Herbert Spencer (27 April 820 – December 1903) was an English philosopher, biologist, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era

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Herbert Spencer (27 April 1820 – 8 December 1903) was an English philosopher, biologist, sociologist, and prominent political theorist of the Victorian era.

Living in England, Spencer developed an all-embracing conception of evolution as the progressive development of the physical world, biological organisms, the human mind, and human culture and societies. He contributed to a wide range of subjects, including ethics, religion, anthropology, economics, political theory, philosophy, biology, sociology, and psychology. During his lifetime he achieved tremendous authority, mainly in English-speaking academia.

Spencer is best known for coining the concept "survival of the fittest", which he did in Principles of Biology (1864), after reading Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species. This term strongly suggests natural selection, and later, Spencer extended evolution into realms of sociology and ethics. He used the phrase (“survival of the fittest”) to prove that society evolved from a state of undifferentiated homogeneity to one of highly differentiated heterogeneity. This became a popular idea with the growing class of US industrialists who sponsored Spencer’s tour of the U.S. in 1882. Spencer seemed to hold out a philosophical, if not scientific, justification for the continued growth of the United States’ industrial economy.

For many, the name of Herbert Spencer would be virtually synonymous with Social Darwinism, a social theory that applies the law of the survival of the fittest to society; humanitarian impulses had to be resisted as nothing should be allowed to interfere with nature's laws, including the social struggle for existence. Spencer desired the elimination of the unfit through their failure to reproduce, rather than state intervention to secure their physical annihilation


Herbert Spencer’s 1857 book, Progress: Its Law and Causes

Whether an advance from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous is or is not displayed in the biological history of the globe, it is clearly enough displayed in the progress of the latest and most heterogeneous creature-Man. It is alike true that, during the period in which the Earth has been peopled, the human organism has become more heterogeneous among the civilized divisions of the species ­ and that the species, as a whole, has been growing more heterogeneous in virtue of the multiplication of races and the differentiation of these races from each other....

.... In the course of ages, there arises, as among ourselves, a highly complex political organization of monarch, ministers, lords and commons, with their subordinate administrative departments, courts of justice, revenue offices, &c., supplemented in the provinces by municipal governments, county governments, parish or union governments - all of them more or less elaborated. By its side there grows up a highly complex religious organization, with its various grades of officials from archbishops down to sextons, its colleges, convocations, ecclesiastical courts, &c.; to all which must be added the ever multiplying independent sects, each with its general and local authorities. And at the same time there is developed a highly complex aggregation of customs manners, and temporary fashions, enforced by society at large, and serving to control those minor transactions between man and mar which are not regulated by civil and religious law. Moreover it is to be observed that this ever-increasing heterogeneity in the governmental appliances of each nation, has been accompanied by an increasing heterogeneity in the governmental appliances of different nations all o which are more or less unlike in their political systems and legislation in their creeds and religious institutions, in their customs and ceremonial usages.

Simultaneously there has been going on a second differentiation of a still more familiar kind; that, namely, by which the mass of the community has become segregated into distinct classes and orders of workers. While the governing part has been undergoing the complex development above described, the governed part has been undergoing an equally complex development, which has resulted in that minute division of labour characterizing advanced nations. It is needless to trace out this progress from its first stages, up through the caste divisions of the East and the incorporated guilds of Europe, to the elaborate producing and distributing organization existing among ourselves. Political economists have made familiar to all, the evolution which, beginning with a tribe whose members severally perform the same actions each for himself, ends with a civilized community whose members severally perform different actions for each other; and they have further explained the evolution through which the solitary producer of any one commodity, is transformed into a combination of producers who united under a master, take separate parts in the manufacture of such commodity. But there are yet other and higher phases of this advance from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous in the industrial structure of the social organism. Long after considerable progress has been made in the division of labour among different classes of workers, there is still little or no division of labour among the widely separated parts of the community: the nation continues comparatively homogeneous in the respect that in each district the same occupations are pursued. But when roads and other means of transit become numerous and good, the different districts begin to assume different functions, and to become mutually dependent. The calico manufacture locates it self in this county, the woollen­cloth manufacture in that; silks are produced here, lace there; stockings in one place, shoes in another; pottery, hardware, cutlery, come to have their special towns; and ultimately every locality becomes more or less distinguished from the rest by the leading occupation carried on in it. Nay, more, this subdivision of functions shows itself not only among the different parts of the same nation, but among different nations. That exchange of commodities which free­trade promises so greatly to increase, will ultimately have the effect of specializing, in a greater or less degree, the industry of each people. So that beginning with a barbarous tribe, almost if not quite homogeneous in the functions of its members, the progress has been, and still is, towards an economic aggregation of the whole human race, growing ever more heterogeneous in respect of the separate functions assumed by separate nations, the separate functions assumed by the local sections of each nation, the separate functions assumed by the many kinds of makers and traders in each town, and the separate functions assumed by the workers united in producing each commodity.


Sir Francis Galton (16 February 1822 – 17 January 1911) was the cousin of Douglas Strutt Galton, cousin of Charles Darwin. He was an English anthropologist, eugenicist, tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, meteorologist, proto-geneticist, psychometrician, and statistician. He was knighted in 1909.

Galton produced over 340 papers and books. He was the first to apply statistical methods to the study of human differences and inheritance of intelligence, and introduced the use of questionnaires and surveys for collecting data on human communities, which he needed for genealogical and biographical works and for his anthropometric studies.

He was a pioneer in eugenics, coining the term itself and the phrase "nature versus nurture". His book Hereditary Genius (1869) was the first social scientific attempt to study genius and greatness. Eugenics is a bio-social movement which advocates the use of practices aimed at improving the genetic composition of a population, usually a human population. It is a social philosophy which advocates for the improvement of human hereditary traits through the promotion of higher reproduction of more desired people and traits, and the reduction of reproduction of less desired people and traits.

As an investigator of the human mind, he founded psychometrics (the science of measuring mental faculties) and differential psychology and the lexical hypothesis of personality. He devised a method for classifying fingerprints that proved useful in forensic science. He also conducted research on the power of prayer, concluding it had none by its null effects on the longevity of those prayed for.


Excerpts from Sir Francis Galton’s 1874 book, English Men of Sciences: Their Nature vs. Nurture

It has now become a serious necessity to better the breed of the human race. The average citizen is too base for the everyday work of modern civilization.

I take Eugenics very seriously, feeling that its principles ought to become one of the dominant motives in a civilized nation, much as if they were one of its religious tenets. I have often expressed myself in this sense, and will conclude this book by briefly reiterating my views.

Individuals appear to me as partial detachments from the infinite ocean of Being, and this world as a stage on which Evolution takes place, principally hitherto by means of Natural Selection, which achieves the good of the whole with scant regard to that of the individual.

Man is gifted with pity and other kindly feelings; he has also the power of preventing many kinds of suffering. I conceive it to fall well within his province to replace Natural Selection by other processes that are more merciful and not less effective.

This is precisely the aim of Eugenics. Its first object is to check the birth-rate of the Unfit, instead of allowing them to come into being, though doomed in large numbers to perish prematurely. The second object is the improvement of the race by furthering the productivity of the Fit by early marriages and healthful rearing of their children. Natural Selection rests upon excessive production and wholesale destruction; Eugenics on bringing no more individuals into the world than can be properly cared for, and those only of the best stock.

The instincts and faculties of different men and races differ in a variety of ways almost as profoundly as those of animals in different cages of the Zoological Gardens; and however diverse and antagonistic they are, each may be good of its kind. It is obviously so in brutes; the monkey may have a horror at the sight of a snake, and a repugnance to its ways, but a snake is just as perfect an animal as a monkey. The living world does not consist of a repetition of similar elements, but of an endless variety of them, that have grown, body and soul, through selective influences into close adaptation to their contemporaries, and to the physical circumstances of the localities they inhabit.

It is seldom that we hear of a white traveler meeting with a black chief whom he feels to be the better man. I have often discussed this subject with competent persons, and can only recall a few cases of the inferiority of the white man, certainly not more than might be ascribed to an average actual difference of three grades, of which one may be due to the relative demerits of native education, and the remaining two to a difference in natural gifts. The number among the negroes of those whom we should call half-witted men, is very large. Every book alluding to negro servants in America is full of instances. I was myself much impressed by this fact during my travels in Africa. The mistakes the negroes made in their own matters, were so childish, stupid, and simpleton-like, as frequently to make me ashamed of my own species.
Goldwin Smith (August 13, 1823 – June 7, 1910) was born in Berkshire, England. Smith was a British historian and journalist, active in the United Kingdom and Canada. He was educated at Eton College and Magdalen College, Oxford, and after a brilliant undergraduate career he was elected to a fellowship at University College, Oxford. He held the regius professorship of Modern History at Oxford from 1858 to 1866. As a historian, he left no abiding work; the multiplicity of his interests prevented him from concentrating on any one subject.

The outbreak of the American Civil War proved a turning point in his life. Unlike most of the ruling classes in England, he championed the cause of the North, and his pamphlets, especially Does the Bible sanction American Slavery? (1863) played a prominent part in converting English opinion.

In 1868 he threw up his career in England and settled in the United States, where he held the professorship of English and Constitutional History in the Department of History at Cornell University for a number of years. In 1871, he moved to Toronto, where he edited the Canadian Monthly. He always maintained that Canada, separated by great barriers, running north and south, into four zones, each having unimpeded communication with the adjoining portions of the United States, was a profoundly artificial and badly-governed nation, that was destined by its natural configuration to enter into a commercial union with the US. This would in turn result in her breaking away from the British empire, and in the union of the Anglo-Saxons of the American continent into one great nation. These views are most fully stated in his Canada and the Canadian Question (1891).

Though describing himself as “anti-Imperialistic to the core,” he was yet deeply penetrated with a sense of the greatness of the British race. He did fear, however, that England would become a nation of factory-workers, thinking more of their trade-union than of their country. These anti-imperialist prolegomena were intensified and made manifest in his Commonwealth or Empire? (1902) - a warning to the United States against the assumption of imperial responsibilities. Other causes that he powerfully attacked were liquor prohibition, female suffrage and State Socialism. He proposed elsewhere that Jews and Arabs were of the same race. He viewed Jews as "parasites" and "enemies of civilization," and spread his hatred of Jews in dozens of books, articles, and letters.

Goldwin Smith is credited with the quote "Above all nations is humanity," an inscription that was engraved in a stone bench he offered to Cornell in May 1871. The bench sits in front of Goldwin Smith Hall, named in his honor. This quote is the motto of the University of Hawaii


Excerpts from Canada and the Canadian Question (1891)

No one can now take up a Canadian newspaper or listen to a group of Canadians talking about politics without being made aware that Canada has the problem of her future before her. It is idle to suppose that Canadians will be prevented from discussing that problem or from conferring freely with their

neighbours across the Line on a subject of the highest practical interest to both communities. If it is lawful for an ex- Governor -General of Canada to write on the Canadian question in an American magazine, surely it is lawful for Canadians and Americans to interchange their thoughts in the way they find convenient. Nor will free discussion do any harm. Not a plough will be stopped on the farm, not a spindle will cease to turn in the factory, not a politician will pause in his hunt for a vote because this debate is going on. Statesmanship is not made more practical or in any way improved by blindness to the future. The fruits of Canadian industry are being lavished by scores of millions on political railways and other works, the object of which is to keep Canada for ever separate from her neighbour. If perpetual separation is impossible, justice to the people requires that this waste of their earnings shall cease.

What is gained by the present system of dependence or semi-dependence as applied to Canada ? What would be lost if it were exchanged for the filial tie ? That is a question which, as even Imperial Federationists proclaim, the course of events has practically raised. That the connection lays on Great Britain heavy responsibilities, both military and diplomatic, that it adds not a little to the burdens and perils of empire, is plain. Were England to withdraw politically from the American continent she would be quit not only of the diplomatic entanglements and disputes with the United States about boundaries and fisheries, but of the ill-feeling which her presence on the continent enables her enemies in the United States to keep up against her, and which is adding seriously to her embarrassments in dealing with the Irish question. That in all diplomatic questions with the United States the interest of Canada has been sacrificed to the Imperial exigency of keeping the peace with the Americans
About the advantages of political tutelage hardly a word need be said. Practically the idea has been abandoned. How could a democracy in Europe regulate, to any good purpose, the progress of a democracy in America about the concerns of which it knows almost nothing, and which is

superior to itself in average education and intelligence? British democracy has enough to do in regulating itself.A grand idea may be at the same time practical. The idea of a United Continent of North America, securing free trade and intercourse over a vast area, with external safety and internal peace, is no less practical than it is grand. The benefits of such a union would be always present to the mind of the least instructed citizen. The sentiment connected with it would be a foundation on which the political architect could build. Imperial Federation, to the mass of the people comprised in it, would be a mere name conveying with it no definite sense of benefit, on which anything could be built.


John Fiske was born Edmund Fiske Green (March 30, 1842 – July 4, 1901) was an American philosopher and historian.

As a child, Fiske exhibited remarkable precocity. He lived at Middletown during childhood, until he entered Harvard. He graduated from Harvard College in 1863 and from Harvard Law School in 1865. He had already admitted to the Suffolk bar in 1864, but never practised law. His career as author began in 1861, with an article on “Mr. Buckle's Fallacies” published in the National Quarterly Review. After that, he was a frequent contributor to American and British periodicals.

From 1869 to 1871, he was university lecturer on philosophy at Harvard, in 1870 instructor in history there, and assistant librarian 1872-1879. On resigning the latter position in 1879, he was elected a member of the board of overseers, and at the expiration of the six-years' term was re-elected in 1885. Beginning in 1881, he lectured annually on American history at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, and beginning in 1884 held a professorship of American history at that institution, but continued to make his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He lectured on American history at University College London in 1879, and at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in 1880. He gave many hundreds of lectures, chiefly upon American history, in the principal cities of the United States and Great Britain

The largest part of his life was devoted to the study of history, but at an early age inquiries into the nature of human progress led him to a careful study of the doctrine of evolution, and it was through the popularization of Charles Darwin's work that he first became known to the public. He applied himself to the philosophical interpretation of Darwin's work and produced many books and essays on this subject. His philosophy was influenced by Herbert Spencer's views on evolution. In a letter from Charles Darwin to John Fiske, dated from 1874, the naturalist remarks: "I never in my life read so lucid an expositor (and therefore thinker) as you are."


Josiah Strong (1847–1916) was an American Protestant clergyman, organizer, editor and author. He was a leader of the Social Gospel movement, calling for social justice and combating social evils. He supported missionary work so that all races could be improved and uplifted and thereby brought to Christ.

His movement sought to apply Protestant religious principles to solve the social ills brought on by industrialization, urbanization and immigration. He served as General Secretary (1886–1898) of the Evangelical Alliance for the United States, a coalition of Protestant missionary groups. After being forced out he set up his own group, the League for Social Service (1898–1916), and edited its magazine The Gospel of the Kingdom.

Strong, like most other leaders of the Social Gospel movement, added strong evangelical roots, including a belief in sin and redemption. Though they were often critical of evangelicalism, they thought of their mission as an expansion of it.

His most well-known and influential work was Our Country: Its Possible Future and Its Present Crisis (1885), intended to promote domestic missionary activity in the American West. Historians suggest it may have encouraged support for imperialistic United States policy among American Protestants. He pleaded as well for more missionary work in the nation's cities, and for reconciliation to end racial conflict. He was one of the first to warn that Protestants (most of whom lived in rural areas or small towns) were ignoring the problems of the cities and the working classes.

Strong focused on the "Anglo-Saxon race" --that is the English language speakers. He argued they had a responsibility to "civilize and Christianize" the world. Ultimately, he argued this race was destined to dominate the globe. According to Strong, the combination of liberal democracy and Christianity as expressed in the U.S., was the chief means by which the world would progress and the vehicle of this progress was to be imperialist expansion – U.S. expansion.


Excerpts from Strong’s 1885 book, Our Country: Its Possible Future and Its Present Crisis (from chapter 4 –“Western Supremacy”)

It seems to me that God, with infinite wisdom and skill, is training the Anglo-Saxon race for an hour sure to come in the world's future. Heretofore there has always been in the history of the world a comparatively unoccupied land westward, into which the crowded countries of the East have poured their surplus populations. But the widening waves of migration, which millenniums ago rolled east and west from the valley of the Euphrates, meet to-day on our Pacific coast. There are no more new worlds. The unoccupied arable lands of the earth are limited, and will soon be taken. The time is coming when the pressure of population on the means of subsistence will be felt here as it is now felt in Europe and Asia. Then will the world enter upon a new stage of its history-the final competition of races, for which the Anglo-Saxon is being schooled. Long before the thousand millions are here, the mighty centrifugal tendency, inherent in this stock and strengthened in the United States, will assert itself. Then this race of unequaled energy, with all the majesty of numbers and the might of wealth behind it-the representative, let us hope, of the largest liberty, the purest Christianity, the highest civilization-having developed peculiarly aggressive traits calculated to impress its institutions upon mankind, will spread itself over the earth. If I read not amiss, this powerful race will move down upon Mexico, down upon Central and South America, out upon the islands of the sea, over upon Africa and beyond. And can any one doubt that the result of this competition of races will be the "survival of the fittest?"
The West is destined to surpass in agriculture, stock-raising, mining, and eventually, in manufacturing. Already appears the superiority of her climate, which Montesquieu declares “is the most powerful of all empires, and gives us guarantee alone of future development.” Every advantage seems to be hers save only greater proximity to Europe, and if the East commands European commerce, the Golden Gate opens upon Asia, and is yet to receive and send her argosies to all the ports of the broad Pacific.
Beyond a peradventure, the West is to dominate the East. With more than twice the room and resources of the East, the West will have probably twice the population and wealth of the East, together with the superior power and influence which, under popular government accompany them.
The West will direct the policy of the government, and by virtue of her preponderating population and influence will determine our national character, and therefore, destiny. Since prehistoric times populations have moved steadily westward, as De Tocqueville said, “as if driven by the mighty hand of God.” And following their migrations, the course of empire, which Bishop Berkeley sang, has westward taken its way. The world’s scepter passed from Persia to Greece, from Greece to Italy, from Italy to Great Britain, and from Great Britain the scepter is to-day departing. It is passing on to “Greater Britain,” to our mighty West, there to remain, for there is no further West; beyond is the Orient. Like the star in the East which guided three kings with their treasures westward until at length it stood still over the cradle of the young Christ, so the star of empire, rising in the East, has ever beckoned the wealth and power of the nations westward, until to-day it stands still over the cradle of the young empire of the West, to which the nations are bringing their offerings.
The West is to-day an infant, but shall one day be a giant, in each of those limbs shall unite the strength of many nations.


John William Burgess (August 26, 1844 – January 13, 1931) was a pioneering American political scientist. He spent most of his career at Columbia University and is regarded as having been "the most influential political scientist of the period.”

Burgess was born in Tennessee and fought for the Union in the American Civil War. He studied history at Amherst College, graduating in 1867, then at the universities of Göttingen, Leipzig, and Berlin for a number of years, where he studied under distinguished German scholars of the time: the historian Johann Gustav Droysen, the economist Wilhelm Roscher, the historian Theodor Mommsen, whose linking history with law strongly influenced Burgess's own approach, and Rudolf von Gneist. He was much influenced by the training in research methods characteristic of German universities of the time. He sought to import these methods of research and scholarship, first to Amherst (unsuccessfully) and later to Columbia. He maintained a lifelong interest in German-American relations.

In 1876, Burgess was appointed to a professorship in the Law School of what later became Columbia University, a post he held until his 1912 retirement. While at Columbia, Burgess taught constitutional law but more importantly, was instrumental in founding the discipline of political science in the USA. In 1886, he founded the Political Science Quarterly. He was instrumental in establishing the Faculty of Political Science, the first major institutionalized program in the United States granting the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, and was a member of the Dunning School of Reconstruction. These endeavors have led to his being widely regarded as one of the founders of modern political science.

His most famous piece of work, Political Science and Comparative Constitutional Law (1890), argued that it was the Teutonic races (Germanic peoples) that had the greatest innate ability to create the modern nation-state and those who resisted the progress toward such states were justly subjugated.

For years, he was memorialized on the Columbia campus with the designation of the "Burgess-Carpenter Classics Library" within Butler Library


Joseph Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) was an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist chiefly remembered for his tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. He was born in Bombay, in the Bombay Presidency of British India, and was taken by his family to England when he was five years old. Kipling is best known for his works of fiction, including The Jungle Book (a collection of stories which includes "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi"), Just So Stories (1902) (1894), Kim (1901) (a tale of adventure), many short stories, including "The Man Who Would Be King" (1888); and his poems, including "Mandalay" (1890), "Gunga Din" (1890), "The White Man's Burden" (1899) and "If—" (1910). He is regarded as a major "innovator in the art of the short story"; his children's books are enduring classics of children's literature; and his best works are said to exhibit "a versatile and luminous narrative gift".

Kipling was one of the most popular writers in England, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Henry James said: "Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius (as distinct from fine intelligence) that I have ever known." In 1907 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English-language writer to receive the prize, and to date he remains its youngest recipient. Among other honours, he was sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and on several occasions for a knighthood, all of which he declined.

Kipling's subsequent reputation has changed according to the political and social climate of the age and the resulting contrasting views about him continued for much of the 20th century. George Orwell called him a "prophet of British imperialism". One of his most notable poems, The White Man’s Burden (1899) worked as rationalization for imperial expansion at the time. The poem expressed what many had been arguing in various forms for the previous two decades. Kipling died at the age of 70 in London, England.



Take up the White Man's burden--
Send forth the best ye breed--
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild--
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man's burden--
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another's profit,
And work another's gain.

Take up the White Man's burden--
The savage wars of peace--
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

Take up the White Man's burden--
No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper--
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go mark them with your living,
And mark them with your dead.

Take up the White Man's burden--
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard--
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:--
"Why brought he us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?"

Take up the White Man's burden--
Ye dare not stoop to less--
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloke your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your gods and you.

Take up the White Man's burden--
Have done with childish days--
The lightly proferred laurel,
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!

he White Man’s Burden (


Alfred Thayer Mahan (September 27, 1840 – December 1, 1914) was a United States Navy flag officer, geostrategist, and historian, who has been called "the most important American strategist of the nineteenth century." His concept of "sea power" was based on the idea that countries with greater naval power will have greater worldwide impact; it was most famously presented in The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660–1783 (1890). The concept had an enormous influence in shaping the strategic thought of navies across the world, especially in the United States, Germany, Japan and Britain, ultimately causing a European naval arms race in the 1890s, which included the United States. His ideas still permeate the U.S. Navy Doctrine. While building his “realist” argument to U.S. expansion, he took the starting point of the rapid population, economic, and geographic expansion of the United States in the last half of the century and then looked to what it would take to protect this and ensure further growth. Because of this, Mahan popularized the thesis that it was maritime trade and the tools of this trade, ships both merchant and military, which brought national greatness. To Mahan, it further meant secure supplies of coal for these ships be readily available at ports around the world. It also meant control of any advantageous waterways, natural and man-made.

Several ships have been named USS Mahan, including the lead vessel of a class of destroyers.

In 1885, he was appointed lecturer in naval history and tactics at the Naval War College. Before entering on his duties, College President Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce pointed Mahan in the direction of writing his future studies on the influence of sea power. For his first year on the faculty, he remained at his home in New York City researching and writing his lectures. Upon completion of this research period, he was to succeed Luce as President of the Naval War College from June 22, 1886 to January 12, 1889 and again from July 22, 1892 to May 10, 1893. There, in 1887, he met and befriended Theodore Roosevelt, then a visiting lecturer, who would later become president of the United States. Mahan died at age 74 in Washington D.C.


Excerpts from Mahan’s 1892 book, The Interest of America in Sea Power

. . . The interesting and significant feature of this changing attitude is the turning of the eyes outward, instead of inward only, to seek the welfare of the country. To affirm the importance of distant markets, and the relation to them of our own immense powers of production, implies logically the recognition of the link that joins the products and the markets,--that is, the carrying trade; the three together constituting that chain of maritime power to which Great Britain owes her wealth and greatness. Further, is it too much to say that, as two of these links, the shipping and the markets, are exterior to our own borders, the acknowledgment of them carries with it a view of the relations of the United States to the world radically distinct from the simple idea of self-sufficingness? We shall not follow far this line of thought before there will dawn the realization of America's unique position, facing the older worlds of the East and West, her shores washed by the oceans which touch the one or the other, but which are common to her alone. . . .

Despite a certain great original superiority conferred by our geographical nearness and immense resources,--due, in other words, to our natural advantages, and not to our intelligent preparations,--the United States is woefully unready, not only in fact but in purpose to assert in the Caribbean and Central America a weight of influence proportioned to the extent of her interests. We have not the navy, and, what is worse, we are not willing to have the navy, that will weigh seriously in any disputes with those nations whose interests will conflict there with our own. We have not, and we are not anxious to provide, the defence of the seaboard which will leave the navy free for its work at sea. We have not, but many other powers have, positions, either within or on the borders of the Caribbean. . . .

Yet, were our sea frontier as strong as it now is weak, passive self-defence, whether in trade or war, would be but a poor policy, so long as the world continues to be one of struggle and vicissitude. All around us now is strife; "the struggle of life," "the race of life," are phrases so familiar that we do not feel their significance till we stop to think about them. Everywhere nation is arrayed against nation; our own no less than others. What is our protective system but an organized warfare? . . .

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