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By James C. Bradford

The USA, Sea strength, and the realm

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E Very few 64s were constructed after 1780, because 74s could better carry 32‐pound guns. f The last fourth‐rate ship‐of‐the‐line was launched in 1759. b “Size off enemy harbors to alert the ships‐of‐the‐line on blockade duty when enemy ships put to sea. Bomb ketches were armed with mortars that fired explosive “bombs” in high trajectories used to attack coastal fortifications. Wars of the Mid-Eighteenth Century War returned to the Atlantic world in 1739 when conflicts over English trading in Spanish America led to the War of Jenkins’ Ear, so named for an incident in which the captain of a Spanish revenue cutter ordered the cutting off of the left ear of Robert Jenkins, an English merchant captain whom he accused of smuggling.

By war’s end the Royal Navy’s transition to a modern, professional force with a mature administration, career officer corps, and purpose‐built warships was complete. Sailing Warships By the eighteenth century purpose‐built warships had become the norm in all major navies, though a few minor navies, such as the Continental Navy of Britain’s rebelling North American colonies, continued to employ converted merchantmen. Warships were divided into three broad groupings identified by their function and number of guns carried.

Should the United States have a navy or not? If so, what kind of a navy should it be? One limited to coastal defense, one able to protect commerce in foreign seas, or a capital‐ship navy to rival those of Europe? The Founders were in uncharted waters. The years following the 1783 Treaty of Paris were a time of severe unrest in American society. The decentralized government provided for by the Articles of Confederation proved incapable of alleviating the postwar depression; quelling political unrest, such as Shays’ Rebellion in Massachusetts; or dealing effectively with foreign powers.

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