d i s p l a c e d 6 8 5 t o n s . I t w a s p ow e r e d b y a
170-horsepower, two-cylinder, steam engine. Without
using its sails, the USS Michigan was capable of making
Through the efforts of farseeing men like
Commander Matthew Calbraith Perry, USN, the Navy
was becoming more steam conscious. Perry is referred
to as the Father of the Steam Navy. He was
enthusiastic about the possibilities of steam, and was in
charge of construction and in command of the Navys
second steam frigate the USS Fulton. The harnessing of
steam power was considered the most important naval
development since the cannon.
The newly built steamships posed problems if
engaged in battle. Their paddle wheels and steam
engines could be easily damaged by enemy fire. This
problem was fixed by changing the design of the ships
so that the paddle-wheel housing was enclosed behind
5-foot-thick walls and set in an inboard channelway.
Steamship development overcame problems one by
one. For example
Stronger engines were developed;
Screw propellers replaced the paddle wheel; and
Coal as a fuel was recognized as more efficient
These changes didnt happen overnight; they
required long periods of trial and error. But in the 1840s,
new ideas were being explored by their proponents. On
September 5, 1843, the Navys first successful
steamship, the USS Princeton, was launched. Its new
type of propeller eliminated the vulnerable paddle
wheels and permitted the ships engines to be placed
below decks in protected spaces.
Other actions between 1815 and the Civil War
included the following:
The Navy took the first steps in Antarctic
exploration. Notably, Lieutenant Charles Wilkes visited
the subpolar region in January 1840 and proved
conclusively that the icy land was, in fact, a continent.
Following Texas admission to the U.S. as the
28th state, Mexican troops crossed the Rio Grande. War
broke out. The Mexican-American War was primarily a
land war. However, the Navy did get involved. It
blockaded port cities in the Gulf and provided
protective action by the Mosquito Fleet" during the
first large-scale amphibious operation in U.S. military
historythe landing of some 10,000 U.S. troops at Vera
Cruz. (The Navy itself was not equipped to carry out
such an operation at that time.) Marines were also
involved in this warthey marched with Scott to
Mexico City, coining the phrase
from the halls of
in the famed Marines song.
The Navy was involved in diplomatic relations.
Commodore Matthew C. Perry signed a treaty with
Japan on March 31, 1854. This was the treaty that
opened Japans ports to American trade and
provisioning of ships. England and Russia soon
followed with their own treaties, all modeled after
REVIEW 2 QUESTIONS
Q1. After the Revolutionary War, what was the next
significant role of the U.S. Navy?
Q2. List the two conflicts that the American Navy
was involved in between the Revolutionary War
and the War of 1812.
Q3. Describe the event during the Barbary States War
that Lord Nelson thought of as one of the most
bold and daring acts of the age.
Q4. List two events that the U.S. Navy was involved
in during the War of 1812.