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US Cruiser OLYMPIA, Dewey's flagship at Manila

Date: 1908
88 x 140 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Posters and postcards
Object Name: Postcard
Object No: 00040659

User Terms

    This postcard features a black and white photographic image of the United States cruiser OLYMPIA. It was one of a series of cards by Waldon Fawcett who photographed ships of the Spanish American War and vessels that participated in the Great White Fleet. This series was created before 1908, some as early as 1904. Patriotic postcards such as this were produced to commemorate the Great White Fleet world tour in 1907 - 1909.
    SignificanceThe tour of the American Great White Fleet in 1908 was an event of enormous proportions. Souvenir items such as this postcard demonstrate the excitement the visit generated around the world.
    HistoryIn December 1907 United States President Theodore Roosevelt sent the US Atlantic Battle Fleet of 16 battleships on a 14 month goodwill cruise around the world. The fleet was a chance for the Navy to practice seamanship and express America's world power. Roosevelt was also concerned about rising Japanese aggression and their expansionist foreign policy. The cruise would be a political and public relations exercise to build domestic support for more naval construction.

    Led by the flagship, USS CONNECTICUT, the Great White Fleet as it became known, consisted of 16 battleships painted white, as was the practice of all US Navy ships in times of peace. The ships sailed in four divisions of four ships each. Early in the voyage the order of the ships was altered to allow the best-looking vessels to be at the front of the fleet. The cruise incorporated six continents, 26 countries and 32 ports with 614 officers and 13,504 crew. It consumed 435,000 tons of coal, more than any other naval expedition and was the largest fleet to ever accomplish a circumnavigation of the globe.

    The Great White Fleet began its tour on 16 December 1907 from Hampton Roads, Virginia. The Fleet sailed to Trinidad, the British West Indies, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Mexico before sailing up the West Coast of America. The Fleet landed at San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Monterey and then San Francisco, California. The Fleet departed San Francisco on 7 July 1908 for the third and final legs of its tour, visiting Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, the Philippine’s, Japan, Ceylon and Egypt. The Fleet visited Messina, Italy in January 1909 to offer support and assistance following an earthquake, and after departing Messina, the Fleet visited Naples and Gibraltar before returning home to Hampton Roads, Virginia on 22 February 1909.

    Vast arrays of souvenirs were produced for a population caught up in the euphoria generated by the Great White Fleet's world tour. Badges, medallions, pins, postcards and photographs all reflected the enthusiasm surrounding the tour.

    The United States Navy protected cruiser USS OLYMPIA was launched on 5 November 1892 by Union Iron Works in San Francisco. Under the command of Rear Admiral F. V. McNair, OLYMPIA became the flagship of the Asiatic Squadron in December 1895. Two years later Commodore George Dewey assumed command of OLYMPIA and the squadron which was ordered to Manila in the Philippines at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. The squadron engaged and destroyed a Spanish flotilla in Manila Bay on 1 May 1898, in what became known as the Battle of Manila Bay and one of the first victories of the War. In late 1899 OLYMPIA was repainted, decommissioned and placed in reserve. In 1902, after being recommissioned, OLYMPIA was designated as the flagship for the Caribbean Division of the North Atlantic Squadron. From 1906 - 1909 the cruiser served as a training ship for naval cadets until being placed in reserve. From 1912 - 1916 OLYMPIA served as a barracks ship, until being deployed as the flagship of the United States Patrol Force in 1917, during World War I. In 1920 the cruiser was reclassified CA-15 and undertook a tour of duty in the Adriatic. In 1921 OLYMPIA became the flagship for the Atlantic Fleet training unit and was reclassified CL-15, before being decommissioned on 9 December 1922.

    Cruiser OLYMPIA has been part of Independence Seaport Museum, Philadelphia, USA since 1996 and is a National Historic Landmark, a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is part of the Save America's Treasures program.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: US Cruiser OLYMPIA, Dewey's Flagship at Manila

    Web title: US Cruiser OLYMPIA, Dewey's flagship at Manila

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