Pacific Wars: Peripheral Conflict and the Making of the U.S. “New Navy,” 1865-1897
Jamison, Thomas M.
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CitationJamison, Thomas M. 2020. Pacific Wars: Peripheral Conflict and the Making of the U.S. “New Navy,” 1865-1897. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis project explores a set of limited maritime conflicts in the Pacific and their effects on the creation of the U.S. “New Navy”: The United States military’s first substantive peacetime expansion, c. 1882-1898. It does so in an effort to understand how technological shifts and regional wars created under-appreciated opportunities for competition and exchange between the industrialized “core” of the North Atlantic and the “semi-peripheral” Pacific world.
Viewing the Pacific as a coherent unit reveals a nearly continuous series of industrial wars and/or naval races between 1864-1897; a fact obscured by disciplinary boundaries that divide the ocean into subregions like Latin and North America. This research, by contrast, escapes conventional geographic and temporal frameworks by applying a transwar perspective to the Pacific’s maritime states: namely, the U.S., Peru, Chile, China and Japan. Most notably, a transwar analysis reveals continuities between the naval programs and conflicts of the U.S./Confederacy (1861-1865), Peru/Chile (1866-1879) and Japan/China (1874-1895)—above all their disproportionate influence(s) on the New Navy.
Four themes run throughout. First, the Pacific’s wars generated demand for naval technology, encouraging the regional circulation of weapons and knowledge. After 1865, a wave of Civil War matériel and expertise proliferated in the Pacific catalyzing regional maritime development from Peru to Japan. Second, U.S. officials justifiably viewed evolving Pacific navies as threats to seaborne commerce and Californian port-cities. Those threats were concrete enough—reflecting USN stagnation in the 1860s and 70s—but probably most dangerous to the pretensions of Anglo-Saxonism: an ideology that assumed U.S. civilizational superiority over non-European competitors. Third, strategic and cultural anxiety about USN vulnerabilities in the Pacific offered a justification for naval expansion, or “navalism.” Navalist advocacy in the 1880s and 90s drew extensively on war in the Pacific for evidence and inspiration. Finally, in the absence of “great power” war, conflict in the Pacific offered a laboratory for experimental technologies like the torpedo. Euro-U.S. intelligence agencies and arms-manufacturers monitored the region for technical and tactical insights. These relationships, in turn, point to the Pacific as a critical arena for both U.S. navalism and the making of definitively “modern” war at sea.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365967
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