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Sea Power in its Relations to the War of 1812 von Mahan, A. T. (eBook)

  • Erscheinungsdatum: 08.08.2016
  • Verlag: anboco
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Sea Power in its Relations to the War of 1812

The present work concludes the series of 'The Influence of Sea Power upon History,' as originally framed in the conception of the author. In the previous volumes he has had the inspiring consciousness of regarding his subject as a positive and commanding element in the history of the world. In the War of 1812, also, the effect is real and dread enough; but to his own country, to the United States, as a matter of national experience, the lesson is rather that of the influence of a negative quantity upon national history. The phrase scarcely lends itself to use as a title; but it represents the truth which the author has endeavored to set forth, though recognizing clearly that the victories on Lake Erie and Lake Champlain do illustrate, in a distinguished manner, his principal thesis, the controlling influence upon events of naval power, even when transferred to an inland body of fresh water. The lesson there, however, was the same as in the larger fields of war heretofore treated. Not by rambling operations, or naval duels, are wars decided, but by force massed, and handled in skilful combination. It matters not that the particular force be small. The art of war is the same throughout; and may be illustrated as really, though less conspicuously, by a flotilla as by an armada; by a corporal's guard, or the three units of the Horatii, as by a host of a hundred thousand. [vi]The interest of the War of 1812, to Americans, has commonly been felt to lie in the brilliant evidence of high professional tone and efficiency reached by their navy, as shown by the single-ship actions, and by the two decisive victories achieved by little squadrons upon the lakes.


    Format: ePUB
    Kopierschutz: watermark
    Seitenzahl: 500
    Erscheinungsdatum: 08.08.2016
    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 9783736407138
    Verlag: anboco
    Größe: 5059 kBytes
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Sea Power in its Relations to the War of 1812




The head waters of the stream of events which led to the War of 1812, between the United States and Great Britain, must be sought far back in the history of Europe, in the principles governing commercial, colonial, and naval policy, accepted almost universally prior to the French Revolution. It is true that, before that tremendous epoch was reached, a far-reaching contribution to the approaching change in men's ideas on most matters touching mercantile intercourse, and the true relations of man to man, of nation to nation, had been made by the publication, in 1776, of Adam Smith's "Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations;" but, as is the case with most marked advances in the realm of thought, the light thus kindled, though finding reflection here and there among a few broader intellects, was unable to penetrate at once the dense surface of prejudice and conservatism with which the received maxims of generations had incrusted the general mind. Against such obstruction even the most popular of statesmen-as the younger Pitt soon after this became-cannot prevail at once; and, before time permitted the British people at large to reach that wider comprehension of issues, whereby alone radical change is made possible, there set in an era of reaction consequent upon the French Revolution, the excesses of which involved in one universal discredit all the more liberal ideas that were leavening the leaders of mankind.

The two principal immediate causes of the War of 1812 were the impressment of seamen from American merchant ships, upon the high seas, to serve in the British Navy, and the interference with the carrying trade of the United States by the naval power of Great Britain. For a long time this interference was confined by the British Ministry to methods which they thought themselves able to defend-as they did the practice of impressment-upon the ground of rights, prescriptive and established, natural or belligerent; although the American Government contended that in several specific measures no such right existed,-that the action was illegal as well as oppressive. As the war with Napoleon increased in intensity, however, the exigencies of the struggle induced the British cabinet to formulate and enforce against neutrals a restriction of trade which it confessed to be without sanction in law, and justified only upon the plea of necessary retaliation, imposed by the unwarrantable course of the French Emperor. These later proceedings, known historically as the Orders in Council, [1] by their enormity dwarfed all previous causes of complaint, and with the question of impressment constituted the vital and irreconcilable body of dissent which dragged the two states into armed collision. Undoubtedly, other matters of difficulty arose from time to time, and were productive of dispute; but either they were of comparatively trivial importance, easily settled by ordinary diplomatic methods, or there was not at bottom any vital difference as to principle, but only as to the method of adjustment. For instance, in the flagrant and unpardonable outrage of taking men by force from the United States frigate "Chesapeake," the British Government, although permitted by the American to spin out discussion over a period of four years, did not pretend to sustain the act itself; the act, that is, of searching a neutral ship of war. Whatever the motive of the Ministry in postponing redress, their pretexts turned upon points of detail, accessory to the main transaction, or upon the subsequent course of the United States Government, which showed conscious weakness by taking hasty, pettish half-measures; instead of abstaining from immediate action, and instructing its minister to present an ultimatum, if satisfaction were shirked.

In the two causes of the war

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