Biography and History

Alfred Thayer Mahan was a U.S. naval officer and historian. A Union naval officer in the Civil War, he later lectured on naval history and strategy at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., of which he was president (1886-89, 1892-93). Out of his lectures came his two major works on the historical significance of sea power: The influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783 (1890) and The Influence of Sea Power Upon the French Revolution and Empire, 1793-1812 (2 vols., 1892). In these he argued that naval power was the key to success in international politics; the nation that controlled the seas held the decisive factor in modern warfare. Theodore Roosevelt and other proponents of a big navy and overseas expansion were influenced by Mahan's writings. Among his many works are biographies of David Farragut and Horatio Nelson and the autobiographical From Sail to Steam.

Source: From the finding aid for C1126

  • Alfred Thayer Mahan Collection. 1883-1913 (bulk), 1883-1977 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C1126

    Consists chiefly of letters by Alfred Thayer Mahan to his publisher regarding his writings about United States naval history. Mahan was a U.S. naval officer in the Civil War, and his work on the importance of adequate navies and merchant marines influenced the policies and philosophies of national leaders across the globe, including those of the 26th president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt.