Our Navy" appeared in the January 1908 issue of McClure's Magazine and was sold out in hours. Roosevelt, who had coined the term "muckraken" was furious when he found out Reuterdahl was on board and had him kicked off the ship when it arrived in Peru.
Seven of the reporters, "either because of fatigue or disgust," asked their papers to replace them before the end of the voyage. The Navy kicked out two others and "a jaded United Press colleague" also left.
It wasn't just the reporters who ran into problems on this voyage. Five of the 16 captains for the ships either died or were fired and "Roosevelt wanted
Seaman Combat Systems Operator Josh Little, Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Daniel Antwis and Seaman Combat Systems Operator Luke Martin from HMAS Darwin after berthing alongsldethePortofAlbany forGreatWhlte Fleet celebrations. (Courtesy RAN) a fictional account of how "Japanese ships, equipped with secret weapons, would wipe out the US Navy in half an hour of battle and then land an army in California."
Another book, The World's Awakening, published in early 1908, described a hypothetical world war in 1920, triggered by a visit by the Japanese fleet to Sydney. The fictional sailors caused a riot in the city, and then their fleet shelled the Sydney crowds. Next, Japan and Germany,
Jop-.USSShoup sails into the Port of Albany to come alongside with HMA Ships Darwin andSlrlusforthe Great White Fleet 100th Anniversary. (CourtesyRAN) bound by "an unholy alliance," invaded England. The book fueled Australia's growing sense of vulnerability and isolation in the Pacific.
The journalists who accompanied the Great White fleet in order to tell Roosevelt's story all insisted that "they were reporters, not publicity men." Henry Reuterdahl, described as "a muckraker in disguise," came on board as an artist because his paintings of mighty ships were well known throughout the country. He was also the American editor for the British publication, Jane's Fighting Ships. Four days after he sailed with the fleet, his investigative article on "The Needs of
Midshipman Isabelle Collins, SecondClassPettyOfficer Boatswain's Mate John Parkowsld and leading Seaman Naval Police Coxswain Jamie Bowman study a map to find out Albany's hot spots, during the Great White Fleet visit. (CourtesyRAN)
these dismissals kept quiet. They were justified, he felt, but might not read well in the papers," noted historian Hart.
Halfway around the world, Roosevelt found an enthusiastic and vocal supporter of the American fleet. "A lawyer by training, a journalist by profession and a philosopher by inclination," Deakin was the chief architect of the Australian defense and foreign policy framework from 1903 to 1910.
He shared Roosevelt's security concerns, noting that Australia's location was within striking distance of "no less than 16 naval stations."
The countries headed by Roosevelt and Deakin also shared racial biases in the quest to spotlight the white race.
Sailing into History: The 1908 Voyage of the US Navy's Great White Fleet to Australia, As Seen Through the Eyes of the Media
"Yellow Peril" fears were rampant on both sides of the Pacific.
Australia and America also shared a bias against the black races, and this was reflected in the response to the US cruise's crew selection, with stories appearing in the Dec. 12 and 14,1908, N.Y. Herald: "Negro volunteers, who had joined the Navy in good faith, were chosen to fill the gap as bus boys and stewards to replace the Japanese [sailors], some of whom had those jobs for 20 to 30 years and were let go prior to the voyage of the Great White Fleet, rather than sail into these foreign ports with Japanese recruits."
America's Invasion Of Australia's Favored Shores: August And September1908
Australia was the 13th stop of the lengthy itinerary of the Great White Fleet, which came to Sydney Harbor Aug. 20-28; Melbourne Aug. 29-Sept. 5; and Albany (Western Australia) Sept. 11-17,1908.
It was an impressive convoy with the 16 ships carrying 360 guns. "Firing a single salvo from all the guns would have cost $50,000, which many reporters noted, happened to be the size of the president's salary for one year. Cost for constructing the fleet was estimated at $100 million (almost 100 years ago!) Weighing in at 250 million tons, the fleet was described as five times more powerful than any fleet America had yet assembled.
On shore, Australia's population had turned out for the historic moment. The government proclaimed two public holidays and many businesses also closed down. Sydney trams carried almost one million passengers on Aug. 20 alone. The city was decked out in elaborate decorations, flags, bunting, banners and lights. According to Australian Sen. E. Findley it was a triumph for "gush, gore and guzzle!
On the front page of Aug. 20,1908,
Ships in company: HMA ships Darwin and Sirius along with USSJOHNSMaainin transit to Melbourne to celebrate the 100th Anniversary oftheGreatWhite Fleet. (Courtesy RAN)
New York Times, an unidentified reporter wrote: "So intense was the interest in the American ships of war that half the populace had remained awake the entire night and thousands upon thousands of them long before the night was over were on their way to the hill tops outside the city limits, where they massed seemingly in unbroken lines along the coast from Bondi Beach to Manly...Hundreds of craft of all kinds moved up and down even at that early hour (5:30 a.m.), all the waters...being dotted with little and big vessels decorated in every conceivable manner with flags and buntings." The sight of the fleet "stirred Australians like a call to arms," the reporter noted.
Throughout its many pages, the Sydney Morning Herald of Aug. 21, 1908, covered the event with similar enthusiasm. "Never has Sydney Harbour presented such a picture by night. Each visiting battleship, together with the auxiliary ships attached to the fleet, were outlined in electric lights, and as they occupied a wide range of space, the scene was as extensive as it was brilliant."
And everyone was on their best behavior. "There was an absence of rowdyism. No ear-splitting yells made the night hideous, and there was no interference with women." (This was a welcome relief since there had been
riots at the previous stop in New Zealand between US sailors who wanted to stay versus the US Navy shore patrol who wanted them to leave—with local mobs taking sides. It received much newspaper coverage, including in the Aug. 15,1908, New York Sun and the Jan. 16,1909, London Times.)
Franklin Matthews, a correspondent for the New York Sun, regaled his readers back home with tales of the Sydney welcome. He estimated the crowds to be three times as large as those they had encountered in San Francisco: "no such enthusiasm has been witnessed by Americans in any parade since the day George Dewey [American naval hero for battles in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War] came sailing back to New York and his sailors and marines went swinging down Fifth Avenue."
Matthews coined the term, "Fleetitis," to describe the outpouring of emotion toward the fleet. "It is almost impossible to put in cold print anything that will tell fittingly the stories of enthusiasm and the sentiment that inspire a demonstration which simply overwhelmed not only those who received it but those who gave it... Fleetitis is raging all over the Antipodes now!'
There was almost a "coverage competition," according to author
Journal of the Australian Naval Institute
Robert Hart, who added that "Sydney's newspapers claimed that the welcome was bigger, better and noisier than anything, California efforts included, thus far experienced by the Americans."
Hart notes that "American newspapers reported tremendous gains in prestige...Editorialists assured Australians that they would some day be part of a new American empire" with the New York Sun going so far as to suggest that America admit Australia "as a state within our federal union."
But the media was not unanimous in its support of the Australian love feast. The US Navy League Journal, quoted in the New York Limes of Aug. 21,1908, stated: "We watch the success of President Roosevelts mammoth Hurray Party with benevolence and amusement" even though "it consorts ill with the present engagements of the Empire." The London Daily Graphic (quoted in the New York Limes of Aug. 21,1908) saw the trip as contributing to international tensions and the London Times (Sept. 1,1908) expressed fears that a "spectacular display has valuable uses in impressing the masses, who will remember the sight for years and draw important political deductions therefrom."
What Matthews didn't write about were the things that went wrong, including the seven people injured who had been trampled in the streets or had fallen off buildings while watching the parades or fell when the grandstands collapsed. Two US sailors were killed by a rampaging trolley "whose motormen seemed infected by the general madness" and the victims couldn't be buried because Melbourne had declared there were to be no funerals "to mar the happiness of the visit."
In his public dispatches back home, Matthews failed to disclose that "many of the lads fell under the influence of Melbourne's uninhibited ways. Often
wavered and broke and trombones meandered over history's
worst playing of 'Columbia the Gem of the Oceanl.Bleary-
eyed seamen lurched, reeled and collided.. An infuriated
Roosevelt took a personal interest in the courts-martial
which followed, stiffening punishments already imposed
by the Navy!' Indeed 300 sailors went AWOL in Australia
and 221 successfully eluded return to the US ships. "Several
dozen" also stayed behind in Auckland.
For Roosevelt, he never doubted that the Fleef s visit to Australia and the other stops would be anything but an unqualified success. The journey had lasted 434 days, without a serious breakdown, and returned to home port on Feb. 22,1909. He succinctly stated: "My purpose was to impress the American people. This purpose was achieved." Another goal was generating favorable media coverage from his handpicked writers and that also occurred.
Less optimistic in his overall assessment of the Great White Fleet's voyage, author Hart noted that "while the fleet was a study in sound and fury in its progress from nation to nation, it was a failure as an instrument of diplomacy. Where practical international issues were concerned, it lost more than it gained." Roosevelt certainly would have disagreed. iW
A writer and academic based in Washington, DC, Ms. Kathleen Bums spent hveyearsin Canberra as a reporter accredited to the Parliamentary Press Gallery. Returning to the USA, she was the inaugural program directorfortheCenterforAustralianand New Zealand Studies at Georgetown Universityandservedthefirstfour directors.
Alfred Thayer Mahan's Ike Influence of Sea Power Upon History was one of the most important pieces of navalist propaganda ever
and enthusiasts of
the late nineteenth
and early twentieth
centuries saw Mahan's seminal
work as a testament to the adamantine
link between world power and the
possession of a respectable fleet.
Despite being published in 1890,
The Influence of Sea Power Upon
History has retained its place as one
of the great works of strategic thought
and Mahan remains America's best
known strategist. Most importantly,
the fundamental connections that he
addressed over a century ago remain
important to the considerations of
naval planners in the modern era.
Specifically, finding historic examples
to justify the enormous expenses
associated with the accumulation of
the means by which a nation might
demonstrate its ability to wield sea
power remains a pressing concern to
statesmen and naval professionals.
In the 1986 publication The Maritime Strategy General P.X. Kelley, then Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, sought to inform his readership of the continuing importance of "amphibious forcible entry operations."1 According to the Commandant's contribution to the
document, "The Amphibious Warfare Strategy!' this particular form of amphibious operation was not antiquated. Rather, it was timely and deserving of a prominent place in American 3 defense " planning. In initiating his case, Kelley recollected the remarks of General Omar N. Bradley who as Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff in 1949 testified before Congress that large-scale amphibious operations would "never occur again."2 Thirty-six years after the invasion at Inchon proved General Bradley's judgement to be in error, General Kelley invoked the episode to reiterate the timelessness of such operations. Yet, whereas General Bradley had given too much heed to developments occurring in but a few years, General Kelley set about justifying the continued prominence of the amphibious assault by failing to note the advances attendant upon the passage of decades.
Before the Second World War, the future of amphibious operations was in doubt. The utter failure of British led forces at Gallipoli made it seemingly apparent that to attempt landings in
the vicinity of a rapacious foe was to court certain disaster. As demonstrated so dramatically in the battles of the Great War, the technological advances of the twentieth century bolstered the prospects for success of those fighting defensively. As amphibious assaults were essentially frontal attacks hindered by the added difficulties of ship to shore transit, there was little wonder that consideration for their future conduct drew criticism.
In the interwar years, amphibious assault operations seemed doomed to all but the most steadfast or desperate of adherents. Falling into the latter category were a few members of the US Marine Corps who, after seeing their service act as an adjunct to the Army during the Great War, sought to carve out a niche for their service by establishing it as the appropriate means to further trans-oceanic campaigns through the seizure of advanced naval bases. Building upon the prescience of men such as Major Earl H. Ellis, the Marines began to develop the doctrine that would prove instrumental in delivering victory to the Allies in the Second World War. Indeed, former Commandant of Marines, Alexander Vandergrift, contended that, beyond