With Sails Whitening Every Sea: Mariners and the Making of an American Maritime Empire by Brian RouleauWith Sails Whitening Every Sea: Mariners and the Making of an American Maritime Empire by Brian Rouleau

With Sails Whitening Every Sea: Mariners and the Making of an American Maritime Empire

byBrian Rouleau

Hardcover | December 16, 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.

Brian Rouleau is Assistant Professor of History at Texas A&M University.
Title:With Sails Whitening Every Sea: Mariners and the Making of an American Maritime EmpireFormat:HardcoverDimensions:9 × 6 × 0.39 inPublished:December 16, 2014Publisher:CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESSLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801452333

ISBN - 13:9780801452338

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Table of Contents

Introduction: "Born to Rule the Seas"

1. Schoolhouses Afloat

2. Jim Crow Girdles the Globe

3. Maritime Destiny as Manifest Destiny

4. A Maritime Empire of Moral Depravity

5. An Intimate History of Early America's Maritime Empire

6. Making Do at the Margins of Maritime Empire

Epilogue: Out of the Sailor’s Den, into the Tourist Trap


Editorial Reviews

"With Sails Whitening Every Sea effectively illustrates a wide range of intercultural encounters between sailors and the people they met around the globe. Brian Rouleau's work makes a contribution to the field of diplomatic history by recovering the critical role American sailors, the era’s largest and most important body of cross-cultural actors, played in foreign relations in the nineteenth century. As Rouleau writes, 'The world knew the United States, and United States knew the world, through its sailors.’"—Kariann Yokota, University of Colorado, Denver, author of Unbecoming British: How Revolutionary America Became a Postcolonial Nation