American Naval History, 1607-1865


American Naval History, 1607-1865

Overcoming the Colonial Legacy

Jonathan R. Dull

Studies in War, Society, and the Military Series

216 pages
1 map


December 2012


$27.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

December 2012


$27.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

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.

Author Bio

Jonathan R. Dull is the author of The French Navy and the Seven Years’ War; The Age of the Ship of the Line; and Benjamin Franklin and the American Revolution, all available from the University of Nebraska Press.


"This is an excellent summary of how the U.S. Navy grew from next to nothing at the end of the American Revolution into a force without which the Union could not have defeated the Confederacy, and became a world-class power in the twentieth century. . . . Dull has pulled personalities, diplomacy, technology, and politics into a nicely executed summary. This is a superior reference for someone who wants a different look at our early history."—Frieda Murray, Booklist

"American Naval History provides a very important intellectual contribution by connecting American naval history to the American colonial experience across the entire scope of permanent settlement from 1607 to 1775."—John B. Hattendorf, Historian

"Impressive intellectual heft."—Stephen Curley, Journal of American Culture

"A tight, insightful overview of American naval history."—A. A. Nofi,

"American Naval History, 1607-1865 is an important work in that it continues a recent historiographical trend that places naval and other military history into broader discussions that detail not only how outside factors shaped fighting forces, but also how military institutions were integral parts of the wider modern world."—Greg Rogers, H-NET

"American Naval History is a thought-provoking book that asks its readers to consider the early history of the U.S. Navy in a larger context, which is reason enough to recommend it to readers looking for a quick and lucid introduction to America's naval heritage."—Kurt Hackemer, Journal of American History

Table of Contents

Map of the Mississippi Valley 
1. The American Colonies and the British Navy, 1607<EN>1775 
2. The War against Britain, 1775<EN>1783 
3. A New Navy Fights France and the Barbary States, 1783<EN>1805 
4. A Precarious Neutrality Ends in a Second War against Britain, 1805<EN>1815 
5. Trade Protection and War with Mexico, 1815<EN>1861 
6. The Civil War, 1861<EN>1865 
7. Epilogue 
Notes and Suggested Further Reading 

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