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Return of the American Battle Ship Fleet

Date: 1907
Overall: 94 x 145 mm
Medium: Ink on paper, cardboard
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Posters and postcards
Object Name: Postcard
Object No: 00015012
Place Manufactured:United States

User Terms

    This postcard depicts the return of the American battleship fleet from its peace voyage around the world and highlights the ports that were visited on the 42,227 mile (78204 kilometer) tour. It was sent to the American Miss l R McWilliams on 25 May 1909 and features an image of navy ships in the centre and a poem titled 'welcome' on the side. The fleet accomplished the largest world circumnavigation for its time, visiting six continents, 26 countries and 32 ports. It carried 614 officers, 13,504 other crew and consumed 435,000 tons of coal, more than any other naval expedition.

    SignificanceThis card is representative of the American Great White Fleet's world tour from 1907 to 1909. It demonstrates the impact the event had on people at the time and the production of postcards as popular souvenir items.
    HistoryVast 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. These postcards typically represent America and Australia as cooperative partners and commonly depict national motifs including flags, emblems and banners.

    In 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. Vast arrays of souvenirs were produced for a population caught up in the euphoria.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Return of the American Battle Ship Fleet


    Related People
    Publisher: H T Cook

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