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This webpage reproduces an article in
Pacific Historical Review
Vol. 1 No. 4 (Dec. 1932), pp389‑423

The text is in the public domain,
the 1932 copyright not having been renewed in 1959 or 1960.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

 p389  The World Cruise of the American Battleship Fleet,
1907‑19091

Thomas A. Bailey

The world cruise of the American battleship fleet, from December, 1907, to February, 1909, was unquestionably the most significant peace-time naval demonstration in modern history.a In looking back over the events of his administrations, Theodore Roosevelt wrote that "the two American achievements that really impressed foreign peoples during the first dozen years of this century were the digging of the Panama Canal and the cruise of the battle fleet round the world." He further observed, presumably not overlooking the Nobel Prize which he had won in 1906, that the dispatching of this armada was "the most important service that I rendered to peace . . ."2 It is not necessary, however, to accept Roosevelt's own evaluation to realize that here was an event which deserves consideration as a major episode in the emergence of the United States as a world power.

In his Autobiography Roosevelt gives the impression that the sending of the fleet to the Pacific was a sudden development.3 As a matter of fact, for about two years prior to the announcement of the cruise the naval authorities had seriously considered and had several times recommended a voyage to the Pacific as a needed substitute for the customary short cruising and harbor  p390 work.4 In October, 1906, these plans were complicated by the serious international crisis resulting from the segregation of Japanese children in the San Francisco schools, and Roosevelt was believed to have postponed the trip in order to avoid further misunderstanding.5 At this time, however, there was considerable agitation in the United States in favor of moving a part of the fleet to the Pacific, and Captain A. T. Mahan, alarmed by rumors that four of the best battleships were to be detached for that purpose, wrote to Roosevelt on January 10, 1907, regarding the danger of dividing the fleet.6 The President immediately reproved Mahan for thinking him capable of an act of such "utter folly," and asserted that he had no more intention of taking such a step while there was the least friction with Japan than he had of "going thither in a rowboat myself." On the contrary, should war become in the slightest degree possible he would "withdraw every fighting craft from the Pacific until our whole navy could be gathered and sent there in a body." This early Roosevelt stated his conviction that if a fleet were to go it should be the most formidable that the United States could muster; yet he gave no indication of favoring such a cruise.7

The tension was greatly relieved when the San Francisco authorities responded to Roosevelt's vigorous intervention and repealed the objectionable segregation resolution in March, 1907.8 During the next few weeks the anti-Japanese feeling of the San Francisco labor agitators and hoodlums was kept within bounds, but late in May, 1907, a flare‑up resulted in the wrecking of two Japanese places of business, a development which not unnaturally aroused to new bitterness the more excitable of the Japanese newspapers.9 While affairs were in  p391 this critical posture, the usually well-informed Washington correspondent of the Boston Evening Transcript wrote on June 11, 1907, that the administration had decided that it would be highly injudicious to send the Atlantic fleet of sixteen battleships to the Pacific.10 A number of newspapers, however, notably the New York Herald in the East and the San Francisco Call in the West, began a belligerent campaign to secure the transfer of sufficient naval strength to the Pacific to make American sea power there superior to that of Japan.11 Whatever the results of this agitation may have been, the same correspondent of the Boston Evening Transcript made the startling report on July 1, 1907, that the administration had just adopted the policy of concentrating the entire battleship fleet in the Pacific, and it was hoped that this movement could soon be made without offense to Japan. When the truth of this announcement was officially denied several days later, the correspondent flatly asserted that he had spoken "by authority" and that he had purposely refrained from being embarrassingly specific.12 Subsequent events tended to support his claims.

On the next day, July 2, 1907, the same information was reported by a large number of reliable correspondents, and it was evident to discerning observers that the news had come, directly or indirectly, from an official source.13 Nevertheless, Truman H. Newberry, assistant secretary of the navy, and William Loeb, secretary to the President, immediately denied that any such movement of battleships was in contemplation.14 Two days later, on July 4, 1907, Loeb issued the following supplementary statement:

There is no intention of sending a fleet at once to the Pacific. For the last  p392 two years the Administration has been perfecting its plans to arrange for a long ocean cruise. . . This cruise may possibly be to the Pacific, but might possibly be only to the Mediterranean, or the South Atlantic. It may possibly take place next Winter, but, on the other hand, it may not be convenient to arrange it until later. . . The relations between the United States and all the other powers never were more peaceful and friendly than at the present time, and if the fleet were sent to the Pacific the fact would possess no more significance than the further fact that three or four months later it would be withdrawn from the Pacific. Both would merely be part of the ordinary routine of the naval administration.15

Later on the same day and obviously without the knowledge of Loeb, Secretary of the Navy Victor H. Metcalf, who was then visiting friends in California, stated in an interview that a fleet of eighteen or twenty battleships would definitely come to San Francisco during the approaching winter on a practice cruise. He further observed that he might have made this announcement before leaving Washington, but being a Californian he wanted to bring the good news in person to the people of the coast.16 This unequivocal statement, which flatly contradicted the official denial issued two days previously, indicated a lack of cooperation in high places. It would appear, however, from the official leaks and from Loeb's tergiversating statement, that Roosevelt had made up his mind to send the fleet to the Pacific, but in order to avoid stirring up the jingoes at home and abroad he had thrown out the general suggestion of a long cruise, which, when the excitement had died down, would be followed with an announcement of the specific destination. Metcalf's statement appears to have ruined this strategy.17

Further denials were now out of the question, and the various battleships were soon ordered to make ready.18 On July 9, 1907,  p393 Metcalf gave out another statement which, in the light of his previous experience, may be considered official. He asserted that the fleet would definitely move to the Pacific during the coming winter on a practice cruise.19 This declaration was confirmed by Loeb on August 1, 1907; and on August 23, 1907, following a conference of naval heads with Roosevelt, it was officially announced that the battleship fleet of sixteen vessels would sail for San Francisco in December through the straits of Magellan and would return by a route not yet decided.20 As yet the administration had made no mention of a world cruise, although this was undoubtedly what Roosevelt had in mind,21 and the movement was spoken of merely as a practice cruise from one coast of the United States to the other.

The question naturally arises as to when Roosevelt definitely decided to send the fleet to the Pacific. Although the project had been discussed for some time by the naval authorities, there is no evidence in the voluminous Roosevelt correspondence that the President seriously entertained this idea until late in June, 1907. At that time, in response to an inquiry from Roosevelt as to what steps should be taken in the event that war should become imminent between the United States and Japan, the joint board of army and navy experts recommended, among other things, that the "battle fleet should be assembled and despatched for the Orient as soon as practicable."22 About this time, apparently before the submission of the report, Roosevelt talked the matter over with Henry Cabot Lodge, and he appears to have given the latter to understand that he favored sending the fleet but that he was not then prepared to make a definite decision. Upon reading Metcalf's announcement, Lodge wrote to Roosevelt in some perturbation, hoping that  p394 there had been no new developments which implied danger.23 Roosevelt replied that there had been "no change save that the naval board decided sooner than I had expected."24

In view of the delicate international situation and the suspicious manner with which the announcement was made, the Japanese might well have been expected to show resentment. Yet the Japanese ambassador at Washington, Siuzo Aoki, came forward with assurances that the contemplated dispatch of ships from one American port to another would not be regarded as an unfriendly act, even if the fleet were to be sent on to the Philippines.25 Japanese naval officials remained unmoved and expressed surprise that the news should have been sensationally reported.26 The Japanese press, in the words of the Tokio correspondent of the London Times, "showed absolute sang-froid."27 The general view was that since the United States had definitely launched out upon an imperialistic policy it was only natural that her naval strength in the Pacific should be increased to a point more nearly commensurate with her interests there. It was also felt that a great naval power should be permitted to engage in extensive maneuvers, as did other nations, without having its motives called into question. The great majority of the leading Japanese newspapers refused to consider the movement a demonstration against Japan, for it was felt that if any demonstration were in order it should be undertaken by the aggrieved nation.28 Indeed, the hope was widely expressed that the fleet would continue on to the Orient and give the Japanese an opportunity to show the sincerity of their friendship and hospitality.29 As a further indication of  p395 the improved state of feeling, it was noted that the Tokio share market, which had been depressed for months, was showing considerable improvement.30 Roosevelt viewed these developments with satisfaction, and on July 10, 1907, wrote to Lodge:

. . . I think that before matters become more strained we had better make it evident that when it comes to visiting our own coasts on the Pacific or Atlantic and assembling the fleet in our own waters, we can not submit to any outside protests of interference. Curiously enough, the Japs have seen this more quickly than our own people.31

There was, however, an occasional disapproving voice among the Japanese statesmen, and the jingo press evidenced some displeasure.32 Luke Wright, American Ambassador to Japan, although observing that the newspapers were "uniformly calm," feared that the proposed demonstration might have "an unfavorable effect upon the mind of the average Japanese."33 Of the leading newspapers, the Hochi Shimbun alone questioned the timeliness of the cruise. The fear was expressed by a few Japanese that the San Francisco hoodlums would see in the fleet transfer official approval of their conduct, and that the jingoes on both sides would be spurred to renewed outbursts. In some quarters it was even suggested that the United States would have done well to follow the example of the Japanese government, which, a few months before, had not permitted the Japanese training squadron to call at San Francisco lest some untoward incident result.34

The question has frequently been asked why Roosevelt should have chosen this critical time to take a step which could easily have resulted in the gravest misunderstanding. Some observers  p396 professed to see in the projected cruise an object lesson that would hasten the completion of the Panama Canal; others interpreted it as an attempt to follow up the extraordinarily happy results of Secretary Root's recent South American good will trip.35 There was also some feeling, particularly abroad, that for the first time the United States had come to realize its obligations as a world power in the Pacific, and that it was making a belated attempt to wrest from the Japanese their naval supremacy in those waters and restore the proper balance.36 Roosevelt himself later confessed in his Autobiography that his "prime purpose was to impress the American people," and he quoted with approval a statement from the London Spectator to the effect that he was seeking to arouse popular support for a more ambitious battleship program.37 This was probably the reason why Roosevelt devoted so much attention to the problem of securing acceptable newspaper correspondents for the trip.38

The reason most frequently given at the time, at least in official quarters, was that the proposed voyage was merely a necessary practice cruise. In his private correspondence Roosevelt referred repeatedly to "the practice cruise," and on July 24, 1907, he informed Truman H. Newberry, Acting Secretary of the Navy, that the "fleet is not now going to the Pacific as a war measure. . ."39 Moreover, at that time considerable doubt  p397 existed as to whether the fleet, in case of necessity, could make the trip around South America and arrive in fighting trim. Roosevelt was aware of this uncertainty, and he was insistent that the experiment, with its inevitable mistakes, should be made in time of peace, and not in time of war. If the voyage could not be completed successfully, he concluded, it "was much better to know it and be able to shape our policy in view of the knowledge."40 Furthermore, Roosevelt was convinced that only by showing the difficulties involved would he be able to force opponents of a big navy in the Senate "into providing what the navy actually needs."41

It is probably true that all of the reasons thus far mentioned were taken into consideration when the final decision was made. But none of them, not even the practice cruise, explains why this movement was necessary at the very time when deference to the already injured sensibilities of Japan would have suggested further postponement. It was frequently observed that if a long cruise was highly imperative a trip to the Cape of Good Hope would serve the purpose admirably and would not be interpreted as a threat against Japan. In fact, a number of naval experts of high repute were prepared to argue that short, intensive cruises were more beneficial than long, tedious ones, and that the departure of the fleet at that time would seriously interrupt the perfection of certain technical details. Furthermore, it was noted that this was a peace-time voyage during which the ships could cruise along at the most economical speed and put into various ports. Such an experience would obviously be of little value in time of war, when the vessels would have to steam under pressure and depend on themselves, instead of upon neutrals, for all their needs.42

 p398  What appears to have been an important factor — perhaps the most important factor — in the sending of the fleet to the Pacific was a desire on the part of the administration to handle the Japanese situation with greater firmness. Such a motive could obviously not be mentioned publicly in official quarters, but the press, quick to sense the logic of the situation, generally held that this otherwise untimely maneuver could not possibly be dissociated from the tension between the United States and Japan.43 The private letters and statements of Roosevelt provide a further key to the situation. The President was greatly worried over developments on the Pacific Coast, and he wrote to Henry White on June 15, 1907, that "the utterances of the extremists in Japan have begun to make an unpleasant feeling in this country."44 On July 13, 1907, shortly after the fleet announcement, Roosevelt confided to Root: "I am more concerned over the Japanese situation than almost any other. Thank Heaven we have the navy in good shape. It is high time, however, that it should go on a cruise around the world. . . I think it will have a pacific effect to show that it can be done. . ."45 Furthermore, Roosevelt had come to the conclusion, probably as a result of the tone of the Japanese press, that his sympathetic handling of the San Francisco difficulties was being interpreted as fear of Japan. To a man of Roosevelt's temperament such a challenge could not be permitted to remain unanswered. On July 30, 1907, the President wrote to Henry White substantially the same thing that he later told J. B. Bishop: "I am exceedingly anxious to impress upon the Japanese that I have nothing but the friendliest possible intentions toward them, but I am none the less anxious that they should realize  p399 that I am not afraid of them and that the United States will no more submit to bullying than it will bully.46 In October, 1911, with perhaps an unconscious coloring of the events that had occurred four years before, Roosevelt wrote more positively:

I had been doing my best to be polite to the Japanese, and had finally become uncomfortably conscious of a very, very slight undertone of veiled truculence in their communications in connection with things that happened on the Pacific Slope; and I finally made up my mind that they thought I was afraid of them. . . I found that the Japanese war party firmly believed that they could beat us, and, unlike the Elder Statesmen, thought I also believed this. . . I definitely came to the conclusion that . . . it was time for a show down.47

Roosevelt appears to have been convinced that the time had come for an impressive naval demonstration, not against Japan, but for the benefit of Japan. The yellow journals of both countries had whipped themselves into a veritable frenzy, and Roosevelt was of the opinion that the appearance of a mighty armada in the Pacific, a grim reminder of the fact that the United States was the second naval power of the world and Japan the fifth, would have a quieting effect upon the jingoes of Japan. And that was why Roosevelt wanted "every battleship and armored cruiser that can be sent to go."48 The President believed "that the only thing that will prevent war is the Japanese feeling that we shall not be beaten,"49 and if the most  p400 powerful fleet ever sent on a long cruise would not serve this purpose nothing would. So it was that Roosevelt wrote that "far from its being a war measure," the dispatch of the fleet was "really a peace measure."50

There is some ground for believing that the fleet announcement helped to produce the anticipated quieting effect. It was widely observed in the East that this step was followed by a sudden cessation of the "pin‑pricks" and the constant "hectoring" directed at the United States.51 Roosevelt himself wrote that his action had proved useful in silencing the clamor "for hostilities against us by the Japanese yellow press,"52 and from Tokio Ambassador O'Brien reported that the disposition of the United States "to make ready for contingencies" had had a salutary effect on public sentiment.53 Unquestionably, improved relations with Japan followed the fleet announcement, but so many factors were involved that care must be taken not to overestimate the influence of Roosevelt's flourish.

The first reaction of many Eastern editors to the announcement was to cry out against stripping the Atlantic coast of its defenses. Stressing the cost of the voyage, the likelihood of destruction from natural phenomena or sudden attack, the wear and tear on machinery, and the danger of precipitating war the more militant of these journals issued "frantic appeals to Congress to stop the fleet from going."54 Others urged, without response, a Congressional investigation of the cost;55 and one southern newspaper suggested impeaching the President  p401 to prevent the fatal step.56 Eugene Hale, chairman of the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs, himself from the eastern seaboard state of Maine, announced that the fleet would not go because Congress would refuse to appropriate money. Roosevelt, more determined than ever now that his will was being opposed, silenced the attack from this quarter by replying that he had enough money on hand to send the fleet to the Pacific, and that if Congress did not care to vote the money to bring it back it could stay there.57 In private, the President wrote causticly of the "hysterical violence of the attacks of the Wall Street crowd" and the "campaign on behalf of the wealthy malefactor class . . . to prevent the fleet from going to the Pacific."58 Striking back at his critics in a speech at Cairo, Illinois, on October 3, 1907, Roosevelt remarked that "some excellent people in my own section of the country need to be reminded that the Pacific coast is exactly as much as a part of this nation as the Atlantic coast."59 Yet, in spite of the uproar, the President was of the opinion that "the people as a whole have been extremely well pleased at my sending the fleet to the Pacific. . ."60

One of the most unfortunate aspects of the newspaper campaign was the insistence upon the inevitability of war should the fleet go. Late in September, 1907, this outburst had become so intemperate that even dignified papers like the New York Times printed the most inflammatory predictions.61 Well could the New York correspondent of the London Times write: "Is the Press of the United States going insane?"62 It was indeed  p402 fortunate that while this jingo campaign was at its height, Secretary of War Taft, then in Japan on a visit of courtesy, made a speech in which he blamed the newspapers of the United States for stirring up the trouble and expressed confidence that the existing difficulties could be ironed out by diplomacy. It would be difficult to overestimate the soothing effect of this speech on public opinion in Japan,63 and the London Times remarked editorially that sensible observers the world over were now confident that the fleet would make the trip without firing a shot.64 Furthermore, the severe financial crisis which came to a head in October, 1907, did much to divert public attention in the United States to other matters.

In the meanwhile, preparations for the departure of the ships were going steadily forward, and certain unforeseen technical difficulties indicated that valuable lessons were to be learned from the cruise.65 On December 16, 1907, sixteen battleships, described by Secretary Metcalf as the strongest force ever assembled under a single command,66 steamed out of Hampton Roads. Unfortunately, the departure of the fleet was the signal for a renewed outburst of predictions of war, particularly by the continental European press.67 Roosevelt was confident, however, that "Japan knew my sincere friendship and admiration for her and realized that we could not as a Nation have any intention of attacking her. . ." Accordingly, in a personal interview with the officers before they left he said that the trip "would be one of absolute peace, but that they were to take exactly the same precautions against sudden attack of any kind as if we were at war with all the nations of the earth. . ." He later observed that "if my expectations had proved mistaken, it would have been proof positive that we were going to be attacked anyhow, and that in such event it  p403 would have been an enormous gain to have had the three months' preliminary preparations which enabled the fleet to start perfectly equipped."68

Two factors, generally overlooked, operated to make Roosevelt's venture less rash than it otherwise would have known. First, the United States was, in July, 1907, the second naval power in the world, ranking below England. Japan was in fifth place, and the American fleet probably could have given an excellent account of itself against the entire Japanese navy.69 Secondly, in spite of generally believed rumors of a world cruise, San Francisco was repeatedly and officially designated as the destination of the fleet.70 The Japanese could not legitimately take offense at the transfer of ships from one American port to another,71 but the brandishing of the big stick would have been a little too obvious had it been proclaimed in July, 1907, that the fleet was steaming directly to Far Eastern waters. Not only was it good diplomacy to defer the announcement until the ships reached the Pacific, but it might also avoid embarrassment to see how the vessels behaved before making known the more ambitious project. Not until February 21, 1908, did an intimation come from a "responsible source," in this case from Secretary Root, that the fleet might continue on around the world;72 and not until the fleet had reached Magdalena Bay, in March, 1908, was the world cruise officially announced.73

 p404  The first stop of the fleet was at Port of Spain, Trinidad. There the official British welcome was courteous, if not cordial, but the populace, to whom warships were no novelty, showed "profound indifference."74 At Rio de Janeiro, however, there occurred the first of those amazing outbursts of competitive hospitality that were to greet the Americans from the South American coast to China. An English edition of the Rio Journal of Commerce stated that "never was a heartier or more spontaneous which extended to any representatives of any nation than that which yesterday Brazilians extended to their brothers of the North,"75 and Admiral Evans, in command of the fleet, testified that the warmth of the reception surpassed anything in his experience.76 Lavish entertainment was provided; special editions of the great dailies were printed in English; and felicitous messages were exchanged between Roosevelt and President Penna of Brasil.77 The latter took occasion to announce a reduction of import duties on certain American products, a gesture of friendship that made a most favorable impression in the United States;78 and the entire visit unquestionably had a happy effect on the relations between the two countries.79

The fleet was unable to stop at Buenos Aires,80 but the Argentine  p405 government paid its respects in a striking manner by sending a squadron out to sea to salute the American vessels.81 A Chilean cruiser escorted the fleet through the dreaded straits of Magellan, where a brief stop was made at Punta Arenas. Although Valparaiso was not a scheduled port of call, Admiral Evans swung the fleet into the harbor to salute the Chilean President and flag, and then continued on his way. This unusual courtesy made a deep impression on the people of Chile, particularly when it was remembered that Evans, then in command of the "Yorktown," had last seen Valparaiso during the days following the Baltimore riot,b and that his stay there had been characterized by extreme bitterness of feeling on the part of the populace.82 John Hicks, United States Minister to Chile, was "decidedly of the opinion that the visit of the fleet . . . has served to create in this country a more friendly feeling toward the United States and it will have a vast influence for good in the future."83

At Callao and Lima the Peruvians made a determined attempt to outdo the welcome of the Brazilians. President Pardo declared Washington's birthday a legal holiday, and a special bull fight was held at Lima, which thousands of appreciative sailors attended.84 Leslie Combs, United States Minister to Peru, wrote in glowing terms of the good feeling engendered by the event, and Samuel M. Taylor, consul general at Callao, asserted that nothing "save the visit of Mr. Root, has been of  p406 so much advantage to the United States as the recent visits of the Atlantic fleet . . . and I feel certain the results will be beneficially far reaching."85

As the battleships steamed away from South America it was evident that their visit had done much to cement the happy result of Secretary Root's good will tour through the Latin American countries in 1906.86 Perhaps equally important was the vivid impression which the fleet left behind as to the ability of the United States to guarantee the stability of the western hemisphere against European aggression. The Zig‑Zag, a Santiago weekly, remarked that the outcry of jubilation at the visit of the battleships was like that of "a person who, in danger of a blow from a strong enemy, sees himself unexpectedly helped by a friendly athlete of Herculean proportions."87 It was perhaps with this thought in mind that Roosevelt stated, in an address on July 22, 1908, before the Naval War College, that the cruise was the "most instructive lesson that had ever been afforded as to the reality of the Monroe Doctrine."88

On March 12, 1908, two days ahead of schedule, the fleet dropped anchor in Magdalena Bay and, with the permission of the Mexican government, began preparations for target practice.89 Admiral Evans reported to the Navy Department that the fleet was in better condition than when it had left Hampton Roads, and that it was ready to enter upon active service.90 The American press thrilled with pride at the successful  p407 completion of what had been widely regarded as an exceedingly difficult feat of navigation, and the voices of the Cassandras were hushed.91 Even the New York Nation, which had regarded the cruise as "ill‑timed and rather hazardous," obedient that the safe arrival at Magdalena Bay was a "legitimate cause for national gratification," and it was pleased that "our ships, so far, have been much more active for peace than for war in leaving a trail of international good will along both coasts of Latin America."92 The European press, which, together with foreign naval experts, had followed the voyage with the keenest interest, was generous in its expressions of admiration and praise.93

The day after the arrival at Magdalena Bay, Secretary Metcalf announced that the fleet would return home by way of Australia, the Philippines, and the Suez Canal.94 Not only did this statement officially confirm the widely believed rumors of a world cruise but it also announced the acceptance of the Australian invitation, which had been forthcoming during the previous month.95 Roosevelt later wrote that it had not been his intention to send the fleet to Australia but he had acceded to this request "for I have, as every American ought to have, a hearty admiration for, and fellow feeling with, Australia, and I believe that America should be ready to stand back of Australia in any serious emergency."96 When Prime Minister Deakin read the good news to a Sydney audience, the call went forth for three cheers for the United States, and the crowd arose  p408 en masse and responded with "deafening hurrahs."97 Preparations were then begun to make good the boast that if the fleet came to Australia the South American reception would be eclipsed.98

On March 18, 1908, five days after the announcement of the world cruise, Baron Takahira, Japanese Ambassador to the United States, delivered to the Department of State an invitation for the fleet to visit Japan.99 After a discussion in the cabinet, which was reported to have hinged on the question of whether or not the American sailors were sufficiently well disciplined for such a mission, an acceptance was announced the following day. Takahira expressed his pleasure at the prompt decision and intimated that the invitation would have been forthcoming sooner had the United States not delayed announcing the world cruise.100 Ambassador O'Brien was somewhat alarmed by the news that the entire fleet was coming to Japan, and he immediately suggested to Root that the effect might be better if only one squadron were sent. But subsequent inquiries among Japanese officials, including the Minister of Marine and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, convinced O'Brien that the Japanese were sincerely anxious to be honored by a visit of the largest possible fleet, and that they well understood the moral value of such a friendly demonstration.101

The Japanese people expressed great satisfaction over the acceptance, and the Tokio correspondent of the London Times reported that the Japanese press was "profoundly gratified."102 The reaction of public opinion in the United States was no less favorable, and even journals like the New York World  p409 and the New York Sun, both bitter foes of the cruise, were pleased with this development; and the latter rejoiced "to see a feeling of distrust succeeded by one of international good will and mutual confidence."103 Beyond question the Japanese invitation was a disarming stroke of diplomacy the far‑reaching effects of which cannot be overestimated.104 Rumors of war, which had greatly decreased since Taft's Tokio speech, almost disappeared, distrust gave way to cordiality, and the voyage of the fleet henceforth was to be regarded as a guaranty of peace.

Concluding extended target practice at Magdalena Bay, the fleet left for the California coast on April 11, 1908. The officers and men were received with great enthusiasm in Southern California, and when they reached San Francisco, on May 6, 1908, they were greeted with frenzied rejoicing. It was estimated that 300,000 visitors were drawn from every western state to that port alone.105 The fleet then proceeded to Puget Sound, where it was warmly received and where it remained for several weeks for refitting.106 By July 7, 1908, the battleships were back at San Francisco, and on that day steamed out of the harbor for the Far East under the command of Admiral Sperry, who had relieved Evans.107

After a week in Hawaii, during which the picturesque hospitality of the islands was lavished upon the officers and men,108  p410 the fleet began its long voyage to Auckland, New Zealand, which was reached on August 9, 1908. The overwhelming exuberance of the reception there led Franklin Matthews to write: "California went mad; New Zealand not only went fleet mad but it developed a new disease — fleetitis."109 Admiral Sperry told the London Times correspondent that the Auckland reception was more enthusiastic than any encountered on the western coast of America.110 The welcome of Sydney, where the fleet arrived on August 20, 1908, was even more unrestrained.111 By the time the ships had left Melbourne and Albany, Admiral Seaton Schroeder could write that "no possible vehicle of greeting was left unharnessed,"112 and Roosevelt later described as "wonderful" the "considerate, generous, and open-handed hospitality" of these people.113

The Australian welcome was so overwhelming as to cause speculation elsewhere as to the weakening bonds of empire. These rumors, which appear to have had their origin in the United States, were promptly disavowed by the Australians, and England did not appear to be seriously disturbed by them.114 The general explanation given for the outburst was that these isolated people, hungering for excitement, were electrified by the sight of the most impressive fleet ever to visit the Pacific, and the subsequent outpouring was in large part an attempt to congratulate these American cousins on their splendid achievement.115 Certain other factors, however, undoubtedly lay behind the exuberance of the Australian welcome. There was some evidence of a desire to make the situation as attractive as possible in the hope of attracting immigrants  p411 from the United States.116 Furthermore, Prime Minister Deakin, who later admitted that one of his objects in inviting the fleet had been to secure support for his pet project of a separate Australian navy,117 saw to it that as many people as possible were given an opportunity to witness this great naval demonstration. Then there was the white Australia ideal, which was widely interpreted in the United States as the fundamental reason for the hysterical greeting. Such a conclusion was so obvious that certain American observers viewed the unrestrained Australian welcome with alarm lest the Japanese, the next foreign hosts, take offense.118 In fact, some uneasiness was expressed in Japan over this development.119

Facing the teeming Orient, the Australians had for some time lived in dread of a yellow inundation, and this fear accounted for their white Australia policy and the recently developed emphasis on national defense.120 The renewal of the Anglo-Japanese alliance in 1905 had led to some misgivings in Australia that England had weakened in her support of the white ideal,121 and the greeting given the Americans may well have been an attempt to remind the mother country of her imperial obligations.122 In July, 1908, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Sir Joseph Ward, made a speech in which he expressed the belief that in the future fight to determine white or Oriental supremacy the United States would stand shoulder to shoulder with the Australians.123 Shortly after the Australian invitation had been extended, the Melbourne Age, perhaps the most influential newspaper in Australia, observed:

Ever since the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese alliance the naval supremacy of the Pacific has been in the hands of Japan . . . the effect . . . has  p412 been to place our rich, sparsely settled, and as yet undefended country more or less at the mercy of a colored race whom our "white Australian" ideal has bitterly offended.

The amazing advance of Japan into the rank of a first class Power and her newly conceived colonising ambitions, fortunately for us, have aroused our American cousins, and persuaded them to make a bid to recapture for the Anglo-Saxon blood the naval predominancy in the Pacific which Britain lately relinquished. Japan is at present our Imperial ally. . . Nevertheless we are unfeignedly glad that America has invaded the Pacific. It is a move that cannot help but lessen our danger of Asiatic aggression and strengthen the grounds of our national security.124

It is not surprising, then, that the Australians should have welcomed, with a view to possible future assistance, the battleships of a people whose views on Japanese immigration coincided with theirs. The Australian, however, was too perfect a host to dwell on such a selfish theme, and the emphasis was consequently placed upon the desirability of Anglo-Saxon solidarity.125 This avoidance of the subject naturally led to the conclusion in some quarters that fear of the Japanese had nothing whatever to do with the overwhelming welcome. It has already been noted, however, that before the arrival of the fleet the newspapers and the leaders of public opinion were less guarded in their utterances,126 and even while the fleet was in port a sufficiently large number of expressions leaked out, in speeches or in the press, to indicate what the people were thinking.127 The Wellington Post, the Wellington Times, and the Melbourne Age, for example, were not averse to discussing the relation of the visit to the white Australian ideal even after the fleet had reached Australian waters.128 It is difficult, therefore, to avoid the conclusion that the alleged Oriental peril bore an important relation to the extravagance of the welcome.129

 p413  From Australia the fleet went to Manila, arriving on October 2, 1908. Although preparations had been made for entertainment, the epidemic of cholera then raging resulted in the withholding of shore leave from all save officers.130 On October 18, 1908, the battleships arrived at Yokohama and were immediately accorded a reception which Roosevelt later described as the "most noteworthy incident of the cruise. . ."131 Officers, men, and correspondents were unanimous in describing the greeting of the Japanese as the warmest encountered on the voyage,132 and Ambassador O'Brien was assured that it outdid in magnificence even that accorded to Admiral Togo on the occasion of his victorious return.133 Not only had the arrangements been worked out with marvelous precision, as was evidenced by the teaching of American national songs to tens of thousands of school children, but the spontaneous outpouring of the people was unrestrained and whole-hearted.134 Whatever the cause — whether a desire to outdo the Australians, whether an impulse to show that the attitude of Japan toward the United States had been misrepresented, whether relief at the recent disappearance of all war talk, whether a genuine feeling of friendship for the United States — the unstinted hospitality of the Japanese made a profound impression on the officers and men, and the reaction of the press of the United States was appreciative to a high degree.135 Well could O'Brien report the "extraordinary success" of the visit, the "universally favorable" tone of the Japanese press, and a belief that "the effects of the visit will be material and far‑reaching for good."136

 p414  Here and there a voice was raised in the United States to warn the people that the demonstration of the Japanese had merely been a subterfuge to hide their true feelings.137 This reaction, however, was exception rather than the rule. The officers and men came away thoroughly convinced of Japan's sincerity;138 and the New York Times observed: "No nation teaches its children to sing the songs of a people for whom it has unfriendly feelings."139 Perhaps the most convincing refutation of the charge of insincerity was written by Admiral Schroeder:

I call upon all good Americans not to let any germs of doubt enter their minds as to the whole-heartedness of that greeting. The unstudied eloquence of careless attitude revealed at every turn cannot be controverted by a distant view possibly tinged with prejudice. . . When it is said that thousands of school children lined the hedges along the highways and waved in unison the flag of the stars and stripes and the flag of the rising sun, it has been retorted, "That is easily done by imperial command." So it is. . . But when crowds lining the thorofares. . . five, ten, even fifteen files deep, day after day at all hours from morning until late at night . . . are smiling with lips unmistakably framing the "Banzais" that rend the air in one continuous thundering chorus — no such retort is possible.140

After leaving Japan on October 25, 1908, the fleet divided, part returning to Manila for maneuvers and part proceeding to Amoy in response to an invitation of the Chinese government accepted in March, 1908.141 Fear was expressed by American officials in China that the appearance of this powerful armada might have the unfortunate effect of leading the Chinese to believe that the United States was prepared to back their claims against those of Japanese in Manchuria, but Root admonished Minister W. W. Rockhill to combat any such misrepresentation.142  p415 As a result of the recent remission of the Boxer indemnity, as well as other developments, the relations between the United States and China were particularly cordial at that time, and the appropriation by the Chinese government of 400,000 taels for the Amoy entertainment was regarded as an expression of appreciation.143 A number of adverse factors, however, among them a typhoon, caused such great difficulties that the best the Chinese were able to do could be only an anti-climax after the Japanese reception.144 Nevertheless, friendly feelings were aroused by the visit, and the American consul at Amoy could report that among the numerous telegrams of felicitation which poured into his office from all parts of China were two from newspapers that three years before had taken a leading part in the anti‑American boycott.145

After uniting at Manila for extended target practice, the fleet left on December 1, 1908, for home waters. On the day before, an exchange of notes known as the Root-Takahira agreement had taken place at Washington.146 This diplomatic achievement was the culmination of a series of treaties or conventions that had been negotiated during the general clearing of the air following the acceptance of the Japanese invitation in March, 1908. On May 5, 1908, an arbitration convention had been signed at Washington between representatives of the two powers,147 and although this agreement was not intrinsically of great importance, the Washington correspondent of the London  p416 Times noted that it was expected greatly to accelerate "the decided improvement that has recently taken place in American public sentiment towards Japan."148

Fourteen days later, on May 19, 1908, two treaties were signed providing for the protection of trade marks in Korea and in China.149 Then, on November 30, 1908, came the Root-Takahira agreement, a diplomatic understanding of the first importance, which provided, among other things, for the preservation of the status quo in the Pacific and the open door in China.150 It is significant to note that Ambassador Aoki, more than a year previously and before the sending of the fleet, had independently proposed an agreement along precisely the same lines, but his government had discouraged his efforts and had shortly thereafter recalled him.151 The Root-Takahira agreement was received with great satisfaction in both the United States and Japan, and it was generally regarded as an achievement growing out of the visit of the fleet.152 Roosevelt himself shared this view, for in writing to Arthur Lee of the agreement he observed that his "policy of constant friendliness and courtesy toward Japan, coupled with sending the fleet around the world has borne good results."153

The return voyage was uneventful, except for a short stay at Messina to help earthquake sufferers,154 and after its 46,000 mile cruise the fleet reached Hampton Roads on February 22, 1909, just in time, as certain unfriendly critics observed, to usher out the Roosevelt era in a blaze of glory.155 The President  p417 welcomed the officers and men with great enthusiasm, and complimented them on bringing the fleet home "a much more efficient fighting instrument than when it started sixteen months before."156 A chorus of praise arose from the press of the United States, even from those newspapers that had condemned the venture. The New York Sun, which had been most bitter in its denunciation, lauded this "achievement without precedent or parallel" as "spectacularly splendid."157 The New York correspondent of the London Times wrote: "President Roosevelt's judgment in ordering this venturesome naval movement has been splendidly vindicated. It is impossible even for his enemies to begrudge him the genuine satisfaction and pleasure of tendering to the battle fleet the nation's welcome. . ."158

Perhaps the most damaging criticism directed against the fleet after its return was that it had awakened in foreign peoples a lamentable spirit of envy and emulation.159 It is true that after the cruise had been announced the English and German fleets engaged in impressive demonstrations; that Austria launched out upon a three dreadnought program; and that Spain began a renovation of her navy.160 Much of this activity had been planned in advance, and it would be extremely difficult to prove that it was influenced to any appreciable extent by the move of the United States. It must be admitted, however, that the visit of the fleet, as Deakin had hoped, did encourage the Australians to go ahead with their plans for a separate navy; but the movement in this direction had already assumed considerable proportions before the announcement of the cruise.161  p418 On the other hand, this demonstration cannot be blamed for the Anglo-German naval race, which had begun in all earnestness several years before.162 Shortly after the South American visit, Brazil placed orders for a number of warships with European builders; and Argentina countered by voting a $55,000,000 increase.163 Pacifists pointed to these developments as direct results of the cruise;164 yet the fact was overlooked that the Brazilian program had been in contemplation for a number of years and that it had actually been adopted prior to the departure of the fleet; and the Argentine appropriation was probably dictated by the necessity of following the lead of Brazil.165 It should further be observed that during 1908 Japan slashed her naval expenditures and that the Russian Duma refused to accept an ambitious program for a new fleet.166

Most notably of all, the American people, while applauding the exploits of their navy, refused to be swept off their feet. Not satisfied with having "more than doubled the navy of the United States,"167 Roosevelt vigorously demanded four new battleships; but Congress ruthlessly pared the administration program down to two.168 Because of the impossibility of securing American colliers to accompany the fleet, despite the willingness of the naval authorities to pay fifty per cent more to home industry, the battleships presented to the world the highly incongruous spectacle of being accompanied by more than a score of vessels flying foreign flags. Alarmists throughout the United States were quick to point out that in the event of hostilities a strict observance of neutrality would deprive the battleships of their colliers, with a consequent paralysis of the naval arm.169 Despite this unmistakable object lesson as to the  p419 need of a larger merchant marine for auxiliary purposes, Congress stubbornly repeated its previous action and refused to approve a subsidy bill. It may we be doubted, therefore, whether the cruise gave any dangerous stimulus to naval construction in the United States or elsewhere. It was a day when big navies were in the air,º and the United States, far from leading the procession, was content to follow along.

In summarizing the results of the cruise certain important developments of a purely technical nature must be mentioned briefly. The general efficiency and discipline of the fleet were markedly improved; new standards of economy in coal consumption were established as a result of competitive awards; valuable lessons in self-sustenance and in handling all needed repairs were learned; training was afforded in holding the vessels accurately in formation and in operating them as a unit; and a great improvement in target practice was recorded.170 In addition, experiments were carried on with wireless telephony, and the necessity of securing a supplying high grade coal on the Pacific Coast led to an investigation of the Alaskan and British Columbian coal fields.171 Furthermore, the demonstrated need of better bases on the Pacific Coast and adequate dry dock facilities resulted in agitation for additional improvements at Mare Island, California, and Bremerton, Washington, and the inauguration of long-delayed improvements at Pearl Harbor.172

In its larger aspect perhaps the most significant result of the cruise was that it marked the further emergence of the United States as a world power.173 The American public, which  p420 had followed the course of the fleet with intense interest, lost much of its provincialism by studying the geography of other parts of the world and the people, as described in detail by special correspondents, who lived there. One prominent Australian wrote: "The delusions of distance and ignorance and the caricatures of humor have been corrected by the reality of contact."174 To some extent sectionalism was broken down by focusing attention on the needs and strategic advantages of the Pacific coast, and on the commercial opportunities that might be developed in the Pacific. As Roosevelt said after the return of the fleet, "nobody after this will forget that the American coast is on the Pacific as well as on the Atlantic."175 The visits to Hawaii and the Philippines emphasized the value of these places to a nation that essayed to set itself up as a naval power in the Pacific, and demonstrated to the natives, as well as to investors, that the United States was prepared to defend its outposts. It was also assumed — a thing difficult to prove — that the good will tour, by introducing the Americans favorably to foreign peoples, stimulated the demand for American goods. Beyond question the Monroe Doctrine took on an added significance, and it became increasingly evident that the United States was to be no idle spectator in the midst of international developments.

It will be remembered that Roosevelt described the cruise as the event in the first twelve years of the twentieth century which, together with the digging of the Panama Canal, most impressed foreign observers. Contemporaneously he stated his conviction that nothing had "occurred in the history of the navy of greater and more fortunate significance to this country. . ." p421 176 After examining this entire episode in detail, one has no disposition to quarrel with his assessment. Prior to 1908 no fleet approaching in strength that of the United States had ever made a voyage as far as the distance between Hampton Roads and San Francisco.177 Many foreign experts were confident that it could not be done successfully.178 Yet the fleet, in fighting trim, arrived at Magdalena Bay ahead of schedule, and then proceeded to circumnavigate the globe. Without serious mishap or delay, despite several terrific storms, and with unqualified success, the battleships arrived at Hampton Roads ready to start out again. Judged by every standard of naval efficiency, the fleet returned home, collectively and individually, a more effective fighting force than when it had started.179 Henceforth it was evident that the United States could defend both of its coasts with vigor and dispatch, and that as a naval power it was not to be trifled with. From France Ambassador Henry White wrote glowingly of the impression created, and he described how wonderful it was, in contrast with the old days when he had no fleet at his back, to represent a nation with such a formidable navy.180

In the light of the evidence presented, it would all seem as if Roosevelt had good grounds for asserting that the cruise of the fleet was his most notable contribution to peace. The trail of friendliness and good will that followed the fleet undoubtedly had permanent effects, especially upon the tens of thousands of impressionable children who welcomed the sailors in Japan. Barriers of ignorance and misunderstanding were  p422 broken down, and throughout the cruise the function of the navy as a police force and not as a threat was constantly emphasized. But with reference to peace Roosevelt was probably thinking particularly of Japan. At the time the cruise was announced war was a distinct possibility, and with the jingoes of both countries warming to their task, was fast becoming a probability. This unmistakable exhibition of naval power had a quieting effect upon the yellow press of Japan, but most important of all, the cruise gave the Japanese an opportunity to invite the fleet to their shores and demonstrate that their feelings towards the United States were those of the sincerest friendship. The ensuing reception dispelled all war clouds and paved the way for a diplomatic rapprochement which, a year before, had been thought impossible. Whether the situation would in time have righted itself is not for the historian to say; but it must be admitted that however untimely and ill‑advised the cruise may have appeared to unfriendly critics, Roosevelt's decision set in motion a series of events which undoubtedly hastened the understanding that followed.181 Referring in this connection to the Venezuelan episode and his alleged use of the big stick on the Kaiser, Roosevelt wrote:

The recent voyage of the fleet around the world was not the first occasion in which I have used it [big stick] to bring about prompt resumption of peaceful relations between this country and a foreign Power. But of course one of the conditions of such use is that it should be accompanied with every manifestation of politeness and friendship — manifestations which are sincere, by the way, for the foreign policy in which I believe is in very fact the policy of speaking softly and carrying a big stick. I want to make it evident to every foreign nation that I intend to do justice; and neither to wrong them nor to hurt their self-respect; but that on the other hand, I am both entirely ready and entirely able to see that our rights are maintained in their turn.182

The world cruise was characteristically Rooseveltian, done  p423 in the grand manner that Roosevelt loved. At the time it was announced the possibilities of misunderstanding and danger were great. The Japanese might have been goaded into a declaration of war; the fleet might have been wrecked in the straits of Magellan; it might have been pounced upon by the Japanese in Far Eastern waters; it might have been stranded in Australia while a European squadron was ravaging the Atlantic coast.183 Cautious statesmanship would have dictated a further postponement of the venture. But like a skillful card player Roosevelt carefully weighed the chances and decided to send the fleet. His correspondence abundantly reveals that he went into this enterprise with his eyes open. He knew the ships and men, and he was confident they could go around in safety — a confidence shared by the officers high in command.184 He had reason to believe that the odds were decidedly against war, and that, if he won, the cruise would have a most salutary effect. Had he lost, the condemnation of posterity would deservedly be wreaked upon his head. But he won, as he was accustomed to win when the stakes were high. Some have called it Rooseveltian luck; others have called it statesmanship. Call it what you will, the historian must admit that this venture, harebrained though it may have been regarded by many contemporaries, was far‑reaching in its results for good.

Thomas A. Bailey

Stanford University


The Author's Notes:

1 The writer is indebted to the Stanford University Council of Research in the Social Sciences for financial assistance that made possible the use of certain materials in Washington, D. C.

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2 Theodore Roosevelt, An Autobiography (New York, 1913), 563, 565.

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3 Roosevelt wrote: "I determined on the move without consulting the Cabinet, precisely as I took Panama without consulting the Cabinet. A council of war never fights, and in a crisis the duty of a leader is to lead and not to take refuge behind the generally timid wisdom of a multitude of councillors." Ibid., 563.

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4 Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1907, 7; Boston Evening Transcript, July 5, 1907; New York Times, July 6, 1907; San Francisco Chronicle, July 6, 1907.

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5 Boston Evening Transcript, July 1, 1907.

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6 Mahan to Roosevelt, January 10, 1907, Roosevelt Papers, Library of Congress. Hereafter cited as Roosevelt Papers.

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7 Roosevelt to Mahan, January 12, 1907, Roosevelt Papers.

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8 San Francisco Chronicle, March 14, 1907.

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9 Ibid., May 25, 1907; Wright (American Ambassador to Japan) to Root, June 12, 27, 1907, file 1797, Division of Communications and Records, Department of State. All file numbers hereafter cited, unless otherwise indicated, refer to this source.

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10 Boston Evening Transcript, June 11, 1907.

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11 For a convenient summary of a few of these expressions, see London Times, June 21, 29, 1907.

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12 Boston Evening Transcript, July 1, 5, 1907.

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13 London Times, July 3, 1907; San Francisco Chronicle, July 2, 1907; Henry Pringle, Theodore Roosevelt (New York, 1931), 410.

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14 New York Times, July 3, 1907.

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15 Ibid., July 5, 1907.

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16 Ibid. There were some who believed that Metcalf, with political ends in view, had a good deal to do with persuading Roosevelt to send the fleet.

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17 See ibid., July 6, 1907. For some time after this interview rumors were current that Metcalf would resign. The Roosevelt correspondence, however, contains no mention of this apparent indiscretion, and there is good evidence that the relations between the President and his secretary of the navy were particularly cordial for some time thereafter. See Roosevelt to Metcalf, November 13, 1908, Roosevelt Papers.

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18 Boston Evening Transcript, July 6, 1907.

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19 Ibid., July 9, 1907.

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20 New York Times, August 2, 24, 1907.

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21 Within a few days after the Pacific voyage had been announced, Roosevelt was making repeated references in his correspondence to the "world cruise." Roosevelt to Lodge, July 10, 1907; Roosevelt to Root, July 13, 23, 1907; Roosevelt to Speck von Sternberg, July 16, 1907; Roosevelt to Newberry, August 6, 10, 1907; Roosevelt to Senator Jonathan Bourne, August 13, 1907, Roosevelt Papers.

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22 Taft to Roosevelt, June 22, 1907, Roosevelt Papers.

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23 Lodge to Roosevelt, July 8, 1907, Roosevelt Papers.

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24 Roosevelt to Lodge, July 10, 1907, Roosevelt Papers.

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25 New York Times, July 3, 1907.

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26 North China Herald, July 19, 1907, 118.

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27 London Times, July 9, 1907.

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28 For a useful symposium of the views of the leading Japanese newspapers see Japan Weekly Mail, July 13, 1907, 30‑31. See also New York Times, July 8, 1907; London Times, July 11, 1907.

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29 Japan Weekly Mail, July 13, 1907, 30‑31, December 21, 1907, 690; North China Herald, July 12, 1907, 63; New York Times, December 20, 1907; London Times, July 9, November 6, 1907.

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30 Ibid., July 16, 1907.

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31 H. C. Lodge (ed.), Selections from the Correspondence of Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge (New York, 1925), II, 274‑75. Hereafter cited as Lodge, letters.

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32 London Times, July 12, 13, October 3, 1907; New York Times, July 12, 1907; North China Herald, July 12, 1907; Allan Nevins, Henry White (New York, 1930), 292‑93; D. S. Jordan, The Days of a Man (Yonkers‑on‑Hudson, 1922), II, 423. The New York correspondent of the London Times learned from a private source that Aoki's public statements were simply made for publication and that Japan resented this inopportune and tactless waving of the big stick in her face. London Times, July 13, 1907.

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33 Wright to Root, July 10, 1907, file 1797.

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34 Japan Weekly Mail, July 13, 1907, 31.

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35 London Times, October 3, 1907; San Francisco Chronicle, July 6, May 8, 1908; Fortnightly Review, February, 1908, 211. It was also suggested that the cruise was designed to stimulate recruiting, and Roosevelt testified that for the first time since the Spanish War the battleships put to sea overmanned. Autobiography, 566; Harper's Weekly, February 29, 1908, 16.

Thayer's Note: Design or not, morale and enlistments benefited greatly from the cruise ("Join the Navy and See the World"): G. C. O'Gara, Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of the Modern Navy, pp97‑98.
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36 London Times, December 18, 1907, June 24, 1908; San Francisco Argonaut, October 5, 1907, 212; Fortnightly Review, February, 1908, 211. The article in this journal by Sydney Brooks developed at some length the relation of the cruise to the Pacific rôle of the United States. It struck Roosevelt as being "so sympathetic and appreciative" that he sent a personal letter of congratulation to the writer. Roosevelt to Brooks, March 21, 1908, Roosevelt Papers.

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37 Roosevelt, Autobiography, 564‑565.

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38 Roosevelt to Newberry, August 10, 17, 1907; Admiral W. H. Brownson to Roosevelt, August 17, 1907, Roosevelt Papers.

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39 See Roosevelt to Newberry, July 24, 1907; Roosevelt to von Sternberg, July 16, 1907; Roosevelt to Albert Shaw, September 3, 1907, Roosevelt Papers. Captain A. T. Mahan stated that such a practice cruise was imperative, particularly since "the navy has only now reached the numbers, sufficiently homogeneous, to make the move exhaustively instructive." A. T. Mahan, "The True Significance of the Pacific Cruise," in Scientific American, December 7, 1907, 407. This consideration may also have appealed to Roosevelt. See Roosevelt to Lodge, July 10, 1907, Roosevelt Papers.

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40 Roosevelt, Autobiography, 564. See also Roosevelt to Lodge, July 10, 1907; Roosevelt to Root, July 13, 23, 1907, Roosevelt Papers.

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41 Roosevelt to Taft, August 21, 1907, Roosevelt Papers.

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42 See Independent, December 26, 1907, 1546, 1548; Harper's Weekly, November 30, 1907, 1755; Literary Digest, July 13, 1907, 41; Current Literature, November, 1907, 480.

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43 The Washington correspondent of the New York Times wrote that "no grown man in Washington will believe that if the whole navy goes at once to the Pacific coast it can be for any other reason than because trouble is expected with Japan." New York Times, July 5, 1907. The New York correspondent of the London Times wrote: "All of which deceives nobody. America is not going to remove the best part of her fleet from the Atlantic for the purpose of seeing how successfully it can make a long and trying voyage." London Times, July 6, 1907. For similar expressions see Fortnightly Review, February, 1908, 211, 215; Living Age, January 11, 1908, 121.

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44 Nevins, White, 292.

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45 J. B. Bishop, Theodore Roosevelt and His Time (New York, 1920), II, 64.

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46 Nevins, White, 292‑293. Bishop quotes Roosevelt as having said that "the Japanese people should not think that his action had been taken in fear of Japan, and he accordingly decided to send the battle fleet into the Pacific and around the world to show that the United States earnestly desired peace, but was not in the least afraid of war." Bishop, Roosevelt, II, 65. The Washington correspondent of the London Times reported that it was rumored in Washington that Roosevelt wanted to send the fleet just to show that he was not afraid of trouble. London Times, October 3, 1907.

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47 Bishop, Roosevelt, II, 249‑50.

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48 Roosevelt wanted all twenty battleships to go, if possible. Roosevelt to Newberry, August 6, 1907, Roosevelt Papers. It is significant that only four battleships remained in the Atlantic, and they were all undergoing repairs. Roosevelt to L. F. Abbott, September 13, 1907, Roosevelt Papers.

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49 Roosevelt to Root, July 23, 1907, Roosevelt Papers. German high naval officials agreed that the sending of the fleet was the right thing to do. Charlemagne Tower (American Ambassador to Germany) to Roosevelt, November 2, 1907, Roosevelt Papers. The Kaiser remarked that the dispatch of the battleships had greatly strengthened the position of the United States, perhaps "even to the extent of preventing an immediate attack upon us by the Japanese." Tower to Roosevelt, January 28, 1908, Roosevelt Papers.

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50 Roosevelt to Newberry, August 6, 1907, Roosevelt Papers.

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51 New York Times, September 27, 29, 1907.

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52 Roosevelt to Albert Shaw, September 3, 1907, Roosevelt Papers. Four years later, in October, 1911, Roosevelt wrote that "every particle of trouble with the Japanese Government and the Japanese press stopped like magic as soon as they found that our fleet had actually sailed, and was obviously in very excellent trim." Bishop, Roosevelt, II, 250.

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53 O'Brien to Root, October 25, 1907, file 1797.

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54 Roosevelt, Autobiography, 568. See also Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1908, 5‑6.

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55 The cost of the voyage was $1,619,843.32 above the normal cost of maintaining the fleet in home waters. Information Relative to the Voyage of the United States Atlantic Fleet Around the World (Washington, 1910), 16.

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56 See London Times, December 16, 1907; Current Literature, November, 1907, 480.

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57 Roosevelt, Autobiography, 568. See also Roosevelt to von Sternberg, July 16, 1907; Roosevelt to Newberry, July 30, 1907, Roosevelt Papers. To Congressman E. A. Hayes Roosevelt wrote on September 18, 1907: ". . . I am Commander-in‑Chief, and my decision is absolute in the matter." See also Roosevelt to Taft, September 5, 1907, Roosevelt Papers.

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58 Roosevelt to Albert Shaw, September 3, 1907, Bishop, Roosevelt, II, 66‑67.

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59 New York Times, October 4, 1907. In a similar vein the San Francisco Argonaut criticized "Easterners who regard the United States as a country bounded on the East by the Atlantic and on the west by the Alleghenies." September 28, 1907, 196.

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60 Roosevelt to Lodge, Sep. 2, 1907, Lodge, Letters, II, 279.

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61 New York Times, September 29, 1907; London Times, September 30, 1907; Mahan, loc. cit., 407.

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62 London Times, September 30, 1907.

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63 Taft to Roosevelt (cable), October 18, 1907, Roosevelt Papers; Dodge (Tokio chargé) to Root, October 11, 1907, file 1797; O'Brien to Root, October 3, 1907, file 8422.

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64 London Times, October 8, 1907.

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65 Mahan, loc. cit., 412; London Times, October 3, 1907.

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66 Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1907, 6.

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67 London Times, December 24, 1907, January 3, 18, 1908; New York Times, January 19, 1908.

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68 Roosevelt, Autobiography, 564.

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69 On November 1, 1907, the United States had 29 vessels of 10,000 tons or over built or building, as compared with 13 for Japan. The tonnage figures as of June 1, 1907, were:

England 1,633,116
United States 611,616
France 609,079
Germany 529,032
Japan 374,701

Senate Documents, 60 cong., 1 sess. no. 100, 587‑588; Scientific American, December 7, 1907, 414.

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70 Occasional remarks of the officers and certain details in the equipping of the ships indicated that a world cruise was definitely in view. New York Times, December 15, 1907.

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71 Roosevelt to Bourne, August 13, 1907; Roosevelt to E. A. Hayes, September 19, 1907; Roosevelt to Lodge, July 10, 1907, Roosevelt Papers.

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72 London Times, February 22, 1908.

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73 After the fleet had put out to sea, an unofficial signal from the flagship informed the officers and men, on December 16, 1907, that it was the "President's intention to have the fleet return to the Atlantic Coast by way of the Mediterranean." Franklin Matthews, With the Battle Fleet (New York, 1909), 14. This writer, a special correspondent for the New York Sun, was one of the few civilians who accompanied the fleet on its entire cruise. The book consists of a series of letters, written immediately after the events described and checked by naval officers, which were originally published in the Sun. Ibid., xi.

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74 Ibid., 38, 184; W. W. Handley (consul at Trinidad) to the Assistant Secretary of State, December 31, 1907, file 8258. See also New York Times, December 25, 1907.

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75 Quoted in ibid., January 14, 1908.

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76 Evans to Root, January 17, 1908, file 6072, Bureau of Navigation, Navy Department.

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77 New York Times, January 13, 14, 16, 1908.

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78 Ibid.

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79 I. B. Dudley (Ambassador to Brazil) to Root, January 27, 1908, file 8258. One Brazilian journal, the Diario de Noticias, remarked that the stay of the fleet was "worth another trip of Mr. Root." Translated enclosure in ibid. President Penna, in a message to Congress, dwelt particularly on the "cordial manifestations of esteem" which had resulted from the visit. Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1908, 43. Hereafter cited as Foreign Relations.

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80 Few important nations of the world failed to extend to the United States, directly or indirectly, an invitation to send the fleet to their shores. The Department of State was subjected to no little embarrassment in refusing these requests, but if they had all been accepted the fleet would have been drawn far from its course and would have returned home dangerously behind schedule. Coaling and harbor facilities also had to be taken into consideration. Consequently, few changes were made in the original itinerary, and those for very good reasons.

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81 Matthews, Battle Fleet, 115 et seq.

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82 See Robley D. Evans, A Sailor's Log (New York, 1901), 258 et seq.

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83 Hicks to Root, February 21, 1908, file 8258. In his annual message to Congress President Montt of Chile stressed "the demonstration of international courtesy made to us lately by a great fleet of the United States" as a manifestation "of sincere friendship which ought to inspire confidence in the Government and people of the Great Republic." Foreign Relations, 1908, 58, 59.

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84 Matthews wrote that the Callao reception, though less demonstrative than that of Rio, was probably the most heartfelt encountered in Latin America. Matthews, Battle Fleet, 213‑214, 312. See also New York Times, February 25, 1908.

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85 Combs to Root, March 4, 1908; Taylor to the Assistant Secretary of State, March 12, 1908, file 8258. Felicitous messages were exchanged between Roosevelt and Pardo, and the latter, in a message to Congress, referred to the visit of the fleet as "evident proof of the cordial relations which unite the two Governments, and in which the people of the one and the other country fully share. . ." Foreign Relations, 1908, 683. See also New York Times, February 25, 1908.

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86 See Matthews, Battle Fleet, 99. It should be noted that the torpedo boat flotilla visited a number of Latin American ports not touched by the fleet. Roosevelt, Autobiography, 566‑67.

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87 Quoted in Review of Reviews, May, 1908, 609.

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88 New York Times, July 23, 1908.

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89 Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1908, 5.

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90 New York Times, March 13, 1908.

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91 See San Francisco Argonaut, May 9, 1908, 305; Harper's Weekly, July 11, 1908, 30; World's Work, May, 1908, 10177.

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92 Nation, March 19, 1908, 250; February 25, 1909, 181.

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93 London Times, March 9, 1908; Literary Digest, March 21, 1908, 393; Review of Reviews, April, 1908, 402; Spectator, August 15, 1908, 218.

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94 New York Times, March 14, 1908.

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95 Prime Minister Deakin had approached the American consul general at Melbourne on this subject as early as December, 1907. John Bray to the Assistant Secretary of State, December 24, 1907, file 8258. Deakin used his influence with Whitelaw Reid, American Ambassador to England, and the invitation was finally presented by Ambassador Bryce, who was friendly to the scheme. Deakin to Reid, January 7, 1908, copy; Reid to Root, March 3, 1908; Bryce to Root, March 2, 1908, file 8258.

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96 Roosevelt, Autobiography, 568; see also Roosevelt to Metcalf, February 21, 1908, Roosevelt Papers.

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97 Melbourne Argus, March 16, 1908.

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98 London Times, February 24, 1908.

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99 Takahira to Root, March 18, 1908, file 8258.

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100 New York Times, March 21, 1908; Bacon (assistant secretary of state) to Takahira, March 20, 1908, file 8258. The matter of granting shore leave occasioned a considerable amount of discussion in official circles. Roosevelt to Metcalf, April 17, 1908, Roosevelt Papers.

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101 O'Brien to Root, April 16, May 20, June 19, 1908, file 8258. Takahira made inquiries and reported that the Japanese would "be greatly disappointed in case the whole fleet could not visit Japan." Takahira to Root, May 15, 1908, file 8258.

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102 London Times, March 26, 1908.

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103 Quoted in ibid., March 23, 1908. The New York correspondent of the London Times wrote: "Few events have been hailed with more genuine satisfaction by the entire people and Press of the country than the proposed visit of the American fleet to Japan. . . It should be regarded as putting the seal of real international friendship upon the final settlement of the differences between the two nations." Ibid.

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104 The Japanese invitation was such a clever move that the suggestion was made in certain quarters that it may have been prompted by Japan's ally, England. See Bristol Western Daily Press, March 23, 1908; Bristol Times and Mirror, March 21, 1908.

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105 San Francisco Argonaut, May 23, 1908, 338; Matthews, Battle Fleet, 318.

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106 San Francisco Chronicle, May 22, 1908.

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107 Evans was in extremely poor health and would have reached the retirement age before the return of the fleet. He retired with honors. See Roosevelt to Evans, March 23, 1908, Roosevelt Papers. Sperry was a singularly happy choice for a position which required a speechmaker, a diplomat, and an admiral. Roosevelt was highly appreciative of his services. Roosevelt to Sperry, October 28, 1908, 1908, February 27, 1909; Roosevelt to Mahan, October 1, 1908; Roosevelt to Admiral J. E. Pillsbury, October 23, 1908, Roosevelt Papers.

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108 San Francisco Chronicle, July 18, 19, 1908; Franklin Matthews, Back to Hampton Roads (New York, 1909), 1‑27.

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109 Ibid., 29. This expression took hold. See Literary Digest, February 27, 1909, 327; Harper's Weekly, February 20, 1909, 9.

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110 London Times, August 10, 1908.

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111 See ibid., August 21, 1908.

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112 Seaton Schroeder, "America's Welcome Abroad," in Independent, 1909, 478.

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113 Roosevelt, Autobiography, 568.

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114 London Times, August 10, 11, September 5, 8, 1908; Melbourne Age, August 12, 1908.

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115 London Times, September 5, 1908; San Francisco Argonaut, September 26, 1908, 195; Matthews, Back to Hampton Roads, 129.

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116 London Times, September 5, 1908; Matthews, Back to Hampton Roads, 128‑129.

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117 Melbourne Age, September 9, 1908; Literary Digest, August 22, 1908, 242.

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118 Japan Weekly Mail, September 5, 1908, 2781; Literary Digest, August 22, 1908, 239.

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119 O'Brien to Root, October 25, 1908, file 8258.

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120 London Times, December 14, 1907, February 1, 1908; New York Times, July 8, 1907.

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121 London Times, January 4, 1908, quoting the Sydney Morning Herald.

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122 See Matthews, Back to Hampton Roads, 87.

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123 London Times, July 22, 1908.

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124 Melbourne Age, February 25, 1908.

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125 Ibid., August 25, 1908; London Times, September 5, 1908; Matthews, Back to Hampton Roads, 67.

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126 See also Melbourne Argus, March 17, 1908.

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127 For expressions in speeches see London Times, August 13, 1908; Matthews, Back to Hampton Roads, 66.

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128 London Times, August 10, 1908, quoting from Wellington Post and Wellington Times; Melbourne Age, August 10, 19, 1908.

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129 A number of Canadians entertained similar ideas. Mackenzie King, Canadian Commissioner of Labor and Immigration, personally thanked Roosevelt most earnestly for having sent the fleet to the Pacific. Roosevelt to Arthur Lee, February 2, 1908, Roosevelt Papers.

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130 San Francisco Chronicle, October 2, 3, 1908; Matthews, Back to Hampton Roads, 156‑157.

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131 Roosevelt, Autobiography, 568.

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132 Matthews, Back to Hampton Roads, 183; San Francisco Chronicle, October 19, 20, 25, 1908; New York Times, October 20, 24, 1908.

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133 O'Brien to Root, October 25, 1908, file 8258.

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134 Ibid.; Matthews, Back to Hampton Roads, 187; Japan Weekly Mail, October 24, 1908, 487, October 31, 1908, 519; San Francisco Chronicle, October 19‑25, 1908.

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135 See Literary Digest, October 31, 1908, 614; New York Times, October 20, 1908.

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136 O'Brien to Root, October 25, 1908, file 8258. O'Brien enclosed with this dispatch long extracts from ten of the leading Japanese newspapers showing the extreme gratification of the Japanese over the visit. It is also significant that the Tokio stock market was stronger during the first week of October than it had been for the past two years. Review of Reviews, November, 1908, 539.

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137 See San Francisco Argonaut, October 31, 1908, 276.

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138 Matthews, Back to Hampton Roads, 184.

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139 New York Times, October 30, 1908.

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140 Schroeder, loc. cit., 479.

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141 Root to Wu Ting Fang, March 24, 1908, file 8258.

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142 Charles Denby (consul general at Shanghai) to Root, April 18, 1908; Rockhill to Root (telegram), April 18, 1908; Rockhill to Root, April 21, 1908; Root to Rockhill (telegram), April 28, 1908, file 8258.

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143 See London Times, July 20, October 31, 1908. Early in October, 1907, Taft wrote: "The truth is that the Chinese are now very favorable to us. Indeed they are growing more and more suspicious of the Japanese and the English and the French in their desire for exclusive concessions and they turn to us as the only country that is really unselfish in the matter of obtaining territories and monopolies. I think it therefore worth while to cultivate them and accept courtesies at their hands." Taft to Roosevelt, October 5, 1907, file 1797.

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144 North China Herald, October 31, 1908, 248; Japan Weekly Mail, November 7, 1908, 552; November 14, 1908, 585; San Francisco Chronicle, October 26, 1908.

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145 J. H. Arnold to the Assistant Secretary of State, November 27, 1908, file 8258.

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146 Foreign Relations, 1908, 510‑512.

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147 Ibid., 503‑505.

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148 London Times, May 8, 1908.

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149 Foreign Relations, 1908, 518‑523.

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150 For text see ibid., 510‑512.

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151 See Roosevelt to Aoki, December 19, 1908, Roosevelt Papers; O'Brien to Root, November 3, 1907, file 1797; O'Brien to Root, December 12, 1908 (enclosure), file 16533.

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152 The London Times spoke of the agreement as "a remarkable diplomatic achievement to which the visit of Mr. Taft to Japan and the reception of the American fleet in Japanese waters doubtless contributed." November 30, 1908. The New York Times observed: "It may be regarded as the echo in diplomacy of the splendid manifestation of friendship in Japan on the occasion of the visit of the fleet." November 29, 1908. See also Independent, December 24, 1908, 1558.

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153 Roosevelt to Arthur Lee, December 20, 1908, Roosevelt Papers. Italics Roosevelt's.

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154 On the return voyage the fleet touched at Colombo, Suez, and Gibraltar.

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155 San Francisco Argonaut, May 23, 1908, 338; New York Nation, September 3, 1908, 199.

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156 Roosevelt, Autobiography, 566.

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157 Quoted in Literary Digest, March 6, 1909, 366.

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158 London Times, February 22, 1909. Shortly after the return of the fleet Roosevelt wrote that at first "it seemed as if popular feeling was nearly a unit" against him, and that after the safe return it was "nearly a unit in favor of what I did." Roosevelt to Taft, March 3, 1909, Roosevelt Papers.

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159 See Advocate of Peace, January, 1908, 2, April, 1908, 73.

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160 Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1907, 8‑10; ibid., 1908, 10; Literary Digest, May 8, 1909, 788; London Times, June 29, July 8, November 13, 1908.

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161 Ibid., August 21, October 2, 1908; Harper's Weekly, July 11, 1908, 30; Literary Digest, April 10, 1908, 589.

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162 See Winston S. Churchill, The World Crisis, 1911‑1914 (London, 1923), 38.

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163 Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1908, 10.

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164 Advocate of Peace, July, 1908, 154, November, 1908, 240.

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165 Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1908, 10.

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166 Advocate of Peace, May, 1908, 98.

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167 Roosevelt to Brooks, December 28, 1908, Roosevelt Papers.

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168 Roosevelt confessed privately that he had demanded four so as to be sure of two. Roosevelt to White, June 30, 1908, Roosevelt Papers.

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169 Cong. Record, 60 cong., 1 sess., 2372 et seq.; New York Times, September 27, October 5, 1907; London Times, October 4, 1907; Roosevelt to Lodge, September 29, 1907; Roosevelt to Knox, February 8, 1909, Roosevelt Papers.

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170 Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1908, 6; ibid., 1909, 29. Sperry to Pillsbury, July 25, 1908, file 6072, Bureau of Navigation, Navy Department; Roosevelt, Autobiography, 571, 572; New York Times, January 17, 1908; London Times, January 16, 1907; Scientific American, February 20, 1909, 146.

Thayer's Note: An example of the kind of technical improvements that, not unexpectedly, grew out of the cruise is given by G. C. O'Gara in Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of the Modern Navy, p52.
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171 Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1911, 59‑60; ibid., 1913, 16; Roosevelt, Autobiography, 571.

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172 Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1908, 33; ibid., 1909, 30; ibid., 1910, 36; San Francisco Argonaut, June 6, 1908, 370; San Francisco Chronicle, July 5, 1907, May 8, May 22, July 18, 1908.

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173 A recent writer described the event as "an incident of America's coming of age in the family of nations." Mark Sullivan, Our Times: Pre‑War America (New York, 1930), III, 514.

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174 G. H. Reid, "An After-Glance at the Visit of the American Fleet to Australia," in North American Review, March, 1909, 409.

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175 New York Times, February 23, 1909. One of the results of the voyage was a persistent attempt on the part of an element on the Pacific coast to secure a permanent battleship fleet in the Pacific, but Roosevelt, more convinced than ever of the folly of dividing the fleet before the completion of the canal, steadfastly resisted these efforts. See Roosevelt to Knox, February 8, 1909; Roosevelt to Taft, March 3, 1909, Roosevelt Papers.

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176 Roosevelt to G. H. Grosvenor, January 28, 1908, Roosevelt Papers. He also wrote that he had "anticipated good in every way . . . but it has far more than come up to my anticipations." Roosevelt to Sperry, December 5, 1908, Roosevelt Papers.

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177 The voyage of the ill‑fated Rozhestvenski from the Baltic to Far Eastern waters, 1904‑1905, was most frequently compared with that of the Americans. The Russian fleet, however, was much less formidable, did not travel nearly so far, and arrived in wretched condition.

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178 Von Tirpitz told Roosevelt in 1910 that he had not believed that the cruise could be made successfully, and that the English Naval Office and Foreign Office had held the same view. Bishop, Roosevelt, II, 249.

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179 See Roosevelt to Kaiser, January 2, 1909, Roosevelt Papers.

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180 White to Roosevelt, March 20, 1908, January 31, 1909, Roosevelt Papers.

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181 In 1910, Von Tirpitz and the Kaiser both told Roosevelt that the voyage had "done more for peace in the Orient than anything else that could possibly have happened." Bishop, Roosevelt, II, 250‑251. Ambassador Tower reported that the Kaiser told him that in his opinion the fleet prevented an immediate attack by Japan and "the dismemberment of China." The Kaiser's estimates during this period, however, were unreliable. Tower to Roosevelt, January 28, 1908, Roosevelt Papers.

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182 Roosevelt to Whitelaw Reid, December 4, 1908, Roosevelt Papers.

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183 Roosevelt considered this point carefully and concluded that relations with all of the European powers were so good that "it seems in the highest degree unlikely that trouble will occur pending the absence of the fleet" and that he "could not send it to the Pacific at a better time. . ." Roosevelt to L. F. Abbott, September 13, 1907. See also Roosevelt to Newberry, August 6, 1907, Roosevelt Papers.

[decorative delimiter]

184 Roosevelt, Autobiography, 566.


Thayer's Notes:

a For a general overview of the cruise, illustrated with some contemporary cartoons, see G. C. O'Gara, Theodore Roosevelt and the Modern Navy, pp71‑81. An enjoyable anecdotal account by a lieutenant who joined the cruise on the West Coast is provided by Adm. Yates Stirling, Sea Duty, pp113‑121. A briefer anecdotal account by an ensign, somewhat colored by his later experiences in World War II, is given by Adm. Bill Halsey, Admiral Halsey's Story, pp10‑14.

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b The Baltimore Affair was nominally caused by an attack on American sailors from the U. S. S. Baltimore by a Chilean mob in Valparaiso on October 16, 1891; but ultimately by Chilean rage at the Itata incident, May thru October of that year, in which the United States forced a Chilean naval ship, Itata, to obey neutrality laws and surrender to a United States marshal — although the result was admittedly not achieved by American naval prowess, but by negotiation. The Baltimore Affair came to an end with Chile backing down to a threat of war by the United States (Galdames, History of Chile, tr. Cox, pp403‑404). The story of both incidents is told in detail in "The Itata Incident" (Hispanic American Historical Review, V.195‑226).


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