The Magazine

Founders Afloat

'The fortunes of the nation and its navy' have always been linked.

Sep 15, 2008, Vol. 14, No. 01 • By JOSEPH F. CALLO
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Your account of the situation of Philadelphia and our poor marine (navy) distresses much   .  .  . but the one will yet become the first city and the other the first navy within a much shorter space of time then is generally imagined. When the enemy's land force is once conquered and expelled [from] the continent, our marine will rise as if by enchantment, and become within the memory of persons now living, the wonder and envy of the world.

Jones's timing was a bit off, but the fulfillment of his prediction about the American Navy was firmly in motion by the end of the War of 1812.

A defining point in the process is captured by Daughan, as he describes the legislation moving through Congress to significantly expand the Navy in the fall of 1812: "[T]he public mood had changed, and the pro-navy forces had the upper hand." The linkage between the fortunes of the nation and its Navy had been clearly established with both the public and its government. And despite the fact that the lessons embedded in America's and our Navy's earliest years have had to be periodically relearned, that linkage continues to serve the nation well.

Joseph F. Callo is the author, most recently,
of John Paul Jones: America's First
Sea Warrior.