Paul Pedisich

Congress Buys a Navy

Politics, Economics, and the Rise of American Naval Power, 1881-1921

Naval Institute Press 2016

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in EconomicsNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Military HistoryNew Books in National SecurityNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network January 30, 2017 Mark Klobas

In the forty years between 1881 and 1921, the United States Navy went from a small force focused on coastal defense to one of...

In the forty years between 1881 and 1921, the United States Navy went from a small force focused on coastal defense to one of the world’s largest fleets. In Congress Buys a Navy: Politics, Economics, and the Rise of American Naval Power, 1881-1921 (Naval Institute Press, 2016), Paul Pedisich describes the role that the legislative branch played in making this happen. At the start of the period, the Navy possessed a more decentralized organization than today, with the bureau chiefs who ran it more responsive to Congress than the executive branch. The legislators who played critical roles in shaping policy during this period were often driven more by local concerns than any overarching vision of what the Navy should become. Starting in the 1880s, however, successive presidential administrations gradually persuaded Congress to provide more funding to build modern ships. Over time, America’s growing engagement in global affairs led to the expansion of the navy, as the acquisition of an overseas empire brought the United States into competition with European powers, which required a naval force that could defend the increasing number of American interests abroad.

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