chapter  15
20 Pages

Debating the Purpose of a Navy in a New Republic

The United States of America, 1775–1815
WithJohn B. Hattendorf

This chapter outlines the variety of ideological viewpoints involved, first, in the political debates about whether or not to have a navy, and then, the continuing debate as to the purposes and functions of a navy once established. In the latter, the latest scholarship identifies different ideological viewpoints that are associated with different aspects of naval policy: no navy, a coastal navy, a capital-ship navy, a commercial navy. Each of these viewpoints created differing strategic visions formed by contingencies, international and domestic politics, republican ideology, and economic realities. Additionally, the experience of the War of 1812 developed its own ideology and legends in terms of naval victory.