The United States Army and the Making of America

From Confederation to Empire, 1775-1903

Robert Wooster

The United States Army and the Making of America: From Confederation to Empire, 1775–1903 is the story of how the American military—and more particularly the regular army—has played a vital role in the late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century United States that extended beyond the battlefield. Repeatedly, Americans used the army not only to secure their expanding empire and fight their enemies, but to shape their nation and their vision of who they were, often in ways not directly associated with shooting wars or combat. That the regular army served as nation-builders is ironic, given the officer corps’ obsession with a warrior ethic and the deep-seated disdain for a standing army that includes Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, the writings of Henry David Thoreau, and debates regarding congressional appropriations. Whether the issue concerned Indian policy, the appropriate division of power between state and federal authorities, technology, transportation, communications, or business innovations, the public demanded that the military remain small even as it expected those forces to promote civilian development.

Robert Wooster’s exhaustive research in manuscript collections, government documents, and newspapers builds upon previous scholarship to provide a coherent and comprehensive history of the U.S. Army from its inception during the American Revolution to the Philippine-American War. Wooster integrates its institutional history with larger trends in American history during that period, with a special focus on state-building and civil-military relations.

“There is no one more qualified to tell the story of how the U.S. Army served as the key institution in the development of the American state than Robert Wooster, and The United States Army and the Making of America: From Confederation to Empire, 1775–1903, does not disappoint. While always keeping an eye on larger themes and topics in American history, Wooster cogently analyzes the personalities and policies that defined the U.S. Army’s relationship with the American nation from the Revolution through the Spanish-American War. In short, this is a study from which all students of American history will benefit.”

—Kevin Adams, associate professor and chair of the Department of History, Kent State University, and author of Class and Race in the Frontier Army: Military Life in the West, 1870–1890

The United States Army and the Making of America is an exceptionally well-balanced and thorough examination of the regular army’s role in the ‘nation-building’ of the United States. Robert Wooster is an expert in the western expansion of the nation, and this work again demonstrates his keen insights into the Regulars’ place in the social and economic development of the country and the often tempestuous relationship between the republics army and its political masters. This extensively researched work is an important contribution to the study of the U.S. Army in its first 125 years of existence.”

—Richard S. Faulkner, author of Pershing’s Crusaders: The American Soldier in World War I

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The United States Army and the Making of America will be the definitive book on the army’s relationship with the nation from its founding to the dawn of the twentieth century and will be a valuable resource for a generation of undergraduates, graduate students, and virtually any scholar with an interest in the U.S. Army, American frontiers and borderlands, the American West, or eighteenth- and nineteenth-century nation-building.

About the Author

Robert Wooster is Regents Professor of History, Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi and author of numerous books, most notably The Military and United States Indian Policy, 1865–1903 and The American Military Frontiers: The United States Army in the West, 1783–1900.

Additional Titles in the Studies in Civil-Military Relations Series