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The American Revolution at Sea

April 27 – December 29, 2012
This exhibition has closed.

Americans remember the Revolutionary War as a war on land between the United States and Britain. In fact, a very large part of the war—critical to its outcome—was fought at sea between Britain and France, the preeminent naval powers of the eighteenth century. The war at sea involved many thousands more men than served in the armies and involved battles fought on a scale dwarfing the largest battles fought on land.

The American Revolution at Sea traces the maritime dimensions of the conflict from the end of the Seven Years' War, when France—humiliated by defeat—began to rebuild its navy for a war of revenge, through the last naval battles of the Revolutionary War. The naval war of the American Revolution was a world war that reached from the coast of North America to the Bay of Bengal.

The story of that war is almost entirely unfamiliar to Americans, yet involves some of the most sophisticated technical developments, dramatic events, and colorful characters of the eighteenth century. The exhibition includes prints, rare books, maps, manuscripts, art, and artifacts drawn from the library and museum collections of the Society and features a broad range of materials from the Society's Robert Charles Lawrence Fergusson Collection on the art of war in the age of the American Revolution.

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