Mahan: The Life and Work of Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, U.S.N.

By W. D. Puleston | Go to book overview

Chapter XLIV Mahan's Influence on History

MAHAN'S last book appeared in the autumn of 1913. The Major Operations of the Navies in the War of American Independence had been originally prepared as a chapter in Clowes History of the Royal Navy, but Mahan had long wanted to dig it out of that seven-volume set and publish it separately. He made little change in the body of the text, but added an introductory chapter which he hoped would attract the attention of American readers. He wanted "the United States to wake up betimes." He warned that neither the Monroe Doctrine nor exclusion of Asiatics could "be sustained without the creation and maintenance of a preponderant navy." This was his last formal pronouncement on the size of the Navy. It was written immediately after he had carefully reviewed American history from colonial days, with the situation and problems of 1913 particularly in mind. It carried all the weight of a mature judgment, a farewell address.

Since 1911, when he had recommended that the United States build a navy "second only to Great Britain's," nothing had aroused his jealousy of that nation. He had merely grown apprehensive lest the British fleet prove unable to defend British interests. Whether it could do so or not, he felt certain that the United States could no longer depend on it. He knew that the British fleet was fastened to home waters by the German fleet even in peacetime, and consequently that it could be risked only for vital British interests in time of war. Plainly the United States could no longer shelter itself behind British sea power. Had Mahan lived to witness the extremity of Great Britain in 1916, he would have seen this last prophesy fulfilled--and he would

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