It was an intense dispute over another Paris deal, two centuries old, which featured increasingly heated discussion of patriotism, sexism and – what else? – partisan politics.
Within two hours of Trump’s announcement that the US will withdraw from the historic global deal to combat climate change, historian Joyce Chaplin posted on Twitter that the decision was a betrayal of the international community.
“The USA, created by int’l community in Treaty of Paris in 1783, betrays int’l community by withdrawing from #Parisclimateagreement today,” she wrote.
Chaplin is the James Duncan Phillips professor of early American history and the chair of American studies at Harvard University. She also studies climate history and climate science.
Initially, her tweet sparked a lively but relatively polite debate, among members of the general public. Some weighed in to argue that the US had created itself much earlier, with the Declaration of Independence on 4 July 1776. Others agreed that it took formal recognition under international law, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, for the United States to be considered officially extant.
Then, just after 11pm and with the boom of a rebel cannon, Cruz entered the arena.
“Just sad”, he tweeted. “Tenured chair at Harvard doesn’t seem to know how USA was created. Not a treaty. Declaration plus Revolutionary War plus Constitution = USA.”
The following morning, Chaplin retorted: “Sad. US senator, Harvard Law degree. Doesn’t know that national statehood requires international recognition.”
The war of words heated up from there. On Saturday, Chaplin told the Guardian via email: “The treaty brought the US into legal existence … as any scholar of early American history will attest.” ...