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Intellectual historians and historians of science have typically portrayed the pursuit of natural knowledge between the Revolution and the Civil War as something that took place in an essentially peaceful context. But warfare was constant in the early United States, and it was neither tangential to, nor even clearly divisible from, how any group produced and circulated knowledge about the natural world. This essay argues that warfare enabled, circumscribed, and conditioned the pursuit of natural knowledge among the diverse peoples who populated the United States. More importantly, warfare provides a lens for reframing the history of natural knowledge in America in a way that is both more comprehensive and less skewed by the legacy of American exceptionalism. This history spans the colonial and national eras, encompasses diverse individuals in diverse places, decenters the eastern Anglos who have too often characterized natural knowledge in the United States on the whole, and situates natural knowledge in the United States as part of a global story. In short, focusing on warfare helps make Anglo-Americans part of a shared intellectual history, not its exclusive protagonists.