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Great White Fleet medallion

Date: 1908
Dimensions:
Overall: 86 x 27 x 3 mm, 10.76 g
Medium: Metal, ribbon
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Brian Keep
Object Name: Medallion
Object No: 00047700

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    Description
    These medallions commemorate the 1908 visit to Australia of the American Great White Fleet. Many medals, medallions and pins were made as souvenirs of the peace time world tour. These two-part cast copper alloy pieces are joined by red, white and blue ribbon. The medallion crest reads: To commemorate the visit of the USA Fleet to Australia 1908.
    SignificanceThese souvenirs commemorate the important visit of the Great White Fleet to Australia in 1908, a US Naval exercise to demonstrate American naval strength and build national alliances. There was great public participation in events during the visit and a wide variety of souvenirs were produced.

    HistoryIn December 1907, the 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, 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 ships order was altered to put the best looking vessels in the front of the fleet. The cruise incorporated six continents, 26 countries and 32 ports with a 614 officers and 13,504 other 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 made its visit to Australia after receiving a direct invitation from the Prime Minister Alfred Deakin, as the stop was not originally on the itinerary. 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. A vast array of souvenirs was produced for a population caught up in the euphoria.

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