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

By W. D. Puleston | Go to book overview

Chapter XLVII "A Great Public Servant"

AMERICAN editors for the most part had gradually but clearly grasped Mahan's ideas, and throughout the press, in the villages as well as the cities, even in the interior where he feared his voice never reached, the notices of his death were friendly and appreciative of his work. Among them this one would have delighted Mahan: "The superdreadnoughts are his children, the roar of the 16″ guns are but the echoes of his voice." Another paper called him "the naval officer most eagerly consulted in times of stress." This was literally true. In 1891-92 when American relations with Chile became acute he was summoned to Washington to advise the Secretary of the Navy. In 1897 and 1898 at the request of Assistant Secretary Theodore Roosevelt he reviewed the plans in event of war with Spain. When war broke out he was recalled from Europe to take his place on the War Board. He was sent to The Hague in 1899. Whenever a plan to reorganize the Navy Department was proposed, Mahan was called into conference.

Among the most discriminating of the American editorials was one in the New York Post, with which Mahan had fought several pen-and-ink battles. The editor neither indulged in sentimental eulogy nor changed his own position. He still contended that "AdmiralMahan was about the nearest type we had to the German glorifiers of war on high and mystic grounds," and that "somehow his piety got mixed up with his naval formulas in a way often to jar upon a sensitive mind." Yet

he was perfectly sincere. He was a man of deep religious faith. . . . Mahan was not merely a delver in the archives and a collector of

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