"The first modern biography of Uriah Levy to exploit the full range of available primary sources . . . an excellent window on the social history of the U.S. Navy during the age of sail."--Robert J. Schneller, Naval Historical Center
Uriah Levy's naval career spanned the age of sail to the era of steam-driven ironclads. As one of the few Jewish Americans in the U.S. Navy, Levy was the target of prejudice and was court-martialed six times for his response to perceived insults, yet he was the only Jew who reached the rank of Flag Officer. As an advocate for the enlisted soldier, he fought for and succeeded in putting an end to flogging in the Navy. As perhaps the first American historic preservationist, he bought and restored Jefferson's beloved but failing Monticello and opened it for public tours. In further tribute to his idol, he commissioned the statue of Jefferson that stands in the U.S. Capitol rotunda today.
Drawing on archival and printed sources, British and American naval records, local records of Levy's residences, the records of several Jewish congregations in the United States, and rarely used naval court martial records, Ira Dye has produced a modern biography of Levy in the context of his time, focusing on his contributions as a naval officer from the War of 1812 until the Civil War as well as the personal characteristics that drove him to make those contributions. Levy served in the Mediterranean during the early antebellum period when the United States was establishing a presence in that area, later commanded the Mediterranean Squadron during the turbulent years of European unrest in the 1850s, was on board the Argus during its fatal cruise in the War of 1812, and presided over one of the few documented charges of homosexual activity in the Old Navy.
Rich with details of life in the sailing navy, the story of Uriah Levy is a significant contribution to antebellum naval history.
Ira Dye served in the Navy and retired as captain in 1967.
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…steeped in naval lore and written by an experienced author…goes far beyond its intended purpose as a biography of Uriah P. Levy and presents a scholarly detail of the U.S. Navy prior to the American Civil War.
--US Naval Institute Proceedings
…required reading for serious students of social miliary history.
…a very good book…The book goes far beyond its intended purpose as a biography of Uriah P. Levy and presents a scholarly detail of the U.S. Navy prior to the American Civil War.
--Proceedings/ US Naval Institute
…adds materially to our knowledge of the US Navy in the important period of transition from sail to steam.
--International Journal of Maritime History
This book will appeal to naval historians and anyone interested in the antebellum military.
…thorough and well written.
--Nautical Research Journal
…gives modern readers insight into Levy's complex nature as well as his enduring contributions to his faith, his service, and his country.
…an excellent tale of the singular career of a singular naval officer.
" A first-rate biography. As a retired naval officer himself, Dye has a sure feel for the small, cloistered world of the officers' mess and wardroom. As a result, a vivid picture emerges of the kind of personal offenses and insults, real and imagined, that led to individual tensions, intense rivalries, and sometimes deadly duels between the young, overly sensitive, and hotheaded officers who lived and worked in close shipboard proximity for extended periods."
--Journal of Southern History
" Dye gives modern readers insight into Levy's complex nature as well as his enduring contributions to his faith, his service, and his country."
" A colourful, well rounded portrait of this conflicted but ultimately successful officer. In crafting this fine biography, Ira Dye produced a valuable contribution to the social history of the United States Navy."
--The Northerner Mariner
"A fascinating book about Levy's life."