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Ch. 10 Pt. 1

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Admiral William Veazie Pratt

Gerald E. Wheeler

U. S. Government Printing Office
Washington, D. C.

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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Chapter 11
This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

Chapter X

Chief of Naval Operations

[Part 2 of 2]

 p345  At the same time that President Hoover was pressing the nation and the Navy to economize, and was agreeing to a year's truce in naval construction, events in the Far East undercut the logic of his efforts and further exposed the conflict between his thinking and that of the Navy's leader­ship. On 18 September 1931 elements of the Japanese Kwantung army began taking control of the Chinese Manchurian provinces. Within six months Chinese military forces were driven out, the Japanese controlled the region, and the puppet republic of Manchukuo had declared its independence. Ironically, most of this action had taken place during the months that the League of Nations hammered out its resolution on an armaments truce and the major powers, Japan included, prepared their delegations for the February opening of the General Disarmament Conference. For Secretary of State Stimson and Secretary of the Navy Adams the strain of trying to accommodate President Hoover's approach to defense matters with the realities of the times must have made each feel he was accompanying Alice through the looking glass. American interests in Asia were being challenged, but the Presidential response was fewer ships, less money, more emphasis on naval limitation, and cautious warnings to Japan.

The Navy's reaction to the "Manchurian Incident" (the contemporary Japanese euphemism to describe their actions) was low‑key and administratively controlled. As CNO, Admiral Pratt could move the U. S. Fleet and the Asiatic Fleet as he saw fit, though he would not make major changes in fleet dispositions without the approval of Secretary Adams. Adams would agree to nothing that would have international repercussions without clearance from the State Department. Once the Japanese began moving, it was evident that American interests in Asia were jeopardized. The Open Door Policy, with its emphasis on maintaining access to Chinese markets and preserving of China's territorial and administrative integrity, was immediately compromised by the Kwantung Army's actions in Manchuria. If Japan's program to engross all of China was successful, then it was possible that the Philippines would become a naked salient of American commitment. Because of the 1922 Five-Power Naval Treaty, neither the Philippines nor Guam had defenses powerful enough to allow the U. S. Fleet to operate from their harbors. In brief, all of the operational difficulties militating against the projection of American naval power into Asiatic waters to defend American Asiatic interests now stood in clear relief. Years of war games had shown this situation to exist; now  p346 with the reality of Japanese aggression made manifest, the theoretical lessons of the war games became the new reality.

Between September 1931 and the following January the official American response to the Manchurian Incident was designed to end the conflict by encouraging Japan and China to negotiate their differences and arrive at a peaceful settlement. The State Department called attention to violations of the Kellogg-Briand Treaty, and the nation sat in at League of Nations discussions on whether Japan had violated the League Charter as well as the Kellogg-Briand Pact. Underlying the United States approach to the Asian crisis was an attempt to give Prime Minister Wakatsuki and Foreign Minister Shidehara an opportunity to regain control over the military without foreign pressures fanning any ultra-nationalistic reactions. Secretary Stimson also hoped that a display of interest in the League's deliberations would encourage other nations to take actions similar to that of America. This early phase of watchful waiting and hoping ended on 7 January 1932 because Japan's armed forces continued to expand their control in Manchuria.

During January and February of 1932 President Hoover authorized his Secretary of State to put a little more pressure on Japan. In identical notes to China and Japan, dated 7 January 1932, Stimson declared that the United States would not admit the legality of any changes brought about in Chinese-Japanese relations that would impair American treaty rights in China, nor would the United States recognize any treaties or agreements which were brought about by means contrary to the Kellogg-Briand Treaty.​49 The British were invited to join the United States in the non‑recognition note; but much to Stimson's irritation, they chose to follow a different path. Working through the League, Britain's Foreign Secretary was able to promote a non‑recognition statement that was more broadly based than Stimson's note to China and Japan.50

In late January the Japanese navy opened military operations in Shanghai designed to break Chinese boycotts and harassment of Japanese citizens in the area. Secretary Stimson again sought British support in efforts to get the Japanese to pull back; but the Secretary was rebuffed. At the White House he proposed a variety of measures to challenge the Japanese, but most were too militant for the President.  p347 Finally, on 23 February 1932, he published a letter written to Senator William E. Borah, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. In this public statement he reviewed American Far Eastern policy, the Washington treaties of 1921 and 1922, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and the London Naval Treaty. He called particular attention to the Nine-Power Treaty, which affirmed the Open Door policy, and its relation to the Five-Power Naval Treaty:

It must be remembered also that this Treaty was one of several treaties and agreements entered into at the Washington Conference by the various powers concerned, all of which were interrelated and interdependent. No one of these treaties can be disregarded without disturbing the general understanding and equilibrium which were intended to be accomplished and effected by the group of agreements arrived at in their entirety. . . . The willingness of the American Government to surrender its then commanding lead in battle­ship construction and leave its positions at Guam and in the Philippines without further fortification, was predicated upon, among other things, the self-denying covenants contained in the Nine Power Treaty. . . . One cannot discuss the possibility of modifying or abrogating those provisions of the Nine Power Treaty without considering at the same time the other promises upon which they were really dependent.​51

The message, of course, was that Japan must end its assault on the Open Door in China or America might have to abrogate the naval treaties. This use of "roof‑top diplomacy" was a necessary substitute for firmer measures. President Hoover would not permit any direct message to Japan, nor would he allow the use of naval blockade, embargo, or boycott measures against the island kingdom. It was a policy of bluff, a transparent one, and the Japanese undoubtedly saw through it.52

The Navy provided a bit of a backdrop to Secretary Stimson's actions, but it was terribly evident to most who understood these things that it was merely stagecraft. The Asiatic Fleet was in poor shape materially. Houston was a beautiful flagship. In fact, to Admiral C. B. McVay, the Commander in Chief, Asiatic Fleet (CINCAF) in April 1931, "Houston makes much 'face' for us." But the rest of  p348 his vessels ruined the image.​53 A year of further economic stringency had not helped the fleet and the new CINCAF, Admiral M. M. Taylor, knew its limitations in February 1932. The Battle Force, reinforced by Cruiser Division Three from the Scouting Force, held its maneuvers in Hawaii during January and February 1932. Under Rear Admiral Harry Yarnell's command, the aviation squadrons successfully attacked Oahu from the carriers, anticipating the Japanese by almost a decade. A few weeks later the Scouting Force transited the Panama Canal and U. S. Fleet maneuvers were conducted between Hawaii and the mainland. It was coincidence that the Hawaiian maneuvers coincided with the new Japanese aggression in Shanghai, but Stimson and others hoped it would serve as a demonstration to the Japanese.​54 Unfortunately the Japanese understood that the schedule for maneuvers had been set more than a year before. Yet a bit of pressure was exercised, and recognized as such, when the CNO announced that the Scouting Force would remain in the Pacific after the close of maneuvers in March and that it would be augmented by the battle­ships and destroyers from the Training Squadron and some Special Service Squadron vessels.​55 What began as Fleet Problem XIII for the Scouting Force turned into a stay of indeterminate length in the Pacific.

To the casual observer of naval affairs it might appear that the concentration of most of the U. S. Fleet in the Pacific, in support of the nation's Far East policy, would have been just the tonic needed to lift the service's flagging spirits. But it wasn't. Instead, the actions taken by the CNO merely brought to the surface the fact that the Navy's flag officers were of many minds when it came to current Administration policy. As an institution, the General Board had long accepted as fact that Japan was the national "enemy" (today the term would be "threat") and eventually the conflict of interests between the two nations would lead to war. In 1927 the Board accepted the premise that Japan's goal was "political, commercial, and military domination of the Western Pacific."​56 The events of 1931‑1932 merely confirmed this premise. Led by Rear Admiral Bristol, a former Asiatic Fleet Commander (1927‑1929), the Board stood foursquare for maintaining the Open Door, resisting Philippine independence measures, and promoting  p349 American commerce in the Orient. On the other hand, Admiral Taylor, the current CINCAF; his relief in 1933, F. B. Upham; and the respected Rear Admiral W. D. Leahy, destined to become CNO in January 1937, all shared a common feeling that the United States had so few genuine interests in China that it was foolish to be needling the Japanese. Leahy summed up a lot of service opinion when he wrote in his diary:

I do not understand what the Japanese are trying to do. . . . It would seem that the United States has little interest there but may be drawn into a war in the Orient by the desire of Europe to have somebody else preserve its trade advantages in China. It would be wise for America to keep hands off before it is too late.​57


Today press news by radio brings us information that the training squadron and all available ships in the Atlantic have been ordered to the Pacific Ocean "for maneuvers. . . ."

Lacking any information as to a reasonable excuse for getting into trouble in the Orient at this time it seems that a movement of all ships to the Pacific can only intensify the existing unfavorable attitude of the Orient toward us. It definitely looks like a bluff that the other side may have to call whether it wants to or not.​58

When writing to his brother, Admiral Taylor felt China was "up to her old tricks trying to get someone, preferably the U. S., to fight her battles for her." A year later he concluded that Secretary Stimson had "botched" things badly because he had forgotten that a legalistic judgment against Japan was worthless unless the public and a sheriff backed the verdict. "It seems to me that one of the most dangerous persons in the world is a lawyer turned diplomat. . . . So in diplomacy, treaties can be quoted, but what is their value as a deterrent to a nation determined on a course of action unless violation brings in its train the international policy represented by fleets and troops."​59 Admiral F. B. Upham, Taylor's relief as CINCAF, had a simple prescription: the United States should clear out of the Orient and close its markets to Japanese products.​60 Finally, Pratt's old friend, Admiral F. H. Schofield (CINCUS in 1931‑9132), spelled out very precisely the danger into which America was drifting. In his annual report for the fiscal  p350 year 1932 he opened with this phrase: "The existing Fleet of the United States is not adequate to accomplish the 'Fundamental Policy of the United States'. . . ."​61 That Fundamental Naval Policy was:

To maintain the Navy in sufficient strength to support the national policies and commerce, and to guard the continental and overseas possessions of the United States.

We can see that Admiral Pratt represented another variant of service opinion and stood in rather clear opposition to men like Admirals Bristol, Leahy, or Taylor. He was an internationalist, not an isolationist and a nationalist in the tradition of Leahy or Taylor. His experiences with the Japanese had been professionally satisfactory and he had little personal animus toward them. Undoubtedly he was disappointed at their behavior toward China, but he distinguished between the Army and the Navy and felt the former was to blame for the troubles. Though his papers say little on the subject, Pratt must have been disappointed with the British. He had believed for more than a decade that between the two nations the world could be kept peaceful and in good order. Now, with the first real opportunity to test their ability to levy a "Pax Anglo-Americana," the British had let him down. In view of British naval inaction, and his knowledge that President Hoover did not intend to go beyond Secretary Stimson's letter writing, there was little that Admiral Pratt could do or recommend. The Secretary of State had consulted him and General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.MacArthur a few times during the crisis, and even had arranged for Army troops in the Philippines and Asiatic Fleet Marines to be sent to Shanghai to protect American interests and property, but on the whole neither the CNO nor the Army Chief of Staff played a very important role in the Manchurian episode.​62 Had the Administration planned to take a more active part, to the point of seriously challenging Japan, it goes without saying that the story would have been much different from the Navy's point of view.

During the months that the leader­ship of the State and Navy Departments worried their way through the Manchurian and Shanghai crises, they also had to prepare for the February 1932 opening of the  p351 World Disarmament Conference in Geneva. To the Western European Division officers in State, it was quite obvious that neither the Navy nor the War Department was very interested in the conference. But the Navy people allowed their feelings to show more openly. Recognizing the hostility of the General Board to any further naval reductions or limitation, because the Administration appeared in no hurry to build up the 1930 treaty allowances, Secretary Stimson requested that Admiral Pratt name a naval advisor and three technical assistants for the United States delegation. Once the CNO selected his men, Secretary Adams passed their names along to Stimson and then to the President for approval. While the General Board undoubtedly knew who had been chosen, the Senior Member's views were not solicited and the names were formally communicated only after the President had made the appointments. Admiral Pratt had designated Rear Admiral A. J. Hepburn to be the Naval Advisor and Captain A. H. Van Keuren, Commander T. C. Kinkaid, and Commander R. K. Turner to work  p352 as Technical Assistants. Hepburn and Van Keuren were considered close to Pratt and sympathetic with his views, and Kinkaid and Turner had the technical expertise that was badly needed. J. Pierrepoint Moffat, then assisting the Western European Division, commented in his diary that the naval group "shows that the Administration is able to dispense with the services of the big Navy group as represented by the General Board." It took little prescience for him to observe further: "I fear the General Board will attempt to make trouble yet."63

Though directly assisting the Administration in its planning for the Geneva meeting, Admiral Pratt still pressed to have the Navy brought to treaty strength. During January and February, the CNO and Secretary Adams spoke frankly to Congress about the need to bring the Navy to treaty levels. General MacArthur helped a bit. He told Congress that the Army should be greatly enlarged unless the Navy were brought to full strength.​64 In March, Secretary Stimson tried to persuade the President that the Navy had to be increased. Using data from Admiral Pratt, he showed the relative weakness of America when compared with Japan or Great Britain. Hoover thought the information proved rather well that the nation should not be offensive-minded. The Secretary lamented, in his diary, that he had told the chief executive that he was really becoming concerned about America's defenses, not its offensive capabilities.​65 At the end of March the Western European Division of the State Department, which provided much of the guidance for the Disarmament Conference delegation, began exploratory discussions with Admiral Pratt to see where an American initiative for naval limitation might begin. The Geneva Conference was floundering and the State Department believed an American démarche might get action.

From the point of view of some in the State Department, an ideal move would have been the abolition of battle­ships and submarines. Elimination of battle­ships would mean enormous savings in materiel and personnel costs and it would be a great psychological step forward by eliminating a type of ship that represented large-scale warfare. The desire to abolish submarines had been present in America and Great Britain since the unrestricted German U‑boat campaign of World War I. On the other hand the British were reluctant to abolish all  p353 battle­ships; but they did want to reduce the size of individual units to 25,000 tons or less and armed with 11 or 12‑inch rifles. The French saw battle­ships as the backbone of a blockade system and submarines as their best defense against them. They also believed that submarines would be vital for commerce warfare against a nation like Great Britain. In those views they were joined by the Italians. The Japanese believed in battle­ships and submarines; but they were willing to see submarines reduced in size to where they would be useful only for coastal defense. The United States Navy was committed to battle­ships as the only means to defend the Philippines or blockade the Japanese. Submarines could be sacrificed readily, since few in the Department visualized their use by the United States in commerce warfare. Admiral Pratt was very much the traditionalist here. In an article of July 1952 in the U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings, he publicly stated his belief that the battle­ship was the least expensive form of national protection and should be retained.​66 Within the Navy Department, and in conversations at the State Department, he did let it be known that he was amenable to a reduction in battle­ship fleets. He thought the Navy could come down from 15 vessels to 10 to 12 battle­ships, provided that Japanese had no more than 6 or 7.​67 As noted before, he also was willing to see battle­ships reduced in size and armed with smaller guns, provided the other battle­ship fleets were similarly trimmed.

It was ironical that the CNO and the Secretary of State agreed, to a large extent, in their views on naval limitation, but neither was fully supported by his subordinates. Under Secretary of State William R. Castle, Assistant Secretary James G. Rogers, and the Chief of the Western European Division, J. Pierrepoint Moffat were close to President Hoover in believing that all navies could be reduced at least one‑third, that heavy cuts could be made in the number of battle­ships, cruisers, and destroyers, and that submarines and aircraft carriers could be eliminated. After his troubles with Japan deepened in 1931 and 1932, Secretary Stimson saw the necessity for the battle­ship fleet and became less interested in seeing any major reduction in their size or numbers.​68 Many of his problems with Under Secretary Castle stemmed from the latter's willingness to hew too closely to the President's approach. Admiral Pratt pleased many with his Naval Institute essay  p354 of July 1932 in which he defended the battle­ship.​69 However, in conversations with Stimson and the Western European Division people, he did agree to reductions. These views quickly became known in the fleet. The strongest demurrer to the CNO's idea came from Admiral Schofield, the CINCUS. In his "confidential" annual report for fiscal year 1932 the admiral laid out his objections:

I recommend that in the construction of new battle­ships, there be no Treaty agreement reducing the present maximum unit tonnage allowance for battle­ships. Our geographic position and our responsibilities demand that strategic freedom of battle­ships that can alone be attained by size.

He argued further against deferring construction until some future date, a measure accepted for 8‑inch cruisers in the London Treaty. He concluded:

Naval development in relation to national security must always be considered from the standpoint of existing conditions. The NOW condition is the important factor always in naval armaments. . . . The country is weak or strong from a naval standpoint if it is strong or weak NOW.​70

President Hoover forced the issue of naval reductions on 22 June 1932 and insisted that Stimson and Pratt adhere to his line. As a means of sparking the Geneva Conference, and possibly achieving a major gain for use in the fall presidential campaign against Franklin Roosevelt, the President called for a one‑third reduction of the world's land, air, and naval armaments. He had sought advice from Stimson on May 24 and at that time proposed to abolish submarines and aircraft carriers and reduce the other types by one‑third. Stimson wrote a strong memorandum the next day and objected to abolishing the carriers and argued for only a 20 percent reduction in battle­ships. In both cases he cited arguments by the CNO.​71 In the end, the President accepted the Secretary's points. At Geneva there was much attention given to Hoover's démarche, but with the Republican defeat in November, his proposal was quietly buried both in Geneva and Washington.

The role played by Admiral Pratt in disarmament discussions, throughout 1931 and 1932, was representative of the cooperative position  p355 he had taken concerning Army-Navy questions for many years. His duty in Panama on General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Edwards' staff, followed by attendance at the Army War College, had indelibly marked him with the conviction that the nation's defenses required close coordination of effort by the two armed services. In time, particularly after General Board service and his incumbency as the Naval War College President, he recognized that the State Department was also a vital partner in defending the nation and its interests. And, as noted before, the admiral was a "team" player. Thus it was perfectly normal, and in keeping with his character, for the CNO to seek areas of agreement with the Army's Chief of Staff, General MacArthur, when problems of interest to the Army and Navy required attention.

Before and during the World Disarmament Conference there had been serious points of disagreement between Pratt and MacArthur, but it is possible that both recognized that in the end the truly vital interests of each would remain unencumbered by any international agreement. For instance, General MacArthur was willing to see all military aviation, Army and Navy, eliminated by treaty; Admiral Pratt, particularly since experiencing the great gain in fleet offensive power that came from carrier task forces, was opposed to such a move.​72 Both men must have recognized that the continental powers, especially France, would never countenance this approach. Yet, by his proposals, the general gained favor with the President and helped the Army by such action.​73 On the other hand, the European nations, and the civilian members of the American delegation, thought a major disarmament step could be taken through budgetary limitation of the Armed Forces. The Army and Navy stood together in opposing this concept. MacArthur and Pratt insisted that America would lose heavily because of the higher personnel costs of its Armed Forces. The Navy would also run the risk of being frozen at a level of inferiority because Congress had not built to the treaty levels.​74 Both leaders had to accept President Hoover's June 1932 proposals to the Disarmament Conference; but, again, they must have recognized that the European nations  p356 would take no action on such drastic proposals, given the unsettled nature of the times.75

Outside the rarified atmosphere of international relations, Admiral Pratt and General MacArthur had several opportunities to work out serious questions of mutual concern to their services. While the President had the authority to settle most disputes between the Army and Navy, because he was Commander in Chief, he preferred to have them reach agreement at the level of the Secretaries or the service chiefs as members of the Joint Army-Navy Board. In the case of Army duplication of certain radio-communication networks already established by the Navy, Pratt and MacArthur concluded a satisfactory compromise in October 1931. The Army duplicated a portion of the system and both services jointly operated message centers in Oahu, Manila Bay, and Panama. For this settlement, Pratt was the key to compromise.76

A more complicated dispute commanded attention in the late 1930s; this involved defining the mission of the Army and Navy in coastal defense. Again the CNO proved to be the more flexible. With budgets shrinking due to the Depression, the Army decided to challenge the Navy's right to operate long-range bombers from land bases. Should the President accept the War Department's arguments, the money that the Bureau of Aeronautics expected to spend for bomber purchases would be directed to the Army Air Corps. There was even the possibility that the Navy would be forced to cut back, or possibly close, air stations at San Diego, Hampton Roads, Coco Solo, or Pearl Harbor. After simmering for more than eighteen months, the issue came to a head in December 1930 as Secretary of War Hurley and General MacArthur took a very rigid stance on the matter. They argued that defense of the shores was an Army task, normally entrusted to coastal defense guns and field armies. With bombers the Army now had a long-range version of the emplaced coastal guns and its fighters were aerial infantry tasked to destroy or drive off attacking enemy bombers. The Navy's mission, as the Army interpreted it, was to meet the invader far at sea and defeat him. Pratt really didn't disagree with the Army's position. Faced with heavy budget cuts, the CNO was personally committed to spending the Navy funds for aircraft that could go to sea.  p357 He wanted the fleet to have maximum mobility and the greatest aviation striking power possible. He also insisted that all combat aviation be under the operational control of CINCUS. In short, if the Army wanted to defend the coasts and overseas possessions (Hawaii, Alaska, the Philippines) with bombers, he would not object. He did insist that the Navy had the right to develop and purchase carrier-based torpedo aircraft. With the signing of the Pratt-MacArthur agreement on coastal defense in January 1931, the Army Air Corps gained a major objective. Though its long-range bombers would be designed to search to sea and attack approaching armadas, a defensive mission, the same type of aircraft could fly offensive bombing sorties from the Philippines against Japanese bases in Formosa or from the British Isles into the heart of Germany.77

While Pratt and MacArthur reached agreement on radio circuits and the coastal defense missions of their services because the CNO was willing to find grounds for accommodation, there was true "joint action" when it came to fighting the unification of the services into a single Department of Defense. This was an old issue which had satisfied many times since the World War. Normally, unification was pressed by the Army's aviators and the usual plan called for a separate Air Force controlling both Army and naval aviation. The Air Force would be coequal with the older services, and would join them as a component of the Defense Department. Though the goal for Congressional sponsors was economy through unified planning, purchasing, and operations, the aviators (Army and some Navy) were securing freedom from the conservative restraints of battle­ship admirals and infantry-minded generals. Until his resignation in 1926, the leader of the Army's dissidents was the dashing Colonel "Billy" Mitchell. While those securing unification were beaten back in 1925, with the final report of the Morrow Board, pressure for economy in early 1932 brought the issue into Congress. Secretaries Adams and Hurley, plus their service chiefs, worked actively against bills and "riders" legislating unification and President Hoover furnished background support. Among the many arguments presented to Congressional committees by General MacArthur, was the claim that "Rather than economy, this amalgamation  p358 would, in my opinion, represent one of the greatest debauches of extravagance that any nation has ever known."78

Admiral Pratt's opposition to amalgamating naval aviation into an Air Force and creating a Department of Defense was longstanding. With Admiral Moffett he believed that United States naval aviation was far ahead of other nations and that this great offensive capability would be crippled were it moved from Navy control. Like MacArthur, he was sure that there would be no economy gains once an Air Force and a Defense Department bureaucracy were erected. Even more important to him, he had worked for years to give CINCUS and the fleet's force commanders real operational authority in order to strengthen the nation's naval defense. Now he could see the Secretary of Defense as another administrator standing between CINCUS and the President.​79 Finally he carried with him the fear that a Defense Department bureaucracy, like the pre‑World War German General Staff, would become a power unto itself, beyond control, and possibly could "precipitate the very thing all thinking men wish to avoid, war."​80 To achieve Navy Department unity of action against legislation in January 1932, Admiral Pratt issued two memoranda to all bureaus and offices which gave their ranking officers "guidance" for testimony before Congress. In the first memorandum he noted: "The Secretary of the Navy has approved the recommendation of the Chief of Naval Operations that the Navy Department strongly oppose the establishment of such a department [of National Defense.]"​81 Pratt and MacArthur and their departments were successful in the fight against unification in 1932; the issue would not arise again for another decade.82

In the 13 August 1932 edition of the Army and Navy Journal the first of many articles appeared discussing the possible candidates to succeed Admiral Pratt as CNO. One gets the feeling from this and later items that he was being wished into retirement as quickly as  p359 possible. The admiral did not enter office to a burst of applause from the Journal or the Army and Navy Register, and it is evident that he was not popular with their editors. The reasons are clear enough. He relieved Admiral Hughes after the latter had informed Hoover that he could not accept responsibility for the planning which would support the budget cuts levied in August and September 1930. Hughes was respected and it seemed almost indecent that anyone would take over once he declared that the Navy was inadequately funded. Pratt and Hughes knew there had to be a CNO, but many in the service undoubtedly hoped that some sort of confrontation would result. Pratt, of course, in the early summer had been designated to succeed Hughes; thus there was no real maneuvering room for him. The admiral also came into office freighted down with the ill will gained in the struggle over the London Treaty in May and June 1930. In the jargon of the period, he entered "Main Navy" with "two strikes" against him. Pratt's willingness to lay up vessels, reduce enlisted personnel, set up a rotating reserve system, and support the concept of further naval limitation all deepened service suspicions that he was serving political interests at the expense of the Navy.

The view held by some of his fellow admirals, that Pratt might be "selling out" the Navy, is understandable even though mistaken. To the career officer integrity and loyalty are values held most dearly; yet many developed an overly simplistic view of their meanings. Integrity too often meant absolute and unyielding consistency; for many this led to rigidity and ironclad conservatism. For instance, Admiral Mark Bristol, despite his duty as the second Director of Naval Aviation (1913‑1916), never overcame his distrust of aviators and the Bureau of Aeronautics. During his last tour of active duty, as Senior Member of the General Board, he displayed at the hearings a discouragingly narrow view of carrier-aviation developments. To an admiral like Bristol, it was patently obvious that Pratt lacked integrity. Similar loyalty for a number of Pratt's contemporaries took on tribalistic connotations, with loyalty to the Navy transcending all other foci of devotion. While not unique in his views, Admiral Pratt was unusual in acknowledging a hierarchy of loyalties; family, service, superiors, and nation. Romantic that he was, the admiral occasionally wrote to his family of that highest of all loyalties, "To thine own self be true." As noted before, he learned from Sims that loyalty to a plan of operations, unless proven absurd, was absolutely vital in a military organization. But Pratt did not remain a lifetime chief of  p361 staff. As he advanced in rank and responsibilities, it became quite evident to him than an officer took on many loyalties and that loyalty to the President as Commander in Chief, and to his plans, was more important than obligations to a single armed service. In short, Admiral Pratt grew steadily more sophisticated during his years in flag rank and refused to be bound into any narrow construction of those loaded terms — integrity, loyalty, honor, or "good of the Service."83

When facing the problem of supporting America's Far East policy in 1932, the CNO earned additional criticism from many of the Navy's leaders. He undoubtedly felt it was imperative to keep the Scouting Force in the Pacific throughout 1932; Secretary Adams certainly thought so. In May the Secretary wrote Admiral Taylor that "Perhaps it will give you a little comfort to feel that you have got the whole fleet where it can give a little extra backing to what you say and do."​84 Yet Admirals Taylor, Leahy, and others privately argued that American interests in Asia were so minimal, and the Navy so unprepared for a Pacific war, that it was not worth irritating Japan. Publicly the CNO simply stated that the concentrated U. S. Fleet was remaining in Pacific waters in order to give the ports and naval bases a realistic test in the event it should be necessary to close some East Coast yards. A few accepted this rationalization, but most saw it as an action to check Japan. Secretary Stimson dispelled any Japanese doubts when he informed Ambassador Katsuji Debuchi that events were critical enough that a fleet concentration seemed a rather obvious and necessary move.​85 But irrespective of motives or necessity for holding the Scouting Force and portions of the Fleet Base Force in the Pacific, Admiral Pratt was upsetting a lot of naval officers. Families of the Scouting Force were on the Atlantic Coast and the husbands were not. A year of temporary duty, away from loved ones, did not increase the CNO's popularity in the Scouting Force.

The final blow to any remaining goodwill for Admiral Pratt came after the election of 1932. Those who had suffered under President Hoover and his CNO because there was no escape, undoubtedly believed the lyrics of the popular Democratic campaign song — "Happy Days Are Here Again" — would now become the new order. The admiral  p362 also must have hoped those "skies above" would be "clear again;" yet he respected Hoover too much to rejoice in his defeat. To Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. he wrote in December:

Last November was a sad day for the friends of President Hoover. The country decided to set to one side one of the ablest public servants it ever had. Personally he must be very much relieved for he has had the most thankless job a man ever carried.

Pratt identified himself with the outgoing Administration when he concluded this letter: "I go out with the Administration as I am on March 1st an old crock sixty-four and fit only for the scrap heap."​86 Unfortunately, for the admiral, the new Administration had other plans for him.

Once the election of 1932 was over, the game of guessing the new CNO began in earnest. It was assumed throughout the service that Pratt would have to retire on 28 February 1933 because he would then be sixty-four. Those most commonly mentioned for the position were Vice Admiral David F. Sellers (USNA, 1894), Commander Battleship Divisions, Battle Force; Vice Admiral William H. Standley (USNA, 1895), Commander Cruiser Divisions, Scouting Force; and possibly Luke McNamee (USNA, 1892) who was the Commander Battle Force. The "long shot" possibility was Rear Admiral Arthur J. Hepburn (USNA, 1897), then Senior Naval Advisor to the Geneva Conference delegation. The Army and Navy Journal thought Pratt had favored Rear Admiral J. R. P. Pringle, but his death in September removed him from the picture.​87 Were it not considered desirable to have CNO serve at least three years, the logical appointment would have been Admiral Richard H. Leigh, then CINCUS; but "Reddy" Leigh was due to retire in September 1934, so he finished his aircraft carrier service with a tour on the General Board. Almost everyone was sure that the choice would be left to the President‑elect, but there was a possibility that President Hoover would name the CNO with Roosevelt's concurrence. Some thought neither Hoover nor Roosevelt would want to leave the Navy without a CNO between Pratt's retirement and Roosevelt's inauguration on 4 March 1933.

Beginning on 15 December 1932, newspapers around the country began carrying news and editorials about the admiral's imminent retirement. The New York Times took the lead with a splendid editorial praising his work:

 p363  No officer is more esteemed for his professional attainments and the good sense and independence of his opinions. He has always had the courage of his convictions. Many officers in the navy were not satisfied with the results of the Washington Conference, but Admiral Pratt defended it. He held it to be a compromise making for better international understanding and for peace, and his opinion has been vindicated. . . . Of the London agreement he said that, taken in connection with the Washington treaty, 'It means not only efficiency in operation but efficiency on a more economical basis than the present system of maintaining and operating a navy.' He saw in the London treaty a moral value in the limiting of submarines and humanizing their use in warfare. Parity he has believed in, not only because it should eliminate friction between the United States and Great Britain, but because the two nations should always be able to work together to avert a great war.​88

Few CNO's have left office with an editorial in the Times commending their service so fully. The Army and Navy Journal quoted some of  p364 these favorable articles around the country and gave him its own modest commendation: "As Chief of Naval Operations, it has been his effort to maintain the Fleet in the highest possible state of efficiency and this he has accomplished in spite of reduced appropriations, and only because he has put into effect policies which with larger funds available he probably would not have approved."​89 The Journal really didn't like Admiral Pratt and its lack of enthusiasm was noticeable; but it is doubtful that the CNO really cared.

On the first day of February, Secretary Adams issued formal orders informing Pratt he would be transferred to the retired list on the last day of the month. He concluded the orders with the Department's recognition and thanks:
3. Your conduct of the office of Chief of Operations, highest in our service, has been distinguished by sound and original thinking, as well as vigorous action, and has greatly contributed to the welfare of the Service.
4. These and all the duties which have been assigned to you have been discharged competently, ably, and to the fullest satisfaction of the Service. The Department, therefore, takes this occasion to express to you appreciation of the long and distinguished services which you have rendered to the country during your period of active service in the Navy, and wishes you many years of health and happiness.
5. I desire, also, to express to you my appreciation of your loyalty, and of the delight of our years of service together.​90

During the month letters poured in on the admiral from every level of officers in the fleet. He must have been touched now and then to get a warm one from a fellow admiral, because it was most unlikely that he could help (or harm) anyone's career at this point. Individual Representatives and Senators wrote to him and, most unusually, the House Naval Affairs Committee passed, and published, a formal resolution commending his service as CNO. To most in the service who wrote and regretted his impending retirement, Pratt had a simple reply: "Of course it is not pleasant to have to give up after these many years of service, but it comes to us all and it is now my turn. So that's that."

But it wasn't quite "that." The military had been in touch with the President‑elect, suggesting a few names that he might consider for CNO; but also exploring the possibility for his continuing in office after February 28. He admitted that there were just four he could  p365 recommend: Standley, Hepburn, Sellers, and John Halligan. He preferred Hepburn but "Standley is the service choice. He is excellent and I am for him if the service wants him."​91 The correspondence in Pratt's papers and Roosevelt's is not clear on the subject, but it appears that the latter asked the CNO if there were not some way he could be continued in office until the President could decide on his relief. The Judge Advocate General, Rear Admiral O. G. Murfin, studied that question and advised Adams on 27 February 1933 that the applicable regulation did not require a vice admiral or admiral to retire at age sixty-four. Pratt's retirement orders were rescinded 28 February, on the day he was to leave office. In fact, according to his "Autobiography," the admiral was at the Union Station ready to board his train for Belfast when an orderly arrived and said the Secretary wished him to return to "Main Navy." Murfin's interpretation was that the CNO had a Presidential appointment for four years and only the Chief Executive could order him released from duty short of that time.​92 If the admiral was embarrassed by this turn of events, after the usual round of farewell parties and gifts, he did not show it in his personal or public correspondence.

A biographer finds it difficult to deal with Admiral Pratt's last four months in office without regretting that the CNO had not retired on his sixty-fourth birthday. The new Secretary of the Navy, Senator Claude Swanson of Virginia, was a political choice and not much of an administrator; the result for the admiral was the need to worry considerably about administration in the Department. He liked the Assistant Secretary, Henry Latrobe Roosevelt, and was pleased that he was a "hard worker" who could take some of the load off Swanson and himself. But the admiral found that the problems were the same, only the faces had changed. There was no commitment to building the Navy to treaty strength, nor of adopting a long-term construction program. Everyone assumed that President Roosevelt, because of his years as Assistant Secretary, would be more interested in the Navy than his predecessor, but this was still a matter of conjecture. On the other hand, the President early committed himself to reducing government expenditures and balancing the budget. During the time that he clung to this policy, Pratt was faced with severe cuts in the  p367 appropriations he would be allowed for operating and maintaining the fleet.

In early April the CNO informed all bureaus, offices, and divisions that the long-deferred "rotating reserve" plan would be put into effect on 1 July 1933. All vessels and aircraft squadrons would be affected as one‑third of each class spent six months in reserve and overhaul, with 60 percent crews, and one year in full operation with crews at 80 to 85 percent strength. Many naval yards and bases, particularly on the East Coast, would be reduced to caretaker status. The admiral defended his orders on the basis that the Navy was badly run down and this plan would lead to a higher condition of materiel readiness. He assumed that personnel could be trained more quickly than ships could be built or reconditioned to meet an emergency.​93 When the Bureau of the Budget suggested that officers might be "furloughed" rather than forced into retirement, Pratt argued that this would be a very dangerous way to save money. Unfortunately few knew that Pratt had stood against this move and it was assumed by the Army and Navy Journal that the CNO and Secretary Swanson both backed "rotation" and "furloughs." In Congressional hearings the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, Rear Admiral Frank B. Upham, spoke heatedly against furloughing officers and argued that the rotating reserve plan would weaken the Navy so badly that national security would be jeopardized. It was a forthright, honorable, and professionally dangerous move to make on the part of Upham.​94 Congress, and the President, did get the message and, on 24 May 1933, Admiral Pratt again rescinded the "rotating reserve" plan. The editor of the Army and Navy Journal believed he should now resign and let Admiral Standley take over.​95 The CNO had come full circle from his relief of Admiral Hughes in September 1930; it now appeared that he would be forced out.

During the last week in April 1933, Secretary Swanson gave public notice that Admiral Standley would relieve Pratt as CNO. Vice Admiral Sellers would "fleet up" to CINCUS and Rear Admiral Joseph  p368 M. Reeves, long known for his pioneering work with the development of fleet aircraft squadrons, jumped from the relative obscurity of the Mare Island Naval Yard to four stars as Commander Battle Force. This late recognition of Reeves reflected both Pratt's friendship for this splendid officer and his desire to give aviation a more prominent role in the United States Fleet. One other old friend of the admiral's was given a boost up the command ladder. Rear Admiral Harris Laning, then President of the Naval War College, was given the "cruiser command" — more formally, Commander Cruisers, Scouting Force. His next stop would be command of the Battle Force in 1935. But the few officers made happy with good commands did not offset the larger number who felt Pratt was harming the Navy with his plans to meet executive demands for economy. No one could give him a positive program that would keep the ships at sea and new vessels sliding down the ways, while generating savings for the new Administration. Now and then a cheering note arrived, or an old friend dropped by to assure the admiral he was doing a decent job, but mostly he suffered in silence. Occasionally he let off a little steam to Louise, who spent the spring in Europe. To the general criticism, he kept his silence:

I have nothing to say, it is merely a matter of duty with me — personally I would be glad to lay down the load some day, for it is hard. Others may see the glory and get some benefit from it, but to me it has been years of grind.

In April 1933 the Naval Institute awarded Admiral Pratt its annual gold medal for the best essay submitted for its annual contest. Because previously he had won the gold medal and a life member­ship in the Institute, he simply received the cash prize of $300 and a suitably inscribed gold bar. The essay, "Lest They Forget," was a Parthian shot at his critics, advice for the new Administration, and a final clearing of the record on how he stood concerning naval limitation. He had said it all before, but possibly not so well organized or as eloquently. He argued for continued commitment to international arms limitation and international arbitration of war‑provoking problems. He still did not believe America should belong to the League of Nations, but he advocated American commitment to consultation on international questions of great importance. He expressed a loss of confidence that all nations were as reasonable as England and America and encouraged Congress to establish a long-term construction program so that America would not be caught short. Finally, and representing  p369 an aspect of his published writings, Admiral Pratt presented his own interpretation of American society. He probably never read Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America — yet much of his analysis reflects this classic of the 1830s. The admiral believed that the original settlement, frontier experience, and expansion across the continent created a people who were pragmatic, impatient, honest, blunt, moralistic, and dangerous when aroused.

. . . let us not forget, and in the end we will not, that this constant struggle has been given to us that we might develop a national character; that it was not given that we might lead lives of personal ease at the expense of others, but that slowly and surely we may raise the plane of life of our democratic state as America moves on to its predestined purpose. . . . Money is not the goal of the average American. It is but a means to an end. . . . We cannot make of it a god and never have. The genius of America is constructive and purposeful. It is not negative, it is not radical, nor is it ultraconservative. . . . The matter of ulterior motive enters very little into our calculations. It is difficult for others to understand this unless instinctively they can grasp the essentials back of the growth of our federal state and behind the gradual development of our American character within the state. . . . We have all the faults and growing pains of youth. . . . We lack the cultural background of older, more established social groups, but we do have honesty of purpose in all of our undertakings and we are fearless of consequences once we believe we are right. . . .​96

On 9 June 1933 Admiral Pratt wrote to President Roosevelt saying that he understood from Secretary Swanson that it was now agreeable to the President that he be relieved by Admiral Standley. He asked only that the Chief Executive personally sign the orders, since he was a direct appointee of his. The CNO concluded his letter with a dignified accounting of his stewardship:

In leaving I trust you will find the Navy in as good shape as is possible under the peculiar conditions of emergency with which this country has been faced, and I feel confident that you will find in Admiral Standley a thoroughly loyal, efficient man. May I take this occasion to thank you for the kindness you have always shown to me. Especially do I want to tell you what a pleasure it is to me to know that the fate of the Navy lies in the hands of a man who loves it as you do. The Navy is back of you to a man and its earnest desire is to carry out your will.​97

The letters again began to come in, possibly fewer than in February,  p370 but they were gratifying to the admiral. Carl Vinson, Chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee, wrote:

Before your retirement from active duty in the Navy, I desire to express to you the thanks of the Naval Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives for the very great assistance which you have rendered in the formulation of legislation pertaining to the Navy Department. . . . The Committee feels a very real sense of loss in realizing that our official relations are soon to be terminated. . . .​98

President Roosevelt addressed a note to "My dear Bill Pratt" and stated that "I am really and honestly deeply sorry that you are retiring — sorry on my account, sorry on account of the Navy and sorry on the part of the country."​99 These were pleasant sentiments to receive from such a high source, but the author suspects that the message which arrived from a Battle Force captain, almost unknown to Pratt, provided a warmer glow, because it came from the younger officers that the admiral cared so much about. He wrote: "I do not want to appear to say too much but the quiet efficiency of your leader­ship in the Navy has been a real inspiration to me. Your kindly interest in younger officers I can indeed assure you has meant more to them than you can ever know."100

Of those who would miss Admiral Pratt, there is little doubt that Representative Vinson was speaking for a large number in Congress who would feel "a very real sense of loss" with the admiral's retirement. Pratt had been unique among the flag officers, with the exception of Admiral Moffett, who regularly came to "the Hill" to testify for appropriations and other naval bills. As a pragmatist, he normally backed programs that fit with the ideas of Congress and the President on spending. When economies or cuts were required, he knew where to apply the knife and still maintain a viable Navy. He did not want others, in the Bureau of the Budget or the appropriations committees, to make decisions that were rightfully the Navy's to make. In the darkest years of 1932 and 1933, he squeezed and trimmed and finally proposed the "rotating reserve" plan as a means of keeping most of the fleet in service. Those who disagreed with him, particularly in the fleet, believed he should have taken a position and laid a letter of resignation on the President's desk to show his resoluteness. But this was not Pratt's style. Threatened with an enormous cut in officer  p371 strength in May 1932, General MacArthur used the "open letter" to a sympathetic Congressman to bring his objections before the public.​101 The CNO never used this device. By a consistent display of loyalty to the President's programs, and a demonstrated willingness to meet Congress's desires where reasonable, the admiral built up a reputation for honesty and common sense — two traits valued by legislators. His testimony in December 1930, that he personally did not believe the Navy could be built to treaty strength by 1936, might have been shocking to the General Board but it happened to be the way Congress felt. The harassed legislators, of course, considered the CNO quite realistic. Unfortunately for Pratt, and the Navy, his "team play" did not result in reciprocal benefits for the service. As noted before, his support and defense of the London Treaty was premised on the assumption that President Hoover and Congress would build the fleet to ratio strength. His acceptance of cuts in 1930 simply led to further reductions in 1931, 1932, and 1933. Here, of course, he was victimized by the times. In the end, while President Hoover would remain a good friend for years to come and the Naval Affairs Committee of the House would resolve that he had "filled the highest posts admirably," Admiral Pratt left behind the service reputation of being one who had trimmed his sails too closely to the winds that blew down from Capitol Hill. It probably never occurred to many in the wardrooms of the fleet that they might have been "on the beach," furloughed or retired early, had Admiral Pratt not kept a steady hand at the Navy's helm in those trying years.

Despite the foregoing, it should not be thought that Pratt's incumbency as CNO was a constant period of Sturm und Drang. For one thing, this was shore duty after three years at sea or in London. The Admiral's house on the Naval Observatory's grounds was comfortable, Louise had a fine staff headed by "Togo," the inimitable chief steward, and there was plenty of entertaining to do. In the Pratt collection of manuscripts there is graphic evidence of the seriousness with which Pratt's wife approached her job as hostess. Each dinner had not only a carefully considered menu, but a full seating chart worked out in advance so that none would be annoyed by finding himself too far below the salt. The social notes in the Washington newspapers, as well as the service weeklies, chronicle the stream of admirals, generals, ambassadors, bureaucrats, and politicians, foreign and domestic, who came out Massachusetts Avenue to Observatory  p372 Hill. In keeping with the law, and his own sense of duty, the entertaining was "dry," but the food was excellent.

The Pratts not only entertained in the manner expected of them, but they also performed the other public functions associated with his position as the number one officer or Navy's active list. Each Thanksgiving week they sponsored the annual Navy Relief ball held at the Willard Hotel. In December it was another ball for Army and Navy Wives Clubs which supported recreation centers throughout the country. The admiral reviewed parades on Memorial Day and Armistice Day and gave an annual address on Navy Day. He combined business with pleasure in the fall by taking visiting dignitaries to Annapolis or Baltimore for Naval Academy football games, and he tried to attend each Army-Navy game in the renewed series. For Louise and Bill there was respite in the summer when those who could, fled the capital's heat and humidity. They visited Belfast each year to see that Primrose Hill was in good order and to relax. In the summer of 1932 the admiral sailed in a destroyer to the newly opened Acadia National Park in Maine and got some badly needed rest.

In each year the CNO managed to escape the confines of "Main Navy" and the pressure of his position by taking Campbell, and boarding a California-bound express train to visit the Battle Force. In February 1931 the admiral was badly exhausted from the London Conference, the tension which surrounded the relief of Hughes, and the late fall and winter battles with Congress for money. Among friends, on board California or Texas, he rested, To Louise he wrote: "This cruise has been a Godsend. . . . I think none of us realized, not I certainly, how taughtlyº stretched were the nervous wires in the mental sphere." Pratt enjoyed the 1931 U. S. Fleet maneuvers and Admiral Frank Schofield saw to it that he was at ease. In the spring of 1932, once the Manchurian crisis settled down, the admiral and his Aide again visited Schofield and Admiral Leigh. As in the previous year, they also managed to see Edgar Pratt in Los Angeles for golf and bridge. The brothers were still most compatible and Bill Pratt would see a lot more of Edgar in the years ahead.

During his years as CNO, the admiral's son Billy studied with an English tutor or lived on board the school ship Worcester in England. He visited Washington in the winter of 1933 and then returned to England with Louise in March of 1933. His education had been in private schools in Massachusetts, New York, and England through the years and was to continue on the continent with his father's retirement.  p373 The Pratts took an enormous interest in his schoolwork, but the father had strong feelings of regret that he could not spend more time in personally guiding his son's development. The letters from the tutor, and Billy, reveal a strong-minded boy, who was finding himself, and developing a large capacity for foreign languages and political studies. During his last month in the Navy, the admiral was amused and delighted to have his nephew and namesake, Ensign William Veazie Pratt II, begin his active service upon graduation from the Naval Academy. Bill Pratt made a point of attending the June graduation so he could hand the diploma and commission to his brother Harold's son. His brother had one other son at the Academy in 1933 and Richard Rockwell Pratt was to graduate in 1936.

One of the characteristics of the naval service is that, before the "old Man" goes over the side, he gives his assistants a bit of a lift with their next assignments. Pratt saw to it that those who had served him well received career-enhancing billets for their next duty. Lieutenant Commander Berkey went to the Asiatic Station, "Cal" Durgin reported to Saratoga, and "Jimmy" Campbell, now a lieutenant commander, was due for sea duty in the Battle Force. It has been noted how Pratt's flag officer friends, those he truly admired, fared in their assignments. It must have left him a bit lonely during those last months in office, since even Louise was in Europe from March to June, but he still had plenty of work to fill his days. He did take time, as would be expected, to pen a letter of personal appreciation to his Aide and companion who had stood at his elbow throughout the long climb up the fleet ladder. The letter says much about Lieutenant Commander C. W. A. Campbell, as well as the admiral, and deserves to be quoted in full:102

My retirement from active service brings to a close, temporarily at least, an association of many years standing. From 1919 on, when you were an officer on the New York we have been thrown together, and during the last twelve years you have been my flag lieutenant and aide serving with me, and when on shore, living with me. Such a long association is bound to create either enduring friendship or the reverse. Happily, it is friendship which it is trusted will continue as long as I live.

It is doubtful if there has ever been an association of a similar character in our Service for the same length of time, where one officer follows the fortunes of another through all the phases of higher command. You were chosen as my flag lieutenant when I had command of the Pacific Destroyer Force because you had the best 14 inch turret on the New York and were the prize winner  p374 of the Navy for that year in Short Range Battle. That choice has never been regretted. You have been with me in the 4th Battleship Division of the Battle Fleet, in the Battleship Divisions of the Battle Fleet, in the Battle Fleet, and in the United States Fleet. That is a long sea experience for an aide to his chief to have, and it has thrown you with many people. Without going into too many details to show my confidence in your judgment and ability as flag lieutenant, it is merely necessary to say this, when at sea I insisted you should be on the bridge the major portion of the time, always at night, for you were familiar with my way of doing things and you would call me immediately were I needed. You would not disturb me for trifles. In a pinch were I not on the bridge, from long association with me, you would come nearer to snapping out the same signal to the command as I would than any other man. There was never occasion to doubt the correctness of this assumption.

You were with me at the Naval War College and now when I am Chief of Naval Operations. While your forte is at sea, and it is a compliment to say a  p375 naval man does his best work afloat, you have been invaluable to me, relieving me of many of the irksome details, which I would have to do myself had I not some one with me who could be thoroughly relied upon.

And so as the time draws near for us to sever this long association in the active service, I can only wish you God speed and good luck. You have given good and faithful service. No man can do more. He will be a lucky man who gets your services.

Faithfully your friend,

W. V. Pratt

On 1 July 1933 Admiral Pratt attended the swearing in of his successor, Admiral William H. Standley. The ceremony completed, Campbell gave him final assistance with his personal effects and saw him off to New York on an afternoon train. Like Hughes, Eberle, Coontz, and Benson — his predecessors as CNO — Pratt left "Main Navy" a rear admiral and strode into the shadowed land of the retired officer. He had done a great deal, but not nearly so much as he had hoped he could accomplish. He had seen the job demolish the health of Benson, Eberle, and Hughes; he at least was reasonably healthy and could look forward to a comfortable retirement. He had confidence in President Roosevelt and expected the Navy to fare well under his leader­ship. He was less sure that the President's party would be equally responsible in its stewardship.

The Author's Notes:

49 Foreign Relations, 1932, Vol. III, pp7‑8.

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50 Robert H. Ferrell, American Diplomacy in the Great Depression: Hoover-Stimson Foreign Policy, 1929‑1933 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1957) pp153‑62.

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51 U. S., Department of State, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States: Japan; 1931‑1941 (Washington: GPO, 1943), Vol. I, pp83‑87.

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52 Armin Rappaport, Henry L. Stimson and Japan, 1931‑1933 (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1963), pp118‑24; Nicholas R. Clifford, Retreat from China: British Policy in the Far East, 1937‑1941 (Seattle, Wash. and London: University of Washington Press, 1967), pp6‑7; Ferrell, op. cit., pp178‑83.

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53 ADM Charles B. McVay, Jr. to WVP, Nanking, 11 April 1931, Pratt MSS/NHD.

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54 King, op. cit., pp228‑31; Rappaport, Henry L. Stimson, pp119‑21.

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55 William D. Leahy, Diary, 29 February 1932, Leahy MSS/LCMD; Army and Navy Journal, 5 March 1932.

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56 Wheeler, Prelude to Pearl Harbor, pp47‑69; General Board No. 438, serial 1347‑1(a), 21 April 1927, G. B. Records, NHD.

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57 William D. Leahy, Diary, 31 January 1932, Leahy MSS/LCMD.

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58 Ibid., 29 January 1932.

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59 ADM M. M. Taylor to COL J. R. M. Taylor, Manila, 27 January 1932, 25 February 1933, Montgomery M. Taylor MSS/LCMD.

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60 ADM F. B. Upham to Nelson T. Johnson, Manila, 6 January 1934, Nelson T. Johnson MSS/LCMD.

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61 CINCUS, "Annual Report," FY 1932 (7/1/31–6/30/32) in CINCUS to CNO, 21 July 1932, Confidential, A9‑1 (1200), SC File, RG80/NA.

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62 Michael D. Reagan, "The Far Eastern Crisis of 1931‑1932; Stimson, Hoover and the Armed Services," in Harold Stein, ed., American Civil-Military Decisions: A Book of Case Studies (Birmingham, Ala.: University of Alabama Press, 1963), pp29‑37. Richard N. Current, Secretary Stimson, A Study in Statecraft (New Brunswick, N. J.: Rutgers University Press, 1954), pp92‑109.

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63 J. Pierrepont Moffat, Diary, 6‑13, 16 November 1932, Hugh Gibson MSS/Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, Stanford, California.

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64 Army and Navy Journal, 9 January, 23 January, 9 April 1932.

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65 Henry L. Stimson, Diary, 8 March 1932, Henry L. Stimson MSS/Yale University.

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66 W. V. Pratt, "Our Naval Policy," United States Naval Institute Proceedings (July 1932), pp960‑61.

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67 Henry L. Stimson, Diary, 23 May 1932, Stimson MSS/Yale University; Foreign Relations, 1932, Vol. I, pp153‑57.

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68 Henry L. Stimson, Diary, 5, 6, 7 January; 19, 20, 21 April 1932; Stimson MSS/Yale University.

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69 VADM Luke McNamee to WVP, San Pedro, 5 July 1932, Pratt MSS/NHD.

[decorative delimiter]

70 CINCUS, "Annual Report," FY 1932, (7/1/31–6/30/32), in CINCUS to CNO, 21 July 1932, Confidential, A9‑9 (1200) SC File, RG80/NA.

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71 Foreign Relations, 1932, Vol. I, pp212‑15, 180‑85; John R. M. Wilson, "Herbert Hoover and the Armed Forces: A Study of Presidential Attitudes and Policy" (unpublished Ph. D. dissertation, Northwestern University, 1971), pp195‑97.

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72 D. Clayton James, 1880‑1941, Vol. I of The Years of MacArthur (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1970), pp378‑80; Fred Herbert Winkler, "The United States and the World Disarmament Conference, 1926‑1935: A Study of the Formulation of Foreign Policy" (Unpublished Ph. D. dissertation, Northwestern University, 1957), pp191‑92, 201‑02.

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73 James, op. cit., pp380‑81.

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74 Winkler, op. cit., pp95, 205‑06, 265.

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75 Elting E. Morison, Turmoil and Tradition: A Study of the Life and Times of Henry L. Stimson (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1960), pp404‑15; Wilson, op. cit., pp195‑99.

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76 Wilson, op. cit., pp154‑57.

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77 Turnbull and Lord, op. cit., pp278‑81; James op. cit., pp369‑71; Robert W. Krauskopf, "The Army and the Strategic Bomber, 1930‑1939," Military Affairs (Summer 1959), pp87‑88; H. H. Arnold, Global Mission (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1949), pp157, 163; Wilson, op. cit., pp163‑68.

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78 Demetrios Caraley, The Politics of Military Unification: A Study of Conflict and the Policy Process (New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1966), pp7‑14; James, op. cit., pp358‑63.

[decorative delimiter]

79 William Adger Moffett, "Air Service versus Air Force," The Forum (February 1926), pp179‑85; COMBATFLT to CNO, San Pedro, 12 April 1929, Pratt MSS/NHD; CNO to All Bureaus and Offices, 16 January 1932, A3‑1/A/16‑1 (122‑31), RG38/NA.

[decorative delimiter]

80 ADM W. V. Pratt to James T. Shotwell, San Pedro, 5 December 1928, Pratt MSS/NHD.

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81 CNO to All Bureaus and Offices, 12 January, 16 January 1932, A3‑1/A16‑1 (122‑31), RG38/NA. Arpee, op. cit., pp108‑12.

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82 Professor John R. M. Wilson discusses this subject very competently in his doctoral dissertation, "Herbert Hoover and the Armed Forces," pp168‑174.

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83 Peter Karsten, The Naval Aristocracy: The Golden Age of Annapolis and the Emergence of Modern American Navalism (New York and London: Free Press, Collier-Macmillan Ltd., 1972), pp23‑46, 250‑68.

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84 Secretary C. F. Adams to ADM M. M. Taylor, Washington, 20 May 1932, Taylor MSS/LCMD.

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85 Secretary of State and the Japanese Ambassador, memorandum of conversation between, Washington, 10 August 1932, D/S File 811.30 Asiatic Fleet/138, RG59/NA.

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86 WVP to Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., Washington, 6 December 1932, Pratt MSS/NHD.

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87 Army and Navy Journal, 15 October, 17 December 1932.

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88 New York Times, 16 December 1932, p18.

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89 Army and Navy Journal, 21 January 1933.

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90 Secretary of the Navy to ADM W. V. Pratt, Washington, 1 February 1933, Pratt MSS/NHD.

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91 ADM W. V. Pratt to President Roosevelt, Washington, 16 February 1933, PPF 586, Franklin D. Roosevelt MSS/Hyde Park, N. Y. (hereafter FDR MSS).

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92 Pratt, "Autobiography," p347; Judge Advocate General (RADM O. G. Murfin) to Secretary of the Navy, Washington, 3 March 1933, Pratt MSS/NHD.

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93 CNO to Bureaus, Offices and Divisions of the Office of Naval Operations, 3 April 1933, File FF1 (1934)/A4‑3 (320510), box 2141, RG80/NA; CNO to Secretary of the Navy, "Reduction of 1934 appropriations to a $260,000,000 cash withdrawal basis, as affecting the efficiency of the Fleet," 12 April 1933, Pratt MSS/NHD; Secretary of the Navy, memorandum for, Washington, 25 May 1933, File A4‑3, box 2141, RG80/NA.

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94 Secretary of the Navy, memorandum for, Washington, 10 May 1933, Pratt MSS/NHD; Army and Navy Journal, 20 May, 27 May 1933.

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95 Ibid., 27 May 1933.

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96 W. V. Pratt, "Lest They Forget," United States Naval Institute Proceedings (April 1933), pp485‑86.

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97 ADM W. V. Pratt to President Roosevelt, Washington, 9 June 1933, OF‑18R, FDR MSS.

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98 Carl Vinson to WVP, Washington, 10 June 1933, Pratt MSS/NHD.

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99 President Franklin D. Roosevelt to WVP, Washington, 13 June 1933, Pratt MSS/NHD.

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100 CAPT Bruce L. Canaga to WVP, Tacoma, Washington, 17 June 1933, Pratt MSS/NHD.

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101 James, op. cit., pp358‑62.

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102 WVP to LCDR C. W. A. Campbell, Washington, 23 June 1933, Pratt MSS/NHD.

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