Profs & Pints DC: When the Pacific Became America's New Frontier-Door tickets remain available

By Profs and Pints (other events)

Wednesday, March 20 2024 6:00 PM 8:30 PM EDT

Advance ticket sales have ended but plenty of additonal tickets remain available at the door.

Profs and Pints DC presents: “When the Pacific Became America’s New Frontier,” a look at how private ventures summoned naval power to expand U.S. influence across an ocean, with Chris Costello, assistant professor of history at the United States Naval Academy.

Of the oceans off our nation’s coasts it’s the Atlantic, route of European explorers and immigrants, that gets most of the attention in the teaching of American history. The Pacific, however, offers important and fascinating lessons of its own, being a place where our federal government and private citizens worked in tandem to help our nation become an imperial power.

Learn the fascinating story of how our nation reached out across the Pacific with Dr. Chris Costello, who has extensively researched this subject as a scholar of American and maritime history.

Central to the talk is this question: What happens when average people are given extraordinary support by their government to pursue their private goals? You’ll learn how average citizens throughout the Pacific Ocean received government and naval support in the 19th century, with enormous intended and unintended consequences in places like China, Hawaii, Fiji, Japan, Mexican California, and Oregon.

The ranks of those helped included a disgruntled merchant, a forsaken financier, a zealous pseudo-diplomat, a handful of anxiety-ridden traders, and various failed explorers. Among its actions, the Navy rescued hostages, safeguarded citizens against revolutionary unrest, and used intimidation to forcibly open new markets. The federal government’s willingness to make “bottom-up” foreign policy decisions based on private individuals’ appeals for assistance frequently yielded violent and disruptive consequences for Pacific nations and peoples.

You’ll emerge from the talk with a better understanding of how our nation became a world power. The talk also will offer instructive lessons on the risks of and pitfalls of hasty military interventions to this day.  (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)

Image: From an 1815 Abel Bowen engraving of the USS Essex and British frigates in the Bay of Valparaiso. (Naval History and Heritage Command.)