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History of the Navy of the United States (Three Volumes in One)


From the Preface of Cooper’s Volume One – Cooperstown, 1846 – In the instances of the victories of the Constellation, United States, Constitution, Lake Erie, etc., we have not hesitated to resist error on the subject of superiority of force, believing it to be a far higher duty to record that which we feel certain to be true, than to record that which may be momentarily agreeable. Conscious of having maintained a scrupulous impartiality on this subject, we wish to be judged by our whole work, and not by isolated instances, dragged from out the mass, by the desire of individuals to monopolize the renown of the entire service. We believe that the navy, itself, appreciates the justice of our course, while it both sees and feels the designs of those who have opposed it. The country appears to be touching on great events. A war has commenced among us, which, though scarcely of a maritime character, in itself, must give extensive employment to the national marine, and may indeed demand, in the end, the exercise of all its energies. The Navy of the United States presents a very different aspect, in 1846, from that which it offered in 1815. Its existence has been trebled as to time, within the last thirty years, and its force increased fifty-fold. Though far from being yet, what prudence would have dictated, and the wants of the republic actually demand, it can now bring its fleet into line, and exercise a most essential influence on the result of any conflict. As respects the navies of this hemisphere, it is supreme; the united marines of all the rest of this continent being unable to contend against it, for an hour. As respects the three great maritime States of Europe, though inferior to each in vessels, it can scarcely be called inferior to more than one of them in resources; while in character, skill and hopes, it is second to no other service on earth. These are great changes, and all has been affected within the limits of a single life. What is to succeed in the last half of this century, may be dimly shadowed forth, by the aid of the images of the past. Divine Providence controls all for its own great ends; but, should its laws work as they have done for the last half century, the historian of the American Navy, who shall sit down to his labors in the year 1900, will have a task before him very different from that which has fallen to our share. Cooperstown, 1846.

628 pages

Categories: All Books, Miscellaneous, Revolutionary War, U.S. Navy


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