Winner of the 2010 Book Award from the New England Historical Association
American constitutionalism represents this country’s greatest gift to human freedom, yet its story remains largely untold. For over two hundred years, its ideals, ideas, and institutions influenced different peoples in different lands at different times. American constitutionalism and the revolutionary republican documents on which it is based affected countless countries by helping them develop their own constitutional democracies. Western constitutionalism—of which America was a part along with Britain and France—reached a major turning point in global history in 1989, when the forces of democracy exceeded the forces of autocracy for the first time.
Historian George Athan Billias traces the spread of American constitutionalism—from Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean region, to Asia and Africa—beginning chronologically with the American Revolution and the fateful "shot heard round the world" and ending with the conclusion of the Cold War in 1989. The American model contributed significantly by spearheading the drive to greater democracy throughout the Western world, and Billias’s landmark study tells a story that will change the way readers view the important role American constitutionalism played during this era.