American Naval History, 1607-1865: Overcoming the Colonial Legacy

American Naval History, 1607-1865: Overcoming the Colonial Legacy

American Naval History, 1607-1865: Overcoming the Colonial Legacy

American Naval History, 1607-1865: Overcoming the Colonial Legacy

Synopsis

For its first eighty-five years, the United States was only a minor naval power. Its fledgling fleet had been virtually annihilated during the War of Independence and was mostly trapped in port by the end of the War of 1812. How this meagre presence became the major naval power it remains to this day is the subject of American Naval History, 1607-1865. A wide-ranging yet concise survey of the U. S. Navy from the colonial era through the Civil War, the book draws on American, British, and French history to reveal how navies reflect diplomatic, political, economic, and social developments and to show how the foundation of America's future naval greatness was laid during the Civil War. Award-winning author Jonathan R. Dull documents the remarkable transformation of the U. S. Navy between 1861 and 1865, thanks largely to brilliant naval officers like David Farragut, David D. Potter, and Andrew Foote, visionary politicians like Abraham Lincoln and Gideon Welles, and progressive industrialists like James Eads and John Ericsson. But only by understanding the failings of the antebellum navy can the accomplishments of Lincoln's navy be fully appreciated. Exploring such topics as delays in American naval development, differences between the U. S. and European fleets, and the effect that the country's colonial past had on its naval policies, Dull offers a new perspective on both American naval history and the history of the developing republic.

Excerpt

Although there have been many splendid books on early American naval history, there is a need for a new survey of the subject, particularly one with a broad perspective. This book tries to meet that need. It begins before 1775 because at least until the time of the Civil War American naval history was influenced greatly by attitudes, practices, and conditions dating from American colonial history. It pays attention to other navies, particularly those of Britain and France, because American naval history is closely connected with British and French naval history. Although it can stand alone, it is intended as a companion volume to my book The Age of the Ship of the Line: The British and French Navies, 1650–1865 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009). Both books are concerned with the ways navies reflect diplomatic, political, economic, and social developments.

Looking at American naval history from a wide perspective helps us to avoid reading the United States Navy’s twentieth-century triumphs back into previous centuries. Until the Civil War, America was a minor naval power. During its first two major wars, the War of American Independence and the . . .

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