The beginnings of the US Navy: John Adams
In 1775 the Continental Congress while assembled in Philadelphia, charged seven members of a “Marine Committee” the task of standing up a navy. John Adams of Massachusetts was one of the seven. And he along with the other six were all perfectly unaware of how to organize a new navy.
Excerpt from a letter from John Adams to Elbridge Gerry (future Vice President to James Madison)
It is very odd that, I, who have Spent my Days in Researches and Employments so very different, and who have never thought much of old Ocean, or the Dominion of it, should be necessitated to make such Enquiries: But it is my Fate, and my duty, and therefore I must attempt it. (via masshist.org)
Due to restrictions set in place by the British, the United States lacked naval experience making designing and building ships of war and the armaments required to be aboard a nontrivial process. The beginnings of the Continental Navy were rough. Officers that were commissioned were corrupt and could not be trusted. The initial 13 frigates that were commissioned were no match for British vessels and all but one were either captured or sunk (by friendly or foe).
Fortunately our nation had great and motivated leaders that could see over the horizon. In the same letter quoted above, John Adams exclaims that the status quo will not always be:
But I must take the Liberty to say that I think We shall Soon think of maritime Affairs, and naval Preparations: No great Things are to be expected at first, but out of a little a great deal may grow. (via masshist.org)
Many references attributed to Ian W. Toll’s Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of The U.S Navy