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Peter M. Swartz
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America’s war for independence spawned many small American naval forces—national, state, and private. Some had acquitted themselves quite well against the Royal Navy, but all had disappeared once American independence had been won. The new United States of America, however, quickly became a major international shipping power during the last decades of the eighteenth century, capitalizing on American knowledge and resources as well as European involvement in the several wars of the French revolution and of the Napoleonic Era. A particularly profitable trade had grown up between American ports and Smyrna. America’s huge new merchant fleet, however, periodically became prey to French or British warships and privateers, as well as the corsairs of the Barbary States of North Africa. Therefore, in 1798 the United States commissioned a new Navy to protect its burgeoning commerce.

This Navy quickly became embroiled in America’s early wars with France, Britain, and the North African states. Although peace was achieved with all of these countries within two decades, America retained a strong Navy to show the flag and protect its extensive commerce throughout the world. American warships cruised throughout the world’s seas, a small squadron remained on permanent station in the Mediterranean, and a major and successful campaign was waged against piracy in the Caribbean. In 1820, the brig Spark became the first American warship to visit Smyrna.

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  • Pages: 8
  • Document Number: COP D0008571.A1
  • Publication Date: 6/2/2003
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