Alexander James Dallas: An Exposition of the Causes and Character of the War. An Annotated edition.

Dunedin Academic Press (2011)
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Alexander James Dallas' An Exposition of the Causes and Character of the War was written as part of an effort by the then US government to explain and justify its declaration of war in 1812. However publication coincided with the ratification of the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War. The Exposition is especially interesting for the insight it provides into the self-constraint of American foreign policy and of the conduct of a war. The focus is on the foreign policy of the early republic and the related philosophy of law and war. A central idea is that international law should chiefly benefit those remaining at peace. Dallas was a Philadelphian who settled there in 1783, the year of the Peace of Paris which ended the War of Independence, arriving from Jamaica after a British education. He wrote much on law, becoming the first recorder of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. He later served as Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and federal district attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania, appointed by President Jefferson. He was appointed Secretary of Treasury by President Madison. In this edition the original text is presented with annotations to help identify persons and events of interest. The editor has also added an Introduction, a Bibliography, a short Chronology of Dallas' life and the events of the War, and an analytical Index. As such this annotated edition presents a key primary source in a manner helpful to research for students of the early Republic.

Author's Profile

H. G. Callaway
Temple University (PhD)


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