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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces part of
A Short History of the United States Navy

George R. Clark et al.

published by
J. B. Lippincott Company,
Philadelphia & London 1939

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 1
This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

 p3  Preface to Revised Edition

Although each profession has its own history, of importance to those included in that profession, naval history has grown to wider significance. Mahan by his Influence of Sea Power Upon History revealed its far reaching relations, and obtained for it a recognition such as merited a place in every library.

A survey of the history of the United States Navy, especially that of the last quarter of a century, will show that the study has its value, not only for thrilling stories of heroism and devotion, but for an understanding of the forces shaping national progress. Thus, though it is peculiarly adapted to naval officers, it should have, in time, a real meaning for all students of American foreign relations.

This book, in its original form, was written seventeen years ago to meet the needs of the Naval Academy. And now, to meet similar needs, it is continued to the present year.

The period is one in which epoch-making events have occurred. The United States has had an increasingly important part in world affairs, especially in the World War and in the many problems resulting from unsettled conditions in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and the Far East. In carrying out the national policy, the navy has been called upon to take a leading rôle.

The number of officers and men has been reduced, but to compensate for the losses the navy has placed an increasing emphasis on the preparation for duty of its personnel, from ordinary seaman to rear-admiral, which is to be gained through both general and special  p4 education. The number of ships has also been reduced, but the remaining ships have been made more efficient. The Utopian day when the nation will no longer need a navy seems as far distant as that when it can dispense with all legislative bodies and courts.

Thanks are due to Rear-Admiral George R. Clark, U. S. Navy (Ret.); Captain Walter S. Anderson, U. S. Navy, and Professor Herman F. Krafft of the Naval Academy, for many helpful suggestions in the preparation of the last four chapters (the new part of the present edition); to several members of the Department of English of the Naval Academy for suggestions relating to the revision of the earlier chapters; and to Professor Charles L. Lewis,​a also of the Department of English, for reading the manuscript and the proof.

Carroll S. Alden.

United States Naval Academy,
April, 1927.

Thayer's Note:

a Charles Lee Lewis, who at the time was working on his biography of the founder of the Naval Academy, Admiral Franklin Buchanan (onsite), that would be published in 1929.

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Page updated: 15 Dec 21