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United States and Australia Naval links

Date: c 1908
Overall: 85 x 132 mm
Medium: Cardboard, ink
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Posters and postcards
Object Name: Postcard
Object No: 00015322

User Terms

    A postcard commerotating the American Fleet's visit of Australia in 1908. The card features a portarat of United States President Wilson and the words "Dear "Old glory" And the "Union Jack"./ Standard colours that never run,/ blood that is thicker than water, is back,/ of these two flags that fly as one".
    SignificanceThe American Fleets visit to Australia was the largest fleet to ever accomplish a circumnavigation of the globe. The fleet visited six continents and 26 countries. Australians greeted the fleet with fanfare and much enthusiasm. In Sydney and Melbourne crowds of between 400,000 and 600,000 turned out to welcome the fleet. As a result of the 1908 visit, the Australian/American alliance was established; Australia reduced its reliance on the British Royal Navy and established the Royal Australian Navy.

    History"On 20 August 1908 well over half a million Sydneysiders turned out to watch the arrival of the United States (US) Navy’s ‘Great White Fleet’. For a city population of around 600,000 this was no mean achievement. The largest gathering yet seen in Australia, it far exceeded the numbers that had celebrated the foundation of the Commonwealth just seven years before. Indeed, the warm reception accorded the crews of the 16 white-painted battleships during ‘Fleet Week’, was generally regarded as the most overwhelming of any of the ports visited during the 14 month and 45,000 mile global circumnavigation. The NSW Government declared two public holidays, business came to a standstill and the unbroken succession of civic events and all pervading carnival spirit encountered in Sydney (followed by Melbourne and Albany) severely tested the endurance of the American sailors. More than a few decided to take their chances and stay behind when the fleet sailed!
    One man undoubtedly well pleased with the visit’s success was Australia’s then Prime Minister, Alfred Deakin, who had not only initiated the invitation to US President Theodore Roosevelt, but had persisted in the face of resistance from both the British Admiralty and the Foreign Office. By making his initial request directly to American diplomats rather than through imperial authorities Deakin had defied protocol, but he was also taking one of the first steps in asserting Australia’s post-colonial independence. His motives for doing so were complex. He was, after all, a strong advocate for the British Empire and Australia’s place within it, but he also wished to send a clear message to Whitehall that Australians were unhappy with Britain’s apparent strategic neglect.
    The security of the nascent Commonwealth might still ultimately depend on the Royal Navy’s global reach, but the ships of the small, rarely seen and somewhat obsolescent Imperial Squadron based in Sydney did not inspire confidence. As an officer in the US flagship, observed during the visit: ‘These vessels were, with the exception of the Powerful [the British flagship], small and unimportant …Among British Officers this is known as the Society Station and by tacit consent little work is done’".

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