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Summary: Six Frigates

Before the ink was dry on the U.S. Constitution, the establishment of a permanent military became the most divisive issue facing the new government. The founders—particularly Jefferson, Madison, and Adams—debated fiercely. Would a standing army be the thin end of dictatorship? Would a navy protect from pirates or drain the treasury and provoke hostility? The decision to build six heavy frigates quickly ran into conflicting congressional interests and political infighting among the shipyard commanders that made the program far more complex than the technical requirements demanded.



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