A Crisis of Identity: Sectionalism & The U.S. Navy Officer Corps, 1815-1861 with Roger Bailey

A Crisis of Identity: Sectionalism & The U.S. Navy Officer Corps, 1815-1861 with Roger Bailey

History Hangout: Conversation with Roger Bailey

 

Gregory Hargreaves interviews Roger Bailey about his research into how naval officers’ regional identities and beliefs about race, slavery, & territorial expansion affected their command decisions. In support of his project, Bailey, a PhD candidate in history at the University of Maryland, received a Henry Belin du Pont dissertation fellowship from the Center for the History of Business, Technology, & Society.   

During the early nineteenth century, naval officers acted as the cutting edge of U.S. foreign policy, and while far from Washington often made decisions impacting geopolitics with only their own values and training to guide them. Whereas the regional and cultural background naval officers brought with them into service profoundly shaped their attitudes and choices, the unity provided by professional service to an ambitious nation state counterbalanced the divisions of sectional identity. At least until the didn’t.