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American Naval History, 1607-1865

Overcoming the Colonial Legacy

Jonathan R. Dull

Publication Year: 2012

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 meager presence became the major naval power it remains to this day is the subject of American Naval History, 1607–1865: Overcoming the Colonial Legacy. 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. Porter, 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.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. v

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pp. vii-ix

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...

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1 The American Colonies and theBritish Navy, 1607–1775

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pp. 1-15

The naval great powers during the age of sailing ship warfare that ended in the middle of the nineteenth century were, with the exception of Great Britain, not those of the great age of battleship and aircraft carrier warfare during the first half of...

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2 The War against Britain, 1775–1783

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pp. 17-31

In 1774 the North American colonies sent delegates to a Continental Congress that unsuccessfully petitioned George III to lift the Coercive Acts. It reconvened in 1775, soon after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, now facing not only the threat...

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3 A New Navy Fights France and theBarbary States, 1783–1805

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pp. 33-48

American independence, achieved with great difficulty, was incomplete and tentative. International law provided little protection in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world. Weak states survived chiefly because of the mutual jealousy of their stronger...

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4 A Precarious Neutrality Ends in a SecondWar against Britain, 1805–1815

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pp. 49-64

While almost the entire American navy was engaged in a war against Tripoli, the United States undertook crucial negotiations with France. In spite of their recent defeats in the war against Britain, France and its ally Spain still were the world’s second...

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5 Trade Protection and War with Mexico,1815–1861

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pp. 65-81

The United States attempted with only limited success to expand its navy during the War of 1812. Between 1813 and the end of 1815 it launched the 74-gun ships of the line Independence, Washington, and Franklin, the 44-gun frigates Guerriere...

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6 The Civil War, 1861–1865 / Map of the Mississippi Valley

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pp. 83-121

The navy was caught unprepared when, in response to the election of Abraham Lincoln, the states of South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas chose to leave the Union. In early February 1861, through a self-proclaimed...

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7 Epilogue

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pp. 123-125

During the Civil War the navy built or purchased some 600 ships, but once the war ended, most of them were demolished or sold; within half a dozen years only fifty or so were still in commission. The navy quickly reverted to its earlier limited...

Notes and Suggested Further Reading

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pp. 127-182


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pp. 183-194

E-ISBN-13: 9780803244719
E-ISBN-10: 0803244711
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803240520

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2012