Alfred Thayer Mahan Biography

Alfred Thayer Mahan was a United States naval officer, who became famous as an eminent naval historian and strategist. Check out this biography to know more about his childhood, family life, achievements and fun facts about him.

Quick Facts

Birthday: September 27, 1840

Nationality: American

Famous: Military Leaders American Men

Died At Age: 74

Sun Sign: Libra

Born Country: United States

Born in: West Point, New York, United States

Famous as: Naval Officer

Subscribe to Riddle Puddle

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Ellen Lyle Evans (m. 1872)

father: Dennis Hart Mahan

mother: Mary Helena Mahan

Died on: December 1, 1914

place of death: Washington, D.C., United States

Cause of Death: Heart Failure

U.S. State: New Yorkers

More Facts

education: Columbia College, Saint James School, United States Naval Academy

Continue Reading Below

Subscribe to Riddle Puddle

Alfred Thayer Mahan was a United States naval officer, who became famous as an eminent naval historian and strategist. Born to a noted military theorist, he entered US Naval Academy against his father’s wishes. Although he saw action during the American Civil War and actively served the US Navy for 40 years, his skill as a seaman was not particularly exemplary. Indeed, most ships under his command were involved in collisions. Contrarily, he was a great strategist and author, publishing his first book, ‘The Gulf and Inland Waters’ around the age of 43. Two years later, he was invited to join the newly founded Naval War College as a professor, publishing his college lectures as ‘The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660–1783’ at fifty. Six years later, he voluntarily retired to concentrate on writing. Today, he is known as one of the most influential American authors of the 19th century.

Recommended Lists:

Recommended Lists:

Childhood & Early Life
Recommended Lists:

Recommended Lists:

Top
Early Career
  • On August 31, 1861, Alfred Thayer Mahan was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and assigned to USS James Adger. By then the American Civil War had set off and within 10 days, he was reassigned to USS Pocahontas, a screw gunboat belonging to the South American Blockading Squadron.
  • In 1861, he was transferred to the Naval Academy, at that time located at NewPort, Rhode Island, where he was assigned to teach seamanship. However, he was not very successful in that and returned to shipping duty as First lieutenant on the USS Macedonian in 1863.
  • On June 7, 1865, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander and assigned to "double-ender" steam gunboat USS Mucoota.
  • For the next 20 years, he remained active both on sea and on land. He became commander in 1872 and Captain in 1885.
  • Alfred Thayer Mahan served at Washington Navy Yard in 1866, at New York Navy Yard in 1870-77, at Boston Navy Yard in 1875-76, at Naval Academy in 1877-80 and again at New York Navy Yard in 1880-83. In between, he was on sea duty, commanding USS Wachusett of South Pacific Squadron in 1883-1885.
Top
Top
Retirement & Later Life
  • On November 17, 1896, Alfred Thayer Mahan voluntarily retired from active service. However, he remained attached to the US Navy, being engaged in special duties till 1912, sitting on the Naval War Board in 1898, attending Peace Conference in The Hague as US Naval Delegate in 1899.
  • After his retirement, he began to write prolifically, publishing works like ‘The Life of Nelson’ (1897), ‘Lessons of the War with Spain.’ (1899), ‘Problems of Asia’ (1900), ‘Retrospect and Prospect’ (1902). In 1905, he published another important work, ‘Sea Power in its Relations to the War of 1812’ (2 Vol.)
  • On November 17, 1906, he was made a Rear Admiral, along with other retired captains who had served during the American Civil War, by a Congressional Act. Meanwhile, he continued to write and published ‘Naval Administration and Warfare’ in 1908.
  • His other works include ‘The Harvest Within’ (1909), ‘The Interest of America in International Conditions’ (1910), ‘Armaments and Arbitration’ (1912) and ‘Major Operations of the Navies in the War of American Independence’ (1913). That apart, he also wrote many biographical sketches and interpretative articles on contemporary events.
Top
Major Works
  • Alfred Thayer Mahan is best known for his 1890 book, 'The Influence of Sea Power Upon History: 1660–1783'. Considered the most influential book in naval strategy, it discusses necessary factors required for achieving naval supremacy. The policies discussed therein were quickly adopted by most nations and the book remains equally relevant to this day.
Top
Awards & Achievements
  • Alfred Thayer Mahan received Civil War Campaign Medal for his service in the American Civil war and Spanish Campaign Medal for his contribution in the Spanish-American War.
Top
Family & Personal Life
  • In June 1872, Alfred Thayer Mahan married Ellen Lyle Evans. They had three surviving children; two daughters named Helen Evans Mahan and Ellen Kuhn Mahan; and a son named Lyle Evans Mahan.
  • Alfred Thayer Mahan died of heart failure on December 1, 1914, in Washington, at the age of 74.
  • In recognition of his service, four US naval ships have been named after him. Among them, USS Mahan (DD-102/DM-7) was commissioned in 1918, USS Mahan (DD-364) in 1936, USS Mahan (DLG-11/DDG-42) in 1975 and USS Mahan (DDG-7) in 1998.
  • A US. Naval Sea Cadet Corps unit in Albany has been named in his honor and so have Mahan Hall in United States Naval Academy and Naval War College. Mahan Road in now disestablished Naval Ordnance Laboratory also bears his legacy.
Top

See the events in life of Alfred Thayer Mahan in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Alfred Thayer Mahan Biography
Author
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
Website
- TheFamousPeople.com
URL
https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/alfred-thayer-mahan-9443.php
Last Updated
- December 23, 2019
Alfred Thayer Mahan

People Also Viewed

Pete Buttigieg
(American)
 
Colin Powell
(American)
 
Michael Flynn
(American)
 

James Longstreet
(American)
 
Carwood Lipton
(American)