A Navy in the New Republic: Strategic Visions of the U.S. Navy, 1783-1812
Slaughter, Joseph Payne
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This study examines the years 1783-1812 in order to identify how the Founders' strategic visions of an American navy were an extension of the debate over the newly forming identity of the young republic. Naval historiography has both ignored the implications of a republican navy and oversimplified the formation of the navy into a bifurcated debate between Federalists and Republicans or "Navalists" and "Antinavalists." The Founders' views were much more complex and formed four competing strategic visions-commerce navy, coastal navy, regional navy, and capital navy. The thematic approach of this study connects strategic visions to the narrative of the reestablishment of the United States Navy within the context of international and domestic events. This approach leaves one with a greater sense that the early national period policymakers were in fact fledgling naval visionaries, nearly one hundred years before the advent of America's most celebrated naval strategist, Alfred Thayer Mahan.