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Title:The Navy in The Doldrums: The Influence of Politics and Technology on The Decline and Rejuvenation of The American Fleet, 1866--1886
Author(s):Peterson, William Scott
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):History, United States
Abstract:The twenty year period that followed the American Civil War has been generally seen as the "dark age" of the United States Navy. It was a time of neglect of the nation's naval arm by both Congress and the public that resulted in the fleet's decline relative to the other navies of the world. This period was also one of great political turmoil as the country began the slow process of reconstruction from the most destructive confict in its history.
This dissertation examines the treatment of the Navy at the hands of Congress based on the premise that the political struggle between President Johnson and the Radicals, and later between the Democrats and the Republicans was the major factor in the decline of the fleet and its eventual recovery in the decade of the 1880s.
The study is divided into three parts of two chapters each. The first chapter describes the Navy Department under Gideon Welles and its mistreatment by the Radicals as a result of the conflict over Reconstruction policy. Chapter two covers the decline of the fleet due to the struggle between the Democrats and Republicans for control of Congress. The next two chapters concentrate on the forces for naval rejuvenation. The importance of technology and its influence on public and congressional attitudes toward the Navy is the topic of chapter three. Chapter four describes the slow process toward naval reform and the influence of foreign affairs on naval legislation. The last two chapters analyzes the political struggle over the development and construction of the Navy's first modern warships and the Democratic Party's opposition to these vessels. It was not until Grover Cleveland came into office that the Democrats finally discarded their hostile policy toward the Navy and began their own program of ship construction.
It is the conclusion of this study that while foreign affairs and the revolution in naval technology affected the way that the legislators viewed the Navy, politics was the determining factor in deciding when the building of a new fleet would receive the full support of Congress.
Issue Date:1986
Description:340 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1986.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8610971
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1986

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