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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > American Age of Discovery, Colonization, Revolution, & Expansion > American Age of Formative Expansion

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American Age of Formative Expansion 1789-1830 To begin with the 1st US President & extend through the Whiskey Rebellion, Quasi War with France, War of 1812, & southeastern Indian wars,

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  #16  
Old 23 Aug 16, 07:54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuebor View Post
Except it was not Jefferson who did it. The "Peace Establishment" of the Navy that ordered the reduction, the sell off the ships, shore establishments, putting up seven of the frigates in ordinary, etc. was signed into law on March 1st, 1801 by none other than one John Adams. It was the Federalist controlled Sixth Congress which passed the law, and was one of the very last pieces of legislation passed by that Congress before the Seventh Congress and Thomas Jefferson took the oath of office three days later. It was Adams, not Jefferson who so reduced the Navy. (Same law also proscribed the number of officers etc).

Now, one could blame the Republicans in Congress and Jefferson (and Madison) for not doing enough to keep the ships in ordinary in better condition, but only two of the frigates (BOSTON and NEW YORK) were so far rotted as to be complete write offs. PHILADELPHIA was lost in combat during the Tripolitanian War, and GENERAL GREENE was converted to a sheer hulk (i.e. crane ship) in 1805.

As for the efficacy of the other frigates, UNITED STATES, PRESIDENT, ESSEX, and CHESAPEAKE were all captured during the War of 1812. ADAMS (since converted to a sloop-of-war) was burned to prevent capture, and JOHN ADAMS was never able to break free of the blockade. Of the eight available frigates at the beginning of the war four were captured, and one bottled up for the duration. Moreover, the remaining three (CONSTITUTION, CONGRESS, and CONSTELLATION) also spent much of the war blockaded. Would the addition of NEW YORK and BOSTON, therefore, made much of a difference?
It would be helpful if you would list your source material. I've attempted to list mine, and if you won't or cannot, then a concensus on the material cannot be reached.

You've erred regarding the United States and you are leaving out the ships built during the war and what was available at the beginning of 1812, which, of course is different from 1801.

The US Navy list at the beginning of the War of 1812 is as follows:

Frigates:

Constitution
United States
President
Chesapeake
Essex
Constellation
Congress
Adams

Sloops:

Hornet
Wasp

Brigs:

Enterprise
Argus
Syren
Nautilus
Vixen
Viper

If you would like a listing of the warships built and put into service during the war I would be more than happy to list them for you.
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Old 23 Aug 16, 17:24
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The USS United States was not captured during the War of 1812.
Mea Culpa. I had some doubts, but decided to forge ahead without double checking.

Tuebor
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Old 24 Aug 16, 01:40
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Re: Sources

For the most part, I rely upon primary source material. For example, the mention of Jefferson's philosophy on naval strategy came from a letter written by him, and is in the Jefferson Papers. Exactly where, I do not recall, but it may have been part of the infamous "just a matter of marching" letter to William Duane in the summer of 1812. Speaking of which, the above comment was made in referring to marching to Quebec. The same letter he specifically states that the war would require two campaigns. He was being a bit sanguine, but he most certainly was not referring to the entire "conquest of Canada" as being "a mere matter of marching."

Besides Jefferson's papers there are Madison's and Monroe's, which are more or less online. The American Memory site by the Library of Congress is of great value for Congressional debates, acts, and the American State Papers of course. Then there are the various papers of Harrison, Jefferson, Clay etc which are books, with various parts/volumes online. The Harrison Papers are exceptionally good. In terms of manuscript sources, I currently possess 32 microfilm rolls from the National Archives covering the letters to and from the Secretary of War from 1811 to 1815. If all goes according to plan, these should start becoming available online after the New Year. The eventual plan is to get all the war department papers covering the War of 1812 that are currently on microfilm/digitized online. If we can raise the necessary funding we hope to add Navy Department rolls as well. One thing I have not found yet is where the War Department put all the returns, and am not sure if they were ever microfilmed.

I hope that gives you some idea where I am coming from. Personally, I do not trust too much to secondary sources. Hell, even Chapelle let me down last night.

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Old 24 Aug 16, 07:00
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What mistake did Chapelle make?
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Old 24 Aug 16, 07:59
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This is the complete letter where Jefferson mentions "a mere matter of marching." Jefferson obviously had no clue about the military power of the young United States.

Quote:
To William Duane

Monticello, Aug. 4. 12

Dear Sir

Your favour of the 17th ult came duly to hand; and I have to thank you for the military Manuals you were so kind to send me, this is the sort of book most needed in our country, where even the elements of tactics are unknown. the young have never seen service; & the old are past it: and of those among them, who are not superannuated themselves, their science is become so. I see, as you do, the difficulties & defects we have to encounter in war, and should expect disasters, if we had an enemy on land capable of inflicting them. But the weakness of our enemy there will make our first errors innocent, &the seed of genius which nature sows with even had through every age & country, & which need only soil & season to germinate, will become prominent, and, seconded by the native energy of our citizens, will soon, I hope, to our force, add the benefits of skill. The acquisition of Canada, this year, as far as the neighbourhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching; & will give us experience for the attack of Halifax the next, & the final expulsion of England from the American continent. Halifax once taken, every cockboat of hers must return to England for repairs. Their fleet will annihilate our public force on the water, but our privateers will eat out the vitals of their commerce. Perhaps they may burn New York or Boston. If they do, we must burn the city of London, not by expensive fleets or Congreve rockets, but by employing an hundred or two Jack the painters whom nakedness famine, desperation & hardened vice will abundantly furnish from among themselves. – we have a rumour now afloat that the orders of council are repealed. The thing is impossible after Castlereagh’s late declaration in parliament, and the reconstruction of a Percival ministry. I consider this last circumstance fortunate for us. The repeal of the orders of council would only add recruits to our minority, and enable them the more to embarrass our march to thoro’ redress of our past wrongs, and permanent security for the future. This we shall attain if no internal obstacles are raised up. The exclusion of their commerce from the US and the closing of the Baltic against it which the present campaign in Europe will effect, will accomplish the catastrophe already so far advanced on them. I think your anticipations of the effects of this are entirely probable. Their arts, their science, and what they have left of virtue, will come over to us. And altho’ their vices will come also, I think will soon be diluted & evaporated in a country of plain honesty, experience will soon teach the new-comers how much more plentiful & pleasant is the subsistence gained by wholsome labour & fair dealing, than a precarious & hazardous dependence on the enterprises and vice & violence. Still I agree with you that these immigrations will give strength to English partialities, to eradicate which is one of the most consoling expectations from the war. But probably the old hive will be broken up by a revolution, and a regeneration of it’s principles render intercourse with it no longer contaminating a republic there like ours, & a reduction of their naval power within the limits of their annual faculties of paiment, might render their existence even interesting to us. It is the construction of their government, and it’s principles and means of corruption which make it’s continuance inconsistent with the safety of other nations. A change in it’s form might make it an honest one, and justify a confidence in it’s faith and friendship, that regeneration, however will take a longer time than I have to live. I shall leave it to be enjoyed among you, & make my exit with a bow to it, as the most flagitious of the governments I leave among men. I sincerely wish you may live to see the prodigy of it’s renovation, enjoying in the mean time health & prosperity.

Thos. Jefferson
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  #21  
Old 24 Aug 16, 11:08
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuebor View Post
Re: Sources

Speaking of which, the above comment was made in referring to marching to Quebec. The same letter he specifically states that the war would require two campaigns. He was being a bit sanguine, but he most certainly was not referring to the entire "conquest of Canada" as being "a mere matter of marching."

Tuebor
True, but to be clear, Upper and Lower Canada then only included parts of Ontario, Quebec, and Labrador. He is saying Canada to the city of Quebec, and then the following year to Nova Scotia (then not part of the two Canadian colonies)

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Old 24 Aug 16, 11:22
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I would suggest ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by taco View Post
This is the complete letter where Jefferson mentions "a mere matter of marching." Jefferson obviously had no clue about the military power of the young United States.
... that Jefferson's comments to Duane were largely based on certain realities dating from his own Presidency, and have more to do with Upper Canada than the military power of the young United States.
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Old 24 Aug 16, 11:53
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Originally Posted by Marmat View Post
... that Jefferson's comments to Duane were largely based on certain realities dating from his own Presidency, and have more to do with Upper Canada than the military power of the young United States.
Can you explain in more detail because I don't understand your point.
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Old 25 Aug 16, 06:51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuebor View Post
Except it was not Jefferson who did it. The "Peace Establishment" of the Navy that ordered the reduction, the sell off the ships, shore establishments, putting up seven of the frigates in ordinary, etc. was signed into law on March 1st, 1801 by none other than one John Adams. It was the Federalist controlled Sixth Congress which passed the law, and was one of the very last pieces of legislation passed by that Congress before the Seventh Congress and Thomas Jefferson took the oath of office three days later. It was Adams, not Jefferson who so reduced the Navy. (Same law also proscribed the number of officers etc).
You might want to take a look at the law again, and what happened because of it. It is explained thoroughly in the following:

From The Rise of American Naval Power 1776-1918 by Harold and Margaret Sprout, 72-77:

‘The program which President Adams and his Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Stoddert, were pushing forward during their final months in office envisaged a comprehensive naval development along three lines-ships, personnel, and a supporting organization of yards and docks.’
The land for the shore establishment was purchased at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and Norfolk. Further, ‘The Adams administration had construed [Congressional] legislation as permitting not merely the specified acts, but also the purchase and development of sites for shipyards in which to build the authorized vessels and docks, and in which to store timber and other materials…These works, hastily undertaken without proper statutory authority in the last weeks of a defeated administration, represented an attempt to lay the foundation for a permanent shore organization before the Navy should fall into the hands of the hostile Jeffersonians.’-72.

Congress had opposed much of what Stoddert recommended and Adams had supported at the end of the Adams administration. The leader of the opposition was Albert Gallatin who would become Jefferson’s Secretary of the Treasury. He and Jefferson were opposed to a strong US Navy and that was the policy that was implemented, not what was recommended by Stoddert. Jefferson’s Secretary of the Navy was a nonentity, Robert Smith, and although he was a supporter of a strong navy, he had ‘little capacity or apparent desire for leadership’ and ‘exercised slight influence on policy.’-74.

Gallatin had opposed the naval expansion in the war against France and Jefferson who was an agrarian would not support an institution, the US Navy, which was Federalist in origin as well as tendencies.
‘While there was perhaps some room for doubt as to the President’s inner convictions, there was none whatever regarding the attitude of his Secretary of the Treasury. As congressional leader of the Jeffersonian opposition, Gallatin had repeatedly set forth the political economics of the agrarian movement, and it will be recalled that in the notable debate on the capital-ship bill of 1799, he had mercilessly attacked, on political as well as fiscal grounds, the Federalist policy of building up a strong seagoing navy.’-75.

The US Navy was regarding by the Jefferson administration, and especially by Gallatin, ‘as an expensive and possibly disposable luxury.’-76.
Under the Jefferson administration soon after taking office and using the discretion in the Act of March 1801 ‘Liquidation of the Navy was begun at once and vigorously prosecuted.’-76.

‘…the administration sold a large number of vessels and laid up seven of those retained. Word was discontinued on the seventy-fours under construction. And the President projected a ship-building policy limited to collecting materials in case of an emergency. A simultaneous assault on personnel resulted in the wholesale discharge of purchasing agents and navy-yard employees, and a drastic reduction of commissioned officers and enlisted men. Work on dry-docks and other navy-yard improvements, begun under the previous regime, was suspended. Gallatin and Jefferson toyed with the idea of closing some of these establishments altogether, and the latter also worked on a plan for concentrating the Navy’s shore organization at the capital, where he proposed to build a great covered dock, in which to lay up the Navy, high and dry, to save the ships from decay, and the country from expense and corruption.’

And then came the Tripolitan War and the need of an active US Navy along with Jefferson’s plan to rely on the dubious security of gunboats, over 200 of them, to defend the US coast and harbors…

It was the Jefferson administration and not the Adams administration that reduced the Navy. And the Sprout's citations are generally from primary source material such as:

-Annals of the 5th Congress.
-American State Papers, Naval Affairs Volume I.
-Annals of the 6th Congress.
-Writings of Thomas Jefferson.

Credible secondary material consulted for the above include:

-Naval Administration under Secretaries of the Navy Smith, Hamilton, and Jones by CO Paullin in the Proceedings of the US Naval Institute, volume XXXII.
-History of the United States Volume I by Henry Adams.
-Early Naval Administration under the Constitution by CO Paullin in Proceedings of the US Naval Institute Volume XXXII.

You might want to correct and revise your opinion on which administration attempted to abolish the US Navy.
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Old 25 Aug 16, 07:03
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Quote:
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Re: Sources
I hope that gives you some idea where I am coming from. Personally, I do not trust too much to secondary sources. Hell, even Chapelle let me down last night.
So then, you don't consider any secondary source material useful? I disagree completely.

Apparently you see neither the need nor usefulness of historians writing on historical subjects and attempting to analyze what has happened and drawing conclusions from that evidence. That is somewhat narrow-minded and ahistorical.

Primary source material should always be used if possible, but that also has to be analyzed and scrutinized. Just because a document is considered a primary source it doesn't mean it is accurate. Memoirs and letters come to mind which can include inaccuracies and prejudices.

Your own reading of primary source material brought on a large error or who was responsible for reducing the US Navy in 1801, as has been shown to you. And the opinions and prejudices of those who do the research also has to be included in the analysis. You have definitely demonstrated a few biases in your postings, along with the errors.

Good historians use a mixture of primary and credible secondary material and all historians make errors in their works, the good ones much fewer than the suspect ones, who are not really historians, but merely authors. I've come across both in my research in the past 30 years.
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Old 25 Aug 16, 09:49
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I put this thesis on here because Jefferson has been a highly controversial figure over his attitude to the army and navy. Some excellent secondary works have been listed by Massena. I have a few others specifically on the navy that I have found interesting.

An article on jstor titled Jefferson and the Navy: A Defense by Julia H. Macleod at this link.

An unpublished PhD dissertation by Joseph George Henrich titled The Triumph of Ideology: The Jeffersonians and the Navy, 1779-1807.

Craig L. Symonds book Navalists and Antinavalists: The Naval Policy Debate in the United States, 1785-1827.
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Old 25 Aug 16, 12:00
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Symonds' Navalists and Antinavalists is excellent and Marshall Smelser's The Congress Founds the Navy 1787-1798 is also worthy of attention.
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Old 26 Aug 16, 19:59
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Sorry for the delay, ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by taco View Post
Can you explain in more detail because I don't understand your point.
... in retrospect my post does come across as rather enigmatic(?) I've got a few things on the go and I haven't been able to devote much time to spend here, and to respond to you in any detail. I was just about to whip something up, then realized I've already posted most of it:


http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...66#post2971366

I can attempt to further clarify if you wish?
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Old 27 Aug 16, 01:36
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You might want to take a look at the law again, and what happened because of it.
Ok. I just reread the law. The words still have not changed since I last read it a few days ago. The "Act for Providing for a Naval Peace Establishment, and for Other Purposes" provided for the following:

That the President "whenever the the situation of public affairs shall in his opinion render it expedient, to cause to be sold, they being first divested of their guns and military stores, which are to be carefully preserved,all or any[Note 1] of the ships and vessels belonging to the navy, except..." 13 Frigates listed by name "and also to lay up all the frigates thus to be retained, except such as are directed by this act to be kept in constant service in time of peace.

"Sec. 2. And be it [further] enacted, That six of the frigates to be retained shall be kept in constant service in time of peace, and shall be officered and manned as the President of the United States may direct, not to exceed, however, two thirds of the present complement of seamen, and ordinary seamen; the residue of the frigates to be retained shall be laid up in convenient ports."

Section 3 dealt with rations.

Section 4 designated the maximum strength of officers to retained to wit nine captains, thirty-six lieutenants, and 150 midshipmen. All other officers were to be discharged, and of those that remained, those not actually under sailing orders were put on half pay.

Section 5 gave the discharged officers four months severance pay.

This law was passed in the Federalist controlled House by a vote of 69-19. The only real debate was an attempt to keep the riffed officers on half pay for life. It failed 48 to 49. I could not even find a recorded vote in the Senate records. That suggests it passed with unanimous consent.

I really question the Sprouts' designation of Gallitin as the "leader" of the Congressional movement. What support is there for such a declaration? Overall, the Federalists in Congress were happy with the establishment. There simply was not support in the country for a large standing Navy, and would not be for another century, and even then there was a great deal of "anti-Navy" sentiment in Congress, and that is why the Great White Fleet was nearly all battleships and virtually no cruisers. Congress would not fund the latter.

Quote:
You might want to correct and revise your opinion on which administration attempted to abolish the US Navy.
As I never once opined on which administration attempted to "abolish the US Navy" I suppose I have no need to revise said imaginary opinion. What I did point out that it was the Adams Administration and Federalist Sixth Congress that made the reduction in the Navy, and not Jefferson who it was claimed did so earlier in this thread. And for further clarification, I do not believe anyone "abolished" the Navy, and further make the, apparently outrageous, claim that it was still in existence on June 18th, 1812.

NOTE 1: Please note that "all or any" is a parliamentary/legal phrase often used in this situation. It is not, in any way, meant to be discretionary, as the remained of the Act clearly indicates that only the thirteen frigates named in the Act, and no other ships, were to be retained. Without anything further than your quotes, I think the Sprouts were attempting to sell snake oil.

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Old 27 Aug 16, 13:20
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What you have posted is a perfect example of using select material to support your point while ignoring the overall situation, along with whatever else was happening at the same time and by whom.

The intent of the Adams administration was to get rid of the lesser warships and then build newer, better ones to replace them. Stoddert introduced plans to do exactly that. But Congress, spurred on by Gallatin and the Democratic-Republicans, defeated that attempt with the result that the US Navy was gutted and left hobbled.

The Sprouts and Col Elting are certainly correct in their assumptions-it was the Jefferson administration, in particular Jefferson and Gallatin that tried to literally abolish the US Navy.
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