It was a debate that continually divided the two political parties in the early days of United States history. Was it proper to have a standing army and navy? Or was it better to call out the militia and arm a few privateers in the event of war or rebellion? The arguments and decisions regarding American military were passionate from both sides. Understanding the political conflict and its resolution is key to knowledge about the early American navy and its role as “protector” of maritime interests in the 19th Century.
The American War For Independence concluded with the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Four years later the U.S. Constitution was written. In 1789, George Washington became the first president. An ocean away from the new country, Britain frowned at the colonial loss and tried to restrict American trade. The French Revolution did not ease the tensions over trade and the American interest in the European “republicanism” drama.
George Washington tried to navigate uncharted waters regarding diplomacy, government, and international relations. While he held a view of neutrality, future presidents argued in his cabinet and in congress – seeking ways to strength the new nation and enforce respect. With maritime trade still a key part of the country’s wealth, protecting American interests on the high seas seemed imperative to some, impossible to others. Continue reading