Alfred Thayer Mahan

Alfred Thayer Mahan

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Alfred Thayer Mahan was a United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 flag officer
Flag Officer
A flag officer is a commissioned officer in a nation's armed forces senior enough to be entitled to fly a flag to mark where the officer exercises command. The term usually refers to the senior officers in an English-speaking nation's navy, specifically those who hold any of the admiral ranks; in...

, geostrategist
Geostrategy
Geostrategy, a subfield of geopolitics, is a type of foreign policy guided principally by geographical factors as they inform, constrain, or affect political and military planning...

, and historian, who has been called "the most important American strategist of the nineteenth century." His concept of "sea power" was based on the idea that countries with greater naval power will have greater worldwide impact; it was most famously presented in The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660–1783
The Influence of Sea Power upon History
The Influence of Sea Power Upon History: 1660-1783 is a history of naval warfare written in 1890 by Alfred Thayer Mahan. It details the role of sea power throughout history and discusses the various factors needed to support and achieve sea power, with emphasis on having the largest and most...

 (1890). The concept had an enormous influence in shaping the strategic thought of navies across the world, especially in the United States, Germany, Japan and Britain, ultimately causing the World War I naval arms race
World War I naval arms race
The naval arms race of the early 20th Century preceded and was one of the several intertwined causes for World War I. It was primarily between the United Kingdom and the German Empire...

. His ideas still permeate the U.S. Navy Doctrine.

Several ships were named , including the lead vessel of a class of destroyers
Mahan class destroyer
The Mahan-class destroyers served in the United States Navy before and during World War II. The lead ship of the class was named for Alfred T. Mahan, a US Naval officer and influential theorist on sea power....

.

Early life


Born at West Point, New York
West Point, New York
West Point is a federal military reservation established by President of the United States Thomas Jefferson in 1802. It is a census-designated place located in Town of Highlands in Orange County, New York, United States. The population was 7,138 at the 2000 census...

, to Dennis Hart Mahan
Dennis Hart Mahan
Dennis Hart Mahan was a noted American military theorist and professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point from 1824-1871. He was the father of American naval historian and theorist Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan...

 (a professor at the United States Military Academy
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

) and Mary Helena Mahan, he attended Saint James School
St. James School, Maryland
Saint James School is an independent, secondary, boarding and day school. Founded in 1842 as the College of Saint James, The school is a coeducational college preparatory school.-Mission statement:...

, an Episcopal college preparatory academy in western Maryland. He then studied at Columbia
Columbia College of Columbia University
Columbia College is the oldest undergraduate college at Columbia University, situated on the university's main campus in Morningside Heights in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. It was founded in 1754 by the Church of England as King's College, receiving a Royal Charter from King George II...

 for two years where he was a member of the Philolexian Society
Philolexian Society
The Philolexian Society of Columbia University is one of the oldest college literary societies in the United States, and the oldest student group at Columbia...

 debating club and then, against his parents' wishes, transferred to the Naval Academy
United States Naval Academy
The United States Naval Academy is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located in Annapolis, Maryland, United States...

, where he graduated second in his class in 1859.

Commissioned as a Lieutenant
Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 in 1861, Mahan served the Union
Union (American Civil War)
During the American Civil War, the Union was a name used to refer to the federal government of the United States, which was supported by the twenty free states and five border slave states. It was opposed by 11 southern slave states that had declared a secession to join together to form the...

 in the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 as an officer on USS Worcester
USS Worcester (1866)
USS Worcester was a Contoocook-class bark-rigged screw steam sloop-of-war in the United States Navy.Built as Manitou of unseasoned white oak timbers, she was laid down in 1863 at Boston, Massachusetts, by the Boston Navy Yard and launched on 25 August 1866...

, Congress
USS Congress (1841)
USS Congress — the fourth United States Navy ship to carry that name — was a sailing frigate, like her predecessor, .Congress served with distinction in the Mediterranean, South Atlantic Ocean, and in the Pacific Ocean...

, Pocahontas
USS Pocahontas (1852)
The first USS Pocahontas, a screw steamer built at Medford, Massachusetts in 1852 as City of Boston, and purchased by the Navy at Boston, Massachusetts on 20 March 1855, was the first United States Navy ship to be named for Pocahontas, the Algonquian wife of Virginia colonist John Rolfe. She was...

, and James Adger
USS James Adger (1851)
USS James Adger was a sidewheel steamer in the Union Navy during the American Civil War. She retained her former name.Before being pressed into service by the United States Navy, the SS James Adger was a United States Mail Steamship operating between Charleston, South Carolina and New York City,...

, and as an instructor at the Naval Academy. In 1865 he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander is a commissioned officer rank in many navies. The rank is superior to a lieutenant and subordinate to a commander...

, and then to Commander
Commander
Commander is a naval rank which is also sometimes used as a military title depending on the individual customs of a given military service. Commander is also used as a rank or title in some organizations outside of the armed forces, particularly in police and law enforcement.-Commander as a naval...

 (1872), and Captain
Captain (naval)
Captain is the name most often given in English-speaking navies to the rank corresponding to command of the largest ships. The NATO rank code is OF-5, equivalent to an army full colonel....

 (1885). As commander of the he was stationed at Callao
Callao
Callao is the largest and most important port in Peru. The city is coterminous with the Constitutional Province of Callao, the only province of the Callao Region. Callao is located west of Lima, the country's capital, and is part of the Lima Metropolitan Area, a large metropolis that holds almost...

, Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, protecting American interests during the final stages of the War of the Pacific
War of the Pacific
The War of the Pacific took place in western South America from 1879 through 1883. Chile fought against Bolivia and Peru. Despite cooperation among the three nations in the war against Spain, disputes soon arose over the mineral-rich Peruvian provinces of Tarapaca, Tacna, and Arica, and the...

.

Despite his professed success in the Navy, his skills in actual command of a ship were not exemplary, and a number of vessels under his command were involved in collisions, with both moving and stationary
Dry dock
A drydock is a narrow basin or vessel that can be flooded to allow a load to be floated in, then drained to allow that load to come to rest on a dry platform...

 objects. He had an affection for old square-rigged vessels, and did not like smoky, noisy steamships of his time; he tried to avoid active sea duty. On the other hand, the books he wrote ashore made him arguably the most influential naval historian of the period. In pointing out how unlikely his ascent was, Kyle Whitney compared his chances of achieving prominence in the navy to that of "a cheerleader becoming president".

Naval War College and writings


In 1885, he was appointed lecturer in naval history and tactics at the Naval War College. Before entering on his duties, College President Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce pointed Mahan in the direction of writing his future studies on the influence of sea power. For his first year on the faculty, he remained at his home in New York City researching and writing his lectures. Upon completion of this research period, he was to succeed Luce as President of the Naval War College
President of the Naval War College
The President of the Naval War College is a flag officer in the United States Navy. The President's House is his official residence.Since the Korean War, all presidents of the Naval War College have been vice admirals or rear admirals.-Presidents:...

 from June 22, 1886 to January 12, 1889 and again from July 22, 1892 to May 10, 1893. There, in 1887, he met and befriended Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

, then a visiting lecturer, who would later become president of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

.

Mahan plunged into the library and wrote lectures that drew heavily on standard classics and the ideas of work of Henri Jomini. The lectures became his sea-power studies: The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660–1783 (1890); The Influence of Sea Power upon the French Revolution and Empire, 1793–1812 (2 vols., 1892); and Sea Power in Relation to the War of 1812 (2 vols., 1905). The Life of Nelson: The Embodiment of the Sea Power of Great Britain (2 vols., 1897) supplemented the series. Mahan stresses the importance of the individual in shaping history, and extols the traditional values of loyalty, courage, and service to the state. Mahan sought to resurrect Horatio Nelson as a national hero in Britain and used the book as a platform for expressing his views on naval strategy and tactics. Criticisms of the work focused on Mahan's handling of Nelson's love affair with Lady Emma Hamilton, but it remains the standard biography. In addition to these works, Mahan wrote more than a hundred articles on international politics and related topics, which were closely read by policy makers.

Upon being published, Mahan struck up a friendship with pioneering British naval historian Sir John Knox Laughton
John Knox Laughton
Sir John Knox Laughton Kt was a British naval historian and arguably the first to argue for the importance of the subject as an independent field of study...

, the pair maintaining this relationship through correspondence and visits when Mahan was in London. Mahan was later described as a 'disciple' of Laughton, although the two men were always at pains to distinguish between each other's line of work, Laughton seeing Mahan as a theorist while Mahan called Laughton 'the historian'.

Strategic views


Mahan's views were shaped by the seventeenth century conflicts between Holland, England, France and Spain, and by the nineteenth century naval wars between France and Britain, where British naval superiority eventually defeated France, consistently preventing invasion and blockade (see Napoleonic war: Battle of Trafalgar
Battle of Trafalgar
The Battle of Trafalgar was a sea battle fought between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French Navy and Spanish Navy, during the War of the Third Coalition of the Napoleonic Wars ....

 and Continental System
Continental System
The Continental System or Continental Blockade was the foreign policy of Napoleon I of France in his struggle against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland during the Napoleonic Wars. It was a large-scale embargo against British trade, which began on November 21, 1806...

). To a modern reader, the emphasis on controlling seaborne commerce is commonplace, but in the nineteenth century, the notion was radical, especially in a nation entirely obsessed with expansion on to the continent's western land. On the other hand, Mahan's emphasis of sea power as the crucial fact behind Britain's ascension neglected the well-documented roles of diplomacy and armies; Mahan's theories could not explain the success of terrestrial empires, such as Bismarckian Germany. However, as the Royal Navy's blockade of the German Empire was a critical direct and indirect factor in the eventual German collapse, Mahan's theories were vindicated by the First World War.

In the context of his time, Mahan backed a revival of Manifest Destiny
Manifest Destiny
Manifest Destiny was the 19th century American belief that the United States was destined to expand across the continent. It was used by Democrat-Republicans in the 1840s to justify the war with Mexico; the concept was denounced by Whigs, and fell into disuse after the mid-19th century.Advocates of...

 through overseas imperialism. He held that sea power would require the United States to acquire defensive bases in the Caribbean and Pacific as well as take possession of Hawaii. This came at the time when the United States launched a major shipbuilding program to move the United States to the third place amongst worldwide naval powers by 1900.

Sea Power


Mahan used history as a stock of lessons to be learned—or more exactly, as a pool of examples that exemplified his theories. Mahan believed that national greatness was inextricably associated with the sea, with its commercial usage in peace and its control in war. His goal was to discover the laws of history that determined who controlled the seas. His theoretical framework came from Jomini
Antoine-Henri Jomini
Antoine-Henri, baron Jomini was a general in the French and later in the Russian service, and one of the most celebrated writers on the Napoleonic art of war...

, with an emphasis on strategic locations (such as chokepoints, canals, and coaling stations), as well as quantifiable levels of fighting power in a fleet. The primary mission of a navy was to secure the command of the sea. This not only permitted the maintenance of sea communications for one's own ships while denying their use to the enemy but also, if necessary, provided the means for close supervision of neutral trade. This control of the sea could not be achieved by destruction of commerce but only by destroying or neutralizing the enemy fleet. This called for concentration of naval forces composed of capital ships, not unduly large but numerous, well manned with crews thoroughly trained, and operating under the principle that the best defense is an aggressive offense.

Mahan contended that with command of the sea, even if local and temporary, naval operations in support of land forces can be of decisive importance and that naval supremacy can be exercised by a transnational consortium acting in defense of a multinational system of free trade. His theories—written before the submarine became a factor in warfare against shipping—delayed the introduction of convoys as a defense against German U-Boats in World War I. By the 1930s the U.S. Navy was building long-range submarines to raid Japanese shipping, but the Japanese, still tied to Mahan, designed their submarines as ancillaries to the fleet and failed to attack American supply lines in the Pacific in World War II.

Mahan argued that radical technological change does not eliminate uncertainty from the conduct of war, and therefore a rigorous study of history should be the basis of naval officer education.

Sumida (2000) argues Mahan believed that good political and naval leadership was no less important than geography when it came to the development of sea power. Second, his unit of political analysis insofar as sea power was concerned was a transnational consortium rather than the single nation-state. Third, his economic ideal was free trade rather than autarchy. Fourth, his recognition of the influence of geography on strategy was tempered by a strong appreciation of the power of contingency to affect outcomes.

Mahan prepared a secret contingency plan of 1890 in case war should break out between Britain and the United States. Mahan concluded that the British would attempt to blockade the eastern ports, so the American Navy should be concentrated in one of these ports, preferably New York with its two widely separated exits, while torpedo boats should defend the other harbors. This concentration of the U.S. fleet would force the British to tie down such a large proportion of their navy to watch the New York exits that the other American ports would be relatively safe. Detached American cruisers should wage "constant offensive action" against the enemy's exposed positions, and if the British were to weaken their blockade force off New York to attack another American port, the concentrated U.S. fleet should seize the opportunity to escort an invasion fleet to capture the British coaling ports in Nova Scotia, thereby seriously weakening the British ability to engage in naval operations off the American coast. This contingency plan is a clear example of the application of Mahan's principles of naval war, with a clear reliance on Jomini's principle of controlling strategic points.

Mahan was a frequent commentator on world naval, strategic and diplomatic affairs. In the 1890s he argued that the United States should concentrate its naval fleet and obtain Hawaii as a hedge against Japanese eastward expansion and that the U.S. should help maintain a balance of power in the region in order to advance the principle of the Open Door policy both commercially and culturally. Mahan represented the U.S. at the first international conference on arms control that was initiated by Russia in 1899. Russia sought a "freeze" to keep from falling behind in Europe's arms race. Other countries attended in order to mollify various peace groups. No significant arms limitations agreements were reached. A proposal on neutral trade rights was debated but ruled out of order by the Russians. The only significant result of the conference was the establishment of an ineffective Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague.

Impact on naval thought


Timeliness contributed no small part to the widespread acceptance and resultant influence of Mahan's views. Although his history was relatively thin (he relied on secondary sources), the vigorous style and clear theory won widespread acceptance of navalists across the world. Sea power supported the new colonialism which was asserting itself in Africa and Asia. Given the very rapid technological changes underway in propulsion (from coal to oil, from boilers to turbines), ordnance (with better fire directors, and new high explosives) and armor and emergence of new craft such as destroyers and submarines, Mahan's emphasis on the capital ship and the command of the sea came at an opportune moment.

Mahan's name became a household word in the German navy, as Kaiser William II
William II, German Emperor
Wilhelm II was the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918. He was a grandson of the British Queen Victoria and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe...

 ordered his officers to read Mahan, and Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz
Alfred von Tirpitz
Alfred von Tirpitz was a German Admiral, Secretary of State of the German Imperial Naval Office, the powerful administrative branch of the German Imperial Navy from 1897 until 1916. Prussia never had a major navy, nor did the other German states before the German Empire was formed in 1871...

 (1849–1930) used Mahan's reputation to finance a powerful surface fleet.

Between 1890 and 1915, Mahan and British admiral John Fisher (1841–1920) faced the problem of how to dominate home waters and distant seas with naval forces not strong enough to do both. Mahan argued for a universal principle of concentration of powerful ships in home waters and minimized strength in distant seas, while Fisher reversed Mahan by utilizing technological change to propose submarines for defense of home waters and mobile battle cruisers for protection of distant imperial interests.

The French were less susceptible to Mahan's theories. French naval doctrine in 1914 was dominated by Mahan's theory of sea power and therefore geared toward winning decisive battles and gaining mastery of the seas. But the course of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 changed ideas about the place of the navy, as the refusal of the German fleet to engage in a decisive battle, the Dardanelles expedition of 1915, the development of submarine warfare, and the organization of convoys all showed the navy's new role in combined operations with the army. The navy's part in securing victory was not fully understood by French public opinion in 1918, but a synthesis of old and new ideas arose from the lessons of the war, especially by admiral Raoul Castex (1878–1968), from 1927 to 1935, who synthesized in his five-volume Théories Stratégiques the classical and materialist schools of naval theory. He reversed Mahan's theory that command of the sea precedes maritime communications and foresaw the enlarged roles of aircraft and submarines in naval warfare. Castex enlarged strategic theory to include nonmilitary factors (policy, geography, coalitions, public opinion, and constraints) and internal factors (economy of force, offense and defense, communications, operational plans, morale, and command) to conceive a general strategy to attain final victory.

Ideologically, the United States Navy initially opposed replacing its sailing ships with steam-powered ships after the Civil War; Mahan argued that only a fleet of armored battleships might be decisive in a modern war. According to the decisive-battle doctrine, a fleet must not be divided; Mahan's work encouraged technological improvement in convincing opponents that naval knowledge and strategy remained necessary, but that domination of the seas dictated the necessity of the speed and predictability of the steam engine.

His books were greatly acclaimed, and closely studied in Britain and Imperial Germany, influencing the build up of their forces prior to the First World War. Mahan influenced the naval portion of the Spanish-American War, and the battles of Tsushima
Battle of Tsushima
The Battle of Tsushima , commonly known as the “Sea of Japan Naval Battle” in Japan and the “Battle of Tsushima Strait”, was the major naval battle fought between Russia and Japan during the Russo-Japanese War...

, Jutland
Battle of Jutland
The Battle of Jutland was a naval battle between the British Royal Navy's Grand Fleet and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet during the First World War. The battle was fought on 31 May and 1 June 1916 in the North Sea near Jutland, Denmark. It was the largest naval battle and the only...

, and the Atlantic. His work influenced the doctrines of every major navy in the interwar period.

Mahan's concept of sea power extended beyond naval superiority; that in peace time, states should increase production and shipping capacities, acquire overseas possessions — either colonies or privileged access to foreign markets— yet stressed that the number of coal fuel stations and strategic bases should be few, not to drain too many resources from the mother country.

Although Mahan's influence on foreign powers has been generally recognized, only rather recently have scholars called attention to his role as significant in the growth of American overseas possessions, the rise of the new American navy, and the adoption of the strategic principles upon which it operated. He died in Washington a few months after the outbreak of World War I.

Japan


The Influence of Seapower Upon History, 1660–1783 was translated to Japanese and used as a textbook in the Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy
The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1869 until 1947, when it was dissolved following Japan's constitutional renunciation of the use of force as a means of settling international disputes...

 (IJN). This strongly affected the IJN's Pacific War
Pacific War
The Pacific War, also sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War refers broadly to the parts of World War II that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, then called the Far East...

 conduct, emphasising the "decisive battle" doctrine — even at the expense of protecting trade.

The IJN's pursuit of the "decisive battle" was such that it contributed to Imperial Japan's defeat in 1945, and so rendered obsolete the doctrine of the decisive battle between fleets, because of the development of the submarine and the aircraft carrier. However, one could argue that the IJN did not adhere entirely to Mahan's doctrine, as they did divide their main force from time to time, particularly the extensive division of warships in a complicated battle plan that led to the disaster at Midway
Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway is widely regarded as the most important naval battle of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. Between 4 and 7 June 1942, approximately one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea and six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Navy decisively defeated...

, and as such sealed their own defeat.

Later career


Between 1889 and 1892 Mahan was engaged in special service for the Bureau of Navigation, and in 1893 he was appointed to command the powerful new protected cruiser
Protected cruiser
The protected cruiser is a type of naval cruiser of the late 19th century, so known because its armoured deck offered protection for vital machine spaces from shrapnel caused by exploding shells above...

 Chicago
USS Chicago (1885)
The first USS Chicago was a protected cruiser of the United States Navy, the largest of the original three authorized by Congress for the "New Navy"....

 on a visit to Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, where he was received and feted. He returned to lecture at the War College and then, in 1896, he retired from active service, returning briefly to duty in 1898 to consult on naval strategy for the Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

.

Mahan continued to write voluminously and received honorary degrees from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

, Yale
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

, Columbia
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

, Dartmouth
Dartmouth College
Dartmouth College is a private, Ivy League university in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States. The institution comprises a liberal arts college, Dartmouth Medical School, Thayer School of Engineering, and the Tuck School of Business, as well as 19 graduate programs in the arts and sciences...

, and McGill
McGill University
Mohammed Fathy is a public research university located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The university bears the name of James McGill, a prominent Montreal merchant from Glasgow, Scotland, whose bequest formed the beginning of the university...

.

In 1902 Mahan invented the term "Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

", which he used in the article "The Persian Gulf and International Relations", published in September in the National Review
National Review (London)
The National Review was founded in 1883 by the English writers Alfred Austin and William Courthope.It was launched as a platform for the views of the British Conservative Party, its masthead incorporating a quotation of the former Conservative Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli:Under editor Leopold...

.

He became Rear Admiral in 1906 by an act of Congress promoting all retired captains who had served in the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. At the outbreak of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, he initially engaged in the cause of Great Britain, but an order of President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 prohibited all active and retired officers from publishing comments on the war. Mahan died of heart failure
Congestive heart failure
Heart failure often called congestive heart failure is generally defined as the inability of the heart to supply sufficient blood flow to meet the needs of the body. Heart failure can cause a number of symptoms including shortness of breath, leg swelling, and exercise intolerance. The condition...

 on December 1, 1914.

Honors


  • The United States Naval Academy
    United States Naval Academy
    The United States Naval Academy is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located in Annapolis, Maryland, United States...

    's Mahan Hall was named in his honor, as was Mahan Hall at the Naval War College
    Naval War College
    The Naval War College is an education and research institution of the United States Navy that specializes in developing ideas for naval warfare and passing them along to officers of the Navy. The college is located on the grounds of Naval Station Newport in Newport, Rhode Island...

    . Mahan Hall at the United States Military Academy
    United States Military Academy
    The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

     was named for his father, Dennis Hart Mahan
    Dennis Hart Mahan
    Dennis Hart Mahan was a noted American military theorist and professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point from 1824-1871. He was the father of American naval historian and theorist Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan...

    .
  • A.T. Mahan Elementary School and A.T. Mahan High School at Keflavik Naval Air Station
    Naval Air Station Keflavik
    United States Naval Air Station Keflavik is a former NATO facility at Keflavík International Airport, Iceland. It is located on the Reykjanes peninsula on the south-west portion of the island...

     in Iceland
    Iceland
    Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

    , were also named in his honor.
  • Naval Sea Cadet Corps unit in Albany, New York
    Albany, New York
    Albany is the capital city of the U.S. state of New York, the seat of Albany County, and the central city of New York's Capital District. Roughly north of New York City, Albany sits on the west bank of the Hudson River, about south of its confluence with the Mohawk River...

     is honored with his name as the Mahan Division also named after the USS Mahan
    USS Mahan
    USS Mahan was a name given to four US Navy ships in honor of Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan:* Mahan was commissioned in 1918 and decommissioned in 1930.* Mahan was commissioned in 1934 and sunk in 1944....


Works


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See also


  • Choke point
    Choke point
    In military strategy, a choke point is a geographical feature on land such as a valley, defile or a bridge, or at sea such as a strait which an armed force is forced to pass, sometimes on a substantially narrower front, and therefore greatly decreasing its combat power, in order to reach its...

    , with regard to naval tactics
  • John Fisher, 1st Baron Fisher
  • USS Mahan (DDG 72)
  • USS Mahan
    USS Mahan
    USS Mahan was a name given to four US Navy ships in honor of Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan:* Mahan was commissioned in 1918 and decommissioned in 1930.* Mahan was commissioned in 1934 and sunk in 1944....

  • War Plan Orange
    War Plan Orange
    War Plan Orange refers to a series of United States Joint Army and Navy Board war plans for dealing with a possible war with Japan during the years between the First and Second World Wars....


Primary sources

  • Seager II, Robert, ed. Letters and Papers of Alfred Thayer Mahan (3 vol 1975) v. 1. 1847–1889.--v. 2. 1890–1901.--v. 3. 1902–1914
  • Mahan, Alfred Thayer. The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660–1783 (1890) online edition
  • Mahan, Alfred Thayer. The Influence of Sea Power upon the French Revolution and Empire, 1793–1812 (2 vols., 1892) online edition
  • Mahan, Alfred Thayer. Sea Power in Relation to the War of 1812 (2 vols., 1905). online edition
  • Mahan, Alfred Thayer., Reflections, Historic and Other, Suggested by the Battle of the Japan Sea. By Captain A. T. Mahan, U.S. Navy. US Naval Proceedings
    Proceedings
    In academia, proceedings are the collection of academic papers that are published in the context of an academic conference. They are usually distributed as printed books either before the conference opens or after the conference has closed. Proceedings contain the contributions made by researchers...

     magazine, June 1906, Volume XXXVI, No. 2 United States Naval Institute
    United States Naval Institute
    The United States Naval Institute , based at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, is a private, non-profit, professional military association that seeks to offer independent, nonpartisan forums for debate of national defense issues...

    .
  • Mahan, Alfred Thayer. The Life of Nelson: The Embodiment of the Sea Power of Great Britain (2 vols., 1897) online edition
  • Mahan, Alfred Thayer. Mahan on Naval Strategy: selections from the writings of Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan ed by John B. Hattendorf (1991)

Further reading

  • Apt, Benjamin. "Mahan's Forebears: The Debate over Maritime Strategy, 1868–1883." Naval War College Review (Summer 1997). Online. Naval War College. September 24, 2004
  • Bowling, Roland Alfred. "The Negative Influence of Mahan on the Protection of Shipping in Wartime: The Convoy Controversy in the Twentieth Century." PhD dissertation U. of Maine 1980. 689 pp. DAI 1980 41(5): 2241-A. 8024828 Fulltext: ProQuest Dissertations & Theses
  • Crowl, Philip A. "Alfred Thayer Mahan: The Naval Historian" in Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, ed. Peter Paret
    Peter Paret
    Peter Paret is American military, cultural & art historian with a particular interest in German history. Paret was born in Berlin, Germany, the son of Dr. Hans Paret and Suzanne Aimée Cassirer, who divorced in 1932...

     (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986)
  • Hattendorf, John B., ed. The Influence of History on Mahan. Naval War College Press, 1991. 208 pp.
  • Karsten, Peter. "The Nature of 'Influence': Roosevelt, Mahan and the Concept of Sea Power." American Quarterly 1971 23(4): 585–600. in Jstor
  • LaFeber, Walter. "A Note on the "Mercantilistic Imperialism" of Alfred Thayer Mahan," The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 48, No. 4 (Mar., 1962), pp. 674–685 online at JSTOR
  • Livezey, William E. Mahan on Sea Power (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, reprinted 1981)
  • Puleston, W. D. Mahan: The Life and Work of Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, U.S.N 1939 online edition
  • St. John, Ronald B. "European Naval Expansion and Mahan, 1889–1906." Naval War College Review 1971 23(7): 74–83. Issn: 0028-1484. Argues that key Europeans were already set to expand their navies and that Mahan crystallized their ideas and generate broad support.
  • Schluter, Randall Craig. "Looking Outward for America: An Ideological Criticism of the Rhetoric of Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, USN, in American Magazines of the 1890s." PhD dissertation U. of Iowa 1995. 261 pp. DAI 1995 56(6): 2045-A. DA9536247 Fulltext: ProQuest Dissertations & Theses
  • Seager, Robert. Alfred Thayer Mahan: The Man and His Letters (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1977), the standard biography
  • Shulman, Mark Russell. "The Influence of Mahan upon Sea Power." Reviews in American History 1991 19(4): 522–527. in Jstor
  • Shulman, Mark Russell. Navalism and the Emergence of American Sea Powers, 1882–1893 (1995)
  • Sumida, Jon Tetsuro. Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command: The Classic Works of Alfred Thayer Mahan (2000) 184 pages excerpt and online search from Amazon.com
  • Turk, Richard W. The Ambiguous Relationship: Theodore Roosevelt and Alfred Thayer Mahan (1987) online edition
  • Zimmermann, Warren. First Great Triumph: How Five Americans Made Their Country a World Power. (2002). 562 pp., chapter on Mahan

External links