If by Sea: The Forging of the American Navy—from the Revolution to the War of 1812

George C. Daughan, Author . Basic $30 (576p) ISBN 978-0-465-01607-5

Daughan brings a long academic career and solid command of his sources to this provocative history of the origins of the U.S. Navy. Conventional wisdom has the navy beginning in the 1790s. Daughan instead traces its roots to the Revolution. The fleet established by the Continental Congress had a relatively undistinguished career, but Daughan demonstrates that the Americans gained technical experience, produced talented officers, trained seamen and developed a basic understanding of how a navy should be employed. The question then was whether a navy would concentrate too much authority in the central government and risk embroiling the new country in foreign quarrels. By contrast, a coastal defense force of small ships threatened nobody, foreign or domestic. Daughan traces the debate through four administrations, smoothly integrating political with external influences like the Quasi-War with France (1798–1800) and the campaign against the Barbary pirates. Not until the War of 1812, when the navy proved critical, did a national consensus emerge that preparing for war was the best way of avoiding one—a lesson that remains worth remembering. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/07/2008
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 568 pages - 978-0-7867-3193-0
Paperback - 576 pages - 978-0-465-02514-5
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