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Charles Middleton ruled the British naval shore establishment for a dozen years of war and peace. As Controller of the Navy Middleton animated the vital link between policy makers in Whitehall and commanders at sea. Appointed in 1778 in the midst of the War of the American Revolution, he stayed on in peacetime to prepare the navy for the even greater emergencies of the wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon. In the course of his long life, Britain acquired control of most of India, lost most of North America, came into other imperial possessions, grew ermously in overseas trade, went far toward becoming the first industrial nation, and nearly came to an end in the last in the ancient series of Franco-British wars. All these events had naval implications, coming about through the direct application of naval force. Middleton played a role in them all: as a serving sea-officer, as a major stockholder in the East India Company, as a reforming naval administrator of overwhelming energy and a superfluity of ideas, as a naval adviser to William Pitt the Younger, as a member of the Admiralty Board, and, finally, as First Lord of the Admiralty during the Trafalgar campaign. As First Lord, the naval historian Sir Julian Corbett remarked a century later, he was 'the man who, for ripe experience in the direction of naval war in all its breadth and detail, had t a rival in the service or in Europe.'