government has traditionally protected freedom far better than our states.

VII.     The American federal government abolished slavery, extended citizenship and the right of the vote to former slaves, and eventually to women and all citizens who are eighteen years of age. A world federal system could extend freedom, extend the suffrage, and otherwise empower world citizens.

VIII.    The American federal government provided subsidies and incentives to private companies in order to develop the nation’s railroads and highways and assist in various national improvements. Under world federalism, subsidies and incentives could be granted to develop hydroelectric power sites, solar power, hydrogen power, and other alternatives to destructive fossil fuels.

IX.       Under American federalism, massive federal spending held the line against complete economic collapse in the Great Depression, and helped win World War II and the Cold War. Under a world security system, the United States could achieve a peace dividend and divert massive spending for a warfare state into the rebuilding of our cities, repairing and extending our federal highways, improving the nation’s schools, and subsidizing an industry of alternative fuels. The private sector could receive contracts through competitive bid in much the same way that we have traditionally financed projects for defense.

X.        World federalism, fashioned after American federalism could be the ultimate American triumph.


1  Joseph A. Bagnall, President John F. Kennedy’s Grand and Global Alliance: World Order for the New Century. University Press of America, 1992, pp. 3-82.

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Harry S. Truman, Containing the Messages, Speeches and Statements of the President, January 1, to December 31, 1946. Washington, D. C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1962.

3  Dwight D. Eisenhower, US Department of State Bulletin, January 25, 1960, v. 42. pp. 128-130.

4  Albert Einstein, “Peace in the Atomic Era,” Vital Speeches of the Day, March 1, 1950. p. 302.

5  Edward Teller, The Legacy of Hiroshima, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1962. p. 209.

6  Walter Cronkite, A Reporter’s Life. Alfred A. Knopf, 1997, p. 128.