The Reestablishment of the Navy, 1787-1801; Historical Overview and Select Bibliography

Washington DC: Department of the Navy, Naval Historical Center, 1995. Presumed First Edition, First printing. Trade paperback. viii, 49, [3] pages. Illustrated cover. Frontis and other illustrations. Index of authors. This is Naval History Bibliographies, No. 4. Compliments card from the Director of Naval History, William S. Dudley laid in. The purpose of this publication is to encourage understanding and further study of events associated with the rebirth of the American Navy in the 1790s. In comprehending the significance of this milestone in our naval history, one needs to remember that the United States Navy traces its beginnings to the Continental Navy that was established in 1775 at the outset of the American Revolution. Following the winning of American independence, however, our nation elected to have no navy for a period of almost ten years. America's founding fathers included provisions for a navy in the new federal constitution of 1789. But steps to create that service did not occur until the mid-1790s, when America's thriving overseas shipping and trade became targets of attacks and interference. President Washington and Congress recognized the need to restore American defenses at sea. The nation's experiment in doing without a naval force in the years following the American Revolution proved to be entirely unsatisfactory. We learned in this period that the United States needed a navy capable of defending American interests on the high seas. Michael J. Crawford, who heads the Naval Historical Center's Early History Branch, and his associate, Christine F. Hughes, deserve praise for the fine scholarship reflected in this volume. By the 1790s some theorists of republican government were arguing that navies posed greater dangers to liberty that did armies. They maintained that the major expense of constructing, fitting out, and manning warships meant large expenditures and mounting taxes, and they considered this transfer of wealth from the people via politicians into the hands of a few to be a source of political corruption. Influenced by these beliefs, several congressmen spoke in opposition to the proposal to procure six frigates. Some surmised the Algerines were acting on behalf of the British and that going to war with the former would risk an Anglo-American war. They thought that paying tribute would be wiser and cheaper than building a navy. One congressman even suggested the alternative of hiring the Portuguese navy to protect American commerce. Opponents of the naval measure also questioned whether the six frigates proposed would be adequate to the object intended, and whether negotiation would not be a less costly and more effective means of attaining the desired end. The pro-navy side was strengthened when the President sent documentation supporting his view that a navy was essential, and by the almost simultaneous arrival of distressing news that the British had prohibited all neutral trade with the French West Indies. The "Act to provide a naval armament," authorizing the President to acquire six frigates, four of forty- four guns each and two of thirty-six, by purchase or otherwise, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of fifty to thirty- nine. Those Congressmen who voted in favor came principally from cities that depended on maritime trade, and from the northern and eastern regions. Opponents came from rural areas, the south, and the frontier. The act passed the Senate and was signed by the President on 27 March 1794. Secretary of War Henry Knox, responsible for the construction of these ships, reported to Congress in December 1794 that the passing of the act created an anxious solicitude that this second commencement of a navy for the United States should be worthy of their national character. That the vessels should combine such qualities of strength, durability, swiftness of sailing, and force, as to render them equal, if not superior, to any frigates belonging to any of the European Powers. His succinct phrase, "this second commencement of a navy for the United States," summarized the resounding significance of this act. The "anxious solicitude" felt by the nation's leaders led to the design and building of superb ships of war. Condition: Very good.

Keywords: Naval History, United States Navy, Bibliography, Naval Legislation, Shipbuilding, Frigates, Quasi-War, Naval Administration, Naval Operations, Barbary Powers, Impressment, Naval Officers, Uniforms, Naval Discipline, Marines, Privateering

ISBN: 0945274327

[Book #82113]

Price: $75.00

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