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The Continental Navy

In 1775, the Congress decided to protect the coastline and shipping in 13 colonies and so thy acquired, built and equipped with firearms, a fleet of naval warships. The sailing ships were captured and some sunk. This acquisition program marked the birth of the US Navy. This article explores the progress of the Navy through its establishment, decline, and evolution sine the evolutionary war of 1775 to 1812. With the help of historical texts and documented commentaries, this article reveals how the 233-year program of acquisition resembles major acquisition programs in the government today.

Historical events of the navy

The construction of the Continental Navy was first authorized by Congress at the time of the setting of the American Revolutionary War with Britain. The first Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in 1774 so as to converse Britain’s Intolerable Acts. These were the British laws that made the colonialists suffer for protesting against their taxation policies. However, significant resolutions were formed of the Revolution were developed in the second year of the Continental Congress (Chapell 45). In 1775, the second assembling of Congress resulted in bloodshed at Lexington and Concord. The Congress became a provisional government and created a Continental Army with George Washington as the general. The Congress defied against England and triggered the beginning of a separate nation and also issued a new monetary currency.

From the time of the starting months of the Revolution (1775), the British naval power hindered all efforts towards forming a strong resistance. The naval made sure that there was a steady supply of warships at the Boston Harbor that supported British to occupy Philadelphia, New York, Charleston and Savannah. The British navy made General George’s army to go on long marches since they were able to strike any place on the Coast.  A semblance of naval resistance was staged by the colonies.

The most important American resistance to British shipping was mounted by the American privateering; these were private owned and financed ships. The privateers differentiated themselves from pirates though the governmental letters that prevented the hanging of the captured crews. The Continental Congress distributed over 2000 letters of Marque at the time of the war, and this motivated the privates to attack the British convoys from the American Coast (Miller 93). The privateers’ success was also influenced by the increase in the maritime insurance premiums that the British merchants paid.

Although the privateers were successful, they were not under the Congress control. In 1775, a Massachusetts, John Adams, told the Continental Congress that its navy could capture prizes for profit and also accomplish strategic purposes. The Congress, therefore, formed a ‘marine committee”. The Congress laid groundwork for creating a navy having been stimulated with the letter from General George Washington. The Congress was excited and later got into a debate of fitting out a vessel. Another resolution suggested developing a second vessel that was also fully equipped. Delegate Deane helped the Congress towards forming the navy by estimating the costs of the naval acquisitions.

The Continental Congress knew of the versatility and effectiveness. In early June 1775, the Continental Congress issued the first currency $2m Spanish dollars and another currency ($3) was issued in December (Cooney 172). The Continental Congress did not have a treasury or the ability to get funds through taxation, and so they were forced to produce paper bills of credit. The colonies were promised for the redemption of the bills in the Spanish dollar and from these bills Congress was able to fund its governing activities. During the Revolutionary War, the Continental bills devalued.

The administrative instability of the Continental Navy showed the many problems that they faced. The Congress found it hard to organize a navy because they didn’t have the capability of challenging the many ships of the British army. Their revolutionary efforts at sea were also not successful despite the many forms of revolutionary actions that they employed. George’s commissioned ships did not bring down the British supply. They created 11 state armies and participated in extensive privateering. These efforts drained their finances. The Continental Navy expressed a mixed record of the Revolutionary war; the first main expedition was staged by Esek Hopkins who ignored his orders and attacked New Providence instead of the Chesapeake Bay and clearing off the British naval. Hopkins went to England and ran away from the battle. The Navy officers argued amongst themselves over rank issues. Though, there were captains that still dared to exploit and capture the British shipping. Paul Jones was one of the famous captains who defeated Bon Homme. Though, he was also caught up in controversial issues.

During the rise of the Barbary pirates, Congress was caught up in a dilemma whether to pay ransom or rebuild the navy again. They decided not to act on anything first and allow the American merchant sailors stay in the Algerian prisons. Nowadays, the Congress still behaves in the same way; when it encounters an insoluble choice, the first solution is inaction. As threats from the Barbary mounted, the Congress had to take action and choose either to pay appeasement bribes or construct a navy to assert force. The Congress pushed forward to make a deal with the Algerians. The Continental Navy had failed and still had debts hence; they needed to construct the frigates. The ultimate technical solution was to create six frigates and pay appeasement bribes to the Algerians. In all these activities, the Congress spent a lot.

The continental navy faced difficulties as it built its program for 13 frigates.  They succumbed in poor planning and hardship in obtaining building materials to construct the ships; the construction was therefore delayed. There were only seven frigates were created and got to the sea. As the war was ending, the Navy commissioned over 60 vessels. By 1783, the Continental Navy had only a few ships. When the hostilities ended, the Congress members wanted to retain the alliance though they did not have money and so they gave it to the British.

Analysis of the events

Esek’s inept actions and blatant inaction was clearly the reason why he was removed from the command. It was not easy to accomplish this due to the nepotism that had infiltrated the Navy formed a formidable constituency that favored him. Paul Jones was another Revolutionary hero that acknowledged the power of constituency the time he made a decision to cross the Atlantic and take back the battle to the British grounds. His army preyed on the British shipping on the British coast and creating a foray. Jones shook the British populace very fast. Fearfully, he brought the revolution near the home of the British.

A coherent constituency is a political fact can also be seen in the wide operations of the privateers. The Continental Navy issued letters of Marque and permitted the distribution of spoils to the privateers. The Congress built a constituency of armed ships that strongly attacked and disrupted the British shipping. However, this constituency came to be a double-edged sword because the suppliers and shipyards profited through their support to the privateers; this occurred when the Congress came to construct the continental army.

There was a great influence from the merchant traders that led to another constituency. During the attacks from the Barbary pirates compelled the delegates at the northern seaports to protect their merchants. The Naval Act of 1794 used different construction sites with the six frigates distributed mainly at shipyards near the northern shipping ports. The distribution was wise so as to maintain support for the Navy.


In this historical narrative, the political process that led to the evolution of the US Navy. The main impact of the political process on the navy’s development is that the process compelled the Navy to grow and meet threats. Just like in the modern Congressional decisions are unreasonable and show incompetent leadership, make sense when you the government funded programs through the political facts context. The facts brought out in this research include the difficulty of overcoming bad reputation politically and the necessity of a strong and coherent constituency. The Congress encountered many problems throughout the Revolutionary War and acknowledged the facts involved to create solutions. This has been the same trend that the current Congress uses to solve issues.

America in the World War II

In Chapter 16 “A people’s War” from the book A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn discussed how the World War II which became the most popular was for the Us was fought. The war was mainly people’s war against fascism. The chapter covers the war between the Allied Powers and Axis Power where Germany invaded the American Communist Party and Soviet Russia. It also covers the opposition to the war and effects of the war on the Americans. In the reading Japanese American Internment and the Dresden bombing is also discussed. The war was characterized with manufacturing of some dangerous weapons like the atomic bomb used by the US in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

It goes further to the Cold War which enables creation of the military-industrial complex in the world. The story of Adolf Hitler, the founder of the Nazi Party is also covered. Adolf Hitler was concerned with the labor and formed the most influential voice in the organization. Hitler’s Germany concentrated on spreading of militarism, racism, and totalitarianism. Hitler invaded Poland and continued attacking Jews during WWII. Zinn analyzed the December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor in this chapter.  There is also the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 who became the 32nd president of America and the only person to be elected four times in the history of America. His first 100 days in the office he implemented some policies that enabled the survival of Americans during World War II and the Great Depression. Lastly, the chapter covers the involvement the US government in some major wars such as the Korean War and the Greek Civil War. The Manhattan project and the Marshall Plan which were meant to protect the United States from the spread of Soviet Communism can also be studied in the reading.

Thesis statement: The America involvement in the World War II was not to rid the world fascism; in some cases, US made decisions that appeared to favour national interests to expand economic influence in the world.

Zinn who was a veteran of the war expressed the US government national interests during World War II. According to the author, the involvement of the United States in the World War II was not primarily driven by the need to end fascism rather, it was meant to further its economic interests in the world. The war was run by racist elites to enable the United States to expand its economic interests overseas. As can be evidenced in the chapter, the fact that the United States acted benevolently towards Japan and Germany after the war indicated that the war had economic motives and not to end fascism in the world.

At the beginning of the war, people expected that it would be a people’s war by the American public but as the government entered the war, things changed. The leaders could change their decisions based on the circumstances and most importantly to serve national interests. Just from the decision to join the war, the United States wanted to favor their side for national interests gains. An example is the case of the US invasion of the Iran. The United States stated before that the invasion of Iran central aim was weapons of mass destruction which were being produced in Iran. The government wanted to eliminate the manufacturing of dangerous weapons that could cause a mass distraction if used during the war. Unfortunately, after the invasion, it came clearly that this was not the intention of the government. After the failure to discover the weapons of mass destruction the US was involved in other activities intending to bring economic gains to the nation.

The United States was in need of public support to extend its economic influence in the world. The stated aim for the United States involvement in the World War II was to eradicate the issue of fascism but as they started the war, their target changed. Fascism is a harsh control imposed on citizens by the authority. The government of the United States wanted people to believe that they are against such powers for public to support its activities globally. It wanted to bring a society where everyone is free to express his or her idea on national matters. But this was not the truth as revealed by Zinn in chapter 16 of his book. The fact that the United States government concentrated on eliminating the radical Communist Party with a different opinion on the national issues was evidence that its main agenda was not to have a free society but just to have control in the world economy. The communist’s party was involved in forming some labor movements that were becoming opposing forces to the government. So the government reacted by eradicating such forces which would give it a bad reputation in the world.

It is clear that citizens of United States were unsafe following the Pearl Harbor, a high number of deaths caused by the destruction of a British Ship by Germany, and the destructive plans by Mexico. Those reasons could motivate the United States to participate in the World War II to protect the nation against the terror activities and to guard its territories. But we cannot rule the idea of national interest as the motive for the entry into the war. The US government could enter into some deals which were contrary to the stated objectives of joining the war. The issue of using the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no important to the government. It caused destructions for no reason since the Japanese had surrounded and the US government was aware.

The American government initiated some plans such as Marshall plan after the World War II just to control the spread of the Soviet Communism which was becoming an economic threat in Europe. The agenda of Marshall Plan was good for the economy of the Europe, to rebuild the European economies after the end of World War II, but unfortunately, America was interested in protecting its territories in the region using this plan. It is clear that all plans before, during and after the World War II had economic motives for the United States and not to fight fascism as was stated by the government.

The use of powers to gain control in the world during World War II can be seen in both Foner’s book, Give Me Liberty, An American History, and Zinn’s book A People’s History of the United States. Foner stated in Chapter 22 of his text that the Congress passed Lend Lease Act in 1941 with the aim of freezing Japanese assets. Towards the World War II and during the war America made some efforts to frustrated its opponents by making them weak economically. In the mid-1930s Japan had expanded its influence in China and Manchuria. The American government felt threaten by this act as it could make the country lose economic control in the regions. In preparation to eliminate this influence, the government of America passed a law that would destabilize Japan economically, the Lend-Lease Act. Zinn discusses the same; America started sending the fleets of ships overseas to gain control over international affairs. It happened after the Spanish-American war as America considered herself a world power nation.

The motives for joining World War II was the same as stated by both Zinn and Foner. The America government was unhappy with the spread of fascism which led to racial segregation in some regions in the world and the problem of inequality at workplaces. Franklin D. Roosevelt was also not happy with the December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor bombing in Hawaii and asked for a declaration of war against Japan that participated in the attack.  People who were involved in the war realized the need to organize themselves in groups that could help them fight for their rights. From the two books, it came clear that World War II enlighten workers on their rights. Formation of workers’ unions such as AFL and CIO emerged from freedom fighters who wanted equality at workplaces. The government of the America also saw the need to rebuild the economy. Economic policies based on the New Deal by FDR were meant to provide employment. The two authors recognized the work of the postwar plans to rebuild the economy in the Europe.  Zinn talked about the Marshall plan, while Foner highlighted some meeting such as the Bretton Woods that were scheduled to establish a new economic international economic system after the WWII.

Although FDR was alerted of about expansion activities by Japan in Manchuria and China and Germany campaign to control the entire continent, Foner told claimed that the US was tied to the policy of appeasement. The outcome of the World War I made many Americans reluctant in international affairs. Only after some serious activities such as the invasion of Poland by Germany on September 1, 1939, that the America saw the need to join the war. As opposed to the Zinn’s view, where the Americans were interested in the World War II from the word go since they considered the war to be people’s war.

I would not advise any leader to get involved in a war with fewer benefits to the citizens but more harm to the economy like World War II. Chapter 16 by Zinn explain how leaders can affect the economy of a nation by serving their interest. The WWI was a better way of fighting against systematic racism by the U.S. but manufacturing of dangerous weapons could do more people harm. Zinn used his book to convince the readers that America was not aiming at stopping fascism by involving in the World War II but to expand economic territory in the world. It is evidenced in cases such as the US invasion of the Iran. The existence of trade unions was also necessary for the workers to get a greater barging power. Zinn work is relevant in the current world and the politics of today. Reading the chapter is a better way to learn how to stabilize the economy and protect a nation.