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All Hail, Columbia's Sons

Date: 1908
142 x 90 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Posters and postcards
Object Name: Postcard
Object No: 00042661

User Terms

    This postcard features the sheet music and lyrics to 'All Hail, Columbia's Sons'. The song 'Hail Columbia' was once considered the national anthem of the United States, before the 'Star Spangled Banner' became the official anthem in 1931. The popular edition was printed to coincide with the arrival of the American Great White Fleet to Australia in 1908. Bands were positioned on the headlands of Sydney Harbour to greet the arriving ships and play music composed especially for the occasion. Sheet music of American songs and the national anthem were popular choices.
    SignificanceThe visit 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 amongst the Australian public. Memorabilia made to coincide with the occasion emphasised the mutual union between the countries and the good will of the Australian nation toward its American ally.
    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.

    Australia was not originally on the itinerary route of the Great White Fleet, who only decided to visit after receiving a direct invitation from the Prime Minister Alfred Deakin. One quarter of the Australian population, over one million people, saw the Great White Fleet during its three-week visit to Sydney, Melbourne and Albany. Public holidays were declared and enthusiastic crowds flocked to see the ships and parades. Vast arrays of souvenirs were produced for a population caught up in the euphoria generated by the Great White Fleet's world tour in 1908. Badges, medallions, pins, postcards and photographs all reflected the enthusiasm surrounding a potential new and powerful ally. The postcards typically represent America and Australia as cooperative partners and commonly depict national motifs including flags, emblems and banners.

    Sheet music offers an insight into popular culture and social values at the time of their production. The widely distributed pieces were fairly cheap to purchase making them accessible to a general public. Music was integral to peoples' social interaction at home and in the public sphere at events such as balls, recitals, taverns, concerts and theatres. Waltzes, quadrilles, galops, polkas and mazurkas were everyday favourites for social recreation but music was also used to unite the nation behind causes and public occasions. Through the production of anthems, ceremonial hymns, fanfares and marches Australian views of patriotism, nationhood and identity were formed.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: All Hail, Columbia's Sons

    Assigned title: All Hail, Columbia's Sons

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