Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Mark Schmeller


Early American Culture, Manhood, Masculinity, National Identity, U.S. Navy


After the Revolutionary War, the United States struggled to be recognized by the various global powers throughout the Atlantic World. The American propensity for claiming a neutral trade status, often led to conflict with other nations who were warring with one another. Particularly during their early years, the United States was challenged by Great Britain, the French, and the Barbary powers in the Mediterranean. Relying heavily on maritime trade and contracts, the United States needed to prove that, even without Britain backing them, they were a country worthy of these contracts and treaties. Presented as a social history of the United States Navy, this dissertation argues that it was the U.S. Navy that made these trade agreements possible by being the face and brand of America. Their actions and attitudes not only showed that the United States was a country with morals, humility, and honor, they were also not a country to be trifled with. Taking on the most powerful navies and authorities in the Atlantic and Mediterranean worlds, and not just surviving, but thriving, proved to the world that the United States deserved a place in the trade community. In addition, the U.S. Navy also provided an example of what the new American man was striving to become back home. Gentlemen of courage, honor, intrepidity, integrity, and bravery. Their actions gave the American populace a focus on which to unite, when so many topics threatened to tear them apart. The United States Navy, oft underrepresented in the annals of American History, were actually very important to understanding how and why the United States was given a place on the world stage, and the kind of image they were portraying to the world.


Open Access