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Letter from New South Wales Governor Admiral Sir Harry H Rawson to a Miss Morgan

Date: 1908
Overall: 188 x 114 mm
Medium: Paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Letter
Object No: 00046747

User Terms

    This letter was written by the Governor-General of NSW in response to a public inquiry prior to the visit of the American Great White Fleet to Australia during the 1908 world tour. Although he had the rank of Admiral, Rawson was not acting in that capacity and therefore had no flagship.

    Memorabilia made to coincide with the occasion was collected by thousands of people and kept in family albums. This letter was likely collected for the same reasons, along with the associated stereocard and press clipping.
    SignificanceThere was a high level of interest and excitement in the Australian public prior to the visit of the United State’s Great White Fleet in 1908. This letter reflects that interest by the questioning of why an Admiral didn't have a flagship.

    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. This material was collected with great enthusiasm and is still held in family collections today
    HistoryIn December 1907 United States President Theodore Roosevelt sent a 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.
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