With Sails Whitening Every Sea: Mariners and the Making of an American Maritime Empire - The United States in the World (Hardback)
  • With Sails Whitening Every Sea: Mariners and the Making of an American Maritime Empire - The United States in the World (Hardback)
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With Sails Whitening Every Sea: Mariners and the Making of an American Maritime Empire - The United States in the World (Hardback)

(author)
£37.00
Hardback 288 Pages / Published: 05/12/2014
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Many Americans in the Early Republic era saw the seas as another field for national aggrandizement. With a merchant marine that competed against Britain for commercial supremacy and a whaling fleet that circled the globe, the United States sought a maritime empire to complement its territorial ambitions in North America. In With Sails Whitening Every Sea, Brian Rouleau argues that because of their ubiquity in foreign ports, American sailors were the principal agents of overseas foreign relations in the early republic. Their everyday encounters and more problematic interactions-barroom brawling, sexual escapades in port-city bordellos, and the performance of blackface minstrel shows-shaped how the United States was perceived overseas.Rouleau details both the mariners' "working-class diplomacy" and the anxieties such interactions inspired among federal authorities and missionary communities, who saw the behavior of American sailors as mere debauchery. Indiscriminate violence and licentious conduct, they feared, threatened both mercantile profit margins and the nation's reputation overseas. As Rouleau chronicles, the world's oceans and seaport spaces soon became a battleground over the terms by which American citizens would introduce themselves to the world. But by the end of the Civil War, seamen were no longer the nation's principal ambassadors. Hordes of wealthy tourists had replaced seafarers, and those privileged travelers moved through a world characterized by consolidated state and corporate authority. Expanding nineteenth-century America's master narrative beyond the water's edge, With Sails Whitening Every Sea reveals the maritime networks that bound the Early Republic to the wider world.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801452338
Number of pages: 288
Weight: 567 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 23 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

"With Sails Whitening Every Sea challenges a popular view concerning the romance of American maritime history. It examines this image through the lens of sociology and effectively casts nostalgia and sentimentality upon the rocks of ruthless racist reality.... [T]his is a valuable book worthy of being added to any maritime historian's library."

-- Louis Arthur Norton * The Northern Mariner *

"Brian Rouleau's book is an important addition to the growing field of literature and scholarship that seeks to more completely assess the role of American mariners in the Early Republic."

-- Timothy G. Lynch * Sea History *

"Rouleau has crafted an impressive reimagining of working-class seafarers that places them at the heart of the American encounter with the world in the early and mid-nineteenth century.... Rouleau's straightforward arguments, imaginative research, wit, and strength as a writer made this work an uncommonly pleasant read."

-- Joshua M. Smith * Journal of American History *

"Rouleau points out-provocatively and persuasively-that much of what antebellum Americans knew of the world was filtered 'through maritime mediation' (p. 34). Seafarers' letters, memoirs and reports from abroad were not just the stuff of later romanticized remembrances of the `days of sail'; rather, they were essential sources of commercial and ethnographic information as the American imagination chased American commerce around the globe.... With Sails Whitening Every Sea handles well the tremendous complexity of the subject matter. All of the categories discussed-gender, race, class-were moving targets, all the more so at sea, and historians are richer for Rouleau's careful and sophisticated examination of his subject."

-- Matthew Taylor Raffety * International Journal of Maritime History *

"The major strength of Rouleau's work is that he does not limit his scope to either the Pacific or Atlantic. Instead he sets out to examine a global maritime empire."

-- Antony Adler * H-War *

"Brian Rouleau's new book forces us to reconsider the ways in which foreign relations work. Ordinary people, it turns out, have had an enormous impact on international affairs. Rouleau's provocative book explains how common maritime laborers shaped the contours of America's entanglements with foreign peoples during the nineteenth century. Rouleau has a true talent for seeing the larger dimensions of everyday interactions."

-- Christopher P. Magra * Diplomatic History *

"American sailors roamed the globe by the hundreds of thousands in the decades before the Civil War, yet they've been all but excluded from our histories of early U.S. foreign relations. Brian Rouleau's smart, probing, and tough-minded book will permanently change that."

-- Brian DeLay, University of California, Berkeley

"In this groundbreaking study of U.S. sailors abroad, Brian Rouleau rewrites the history of U.S. foreign relations during the antebellum era. Through keen analysis, impressive research, and compelling storytelling, Rouleau reveals that Manifest Destiny was a global process that extended far beyond U.S. terrestrial borders and into the vast reaches of the Atlantic and Pacific. He shows that long before the late nineteenth-century push for global empire, antebellum sailors were critical nonstate actors who-as writers, laborers, minstrel show performers, traders, and violent defenders of white American masculinity-shaped the course of U.S. diplomacy and remade the meaning of race and gender worldwide."

-- Stacey L. Smith, Oregon State University, author of Frontiers of Freedom: California and the Struggle over Unfree Labor, Emancipation, and Reconstruction

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