Anomalies of the Wilsonian (Monadic) Democratic Peace in the Nineteenth Century: What Can They Tell Us?

John A. Vasquez

Research output: Working paper


The Wilsonian Monadic Peace argues that not only do joint democracies not fight each other, but they are inherently peaceful. They get involved in war primarily by being attacked and rarely initiate wars. The institutional explanation of this monadic democratic peace maintains that democracies have this pacific tendency because the people use the legislature to restrain the executive. This paper argues that the best way to assess the causal logic underlying the institutional explanation is by comparing specific cases where war is avoided and where it occurs to see if legislatures and the public restrain leaders. Three historical cases from the Nineteenth Century, which were uncovered as part of a larger project, are reviewed in detail: one that did not go to war and two that did. Cases are drawn from the most democratic states at the time—France, England, and the U.S. In each instance the casual process did not work the way it was expected. Instead, the legislature and the “public” were more prone to war hysteria than the executive. Each of these cases is regarded as anomalous for the democratic peace. The implications of these three anomalies are explored in detail.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages26
StatePublished - Jul 21 2020

Publication series

NameRobert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper
No.RSCAS 2020/31


  • International Relations
  • European foreign policy
  • European security
  • Electoral rights


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