The Navy and South America, 1807-1823

The defence of trade has always been a priority for the Royal Navy. This volume details the operations of the squadrons deployed in South American waters amid the turmoil which began with the French occupation of the Iberian Peninsular and ended with the independence of Argentina, Chile, Peru and, eventually, Brazil.

British trade, ships and commercial communities found themselves threatened by the resulting conflicts. The navy’s task was to provide protection in the face of blockades of dubious legality declared by both the Royalists and the Patriot navies; while steering a neutral diplomatic course between the expectations of its old political allies, Spain and Portugal, and those of the new republican regimes, which had now become important trading partners. The situation contained an additional twist in that the republican navies were officered and manned by large numbers of formed Royal Navy personnel, led by the unpredictable Lord Cochrane.

Reproducing almost the complete correspondence between the Admiralty and its commanders in the field during the period, this volume illustrates dramatically the challenges which the navy faced in these turbulent times. It also demonstrates the skill and tact with which successive commanders-in-chief such as Michael de Courcy, William Bowles and Thomas Hardy handed the situation.

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About Gerald Graham

Gerald Graham was born on 27 April 1903 in Ontario, Canada. His father was a Presbyterian minister
from Scotland, his mother was Irish. He was an outstanding student at Queen͛s University, Kingston,
Ontario, gaining a BA in 1924, and an MA in 1925. He won a scholarship to Harvard in 1927 and
another to Trinity College Cambridge where he completed his PhD in 1927. He won a Rockefeller
fellowship for 1929-30, spending time in Germany and then taught at Harvard from 1930. He moved
back to Ontario to Queen͛s as professor in 1936. In 1941 a Guggenheim fellowship took him back to
the USA but in 1941 he joined up ending as an instructor at Canada͛s navy officer training school as a
lieutenant commander. He served on destroyers during his vacations and saw service on D Day.
After the war he moved permanently to London, as a lecturer and in 1947 a reader in history at
Birkbeck College. In 1949 he was appointed Rhodes professor in imperial history at King͛s College,
London and published a series of important books analysing the links between sea power and
imperial policy.
His tenure of the Rhodes chair coincided with growing African nationalism and decolonisation. His
seminar at the IHR became an engine for the decolonisation of imperial history, attracting students
from all over the world. After his retirement a list of his post-graduate students occupying university
positions contained over two hundred names. He died on 5 July 1988.
His publications include

  • Empire of the North Atlantic (1950).
  • The Walker Expedition to Quebec, 1711 (Navy Records Society, 1953).
  • The Politics of Naval Supremacy (1965).
  • Great Britain in the Indian Ocean (1967).
  • The China Station: War and Diplomacy, 1830-1860 (1978).