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Title:Steaming Erratically Towards the Dreadnought: The British Navy in the Era of Gladstone and Disraeli
Author(s):Beeler, John Francis
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Arnstein, Walter L.
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):History, European
History, Modern
Abstract:During the two decades after 1860 the British Navy was thrust into the machine age as the fruits of the Industrial Revolution impinged on the design and construction of ships of war with dramatic suddenness. Within the space of these twenty years the battlefleet was transformed from wooden walls armed with smoothbore muzzleloaders and dependent primarily upon the wind for motive power to steel-hulled armorclads, many times larger than their predecessors, boasting breechloading rifled cannon, and wholly reliant on steam for power, and these were only the most obvious innovations.
Previous studies of the British Navy during the early ironclad era have generally conformed to a techno-centric approach, in which the revolution which occurred in naval design has been basically viewed in isolation, removed from the political, economic, foreign policy, and administrative factors which defined the parameters within which the Navy--technological developments included--operated.
This dissertation attempts to place the Navy and its response to the myriad technological changes in the context of the times, rather than by viewing them simply as contending solely with the march of technology. In order to present a comprehensive treatment of British naval policy during the era of Gladstone and Disraeli this study contains extensive sections on the political and economic circumstances of the period, and touches more briefly on foreign policy and ideological concerns. Only when this framework is properly established are design and technological matters considered. The years 1866-1880 form the chronological focus, in part because they have received the least prior scrutiny, and because they were arguably the period of greatest technological uncertainty.
The bulk of the sources consulted for this study are archival: the Admiralty Papers in the British Public Record Office; further Navy documents in the National Maritime Museum, and the personal papers of leading politicians, naval administrators and officers. The information from these sources is supplemented liberally by published accounts: the Parliamentary Papers and Debates; a large number of contemporary newspapers, pamphlets, and journals, as well as books and the relevant secondary literature.
Issue Date:1991
Description:703 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1991.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9210741
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-17
Date Deposited:1991

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