Any history of the War of 1812 is incomplete without an evaluation of the role of William Jones, Secretary of the Navy during 1813 and 1814. Evidence obtained from Jones' personal papers, only recently available to the historian, indicates that Jones was active in precipitating the conflict, and that when war came he was the unifying ·and coordinating force which was perhaps the decisive weight in bringing to the Navy the considerable success it won.
In our wars, no other Secretary of the Navy has been confronted with odds so adverse as those faced by Jones. With inadequate facilities and forces he was expected to protect our shores from invasion; send our few but excellent frigates and sloops on commerce destroying cruises which would be both profitable and reasonably safe; map strategy and suggest tactics to the commanders on the lakes and oceans; and furnish personnel and materiel for all campaigns. And all this had to be done in the face of the greatest naval power of its day.