On Wide Seas
248 pages, 6 x 9
25 B&W figures
Release Date:14 Dec 2021

On Wide Seas

The US Navy in the Jacksonian Era

University of Alabama Press
A meticulously researched account of how the US Navy evolved between the War of 1812 and the Civil War
The 1830s is an overlooked period in American naval history and is usually overshadowed by the more dramatic War of 1812 and the Civil War. Nevertheless, the personnel, operations, technologies, policies, and vision of the Navy of that era, which was emerging from the “Age of Sail,” are important components of its evolution, setting it on the long path to its status as a global maritime power. On Wide Seas: The US Navy in the Jacksonian Era details the ways in which the US Navy transformed from an antiquated arm of the nation’s military infrastructure into a more dynamic and effective force that was soon to play a pivotal role in a number of national and international conflicts.
By Andrew Jackson’s inauguration in 1829, the Navy had engaged with two major powers, defended American shipping, conducted antipiracy operations, and provided a substantive, long-term overseas presence. The Navy began to transform during Jackson’s administration due in part to the policies of the administration and to the emerging officer corps, which sought to professionalize its own ranks, modernize the platforms on which it sailed, and define its own role within national affairs and in the broader global maritime commons. Jackson had built his reputation as a soldier, but he quickly recognized as president the necessity for a navy that could foster his policies. To expand American commerce, he needed a navy that could defend shipping as well as conduct punitive raids or deterrence missions.
Jackson developed a clear, concise naval strategy that policymakers and officers alike could seize and execute. He also provided a vision for the Navy, interceded to resolve naval disciplinary challenges, and directed naval operations. Also, given Jackson’s own politics, junior officers were emboldened by the populist era to challenge traditional, conservative thinking. They carried out a collective vision that coincided with the national literary movement that recognized America’s future would rely upon the Navy.
While Andrew Jackson and the Jacksonian era have long been subjects of scholarly fascination and debate, Old Hickory’s relationship with the U.S. Navy has received relatively scant attention. On Wide Seas addresses this much-neglected topic. . . . [and] makes a convincing case for the 1830s as a revolutionary decade for the U.S. Navy. . . . An engaging, persuasive, and significant contribution to the scholarly literature on early U.S. naval policy.’
Journal of Military History

‘Claude Berube has rendered a major contribution to the history of the United States Navy in this examination of the Navy in the period of Andrew Jackson’s presidency. It is a fascinating and well-written story of the Navy’s real birth.’
—Williamson Murray, author of A War to Be Won: Fighting the Second World War and A Savage War: A Military History of the Civil War
This is a necessary book, which fills a gap in the knowledge of the early US Navy and raises the bar high. Berube familiarizes the reader with the context of the naval innovations of Andrew Jackson’s eight-year presidency with an easy, agreeable style that neither patronizes nor swamps with complexities. His scholarly analyses draw from a wide horizon of knowledge, and he is a master of all facets of his subject, from the strategic through the financial and doctrinal to the technical and human. My guess is that this will become a classic.’
—Andrew Gordon, author of Admiral of the Narrow Seas: The Life of Bertram Ramsay and The Rules of the Game: Jutland and British Naval Command
Claude Berube was director of the United States Naval Academy Museum and assistant professor of history at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He has worked for two US senators and a member of Congress. He is coauthor of A Call to the Sea: Captain Charles Stewart of the USS Constitution and Congress: Games and Strategies and coeditor of Maritime Private Security: Market Responses to Piracy, Terrorism, and Waterborne Security Risks in the 21st Century.

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