Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis (Master's)

Department or Program

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

First Advisor

Peter DeShazo

Second Advisor

Donald E. Pease

Third Advisor

Evelyn Lechner


History credits Alfred Thayer Mahan for the United States’ modernization and expansion of its navy. In 1890, Mahan published The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660– 1783. The book details the importance of naval power as a factor in the rise of the British Empire. This thesis addresses how the United States’ constant disagreements with Chile and the relentless state of military conflicts, encouraged the buildup of a US blue water fleet in the mid-1880s. World-shifting events during this time period were instrumental in the US naval buildup. Events such as the first and second crisis over control of the Samoan Islands and a possible military conflict with Germany, the inability of the United States to address violations of the Monroe Doctrine, the prospect of a French-owned Panamá canal, and the threat of technologically superior foreign navies, especially Chile’s navy at the conclusion of the War of the Pacific, were critically important in the US drive to become a world power, especially as various events unfolded in Latin America. These events drove the United States to build a strong and powerful navy long before Mahan wrote The Influence of Sea Power, considered by many historians the most important naval treatise ever written in support of a powerful navy and pivotal in the United States’ acquisition of a modern navy. The humiliating event in Panamá in 1885, the building of the US Navy at the conclusion of the War of the Pacific, and its expansion through the Itata incident, the Quintero Bay episode, and the Cable affair contributed to or influenced the US decision to build up the size and quality of the US Navy during the period of 1884-1891—well before Mahan’s book became influential.

Available for download on Thursday, August 15, 2024