A dozen stories of the most famous naval heroes in American history are given here. Written in the late 19th century, it includes only sea-captains who served between 1776 and 1890, but the fascinating stories of John Paul Jones, Steven Decatur, Edward Preble, and William Bainbridge, among others are given.
JOHN PAUL JONES.
In offering this book to the youth of the country, the writer does not wish it understood as a comprehensive record of American naval captains from 1776 to 1815. It is merely a selection of twelve commanders who had great opportunities and were equal to those opportunities, from the long list of brave and deserving officers, especially during the brilliant period form 1798 to 1815.
The writer desires to express the deepest obligations to Cooper's Naval History and Naval Biographies. If those noble and beautiful books were read at the present day as they deserve to be read, there would be little reason for any modern author writing upon the same subjects.
A faithful effort has been made to copy Cooper's admirable impartiality. He says, justly, in speaking of the captures on each side made in 1812-1815, “No vessel was unworthily given up.” It is perhaps unfortunate for the good-will which should exist between kindred nations, like the United States and Great Britain, that the naval and military glory of the early years of the republic should have been gained almost wholly against Great Britain. But an unprejudiced view will soon show that much of the fierceness of the fighting was due to the closeness of the tie of blood. There was but a slight foreign element among the Americans who sustained themselves so gallantly from 1776 to 1815; and this foreign element, instead of modifying those Anglo-Saxon characteristics which are the common heritage of Americans and British alike, was brought into subjection to the Anglo-Saxon standards of laws, customs and language.
The Americans of American stock take the liberty of believing and saying that every generation nurtured under American institutions is a distinct advantage; and those Americans whose ancestors at their own pleasure cast off the rule of England have no grudge against the mother country, but rather the utmost good-will and cordial friendship. The youth of the country should realize that a ceaseless whine against England is very un-American. The Americans never whined. They made a stout protest, followed by a bold defense and a great and successful fight, then shook hands and made up.
The writer offers this book with diffidence, but trusts that the inherent virtue in the men and events treated of may make the record of interest.
|MOLLY ELLIOT SEAWELL.|