The United States Army and the Making of America
From Confederation to Empire, 1775-1903
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
“Robert Wooster has gone beyond his remarkable The American Military Frontiers to write the definitive book on the army’s relationship with the nation during the nineteenth century. The United States Army and the Making of America demonstrates astounding research across all categories of sources. With Wooster’s attention to civilian perspectives on the army and the agency of army officers, this is the best exploration we are likely to see of national civil-military relations and the debates over the balance between regulars, volunteers, and militia in nineteenth-century America.”
—Samuel J. Watson, professor of history, United States Military Academy, and author of Peacekeepers and Conquerors: The Army Officer Corps on the American Frontier, 1821–1846
“Robert Wooster’s fine new book takes a sharply fragmented scholarly literature and unifies it into a succinct yet comprehensive history of the U.S. Army from its origins during the American Revolution to the arrival of an American empire by the early twentieth century. Wooster shows how the U.S. Army played a crucial role in a wide range of nation-building activities, ranging from fighting Native Americans, fostering economic development on the frontier, battling other nation-states such as Great Britain and Mexico, defeating the Confederacy, governing the post–Civil War South during Reconstruction, and managing the beginnings of an overseas empire in the Philippines. While handling these varied duties, the army also negotiated a deeply ingrained suspicion of standing armies in American political culture. Briskly written and deeply researched, The United States Army and the Making of America will prove to be a valuable piece of scholarship for historians in hitherto disconnected subfields and an impetus for a more holistic understanding of the history of the U.S. Army.”
—Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh, associate professor of history, U.S. Naval Academy, and author of West Pointers and the Civil War: The Old Army in War and Peace
“The United States is a country built and forged in war. The U.S. Army, as Robert Wooster deftly shows, played a foundational role in creating this American nation and empire. If you want to understand how the army helped make America, you need to read this book.”
—David Silbey, associate director, Cornell in Washington, and adjunct associate professor of history, Cornell UniversitySee fewer reviews...
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.