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This work is to tell the story of the American navy from the time when the fathers of the nation first conceived the idea of sending warships to sea “at the expense of the Continent” down to this year of our Lord 1897. It seems to me that the memory of what the naval heroes of the nation have done is worth preserving if only as a mark of gratitudegratitude to the men whose sole incentive was patriotism and whose only greed was for honor. It seems worth while to tell anew the story of these men who had a noble ambition. It may help to prevent their race becoming extinct. But if that appeal does not secure the attention of the reader, let me say that self-interest demands that he heed the lessons in the story of the navy.
Because naval officers and their friends are very properly jealous of their rights in the matter of titles and rank, it is necessary to explain that officers have very often held one rank on the naval list while entitled to a higher
one by courtesy. Farragut was a 'midshipman under Porter, and yet, for a time, while in command of a captured ship, was by courtesy called captain. Lieutenant Macdonough was entitled to the title of commodore while in command on Lake Champlain. I have in nearly all instances used the title which courtesy demanded, but, for reasons which I hope will be apparent, the title of actual rank seemed proper at times.
To sum it all up, I am bound to say I have tried to tell the story accurately, interestingly, and usefully. If there are errors, they are unpardonable blunders; if the story lacks interest or usefulness, the fault is entirely with the writer. Any story of the navy-even this one-should rouse the enthusiasm of the patriot because of the stirring character of the deeds that must be described ; and I believe that when the reader has considered it well, he will conclude, as I do, that because of the growth of civilization and the spread of the pure doctrines of Christianity throughout the world, and the progress in the arts of making guns and armor-plate in the United States, we shall continue to pursue, for
many years, our daily vocations in peace.
J. R. S.