Alfred Thayer Mahan

The U.S. Naval Academy's Mahan Hall in Annapolis is named after Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan, who profoundly influenced the world's understanding of the importance of sea power, according to

Mahan was born Sept. 27, 1840, in West Point, N.Y. Son of a professor at the U.S. Military Academy, Mahan graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1859 and served nearly 40 years of active duty in the U.S. Navy.

He fought in the Civil War in the South Atlantic Blockade and Western Gulf Blockade Squadrons and served on the staff of Admiral John A. Dahlgren. After being invited to lecture about naval tactics and history at the Naval War College, Newport, R.I., in 1885, he was appointed as the college's president in 1886, serving in that position until 1889.

In 1890, Mahan published his college lectures as The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783. The book analyzed the importance of naval power as a factor in the rise of the British Empire. He followed that book in 1892 with The Influence of Sea Power upon the French Revolution and Empire, 1793-1812, which proclaimed the control of seaborne commerce can determine the outcome of wars.

Mahan retired from the Navy in 1896 but continued to devote his time to writing about naval subjects. However, he returned to active duty at the beginning of the Spanish-American War and was recalled to active service various times during the years that followed.

In 1900, the Royal United Service Institute awarded him with the Chesney Gold Medal to recognize his literary work bearing on the welfare of the British Empire. He was appointed president of the American Historical Society in 1902.

Mahan died Dec. 1, 1914, in Quogue, N.Y. Until his death, he studied and wrote about naval history and biographical subjects; his works have had significant influence throughout the world.

This Web exclusive information is a supplement to All hands on roof deck.