The nation's early republican governments undertook a wide range of internal improvement projects meant to assure Americans' security, prosperity, and enlightenment--from the building of roads, canals, and bridges to the establishment of universities and libraries. But competitive struggles eventually undermined the interstate and interregional cooperation required, and the public soured on the internal improvement movement. Jacksonian politicians seized this opportunity to promote a more libertarian political philosophy in place of activist, positive republicanism. By the 1850s, the United States had turned toward a laissez-faire system of policy that, ironically, guaranteed more freedom for capitalists and entrepreneurs than ever envisioned in the founders' revolutionary republicanism.
A Scientific Way of War analyzes how the doctrine of military science evolved from teaching specific Napoleonic applications to embracing subjects that were useful for war in North America. Drawing from a wide array of materials, Ian C. Hope refutes earlier charges of a lack of professionalization in the antebellum American army and an overreliance on the teachings of Swiss military theorist Antoine de Jomini. Instead, Hope shows that inculcation in West Point’s American military curriculum eventually came to provide the army with an officer corps that shared a common doctrine and common skill in military problem solving. The proliferation of military science ensured that on the eve of the Civil War there existed a distinctly American, and scientific, way of war.
These influential cadets trained at West Point in the nation’s first engineering school, a program designed by Sylvanus Thayer and Dennis Hart Mahan that would shape civil engineering in New York and beyond. After the war, these industrious professionals leveraged their education and military experience to wield significant influence during New York’s social, economic, and political transformation. Logel examines how each engineer’s Civil War service shaped his contributions to postwar activities in the city, including the construction of the Croton Aqueduct, the creation of Central Park, and the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. Logel also delves into the administration of New York’s municipal departments, in which Military Academy alumni interacted with New York elites, politicians, and civilian-trained engineers. Examining the West Pointers’ experiences—as cadets, military officers during the war, and New Yorkers—Logel assesses how these men impacted the growing metropolis, the rise of professionalization, and the advent of Progressivism at the end of the century.